Wednesday, July 01, 2015

No Fear

"Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny." (Psalm 73:23-24)

All of us have had times in our lives when perhaps our future seemed uncertain.  And yet the promise of God is that He is leading us forward to our destiny--a glorious destiny.  We are little children and He is our daddy in heaven holding our hands and leading us step by step.  There is no need to fear. There is no cause for anxiety.  God has this!  If you're willing, He has you.  Just place your hand in His and follow His lead.

"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." --Martin Luther

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

God-Centered

"In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you." (Philippians 2:14)
What would it look like if we actually went an entire day without complaining?  As I think about it, complaints usually come out of my mouth because someone or something doesn't live up to my expectation.  It's pretty arrogant of me to expect that the world is supposed to revolve around me and my wants and desires.  Only God gets to have that expectation.  Today, may we all move from a self-centered focus to a God-centered focus.

“True strength does not come out of bravado. Until we are broken, our life will be self-centered, self-reliant; our strength will be our own. So long as you think you are really something in and of yourself, what will you need God for? I don’t trust a man who hasn’t suffered; I don’t let a man get close to me who hasn’t faced his wound. Think of the posers you know—are they the kind of man you would call at 2:00 A.M., when life is collapsing around you? Not me. I don’t want clich├ęs; I want deep, soulful truth, and that only comes when a man has walked the road I’ve been talking about.”  --John Eldredge

Monday, June 29, 2015

Light

"Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is shining upon you. Darkness as black as night will cover all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine over you." (Isaiah 60:1-2)

The light of the gospel never shines as brilliantly as when it is placed on a backdrop of darkness.  Jesus' light has not dimmed since the day he triumphantly came out of the tomb.  Today, He shines as bright as ever!  You and I carry the light of the world into the world's darkness.  We're going to encounter lots of people today, people who need to know that there is a reason to live.  Shine your light!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Blessing of Honor

"'Honor your father and mother.' This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, 'you will live a long life, full of blessing.'" (Ephesians 6:2-3)
The word "honor" in this passage is sometimes translated "value" in other New Testament passages.  We are to value our parents--to honor them.  The command is not simply for little children, it is for all of us--of all ages, whether our parents are living or dead.  We are to value them.  The command does not exclude parents who may have done a poor job parenting.  It does not exclude parents who may have been absent.  All parents are to be honored.

If your parents are or were great parents, then you may have no issue with the command.  If your parents were not so great, then it's a bit more difficult.  Like all of our relationships, we are to learn to see people through the eyes of God--as He sees them--broken and flawed individuals created in the image of God.  Ask God to open your eyes to see what He sees--to know what He knows--and to value what He values.  Invite the Holy Spirit to do a transformational work in your heart.  Like everything else in the Christian life, we express value by faith and grace--faith that there is more there than our eyes can see, and grace--the unmerited favor that is given through an ocean of love.

Paul emphasizes that there is a reward for honoring parents.  We are promised a long life, full of blessing.  Do you need a blessing today?  God says, "Honor your father and mother."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Experiencing God

"Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:10); "Don't act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do." (Ephesians 5:17)

There are about sixty of us at TBC that are working through Henry Blackaby's workbook, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.  The thing I like most about this resource is that it insists that we learn how to hear from God.  It's a primer on how to move away from a self-centered life (i.e. what I think is best) into a God-centered life.  I really do want to find out, "what is pleasing to the Lord".  I want to know, "what the Lord wants"

For those in the Tolar area, we will be meeting tonight at 7:00 to discuss what we're learning in Experiencing God.  It's not too late to get started. We would love to have you join us tonight.  For those outside the area, you can order a copy of the workbook on Amazon or some other online retailer.  It's a must read for anyone who wants to go deeper in their walk with Jesus.  It's in my list of essential books for every Christian to read.

"God did not create you for time; He created you for eternity." --Henry Blackaby

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Smell of Sacrifice

"Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him." (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Have you noticed how the attention in Charleston has shifted from the brutality of the killer to the gracious forgiveness of the family members?  It seems these family members are living out a life filled with love for others.  Their example of love is so much more powerful than the killer's example of hate.  The sin is being overcome by love. The world has stopped to notice the presence of Christ at Emanuel AME Church.  Nine men and women gave their lives as a dying sacrifice.  Nine families are now daily giving their lives as a living sacrifice.  It's a sweet perfume.  You can't help but stop and notice such a fragrant aroma.

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." --26 year old Tywanza Sander quoting Jackie Robinson. He stepped in front of his 87 year old aunt to try to save her life at Emanuel AME Church.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Does God Have a Tattoo?

"Yet Zion says, 'The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.' 'Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See I have written your name on my hand.'" (Isaiah 49:14-16)

Have you ever felt like God has deserted you?  Maybe right now you feel like He has left you alone with your problems.  Be encouraged by the Word of God this morning.  Regardless of how painful your situation may be, God has not  abandoned you.  In the same way that a loving mother cannot forget her child, your Father in heaven cannot forget you. 

What do you think about Isaiah 49:16, "See I have written your name on my hand"?  Does God have a tattoo?  I wouldn't defend the tattoo thought too strongly--but I know for a fact that Jesus has a piercing--in both hands.  They were put there by a roman guard when Jesus died on the cross.  He loves you!

If you're struggling today, let me suggest that you take a pen and write "Jesus" in the palm of your hand.  As often as you see it today, it will remind you that Jesus is thinking of you as well.  He has scars in His hands with your name on them.