02
Dec
16

Good And Best

NOTE: I wrote this post about 6 years ago.  My son is 10 now and he still likes cookies for breakfast.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! — Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

I’ll admit it.  I did it.  I absolutely, positively did it.  I walked into the kitchen this morning and gave my 4 year-old son a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast.

I said, “What do I have here?” pointing at the Ziploc bag of last night’s freshly made delights.

He said, “A cookie?”

I said, “Uh huh.  Do you want one?”

He reached out his hand and I put a cookie in it, albeit a small one.

Nonetheless, it was a cookie and they are good!

Why would I do such a thing?  Have I taken leave of my senses?  Chocolate chip cookies aren’t for breakfast!  Breakfast is for other such sugar-filled treats such as frosted cereals and pancakes, right?!?  I did it because of the look.  That look of sheer delight that he gets when I give him a gift.  Especially an unexpected gift!  Even if it is not the best thing for him.

Jesus tells us that the Father in Heaven desires to give good gifts to His children.  But God doesn’t bless us with chocolate chip cookies at 7:00 in the morning.  No, He does something much better.  In fact, God does what is best.  He knows our deepest needs and desires and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).  The key is that He will always act according to His will and His purpose and His plan.  God knows what we truly need and what we need most is Him.  He sent Jesus to earth and gave us the gift of Himself.  That’s what Christmas is all about.  As we move into this time of year, I pray that God will reveal a little bit of His plan to you and that you will delight yourself in Him.  I pray that He will give you what is both good and best.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father God, for sending Your best for my good – Your Son, Jesus. Thank You knowing what I need and for always providing it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

30
Nov
16

Everything In Love

1 Corinthians 16:14 is a very short verse with an incredibly powerful meaning:

Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

If you can’t do it in love, don’t do it.
  • You can’t gossip about someone in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t abuse your children physically, verbally or emotionally in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t belittle your spouse to your friends in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t hate someone because of their sin, lifestyle, gender, age or color.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t ignore God in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t hold a grudge in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t be unforgiving in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t cuss someone out on facebook in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t cheat on your spouse or family in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t steal from your employer in love.  Don’t do it.
  • You can’t lie in love.  Don’t do it.

Paul says to do everything in love.

  • You can encourage your family in love.
  • You can pray for someone in love.
  • You can forgive someone in love.
  • You can anonymously give someone a bag of groceries in love.
  • You can take your spouse out on a date in love.
  • You can tell someone about God’s love in love.
  • You can invite someone to church in love.
  • You can stop gossip about a co-worker in love.
  • You can tell someone the painful truth in love.
  • You can sponsor a child in love.
  • You can pray for those who are different than you in love.

Bitterness, hate and anger are easy.  Love is hard.  Choose to do everything in love.

PRAYER: Father God, I want to be a more loving person today. Give me a heart that beats with love for others that I may be more like Jesus. Amen.

29
Nov
16

With Everyone

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. — Romans 12:17-18 (NIV)

In Romans 12, Paul goes over a laundry list of expectations for God’s people.  How are we to live on a daily basis?  I think that verses 17-18 are so very important.  Do not take revenge.  Live lives of righteousness.  Live peaceably with those around you.  People who do not follow Christ are watching those of us who do.  If we live by the code of an eye for an eye, we are going against Jesus who said to do otherwise.  How can we say that we follow the Righteous One (1 John 2:1) if we will not live righteously.  Those who follow the Prince of Peace must learn to live in peace as well.

Jesus is our example and He turned the other cheek.  He never sinned.  He preached and lived peace with all.  When we fall short of His example, we are scrutinized and deservedly so.  It seems that those who do not follow Christ are always looking for an opportunity to prove that His people are less than perfect and we give them ample opportunities!  Praise God for His forgiveness and grace so that when we fall short, He picks us up.  Our forgiveness is not dependent upon what the world thinks of us.  It is dependent upon the God of infinite grace and second chances.  All thanks and praise be to Him!

PRAYER: May all praise and glory be given to You and Your name today, O God. You are the mighty God and I give You glory and honor. Help me to be a peacemaker today and to live at peace with everyone in my life. Take the desire for revenge away from me so that I may have peace with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

28
Nov
16

He’s Not Going Anywhere

John 6:67-71 (NIV)

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

John 6:66 (NIV) says:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

People couldn’t accept the hard teachings of Jesus and so they deserted Him. Then Jesus asks His twelve disciples if they were going to leave as well. Peter speaks for the group and asks where else they could go. They couldn’t go back to fishing or tax collecting. They had been with Jesus! They had a deep relationship with the Son of God. They knew Him and who He was. They understood what others did not understand – He was the Messiah sent by God. He had words of truth and life.
What about us? Do we have a deep enough relationship with Jesus that we won’t leave Him when life gets hard and the going gets tough? Through hardships and troubles and persecution, will we remain faithful to Him? Do we love Him enough? Do we know Him well enough? Do we trust Him enough?
If you are struggling with your faith and with doubt right now, turn back to Jesus and hear Him whisper those words of truth and life to your soul. Hear Him say to your heart that He loves you and He will not abandon you nor leave you. Spend time with the Father in prayer and in reading His Word. Spend time with His people in a church family. These are good things to do because they remind us that He is there and He’s not going anywhere. Find faith and strength in His presence, His powerful Word and His people.
PRAYER: I ask that You would reveal Yourself to me today that I may have a deeper faith in You, O God. I need to hear from You. I need to be comforted by Your presence. Help me to be committed and devoted to Jesus today. Amen.
27
Nov
16

Praying For Each Other

The latest talk from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana. This message is based on James 5:12-20.

23
Nov
16

Why Do We Complain And Argue?

Philippians 2:12-18 (NIV)

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

When I was a kid, my mom used to quote Philippians 2:14 to us all the time:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing – Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

Why?  Because we were whiny and argumentative kids!  This is more than just sound advice to Christians in the church.  This is a vitally important commandment from Paul.  Why do we grumble (complain) and argue?  Because we have lost sight of what is really important!  We turn into Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years!  What did they do?  They complained all the time and they fought with Moses and each other.  This is not how it should be!  Rather, we should be thankful, grateful, considerate and merciful.
When we lose sight of what this is really all about, God’s Kingdom loses and the enemy wins.  Why do we complain?  Because we forget about Heaven.  If you woke up every day with the thought, “My sins are forgiven and I’m going to go to Heaven someday,” how much different would your life be?!?  About what could you possibly complain?!?  Everything else is so unimportant.  In the church, we typically complain about our personal preferences and someone else’s infringing upon them.
If we’re not complaining, then we’re arguing with each other.  Again, about what are we arguing?  Personal preferences!  We sound like siblings in the back seat of the car on a long trip.  “Would you stop touching me?!?”  It’s petty stuff that we often end up arguing over.  In the grand scheme of things, half of that stuff doesn’t really matter!
What does matter is our witness to the world.  Paul says that when we stop the complaining and arguing, we become “blameless and pure” and we “shine like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15, NIV).  We are able to shine Christ’s light into a dark world that so desperately needs light.  But if we spend all our time and energy complaining about not getting our way, we have none left to tell people about Jesus.  If we spend all of our time fighting with each other, we have no time to combat the spiritual forces of evil in prayer.  The next time you go to complain about something, offer up a prayer of thanks instead.  If you’re involved in an argument or a dispute, consider whether or not it is worth a dimmed light in this dark world.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to be thankful today for all of the blessings You have provided. I ask that You would forgive me when I grumble and complain. I want to be more grateful for all that You have done for me and for the people in my life. Amen.
22
Nov
16

Light And Momentary Troubles

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 (NIV)

As we go through the difficult days of our lives, it is hard not to get discouraged.  You watch as someone gets the promotion for which you were in line.  You struggle financially as you wonder how you’ll make ends meet.  Your heart aches as your relationships seem to fall apart.  Your body is, as Paul puts it, “wasting away” as you feel the aches and pains of many years on your bones.  You don’t know what to do as it seems as though life is a boxer and is giving you quite a pounding.  Can it really only be the fourth round?

Paul says we should not lose heart.  God is able to renew our hearts, minds and our spirits.  He called his own struggles (physical pain and the threat of death in every town) “light and momentary troubles”.  How can we gain such an understanding?  How can we face heartache, disappointment, pain and discouragement with such a perspective?  The real question is, “What are you looking at?”  Are you looking at your troubles or are you looking at your prize?  Are you focused on what you can see or what is unseen?  Our hope is not in the here and now.  Our hope is in heaven.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

There is a prize we are running towards, my friends.  Keep your eyes on the prize today!

PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for giving me the strength to deal with the light and momentary troubles in my life. Help me to remember to be thankful. Help me to remember that these troubles are temporary and that Your love lasts forever. Amen.




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