Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CLOSET

What excites you to talk about?  What do you talk about most of the time?

Your children?  Your family?  (Both good things)
Your workouts?
Your fashion?
Politics and world events?
Facebook?
More than you talk about Jesus?

If 80% of folks in the city where you live don't go to church (likely a very close percentage), it's time to come out of the closet as a follower of Christ and share the difference Jesus has made in you.

HAS He made a difference in your life?  HAS He?

If you found the cure for cancer, would you keep it to yourself?  Of course you wouldn't.  You'd be taking out full page ads on that.

If you found the cure for anxiety or anger or stress, would you keep it in?

But we HAVE found the answer -- it's Jesus.

Share that discovery with others.  Share how you finally found meaning and peace and purpose and hope.  Tell someone about Jesus this Christmas season.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 11, 2017

INSTANT

The rewards of purity are eternal, but they aren't always instant.

I confess that I thought my mom just made this up, then one day I found it in the Bible.  It's in the book of Numbers, which might explain why I didn't find it until I was 37.

But it says in there:  'Be sure your sin will find you out.'  (Numbers 32:23)

Just because you got away with it today, doesn't mean you're going to get away with it tomorrow.  But also, just because you do something right today, doesn't mean you're going to experience instant reward for it tomorrow.  That isn't even why you do it.

Moses never got into the Promised Land.  All those years of faithfulness - struggling with the people as their leader - resolving conflicts - endless meetings and goal setting and making plans - wandering in the desert -- yet he never stepped into the promise.

He got all the way to the corner of it -- right on the border, his toes hanging over the edge -- he could see it -- he could smell it -- he could feel the beautiful breeze on his face -- but God didn't allow him in.

Doesn't seem fair, does it?  Such a good man, Moses.

You can go the route of instant gratification, but it's a shallow, temporary road.  Or you can enjoy a life of greater value where you aren't looking short term, you're looking for the 'out there' reward instead.  The one that lasts ... forever.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

JOY

Do you want JOY this Christmas?

Here are 7 quick ways to get it.  Try one ... or more ...


Power down your gadgets for a day.  You'll just feel better.

Volunteer somewhere.  Giving boosts joy.

Talk to a stranger.  Share your discovery of the Good News of Jesus with them.

Go shopping ... for someone else.

Dance.  Just do it.

Take a family 30 minute walk.  Let those hormones release.  You'll feel amazing.

Get some quality rest tonight.  Fulfilling shut-eye increases joy.


And be blessed.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

ENCOUNTER

The shepherds' encounter with Jesus changed them forever.  They returned to their old jobs as new people.

That's important to grasp.

How has your encounter with Jesus changed you?
Can those at work see a difference?
Can your friends at school see you've changed?
Is your attitude different?
Do you give greater effort at work now that you follow Christ?
Have your values changed?  Your thoughts?  Your speech?  Your motives?
Do you operate with greater integrity than before?
How are you different at home, work and school because of Jesus?

Impacting the world for Christ for most of us doesn't mean across the globe;  it's across the hall.  It's impacting family - it's impacting friends - it's impacting neighbors - it's impacting co-workers.  That's our world.

You think your job and life are boring?  Try herding sheep every day.  But the shepherds went back to their old employment with new excitement because Jesus had changed their perspective about life.

Most of us don't need to change our jobs; we just need to change ourselves.  We need to go back to the old job as a new person, with a new attitude and a new perspective -- because Jesus has changed us.

The greatest evidence of Jesus walking the Earth isn't a bunch of people being healed; it's a bunch of forever changed lives after an encounter with Jesus.  That's the greatest message we have this Christmas.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

IMMEDIATELY

It isn't enough to just respond to Jesus.  HOW we respond makes all the difference.

Let's say you finally get up the nerve to get engaged to that special one.  You pick out the perfect ring - select the location and time - go to your beloved and get on one knee - take the hand - open the box to reveal the diamond - and say: 'Will you marry me?'

And the response you get back is:  'Let me get back to you on that?'

Would that create a special joy in your heart?

Let's say a friend calls:  'Want to go to dinner tonight?'

And you answer:  'Don't really have anything better to do, so I guess.'

Would a fountain of happiness spring up inside you at that moment?

If you're a parent and you said to your child:  'Would you please take out the trash?' and the response you got back was: 'I'll pray about that.'

Any joy coming at you from that?

If we want joy, we need to respond to the promptings of Jesus NOW.   Immediately.

What has God called you to do that you've been ignoring?  You've been delaying it.

'Trust Me with your finances,' He says.  'Because 90% with Me will go farther than 100% without Me.'

"Yeah, I really do want to do that - and I'm planning to.  I have a goal to get there by 2020.'  

Immediately.

There's an addiction ruling your life.  'I know I need help, but I need a few more months to see if I can kick this on my own.  If not, I'll seek help.'

Get yourself to someone who can help you now.  Run there.  Immediately.

Delayed obedience is disobedience.  You know that's true.

When your child says, 'Not right now,' that isn't obedience.

And when we say, 'You're my Lord, Jesus' -- and then He asks us to follow Him a certain direction and we go:  'Ummm.  No.  Later' -- that's disobedience.  And delayed obedience never brings joy.

But if your child says:  "Absolutely, Dad.  I'll do that right away.  What else can I do for you?" ... After we resuscitated you . . . what kind of joy would that bring?

Do you want real joy this Christmas?

Respond to God with immediate obedience.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SITUATION

The Good News is Jesus.  Christ, the Lord.

No doubt about it.  The good news is where real joy comes from.

Our major mistake when it comes to finding joy is that we believe joy is tied to our circumstances.  If my situation was different, I'd be happy.

That's why people go on exotic vacations - it's why they change careers - it's why they alter their hair color - it's why they get a different spouse.  If I change my situation, I'll be happy.

The problem is -- that doesn't work.  Because joy isn't found in our circumstances.  It's found in our choices.  It's found in the decisions we make every day of our lives.

Good news of great joy - for all the people - is Christ the Lord.  A Savior.  Someone to rescue us from our sins.  Because no matter how good we are, we can't save ourselves.

All of us fall short of God's standard for perfection and if that's so, we're all in trouble.  We can't make it to heaven on a B+.

'The wages for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.'  (Romans 6:23)

The penalty is death.  That's what hell is.  It isn't just a place on fire.  It's forever separation from God.  We can never make it to heaven on our own; we need help.  God's gift of Jesus makes eternal life possible.

Jesus is the Link.  He's the Bridge between fallen man and a holy God.

Do you want joy this Christmas?  Invite Jesus into your life as your Savior and let Him wipe away your past and all the anxiety and ugliness that comes with it.

He's our Savior.  But it's that second part we so often miss, even as followers of Christ.  He's also our Lord.

What does that mean?

It means Jesus is in charge - it means Jesus is the leader - it means Jesus has your complete loyalty and allegiance - it means you'll do whatever He asks of you.

He's our Savior.  He takes away our sin, but the tougher part is to accept Him as your Lord.  It seems so many Christ-followers have accepted Him as Savior, because we all want to go to heaven one day - but fewer follow Him as their Lord - because that means we release control and let Him direct our lives.

The Good News of great joy at Christmas is Jesus Christ the Lord.  He's the answer to your situation.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

PRISON

Corrie Ten Boom was a young Dutch girl taken prisoner by the Germans during World War 2 for hiding Jews in her attic in Holland.  Her story was made famous in a book and movie called 'The Hiding Place.'  She was held captive in a death camp until weeks before the camp was liberated.  Her sister, Betsy, killed by the Nazis in that camp - said of her prison:

"Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.  Bless you."

Wow.

There's the "IN everything give thanks" Bible verses we're so fond of quoting - but there's a deeper level of Christian devotion we aren't as comfortable with, and yet it's just as important when we come to points in our lives where we need to fully trust God.

Not just "IN" everything give thanks -- but 'always giving thanks to God the Father FOR everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.'  (Ephesians 5:20)

You didn't cause it, God, but even in this I see Your graceful hand.
No, I didn't deserve it.
Yes, I was forever marked by it.
No, it didn't come from You.
But yes, I know You never left me in the middle of it, so even FOR this, I give You praise.

Can you say that about your prison?
Do you see God in it at all?
What matters isn't the circumstance; what matters is how true to God we remain in it.

It may not make a lot of sense at the time, but you are very much in God's hand.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PERIOD

When we talk about trusting God, typically we mean that we'll trust Him this little rough patch we're having right now, if it doesn't take Him too long to figure it out.

'I'll trust you through Thanksgiving, God - but by Christmas time, You need to have this thing fixed if we're going to be friends going forward.'

That isn't the way of trust.  Trusting God means trusting . . . period.

Trust His character - trust His Word - trust His direction - trust His promises - trust His wisdom . . . period.  Not just because you think the valley will soon end - not just because you know one day there's a blessing.  Just trust.

I know that's hard.

Where are you being called to trust and it's brought you nothing but pain so far?
It's brought nothing but difficulty?
Nothing by setback?
Maybe even harder times?

Here's the end game reality:  'God meant it for good.' 

Oh, sorry.  Did you think that meant He would work out everything so YOU were happy and satisfied?  Hmm.  That isn't what that says.  He will work it all out for HIS good - for HIS great purposes.  But know that in the end, that IS your very best.

Which is why the idea of providence is best seen thru the rear view mirror.  God's hand - God's control - God's blessing - is best seen looking back over a life, not forward or even in the moment.

God has your best in mind ... period.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

APPETITE

I noticed this week that sin has a big appetite.  Don't ask me how I noticed it - I just did.

The more you feed sin, the more it craves and grows.

Sometimes we think if we read our Bibles and pray more - get in a couple of life groups - we'd not have these problems with temptation.

But no.

Being a follower of Christ doesn't exempt you from desires of the flesh.  No matter how good you are - no matter how long you live - you'll be tempted as a Christ-follower - but you can be tempted without sinning.

Because there will be times in the course of your marriage when it just gets a little dull.

There will be moments when you'll look at someone and have a fleeting thought.

There will be occasions when a desire springs up inside you that seems shocking even to you.

When that happens, don't decide you married the wrong person.  Consider it temptation.  Consider it an accusation from the enemy of your soul.

And say 'No.'

And be blessed.

Monday, November 13, 2017

DESIRE

There are a few important words we need to understand when it comes to dealing with temptation.

One is DESIRE.  This is where sin gets its first foothold.  At wrong desires.  Our desires are landing strips for the enemy of our souls - so be very careful and watchful.  Desires aren't always sin, but wrong ones left unchecked, grow.

Then there's DECEPTION.  Wrong desires lead to deceiving yourself that the wrong desire is justified.  We lie to ourselves, which is the most dangerous kind of lie.

DISOBEDIENCE.  Deception ultimately prompts wrong actions, which is disobedience to God.

And finally, DEATH.  There is a consequence for every disobedience.  The Bible says, 'The wages of sin is death.'

These four "D"s are clearly seen in James 1:15 - "DESIRE, when it has conceived (or DECEIVED) gives birth to sin (DISOBEDIENCE), and sin when it is fully grown brings forth DEATH."

Desire.
Deception.
Disobedience.
Death.

Watch out.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

HAPPENED

Moral temptation is all around us.

It's in the office with flirtation from a co-worker.
It's in the restaurant when you're out of town and eating alone.
It's on the internet when you're surfing late at night.
It's on social media.
It's in the church lobby when you brush up against someone who isn't your spouse half-on-accident, half-on-purpose.
It's real and it's waiting to ruin every person reading right now - if we aren't watchful.

Is there anyone who thinks it couldn't happen to you?  Don't answer that.

Because it happened to the wisest man on earth - Solomon.
It happened to the strongest man on earth - Samson.
It happened to the man who had the tenderest hear for God - David.

So let me ask again if there's anybody who thinks it couldn't happen to you.  And again, don't answer that -- except to yourself.

And there, answer it very soberly.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

BED

The Bible is pretty clear that one of the worst things you can do in marriage is let the sun go down on your wrath.  You'll lay in bed that way and she'll lay in bed this way and a bad root will begin to grow ... fast.

You'll say, 'She doesn't respect me - the way she treats me - she doesn't honor me .  . . '
She'll be doing the same on her side of the bed about him and the root of bitterness will grow and grow and grow and grow in opposite directions in each of their hearts.

The Bible says not to let that happen.  It says to attack that spirit.  Don't go to bed angry.  With all your might, resolve that before you lie down.  Because it will grow while you're sleeping.

That means, in that moment -- if your wife is facing this way and you're facing that way and it's 10:30pm, 11pm, midnight, and she's 99.999% of the blame -- because let's face it, she probably is -- it falls on YOU, sir, to roll over, tap her on the shoulder and say, 'I don't want to go to bed angry.  I need to apologize . . . for my .001%.'

And just for the record ... I wouldn't use numbers.

'I know you're angry about what happened.  I am, too.  But I need to apologize for how I responded earlier - how I handled that whole thing.  I didn't respond in love.  I reacted.  I said some things I didn't mean.  I'm so sorry.  I need to ask forgiveness.'

That doesn't mean the whole thing is solved.  It just means the root of bitterness that wants to lodge itself in the depth of your souls while you sleep just got cut off.

The initiative is on you to be the peacemaker in your home, to fight for your wife's healing, to fight for your family's wholeness, because Jesus initiated and fought for you -- and He didn't even have .001% of the blame.

And be blessed.