Devos

June 18, 2017

Relevant:

“Don’t caw. Come in”

Romans 12:10

There was a bar not too far from my home in St Augustine, FL, that has a sign out front with a picture of a crow standing with his arms open saying, “Don’t caw. Come in.” I just love that sign. And it is so relevant to the shift in how we interact with others. It seems in today’s busy, hectic, fast paced transactional world of technological communications, in-person interactions are becoming a thing of the past. We have gone from sitting down for lunch, to grabbing a phone call, to sending an email, to a 142 character text message. In essence, relationships are disappearing. There are many reasons for this. But if we are honest, spending time with someone else usually doesn’t fit into “our” schedule. This is true in our personal and professional lives. We are so wrapped up in ourselves and our own “stuff” that we don’t have time for others. Actually, we have the time…we just don’t make the time.

Challenge: Jesus told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another.” (John 13:34). How did Jesus love others? Sacrificially. He put others before himself. He spent time with His disciples, building a relationship. One of the greatest ways to honor someone is to give them the only non-renewable resource we have, our time. Make some time this week to grow your relationships…face to face.                 

Prayer: Lord, I have allowed my life to become so busy that I barely have time to get everything done. I know there are relationships in my life that need attention…most importantly, my relationship with you. Help me prioritize my day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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June 11, 2017

Relentless:

“Treasure Hunter”

Prov 1:7, 2:3-6; 1 Cor 1:27, 3:19; Eph 3:16-19

It has been said that “knowledge is power.” Actually, I think a more accurate statement is “the use of knowledge is powerful.” Knowledge by itself is like the sharpest axe in the world. It is absolutely useless unless someone swings it. Many of us find ourselves on this relentless quest for knowledge…in the acquisition of educational degrees, through books, training seminars, infomercials, etc… We believe that the more we know, the more we learn, the better we will be. Getting an education, preparing for one’s future, learning the particulars of an industry, product, job, etc…is essential to being successful and effective in many aspects of both an educational and professional environment. However, this knowledge is not the foundation by which God calls us in our lives. It seems the smarter we get by the world’s standards, the more capable we feel we are to analyze God’s Word, sometimes question its validity, demand scientific evidence and proof, or simply think we are too smart to believe in God and His Word. All throughout the Bible the perils are revealed, from God’s perspective, of being “wise in our own eyes” and of the arrogance that often comes with worldly knowledge.  

Challenge: Proverbs 1:7 tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,…” God does not tell us not to become knowledgeable about the world. He tells us not to become rooted in it. “For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.’” (1 Cor 3:19) We have the instructions: “…and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”( Prov 2:3-6). Rather than filtering God’s Word through worldly knowledge, try filtering worldly knowledge through God’s Word. I think you will be surprised at the perspective shift.

Prayer: Lord, your Word tells me that You and your love are the root of all knowledge, wisdom, insight, and understanding. And that wisdom and understanding are worth more than gold and silver. There is so much pressure on being seen as an authority on this or an authority on that…to learn this or that…all things based on man’s perspective. You tell me if I seek first your kingdom, the things I need will be given to me. Lord, thank you for your faithfulness as I need wisdom and discernment. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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May 21, 2017

Radical:

“Life Uncompromising”

Daniel 1:8, Ch. 3, 6  

It has been said many times that character is what happens when no one is watching. That is absolutely true. Unless we have the self discipline and the inner fortitude to do the right thing when no one is watching (of course, there is One who sees everything), chances are much greater that we will not have what it takes to stand our ground when it counts, when others are watching. In today’s world of instant gratification and eroding ethics, maintaining a high level of principles and living an uncompromising life is deemed, well…radical. The stories of Daniel and the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, being thrown into the fiery furnace are two of the most told stories of the Bible. Both stories end with God showing His faithfulness to those who love Him. But we sometimes forget how they ended up in the lion’s den and the furnace. Both situations resulted from an unwillingness to compromise principles and a commitment to God, despite the potential repercussions. In both stories, it could be argued that their (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) compromise could be justified given the societal perspective and potential outcome …death. That sentiment of “acceptable compromise” is alive and well today. For the majority of us, we will never face a situation where our choice of whether nor not to compromise meant the difference between life and death. However, we have all faced the choice between what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong, despite the choice’s level of “worldly acceptance”.  When there is an audience of only one, the One, it is sometimes easier to do what is right. But when we are out in public, with a group, or even our family, and presented with a choice of whether or not to stand our ground, maintain our principles, doing what we know is right is sometimes more difficult, especially when the only other person in the group that agrees with our position is God.

 Challenge:   Peer and societal pressures, eroding values, and the aforementioned sentiment of “acceptable compromise”, put significant pressure on all of us, especially young men, to maintain a Godly perspective and stand firm in our principles and values. Every day, it seems, we hear of men, many prominent and respected men of faith, succumb to the pressure and compromise their values and ethics. Our challenge…bottom line: “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9. And how do we stand firm? In the power of Jesus. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.            

Prayer: Lord, every day I face choices. And even though I want to make the right ones, the ones that You would want me to make, I don’t always do it. I am so thankful for your grace and for the fact that there is nothing that could ever separate us from your love. (Rom 8:39). I ask for your power so I can stand firm in my faith when faced with choices large and small. Thank you for your promises. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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May 7, 2017

Real:

“Shoulda…Coulda…Will Do.”

John 16; Romans 8:1-2; Galatians 6:10; Colossians 4:5  

 

If we are “real” and honest with ourselves, guilt often hits us more for the things we don’t do rather than the things that we do. You know… the “I should’ve done this.” or “I should’ve done that.” Why is that? Maybe because there is a very good chance that what we “do” is seen or heard by someone other than us. But unless we tell someone, we are the only one who knows what we don’t do…what is on our mind…what we feel prompted to do…the only one who knows what God has placed on our heart. If you notice, the “shoulda – coulda – woulda – didn’t”s refer to the past, not the future. What we do, and don’t do, in the future is up to us.    

Challenge: Romans 8:1-2 tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”(NIV) It is that same Holy Spirit that intercedes on our behalf to the Father but also guides us, helps us, and was sent to make known to us what is from Christ. (John 16) “Hello,” said our conscience, the Holy Spirit. Galatians 6:10 tells us “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” And Colossians 4:5 challenges us to, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. “ We never know when God is going to throw an opportunity our way that, depending on how we respond, could change someone’s life forever.            

Prayer: Lord, looking back there have been so many times in my life I feel like I missed opportunities that You placed in my path. Forgive me. Please give me Your eyes, ears, and heart so I will be open to your divine appointments and recognize the opportunity and Your hand in all situations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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April 16, 2017

Relevant:

Things are not as they seem…

Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Once while on a trip with my family, the check engine soon light came on in our car. I didn’t think much about it until we started on the trip home. We hadn’t gone 5 miles before the car began to act up. I wasn’t going to take a chance. I took my family back to our relatives’ house and then took the car to a repair shop that had been recommended to me by an auto parts store. The initial indications revealed a potentially costly repair…well over $600. I was a bit discouraged but rather than get upset, I realized there wasn’t much I could do about it and began to pray and ask God to reveal why I was there. I knew there was a reason, I just felt it. After replacing the components that the computer scanner said was defective, the problem codes remained. It was somewhat comical as I told the shop owner just a few minutes earlier that it would be funny if after 4 hours of work the problem remained. It did. Come to find out, after some further diagnostics and voltage checks, the problem was found…a blown fuse. Needless to say, the repair was not as costly as anticipated. And even though every indication and troubleshooting result said one thing, the actual problem was something completely different…and much more simple. The mechanic was embarrassed but there was no need. He did all he knew to do and followed the obvious path resulting from what the indications told him. During my time at the shop and through our conversations, I realized he was a man of faith…affirming that I was there for a reason. To make a long story short, as we were wrapping up I was able to share with him about Servant Warrior Ministries, give him some Full Armor prayer cards that he could pass onto others, and hopefully gained a new friend. Why did all this happen? Why that shop and not another? I still don’t know. I hope that one day I find out. One thing I do know is that it was God working in and through me that kept me from losing my cool. Additionally, I am pretty confident that what happened at the end of my 5 hour visit to the repair shop would not have happened or would likely have had no impact if I hadn’t been open to God’s prompting and whisper…realizing that all was not what it seemed.  We never know how God will orchestrate and use circumstances. We just have to always be ready.     

Challenge: None of us know the future. Nor are things always what they seem. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher your your thoughts.” Every day, it seems, we face trials and challenges that often generate an initial response but when all is said and done render our first response inappropriate or unwarranted. I am one of the world’s worst at reacting before everything plays out. The challenge this week is to allow things to play out, especially those that have the potential of being less than optimal, and ask God to show Himself and His will through the circumstance. Trust me. You will be amazed at the result…and at His faithfulness.

Prayer: Lord, I am so grateful your plan is perfect…and for your forgiveness. I need your help as there are times that my reactions are dictated by the immediate issue or issues in front of me rather than how you are using the issue or issues in furthering your will. Lord, please give me perspective and discernment as I never want to miss an opportunity or hinder your work through me…because of me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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April 9, 2017

Radical:

Title: “Rabid Fans”

Verses:  Romans 12:11

 I am stoked with the coming of spring as the return of baseball and many other sports is upon us. As a fan, coach, and former player, I find myself becoming engrossed in coaching my kids, watching games, and just enjoying being a fan. That’s how guys are wired. We aspire to be a part of a team…a part of something. It doesn’t have to be sports. It can be anything. And as guys, we can sometimes be tagged with the label of being “rabid fans” of our particular team, driver, game, etc…That kind of passion and enthusiasm is great and what draws us into being fans. What if we put the same kind of rabid passion into being fans of Jesus and His team? For many, the perception is that it’s not the same. I have seen fans of opposing teams, especially of college teams, get into fights in defense of their unyielding devotion and passion for their school…their team. How many times have we seen that same unyielding passion and devotion in defense of Jesus Christ? No victory on any playing field compares to His over death. And no other victory past, preset, or future, will ever have such an impact on our lives, for eternity, as His. Think about it. I love my teams as much as anyone…maybe more so than most. But if I am honest with myself, I don’t think any of them would be willing to die for me…whether they knew me or not. But they get my enthusiasm, my allegiance, my passion.

Challenge: Sports, athletes, entertainers, and so many other things get our passion, our loyalty, our devotion over the One who bore the sins of all of humanity, past, present, and future, and died for us so that we can have eternal life. And He did it for all. Romans 5:8 provides some perspective: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God is your biggest fan. Give Him some of your passion…your “rabid fanaticism”. Remember, with God, you are guaranteed a win. You can’t say that about any other team.

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I forget the magnitude of your victory over death…and what it means for me. Please create a fire in me that will fuel my relationship with you and my “rabid fanaticism” for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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March 26, 2017

Real:

“Genuine, Imitation…”

Ps 139:13-16; Prov 10:9, 11:3, 12:22; Eph 6:14; Phil 4:8;

I always smile and laugh a bit at the description of anything that starts with “Genuine, Imitation…”. What does that actually mean? That it’s a genuine…fake? Is that a good thing? I make light of it but when it comes to us, as people, it is no joking matter. Take a fake Rolex watch, for instance. On the surface and at a quick glance, it may look real…genuine. But after a closer look, when it’s really examined, its true identity is revealed. I have to admit that I have a fake Rolex that I bought while on vacation. It’s a fairly nice watch and it looks a lot like a real Rolex. At a quick glance, I may be able to pull it off. However, if you know what to look for, it’s obvious it’s not the real thing. I know it’s not real. And I am even reluctant to wear it in case someone sees it and thinks it’s real. However, I wear it as a reminder that I can fool anyone at first glance, maybe even for a little while, but at some point I’ll be found out. I’m talking about me as much as the watch. And once I am found out, I have lost any and all credibility. When all is said and done, the only thing I set myself up for in trying to be something I am not is failure and let down.  

Challenge: In today’s world of maintaining a certain look, status, or lifestyle, we can find ourselves trying to pull off a “genuine, imitation” something as the real thing. Why? Are we trying to be accepted? Fit in? What happens when we are found out? How viable is our credibility? And if by some chance we are able to live out the charade without anyone finding out, it’s all for not because we know the truth. And so does God. Proverbs 10:9 states, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Be who you are. Who you are is exactly what God created. And what He created is perfect. You have an important purpose and a calling.

Prayer: Lord, I face all kinds of pressure to meet certain standards, a lifestyle, or a status, in order to be accepted…to fit in. I know in my heart who I am but sometimes I don’t think it’s good enough. When I have these doubts, remind me of your words in Psalms 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…”…”your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Please give me the strength to be who You created. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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March 19, 2017

Relevant:

“Lighten the Load”

Matt 11:28-30; Ps 38:4, 55:22, 68:19; Gal 5:1

It always amazes me how airplanes that weigh so much are able to get off the ground and fly. Aerodynamics is absolutely amazing. I love the movie Pearl Harbor (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin).  We all know the story but there is a small but significant message in the movie that is so relevant to us today. In the movie, the success of the Army Air Corps’ bombing run missions into Japan depended on the ability to take off from an aircraft carrier. The carriers, however, had a very short runway and the planes had to be at absolute minimal weight in order to get in the air before the runway ran out. Failure meant crashing into the ocean. How often are our lives a direct reflection of those planes? We are so weighed down by the burdens of life that we can’t seem to get off the carrier except to…crash. There is a way to “lighten the load”. Christ tells us to “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28.  Ps 55:22 tells us to “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you: he will never let the righteous fall.” We serve a big God. And He can handle our burdens. All we have to do is give them to Him.

Challenge: For many of us it is difficult to cast our burdens on someone else, even Christ…the only one who can truly handle them. And despite how much we want to, we don’t. Jesus is patient, humble, and knocking at our door. He will always be there when we open it. If you can’t cast all your worries and troubles on Him right now, start by casting only a few. Watch how He will come through for you. Remember, walking with Christ is a marathon, not a sprint.      

Prayer: Lord, I have all kinds of burdens that are weighing me down and keeping me from flying with you. And even though I want to, I have a hard time giving things over to you. Help me trust in you, that you can handle all my cares and worries, and that you will not let me fall. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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March 12, 2017

Relentless:

When the going gets tough, the tough….

Matt 26:41; Rom 8:26; 2 Cor 12:9-10; Phil 4:13;

 We have all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It is right up there with “Pull yourself up by your boot straps.” As guys, we are very familiar with these sayings and attitudes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of relentless approach and tenacity when facing obstacles, hardships, or challenges. How many times have we tried to take things on ourselves, in our own strength, and come up short? How do we feel? Inadequate? Weak? Not up to the challenge? Even the fastest race car and most formidable land mover machines don’t finish strong without fuel and/or the right operator. I’ve never heard of something that can move tons of earth with ease referred to as ‘weak’ or ‘inadequate”. And neither are you. Jesus Christ said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9. Don’t feel you have to take on the challenges of life alone or in your own strength. Let the Omnipresent and Omnipotent God work through you and on your behalf.

This Week: I challenge you to lean on God and ask Him to help you with some of your challenges and obstacles. For many of you who find it hard to let go of things or feel the need to maintain control, rest in the fact that the Almighty is up for the task. He wants to show you how faithful and capable He is.     

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that You care about the challenges and struggles in my life. I am also thankful that you are capable of handling anything and faithful to never let me down. Please give me the strength, Lord, to allow you to work through me and on my behalf. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

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March 5, 2017

“Gearing Up…”

Eph 6:10-18

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV). Here’s the devil’s MO (modus oprandi or method of operation): render the man useless, irrelevant, and those around him will become easy prey. Why? Because Satan knows that as the men go in a society, so goes the society. If they are strong, the society is strong. If they are weak…well, you get the picture.

Men, there is a shared need. It’s in our homes, our businesses, our offices, our schools, coffee shops and restaurants. It’s in our communities, on golf courses, baseball diamonds, football and soccer fields, our neighborhood pool. It is everywhere we go. It is the need for men of all ages to step up. Generations of young men are being raised with the idea that they are not accountable for their actions, that there is no right or wrong, that someone will always bail them out, that somebody else will handle it. No. Unless we, strong, Godly, Christian men, step forward and accept responsibility for the condition of our communities…our churches…our homes, we are doomed to repeat the vicious circle of fostering generations of unaccountable, irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and weak minded men who will inevitably take those ungodly traits into the marketplace, into our churches, our homes, our government. The time is NOW to make a difference.

Challenge: Every day, men step onto a battlefield. It’s not a war against other men… but against evil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12 (NIV) It’s time for men, 5 to 105, to step up, put on the Armor of God (Eph 6), take their place on the wall (Neh 4), and get ready for the battle of their lives…for their lives…and for the lives entrusted to them…their friends…their families…each other. It’s time to get the battle gear on. It’s time to Armor Up.

Prayer: “Father, today by faith in Jesus, I put on the (1) GIRDLE OF TRUTH. I thank You today that I know who I am in Christ – a child of God whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Lord, I want to by faith put on the (2) BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS to protect me from responding to circumstances and people emotionally rather than spiritually. Before I rise each day, Father, put on my feet the sandals of the (3) GOSPEL OF PEACE that I may be used by You to share the peace of God with other men. Father, I thank you that I can take up the (4) SHIELD OF FAITH knowing as I place my trust in You today, you are sufficient to protect me from fiery darts so that nothing can touch me. Lord, I place on my head the (5) HELMET OF SALVATION. Protect my thinking from things that don’t conform to Your will. Father, I take up the (6) SWORD OF THE SPIRIT which is YOUR WORD. This is my only offensive piece of equipment but it is also defensive so that when Satan attacks me, I am armed and ready to ward off all his arrows. The victory has ultimately been won. I march today under that great banner of victory, washed by the blood, armed with the Word, dressed in the armor of righteousness, believing and thanking You for what You are going to do. Lord, I pray this day that I may recognize who the enemy is and claim VICTORY as I am properly dressed to face every challenge by Your causative, overcoming power. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Ephesians 6:10-18.”

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February 19, 2017

“Oooo, that smell…”

Galatians 5:9

It is absolutely amazing how the scent from the slight spray of a skunk can impact such a large area around it. For those who have never had the benefit of experiencing the byproduct of a frightened or threatened skunk, let me tell you that everyone within a few square miles of the little guy will enjoy its distinct and rather undesirable scent. A bad attitude can have a similar impact. Just like the aroma from the skunk, the stench of a bad attitude can fill a home, a business, a ball team, a church, or a neighborhood. Get just a little bit of the skunk’s spray on your clothes and the smell will accompany you everywhere you go…just like a bad attitude. And just like that little skunk’s spray, whoever comes in contact with it takes the smell with them…everywhere they go. Before you know it that smell (a.k.a. a bad attitude) has impacted multiple homes, multiple businesses, multiple ball teams, multiple churches, and multiple neighborhoods.

Challenge:  We must be aware of the immediate and lasting impact one attitude can have on so many.  The great thing is that a positive attitude can have an effect that is just as impactful…long lasting…and viral. God’s word tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thes 5:16-18(NIV) It certainly is tough to have a bad attitude if we adhere to those instructions. And remember, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Gal 5:9 (NIV)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your grace, love, and forgiveness. Thank You for being faithful and true. Lord, all through Your word we are reminded of the large impact small things can have…such as the faith of a mustard seed or the tithe of a widow of two small copper coins. Lord, never let me forget the impact one attitude can have on so many. Please give me the strength to be who You see and created me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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February 12, 2017

Luke 6:43-44

“But the label says…”

Have you ever been in a store, picked up an item off the shelf, read the label, and realized that what you were holding was not what it said on the label? Even the most experienced and savvy salesperson would not be able to convince the person holding a basketball that it was not a bag of M&M’s…despite being identified as such by the label. One of my all-time favorite songs is “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest Christian rock songs of all-time. When it pops up on the iPod, the volume meter can’t go far enough to the right for me. I love the song. “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak? What will people do when they find that it’s true? I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak. There ain’t no disguising the truth.”  What about you? Does the merchandise match the label? There is a saying I have heard many times and is one that hits me square in the gut every time I hear it because I know there are times that I struggle with my answer. That question is: If I were to be accused of being a follower of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict me?  

Challenge: Luke 6:43-44 reads, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.” Despite what my label might read, I will be known by my actions, lifestyle, work ethic, character, and integrity…my fruit. We, the body of Christ, can be the biggest obstacle to people coming to know Jesus Christ if our tag and what they are looking at don’t match. We are called to impact others for Christ and to be a living testimony to His grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. And the only way God can truly work through us is for the merchandise (us) to match the label.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who You sent to earth to bear the sins of the world, past present, and future, and die on the cross so that we might have eternal life with You. Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness as I know that I fall short daily. Lord, I pray that my life is a living testimony and sacrifice…and that others see You in me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen  

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February 5, 2017

“In the club…or not.”

John 12:42

 Peer pressure…social acceptance…keeping up with the Jones’…status…popularity…Why is the need to be “in the club” so great that we will forego what we believe or believe to be right in order to maintain our social…”status”? No segment of our society is immune, even the church.  Every day in our schools, our communities, the marketplace, we ignore what we know to be right in fear of being ostracized…have our status or position negatively impacted…of being kicked out of “the club”. Classmates are bullied…and we do nothing. Young women are being abused by their “boyfriends”…and we accept it. We witness, even take part in, unethical behavior and/or business practices…and we look the other way. Conversations that drip with gossip…and we join in. Youth and teens succumb to the pressures to drink…take drugs…become sexually active. Why? Are we afraid we’ll lose status…street cred…the acceptance of the “world”?  “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42 NIV)

Challenge: Regardless of our age, our spiritual walk, or our background, we all have a Divinely inherent knowledge of God ( Rom 1:18-20) and of what is right and just (Gen 3:11-12). For those of us who are followers of Christ, we are called to be the “salt of the earth.” (Matt 5:13) Christ calls us to be “…the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ” (Matt 5:14-16 NIV). Standing up for what is right is exactly what we, as Christians, are supposed to do regardless of the world’s…“repercussions”. We can stand firm and stand up because we are assured by the Almighty that those who are persecuted for righteousness will be blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10 NIV)

Prayer: Lord, You are so worthy of praise. Thank You for Your love, Your grace, Your forgiveness, and Your faithfulness. Lord, You tell me that following You and seeking righteousness will bring a level of persecution. Father, please give me the strength to stand up for what is right, just, and true…regardless of how I may be treated by the world. Thank You that my reward is with You in heaven…not on earth. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.   

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January 29, 2017

“Proper Prior Planning Prevents…”

Proverbs 16:9

Whether you believe it or not, God is always at work in our lives. God’s word says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Prov 16:9 (NIV). Think about how many steps we take every day to get from here to there. Think about the plans, or routes, we make for our lives.  As many of us know all too well, a plan’s first brush with reality often ends in horrible failure. Failure according to our perspective, that is. If we are taking a road trip, we check the weather, consider traffic patterns, etc… However, there is no way to plan for the unexpected occurrences that will inevitably happen along the way. I’m sure we all have stories, some of them very colorful, about the unexpected things that happen during a road trip. We cannot foresee everything that will happen to us during our trip…our life. Therefore, we have to get as ready as possible. The key is not simply to plan. The key is to plan and prepare…properly.

Being properly prepared allows us to experience fully and recognize God’s providence in all of the things that will happen while on the road. Rain, while difficult to drive in, fosters a rainbow when it’s done. And detours, while usually inconvenient and annoying, often reveal a much preferable route with breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences. Besides, how boring would it be if all our travels were filled with blue skies, warm winds, open roads, and no speed traps?

Challenge: There is a concept of The 6 P’s: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. For our road trip, would consider the destination, conditions, and duration in determining the appropriate gear needed…appropriate being the operative term. We must be as prepared as possible in order to handle whatever comes our way, both good and bad. On the road of life, we can be assured that we will get quite a bit of each. However, we can also be assured that the One who is in absolute control loves us and has provided us the greatest “How To” manual and “Prep Tool” ever printed…His Word.

Prayer: Lord, I know that I don’t know what tomorrow brings. However, I do know Your plan is perfect and that You are never surprised. You tell me in Your word that if I acknowledge You in all I do, You will make my paths straight. I trust in that because Your promises are always true. Thank you for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

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January 22, 2017

“Judging by the cover…”

1 Samuel 16:6-7

There was a story that came out in the late nineties about how Stanford University was founded. The account of the story was that Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, in order to speak to university’s president about erecting a building in honor of their son who attended Harvard but died unexpectedly. Apparently, the president of the university responded rather gruffly to the shabbily dressed ‘country hicks’ and asked if they had any idea how much it costs to build a building. He told them he had over seven and a half million dollars in the physical structures on the campus. Mrs. Stanford looked at her husband and commented that if that was all it cost to start a university they should start their own. Her comment left the Harvard president speechless and the Stanfords went back to California and started Stanford University. While this rendition of the origin of Stanford University is absolutely false, the underlying moral of the story and premise of “never judging someone by mere appearance” couldn’t be truer.

Every day, in the business marketplace…in schools…in our neighborhoods…in churches…people are judged based on their appearance. Of course, I am not speaking only of those who are looked down upon because they don’t quite meet a certain dress code or look. An attractive outer appearance has a similar impact but in the opposite way. How we present ourselves is very important. However, our outward appearance is not the determinant of who we are…and certainly is not what God looks at. A perfect example is the Lord’s appointment and rejection of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 15) and anointing of young David as the future king (1 Samuel 16). “When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (ESV). 

Challenge: I started at an early age to live by the creed “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” And appearance is a major factor in the impressions, both first and ongoing, that we make. However, one’s outer appearance doesn’t always reveal the “real” person. I have been guilty, more than I would like to admit, of judging someone based on appearance, both positively and negatively. I looked at them through my own filter and not God’s. And it’s interesting…and humbling…how God convicted me when I did…and how He still convicts me when I do.  

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to form opinions and impressions based on appearance. In today’s world, appearance has become so important and a condition of acceptance…of promotion. Lord, despite of what we look like to others and see others as, You know our heart and the people we are…and likely the people we want to be. Lord, give me the courage to look beyond the appearance to reach others and love them as You did…and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.           

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January 15, 2017

In Hot Pursuit…

Proverbs 21:21

What is it that we pursue? Fame? Success? Possessions? Knowledge? Power? The perfect golf swing? There are so many things in this life and this world we pursue that we often lose sight of what is truly important, what will have lasting impact, and what will not fade away. In fact, those things we find hardest to attain are the very things we pursue with a relentless tenacity comparable only to that of a heat seeking missile. Status, wealth, accomplishment, recognition, and possessions are natural pursuits for the human spirit. It is that spirit of pursuit that resides in all of us. It is how we are wired. God tells us through His word that “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).  

Challenge: King Solomon, the man who literally had everything, said, “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). We are told in God’s word to pursue righteousness and not the things of this world. We are told to seek first the kingdom of God… and the things that we need will be given to us (Matthew 6). We are also told to ‘delight in the Lord and he will give us the desires of our hearts.’ (Psalm 37:4). The challenge this week is to commit to pursue God and His righteousness…first. If this is new for you, don’t worry. We all crawled before we were able to run.  

Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me that if pursue You, You will give me everything I need. Sometimes it is hard for me to focus on You first when all of my needs are staring me in the face. You also tell me that if I keep with You, I will get the desires of my heart. Lord, I am so grateful for your forgiveness because I need it. Because if I am honest, with myself and with You, sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, I have a hard time going after what You want me to rather than what I want to. Please help me to look upward before I look forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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January 8, 2017

“Go Where Your Competition’s Not”

Matthew 9:10-13

In today’s world of information overload and instant access to almost anything via the internet, cable television, satellite radio, etc…, advertisers and marketers are faced with an uphill battle on how to blaze new and unchartered trails in order to reach their desired target market or customer. The ability of companies and/or organizations to tap into potential clients that reside in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the “Target” (we will talk about my ‘Target Theory’ in the coming weeks), there has to be a strategy, but more importantly a plausible purpose and reason for why they are ringing their doorbell. Good organizations and companies are able to connect the dots and show potential customers in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the target the benefit of doing business together. Tapping into the outer rings often puts folks where their competition is not. While those who are a bit more tunnel-focused will wonder why in the world, let’s say as they did a number of years ago, a car dealership is putting cars in the middle of the mall. The reasoning was two-fold. One, there are no other car dealerships doing it. And two, there are a lot of people in the mall and they need cars too. I like the rationale. And it worked.

After Jesus called Levi (aka, Matthew), a tax collector, to follow Him, He went to Matthew’s house for dinner and ate with other tax collectors and ‘sinners’. The Pharisees, not only did they think it was wholly inappropriate and wrong for Him to be associating with such people, they couldn’t see the reasoning or the rationale of why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’. “On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV).  There was the strategy, purpose, reason, and benefit. Jesus came to deliver ‘sinners’. So He had to go where ‘they’ were. They were His customers…still are. And there obviously were no other competitors bidding for His customers’…eternal… business.

Challenge: In business, whether in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors, having the ability to connect the dots and build relationships to potential “customers” in the outer rings of the target is essential to increasing market share and building lasting and beneficial relationships. Sometimes, the only way to reach those in the outer rings is to go where some either can’t understand why or think it’s “inappropriate”. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field.’” Matthew 9:37. The Message of Christ has eternal implications…and benefits. Be open to opportunities to share the grace and unconditional love of Christ and the Message with other…sinners.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your love and grace, neither of which I deserve. Forgive me for judging others. Please help me to look inward before I look outward. And please give me the strength, confidence, and courage to go where You call me to go and share Your message of eternal life…despite what others may think. Your word tells me I am more than a conqueror if I am in You. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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January 1, 2017

“New”

2 Corinthians 5:17

As the calendar turns and a new year dawns, the operative word is, of course, “new”. What does new mean? I love this definition of new: “just beginning or beginning new and regarded as better than what went before.” What a great definition. Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? Because we want something to be different than it was before. No resolution we make will move us backwards. They are made to move us forward…to make us better. Unfortunately for us, our “resolutions” too often seem to end before they ever really get started. Our desire to be or do something new usually exceeds our capabilities to be or do something new. Perhaps we should leave the tough work to the One who actually did create everything…new…and does on a daily basis.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”     2 Corinthians 5:17. The old year is gone…the new year is ahead. With Christ, all things are new. ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV).

Challenge: Simple…Let the past pass. Learn from it. Cherish great moments. Remember God’s blessings…His faithfulness. Look to each day as a new opportunity to make a difference…to live for Christ. 

 Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me your faithfulness and love are eternal and your compassions are new every morning. Let my strength to live every day for You be in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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