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August 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there something you need to share with someone about your life today?

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel, Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

I have often wished that God were not invisible.  We may easily see the handiwork of God in nature or perhaps glimpse the peace of God in others.  But God Himself…He remains invisible.  As a child, I would stare in wonder and confusion as adults held hands and prayed to someone or something, so real to them and yet invisible to me.  As a child, we used to sing a song that said, “He walks with me and He talks with me.  And He tells me I am His own.  And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”  But I could not hear God talking.   I did not see Him walking beside me.  As far as I was concerned, if I were His, He was silent on the matter.  Did God have a voice?


I can really relate to a man named Samuel.  In the Bible, Samuel was the longed for child of Hannah.  To give thanks to the Lord for his life, she dedicated her son to the service of God by sending him to the tabernacle at an early age to train under a priest named Eli.  Samuel’s story picks up in the third chapter of 1 Samuel.  It was night time and Eli and Samuel had laid down to sleep.  Samuel hears a voice calling him so he goes to Eli to find out what he needs.  Eli had not called.  Again, Samuel hears a voice calling, and again, after seeking Eli, he learns that Eli had been silent; “My son,” Eli said [to Samuel], “I did not call; go back and lie down.”


The third time Samuel hears a voice calling him he goes to Eli and says, “Here I am; you called me.”  The Bible says, “Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if He calls you say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’  So Samuel went and laid down in his place.  The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’  Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’”  Samuel was surprised by the voice of God.  He did not yet understand the language of the Lord.  He had trouble discerning the voice of God from the voice of man.  Do you relate to that? I sure do. As the boy Samuel grew into the man Samuel, he learned to better understand the language of God. 


Most often, God’s way of communicating to us is different than the kind of communication that we are accustomed to.  Just like the words of a new song, we need to learn the rhythm and words of the Holy Spirit until it becomes intimately familiar.  We do this by approaching God and listening – over and over – until we begin to recognize the Spirit’s voice.  Over time, we will come to know God and the voice of His Spirit teaching us, reminding us of truth, and guiding us. In the beginning, it took someone wiser than Samuel to help him recognize God’s voice.  Who do you allow to speak into your life?  Are they wise in the ways of God or wise in the ways of the world?  Sometimes it takes someone else to see what we are not yet capable of seeing.  This is true no matter how long we have walked with God.  The fact is, Eli needed Samuel just as much as Samuel needed Eli.  As their story continues, God ended up speaking to Eli through Samuel.  We need each other as we walk toward Christ.


So, how does an invisible God speak?  I imagine this answer is as diverse as His creation.  God knows His children best and He knows how to best communicate with them.  But primarily, He speaks to us through his Word.  God will never ask you to do something that is outside of His character as we see Him in the Bible.  If you feel like God is silent in your life, maybe you need to pick up your Bible and say “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Those became powerful words for Samuel and ended up having a powerful impact on the lives of those around him.  God’s primary way of speaking to us is through His word yet He does use others to reach us.  Is there something you need to share with someone about your life today?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for speaking to me. Lord thank you for putting people in my life that recognize Your voice and speak truth into my life. Jesus please give me the ears to hear Your voice and Your word, speak, for your servant is listening.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

August 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

What secrets do you keep to hide your insecurities?

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. PROVERBS 29:25

Olly Olly Oxen Free! This expression is familiar to anyone who has spent anytime on a playground. It is used in children’s games to signal that the game is over. Seeing a group of children play hide and seek is charming. However, watching grown men and woman still playing this game is nothing but depressing. The sad truth is that there are some of us who are still hiding behind that bush waiting for someone, anyone, to make that call: Olly, Olly, Oxen Free!


The game is the same, we’ve just come up with different hiding places and we have perfected the craft of disappearing. True spiritual friendships will never take place if we remain hidden behind our jobs, fake appearances, social status, or pat Christian answers. The game of hide and seek will continue on from sun up to sun down. Somebody has to have the courage to make the call: Olly, Olly, Oxen Free! It only takes one person who is willing to lay down their agenda for others to realize they can come out of hiding.  There is no longer the pressure to hide and deal with shame, struggles and sin on your own.


Most friendships don’t get to the point where vulnerability and transparency take root.  We’re too afraid of abandoning our pride or acknowledging our fear of being known. Instead, we settle for projecting an image and keeping people at a distance. We construct walls and largely go at it alone. This isolation goes against our hard wiring as humans. We were made to connect with one another. The critical component of connection is vulnerability. Researcher Brene Brown has devoted the past decade to the study of human interactions and the power of human connections. From her research, she concluded, “You can’t connect if you are not seen.”


When we take this academic research and relate it to faith and friendships, we realize that we have to be willing to acknowledge our shame, brokenness, struggles and insecurities to others. We have to possess the courage to admit that we are a work in progress and that God is shaping us into His image.  So, pause for a moment and consider this question: What secrets do you keep to hide your insecurities? The question isn’t whether you have them (we all do); it is how do you conceal them?  This is where the Gospel truly lays the foundation for friendships. Due to the cross and God’s grace, we are free from all those things that push us to hide. Sin, shame and guilt are no more.  


This is my Prayer: Father God, may I not hide my true self from others. Lord instead of masking my weakness, allow me to admit my faults and shortcomings to those who care about me. Jesus help me to reflect Your heart and push others to see You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 13, 2017, 8:29 PM

Where do you feel the weight of the world placed on our shoulders?

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25


Throughout the Bible, we are commanded to deal with our mindset by paying attention to what our mind is focused on.  This is where we get ourselves into trouble.  We don’t set our minds on anything so it is free to drift on whatever seems to deserve the most attention. When we are faced with a difficult decision or things we cannot control, we get consumed with pressure.  Sometimes this pressure comes from within. The pressure is fueled by believing two destructive myths. First, we believe we can control more than we think. We get angry and frustrated from trying to control the things we can’t. Then there is the “messiah” myth that leads us to believe we contribute more than we actually do. If we don’t act, no one else will. If I don’t spring into action, nothing will get solved. If I don’t make the right decision, then everyone is doomed for failure.


Too often when we consider faith or trust we tend to wait and see if God will do something.  Then, and only, then will we respond to the thing that He has done.  We think of faith as “observe and decide.” This is why we are often frustrated and paralyzed in our walk with God. Why? Because He doesn’t invite us to observe and decide, but rather to taste and see. Psalm 34:8 says,”O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” It is an interesting connection.  You don’t see with your tongue and you don’t taste with your eyes.  Taste and see is an invitation to experience.  You see because you have experienced.  This is what God is drawing us towards.  This is exactly how faith is described in 2 Corinthians 5:7. We are told to “walk by faith, not by sight.”


According to this verse, we are called to walk by faith, at the expense of seeing with our eyes.  When the pressure is on you, you are not going to be able to sit and observe.  You have to step out and taste – then you will see.  Faith operates as the way you perceive the world around you and sense God’s work in that world. When we walk with Him, we find Him to be a blessing to us as we take refuge in Him.  So walk by faith — taste and see. We need a new perspective in those moments when pressure is consuming us. When we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and all we want to do is freak out, we must taste and see that Lord is good by casting our cares on Him. Where do you feel the weight of the world placed on our shoulders? What pressures are you facing? How can you tell whether they are internal or external pressures?


This is my Prayer: Father God, all too often I put the weight of the world on my shoulders. Lord you know that is not what I was meant to bear. Jesus help not to crack under the pressure, but to lay everything down at Your feet. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

What do you believe you have to do to become fully immersed in the waiting with God?

Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. Micah 7:7

I have a confession, I’ve not been the best at waiting. I’ve driven down Hwy 277 when I’m going to visit family, frustrated as all get out because the car in front of me, who also happens to be in the left lane, just isn’t going fast enough for me. I’ve stood in line at the grocery store after a day at work, impatient because it’s already 6:30 pm and I just want to get home. I’ve gotten overwhelmed when I see things happening for others around me and the sudden realization that I’ve been in what seems like the same spot for way too long starts to settle deep within my mind. I start thinking, “Hey! What about me?”


But recently, during those moments of thinking about me, I’ve been hearing God whisper, “wait on Me.” And let me tell you, that is humbling.  When we’re walking with God, seasons of waiting aren’t as easily overcome as the American way of going out and making things happen for yourself. You might think you’ve found the perfect job to apply for, but God says, “not this one” when they decide to go with someone else. You might think you’ve found the perfect house to put an offer in on, but God says, “not that one” when that offer is rejected. You might be struggling with finances, wondering when you are going to finally catch up on everything, and God tells you to keep holding on. You might think, “I’ll just do this my way so I can get where I’m going quicker,” and from personal experience, God is usually super quiet on this one. You might be feeling like you’ve been praying for the Lord to move in your life or at the very least, show you that He’s working on your behalf. But still, you see nothing. But hold on, can I remind us of “faith”?


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Can I also remind us of Moses and Joshua? Moses wandered 40 years in the desert after God instructed him to lead His people out of Egypt. Joshua led a march around the walls that protected the City of Jericho for seven days following God’s instruction. For 40 years, Moses waited on the Lord, relying on Him to provide for His people and He did. For seven days, Joshua followed the Lord’s commands to take the City of Jericho and He did. Neither Moses nor Joshua actually saw the Lord working during those times of waiting but He did. If you think you’re alone in the waiting, you most certainly are not. Some of God’s beloved chosen people waited decades. Some of God’s beloved chosen people are still waiting.


Make no mistake God is there in the waiting. I’ve been told many times that it’s not so much the destination that matters, but it’s how we get there. The journey we choose to walk with God is what matters. What He does in you and through you is of greater significance to Him. It doesn’t matter that you actually end up wherever you’re going. In the waiting, God is doing something inside you that you cannot always see. He is reshaping your heart to become a reflection of His own. He is training your spirit to stop relying on self and to start relying on Him. He is conditioning your whole being to run with Him. What do you believe you have to do to become fully immersed in the waiting with God?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I acknowledge that You are there in my waiting. I know You are working on my behalf and that You have great things for me. Lord You take care of me, even when I don’t see it. Jesus let my heart continue to be reshaped by You.  I place my trust in You and You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

August 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

It’s not where the bridge is taking us, it’s how we build the bridge as we walk on it.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Each one of us finds ourselves on a bridge at some point in our journey. As we go though life and our days, we are building the bridge as we walk on it. Every situation in our lives is a bridge we can cross if we choose. But, more often than not, we resist taking another step and instead allow the unknown and the fear of meeting resistance to stop us in our tracks.  We begin to question the direction our bridge might take us. Where is this going to lead? How am I going to navigate my way? What lies on the other side? Should I cross this bridge? Is it even safe? Is this bridge the right bridge to cross?


As a result of these questions, we settle for certainty and the illusion of control while missing out on the transformation that lies on the other side of the bridge. Often in life we don’t desire deep change because it can be hard, it can hurt, and it can ask us to move out of our comfy confines of status quo. In his book Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Author Robert Quinn says, “At both individual and organizational levels, we tend to choose slow death over deep change. This slow death is the consequence of remaining in the normal state. To be in the normal state is to be externally driven, internally closed, self-focused, and comfort centered.”


If we stay in the normal state, avoiding deep change and trying to maintain control, if we do that as individuals and if we try to do that as a church, it leads to something none of us wants – a slow death. What we do with our individual bridge matters to the overall influence we have as a community of believers. Our individual transformation serves as the key to deep organizational change. When it comes to the life and vision of our church, we have to start with our own deep change. We do this by paying attention to our heart and our mind.


It’s easy to cruise through life and not notice what your heart is set on and where your mind tends to gravitate. We need to set our heart and mind on things above and not get distracted by earthly things. If we take inventory on our heart and our mind, we set the direction for our lives. We experience deep change by walking on the bridges that we are building with ever increasing integrity. However, it’s not enough to just walk and build the bridge. We have to verbally acknowledge the one who is doing the building through us. As we walk by grace and faith, we give glory to God. It is His Gospel and saving grace that must be a part of what we talk about all the time. Where these bridges are going are of minor importance. It’s not where the bridge is taking us, it’s how we build the bridge as we walk on it.


This is my Prayer: Father God, my tendency is to want every detail about the path before me to be laid out. Lord You ask me to walk by faith. Jesus regardless of the bridge before me, may I take each step fully confident that You are guiding my feet. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 101-105 of 283