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 176-180 of 285
May 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you approaching your relationships where conflict and tension exist?  

How are you approaching your relationships where conflict and tension exist?  Ever wanted desperately to help someone see the right side of an issue but the methods behind your good intentions got entangled with anger? Instead of righteousness and grace steering your loved one towards the better path, you found them going a million miles in the opposite direction and yourself looking like an idiot and asking for forgiveness?


Boy, I sure have. Instead of approaching the situation Biblically, by first listening and trying to discover where they were coming from, how their life experiences brought them to this place, and what they truly wanted and needed, I blazed in with guns of defense rebutting their actions. Instead of taking even a moment to discover their perspective, my emotions took over, their ears closed, and conflict began. I thought I had the best intention at heart, and I was determined that my words would prove it. In reflection, they ended up not feeling loved by me at all. Rather, they felt judged, very hurt, and determined to never ask for my advice again.


I realized, like an idiot, I allowed my tongue to lead instead of my ears and my sensibilities were controlled by my emotions. I was walking in my own strength to change the situation rather than allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to intervene, thus they were steered further away from truth rather than towards it.  Think about it. How many times have you approached someone with hostility and the situation ended with them longing to please you? If you’re like me, not a single time.


What I’m learning is when someone comes to me for advice, I must first place the issue at the hands and feet of Jesus, value them as a person capable of making their own decisions, with the same free will God has given to me. I must also listen intently and hold my tongue so I don’t look like a fool and undo what God intends. I am not God.  Only God has the ability to see the future. He knows the numbers of hairs on their head. He holds them in the palm of His hands and sometimes He will allow then to fall to show them just how capable He is.


It is not my right or even my duty to force my opinion on those I love. My job is to demonstrate who God is by mimicking His characteristics so those around me will desire what I have and draw closer to Him. It’s God’s job to make beauty out of the ashes our sufferings leave behind, and this is exactly what He will do if we surrender and let Him handle it. That is exactly what His Word proclaims.

“He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3


This word releases the pressure from me that I have to fix their problems. It makes clear that my job is to allow Him to work on them and to use me as His instrument only if He chooses to. Believe me, my friend, He hasn’t chosen you or me for this work if either of us is approaching the situation with malice or an agenda. God is love, gentleness, kindness, and humility. If we surrender the situation to our Creator, it will allow us to walk with a sense of pride and peace knowing that we imparted agape love instead of strife and condemnation. If we surrender, our friend will leave the situation with a renewed sense of trust and faith that will lead them to Jesus, which is exactly what we wanted in the first place. What steps do you need to take to learn to surrender?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to surrender all things to You and to trust in the promise that You have everything in under control. Jesus remind me to contain my tongue, to listen first and to recall Your words and actions so I can replicate them as You’ve commanded. Lord help me to be the best person I can be simply by being patient and letting You reign on Your throne. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others?

What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others? Look all around you. The world is made up of systems. In an effort to make life run smoothly, make order from chaos and make efficiency manageable, people have created a network of systems. They may help to run a business but they are not designed to foster connection. We’ve developed systems of behavior to serve as a framework for how we interact with others. What is acceptable, the consequences of not following the rules and how we navigate the relationship going forward are key elements of these systems.


It’s not that systems in and of themselves are bad. We are just looking for them to fulfill something they are incapable of doing. In a marriage where “You cook…I clean,” the kitchen might be immaculate and our bellies well fed, but it doesn’t guarantee that the relationship will be fulfilling.  Just because our lives work, doesn’t mean we’re connected. Because things might be running smoothly or there haven’t been any disagreements, systems provide a mirage making it look like true connection. Yet, eventually the illusion wears off and we are left trying to figure out ways to mend the relationship.


Connection requires a relationship. Relationships need love. And for love to be felt we must make room for forgiveness. It is forgiveness that provides the only safe place for imperfect people to connect. Unlike our man-made systems, forgiveness is messy, difficult and requires work. It also requires something to die. Death is love demonstrated. God’s ultimate act of love was an act of giving himself away. Jesus came to do for us what we couldn’t do on our own. He entered into this world to bring us value and communicate our worth, while reconciling us to God. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


When we accept this grace, we take up a new residence. We reside in a state of forgiveness. We don’t have to work the system to arrive at the destination of forgiveness. We can invite others to join us in this place but we can’t force them to enter. For many of us, the battle we face is extending that invitation of forgiveness. Instead we cover up the pain that we feel or attempt to lash out hoping for vengeance and vindication. When we mask over the hurt, we mask over the forgiveness.


Not acknowledging the pain doesn’t make it magically go away. We shouldn’t minimize the hurt. We need to feel it. If we don’t, we remain glued to the past. We hurt ourselves all over again forgetting the state of forgiveness in which we reside.  The choice is ours. We must choose whether we want to hold onto the past or move into a new future anchored in the forgiveness we’ve experienced. We get a say in how the story ends. At its essence forgiveness is “You don’t owe me.”  Having been impacted by Christ’s love, how are you rewriting the story of your wounds?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I desire to leave the past in the past. But, this requires me to come face-to-face with the pain. Just saying those words makes me hesitate. Lord help me to trust that You will meet me there and remind me that I’ve been forgiven. Jesus I will trust that my feet are firmly planted in Your grace and love. Only You are capable of healing my wounds and turning them into scars that will proclaim stories of healing. In Your name, Amen.

May 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

How do you handle a difficult situation?

How do you handle a difficult situation? Are you quick to take the easy way out? I used to find myself often thinking, “If I were already where I’d like to be in life, or if my children were super well-behaved, or if my work environment weren’t stressful having integrity wouldn’t be a constant battle.” Life is not perfect and neither am I. I have to ask myself; What if the circumstances in my life, the good and the bad, are meant to develop in me a character where integrity is always evident?


In the life of Joseph, we find a man who chose integrity in some rather hard-pressed situations. Joseph, known for his colorful coat bestowed to him from his father, had some older brothers who were quite jealous of his favoritism. Things only got worse when Joseph shared a dream he had. The vision would suggest that one day, they would bow down to him. Later, he would have another vision where not only the brothers were bowing, but his father and mother as well.


Insulted by the dreams, the brothers were tempted to kill Joseph but settled for selling him. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, purchased Joseph. Can you imagine being given a dream of becoming a ruler, only to become a slave? He could have had a terrible attitude. He could have entered the house feeling sour, pouty and angry. Instead, Joseph kept his integrity and found favor with his master. Maybe he realized having a bad attitude could land him in a worse position than he was already in. By trusting God, his integrity remained, and Joseph obtained authority over all the household. 


Joseph was doing well enough in his new life until one day; Potiphar’s wife approached Joseph insisting on him to be intimate with her. He refused, but she did not give up so easily. Day after day she would confront him; day after day, he refused. Talk about personal integrity. Not only did he refuse Poitphar’s wife, but he reminded her of his authority over the household. “But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” Genesis 39:8-9 He had responsibilities and took them very seriously. Joseph also took God seriously. We can hear it when he tells her that adultery is “a great evil and sin against God.”


Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife decides to accuse Joseph of the very thing he had refused. She lies and tells Potiphar that Joseph had tried to be intimate with her and Joseph is thrown into prison. But even after being falsely accused, Joseph keeps his integrity. God grants him favor in the eyes of the warden who gives him authority over the other prisoners.


Throughout all the events in Joseph’s life, the Lord was with him, and he remained in the Lord. He entered every situation with confidence in God’s sovereignty and believed that what God had revealed to him in his dream would come to pass. Supported and carried in this confidence, Joseph was able to endure the difficult trials of his life; he was content through the process. You never heard him complain throughout scripture even when he had the right to do so. He was faithful to God, trusting Him through it all, therefore finding strength to keep his integrity in every situation.


Joseph’s story ends with him as second in command to Pharaoh. His family does indeed end up bowing to him. But still, his integrity is evident. Joseph doesn’t throw the past in their faces. He extends grace and kindness. The life he lived is an excellent example of what integrity looks like, especially when confronted with difficult circumstances. It proves that having integrity is both necessary and beneficial. Do you believe that by keeping your integrity the outcome will be more beneficial?


This is my Prayer: Father God, in times when leaving my integrity at the door may seem easier, help me to remember that staying true to You not only benefits my own life, but the lives of others. Lord give me the strength to endure all things with the right attitude.  Jesus help me trust that You are sovereign and are shaping me more into Your image.  In Your name, Amen.

May 21, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has God rescued you?

I’ve learned an important lesson over the years and that is that no one can’t truly appreciate being found until they come to grips with the reality of being lost. If you’ve been in church for any amount of time, you’ve heard about “those people” who are lost. Often, they are painted in a not-so-pleasant light – devious, sick, selfish, etc. They’re lost…and they love it.


“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

But, that’s not how the Bible paints those that are lost. In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables, each one having to do with something being lost. A lost sheep. A lost coin. A lost son. The sheep didn’t purposefully wander off. He just put his head down and began chewing on the next patch of grass. The coin didn’t jump off the table and make its goal to find the crack of the couch cushion. The lost son didn’t have a grand plan to squander his inheritance, he just wanted freedom.


No one gets lost intentionally. Neither does anyone fall away from God overnight; it’s something that happens one choice, or one step, at a time. We settle for second best and cheap imitations. We don’t guard our hearts and, before we know it, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life entices us. We fail to see all those wants and desires that we have as our heart shouting for connection with its Creator.


Attempting to navigate this world on our own has caused all of us to get off course. This means there is no “us vs. them.” At one time or another, we’ve all lost our way. The only difference is that we have become aware of our surroundings. We noticed that we had been going around in circles trying to find fulfillment, hope, love and peace in all the wrong places. We also know our rescuer – the One who made it His mission to seek and save the lost.


Now, as believers, we are called to join the search party and point those who are lost to where freedom is found. Not because we are better or worthier, but because thanks to our encounter with God’s grace we recognize where hope is found. How has God rescued you? If you are not careful, where are you most prone to wander to find fulfillment and love apart from God?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You I once was lost and You found me.  Jesus help me to never forget the great rescue story You’ve told with my life.  Lord remind each day that everyone I come in contact with today You gave Your Son for in order to rescue them. Jesus I want my life to point those who have lost their way to the life-changing hope I have found in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

May 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

The grace of God redeems all things including our bad decisions and our mistakes.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


There are crazy people out in the world and you’re one of them too. This is so true!  We are all crazy in our own unique ways. With all the graduation events going on I been thinking about and remembering my days after graduating from high school. I had a plan, I knew what college I was going to and what I what I thought I want to do.  But I really had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with my life.  I was scared and nervous even though I wouldn’t let on.  One of my biggest fears was that I would embarrass my family.  I mean this was real life and it felt like I was on my own. 


As our live progressed as adults, we begin to think things like this to ourselves:

“I have to get into a certain college or I won’t ever get the job I want.”

“I have to look a certain way and wear a certain brand of clothes to be accepted by the cool families in my neighborhood.”

“My life will never amount to anything until I get married and have kids.”

“God can’t use me because I’ve been divorced.”

“I’ve made too many bad decisions and there’s no way my life will ever amount to anything.”


Did you catch the underlying theme that resides in these statements? They are all about us. It’s very easy for us to become self-centered and move the focus from Jesus Christ onto ourselves. This is a recipe for disaster. When we take our focus away from Jesus, we feel that we are not good enough or strong enough to make a difference in this world. What are you placing your focus on more than Jesus?


If you want to be on the fast track to feeling lonely, focus on yourself more than Jesus. We are created as human beings to be dependent on each other. Sometimes we try to navigate this mad world by ourselves and make decisions on what we think is best. Instead of relying on our limited perspective, we have to filter all of our decisions through the lens of Jesus if we want to live in freedom. In what ways do you trust yourself more than Jesus?


God says, “Do not fear because I am with you and do not be dismayed for I am your God.” When we feel like our world is falling apart, we can experience peace by standing firmly on this promise. God is with us and God is for us! The grace of God redeems all things including our bad decisions and our mistakes. So when you feel like giving up and throwing the towel in, remind yourself that our God has the power to help you get through the tough seasons in life. If you’re feeling lonely, know that God is with you and He loves you so much. With Jesus at the center, we never have to feel lonely again. Who can you talk to about your personal struggles? God is always listening.


This is my Prayer:  Father God, please help me to focus more on You. Lord provide me with a peace and focus that is center on You. Jesus give me courage to talk to You about my struggles. Help me to make You the center of my life instead of myself.  In Jesus’ name, 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 176-180 of 285