Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No longer hiding from GOD

Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

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Broken vase, black electrical tape, fixed, they’ll never know. Magazine, bathroom hamper, hidden, they’ll never know. Dented car, spray paint, repaired, they’ll never know. Woman flirting at work, it’s at work, they’ll never know. Fear, doubt, worry, anger, they are all inside, they’ll never know.

  • Sin makes me ashamed of what I have done.
  • Sin makes me ashamed to be called a follower of CHRIST.
  • Sin makes me ashamed of telling people about the Great News about JESUS because I think they will judge me instead of accepting.

I have many reasons to be ashamed of GOD when I want to keep sinning. Whether it is blatant or hidden sin, my shame is toward GOD not humans. In fact the more I sin, the more ashamed of GOD I become. How can I become righteous? How can I not be ashamed?

  • JESUS died specifically for me and HE knew every sin I would ever do.
  • JESUS was raised to life, has overcome death and is now entrusts me with HIS message.
  • JESUS gave me the HOLY SPIRIT and now I have help staying away from sin.

I sin, but now I despise the sin I do. I know GOD does not like the sin and that it’s more difficult to be used by HIM in the middle of my sin. HE is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. That’s it! GOD has made me righteous through my belief in HIM! Wow, that is Great News!

Now I no longer have to stay in the same pattern of sin rather I can spread HIS Great News!

  • Are you doing some shameful things either blatant or hidden?
  • What sin can you hide from GOD?
  • Do you feel forgiven?
  • Are you acting forgiven?
  • Won’t you change your life and live for GOD instead of living for sin?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crossing the finish line feels great!

Acts 28:  28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” 29After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

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Rounding the bend I could hear cheering off in the distance but I couldn’t see anyone. My legs were so tired and I was out of breath, I felt like giving up! Finally as I turned the corner I could see the crowd and I got a little renewed energy to continue.

The distance was no longer an obstacle and adrenaline shot through my body. “Maybe I can finish”, I thought. As I crossed the finish line from the race I had just run, it was exhilarating!
  • Living for CHRIST is like running a race that sometimes seems too difficult to finish.
  • Living for CHRIST is like running a race that seems like the enemy is winning and I am alone.
  • Living for CHRIST is like running a race that seems full of obstacles that hinder me.
Paul had been wrongfully jailed and told to “shut up” his persistent discussions about JESUS. The message he presented caused riots amongst those who could not accept the Gospel. Paul appealed his sentence all the way up to Caesar and was able to present the Great News about JESUS to a much greater crowd.

After all the pain he went through, Paul was finally able to live amongst those who wanted to hear the message GOD sent. He had crossed the finish line “with boldness and without hindrance.”
  • When an obstacle appears, GOD enables me to finish strong by going around it.
  • When enemies attack, GOD enables me to remain in the race by praying for them.
  • When life seems too difficult, GOD enables me to see HIS power as HE removes harmful things from my hands.
Freedom is what we all aspire to have and one day it is coming, but until then I would rather be chained to GOD and finish the race than continuing down a losing path.
  • Are you trapped?
  • Do you feel closed in?
  • Can you connect your plans to GOD and finish HIS way?
  • Are you willing to start over and try GOD’s plan this time?
  • Are you willing to “lose” your life so you can “gain” it back, this time more fully?

Monday, February 27, 2012

From bad to worse.

Acts 27: 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

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Darkness seemed a little darker this particular night as my car sputtered and died on the side of the road.  I had no idea how far I was from my town and cell phones, well let’s just say, they were few years away from being sold to the masses. “Come on GOD!” “I live in a town I don’t like and now this!?”

As I sat on my trunk in the middle of nowhere I wondered if anyone would ever stop. A couple stopped, asked me if I needed help and volunteered to take me to the nearest rest stop. On the way they told me about the Great News about JESUS. “Whew” I said to myself. GOD sent them!
  • Sometimes when I think I am in a bad to worse situation, I can no longer see or hear GOD.
  • Sometimes when I think I am in a bad to worse situation, I think there is no way out.
  • Sometimes when I think I am in a bad to worse situation, I feel pitiful.
Paul went from bad to worse, from out of a shipwreck and into a snakebite. What more could happen to him? All he was trying to do was live for GOD. Everyone around him thought he deserved the things happening to him and they just didn’t understand he was being used as an example of GOD’s power.
  • GOD can handle all situations especially when things get worse.
  • GOD can handle all situations especially when I take my hands off of them.
  • GOD can handle all situations especially when I believe HE will use this for HIS perfect plan.
In my mind, it’s actually great when things go from bad to worse because I believe I am on the right track. The enemy wants me to stop believing GOD will deliver me so he tries harder and harder to make me give up and conform to his ways. GOD says “stand still and watch MY deliverance.” Believing in GOD’s plan grows my faith more than I know.
  • Have situations gone from bad to worse for you?
  • Do you think there is no way out of your circumstance?
  • Will you praise GOD for HIS deliverance even before it happens?
  • Can you put your trust in HIM first and then watch HIS deliverance from your trial?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Is my plan better than GOD’s?

Acts 27: 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.

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Sleep has eluded me many times over the years. In college I wondered if I was going to pass that class. There were medical episodes that had me question what GOD was doing. Then when I tried living for GOD they eliminated the position I worked and suddenly some who were close questioned my every move. LORD can’t I just get in a lifeboat and win the lottery or something?
  • When I am going through trials I want to get out as quickly as possible.
  • When I am going through problems I jump in “my” plan without consulting GOD first.
  • When I am going through tribulation I get up and start doing a lot of activity and exhaust myself.
Being the driven person that I am, it’s nearly impossible for me to “stand still” and watch GOD deliver me especially when the storm is prolonged. Paul told 276 people on that broken ship that GOD spoke to him and they would be rescued.

Two weeks later they still were in danger and had not eaten. I bet they thought “Did GOD really talk to you?” Those who did not believe in GOD may have had a very difficult time understanding the tactic of waiting on HIS deliverance so they developed their own plan.

  • My plan is useless without GOD.
  • My plan will not work without GOD’s power.
  • My plan needs to be GOD’s plan in order to succeed.
“How do I know GOD’s plan?” you ask. It definitely takes a while to be able to discern between my selfish thoughts or the enemy’s tactics or GOD’s soft still voice. For me the only way to hear HIM is to slow down or even “stop,” stand still and listen to what HE says to me through HIS Bible or through other people HE has sent to me. When I listen HE gives me faith to watch HIM work.

  • Are you trying to get out of your trial?
  • Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?
  • Can you hold on longer and watch GOD’s deliverance?
  • Won’t you seek GOD’s plan instead of following your own?
  • Will you stop focusing on your problems and help someone with theirs?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Keep Courage!

Acts 27: 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

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With my heart racing I slowly crept down the stairs. You could smell the mild scent of mold and mildew in the air. It was dark but I could identify my surroundings. I avoided the puddle and managed not to knock anything over. Step by step I made it all the way to the back of the basement in our home.

I had overcome a fear that something was living in our basement when the lights were out and this person or thing was out to get me! What an imagination at ten years old.

  • There are going to be situations that cause me to have great fear.
  • There are going to be times when I doubt that GOD can handle the situation.
  • There are going to be circumstances that are way out of my control and I have a choice between faith and worry.

Walking through life is like walking through that dark basement. Yes the surroundings can be familiar but I am not always sure of where I am stepping. My mind races and tries to resolve the fear I have and just when I think I have defeated it, something else happens to make me cringe all the more.

  • “Keep up your courage” is what GOD says to me when I walk in unknown territory.
  • “Keep up your courage” is what GOD says to me when I sense danger or distress.
  • “Keep up your courage” is what GOD says to me when I feel anxious and cannot resolve the current situation.

Paul and the shipwrecked crew felt lost. With no food or supplies all seemed lost. BUT GOD said “Keep up your courage” to Paul and that’s what he told everyone. They landed safe just like GOD said. I am glad GOD says to me “keep up your courage!”

  • Are you feeling anxious?
  • What circumstance is too big for GOD?
  • Didn’t HE say “I will never leave you nor forsake you?”
  • Can you give GOD your fear and trade it for courage that HE will bring you through the circumstance stronger and wiser?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I hope I can persuade you

Acts 26: 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

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“Get away from me with that “gosh darn” stuff; only his words were harsher than I can write. I tried to tell a person caught up in gang living to turn their life over to CHRIST. My na├»ve approach was ineffective because he may have perceived that I was talking “at” him, not to him.
  • It’s obvious that I don’t care for some people when I wish them harm.
  • It’s obvious that I don’t care for some people when I judge them or misjudge them.
  • It’s obvious that I don’t care for some people when I deafen my ears to what they have to say and only care about getting my point across.
Paul showed he actually cared about every soul he met.  He was driven and determined to have any and every one turn from their sins and believe in CHRIST.   It didn’t matter what they had done he wanted them to seek JESUS.  HE had compassion.
  • When I approach people with true humility I get GOD’s results.
  • When I approach people after I have served them I get GOD’s results.
  • When I approach people after dropping my sins I am more effective because I can tell them “I was in your shoes and JESUS forgave me, HE will do the same for you.”
This is my prayer to the reader… “LORD please show this person YOUR might and strength today. Help lift their burden and let them know everything will be fine and YOUR plan is on time. Help them drop the sin that plagues their witness and open their mouth to shout about the greatest gift namely JESUS dying for our sins and being raised to forgive us! Amen

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Am I drifting away from GOD?

Acts 26: 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

   “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.

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Drifting seemed like a harmless thing to do when it came to this “GOD” stuff.  I mean everyone else seemed to be living full lives with their drinking and sexual exploits and I wasn’t a heavy drinker and my sex was held to a minimum. Comparatively I rated myself as “pretty good.”

My drifting turned into occasional visits to church, then no visits. I drifted into “deserving” to unwind after a hard week’s work so a few of us would go to the clubs which drifted into flirting and “going out” with a woman here and there. I still rated myself as “pretty good.” I mean I wasn’t trying to harm anyone and “everybody” was doing it.

  • Drifting away from listening to GOD leads me into places “I” think are harmless but they are truly harmful to me.
  • Drifting away from listening to GOD makes me assess myself as “pretty good” comparatively but I fail to take the time to admit I need HIM.
  • Drifting away from listening to GOD puts me in a place where it requires HIS correction.

GOD wants a “hot” or “cold” person to work with and my drifting had put me in a “lukewarm” state which is impossible to change. What I mean is I thought I was “pretty good” and therefore needed no improvement yet I was “harmlessly” drifting little by little away from HIM.

After a while I was producing no fruit for HIS kingdom and found myself “needy” on occasion. I would scurry to pray to GOD when I needed HIM and would go back to living without HIM expecting everything to go well for me. GOD said HE wanted something different.

  • GOD wants a full relationship with me, not one where I try holding onto my life.
  • GOD wants my full attention, not distracted or chasing things that are against HIS will.
  • GOD wants me to stand with HIM, not fold into the world and fight against HIM.

“Wait a minute… how am I fighting GOD?” you ask. The war inside of me starts where I am told by GOD to live for HIM in order to spread HIS message yet I choose to live the way I want to live. The only “drifting” I need to do is drift towards HIM not away.

  • Do you find yourself drifting away from GOD?
  • Has your time with HIM minimized because of school, work or a relationship?
  • When is the last time you have produced “fruit” in “your” life?
  • Are you purposefully living your life for GOD?

Monday, February 20, 2012

They just don’t understand

Acts 25: 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges.

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“Shocked” was the look many people gave me when I told them I was going on my first missions trip. “Why now?”, “why you?”, “don’t we have enough problems here?” were only a few of the questions I got as I discussed my plans. Funny, these questions were from people who claimed to follow CHRIST.

  • It seems like there are times GOD has me do some unusual things that benefit the kingdom.
  • It seems like there are times GOD directs me to do things people don’t understand that benefits the kingdom.
  • It seems like there are times GOD leads me to places I would never go but it benefits the kingdom.

GOD desires that no one will perish and HE wants anyone who is willing to go out and spread HIS message of love, grace and mercy. HE wants me to be open to going to my neighbors, my city, other states and even other countries if HE tells me to.  This openness is the beginning of compassion for “all” humans not just the ones I would choose.

Many people will question the timing, method or reason for me serving GOD.  It seems like each time I have gone on a trip, money was an issue or some event was in conflict or some other reason was a better option. Even writing down a daily devotional is questioned as people ask “why do you do that?” or “why make yourself look bad?” There is a harsh reality to relaying HIS message that must be coupled with “love.”

  • GOD’s message will remain strange to those who are not seeking HIM but I must try anyway.
  • GOD’s method will be doubted by those whose faith is small but I must have faith anyway.
  • GOD’s timing will seem inconvenient to people but I must accept HIS timing and HIS plan.

Paul tried to explain JESUS’ resurrection to people who could care less. They treated him like some religious fanatic and he was ostracized. GOD desires HIS simple message of love to be given even though people may not receive it.

  • Are you trying to live for GOD and people do not understand what you are doing?
  • Are people confused by your decision to serve GOD more and more?
  • Can you stay the course while delivering HIS message with love, compassion and grace?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Character

Acts 24: 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

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We were all walking back from a special program that my school had recommended me for.  I was taking High School math in eighth grade. Everyone was proud of me and it made me work harder. On this day we stopped by a local department store to look around. We wandered to the back of the store and lo and behold there were “naked” magazines back there!

I quickly ripped the cover off of one and took a fishing magazine cover and placed it over the pornographic magazine. I wonder how proud my parents and teachers would have been at that moment!

  • I can look good in front of humans, but do I look good in front of GOD?
  • I can make people believe I am “good” but what does GOD say about my character?
  • I can pretend I am walking the straight and narrow but how many times has GOD seen me fall off the path?

Sin and a clear conscience can never go hand in hand. I noticed a very important word Paul uses in this very short scripture namely the word “and.” His conscience was clear before GOD “and” humans. In other words if you read his text messages or burst in on his conversations or read his Facebook page you would see him doing the same thing, living for GOD.

  • GOD sees the times I sin “and” HE sees when I live for HIM.
  • GOD knows the times I force serving HIM “and” the times when I am sincere.
  • GOD looks at my mistakes “and” HE values my character.

There is nothing I can hide from GOD! HE knows every action and every thought. The only way I can bear HIS fruit is to admit my sins to HIM “and” turn away from them little by little. HE wants me to have character in other words HE wants me to act the same when no one is around looking at me.

  • Are you acting with character?
  • Are you stuck on the cycle of blatantly sinning and asking for forgiveness?
  • Are you hiding your sin and waiting on someone to confront you?
  • Won’t you claim victory over your problems by admitting your sins to GOD?
  • Do you realize that sin has no power over you if you admit and begin to turn away from them?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The plan for evil will fail against me.

Acts 23: 25 He wrote a letter as follows:

 26 Claudius Lysias,

   To His Excellency, Governor Felix:

   Greetings.

 27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin.

29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.

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Rumbles of headcount reductions rippled through the organization stifling any productivity. Rumors of who was going to stay or go had many paralyzed. Some of my peers resorted to “slander” as their defense and they even attacked me just as the nation had been attacked by terrorists just weeks before.

I got a phone call that said, “I would like for you to come with me to the west coast.” Wow, they chose me over those who were trying to slander me!
  • I will never know how many evil plots GOD has protected me from.
  • I will never know how often GOD steps in to keep HIS plan intact.
  • I will never know how GOD uses someone’s evil plan to complete HIS good and perfect plan.
Paul was defenseless against the plot to kill him. His message of JESUS’ salvation threatened the lifestyles of the Sanhedrin rulers and forty men vowed to not eat until Paul was killed. GOD intervened and had believers and those who did not believe in JESUS, help Paul to safety.

In other words GOD said, “MY plan for Paul isn’t finished!” HE does the same for me.  There is no evil plot that can go against me until GOD’s plan for me is complete. Yes, some lies against me may work for a minute and I may fall down a couple of times with their sin and sins of my own, BUT GOD’s plan cannot be stopped!
  • GOD’s plan for me is definite.
  • GOD’s plan for me is unpolluted.
  • GOD’s plan for me is impenetrable by evil so I can have no fear of failing!
Every plot against me will fall back on the plotter, maybe not right away, but it will. I don’t need to see the revenge, I just have to believe GOD’s plan is great!
  • What is GOD’s plan for you?
  • Are you being attacked?
  • Can you realize that your attacker means evil BUT GOD will use the plot for good?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Take Courage GOD is right there!

Acts 23: 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

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Tossing and turning I spent one night futilely trying to get to sleep.  The speech was on my mind because I had to explain why things weren’t working.  When I got out on stage I could see the hostile faces.  It seemed like everyone wanted to rip my heart out. “LORD where are you?” I thought to myself.
  • There are times when humans will get mad at me and I feel I have no place to turn.
  • There are times when humans will be disappointed with the way I act or something I did.
  • There are times when humans will make me the fall guy because it’s convenient.
  • There are times when humans will be hurt by things I have said or actions I have taken.
I have been in violent situations but never a mob circumstance like Paul. He was trying to change the minds of those who were blind to GOD and treated HIM like a figurehead rather than the leader of their lives.  The Pharisees and Sadducees talked about GOD and even went to church weekly but never turned their lives over to HIM.

They felt threatened when someone tried to correct them in love and never once admitted they had a problem. In fact they rioted to keep their lifestyle because it was lavish and cushy and respectful. I mean how could you go wrong talking about GOD and getting paid for it? They didn’t have to “believe” in the stuff, just talk about it right? Wrong!
  • GOD wants me to stand firm even if it means I get embarrassed in the process.
  • GOD wants me to admit to others I sin regularly, but I am sinning less and less.
  • GOD wants me to point people to HIS perfection and take eyes off of me.
  • GOD wants me to understand HE is right here next to me in the middle of any trouble.
I just noticed it wasn’t an angel who came to talk to Paul it was JESUS. HE said “take courage!” and HE meant it.  HE wants me to have courage to face any situation without running away! HE has the power to fix, heal and mend any problem I have.
  • Are you busy drawing attention to yourself?
  • Are you busy holding onto a lifestyle that you know in your heart is against GOD?
  • Do you realize it take admission of a problem in order to be healed?
  • What problem is too big for GOD?
  • What sins are you trying to take to the grave with you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GOD’s protection

Acts 22: 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”

 27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

   “Yes, I am,” he answered.

 28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”

   “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

 29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

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Project after project I was determined to do my best but it was difficult. It seemed like I kept running into one of those bosses, who wanted to be an obstacle, but somehow they would disappear and I would still be placed on the best projects.

This angered my belligerent boss. I sensed he was out to get me so I worked harder to win him over. The harder I worked the madder he got. He insulted, yelled and screamed at everyone and I was no exception. I was in a bad position but somehow I got promoted. It was because the head of the department knew I was part of a Bible study of a good friend of his.

I had no idea I was being watched by the family.
  • GOD protects me especially when I am being mistreated.
  • GOD watches over me when things go wrong.
  • GOD uses a chain of events that I cannot perceive to guide me, watch me and guard me.
Paul never knew he would be protected just by being born as a Roman citizen. GOD used this link in the chain of events know as Paul’s life to protect him to do GOD’s will. HE has done the same for me many times when I look back but I couldn’t understand HIS protection while I was going through the trial.
  • Are you going through a trial that seems hopeless?
  • Have you noticed GOD protecting you during your trial?
  • Won’t you stop feeling like “woe is me” for a moment to notice GOD’s love for you?

Monday, February 13, 2012

My sin is only an excuse

Acts 22:  19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
 21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

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Groggy and a little disoriented I woke up and decided to go to church. I was a Sunday-School teacher now but I figured my single lifestyle didn’t have to be hampered with that detail. As I walked down the steps with my class I heard a voice all the way across the entrance of the sanctuary.

“Hey, we had a great time at the club last night! Did you get her number? ” What made him yell “that” in church? And whose number was he talking about? And most of all, what will my class think of me?
  • My sin tells me that I am broken and can’t serve GOD.
  • My sin tells me to remain broken and tries to get me to believe I can’t be fixed.
  • My sin tells me to hide “it” and look good in front of everyone.
When I listen to my sin I sometimes feel small, ashamed, weak, and low down.  I see my imperfections and I think, GOD can’t possibly want a broken person like me to tell others about HIS goodness.  I mean “I’m not a preacher, I don’t know the Bible and I’m chasing women… I can’t change” or at least that’s what I thought!
  • GOD saw “all” of my sins and chose me anyway.
  • GOD knew every mistake I would ever make and still gave me a purpose.
  • GOD understood I would face many obstacles so HE filled my life with the HOLY SPIRIT to protect me and guide me and comfort me.
Broken people are exactly what GOD uses the most.  HE looks at my life and sees nothing but perfection because HE is looking through me and sees the HOLY SPIRIT HE place inside of me. HE no longer sees my sinful outer crust but looks at a washed, cleaned and dusted off soul.

I heard this weekend that change is a lifelong process. I should examine my lifestyle and give “every” element to CHRIST. Little by little I should give my sins to HIM and exchange them for telling people about HIS SON. My sinful lifestyle should no longer be an excuse to living for JESUS.
  • Are you busy trying to look good in front of people?
  • Are you trying to serve GOD “and” keep your sinful lifestyle?
  • Won’t you give up your sins little by little?
  • Will you start telling people about GOD’s forgiveness even in the middle of your sin?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why “not” me?

Acts 21: 30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

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Tired from a hard day’s work I just wanted to get home.  I made it from the train to my car and noticed my car had been dented and the window broken out.  “Not my tapes” I thought to myself. (Yes I mean cassette tapes!)

The music I meticulously collected for years was now gone. GOD, “Why me?”

  • When I started following GOD I expected nothing to go wrong in my life.
  • When I started following GOD I expected things to go smooth.
  • When I started following GOD I expected never to be in pain again.

Wow was I wrong about my expectations of GOD.  I thought by believing in JESUS, my problems would be gone. It seems to be quite the opposite. 

  • When I live for GOD, many obstacles will get in my way.
  • When I live for GOD, the road will become more difficult.
  • When I live for GOD, there will be times where it seems like the entire world is against me.

Life is not fair and I should expect difficulty when I live for CHRIST.  I’m not saying that GOD wants life to be harder, rather HE understands that all people choose to go their own way which causes a problem in the relationship with HIM.  I run away from humility, love, kindness, joy and compassion and run towards lust, envy, jealousy, anger and the things GOD doesn’t want me to have and the world loves me.

When I leave the things alone that the world wants me to have I suddenly find myself in a fight. The more I tell people about the great news about JESUS, the more angry the world becomes because it wants to hold onto sin tightly. I have a new expectation namely I expect the world to be mad at me for trying to follow GOD.

  • Are you stuck in your sin?
  • Are you trying to live for GOD but are trying to keep your sin too?
  • Are things going wrong now that you have chosen to live for GOD?
  • Won’t you choose to live for GOD through difficult times?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sold out for GOD

Acts 21: 10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

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Cartoons depicting an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other are a good example of how I have lived my life in the past. It seems like a temptation would pop up in front of me and I would have a choice.  Go with what seems to be fun or remain pure to GOD which usually seemed boring.

Well after being burned, hurt and left empty GOD’s way seems to be a better way.
  • Some of my sins seem so harmless so why should I change?
  • Some of my sins are too much of a habit so why should I change?
  • Some of my sins are because of someone else or something out of my control so why should I change?
Excuses for me not changing my mind will be taken up with no one else BUT GOD! HE wants me to be sold out for serving HIM and desires me to live a victorious life.  HE does understand my flaws and knows I will fail time after time BUT HE desires that I change my ways little by little until I can do HIS will without fighting HIM to do my will. 
  • Being sold out for GOD means nothing is more important than helping someone else understand the freedom HE has given me.
  • Being sold out for GOD means nothing is more important than telling others GOD forgave me and HE will forgive you.
  • Being sold out for GOD means nothing is more important than believing in HIS SON and following HIS will.
No person, no job, no trinket, no safe feeling, no self-preservation and especially no sin should be placed in front of doing GOD’s will. Now, I have to tell you that all of these items I have just listed are a struggle; BUT GOD has patience with me and helps me get it right. HE loves the way I am “becoming” sold out for HIM!
  • Are you completely sold out for God or are you reserving most of you for you?
  • What is holding you back from doing more for HIM?
  • When will you give up a little of your lifestyle and start living for GOD more?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What is my purpose today?

Acts 20: 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

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Sitting on my couch in a daze was about all I could handle at the time. My mind had conjured up what I thought was the end of the road. With bill collectors calling, car on the fritz, school not going well and working a dead end job I wondered “where was all this going?” I mean was this it? Was this where I was going to end up?

  • Sometimes my circumstances make me want to give up.
  • Sometimes my situations seem larger than what I can handle.
  • Sometimes my current position can seem bleak and cause me to despair.

Something… okay it was the HOLY SPIRIT who told me to “get off the couch and do something about the circumstance for there is a purpose for your life.” “Go talk to the school, go talk to the bill collectors, learn how to fix your car and work the job like it’s supposed to be worked.” Wow! You mean I don’t have to believe everything is a mess and I have a purpose?! Absolutely!

  • Faith in GOD has shown me to wait and watch HIM a little longer because HE always comes through!
  • Faith in GOD has taught me to there is no circumstance that is not in HIS control.
  • Faith in GOD has never failed; in fact I have been quite amazed at how HE works things out.

When I live my life with “purpose” there is no failure especially when my focus is on GOD. No matter how bleak the situation is I can trust GOD knows about it and has complete control. I can continue serving HIM through the circumstance and watch HIM do some amazing things in the lives of those HE directs me to.

GOD has given me purpose to reach those HE has given to me. There is no situation, circumstance or trouble that can thwart HIS plan for me.

  • Is your situation bleak?
  • Are you feeling troubled?
  • Do you realize that by holding on a little while longer HE will deliver you to your purpose?
  • Have you asked GOD “please show me my purpose?”
  • Are you willing to tell people about CHRIST in spite of your troubles?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How do I sell my soul?

Acts 19: 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.

26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all.

27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

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Looking back I see how hard I worked to have a “good life.” Once I worked in vain thirty six hours straight on a proposal for a company who did not land the project. Why did I put myself through all that torture? Was it cash or a title or both? All I know is I didn’t see my family nor did I eat right and most of all I did not talk to GOD one minute.

  • When I am too busy for GOD then my work is a god.
  • When I am driving for something without GOD my drive is worthless.
  • When I am motivated for cash instead of living for GOD then my motives will turn evil quickly.
I have lied for cash, stolen cash, and slandered for cash. Okay, most of what I did would be considered mild comparatively BUT GOD doesn’t compare me to another person; HE compares me to HIS SON when checking for perfection. HE quickly sees my flaws and it infuriates HIM when I put other things in front of HIM.
  • GOD demands HE should be first in my life above any job or amount of cash.
  • GOD wants me to actually love being with HIM rather than feeling obligated and resentful.
  • GOD directs me to never ever consider another god to be greater than HIM!
It’s a huge mistake to think a human, or a piece of metal or a fortune or a celestial fragment could be more powerful than GOD HIMSELF. Anything that gets in the way of GOD can and will be torn down so my focus needs to be on HIM as best I can.
  • What are you most concerned about in life right now?
  • Are you putting a sinful lifestyle before GOD?
  • Do you truly think that getting more of what you are seeking will satisfy you?
  • Can you reduce your pursuit of earthly happiness and increase your pursuit of eternal bliss?
  • Do you realize wealth is fine but if it is all you pursue then it is a god?

Monday, February 6, 2012

I admit it I did it

Acts 19: 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

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“Spray paint!” I thought to myself.  I searched the garage vigorously to see if I could find a can that matched. Believe it or not I did! Well it sort of matched. I backed the car into the garage and began my body work on my mothers’ car. I tried to cover up the dent from the accident I was in.

Yes it was the guys’ fault but he had no insurance and I had no experience in making sure he paid for the damage. I figured I would just paint the car and explain everything later… much later!
  • When I try to hide my sins I can’t get better.
  • When I try to hide my sins I never grow up in following GOD.
  • When I try to hide my sins I don’t admit I need JESUS’ help.
Hidden sin is the worst sin. At least if I were blatant with my sins, someone could approach me with correction then I would have a choice to follow GOD or not. When I sin and try to hide it, the HOLY SPIRIT says to me “you shouldn’t have done that.” HE never repeats HIMSELF but let’s me know I am forgiven when I admit my maleficence.
  • Admitting sin is never easy at first but gets easier the more I do it.
  • Admitting sin lifts all kinds of burdens from my conscience.
  • Admitting sin doesn’t give me the license to sin more but helps me identify areas of weakness that I need accountability for.
  • Admitting sin enables me to live a victorious life because I have GOD on my side.

It’s funny how GOD works. HE tells me I must confess my sins and believe HIS SON died for them. I can never be good enough or strong enough to break my way into an eternal relationship with GOD.  Confession says “GOD I need you” rather than “I will hide my sins and try to make it on my own.” 

I can now say “LORD, I admit I am wrong in YOUR eyes and I want an everlasting relationship with YOU.”
  • Are you hiding something?
  • Are you trying to cover up your sin?
  • What do you think you will gain by trying to hide any sin from GOD?
  • Do you know the embarrassment of admitting your sin is far better than a broken relationship with JESUS?