The Marathon of Life…

Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The Marathon of Life….

When a five-year-old starts school, it can be more than he or she bargained for.

It was the second morning of the kindergarten experience and Mom hears; “Do I have to go back?” Oops! An encore to this new experience was a little overwhelming. The rationale for not going, “Well, I already went yesterday.” We don’t have the heart to tell them there’s sixteen more years of this!” And off they go to day two, of year one, of sixteen more years!

The youngster is feeling overwhelmed, and they sure would have sunk if mom had tried to explain the educational marathon that lay ahead. They have no idea. But cheer up, they will make it. We did. And with only a few scars. We completed some level of education and we did it by taking one day at a time.

Life like our school experience is a series of challenges that seem overwhelming. Looking back it seems that school was the least of them. Maybe you’re facing one of those right now and it looks huge; a bombardment of responsibilities and it’s too much; stressful deadlines, trying to raise your children, trying to make your marriage work, facing a long medical marathon, digging out of that financial pit. And then you hear that on top of that to truly be content and fulfilled it requires you to live your life for Jesus Christ. Actually making Jesus Lord of your life brings all of the others into a whole new perspective but right now that may not be in view.

The Word of God offers us comfort and direction in these times. The OT like the NT offers examples of how we should respond. The following example is God offering direction to His people Israel in their time of need. And remember, God does not change down through the ages. He provides you and me direction today from the same values and truths that has been at mankind’s feet from square one. Unfortunately like our ancestors we are slow learners.

The setting is God readying His people to enter the Promised Land He had selected for them. There was one requirement. It required faith on their part to recognize that He would overcome the obstacles, regardless of the size. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Deuteronomy 7:17. “You may say to yourselves, these nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out? But do not be afraid.”

They were facing, as they entered the Promised Land, huge walled cities and barbaric tribes – overwhelming obstacles, overwhelming challenges. Of course the only reason they were perceived as overwhelming was because they were judging the outcome of tackling them to be as a result of their strengths and abilities. There truly was no way in the strength of their own that these obstacles could be overcome.

Deut 7:22 “Do not be terrified by them for the Lord your God is among you, and He’s a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.”

Those same words of hope are from the same God we serve. Do you believe it? God will win this one with you and for you, but not in one great victory. The new student won’t be able to get their education completed in one day, or in one week. It’s going to be little by little, year by year. God’s plan for how we handle the overwhelming is the same. One at a time but all accomplished in His time and in His will. It is extremely important to remember that the answer to our need and prayer may not and most often do not line up with what our fleshly and finite minds picture it. At least that has been my experience. Why not? Because God said;

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Maybe you’ve been wondering how you’ll ever beat some trial or sin that’s been beating you, or how you can carry out your desire to dedicate your whole life to Jesus. How to let Jesus be the Lord of that weakness in your life. How to have His priorities for your life and not let your flesh rule. Yes, even weak faith. Take it one day at a time. Today you can either have another twenty-four hour victory or defeat. The end result truly is mine to choose. You will not be able to dedicate your life to Jesus unless you do it by dedicating each new day.

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

How is your faith this morning????

Have a great day committed to serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus!

Learn from our Lord’s truths recorded for us. The sad result of the whole generation of Israel at that time was that they all except two, Joshua and Caleb, died without going into the Promised Land because they chose to not believe that God was able. Their children were allowed to go in but not the adults who rejected God.

Today I Taught My Child to…

Recognize it or not we will;

“Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go…”

Be careful! Our lives are bigger teachers than our words.

“TODAY I TAUGHT MY CHILD”

When I got mad and hit my child, “for his own good, I reasoned
I reconciled and then, I realized my plight. Today, I taught my child to fight.

When interrupted by the phone, I said “Tell them I’m not home.” And then
I thought, and had to sigh, Today, I taught my child to lie.

I told the tax man what I made, forgetting cash that I was paid And then
I blushed at this sad feat, Today, I taught my child to cheat.

I smugly copied a cassette, to keep me free of one more debt. But now
the bells of shame must peal, Today, I taught my child to steal.

Today, I cursed another race. O God, protect what I debase. For now, I
fear it is too late. Today, I taught my child to hate.

By my example, children learn, that I must lead in life’s sojourn. In
such a way that they are led, by what is done, and what is said.

Today, I gave my child his due. By praising him instead of rue. And now
I have begun my guide; Today, I taught my child his pride.

I now have reconciled and paid, to IRS on all I made.
And now I know that this dear youth; today, has learned from me, truth.

The alms I give are not for show, and yet this child must surely know.
That charity is worth the price; Today, he saw my sacrifice.

I clasp within a warm embrace, my neighbor of another race…The great
commandment from above; today, I taught my child to love.

I speed along at 80 mph because everyone else was doing it and after
all, wouldn’t I be a safety hazard if I didn’t. Today I taught my child to justify sin…

Someday, my child must face alone, this world of fierce some undertone,
But I have blazed a sure pathway; Today I taught my child… to pray.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is
old he will not depart from it.”

How to Forgive…

Col 3:13a “bearing one another and forgiving one another…”

How to Forgive…

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not right.

He thought about those who had lied about him back when he had a job. His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.

Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, feeling this entire world had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the One he knew would always be there. And with tears in his eyes, he prayed: “Lord- You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don’t know how. It is not fair, Lord. I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn’t have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don’t know how to forgive. My anger is so deep, Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing I cannot do – Teach me To Forgive.” As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt.

He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them.

He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally, he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. The impact was so great it was as if he could hear Jesus say; “Have you ever told a lie,” he asked?

The man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?”

The man answered, “yes, Lord.” And the man sobbed more and more.

“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn’t yours, Jesus asked?”

And the man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever sworn, using my Father’s name in vain?”

The man, crying now, answered, “yes, Lord.”

Many more times, “Have you ever”? The man’s crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer “yes, Lord.”

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before. He now understood, Jesus didn’t deserve this either, but He willingly went through it for lost sinners.

And that was him!

Col 3:13 “bearing one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do so.”

Do you want to be Rich…

1 Timothy 6: 6″But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Do you want to be Rich…?

Ronald Meredith, in his book HURRYING’ BIG FOR LITTLE REASONS,
describes one quiet night in early spring: Suddenly out of the night
came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly
announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese
across the moon?

It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame
mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known.
The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into
their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge
to fly to take their place in the sky for which God made them was
sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never rose from the
water.

The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard
was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable.
Temptation is always enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for
flight.

I Tim 6:6-10 “But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content. But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after having been led astray from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish
and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the
love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for
money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many
griefs.

Don’t allow yourself or your family to fall into this trap!

The Not so Little White LIE…

The Not so Little White Lie….

There is no and can be no substitute for honesty. God always knows our motives. The enemy is the master deceiver and this world is controlled by him until Jesus returns a second time to straighten our world out. Until then it is obvious that satan has convinced this world that the little white lie is ok. He convinces us that as long as it does not hurt someone or as long as it is justified in our minds it is ok. He convinces us that as long as it does not hurt someone it is ok. What does God say?

Col. 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”

1 Tim. 6:5 “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”

That philosophy is found in our business world. What does God’s word say about bartering and how important is truth to our Lord?

Proverbs 20:14 “It is good for nothing cries the buyer; But when he has gone his own way, then he boasts.”

 Proverbs 20:23 “Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false balance is not good.”

And where do we find the total of all truth?

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one can come unto the Father, but by Me?”

The truths Jesus lived and taught are found in;

2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Psalm 4:5, “Offer right sacrifices, and trust in the Lord.

Numbers 32:23b “…and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Some great places have been really damaged by the slow process
of erosion. So have some great people. That’s why you’ve got to make the
choices that will stop the erosion in your life.

And we’ve all got a powerful example for that in the Word of God in
the Book of Daniel, chapter 1, beginning with verse 5. Daniel is one of a handful
of promising Jewish young men who have been taken to Babylon after
King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of their land. The king includes them with
some of his own Babylonian “first-round draft picks” in a leadership
development program that will ultimately propel them to greatness in the kingdom.

Everything was fine until the king, “assigned a daily amount of
food and wine from the king’s table.” This was a special “training table
diet” designed to make them into the best physical specimens possible. But
that kind of food was totally out of bounds for Jews back then, as defined
by the laws of their God. A tough choice here! You’re on your way to
greatness, and right here at the beginning you’re being asked to
compromise a little. At stake could be your whole future and maybe even
your life if you defied the most powerful man in the world.

But the Bible says, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with
the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission
not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show
favor and sympathy to Daniel. This official was afraid he might be
executed if Daniel and his Jewish comrades ended up looking worse than
the others. So Daniel persuaded him to allow a ten-day test of an
alternate diet of vegetables and water. Long story short, Daniel and
company,  the Bible says, “looked healthier and better nourished than
any of the young men who ate the royal food,” and “the king found none
equal to Daniel” and his friends.

God may be asking you to risk everything right now on what
looks like a very expensive faithfulness. It could really cost you to do
what’s right, to hold to your convictions, to refuse to compromise your
integrity or your purity. You’re risking everything on the faithfulness
of our God. It’s tempting to give in to get ahead … to get that need
met … to get out of that jam. But with your compromise goes a huge
piece of you and the blessing of Almighty God. Resist that eroding tide.

And remember that God’s favor is for God’s faithful. You may,
like Daniel, find yourself in different environments, pressured by
different expectations, but you’ve got to be sure that it’s always the
same you. You have to “resolve not to defile yourself” – to build an
uncompromising wall against even the first step that would take you
outside the ways of your God.

Mat 6:33a “But seek first of all His kingdom and His righteousness…”

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

A City without Walls…

Proverbs 25:28 “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

A City without Walls!

How is your temper this morning? Do you find yourself saying things that hurt others and then regretting what you said? Many times after you have spouted off you wish you could take those words or that event back but of course you cannot. So, the challenge is, how do I keep from doing it, so I don’t have to try to correct the results? Our tempers are controllable with the right source of strength.

When the stress, pressure and aggravation of the day build up, too many of us become a human volcano and take it out on those around us. Unfortunately it comes naturally. Please do not view that as an excuse. You see, it comes from the flesh and if you are a Born Again believer you have the power to control the flesh. That power is called the Spirit or Holy Spirit and at salvation He comes to live within you. How do I know that? The word of God tells us so. In fact, scripture says if we do not have the Holy Spirit we are not saved.

Rom 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

With the Holy Spirit can I keep from losing my temper? The answer is yes. Our dark side, called the flesh can be controlled. That control comes when I present myself to Jesus as His servant and allow Him to mold and develop me.

I Cor 10:13 “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Does that mean I will never sin again by losing my temper? It may be the devastating things that we say and do when we’re angry, or our selfishness that continually wounds and crushes people, or a sour negativity and bitterness that poisons our life and the lives of people around us. It’s all deadly sin that keeps spewing out of our life while often hurting the people we love most. While we have no excuse for sinning we still are overcome by that flesh at times. Fortunately our God is faithful in forgiving us when we recognize our sins and confess them.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That daily spiritual battle we fight with our explosive dark side is not new. That same flesh created the first sin and all have that same flesh (Rom 3:23). Jesus is the only one to walk this earth without sin (I Cor 5:21). And fortunately He is the very One that will make intercession for us for our sin. Our need is to recognize it and ask for forgiveness’. The request can only go through one person.

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

That is the good news for today, because the Bible now shows us how to move from despair to deliverance. We can move from that “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me…?” to a sinner cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Jesus wants to bring that victory into your life – to forgive every sinful hurtful thing you’ve ever done and give you a new beginning. He stands ready to actually move into your life and to control what you have never been able to control; to beat what has always beaten you. He’s the Rescuer, reaching for you. Now it’s up to you to reach back and accept His offer.

Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”