Given May 23, 2015

We are celebrating Memorial Day but what do we think of on this day? A day off from work, cookouts, the military? Webster’s Collegiate RockMemorialDictionary defines a memorial as: Something that keeps remembrance alive: as a monument. When we see a monument or picture, we remember the significance from the past that the item represents. Officially becoming a holiday in 1971, the last Monday in May honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Tomorrow, we remember and honor those great Americans.

The Bible is full of memorials; things that remind us of God’s mercy and grace in the past. The first memorial is the rainbow that God set in the sky to remind HIMSELF of his promise, (Genesis 9:13-16). Communion is another one; our remembrance of what Jesus did for us, Jesus said, “this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19-20). Many times God’s people set up an altar or memorial to remind them of God’s goodness. In Joshua 4:1-7 after they crossed the Jordan River, God had Joshua to command the Israelites to set up twelve stones as a memorial. When the children would see the stones and ask what they were, the adults could tell the story of how God delivered them from the Egyptians.

The flood, the death of Jesus and the exodus were all troubling and difficult times but God takes care of His people. They see the memorial and remember that God is good and is on their side. Is there something in your past that was bad but God brought you through it? If you’re saved, your pre-Jesus life was bad. Think of a time when God brought you through. Now, choose something for your memorial: a rock, a picture, a tree, a pocket cross, something that, when you see it, you will be reminded of what God did for you. And, when the devil comes reminding you of something in your past, show him your memorial and say, “Look what the Lord has done!” “So Devil…you can leave now.”

Be A Doer

Given September 20, 2014

You won’t get the job unless you apply. You can’t find out if you’re any good until you join the team. You won’t know if your idea is worthy until you telGet busyl the boss. You won’t get your work published until you submit it. You won’t see a harvest until you plant the seed. You won’t get where you need to go until you take the first step. You won’t get to know that person until you introduce yourself. You can’t pass the test until you study. You won’t defeat your fear until you face it. You can’t get past your mistakes until you confess them. You can’t mend a relationship without forgiveness. You can’t move forward while you’re looking back. You can’t become a great player without enduring the pain of training. You won’t know what’s behind the door until you open it. You can’t catch the fish unless you cast the bait. You can’t learn how to play the instrument until you pick it up. You can’t get in shape until you get up off the couch. You won’t know what God has in store for you until you volunteer to serve Him. You can’t praise God while focusing on your problems. You can’t go to Heaven without saying yes to Jesus. You can’t really have anything of lasting value until you first seek God. (Matthew 6:33)

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Determine in your Spirit today to take action on whatever it is you feel God wants you to do.

Do You Need Help Getting Up?

Given April 10, 2015

The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). As we think about this verse today, I want us to JesusHelpingHandimagine the following scene in our minds.

Picture yourself walking along the path toward Heaven. You see God’s glory up ahead and you’re moving in the right direction, getting closer to Him. Then suddenly, there in the path, is an obstacle. Where did this thing come from? Why is it in my way? The answer is in John 10:10: “The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy,” he will do anything to distract you, cause you to stumble or to stop you from getting to God’s glory. So, you’ve fallen. Remember Romans 3:23 above, everybody has fallen from time to time. But Jesus does not condemn, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”. Remember the woman caught in adultery in John 8, “And Jesus said, “Neither do I. (condemn thee). Go and sin no more.” We’re going to fall short from time to time but if we are with Jesus, we can confess our sin, ask for forgiveness, and He will give it and help us up to continue our journey.

Remember Peter in Matthew 14? He was “with” Christ, got out of the boat and walked on the water. However, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid,” (the obstacle in his path from the scene above). What did Jesus do? “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Peter had cried out to Jesus, (confessing his fault and asking forgiveness/ help), and Jesus helped him up and they continued on their journey.

We’re sometimes going to fall short but I want to encourage you today to not believe the lies of the devil and give up. Don’t give up but look up. Look up into the forgiving face of Jesus, take His hand and get up. Then continue on, toward the Glory of God.

Mercy and Grace

Given February 2015

I entered the courtroom in shackles on my hands and feet and wearing the standard orange prison jumpsuit.  I was led to the front of the courtroomJudge where I was directed to sit down.  “Oh, what have I gotten myself into?”  “Why did I do those things?”  “What was I thinking?”  “Well, this looks like the end for me.”

I was brought back to reality by the authoritative voice of the judge, “Next case!”  The bailiff called my name and I tentatively rose and approached the bench.  The judge glanced at me then began looking at my file and the crimes I was accused of committing.  He said, “Son, I see you’ve not been in trouble before but these charges now are pretty serious.”  “With the evidence here against you, you are guilty and the sentencing guidelines are clear.”  The judge looked back down at my file.  My heart was racing and sweat began to form on my forehead. I swallowed hard as he looked back up at me.  “Here it comes”, I thought, “my life is over.”

“Sir, you’ve made some serious mistakes here and made some bad choices.”  “Are you sorry for what you have done?”  “Yes, Your Honor, I am very sorry.”  “Well, I believe you are and I believe you’re basically a good man so I’m going to do something different here today.”  “I’m going to give you a second chance.”  “By my authority as judge of the First District, I am dropping all these charges against you.”  “You are free to go.”

That is Mercy!  When you don’t get what you deserve.

I was stunned!  I saw the judge raise his gavel and I heard the sound when it hit his desk.  With opened mouth and wide, tear-filled eyes, I cried, “Thank you Your Honor, thank you so much!”  He nodded at me and replied, “Now go and make something of your life.”  “I will Sir, thank you.”

The bailiff led me over to the side of the courtroom where the shackles were removed from my feet and hands as my family came up to meet me.  We embraced in tears at the good fortune given me by the judge.  We could not believe what had just happened.  I turned to thank the bailiff and extended my hand.  However, the bailiff, instead of shaking hands, placed an envelope in my hand.  I said, “What’s this?”  “I don’t understand.”  He said, “The judge had done some research on your background and found that you are a decent man, had recently lost your job and had some really bad luck in your life.”  “He wanted to help you get started with your new life and wanted to give you this.”  I thanked him and exchanged puzzled looks with my family as I opened the envelope.  To my shock and surprise, inside there was a check for $10,000!  I looked back toward the judge, shaking my head in disbelief, as he smiled and nodded at me.

That is Grace!  When you get something you don’t deserve.

God is merciful and graceful like that.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).

Fear Not

There are many things in this life that create fear in our minds.  Some fear is valid such as the fear of touching a hot stove which would burn us or the fear of a dangerous activity.  Then there is the fear of things that are not relevant such as the unknown, the dark or imagined things.  I’ve heard the acronym, F E A R – False Evidence Appearing Real.  Many things we fear appear real or are imagined to be real but in fact are not.  The Gospels list about 125 commands of Jesus and of these, twenty-one is “to not be afraid”.  The second most, which appear eight times, is to love God and your neighbor.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  So where does the spirit of fear come from?  Of course, it comes from the devil!  So why do we accept something the devil shoves at us?  Well, we’re not alone.

In three of the Gospels is the story of Jesus and His disciples on the lake when a storm came up.  Jesus was napping but the disciples were afraid and went to Him for help.  He got up, calmed the storm then rebuked them for being afraid.  We might think, “They were with Jesus, why were they afraid?”  Jesus is with us always (Hebrews 13:5), so should we be afraid?  No.  But the point is we will go through storms in life so we need Jesus with us always AND be calmed by that fact.

When my grandkids were small, they would not want to walk home across the yard after dark.  They asked me to go with them and I did.  When Pawpaw was with them, there was no fear.  They knew and trusted that I would take care of them.  That’s the concept of no fear with Jesus.

If you’re troubled with fear, I suggest you take a little time and Google some scriptures relating to fear, such as 2 Timothy 1:7 above, and memorize them.  Then when you feel fear coming on, recite these Biblical truths and tell the devil to back off!  Fear is not something we should be harassed by because it hinders or blocks us from Gods plan for us.  FEAR NOT!