Given May 11, 2013
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Psalm 107:1)
Thank you. Two words we like to hear and should be saying. When someone does something good for you, a “thank you” is the way to show your appreciation. However, there are two types of “thank you’s”. One is the “thank you” you say in passing; almost like it’s a recording. Someone holds the door for you and you say, “Thanks”. Then there is the kind of “thank you” that is really sincere; from the heart. The kind where you might say, “Wow, thank you very much!”
Now, think about your “thank you’s” to the Lord. The Bible says to, “Ask and you shall receive”, (Matthew 7:7), so we ask. The Lord already knows what we need but He wants us to ask anyway. If we are asking for something He’s already said He would do, then a “thank you” is in order, don’t you think? In order for us to know what God has said He would do, we have to study His word, the Bible. So, for example, if we ask God to be with us, we know He has said, “I am with you always”, (Matthew 28:20) and, “I will never leave you.”, (Hebrews 13:5). So after we ask, we should then say, “Thank you Lord that you are with me and you will never leave me.” If fear tries to invade your mind, say, “Thank you Father that you are right here beside me.” How does God feel when He has told us what He will do for us and we keep coming to him begging time after time, “Oh God…please help me, please be with me, please, please, please!” I can almost hear Him say, “Son/daughter, I have already taken care of that, I told you so. Just thank me for it.”
I have begun thanking God lately in specific times when I have asked for something. I have found it creates a peace when I acknowledge I’m thankful for the answer even when I don’t see it yet. I think that’s called faith. God said He would do it, I ask Him for it, and I thank Him for the answer. Whew…God’s taking care if it…God’s got this now. “Wow, thank you God very much!” Try it this week.
Given April 24, 2013
Influence is defined as, “The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.” The Urban Dictionary defines circle of influence as, “People you know whom you may receive assistance from or give assistance to.” So, if we combine those two definitions, we get a group of people that may look to you for help or that you can choose to help; people you can have an influence on.
Today, let’s think about your Circle of Influence. Who is in that circle? Who do you have an influence on? Your family, friends, co-workers, fellow students/teachers, neighbors, acquaintances? And what influence are you having? Good…bad? If you’re a man, your Biblical responsibility is first to your family; your spouse and children. But we all have an influence on others. So think about your daily activities. What influence are those activities having on those in your circle? What influence should they be having? Are you trying to have a positive influence on these people? Do you need to change something?
Consider something else. Each day you encounter people who are not inside your circle but who step inside for a time. The checkout person, someone you meet in the grocery aisle, a stranger who comes to your place of business, someone who speaks to you at the ballgame or someone new at church. You can have an influence on them for this short time. What influence will it be?
A final way for you to influence others are the people who are not in your circle, nor do they step into your circle for a time, but are those who are outside looking in. These are the people who just notice something you do or something you say as you go about your daily business. It has been said, “You are the only Bible some people will ever read.” You can have an influence on people you don’t even know about. People are watching…what are they seeing?
Today, look inside your circle and determine to be a positive influence on those who are there. Pay attention to those who step into your circle and do the same. And realize that just by your actions and words, you are influencing others. Be a good influence and reflect the image of God. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” (Titus 2:7).
Repost from 2006
”A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45). This verse is pretty clear. What is in your heart is usually what you’re going to be talking about and thinking about. But, some people are good at saying the right things according to who they’re around. You know anybody like that? They cover up what’s in their heart pretty well. But sometimes it comes out.
I heard this analogy the other day that made it clearer to me. A preacher said, “Whatever you’re full of is going to spill over when you get bumped.” Now I can see that! If a glass is full of water and you bump it or shake it, it’s going to spill over the side and everyone around will know it and may even get wet. When we, as Christians, are bumped, jostled, hit, jolted or in some way tested, whatever we’re full of is going to dictate the reaction we’ll display. If we’re full of God, we’ll react correctly, we’ll be a good witness to those around us and God will be pleased. If we’re full of something else, we’ll probably embarrass ourselves, be a bad witness and have to repent.
Think about it; how do you react when someone doesn’t move right away when the light turns green? Or when you hit your toe on the couch leg? Or when someone falsely accuses you or wrongly mistreats you? What about when if the ref or umpire makes a bad call? If we’re sloshing junk over on those around us, we need to repent and ask God to empty our dirty vessel, clean it up and refill it to overflowing with Himself. And we may even have to apologize to someone. If you can identify with any of this, you need to repent today and get your vessel updated. Then start filling it every day with God’s Word, prayer, and the practice of speaking good things from your heart. What’s in your heart?
Given April 11, 2013
Are you being reminded and bothered by sins you committed in the past? Do the bad things you did in the past keep coming up in your mind and making you feel guilty all over again? You know, Jesus will forgive you for those things and He won’t remember them anymore. In fact, we recently celebrated Jesus taking your sins into Himself, dying with them, then defeating death and the grave setting you free from your past sin. You can be free! If you’ve already asked Him to forgive you, be assured that He HAS and if you bring the matter up, He might say, “What are you talking about? That’s already been taken care of.”
There was a song from the 70s by the Speer Family that said, “What sins are you talking about? I don’t remember them anymore.” Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” You are free from your past sin IF you’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. Micah 7:19 reminds us, “He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8? She was brought and thrown at Jesus’ feet and she was guilty of a crime for which the penalty was stoning to death. She didn’t even ask for forgiveness but Jesus took up for her; He stood up for her. He told those ready to throw stones, “If you haven’t sinned, go ahead and throw your rock.” They all left because they all had sinned. When they had all gone, Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were. I imagine she might have said, “No one is accusing me now, Sir.” Then Jesus said, “I’m not accusing you either, (I forgive you), BUT go and don’t sin anymore.” I’ve given you your life so don’t go back to your past sins. You are free!
Today, we can all be free of our past whether it was years ago or just this morning. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Do it now! Jesus is waiting just for you.
Given March 27, 2013
I heard an advertisement recently for a cleanup service that states they will clean up your mess, “Like it never even happened”. We’ve used them before and they do a pretty good job. But let’s look at another kind of mess that we ALL need cleaned up…SIN.
As we agonize over the death of Jesus during this Easter season then celebrate His resurrection, let us remember why He went through this. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). The word “healed” in the Hebrew means, make whole, repair, become fresh or purified. Think of the guilt we feel when we make a mistake and sin then realize that Jesus accepted on Himself the guilt and pain of all the sins of everybody who would ever live! He took our sins on Himself and suffered the consequences so we wouldn’t have to, so we could be “refreshed”.
But there is something we must do to take advantage of His sacrifice; when we sin, we have to ask for His forgiveness. And, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). We admit we have sinned, go to Jesus and ask Him to repair us, clean us up, before we go in to see the Father. Now watch this: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:21-22). When Jesus forgives us, He presents us to God and God sees us as holy, pure, clean…like the sin never even happened! Oh, praise God! “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25). God did this for us by sending His own Son to earth to die for us.
This Resurrection Sunday or anytime you read this, if you have ANY un-forgiven sin, confess it to Jesus and let Him present you to God and He won’t see any mess, you will be clean…like it never even happened!
Given March 17, 2013
I have been reminded of the 23rd Psalm on several occasions lately and wrote about it HERE and HERE a few weeks ago. There are many good lessons to be found in this passage and another aspect was shown to me recently.
I noticed that the whole passage can be seen as a journey, beginning in the early years and ending when we are old. Let’s look at this journey today. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1). A baby is helpless; others must meet every need on the first leg of this journey. The Shepherd has to lead the child to food and water, “green pastures and still waters” (Psalm 23:2) and keep it safe along the way. And as with all good parents, the Good Shepherd “leadeth me in the paths of righteousness”, (Psalm 23:3), we are led, then later directed, down the right paths on this journey.
However, sometimes we must go through troubled times, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” (Psalm 23:4). But we are not to be afraid because He is with us on this part of the journey; He will protect us. And at the end of the dark valley, there is a light. When we emerge from the darkness we find that the Shepherd has prepared a banquet and we are the guest of honor! As we step into this leg of the journey we notice all our enemies who were harassing us in the dark valley are now forced to watch us being honored and there’s nothing they can do about it. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:” (Psalm 23:5). We are blessed! (“Our cup runneth over.)
As we leave the banquet and continue on our journey, we have some traveling companions, “Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6). We have been traveling with the Master and now He continues to bless us. But where are we going? Where is our final destination? “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6). We began this journey depending on the Shepherd for everything, continued to receive what we needed as we traveled, and end up living in His house for eternity. Where are you on this journey?
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33), so we know bad things are going to happen; it began in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes we are on the mountain top above trouble but sometimes we find ourselves in the valley. The point is to, “walk through”, don’t camp there. And it’s not the Valley of Death but the SHADOW of death. For something to have a shadow there must be light. Fear no evil; it’s only a shadow because Jesus, the Light, is with you. And, like the Good Shepherd, He has a big rod, (a weapon to beat off the enemy), and a staff, (an instrument to rescue stray lambs). We can be comforted by that level of protection.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Imagine this scene: A big banquet is prepared by the King and you are the guest of honor. You and your family and friends are seated around the table but, standing around the wall, are all your enemies, those who hate you and all the demons who’ve been harassing you. But wait, this scene is not in Heaven, you won’t have any enemies in Heaven! It’s on earth! You are “anointed” which is to be made sacred (consecrated); to be set apart and dedicated to serve God. This is happening to you at this banquet. And the King, who is doing this for you, gives you everything you need…and more, your cup runs over!
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:” In addition to having the Good Shepherd taking care of you and being with you, you also have two of His staff, Goodness and Mercy, following you around to meet your needs as you go.
“and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Think about it, you have all the benefits mentioned in each of these verses, and that would be good enough. But you also get to live in the King’s house forever because you are His child! So… you now have to answer one very important question: Is the Lord YOUR Shepherd?
Given February 18, 2013
I help out with BibleTime Ministry, a group that goes into local schools here in Southwest Virginia and teaches biblical principals to children. I will sometimes tell Bible stories, relaying the content in such a way that the kids can understand based on what I have learned telling stories to my grandkids when they spend the night. I call them Pawpaw’s Bible Stories and plan to record them and make them available soon. And sometimes I do simple lessons on Bible topics such as Love, Power, Forgiveness, or Words. I’ve realized that many of the things we read or tell are not understood by children and that’s why I teach in simpler language. This “lesson” on Psalm 23 is one of those. However, I did this for my church newsletter but will adapt it for the kids. I hope you gain new insights into this familiar passage.
“The Lord is my Shepherd,” Without a shepherd, the sheep would wander and be in danger. Sheep do not choose their shepherd, but the shepherd chooses them. John 15:16 says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” God chose us but gives us the choice of following Him. We have to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Is He your shepherd AND are you willing to follow Him?
“I shall not want.” The shepherd takes care of the sheep and supplies them with everything they need. They want for nothing; they have everything they need as long as they stay with the shepherd. On their own, the sheep would not make it. If we follow Jesus, our Shepherd, we will have everything we need. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). So, what does the shepherd do for the sheep?
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” The shepherd leads his sheep into abundant pastures where there is ample food and is also in the open so he can keep watch for animals that would kill the sheep. They are safe and can eat in peace. The shepherd also leads them to drinking water that is safe. Sheep, because of their wool covering, are susceptible to drowning if caught in running water. They don’t realize the danger and can be caught unaware. Still, calm, safe water is where they need to drink. The shepherd takes them there.
“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” By doing the things we’ve read above, the shepherd restores, revives, and refreshes the sheep. He sustains them. He directs them to go the right way as they go from the pen to the pasture, to the streams, then to the bedding place or back to the pen and safety for the night. He is the shepherd and his reputation is on the line. If he loses the sheep or some are killed or die, it is bad on him. He will not be trusted and will not have “followers”. Jesus, our Shepherd, has never lost even a lamb; He can be trusted to lead us in the way we should go, ALWAYS.
Do you have any comments? Part two will follow.
Given February 12, 2013
An important person in your community is coming to your house for supper. What an honor! So, you look in your refrigerator and pantry and choose the oldest, moldy, spoiled food you can find to serve to your guest. What!?!
In your town, a family’s house burns down and they need financial help. You’ve got some money and think you should help so you give 50?. What?!?
Your boss goes on a trip and gives you some extra money and asks you to pay a bill for his mother. You take the money and buy yourself some new clothes. What, who is this person?!?
We read these examples and have probably formed an opinion of these people. What are you thinking about them? What would God think of them? What would you do in these situations?
The Bible says we are supposed to give our best: “Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men:” (Colossians 3:23), be generous: “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25), and don’t be greedy, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15). Can we all do that?
In the Garden of Eden, God gave all the trees in the garden to Adam for food except one and He said don’t eat of that tree, it’s mine, (paraphrased, Genesis 2:17),. But with Eve’s help, after listening to the lies of Satan, Adam took what was Gods for himself. We think, “Why didn’t Adam just do what God said?” “He had all the rest for himself!” Indeed. But some in the church today are doing just what all these examples show. Not giving our best to God, being stingy with what we’ve been given by God, and using God’s money for ourselves. Some have even snubbed their noses at God’s generosity and refused to give God back what He asked for. What!?!
God says, “For all the earth is Mine” (Ex. 19:5). All our money is Gods and He asks us to give Him back the tithe. He could just keep the tenth but He doesn’t need it. He wants to teach us to obey Him, to use our free will to honor Him and His desires. “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8). You wouldn’t think of stealing from God but if you’re not paying your tithe, that’s exactly what you’re doing. And you’re missing God’s best for you. We see in Malachi 3:9-12 what benefits are ours if we obey God concerning the tithe: “You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.” Wow, don’t we and our nation really need this! I’d like to hear your comments about this topic.
Given February 9, 2013
You get an email that says you’ve been chosen as the grand prize winner and all you have to do is click, “Here”, to claim your prize. When you click you are then asked to authenticate your identity by giving your address, Social Security number and your bank account number. Truth or lie?
Someone approaches you in the parking lot at Walmart and says their car is out of gas and their mother is in the hospital and they need to go to her. They only need $20 to get some gas and go to their mother. You ask where their car is and they say its way over there somewhere. Truth or lie?
God tells Adam and Eve they can eat from all the trees in the Garden but one. Then the serpent comes in and says, “You will not certainly die,..for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). Truth or lie?
You’re sick and not feeling well at all. Many others are sick and some are in serious situations. The voice of fear comes into your mind, “You are really sick. You have a serious disease. You are never going to get well.” Truth or lie? The Bible says, “By His stripes you are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). Truth or lie?
You’ve made a serious mistake and that voice inside says, “You’ve messed up this time. You’ll never get out of this, you’re through, don’t even try.” Truth or lie? “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved”. (Ephesians 2:4-5). Truth or lie?
How do we know when the devil is lying to us? How do we know whether the voice of fear in our minds is true or not? The answer: WE HAVE TO KNOW GOD’S WORD! The devil is a liar, (John 8:44). He has no power over us unless he can get us to believe his lies. If you have been duped and are trapped with his lies, there’s a way out: “Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).