Friday, December 10, 2010

A Cry for Fellowship


“Do your best to come to me quickly...” Paul (2 Tim. 4:9)
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” -Paul (2 Tim 4:16)

What is probably his last letter to everyone, Paul writes in the previous chapters some great theological teachings that have become the foundations for our faith today. But for some reason, the most intriguing words of this book come from the last few paragraphs, where most bibles title this section, “Personal Remarks”. Here he bears his soul just a little. He shows the personal Paul we don’t hear about too much. In this section we see a man who is hurt by betrayal, burned by others, and someone who craves for deep relationships. We don’t see teacher Paul here, but the man who in many ways is just like us.

We crave for fellowship from other believers. Or maybe just in people in general. Everyone does. Even God. He has perfect fellowship in the Trinity. Jesus shows the example in the 12 Disciples. But quite often we try to be the Lone Ranger in many things. But if you really think about it, even the Lone Ranger was not alone. Sometimes though we try to be the loner, the one who can endure the pain, the sorrow, the burdens, all by ourselves. Who are we kidding? We can’t. We can try, but the weight comes to much, the pain still persist, and the sadness just increases. The final written words from Paul teach us a great deal of what is important. What is most important is the fellowship you have with others. Theology is good, wisdom is great, but love and fellowship with other believers is what makes the Christian life complete.

Lord this lesson is powerful for us to know that we need You first, and we need others and others need us. Thank you for this lesson in fellowship.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Example

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” -Jesus (John 13:13-14)

Washing people’s feet back then must have been pretty gross. It’s not like today where we have shoes and socks, outside of the smell; it’s not all that dirty. Back then people’s feet must have been caked with dust, dirt, and sweat. Washing the feet was an ultimate sign of servant like attitude. Peter even refused to get his feet washed because of the posture it took. It took a servant to do the dirty work. But Jesus set the example that we are to serve others with humility and be willing to serve those who are below us.

To do this is hard, because we humans are incredibly selfish. I say this as a Christian, thus it proves that I am far from perfect. I must take Jesus’ words and apply it to my heart. But it goes against the grain. It goes against my nature. But that is what God has called us to, a higher calling, a call to live life like He did, a life that is different then the norm. He gave the example now I got to strive to follow.

Lord help me continue to learn and strive by your example.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hard Core!


So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him (Jesus)” -John 11:14
Thomas is pretty crazy. Either that or he was extremely stupid. The danger of Jesus returning to Jerusalem was eminent. He was a marked man with a price on his head. But Thomas knew the danger and said, Let’s do it! Somehow, I get the feeling that he knew. Thomas knew. He knew of the danger, he knew of the circumstances. But he stared in it and said, “Let’s go die!” What boldness.
These disciples confuse me, at times they show great boldness and then at times they are complete cowards. In this case I am seeing the more better side of what Thomas is really know for is, “the doubter.” For now though in this moment he shows great leadership. It’s pretty inspiring if you ask me. The lesson here is that we all should have this kind of boldness that Thomas has when the Lord commands us to do things. Often times God gives us a command, then we just kind of let it go. Or let it pass along the way. Thomas here is bold and says, “let’s go for it.”
Lord I pray for this kind of determination when it comes to following you. I pray for your strength and power.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Know when to bend...

But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? Is is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God told to to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” -2 Chron. 35:21

Pride sucks most of the time. As you can see here Josiah was pretty prideful to go up against Neco. Even though he was warned that God was with Neco, Josiah went up against him anyway. I have no idea what Josiah was exactly thinking, but can kind of see what he could be thinking. You see there was war during this time and the Neco, the Egyptian King was asking for free passage, to make war against Babylon, now not too sure why Josiah just didn’t allow it, but for what ever reason he opposed to it. The commentaries say that either possibly he had an alliance with Babylon or he wanted to assert the independence of Judah. For both reasons, he should not have done it. When you oppose God you are just asking for trouble. The key is to know when to bend. Know when to get out of the way and just let God do the work. It is a senseless death Josiah experienced. But he did oppose God, because he felt he was right.

As I look at this I think of the valuable lesson we can learn from Josiah. Know when to bend. Pick your battles, and if God is against you, get out of the way. I can remember I job I had, though it was a great job, the supervisor that was over me did something extremely stupid and blamed me for the error. I pushed back really hard. Though I should have just let the issue go, I really wanted to be right. Well, let’s just say, yes I was right, but I am no longer at that job and I burned a bridge while I was there. In fact I am black listed from this company. That was time in my life where maybe I should have backed off. The older I get though the harder it is to do. But the lesson here from Josiah is to know when to bend, or else God will bend you instead. That is a tough lesson to learn, just ask Josiah, wait, you can’t because he died before he could live to tell.

Lord, help me to know when to bend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Making God Happy


How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? -Jesus (John 5:44).

What was most important to Jesus? Is to make sure you are getting praise from God. In Jesus’ life there was only one opinion that mattered. He did not care if his disciples approved of him or if the religious leadership accepted him, his main concern was to ensure that God was pleased with him. There was nothing that Jesus put before himself but God. God was first thought not the after thought.

Today is a good reminder that everything that I do must be focused solely upon God. I must strive for His approval. If we do not strive for His approval first then our lives will be in utter turmoil. Like the religious leaders who Jesus was addressing, they did not seek the approval of God first. They loved to be in the religious spotlight and their number one goal was to get approval of others. There are a number of times where the one thing I seek is to make everyone happy. I seek to the approval of others. I seek to be accepted. But that isn’t right. I must seek God’s approval first. I must seek Him first, and put nothing in front of me to gain His approval.

Lord I am sorry for not putting you first sometimes. Keep this verse in my heart so I can bring you glory first.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

His Ways

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

This is an amazing verse from the Lord.  He basically lays it out and says that we cannot comprehend how awesome His ways are.  We do not have the capability to even think along the same lines as He can.  Here God puts His stamp down.  HE IS GOD.  We cannot understand Him, we cannot comprehend how great and awesome He is.  We cannot see the world like how He can; we cannot plan and think it all out.  He truly has the whole world in His hand.

As I read this verse, am just soaking in how big God really is.  It forces me to look at me and say, I am puny.  I am nothing compared to God.  I am but a speck, a small piece of dust as compared to the greatness of God.  I am truly humbled by what I am finding of myself.  I need God.  I need to tap into the source, the thinker, and the one who can show me everything.  I am stubborn sometimes.  I mean come on, get to know GOD where the entire source of life, wisdom, and salvation comes from.  Today I really need to tap into God more.  I must tap into the source.

Lord thank you for the reminder.  I need it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Make it sure

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. -2 Peter 1:10

I know Peter isn’t talking about salvation, but what he is talking about is that since we are called by Christ, let us work hard to make sure that we are certain of it. Our life is our response to Jesus. Our response to His sacrifice for us is the way we live our lives. We must ask the question; “How much has Jesus’ sacrifice changed us?” Much of the time our lives are a pale reflection of his sacrifice and we do not embrace living in the power of Him. Sometimes we have to get to the very raw center of the sacrifice that Jesus did. His sacrifice should move us, our salvation did not come cheep. Our life needs to be a little more reflective of his sacrifice for us.

So what can I do? Is there a check off list? I know what I can do; it is just reflect, marvel, and just soak in the love God has for me. Through that I can grow closer to Him, and He will teach me and show me areas were I need to change, need to adjust, or need to just get rid of. Knowing God is not easy, it requires a life that is focused and reflective, obedient and loving, strong and sincere. But here Peter says that if we do pursue self-control, godliness, perseverance, then we are on the right path. As the old saying goes, Jesus gave us life; our gift back to Him is what we do with it. So the question that I have to ponder is what am I going to do with my life?

Lord thank you for the subtle reminder that your sacrifice was great and now you call me to answer You when You ask what I did with mine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Crave...

Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. -1 Peter 2:2

Crave; it means to ask for earnestly, to want greatly, to have an inner desire for something. Cravings, most of the time, is viewed in a very negative light. However, in this case, cravings are good. The reason for it being good is that to crave spiritual milk is essential for Christian growth. Crave spiritual milk, that is what Peter is saying here. Why? It is a necessary stepping stone to growing in Christ. To grow in Christ you need to have that inner most desire to have nothing more than to know Him better. That should be our core desire of our heart. Deep within the heart there needs to be a burning desire to get to know God more and more. Though this message appears to be for young Christians, it does not negate that this should be for every Christian. Crave Jesus.

I got up this morning and I just felt an uneasiness in me. It is hard to describe, but I felt as if something was missing. After going throughout much of the day I began to realize that what was missing was that I needed to go see Jesus. I needed to go hear from Him. I recognized this feeling from past experiences, but today it was pretty intense. Today reminded me that I need Jesus more than anything else. It was as intense as being hungry. But it was a gentle reminder of how much I need Jesus. I really want to dig deeper into my faith. I want to know God more. This though is not easy. Knowing God takes a tremendous amount of effort and discipline. Because of my nature, I am easily distracted and sometimes I don’t see things clearly. But, as today serves as an example, knowing God is so much more beneficial then anything else. God, there is Him and really everything else is worthless.

Lord I pray for this feeling to stay with me, continue to light my fire for You.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are we that selfish?


When you ask, you do not receive; because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. -James 4:3

Is it true? Do we sometimes ask things from God for the wrong reason? However, when you think about it, often the only time we really pray to God is during crisis. We ask God to provide, basically to make our life easier. James here just tells it exactly how he sees it. James implies that wrong motives do not work with God. God only desires that your motives are not selfish or craving after something God gives your neighbors. Knowing that God knows your motives, it should be enough for us to keep our cravings in check. However, it does not and the cycle continues.

James again here is just straight out. Be honest with yourself and see that wrong motives do make a difference. I look back on my life and see that I also am not immune to this. I am not going to lie, I prayed, sometimes all night, and at the end of the prayer session I realize that it was a prayer with the wrong motivation. The prayer was full of selfish ambition, pride, and the fear of not “keeping up with the Jones’”. Now, I know that this shouldn’t be the case. But I am human. I desire things. But the things are not sinful; it’s the cravings for the things is what is bad. Basically you desire thing so much that you are willing to use God as a genie in a bottle. I bet God hates when I do that. He’s not a genie, he is God, and He deserves more honor and praise.

Lord I know you like to provide, help me to hare the right heart.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We are all bad...

But each one is tempted, by his own evil desire; he is dragged away and enticed.  –James 1:14

I love it how blunt James is.  James just tells it how it is.  Here in this opening chapter James goes straight to several points.  This point he tells how evil we are.  We humans are great at making idols of anything.  We can make the most innocent thing to an idol.  The warning James give is that we humans are inherently evil.  We tend to slight to the most malicious things possible.  We often will do evil if we can get away with it.  Human nature is not aligned to do the right thing.  We are often tempted not by outside forces but the desires of our own heart, which makes us idolaters.  We love ourselves far beyond anything else.  We often put ourselves before God.  Though we may profess to love Him, James states that our actions speak louder than our words.   Later on this chapter James writes about being a doer of the word, meaning to apply the lessons of Christ to your life and live in such a way that it is a significant difference then what we were living in before.  To do that it takes our daily dying to ourselves and to accept what God says and to be obedient and discipline to His following.

Often I get extremely frustrated while driving.  Sometimes you see the most selfish things done just so someone can drive faster, or get a few inches further.  Yesterday, as I was pulling out of a driveway a car from the other side drives over and cuts me off as I am pulling out, leaving me in the middle of a road.  Just as that is happens the light across the street turns green, and as I am stuck in the middle of the road as cars go around me giving me the “stink eye” all the while I am thinking all you need to do is let me through.  Then as this a person on a bicycle rides up and also passes me in the all while calling me a very colorful name.  When I finally pulled on the street to drive I was so mad.  I was complaining to the Lord asking, “WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT!” But as I was venting frustration to the Lord, He gently reminded me that I can be as foolish and selfish as these people were.  God reminded me that I too have placed idols in my life and I have blazed over friendships, people, relationships, and to get what I want.  That to God is my “evil” desire.  Even though it may be a good thing, I can turn it into an idol.  I can blaze ahead and not think of others as I strive towards that.  I pray that God continue to expose in me the sin that entangles me and draws me away from Him.  I want my life to totally focus on one thing, loving Jesus and following Him.  Make everything in my life all about Him.  Throwing aside the idols of my life and striving towards Him.

Lord thank you for the gentle reminder that I make many things idols.  Help me to strive for your pleasure, your love, and your approval only.  Thank you Lord.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Simply Faith...


These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. -Hebrews 11:39-40

Faith. It’s such a simple word, but the implications behind it is far more reaching they we will ever know. When I read this passage I am always blown away by the power of faith. However, faith comes at a price. With faith there is trust and suffering. Trust in God is absolutely necessary with faith. Trusting in God’s plans no matter how crazy it seems. The example the writer gives is of Rahab who trusted that the Israelites will spare her family from invasion, which was a leap of faith and trust. When you follow God many others around you may not see it as following God. The writer here mentions Noah and the ark. Imagine building an ark in the middle of land? Yes it is crazy. The writer here makes no mistake on what he says that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Following God has its price, but the reward is so much greater.

Now what gets me irritated is what I hear too often I in Christianity, and it goes a little something like: “If you have faith then your life will be blessed,” or “if you do this then God will bring you this.” As if we can control God. I hear too much sometimes, on how to rid our life of suffering, and that God intends for us to live a life that is stress free, healthy, and rich. That is a load of crap and is very much unbiblical. What often is not preached is that your faith in God will produce suffering, and more often then not, you do not see the reward of your labor, as it is stated in Hebrews 11:39. The reward that has been promised is not for this Earth. The reward of our faith is for what is to come. How often do we (myself included) think that what has been promised to us is in the form of a monetary riches, heath, or a good life. Is that what Christ came to earth to do? Give us a comfortable life? I often have to pinch myself to remind me that the life that I live, in order to have the meaning it was intended to have, is to live in such a way that my life is all about Christ. It may mean that I will suffer greatly, it may mean that I may live a life that is not what others see as successful, it may mean that I may do things that many, including my Christian friends, will not understand. But in the end, if all that I do is rooted in Christ, and I am obedient to his will, then it will all be worth it. True faith in God is not always easy, but true faith will enable to give strength to press on despite of all the suffering that is around.

Love this passage Lord, grow me in the ways that will show the error of my ways, and give me faith so that one day what You had planned will be made perfect.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Need For Perseverance


You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. -Hebrews 10:36

The writer of Hebrews just wrote on this chapter on how Christ sacrifice was once and for all. He also a warns that if we take Christ’s sacrifice and continue to deliberately live as a sinner then we are in for a fearful judgment. But he also talks about how the audience addressed in Hebrews is great when persecution came. They stood their ground and held firm to their faith. The writer is asking here is to persevere. The audience is being asked to keep your faith in God no matter what happens. For the time will be coming where it will get tougher. But the author asks for them to focus in the will of God for there is a reward that is coming.

The older I get, I am find out more adults suffer from attention deficit disorder. Not in a medical sense, but we are getting more and more distracted by so many things. Some blame the Internet; some blame the stressful times, some blame the economy but we all get distracted from doing our assignments from God. I know it happens to me. My focus strays constantly. For example I am here at writing this journal and I am thinking of twenty other things that I could be doing, not to mention I am in a coffee shop, so that just makes it worse, with all the meetings, conversations, and other things that are going around in this environment. Though this is a small example, this is sometimes the story of my life. I may start on the path that God intends for me but soon I find myself on a path that is distant from where I intended to go. Here the lesson is to persevere, to focus in upon the goal, to have a heart that is focused totally on fulfilling the will of God. Not an easy thing to do, but it is of extreme importance. So therefore the character trait of perseverance is necessary for me to develop.

Lord help me to develop more perseverance.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Diligence

We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. –Hebrews 6:11

Diligence is a trait that is so often ignored by many people.  Here the writer of Hebrews says that he wishes people to have diligence in serving the Lord.   He teaches that diligence helps build our confidence.  While it does not bring us salvation, it gives us other benefits.  Diligence teaches us persistence and determination.  Diligence also helps build character and helps us grow in our faith.  There is so many lessons that diligence teaches that it would make total sense for it to be placed here in the book of Hebrews.  Diligence is one of those things that if you do it will benefit you, if not, it will be a determent to your life.

One of the lessons that I feel is being taught over and over in the bible is that power of diligence.  One book that I read titled, “The Richest Man that Ever Lived” showed the life of King Solomon and how what he taught was to be diligent in all that you do.  There is something that the Lord appreciates when you are diligent and consistent.  Now the lesson that I need to learn from this verse is to build my diligence.  Often I fall into the category of getting way too excited about things and go wholehearted into the event or whatever it is.  But what happens more often than not is that I fade out.  It’s one of those slow declines into nothing.  I am not proud of that.  Surely I do not want that to happen to my faith.  To have diligence in my faith is very important for the growth of my faith.  In fact diligence to everything that I do is important.  I don’t think my life cannot afford to do without it.  However, what it will take is for me to do make some changes, lifestyle changes.  But it is a good thing.  It is something that needs to get done so my faith can grow into a faith that makes my hope sure.

Lord I pray that you give me the diligence to do the right thing.  I pray that my life be a reflection of you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The power of the Word.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12

The writer of Hebrews speaks here of the power of God’s word. It cuts and it divides. It provides insight to our attitudes and our motivations. When God’s speaks He reveals. He gives insight and corrects our motivation. When you apply Biblical teaching to your life it seems as if everything moves. Things become alive, things change, people’s lives are changed. Take away the core root of all Bible, it falls flat. God’s word provides us with an unbelievable knowledge, it deepens our understanding of Him, it grows us in ways that we need growth, and provides us with guidance that we need.

I always knew that you needed God desperately, but this verse gives me renewed vision on how much I need God. I need to gain more of His knowledge so I know when I am in His will. I need to dig deeper into the Word so I can get to know Him better. I need the His wisdom like no other so I can guide my life, my ministry, my future in the right direction. Today I am reminded that I am nothing without God. I am nothing without his Word. His Word is power. I want to rest in that power.

Lord give me the guidance I need to rest in your Word. Teach me, give me strength, but most of all Lord, help me to obey.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

When God ask you to do something crazy...


When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Dibaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. -Hosea 1:2-3

Now this is kind of a crazy assignment. It’s not like he says go and build a church, or go preach to the people, or fast for the nation. No, God told him to go take a WHORE for a wife. It doesn’t even sound Biblical. But that is what you see, God giving a very different task. Hosea’s first assignment, marry a whore. God asked Hosea to do something crazy. But what you see here is that Hosea, he DOES IT!. Without question, he just does it, he is very obedient to God. Though it’s sort of a strange situation, I am encouraged by Hosea’s obedience.

Now, I don’t know about you, if one of the first big assignments God gives me is to go out and marry a whore, not sure how I would take that. Imagine that? I’m trying to put myself in Hosea’s situation and the more I think of it, this is a crazy assignment. But our God does things that we can perceive as crazy but to God it makes total sense. What I can learn from Hosea is that to be obedient to God. Obedience to Him is what He desires the most. Total trust in God. When we have obedience, he is capable to use us in ways that seem strange to the world, but it will fulfill his plan. For me, I would love to do some crazy things for God, but do I have the obedience it takes to allow Him to use me. I struggle with the wanting to do the me thing, or the thing that my friends are doing which hinders me from doing the crazy God thing, because it is a me thing. But God is in the business of doing radical things for His glory. If I want to be part of it, I must have that radical obedience. Do do this I know it starts small, doing the small things and being obedient to that. So I must daily remind myself to be obedient in the small things, so He can use me to do the radical things. Hosea’s obedience is one to marveled at. I pray one day I can have that kind of obedience.

Oh Lord help me follow the example of obedience by Hosea. May my trust in you grow more and more each day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Build Yourselves Up!


“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 20

The background on Jude is interesting. Full of heavenly beings, prophecy, and all kinds of end times kind of things. While we can argue much on the heavenly things that are happening here, what we should not forget it is the message that Jude is trying to convey over to the believers. The message to watch against teachers who do not understand what they are teaching (verse 10) and also use what they teach to build themselves up for their own glory (vs. 12). The warning is to watch out against these teachers by doing the very thing that believers need to do, is to build themselves up in faith and prayer. That is what they need to do to not only recognize these false teachers, but to be able to rescue people away from the false teaching.

Build yourselves up, is what God is asking. I was recently at a bible study, and not to put down anyone, but one person in our bible study, Jake, was contemplating leaving the group for this reason: “I don’t feel like I’m being fed. I really want to dig into the Word and learn more. But I don’t feel like I am being fed.” I listened for a while but after the constant nagging of how much our small group is just too social, and too topical. The argument Jake was saying sounded legitimate, until I asked the question, “Jake, how many times during the week do you really get into the Bible yourself?” The answer: 3 times, at best. I sat there in shock. I followed up the question with “How many hours a day do you pray?” Answer: “I pray in the car, I pray along the way to things.” I was now flabbergasted. I saw why Jake was hungry for God. Out of 168 hours a week, Jake dedicated (at best) 4 hours a week to God! I then proceeded to tell Jake, you really need to dig into the Bible and learning things of God for yourself. Jake said, that it still does not change the fact that he’s not being fed, he’s hungry for the Word and we aren’t doing that for him. Then I thought of this wonderful saying Pastor Wayne Cordeiro says, “Hungry? FEED YOURSELF!” The implication is that the only one responsible for spiritual growth is YOU. Only you can put can learn about God more, only you can spend more time with God and get to know Him better. No one else can. Only you.

During this week I have been tasked with all kinds of responsibilities, but what I need to make sure is that I continually pursue God. I must be continually in His word and I fall down on my knees daily to hear Him. So Lord, help me to pray for my friend Jake, and to pursue You with all my heart. Don’t let me forget that when I am hungry, to feed myself.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Almighty and His Glory...


“Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.” Psalm 104:1

Oh the majestic beauty of God, this entire Psalm is dedicated to the beauty and the wonder of God. It’s pretty amazing to just absorb how great God is. The content in this Psalm just speaks of the beauty and the awesomeness of God. It’s refreshing sometimes to see how very great God is. To see how big He really is. In fact the words even in these Psalm does not do God any justice on how glorious He is. There is no word for Him, there is nothing that can depict how great He is. God is just that God.

You know a few days ago, I ran across a few videos on Youtube on how we humans originated on this earth. Of course we had the big bang evolutionary theory, then we had design theory, and there was also this weird theory where we were originated from aliens from another planet. While some made sense (well, sort of) most of it was pretty confusing and some just plain weird. I went to sleep thinking nothing of it and the next day I went out to go surf. It was a good size surf day, 3-4ft (Hawaiian style measurements, which is about a 6-8ft face). Riding these waves was sort of a challenge. Probably due to the fact that I am a tad bit out of shape and my surfboard could use some repairing. But while riding those waves, out in the beauty of the large Pacific Ocean it hit me. God is God. He is awesome. I don’t know why we try to explain away the shear beauty of this world and say it was all due to chance. In the ocean, surfing these monster waves, I was just reminded how beautiful my God is. And oh how powerful, yes, how powerful He is.

Lord, your creation just shouts Your name. May You be glorified.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My nature, our nature, and being wise.

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” –Paul (Ephesians 5:15-16)

The study and the application of Ephesians 5 is something that no Christian should take lightly, but at the heart of the matter you need to realize how far it stretches to the core of each person. Here is what we know about human nature, we all are prone to evil. Our human nature loves to do things that are evil (Matthew 15:19). Our very nature is full of selfishness and conceit. Most of the time we mask it but a lot of what we do is to pleasure ourselves. That’s the curse. Our nature or sometimes referred to as our flesh and our flesh wars against our spirit. I am not an exception. There are many times where I just love to not do the right thing. Not the illegal thing, just not the right thing, things such as putting my focus upon possessions, having lustful thoughts. The verse here explains our war against our own desires. Paul tells us to “Be very careful,” to how we live. Our very actions can cause us to slide back to our old nature. Paul’s suggestion here in Ephesians 5 is to kick evil to the curve. Extract it out of life. But the way to do that is to live a life that is wise. Solomon in Proverbs says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Therefore to be wise, we must be wholeheartedly pursing Christ with all of our hearts. Here also though Paul explains that we must make the most of every opportunity. One commentary said that this is phrase literally means “buying the opportunity”, which is a merchant term where they can maximize their sales and trade. So we as Christians are called to make most of our time to do good because as Paul explains the days are evil that lies ahead of us. It maybe not necessarily that the days are wicked, but the days where there is trouble ahead. So in summary our nature begs us to do evil but we must be wiser so that we can take every minute of over lives as a dedication to Christ.

As a follower of Christ, this verse just rips into my soul. The very nature of what it requires us to do is to fight against what we so easily love to do. I look at this and it just makes me realize that I desperately need Jesus. I’m not going to lie, I am a selfish individual. I love to do things for me. I want to live a life of comfort, excess, ease, and extravagance. But I know that none of that compares with the life that God desires for my life. Time is short and the ultimate question that I should be wrestling with everyday should be, “Am I being wise or unwise?” Am I maxing out my life for the desires of Christ? Oh I hope to be. I want that. I really want that.

Lord my nature pulls me away from you, help me to be wise.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prudence

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 27:12

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever and a crown is not secure for all generations.” Proverbs 27:23-24

These verses above make you evaluate what you are doing and then it just hits you at the core. As there are rules to physical things in life, there are rules to the spiritual things in life also. Here we are not to overlook the importance of awareness. Prudent people see the danger in advance and take action; prudence also sees the importance of knowing where you are in your life situation. Prudence in this definition means one who is sensible, shrewd. So the along with prudence comes wisdom. They go hand in hand. In these verses it stresses that those who are aware of their surrounding situation have the ability to see when they are headed in the wrong direction. When the are aware of it, they will be able to take action to correct the direction. Though these skills are not easy, they are not easily acquired. It takes discipline; it takes smarts, and most of all it takes God.

I am not going to pretend that the past few years I have been living by such a model. There are many times in my life where I was not living in wisdom, but exact opposite. But though I may not have been faithful, my God is very faithful, and he has not given up on me. From the lesson above, I believe God has clearly expects us to live in His wisdom and to be responsible to serving him. However, there are things I need to do. It seems that I need to gain prudence, I also need to evaluate where I am in life and make course adjustments when needed. Finally I need to fall upon his wisdom and his understanding so that I can see the adjustments that need to be made. But the hardest thing is that I need to Just Do It. That’s the hardest thing to do. Just doing what God has called us to do. Sometimes it’s easy, most of the time it is hard.

Lord making course adjustments are not easy. Thank you for preparing my heart is and starting me out with some wisdom in what I need to do. Now Lord I really want make the moves, give me the strength and wisdom to do it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Using all your rights


But Paul said to them, “They beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” Acts 16:37

Paul could have gone away quietly, but he chose not to. Here he makes a stand. He was beaten publicly, literally for no other reason then spreading the Good News. Falsely accused and made to look guilty, the authorities here just wanted to sweep him and his companions under the rug. However, Paul had different plans. He chose to make a stand, a stand that would not only clear his name but also clear the conscience of the people. He knew that he was a missionary in a place that was not welcoming to them. So by doing this he announced to the people that not only was he not guilty of doing any crime, but he also tells that as a Roman citizen, it was okay to believe in Christ.

I just can’t get this out of my mind, that here Paul embraces that he will use all that he is and all that he has to forward the Kingdom of God. Here Paul uses his Roman citizenship to show for vindication of any crimes, but also he shows that it’s okay to love God and be a Roman also. He uses his stature as a Roman citizen to promote God. This makes me want to use all the privileges that I have to spread God’s word. It may not be anything huge, but it can be used. It’s encouraging to know that though you may have labels in the outside world of what your job is, what your skill set is, or what your status is, you should use what ever your label is to help progress His kingdom. It is good to see that Paul though he was a Roman citizen, he was above all a man of God first.

Lord that you for this reminder that I am to be a man for You first, but also that I use what ever label I have to bring glory to You. Help me to do that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Identity Crisis


“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show they make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” -Jesus (Luke 20:46-47)

Do not be deceived. This is the message that Jesus is after. He is saying, what looks good isn’t always good. In this case the teachers of the law has become so engrossed by their own selves they forgot what they were about. The teachers of the law fell in love with power, fame, fortune, all at the expense of God. Their motives were to gain all that the world had to offer. It appears that they forgot what their purpose was. They forgot what God was trying to do. The forgot who they were at the core of themselves and got lost in the things that don’t matter. In short the priest had an identity crisis. The reason they existed was to push others towards God, and spread His ways. But what we have here is a bunch of guys who wear nice clothes, eat good food, and make the temple a nice place to be. Is that what God wants? I don’t think so.

It’s easy for me to see this and say, “Stupid Priest, they forgot who they were!” But in reality often I forget who I am. I forget that my life is not my own. I forget that all I do is for God and not for myself. I am human, I like nice things, I want to own nice stuff. However, sometimes I want the stuff more they I want God. I forget who I am and what my assignment is. I get deceived by the things of this world. It’s only human, but today is a simple reminder to come back to what God wants. A calling back to what my true identity is. A calling back to where God wants me to be.

Lord, forgive me for the short term memory. But thank you for the reminder that I belong to you, and that you are the only thing that counts. Thank you for restoring back to me what I am truly supposed to be, a follower of You.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

God Moments: Day 2 and 3: The bookstore rendezvous.


Okay, after one day I already renamed it, but God Moments seemed more appropriate then saying “miracle”. But God moments can come in the form of a miracle, a lesson, or things situations. Jesus can show up at anytime to teach. Anyhow, I hope you get the point. Moving on...

As I recount the lessons in the next few days I am constantly reminded how God stitches together the lives of others all around you. I was bored at one point, I had just finished work and I really did not want to go home to watch a video, or read a book, or even exercise. I wanted to go out and have some fun. One problem, no one I knew shared my desire to go out. But on an whim, or maybe a push from God, I was moved to go to the bookstore. Ah, yes the safe book store where you can read books. I know I said I didn’t want to read, but if I am going to read at least there are people there and you never know who you might bump into. Low and behold, I did. As soon as I got out of my car, as I was making my way to the bookstore, I heard my name. Sure enough, I ran into friends that I haven’t seen in a while. After chatting for a few minutes, they invited me to go do what they were doing, so I said, YES. This sparked a series of events that lead me to know that God was in all of this. From what was shaping up to be an uneventful weekend bursted in to a awesome active weekend that had moments of spark, times that were enjoyable, and it even re-sparked my desire to exercise (note... sometimes being called fat is good). I was able to hang with some friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

God moments and desires can come in the most unlikeliest places. So you never know what God has in store, if you go out there and take a risk. Give God a chance, and listen to His voice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Miracle Day 1

I was honestly looking for a miracle, but it was difficult, I was in the store trying to find God’s handy work somewhere. So I resorted to what I do well, complain. Boy, I was complaining, but instead of bickering about my life, it morphed to “how the heck am I going to find a miracle.” Then lo and behold, I found it. I think God made it easy for me. But in a little refrigerator at the supermarket, I saw the miracle. In a form of a bottle labeled in white, it read “Pepsi Throwback: Made with Real Sugar”. I just nearly lost it. You know how long I prayed for this?! Literally, this was a miracle. For years I have longed for soda to go back to using sugar. Even though on the label it said “For a limited time.” I didn’t care. Here was the miracle. Real soda using real sugar.

I dislike high-fructose corn syrup, with a passion. I longed for years to have soda in the real form, with sugar. So tonight it was going to happen. What a special occasion this night was turning out to be. I cooked dinner, fired up Netflix, and sat down. Now I just chilled my soda in the freezer for 20 minutes to make it extra cold. I was oozing with excitement. I slowly twisted off the cap, and lifted it my lips, and when I felt the first drop of this magnificent drink hit my mouth, I was praising God. To best describe it, I could only think of that quote by Frank the Tank, “Once it hits your lips it feels so good!” So yes, there it is, miracle #1, in the form of a white bottle soda. Don’t get me wrong the food was good, and the movie documentary I watched, “Tyson”, was miracle #2 for the day. But today’s big miracle came in the form of a little bottle.

Restart... Sort of...

Up until now, this blog has pretty much been my daily devotions. Which has seem to be going well, however, often times during devotions I get called into acton. Today was one of those “action” days. What was supposed to have been a time of reflection and spending time with God, quickly escalated into one of those “woe is me” sessions where I began to express grief over some of my “hardships”, and “misfortunes” (In reality, things are not that hard for me). I began to act like my three year old niece: “How come this...” “Why not that...” “It’s not fair...” To tell you the truth, looking back on it now, it was pretty disgusting. But at that time I didn’t care. I felt cheated out of life and I wanted to let God know about it. This went on for almost an hour. Towards the end of my bickering, as I was shopping at a local food market, God just let me have it. What is cool about God is that He smacks you on the head sometimes and beckons you to do something. This time, through a thought, I felt these words write across my head: “You complain too much. Just look around you there are miracles everywhere.” I stopped, literally. Imagine a man in the middle of the aisle in the frozen food department, just frozen. A little ironic if you ask me. Yet that phrase hit me, it hit me pretty hard. My first thought, “Me?! Complain? No!” That didn’t last to long, obviously God replied, “Yes, you!” At this point of my Christian walk, I learned to not argue with God. You never win. He’s 100% right. Just sit there and reflect. However, today, was different. I reflected and I learned.

I remember a sermon by Pastor Andy Stanley where he reflected on how God has the whole world in His hands. If God had the whole world in His hands then He is present where everywhere. Thus came the challenge to me in some what of a whisper from Him: “My work is all around, miracles are all around. See if you spot them. In fact, see if you can find one each day.” and just like that, my complaining ended. I was asked by God to find miracles all around me. So here I am, writing. For one year, I hope to write down some of the miracles I see, and inspire everyone to look for God’s hand all around. I will still be writing my daily devotions here on this blog, but it’s time to open my eyes to see what God is doing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Half Hearted...


In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. -Genesis 4:3-5

At first glance at this text my initial reaction was, “Why God?” But after rereading it again I began to realize that there are some strong reasons why God did not look upon Cain’s offering as unacceptable. As it appears Cain brought an offering to the Lord, but Abel, brought an offering that was far superior. Abel brought his best to God first. Fat in those days was a precious commodity. So for Abel to bring not only fat, but fat from the first born was an act of total trust to God. Cain brought what appears to be leftovers, or “some” as compared to his brother who brought his best.

Besides the lesson of giving God our best, the second lesson I can learn from this story is to not have the attitude Cain had. If I truly give God my best then I won’t have to worry about what is to come. But however, if I do not give God my best then can I seriously expect Him to reward? The phrase of doing your best for God should be at the corner stone of my foundation. But what I think I lost this past year was my focus upon that cornerstone. Today, I want to rekindle that. Give God my best and don’t worry about the rest. Simple catch phrase, but hard to do.

Lord give me strength to do this, and thanks for the lesson.