Friday, November 20, 2015

What's Your Treasure

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Usually we just pass by this verse and say some cliché thing like, "Oh it's all about the heart." It's such a great thing to think, but often times that's all we really do. We just think about it. Do we mean what we say? Or do we just say it? Does it really mean that our hearts is connected to Jesus and the will of our Father that we use our treasures for His kingdom? Are we really okay with not splurging money on ourselves? I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of our needs, but seriously, do we really need so much stuff? Here God is saying, what is your treasure? What are you doing with the resources I have brought you? Really everything is His, so are we using the resources for treasures here or treasures that are for His purposes and to bring glory to His kingdom. We are very selfish creatures, and self preservation and self satisfaction is built into ourselves that the very thought of giving and sharing is not even on the radar. It is a tough thing to take this heart. It is deliberate and precise way of doing things is that forces us to forego our nature focus in upon His kingdom. It's not easy.

So what's the solution? We can easily say, "Well just do stuff for God?" Yes that is true, in fact that is what I first wrote, and the last thing we really need is a "don't do that" speech. So, how can I do this. A wise pastor once told me that to "Connect everything to a soul." What you do with your money, connect it to a soul. Are people being impacted by what you are doing? Is this brining people into the kingdom? Is this helping someone? So yes, when your heart is for God's kingdom, and he desires that all come to Him, and that we make disciples, this can apply. We use the treasure He has given to connect to a soul for His glory. We must ask ourselves, "How can I bring Him glory?" This is not an easy task. Here where I live, using resources to build up riches here is not only accepted but in may ways encouraged. Storing things in heaven is more important then storing things on earth. Oh what a challenge this is. Material possessions, fame and fortune can really grip our heart and just hold us hostage. But if we attach everything to a soul, then the treasure will be well worth it.

Lord this is not an easy thing to do, and a tough thing to comprehend. But Lord I pray that you will help us who pray this, seek you and store our treasures in Your kingdom.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

We all have a part to play....

1 Corinthians 12:27

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

We all have a part to play in this great body of Christ. We all have something to contribute. The Kingdom is so large that we all need to take part in it for the body to grow. We all also don't need to be ashamed of what we do. Though it may seem lesser to some, it is not a diminished job in the eyes of the Lord. In the Lord there are jobs that we may not find as not important. But to Him it is very importnant. In fact we all need to do our assignment from God. It is all so important. We will not be effective without each other. In Him playing our part is vital to everything.

This is kind of encouraging to me. Though what I feel like I do right now is worthless in my eyes, and not what I really wanted to do in life, but this verse gives me the encouragement to keep going. To keep the fight and keep the faith which is not an easy thing. Especially when I feel like we are fighting an uphill climb and you feel as if your skills are not worthy of greatness, or when you do things and get no recognition, or even encouragement. When everyone else gets the credit, and you get the end of nothing, in reality God is smiling. Know and keep courage that you are very important to the Body. If I continue in following the will of the Lord, no matter big or small an assignment, I will be a faithful servant.

Thank you Lord for today's encouragement that we all contribute to the Kingdom.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Driven by Emotion

Mark 14:10-11

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Now prior to this verse we see Jesus being anointed with oil by a poor woman. Some people became indignant and were upset. Judas was the one who lead that. Not sure if he really started it, but he was the keeper of the money, and there are many references saying he was not being a faithful steward of his position. With that in mind, when he saw this act, he decided it was good idea to betray Jesus. He was so upset over the situation that he let his emotions take over and then bam, he is lead to betray Jesus. It seems that he let his emotions over the situation get the best of him and it lead him to some really bad decisions.

I can say, hey no big deal, but really, emotions can get the best of you. The NY Mets just lost the MLB World Series. One commentator said that the manager did not stick to the game plan, but went with his emotions, and it cost them the game. Not sure how true that is, but what I do know that it is easily possible to get caught up in a situation and your emotions take control. It can happen to anyone. I know in my life I can't tell you how many times I have screwed things up because I listened to my emotions. Emotions can block a good decision made in the past, and persuade me to change my mind. However, in most situations, my emotions are not correct. The solution is really that I need to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. When you are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, your decision making is really clear. But that is tough, because emotions can make a made up situation feel very real, and can really distort what is true and what is false. Therefore it is no wonder that Paul says to "Put on the helmet of salvation." it is to guard your heart and mind. By doing that spiritual act, you allow God to guide you and therefore He is guiding and leading. The hardest thing for me is putting this in action. Often times I am easily pulled by my emotions. I am not always the best at this. Most of the time, I am really bad at it. But I am learning.

Thank you God for reminding me that if Your Spirit is guiding my emotions, then I won't make stupid decisions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Old Dreams New Ones

Job 17:11

My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.

Yes, sometimes God breaks and shatters dreams. In this case Job has come to the realization that he has lost everything. Finances, family, friends, all of it gone. But what he doesn't know is that later in the book God blesses him with so much more. Job does not know the end yet. He is stuck in the middle. He knows only pain and suffering. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, it does not come for a long time. In fact he won't know for like another 20 chapters. The lesson here is that sometimes that in order for God to bring blessing, there needs to be a changing of things. Even when you lose everything, and you feel you are in the depths of despair, God is breaking your old dreams, to create new ones. And ones that are greater than what we could even imagine.

It is not fun to be in this part of the narrative. It is a time of great uncertainty and great unrest. It's not a great place to be in. It happened to me and I do believe that it is happening to me now. God is in the process of changing my dreams and shattering my plans, but I know that there will be better ones. I have to remember that when I am in a season where the Lord is pruning or changing, it will be better on the other side. Even if the season hurts, and there is pain and sorrow, what is on the other side is even better than now. For it is true that the shattering of dreams today is the foundation of better dreams tomorrow.

Thank you Lord for this reminder that You know the ending, I don't. I have to trust in You.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Set your heart...

Ezra 7:10

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

You know that studying the law of the Lord is such an awesome thing. We all need to study it and know it and have it in our hearts. But Ezra takes it to a place where, if we are serious, we should all go. Now, we know that we should all strive to know the Lord and His commands. But here in this verse is where the kicker is for most of us. It’s that little saying in the verse: “Ezra set his heart…” Ezra set his heart in the right direction. He set His heart. Meaning he willfully, knowingly, and purposefully turned his full attention to God and His laws. He set his heart on the right things. He set his heart on the Lord God. He set his heart to know His laws and by knowing His laws, Ezra gained understanding and knew God.

I just read something about how this generation can barely hold 15-20 seconds of attention. The TV, the internet, the social media, has reset our attention span to mere seconds. The result of that is often times we are just distracted. Those distractions tug our hearts in many directions. From news, to what people say online, to the latest entertainment, sports scores, and the list goes on and on. Our heart, my heart, is often time a distracted heart. I get distracted by what is going on today. So what often happens is that my heart begins to wander and drift to sometimes meaningless and stupid things. The key is to take a hint from Ezra here. It is to set your heart. Turn your attention and make it laser focused. Especially set your heart in your walk with the Lord. Set your heart to study the Law of the Lord. Meaning really set your heart to pursue God. It’s going to take effort. It’s going to take work, but in the end, the reward of knowing God and knowing Jesus is worth it all.

Lord thank you for this important daily reminder to set my heart on you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

When we walk away....

Ezekiel 8:14-15

Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”

Here the Lord is showing Ezekiel that there is something going wrong with Israel. Here a woman is mourning over a Sumerian god. The Lord is obviously grieved and saddened over this. It is not a normal thing to do for the people of Israel. They have stepped away from serving the true God. The nation of Israel has stepped away from their calling, they have rejected God, and the worst was yet to come.

I believe that the Lord is truly saddened when Christians step away from their calling and retreat away from their God. Now whether or not you believe that “once a Christian always a Christian”, or in the theory of “were you ever saved at all” we can all agree that God is not happy when it happens. Especially in this case where they not only walk away, but do the things that are displeasing in His eyes. It grieves His heart when we do it individually, when a church does it corporately, or when a nation does it collectively. So what does that mean for us who are left to absorb the collateral damage that comes along rejection God? We must pray. We pray that their hearts are changed and that they see the light of God once again. There is not much else we can do. Let God take charge and we just keep praying and obeying His commands. Stand firm in Him and be an example to all.

Lord you are in charge. We know you are saddened when those who profess to follow you walk away. We pray for them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

We can do NOTHING

Jeremiah 10:23

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own, it is not for man to direct his steps

Jeremiah knows who is really in charge. Unlike the rest of Israel, he recognizes that God is the one who is controlling the destiny of the people there. Jeremiah is fully aware that God is the one who can withhold punishment, bring peace, and administer judgement. In this statement, Jeremiah also submits. There is something submission does to people. It brings them to humbly come before God and ask what to do. It means that the individual must rely upon God for everything. And that is exactly what Jeremiah does. His reliance upon God is unprecedented. At this point there is nothing that Jeremiah can do but to whole submit his request and wait for God to execute His plan. Jeremiah’s only option is to sit and wait. His reliance is on God.

You know, there are times in life where I have come to this point. There is nothing I can do but wait on God. Couple of years ago I had a bad cold so I went in for a simple check-up. Little did I know, it was a big deal. So big my doctor couldn’t figure it out exactly. So I was sent over to a specialist. After taking x-rays and scans I had to wait for two whole days to be diagnosed. Those two days were terrible. It was not an easy time in my life. My mind raced in many directions, usually on the worst possible situation being played over and over in my mind. It’s funny how we prepare for the worst most of the time. But it made me realize that my life is completely in the hands of God the father. These are times where Jeremiah’s confession rings so true. There was NOTHING I could have done but wait for the results. Wait to see what God reveals. Sometimes it’s great news, as with me and my illness. But sometimes it’s those crazy things we cook up in our head that come to fruition. But, God is in control of it all. There is nothing we can do but to lean upon Him.

Lord thank you for this. Thank you for the reminder that though it may seem that I have control, it is You are the one who controls everything. May this be a reminder to just be wholly leaning into You.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Not Just offerings....

Jeremiah 7:22-23

For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.

Nothing wrong with rituals. I at times enjoy having going through a church service that is very ritualistic. The Israelites seem to have got that part down also, but as time goes on, it seems that the Israelites tend to forget that following God is more than just doing the rituals and going through the motions. He desires here that the Israelites actually walk the walk. His true desire is that He wants is for them to obey. He wants them to walk in obedience to Him. Offerings and sacrifices are just part of the equation The rest of it is that very important command: "Obey Me".

I have, in times, put God in a box. I separated "rituals and sacrifices" from obedience. I live my week as how I see fit then, on Sunday I go to church. I sing the right songs, listen to the message, do the normal things all other church people do. Then during the week live the way I want usually with no input from Him. But what God calls us to do is to be engulfed by His love, to be whole heartedly on fire for Him. The struggle is that we all have, like the Israelites, is that it's easy to do the rituals and sacrifice. It gives you a sense of accomplishment after where you can say, "I'm done." Done with my duties, something I can check off my "To Do" list. But that is not the heart God desires. Being close to Him requires more than just going to church on Sunday, but to have an active fellowship with Him. It includes getting to know Him through His word, to be in constant contact with Him through daily prayer, and most importantly doing what He says. I must constantly remind myself that the "rituals and sacrifices" of today are only part of the equations. The most important is to follow His commands from His word, to love others and to be in humble spirit towards Him. That is what He wants.

Thank you Lord for the reminder that Your desire for us goes beyond the rituals, but to be in whole hearted obedience to You.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Building Faith

Romans 4:19

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith and he gave glory to god, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Here Paul talks about Abraham and his faith. He talks about how strong faith directs and guides your life. It gives you confidence and strength during times of trouble and doubt. Not only that, it gives assurance and security in life. Yet, faith is tough, it’s not easy to believe in something that is not seen and act as if it is real. Not knowing if it will happen sometimes known as suspense is what we don’t like. We like knowing. But like the popular quote says, “The opposite of faith is certainty”. We love certainty, we love knowing, we love having it written down on paper signed and sealed. Yet that is exactly what faith is not. Not knowing what will happen or if it will ever happen in your life time but trusting that it will happen. That is the nature of faith. It’s not easy. It is not ever going to be easy. But faith is what is required of us and faith is what carries us from day to day, one step to the next.

Sometimes I doubt, and when I read this passage, I wish it was easier. But would that be faith? It’s like this computer I have. I cannot tell you how many times it randomly shuts down, for no apparent reason too. It makes me so irritated and there is nothing I can do to fix it. Well, that’s not true. I can fix it, but it’s not worth it. Cost to fix is about the price of a new one. So everyday I just pray it works. But the hope is to get this replaced. But now it is faith in God that makes work like this. He knows I can’t afford it right now, He knows I need to work. So it is faith in Him that He will provide. It’s faith that He knows all my needs and I don’t have to worry about them. Notice, I said needs, not wants. God does provide, guide, and bless, but all to His will. Now this is such a stupid small first world problem that I have, I can’t even fathom the greater needs there are out there in the world. But the concept of believing in Him to do what He said He will do is all the same. Faith in God is something that is not easy, it grows and builds as we begin to lean upon Him more.

Lord I know faith is tough. Like Abraham and Paul, help all of us to strive to the faith that You desire.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

God expects growth

Matthew 15:15-16

Peter said, “Explain the parable to us?” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.

Wow. Nothing like being called stupid by God. Peter by far is the most interesting disciple. Sometimes he’s the person you admire other times he’s the idiot. Here Jesus called him “dull” But in other translations it literally says stupid. Imagine Jesus saying to you, “Are you stupid?” Nothing like being embarrassed like that. Let’s take things into perspective and take a look at this. The parable they are asking about is the one where Jesus is explaining to the Pharisees what goes in to the the mouth does not make you unclean but what comes out of the mouth makes you unclean. Pretty basic right? And really we weren’t there so I’m thinking…. maybe Jesus did not understand the question. But he is Jesus. So that’s probably not the case. Now being called stupid requires you to either one, already know something that is being said, or two it is common knowledge. So I’m thinking the disciples literally were clueless. But the disciples were expected to get this. They were expected to know the answer or at least have some sort of bearing of the answer. Apparently this irked Jesus enough to call them stupid. Why? Because they should have known better. Really, if you spend like three years with this guy seeing miracle after miracle and learning all he talks about you should be better at this right? You see, Jesus expected them to know, he expected them to gain a better understanding of what is going on because he has just poured so much into them. He expected growth. That is what God wants. He wants us to grow.

So now I look at this and find a funny story, but in reality I should take that statement and take it to heart. God expects growth, especially if we are with Him daily. He wants us to grow more closer to Him and also for us to have a better understanding of each other. God does not like stagnation, he wants and expects us to be maturing daily. Maybe that’s why Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 3:18 of being transformed to His likeness. We are to be transforming and growing and if we are not, then that is not good. Being with God requires growth. That is what he expects form us. Now why don’t we grow? There could be many reasons, either we don’t listen enough, or not pay attention, or fail to take action, whatever the case, if we fail to grow it’s our fault. So an action point I can take away from this: what and where are the areas I fail to grow? In some cases if life gets too hard, I just bail out on it. But growth cannot happen like that. Other times, I’m just lazy, I think “tomorrow”, I got to get that out of my system. What ever the case is I have to get that out and do things to grow.

Lord thank you for the reminder to grow.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

He waits till you realize you need Him.

Genesis 2:20-21

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

This is an interesting. Prior to these verses, God states that it's not good for man to be alone. Then he makes Adam name all the animals. Kind of weird, but if you ask me there is something up about that. So I had to go and look it up several commentaries and see what others though about this. Surely I was not the only one who wondered why in the world did God just not make someone for Adam, seems to make the most sense. Little did I know that after some digging, it was not that God there were some that were some crazy explanations, then one that just hit me like a ton of bricks. That was this, sometimes we don't recognize that we need something till we need it. In this case, Adam didn't know he needed a helper. He felt he was doing okay, but in reality, he as not. So God made him go through the entire animal kingdom, then near the end, Adam realized he was the only one human, and lonely one at that. Then God made woman, oh and how glorious that was.

Now, this past year there was a particular time where I needed to find a drama script to fit a particular element in the service we were planning. This was a big service so I couldn't just get any script, it had to be something great. But it took me to the very last hour, and crying to God asking for any script. But at the right time He did come through. He guided me to a website that had the perfect script. So when you are the end of everything, and realize that God is the one you really need to come through, then that is when the miracle will happen. However, why not just see it sooner. If Adam just said, "Okay I'll do this God, but there is no one here for me. Can you help me out with that?" Maybe woman would have came earlier. If I just said, "Okay God, I give up lead me to the script." I'm sure he would have lead me to it perhaps sooner. So to begin this year out right, I saying, "Lord, I give up, I need you to show me what I need."

Thank you Lord for showing me what I need.