Monthly Archives: January 2016

Darkness of the mind

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (John 3: 20-21 NIV)

This was the suggested reading “start point” in my bible app this morning.  Very fitting, as this is something that has plagued me at times.  I spent some time in reflection this morning, just thinking about my past sin patterns and it fits this “mold” very well.  Sure, sometimes we sin in the open, and everyone sees it, but most often, especially habitual sin – or sin on purpose is done in hiding.  We don’t want anyone to know we are less than.  I know I sure don’t.  I have lots of “outside” character to back up.  You can imagine the conflict when I am walking outside of God’s word and direction.  Trying to be something on the outside I know I am not on the inside.  I struggle daily with sin habits, and I pray daily that God will continue His good work in me and shape me more and more daily to be like him, and I know through that process, those “outside” walks will become less and less.

During this time of reflection, another thought occurred to me and I have been focusing on it.  No doubt this was a revelation of the Holy Spirit.  I love those.  It’s a moment where you are pretty sure you understand what the passage is speaking about, but the spirit of God moves and says, “but step over here and think about it from this angle.”  Then there is silence.  I imagine this is what it was like walking with Jesus at times.  Just when the disciples thought they knew what was being said and where He was going with his thoughts and instructions, he would give them a whole new angle and total change the perspective.  So what wast this new thought?  It was simply about that – our thoughts.  When I stated thinking of all the places that needed the lights turned on in my life, my mind was right there in front of me.  Our mind can harbor some of the darkest thoughts – some of the most hidden things in our life.  How many times have I thought very impure thoughts, or things that I would be devastated for someone to know?  Too many times to count, unfortunately.  But God knows those thoughts.  It makes perfect since why Jesus would tell us that if we even look on a woman with lustful thoughts, we have already committed the act in his book.  In one way, that is very scary and unsettling to think of what God knows I have thought about.  On the other hand, I have an whole new appreciation and admiration for who God really is.  He is that perfect, that pure, that even a negative sinful thought can’t be in or around him.  This should make it pretty easy to see how we are all sinners in need of his mercy and grace.

Final thoughts?  Don’t miss the opportunity to let God help you find the “dark” places in your life.  Those secret pockets of sinful behavior have to be exposed to His light and then opened up so that it’s not a hiding place for Satan’s temptation.  But don’t neglect your thought life.  God wants all of us, our actions and our thoughts.  He deserves so much more than we could ever give.  Let him show you the power of his transformation in you.

God, today, I come to you with a burden so great on my heart.  I ask that you take my cares and concerns and shower me with the reassurance that you are in control and that you love me.  Help me constantly focus on you and your love, mercy and grace.  May you expose all my dark places, and make me shine with your light.  Fill my mind with only what you would have me dwell on and make me more like you everyday.  In your name – Amen.

Take a breath and…Jump

I came across a great video clip today of popular tv show host – Steve Harvey as he gave an impromptu motivational speech to his audience before an episode taping.  The clip was titled Jump.  Steve does a great job of laying out the fact that no one that is great got there without being willing to take a leap of faith.  Maybe it was faith that their business idea would be a success.  Maybe it was faith that if they made a large investment it would pay off.  Maybe it was faith that if they got the courage to ask the girl out, she would say yes.

He used an illustration of walking to a cliff and looking out to see other people soaring by – flying.  They are going from one success to another, and enjoying life’s moments all because they weren’t afraid to make the initial jump.  About half way into the clip, Steve made reference to the word of God and to a very well known principal – gifts.  Steve shared with the audience, in that moment, that we are all gifted when we are created.  (Props to Steve for using his position on that stage to share that we are created beings, with a father in Heaven that loves us).  [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”You can not simply exist in this life”[/pullquote]God doesn’t create anyone without gifting them, he would go on to say.  Now, he didn’t dive into spiritual gifts, but instead insisted that we all have a purpose.  A talent, or ability that makes us unique and allows us to have success or fulfillment in this life.  But that gift was like the parachute on your back, as you stand on the edge of the cliff.  If you don’t jump, you can’t open your chute, and if you don’t open it, your gift stays tucked away on your back and is never used for God’s intended purpose.

So what are gifts that our Heavenly father gives us?  2 Corinthians 9:8 says, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.”  Grace is never-ending from our Father.  He freely gives it to us, as much as we need.  God only requires that we are ready to receive that grace by having faith, humility and sincere love.  The most important gift is the gift of salvation.  That grace which is extended to each of us as God’s creation ultimately leads us to salvation through Jesus Christ.  In that salvation we have a savior that will save us from everything we face.  This doesn’t mean we won’t face things, but he’ll bring us through it and never leave us to  handle it on our own.  The greatest gift is an eternal relationship with the one that created us.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that he is able to save to the uttermost those that come to God through him.  There is no one that is “incapable of being saved” and that Nothing can withstand or thwart His prayers for those who walk in covenant with him.  Nothing beats Jesus.

So what do we have to do to receive these gifts, to really understand our purpose to realize our gifts, to be fulfilled in this life?  Jump.  Jump when God  knocks on your heart’s door and asks to come in and dwell with you forever.  Jump when God challenges you to move in a certain way, or to be used according to his purpose. Jump when you are standing on the edge of that cliff and trust that God will open your parachute and reveal His glory in your life.

Father, today I thank you that you gave me the courage to jump and I thank you that you are the wind that fills my parachute and that you continue to help me open that up and continue to love me and extend your precious grace to me when I fail.  Help me to always trust you and jump when you show me the opportunity.  In Christ I pray, Amen.

Powerball Odds

1.5 billion dollars.  That was the estimated jackpot for last night’s drawing.  How much is a billion?  Here are some facts:

  • 1 billion dollar signs, printed side by side, 1000 per page, front and back would fill up a 500,000 page book!
  • 1 billion seconds is 31 years
  • If I sat down to count from 1 to 1 billion (by one’s) I would be counting for nearly 95 years.
  • About 1 billion minutes ago, the Roman empire was flourishing (1 billion minutes – 1900 years

A billion is a lot.  Naturally, the hype was elevated at the thought, the mere chance of winning that prize.  While most people get in on the hype with the joyful attitude of you never know, fully not expecting to win the prize, planning to go about life normally tomorrow morning, there are equally as many people who literally hinged their entire life on that possibility.  I would venture to say that there were folks who were putting all they had (heart and soul) into those odds as the way to fulfill their life, make it worth something, ease their pain, etc.  I admit, I found myself thinking about the possibilities with that much wealth.   What I could do for others, and how I could help this effort or that one.  Great ambitions aren’t they?  I wonder how many other folks think they would do nothing but noble and good with their new fortune?  I spent time in prayer this morning asking God to forgive me for letting my mind run wild with the thoughts of greed.  I am saved by his grace and promised eternal life with him in heaven one day, what more could I possibly need in this life?

I started to think about that fact that I am provided for and assured that he’ll never forget me.  I might face hardships and I may have to deal with earthly consequences to my choices, but in the big picture, I will always have what I need.  I compared that thought with the thought that there are those out there that felt better about the odds of winning the lottery and that the wealth would be what they needed to fulfill their life and have purpose than they do about submitting their life to Jesus Christ and putting their faith in his finished work on the cross.  The odds of winning the powerball jackpot are 1 in 292 million.  The odds of Jesus Christ saving a repenting sinner…1 in 1.  Every time.  Will you instantly be happy?  Maybe not by the world’s standard, but I guarantee (and so does his word) an immediate peace and a feeling of belonging and purpose.  I can still remember the Sunday, many years ago, that I gave my life to Christ.  I went down on my knee lost and destined to spend eternity in pain and torment, forever separated from God.  I came up from that floor, born again and with purpose.  My problems were still there.  My life was still in disarray, but I wasn’t alone.  I had purpose.  I had a knowledge and a peace that God would walk with me through whatever I was dealing with and that I would come out on the other side.  I was filled up with his love and grace and in that moment, I didn’t need anything else.  I found the missing piece to what made me whole.  That’s what Jesus is…that missing piece that we are all searching for.  He is also the true treasure and jackpot.  All the money in the world, won’t fill us up or fill that need that only a life in Christ can fill.  We’ll always want or need more.  We’ll always be searching for how to make it stretch just a little bit farther.  Christ fills us up instantly, to the point of running over, an ever-flowing fountain that never goes dry.

I started a study in the book of Romans today and the first verse used to introduce a chapter is familiar, but it fit right in to what I was thinking about today.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:33 (ESV).  Break that down and think about it today…the wages of sin, the cost of sin is death.  Not 1.5 billion dollars, not all the money in the world. The cost is greater than anything we can attain.  It is death.  But the free gift, not just a gift we have to earn, but the free gift from God is eternal life, no death, no separation, but an eternity to live.  How do we get it?  Is it for sale?  Absolutely not.  You can’t buy your gift, it isn’t a gift if you pay for it.  You get it by betting on those 1 in 1 odds.

Lord, today I thank you for the eternal gift of God, my salvation through you and only your finished work on the cross.  Thank you for not requiring anything of me, or holding me accountable to what I owe.  Thank you for making it free and willing giving it to anyone, regardless of whether we deserve it or not.  Thank you for the gift of your word so that I can have hope in the truth.  I pray you would keep my mind focused on and help me to always rejoice and trust in what you provide.  In your name I pray – Amen