Tag Archives: Faith

He’s got the whole world in His hand

godAtom

He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand…

This song is a classic children’s song that we sing often in Sunday School or in the children’s nursery to convey that God has everything in His hand.  Simple idea, often not thought of again.  But have you every really stopped to think about the meaning behind those words?  I received an online devotion today entitled Holding it Together.  It referenced Colossians 1:16-17, among other scripture, but the idea was that God created it all…EVERYTHING, and that nothing is outside of his grasp, He holds it all together.

 

Look around you and think about how everything that you can see fits together.  Then, if you can, try to wrap your mind around how things that are unseen, are still working in unison and perfect harmony with what you can see.  Our minds are not capable of understanding the depth and breadth of our universe and how it is all held together.  Science has spent hundreds of years trying to explain it and learn about it, yet they can only get so far.  We have been able to dissect the atom, which is a marvelous feat in itself.  Inside this tiny particle are many more parts and pieces and we have names for almost all of them, and we understand how they work and relate to each other, but that is generally where it stops. There is still the “God particle” that has yet to be discovered.  For a believer, we know what that particle is, it is clearly defined in God’s word, Colossians 1:16-17.  At the end of verse 17 – He holds all creation together.  I find it amusing that some will spend their entire life to find that one thing that is right in front of them.  Think of what science could turn it’s attention to if it went like this:

1. We are made up of atoms
2. Inside those atoms are particles
3. God holds those particles together
4. Then end.

That is where my thoughts took off today.  Why is it so hard for someone to rely on the unseen, the unheard, the “beyond understanding”?  It’s faith.  It’s simple faith.  Kids have it.  I don’t know when we lose it as we grow older, but their faith is amazing.  If only we could maintain our child-like faith as we grew older, how much closer to God would we all be and as a result, what would this world look like?

All of this thinking brought my mind back to current events and the uncertainty of the future of our country and this world.  As an adult, these things occupy my mind more and more.  Not so much because I am worried about how it will turn out.  I know the ending.  I read the Bible.  Totally full of spoilers.  But as a parent, with that God-given love for my children, I am consumed with the type of world they are growing up in and the challenges they are and will continue to face.  Sometimes thinking along this line can cause us to panic and stress.  When that happens, I am taken back to this simple verse in Colossians.  “He has the whole world…universe in His hands.  He holds it all together and He will continue to do so until that day when we, that know Him as our personal savior, are called home and He simply “lets go”.

Remember this today.  We do not have to worry about tomorrow. We simply need to place our trust in the God that works all things for His glory.  He loves us.  We were created by His hands in His image.  He is perfect and He created us perfectly.   I have heard before that believing in God and trusting in Jesus to save us is the “easy way out” to give up and quit thinking, become a mindless robot.  As a growing christian, I can say with all certainty that believing and continuing to trust everyday is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am human.  I want to have a sense of control.  It’s natural.  But I love my God, the creator of this universe and everyday He fills me with the gentle peace of knowing He is in control and nothing is beyond Him.

Lord, thank you for being You.  Thank you that You are in control and that You hold this all together.  Thank you for strengthening my faith on a daily basis and for forgiving me when my faith falls away.  I am forever yours and find comfort and hope in Your word.  I am thankful today that “holding all creation” includes me.  Help me to be a light and shine for your glory today.  In Christ – Amen.

Finding true happiness

happiness

This evening, our youth group, engaged in a series that helps examine “What makes us happy?”  It’s a Sean McDowell series aimed at helping teenagers understand the true source of happiness, and helping them explore examples of how we may lose sight of God’s truth as it relates to happiness and how we may let the world define it for us.  It’s been a great series, but tonight’s lesson really struck a chord within my heart.  We looked at how the world defines beauty, and how that standard is nearly impossible to fulfill.  Many of the stories and questions didn’t seem so difficult, but I’m not a 16 or 17 year old teenager struggling with “measuring up”.  It’s easy for an older adult to see how much of what this world throws at us is simple meaningless and non-defining.  As we broke into small groups for more in-depth discussion, we posed this question: “What qualities do you look for in a potential relationship…?”  The meat of that question forced the students to search their heart and mind and think about what they look for in a potential mate.  The easy “Sunday School” answer is to look for inner-beauty, character, etc.  We even acknowledged that we are created with a heart that is attracted to the opposite sex.  Most of the time the first thing we notice in someone is their appearance.  It’s biological and kept in the right perspective, biblical.  McDowell even mentioned it in his video monologue, Adam and Eve took the fruit from the forbidden tree, partly because it was pleasing to the eye.  The challenge in this question was to see if there was more depth than that.  The point was made that if the appearance was all you focused on and that’s what you “sold-out” for, then you were certainly setting yourself up for much disappointment.

What really jumped out and got me though, was the tiny bit of reflection that I had as it related to my own personal life, especially when I was a teenager.  My life was pretty simple.  I was well liked (mostly), not really “great” at anything, a typical kid.  I never really had serious dating relationships, pretty decent moral convictions and an idea that I didn’t need to rush anything.  Somewhere around my 17th or 18th year, all of that started to change.  I didn’t realize it then, but I was going through a bit of an identity crisis.  I was spreading my wings and trying out the world, and searching for “fulfillment.”  I was shallow – not in a way that comes across as superficial, or “better than thou”, but in the fact that I wasn’t rooted in anything too deep.  I went to church, but wasn’t “sold-out”.  I worked, but not really all that hard and diligently.  I was popular, but usually because I blended in with someone else.  Deep down I was searching.  I needed affirmation that I was of worth and value.  That came in the form of my first serious relationship.  It’s normal for young people to “fall in love” quickly, but usually when all the fluff is over and done, you fall back on your roots and self-identity and decide if it’s worth pursuing, or if it’s time to move on.  Not me.  I found a relationship that made me feel important and made me feel like I was “wanted”.  When the fluff blew over, I lunged to keep a hold of that feeling.  I had nothing to fall back on.  What happened was a commitment to do whatever I had to do to keep that feeling and that source of identity.  Ultimately that led to life-changing decisions, and later a failed marriage.

I shared this part of me tonight with the young men in my youth group to make this point and hopefully help them see the importance of digging deep and focusing your life on that which grounds you and gives you identity – in the way you were meant to have it.  My challenge to young people is to be certain you are building your life on the “rock” and not the “sand”.  I likened my life approach to tumbleweed that is completely at the mercy of every breath of wind.  I am reminded of a verse in Ephesians (4:14) “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming”.  Now, I am not accusing anyone of cunning deceit.  My failures were largely because I was a follower without any clue as to where I was headed.  That verse is speaking about spiritual maturity and it hit the nail on the head.  If we don’t develop a deep sense of identity in Christ, we will be blown here and there by whatever wind is moving at the moment.  I can share that my life for the past 10-15 years has been much deeper and rooted  in Christ than all the years before.  I still have such a long way to go, but there is a peace to know whom you belong to and to understand the source of a true and fulfilling happiness.

God, today, I thank you for your love and mercy. I thank you for the grace your salvation provides.  I praise you as the rock and true north in my life.  Thank you for providing that anchor for my heart, mind and spirit.  May I honor you with my life and may I always enjoy and accept the happiness, only found in you.  – Amen.

Stop Wandering, Turn North

wandering

I am 100% male.  I know this, because of the obvious, but also because I despise asking for directions.  I am a careful planner, and do my very best to be sure I don’t have ask for directions, but ultimately end up making a wrong turn here or there, and then the real struggle begins.  I first try to problem solve. While driving 75 mph, arguing with the mapping app on my phone, I end up driving further in the wrong direction, and when it’s a family trip, end up in a disagreement with my wife that adds to the list of things to do: be humble, say you’re sorry, and thank her for still loving you.

Life can be like this too.  I was working on a half-time devotion for the upward basketball games this weekend and came across one that I really found intriguing and it is where I focused my time in God’s word this morning.  Deuteronomy 2:3 says “You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward.” (ESV).  A little context.  The Israelite’s had been wandering around the desert for 40 years (and my wife thinks that extra 5 miles we drove, while I tried to figure it out, was a waste).  Now, God was directing them on the path that would lead them to the promised land.  His simple instructions, quit wandering around, turn northward were epic.  Simple, deliberate and I can almost imagine with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.  Are you done now?  You tried it your way, didn’t work out, ready to listen?  How many of us are wandering around our own desert trying to find the right path, or direction that will take us to our “promised land”?  How often does our wandering cover the same paths, time and time again?

This scripture stuck out to the original author of the devotion and I have to say, I agree.  God specifically pointed them northward…because that was the way he wanted them to go.  Now, remember I have ADD, so I heard north and immediately thought of a map…and maybe a squirrel and a tree, and…

But the word north, brought a picture of a map to mind, and on the map, north is…up.  Where is God?  We are told to look up to the heavens, to lift our voice up to our heavenly father.  So in essence northward may have been the direction of travel, but it was also invoked my natural instinct to think of looking up to follow God.  God is still speaking this same truth to us today.  To anyone that will listen, to anyone that cries out, where should I turn?  God speaks, through His word, and says, enough is enough. I will show you the right path towards where you should be, to what I have for you, and that path is always toward Him.

Human beings (especially males) are independent creatures. We don’t like to think we need help or assistance with anything.  That is what we teach our young men from day 1, be independent.  The truth is, we need someone to give us direction.  We need someone to guide us.  When we turn toward God, we find that someone, or better yet, we find that only one that can lead us in the right direction.  Our sinfulness is what keeps us wandering our own desert, turning down the wrong paths, and following the wrong directions.  When we turn toward God, we find our focus and direction and most importantly a life free from the guilt and dependence of sin.  John 14:6 is an often quoted verse of scripture, but it is so plain and clear.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.” (NIV)

Jesus went to the cross to bear the punishments for my sin, and all the sin of humanity.  He did it without any expectation of compensation from me or anyone else.  It was a free gift to an undeserving world.  It is through that free gift of grace that we are able to live the life God intended for us.  To follow the right path, in the right direction.

Friend, are you wandering today?  Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over again, with no sense of direction or purpose?  Do you find yourself on worn-out paths that keep your circling the mountain?  Well ENOUGH is ENOUGH.  Turn to Jesus today and follow his direction.

Click Here to learn more about how you can know God

Father God, today I thank you for the gift of your word, and for the gift of salvation through your son Jesus Christ.  I thank you that I am 100% yours, and that nothing can ever change that.  I thank you for the Holy Spirit that guides me everyday.  I pray that someone may read this devotion today and see their need for you.  I pray that you will help me depend on your word and your direction to lead my family and raise my children to understand their need for you.  Help us all to submit to your direction and plan, and give you all the glory forever.  In your name I pray, Amen.

 

Take a breath and…Jump

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).  

“You can not simply exist in this life”

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.

Leave it all behind

follow

“I have what you need…but you keep on searching”

“I’ve done all the work, but you keep on working”

“You’re running on empty and can’t seem to find the remedy…just come to the well”

Just a few of the lyrics from a popular Casting Crowns song – Come to the Well.  I listen to that song almost every morning, it’s on my running playlist for the gym.  Not really the “pump-you-up” type of tune, but very special to me.  I struggle, more often than I care to admit, with trying to “work” my way into God’s grace.  What can I do?  Who can be?  When the reality of this life is that God’s grace is sufficient and He has done all the work already.  He simply asks us to fill ourselves with Him.  Do what I do, and you’ll be doing right.  That’s the message, yet it seems like a foreign language to me sometimes.  When I get into that rut of trying to do it all my way, on my own without any “filling from the word” I ultimately end up in a place where it’s dark, my soul seems empty and I am sinning more than I’m living.

So how do we avoid that rut, how do we avoid running back to the same broken wells that offer no real hope and can never fill our soul the way that a “right relationship with God” can?  I think the answer to that question is two-fold.

First, most sinful thought and behavior is hidden.  No one wants to air their dirty laundry.  Think about that for a moment.  What if our browsing history, or even worse, all our thoughts for the day were displayed on a billboard on the main highway?  I know I would be mortified.  I think most people would, especially those that have fallen into that repetitive cycle of habitual sin.  So what is the cure for that?  Live each day as if that is exactly what is going to happen.  Live your life so that what is put on that billboard isn’t so terrifying and humiliating.  Even better, place your focus on God’s word and his plan and use that billboard to sing his praises.

That leads to the next point.  What are we filling our heart and mind with?  I heard a message once about starving our spirit.  Basically, we have to treat our inward being as living and breathing just like our physical outward being.  If we don’t eat or quench our thirst, we would surely shrivel up and cease to exist.  The same is true of our inward being…our soul.  The best diet for our soul is none other than Gods’s word.  He even tells us to store up his word in our heart so that we can keep from sinning against him. (Psalm 119:11).  That’s like taking a snack with you to keep “full” throughout the day.  When we are daily feasting on God’s word, we will be filled with his presence and desires.  Will the sinful temptation still be there?  Sure it will, but we have a much better chance of walking away from it and keeping our focus on Christ when we aren’t spiritually starving.
Habitual sin and habitually putting God on the back burner are dangerous things.  When a sin becomes so common place that you stop feeling guilty about it or even worse, begin to justify it, it is a deep rooted path for Satan to tear away at your entire life and all those in it.  Leave it all behind and walk in the light of God’s word.  It is in our relationship with God and His word that we will find victory over our sinful nature.

Lord, today I come to you broken and afraid of the sin patter in my life.  I have often spoken these words only to find myself unable to walk away and do what I know is right. Forgive me for forgetting what you have made simple and clear – your word.  I pray that today I would fill my soul with your truths and that I would make that my habitual pattern to feast on your word and focus on your glory.  In Christ I pray, Amen.

Psalms 19:12-13 (NLT) – Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep your servant from deliberate sins!  Don’t let them control me.

 

Where were you…

911

I can not remember a more peaceful and clear morning than what I awoke to on that day.  A junior in college, pursuing a dream of a degree and a career.  I was just beginning to understand the value and depth of brotherhood as a fairly new firefighter – only 5 years on the job.  In the bright blue skies over Athens, WV there wasn’t a hint of the tragedy that was unfolding just 10 hours north of us.  That day was September 11, 2001.  I don’t suppose I will ever forget what I was doing, where I was at when the world, forever, changed.

By the end of the day, my heart was immensely heavy and my mind raced with the questions of why and how.  As a firefighter, I was numb to the thought of losing my entire house in one single moment – it just wasn’t something I could comprehend.  As we gathered at our local station, there were no words spoken, just deep embraces and a look in each pair of eyes that told the story of despair and grief.  Brothers that we had never met, had answered their final call without even the hint of fear or reluctance.  Over the past 14 years, I have read numerous accounts of bravery, watched documentaries detailing how many of the first-responders entered the twin towers that morning, knowing the loss of life was probably great, but with the hope of finding just one and leading them to safety.  Some of the accounts I have studied over and over, and each time, I am just as enamored with the mentality and heart that was displayed on that day.

Today, as I reflect on yet another anniversary, I am humbled by the Holy Spirit to remember that God never leaves us.  He was right in the midst of that tragic day and that He is ultimately in control of this world.  I think of the helplessness that must have been felt by emergency workers and victims alike when it became clear that a safe escape was unlikely and try to wrap my mind around how difficult it must have been to lean on God in that moment.  It is with these thoughts that I pray tonight…

Lord, I humbly fall to my knees tonight and thank you for the precious gift of your son Jesus Christ.  I thank you that you have filled me with your Holy Spirit and that you are always with me.  I pray for the families of each of the victims of the tragedy that unfolded on September 11, 2001. I pray a special measure of comfort would be around each and everyone.  I pray that your presence would be felt and that hearts would turn to you.  I pray for the men in my firehouse, that you would protect each one and that you would always impress upon their hearts your closeness.  I thank you for each one that I call brother and ask that you would grant me the courage and wisdom to be there for them in their time of need.  Bless this nation as we reflect on that day, and cause a spirit of revival and patriotic pride to wash over the face of our country.  I ask these things in your precious and holy name…Amen.

“The LORD is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!—he’s my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety” Psalm 18:2

Dating my daughter

fatherDaughter

Dating my daughter.  It is nearly impossible for me to put those words in the same sentence, but this post isn’t what the title suggests.  Seeing those words, you immediately begin to expect a list of rules or “punishments” that are sure to come to the unlucky male that shows up at my door asking to date my daughter.  (And yes, if he wants to have anything to do with her, he WILL show up at my door and ASK me for permission to see her…but that’s another post).

No, this post is about me dating my daughter.  On April 14, 2011, my world forever changed.  The first time I locked eyes with this insanely loud, screaming child, I was hooked forever.  In that first evening, I went through so many emotions and thoughts…thoughts about her future.  It was crazy, she was just a few hours removed from birth and I was already worried about her love life.  But more importantly, I was already thinking about how to help shape her heart and mind and how to be an example of the type of man she would one day search for.

Now at 4 years-old, she is a ball of energy with an infectious smile.  My first prayer, that she would somehow be unattractive until she was 25, hasn’t come to fruition.  She is beautiful.  But in the past four years, I have learned that she has a beautiful heart and soul.  She is, by the very definition, precious.  I also know and understand how precious she is to the Lord.  I have begun to feel the weight of responsibility to help lead her to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and to be the role model for a Christ-like relationship later in her life.  This is a tricky place to be.  On one hand, you have to be the father.  The authority figure in her life, working side-by-side with mom to help lay down the rules of life and keep her in check according to those rules.  On the other hand, I am responsible for helping to protect her heart and mind and to model the character traits I hope she looks for in a mate later in life.  This is where the idea of dating my daughter comes in to play.  By spending that quality and meaningful time with her, I am in her world.  As she grows older, it will be ever more important to seize those opportunities to be in her world and help be a guide to her.  While, it would great if she would always be open to in-depth, life altering conversations at the drop of the hat, I know that isn’t likely.  She will become a typical teenager with a deep heart of secrets that will be off-limits to mom and dad.  But, my hope and prayer is that by taking the time to share father-daughter dates with her and show her how interested I am in who she is and who she is becoming, she’ll be more comfortable opening up and letting me help her grow into the woman that God wants her to be.

Never underestimate the power of prayer…pray for her regularly and together

So, how do you date your daughter?

Be there.  It’s that simple.  When she is young, be there in her daily life.  Help her in her daily activities, don’t be afraid to spend time playing silly games, singing, laughing and more importantly, praying for her – openly.  As she gets older, make it a point do special things like watching a movie together (her choice), taking her to dinner – even if it is a McDonald’s happy meal.  In the later “child-hood” years, be the affirming voice in her life.  Reaffirm her worth to God, how beautiful she is and how beautiful her soul and spirit are.  Pray for her regularly and together.  When the teenage years role around, be a steady rock in her life.  Always willing to listen, genuinely interested in what her world is like, what she is in to, and supportive through the roller-coaster of changes.  Never underestimate the power of a simple prayer before a big day in her life – school activity, test, etc.

I pray that the Lord will guide me as the father of a daughter to be the steady, rock in her life.  I pray that he’ll help shape me to be the type of man that I want my daughter to seek after when she grows up and spreads her wings.  I pray that he’ll help strengthen our relationship with each other, so that she never has to spend a day of her life trying to replace or find the love that I should be providing.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a father to a beautiful little girl and it is a priority in my life to be the father that God is calling me to be for her.

Run the race

race

I finally did it.  My first race since being a senior in high school…nearly 20 years ago!  To be honest, I was a little nervous.  Not because I had anything major riding on the line, but because I finally put myself out there in front of others.  We lined up at the starting line, I rested my hand on my watch button, and…we were off.  Pacing.  That was the name of my game.  I wanted to find a comfortable pace that I could run consistently.  My goal…8 minute miles.  The course was pretty easy.  Not too hilly, and it was a 5K, so the distance wasn’t that big of a deal.  Yet my heart beat faster than normal, my breathing was more prominent, I was pushing it a little harder.  I hit the 1/2 way mark, glanced at my watch and it read around 12 minutes.  I was on pace to meet my goal.  After running a couple more hills than I remembered, I could see the home stretch.  That’s when I heard the pounding of feet behind me.  I was being overtaken.  I was at the end of my ability that day.  I didn’t have anything left in the tank to race this competitor.  As he ran past me, I resolved that 8th place wasn’t that bad, 7th was looking good, but I could live with 8th.  But deep down inside, I wanted my position back.  I kept my eyes forward, kept my pace steady and then opportunity struck.  He let up about 10 feet shy of the finish line.  I seized the opportunity and surged forward, not knowing if I could beat him to the line, but with all I had left, I crossed the line one step ahead of him.  7th place.  It was mine again.  The reward was sweet,  I felt accomplished.  Not only did I finish the race, but I had met my goal of time, and in the end, I dug deep and found a way to pull out one more place.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Life, especially the christian life, is a lot like that race.  In fact, the bible makes mention of racing in several passages.  2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.  Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  The idea behind these passages is about perseverance and determination.  Not to win a prize in the earthly perspective, but to stay true to God’s word, keep our eyes on Him and strive each day to live for His glory, winning the battle against Satan and reaching every single person on this earth with the gospel message.  This will lead to the ultimate prize in Heaven.  Hebrews 12:1-3 says it best, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

While it was great to accomplish my goal in that 5K race, It was a beautiful reminder of the ultimate race I am running daily and how the same determination to be steady, bold and unafraid will help me run and finish a strong race.

Lord, may my life today be a reflection of the race you have called me to run.  May you word be hidden in my heart and may I be bold and determined to run for you with the goal of sharing your message of grace and of hope.

 

How to live…today

rightwrong

One of the biggest arguments I hear often is that we are not living in biblical times, so why should the bible be the road map that guides our thoughts and actions?  “The Bible doesn’t apply now”.  And there is a lot of truth to that, I think.   There are many parts of the Bible that aren’t applicable, but not because we have evolved as a society of people, more educated and with greater insight.  If anything, we have become  less educated when you look at the grand scheme of things.  Life is complicated now, more so than I can ever remember, and it is mostly driven by this overwhelming push to be PC (politically correct).

But back to the thought – the Bible’s “rules” or teachings aren’t applicable. What I am getting at is that you have to study and look at the context of the old laws and “rules”.  Some categorize the laws into three divisions: ceremonial, civic, and moral.  Using that approach you would define ceremonial laws as laws that applied to ancient Israel under the old covenant – before Christ.  These dealt with the blood sacrifices, what to eat, what to wear, etc. and were mostly in place to point to the need for a savior, and as a way for Israel to remember what God did for them in delivering them.  The civic laws revolved around a theocracy system that was in place as the rule of the land during biblical times.  We don’t live under that type of rule any longer.  Finally, the moral laws were universal and unchanging.   These laws were based on God’s Holy character and thus are the most obvious for today as we (Christians) are called to live a life that reflects Christ and God’s holiness.

Now that was a very quick and shallow summary of one way to look at how the Bible applies today.  Is that the be all, probably not.  My point in this rambling is that the confusion over what is right and what is not right when it comes to applying biblical principles is not an easy thing to figure out and requires diligent study and constant prayer.  I think that is a key design to how God’s word is delivered to us today.  God doesn’t want us to skim over it, get the jist and move o n.  His word is His communication with us today.  That’s how we know his holiness, and how we begin to understand his character.  I think all the laws (in context) are still applicable.  Maybe not as a right vs. wrong in all cases, but most of the laws had some connection to how awesome our God is and how much he loves us.

So, how do I live today?  I live in reverence to the same  God that delivered the ancient Israel nation from the oppression of  Egypt.  I live in submission to His will, and in obedience to daily communicate with Him through prayer and study of His word.  I will live as a reflection of Him to the best of my ability and let His love shine through me to a lost world.  I will live for the opportunity to share the gospel message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ with anyone that is willing to hear it.  Finally, I will live with a love that encompasses peace, humility, kindness, gentleness, patience and compassion toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today’s Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

Working out Faith

ddDepart from me, I never knew you”

I can’t imagine any more harrowing words will ever be uttered in all the universe.  For that phrase isn’t for the person that knows they have never done anything with faith in Christ.  They completely rejected him in every way while alive.  No surprise there.  I still believe that even a person who has purposefully rejected Christ, when standing before the throne, with full understanding will be in shock and utter despair.

But what about the person that has found that  balance between faith and the world?  You know the “check-off” christian. This is the person that has the head knowledge of Christ.  They have read the Bible…maybe all of it.  They know who Jesus Christ is, what He did, and even why.  They can recite scripture, all in all they appear to be with it.  But when Sunday has passed. When they leave the church building, or when the quietly sit in the service each day without the slightest intention of living for Christ beyond those walls, they are as good as dead..

James 2:14-20 tells us plain and simple that our faith, if not accompanied by works is dead.  It’s useless.  In fact it may not even be real.  Now this may raise some eyebrows and cause someone to say, “Wait a minute, I thought all I had to do to be saved was believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  You are absolutely right.  Paul was very clear when he said “For it is by grace you  have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  But Paul and James are on the same page, and I am pretty sure would agree with each others points.  We are saved by grace.  But if we have truly put our full trust in the word of God and in His plan for our salvation, then our life will reflect that.  That’s where the works come into play.  We will have no choice but to show evidence of what has taken place in our heart.  When you are saved, you are different.  You are changed.  That’s the idea of “born again”.  Will you sin again?  Of course you will.  We are fallible beings.  We will not reach the perfect creation that God intended until we are in His perfect kingdom.  But we will grieve that sin.  We will turn from it and pray for forgiveness and strive every day to overcome it through Christ.  We will be filled with compassion for others, and the desire to live everyday for Christ – telling others about Him.  Head knowledge is not a bad thing.  It’s why we feed our soul with God’s word, to gain knowledge – but the purpose of that knowledge is so that we can LIVE IT OUT.

I have struggled with this in my life.  Maybe more than anything else.  I have allowed the devil to stir up thoughts of eternal insecurity.  Am I really saved, do I really believe?  At times I have doubted that I had anything more than head knowledge.  Why this doubt – habitual sin.  Repeating the same behaviors day in and day out.  How could I keep going to that broken well if I was really saved?  The answer is pretty simple.  I am a sinner and I am weak.  I can always look back at those moments where I was more worldly than not and see that it was during a time when there wasn’t much dedication to reading the word, not much prayer, not much more than being in church when I was expected to be there.  God made it simple.  Believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, was buried and rose again on the third day, and offers free salvation through that belief.  Then feed the Holy Spirit whom he sent to help guide me through this life. through daily reading and applying His word and constant prayer.  When that is taking place, and when I am purposefully focusing on His word and  His will, I will  have no choice but to have outward evidence through my actions and thoughts that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior.

God, today I thank you for the free gift of salvation through your perfect sacrifice.  I thank you that you spoke to my heart and that you welcomed me into the family of God on simple faith alone.  I pray that my heart and mind would be constantly on you and my desire would be to feed my soul and grow in your word daily so that I can live out my faith for the purpose you have called me.  – Amen.