Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Doers Anonymous

God is All Powerful

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:39-40

With the Holidays approaching our “To Do” list is jam packed. But even throughout the year, we are always at work, often doing more than what is realistic. And when things don’t go as expected, our reaction is generally focused on what we are going to do next to rectify the situation. Let’s face it, we are a bunch of doers.

The Christmas message should bring hope to all of us who are tired and seek rest from the busyness, the chaos and the disappointment in our lives. Christmas is the celebration of the hope we have because Jesus, God’s Son was born in Bethlehem. It is a time to rejoice because we are on the receiving end of an extraordinary gift. It is not anything that we do, but rather the birth of our Savior Jesus that gives us peace and joy. For in Him we find the hope of all glory. Merry Christmas!

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:41-42(NASB)

Because God is all powerful, through the birth of Jesus Christ, we have peace, hope and joy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be Thankful

God is Faithful

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  Hebrews 12:28

Once a year we gather around a table and give thanks for all that we have.  It seems odd that we don’t do that each day….  Most days we look around and only see the things we don’t have and want.  This in itself doesn’t necessarily make us ungrateful, but it can create a void or longing for more.

The Bible tells us to be thankful in all things – the good and the bad.  The Bible also warns us that not being thankful for what we have can lead us astray.  Remember how Eve ended up taking a bite of the forbidden fruit?  The serpent focused her attention on what she did not have.  Eve could eat from the trees in the garden but she was not to eat from the one tree in the middle of the garden.  The Garden of Eden was an extraordinary place and yet she was tempted to destroy all she had for the one thing she did not.  She had plenty to be thankful for, but her attention was redirected at what was not hers.  Our lives may not be perfect, but each day we all have something to be thankful for. Today, will you focus on what God has provided you and be thankful for your circumstances?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Because God is faithful, we are thankful for Jesus Christ, who is the source of hope in our lives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

100% Guarantee

God is Unchanging

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

Whether it is with a relationship, a business dealing, or just simply something we read or hear, we all have doubts.  As much as we’d like to, there are times when we are not quite sure we can trust someone or in something.  Maybe it is because a particular person has let you down in the past, or maybe it is just caution that has been wired into each of us.  We have tried to compensate for a lack of trust with laws and contracts, but we all know that this does not guarantee results either.

Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could rely on someone 100% of the time?  While none of us is perfect, we know from scripture that God can be trusted wholeheartedly.  That He never changes and that the promises He made at the beginning of time are still true today and will be forever.  The only requirement is that we have faith -- faith in God’s provision -- faith to go one way when the world would say go the other.   God has extended an invitation to be part of His family.  Are you willing to trust and take a step towards believing and accepting the promises of your Heavenly Father?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

Because God is unchanging, with Christ, we can live life with confidence.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Finding Purpose

God is Eternal

“Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

At some point in our life, if we haven’t already, we will likely ask the question “Is there anything more to this life as I know it?”  We wonder if there is a bigger idea or bigger plan that would give our life more meaning than the day-to-day grind and goals we selfishly set for ourselves.  We long to find a purpose to our existence that is greater than what we understand on our own.

If we look around us, there is evidence of something bigger; the vastness of the night sky, the intricacies of the human body, the majestic mountains, expansive oceans and nature’s delicate ecosystems - all this points to a master Creator.  The bible tells us this big God, the creator of the universe, wants to be in a relationship with us.  And in that relationship through His Son Jesus, you find purpose when you seek Him with all of your heart.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,   “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Because God is Eternal, we find our true purpose through a personal relationship with Christ.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Deadlines and Due Dates

God is All-Knowing

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
     Or if due to strength, eighty years,
     Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
     For soon it is gone and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days,
     That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.  Psalms 90:10, 12 (NASB)

From proposals and work presentations to helping our children with college applications, life is full of deadlines.  Some of us are planners while others procrastinate until the very end.  Whether we like it or not, time keeps ticking – it is something we can not control.  But, as much as we may dislike deadlines, they will motivate us to get things done.

The Bible tells us that God knows the exact number of our days.  This final deadline is something we really don't spend much time thinking about, but we all know we are not immortal.  So if deadlines serve to motivate us, what will this ultimate deadline cause you to want to accomplish today?  And more importantly, will you act now or will you wait until the very last moment? 

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.  Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.  Deuteronomy 5:32-33

Because God is all knowing, through Christ we can live our lives with purpose to the end.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Makes Great Leaders Great?

God is Gracious

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."  Luke 9:46-48

Many of us have a personal favorite when it comes to great leaders – maybe it is George Washington, Martin Luther King, or maybe Ronald Reagan.  If asked what makes them great, a likely response is that they had a grand vision and inspired others to support it. 

According to Webster, one definition of a leader is something that ranks first.  But we learn from Jesus, who modeled perfect leadership while he was on earth, that yes, Jesus was part of God’s grand plan and was surrounded by loyal and determined followers, but what sets Jesus apart from many of the world’s leaders is that he viewed himself as the “least of these”.  Despite his power and authority as “God made man”, he bowed down and became a servant, allowing himself to take the lowest place so all of the world could be rescued from sin and made heirs to the throne.  Isn’t it remarkable that the world defines a leader as someone who ranks first, but yet Jesus modeled just the opposite?  How will you choose to lead?

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.  John 13:14-16

Because God is gracious, with Christ we can find joy in being least when leading others.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Encourage One Another

God is Goodness

“But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” Deuteronomy  3:28

Great things can be accomplished with a little encouragement. This is clearly illustrated when God commanded Moses to train and encourage Joshua, as it was he who lead the Israelites into the promised land.

Whether you are five or fifty, we all need encouragement from time to time. Sometimes all it takes is a pat on the back for a job well done or a welcoming smile from someone when charting unfamiliar territory. Just because we have a pressed shirt on and shiny shoes does not mean we are not masking pain, suppressing fear, have anxiety or doubts. A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and failure.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11

Because God is goodness, like Jesus, we can be an encouragement to those around us.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Everyday Struggles

God is Faithful

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Whether you focus on Iraq, Afghanistan, our city streets, or within your own life, war is raging around us.  Everyday newspapers and talk shows are full of stories of conflict, political battles, and struggles for social equality.  And personally, we battle health issues, finances, relationships, poor choices…..

Some struggles are so enormous that we can’t face them alone.  The Bible tells us that God never forsakes us.  He is always with us in our struggles, providing strength for the next week, day or hour, and providing comfort, guidance, and rest when we think we can’t go on.  God gave David the confidence to face a giant with only five smooth stones and a sling shot...and God the Father gave Jesus the strength to die on the cross for us and through His resurrection, declare victory over this world.  Yes, everyday brings strife, but in Christ, we are given the strength to endure and the confidence in the outcome no matter what we face. By having faith in Jesus, we too are victorious over things of this world.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Because God is faithful, in Christ we find hope for whatever challenges we face.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Just Want to be Forgiven!

God is Merciful
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20

We often do things that we aren’t proud of --and sometimes, they are a bit more serious than others.  Time can erase the memories, but the guilt can come back unexpectedly.  Many times we try to compensate for our poor actions by bringing gifts to those we have hurt or by making promises that we’ll never do it again.  If criminals carry records, our employers keep files on our misdeeds, and our loved ones keep score – then how can we truly be forgiven and earn a fresh start?

The Bible tells us that we are forgiven though Christ’s death on the cross.  He died for our sins, paying our debts in full.  We don’t have to do anything to be forgiven other than believe in Christ as Lord and repent.  True repentance means to turn from our sin and turn to God.  While this is a big step, when we trust God, we experience forgiveness and we are made free from the bondage that follows our folly. 

If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  1 John 1:9 
Because God is merciful, all our sins are forgiven through Christ.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is Work an Idol?

God is Sovereign
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.  Matthew 6:24

Unfortunately, society lures us to get wrapped up in our title, the power of our position, the size of our paycheck….  Not only do we let our work define who we are as individuals, but work often becomes the source of satisfaction in our lives. 

Giving up an identity defined by work seems counterintuitive to culture, but with Christ as the center of our affections, we are able to see a much grander vision.  We end up with balance in our lives and the ability to love our neighbors when we’d otherwise be consumed by work.  God does not define us by what we do or what we own, but rather by whose we are.  We are God’s children -- the sons and daughters of a King!  When we grasp that concept, work should no longer have a stronghold on us.  We no longer are a slave to performance, but are free to think differently about the true purpose for our lives.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  Philippians 2:13 

Because God is sovereign, we can find our true identity in Him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Day at a Time

God is Eternal
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Revelation 22:13

Many of us find it hard to live in the moment.  We are often focused on our next meeting, our next trip, or our next paycheck.  We seem to talk about what’s next, failing to live in the present. What would it look like if we slowed down and embraced the present?  If we did not worry about what was next, but what is now?  Would we be less hurried, spend more time building relationships, and give up trying to control everything?  Could our quality of life be dramatically improved?

Taking things minute by minute allows us to enjoy the present and give up trying to control the future. God’s plan is that one day we will live with Him in eternity - a place without time, where there is no past and no future, just the present.  Today, He longs for us to live with Him in the present as well. Consequently, there would be no fear, no anxiety, no insecurity, and a fullness in our hearts as we live out each moment, trusting God with the timing and the outcomes.    

I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.   Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Because God is eternal, we can live in the moment in confidence with Christ.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

God is Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  1 Corinthians 13:3-5

Maybe you struggle with patience while you stand in line, are put on hold, or wait for a response to an important question….What about people who wait a lifetime to see change in a loved one and never loose hope?  The people who care for a special needs child or a parent who no longer can care for themselves….Their patience is amazing.  Maybe their strength comes from something greater than themselves – possibly it stems from a love that is so deep it can’t be described. 

That indescribable love is the same kind of love that God has for each one of us.  He waits patiently for us to acknowledge Him as Creator and Giver of all things and invite Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our lives.  He won’t force you but He’ll never stop pursuing you.  He waits patiently, eagerly, lovingly.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.   Matthew 7:8

Because God is love, He waits patiently for us to accept Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Careful What You Ask For

God is Goodness

he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Psalm 78:24

I want it all and I want it now!  That sounds like a battle cry from many people we know, and maybe even ourselves at times.  What is so interesting is that same selfish desire probably hasn’t changed much since creation.  Eve had everything she could possibly want, but she had to have the forbidden apple too. And the Israelites were not satisfied with just manna from heaven – they demanded meat.  While in the desert outside of Egypt, God had provided just enough for them to be sustained, and He never provided too much so they would continue to trust in Him for their provision.  But God grew tired of their grumbling and let them have their way.  They feasted on quail to their hearts delight, however, their lack of trust angered the Lord and they were all destroyed.

Thousands of years have passed since these events happened, but people’s wants and needs have not changed.  Nor has God’s goodness changed, always providing the perfect amount.  It is just sometimes we don’t think we’ve been given enough or we don’t see from where our provision truly comes.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31
Because God is Goodness, we can trust that all our needs will be met through Christ.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

People Pleasers

God is Love

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

The world is full of people pleasers.  And while that is a good thing for those of us who are service providers, we all know it is exhausting, if not impossible, to constantly please others.  Looking at the motive, we see ourselves striving for acceptance and love.  To win over hearts, we can fall into the trap of believing we must earn acceptance.  And often we find no matter what we do or say, it is never enough to feel at peace. 

But the Bible tells us that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by God.  We can never be separated from God’s love no matter what we do or don’t do.  And, no good works will provide that love, because it is a gift from God.  God loved us first and chose us to be in a relationship with him – nothing is required to receive the gift other than the desire to accept God’s saving grace which was made available to us through Jesus.  We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to be His.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Because God is Love, through Christ we are completely loved and accepted.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Removing Impurities

God is Holy

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; ...  Malachi 3:3 

Let’s face it - No one likes to change their ways or habits, no matter how destructive they may be or how necessary.  While the status quo is always easiest, deep down, we all admit there are some things we’d like to change about ourselves.  Maybe it’s having more patience with a co-worker, or having a higher level of integrity at work; maybe it’s being more of a team player, or being more charitable….

The bible tells us that God is constantly at work refining our character. Just like the silversmith that removes impurities in metal over a blazing fire, God places us in hot spots to perfect our character.  Daily, we can find ourselves in situations that challenge us to move in a new direction, to extend grace, forgiveness, or a helping hand when we would not otherwise.  We have two choices – to stay on the same path or to be like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.  But how many of us choose the latter?  If we trust God and obey His word at times of testing, we will find that just like silver, imperfections in our character are removed allowing His reflection in our life to become real and visible to those around us.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Matthew 5:8
Because God is holy, He continues to perfect our character through difficult circumstances.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

God is Unchanging

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

There seems to be some optimism about the economy; indicators are starting to look better. You could say there appears to be a “light at the end of the tunnel”. For some, this could mean regaining employment or closing a deal; for others, recovery from an illness, addiction or severed relationship.  But while we long for things to change for the better, we all know there is no guarantee that the good times will last forever.

But, there is one guarantee that we should never forget–God’s promise to us that no matter what the sin, circumstance or struggle, Jesus will be there for us.  He was sent from God to save us from our sins, to heal our pain and redeem us.  The one thing we know for sure is we can trust God – For He is unchanging, consistent, the beginning and the end, no matter what the circumstance.  He is the light at the end of our tunnel that will never fail. 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Because God is unchanging, we can always trust God to be with us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vision Trumps Fear

God is All Powerful

 So the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."  I was very much afraid, 
Nehemiah 2:2

Our greatest obstacle to accomplishing a goal is fear.  Fear can conjure up a slew of reasons why the task can not be accomplished.  Fear can immobilize. Fear can stop us dead in our tracks.  So how can we resist or defeat fear?

When Nehemiah stepped into his vision to rebuild the broken walls and gates around Jerusalem, he was afraid to approach the King to ask for permission and resources.  Knowing this was a grand vision from God, Nehemiah’s fear dissolved when he placed his confidence in God.  Ultimately, his vision became reality, an inspiration to many as he was able to accomplish an unbelievable task, a “God-sized” goal -- all because Nehemiah overcame his fear by trusting God.

We all have a dream or a vision to be passionate about -- a vision about our lives, our careers, our families, our finances ….So what is stopping you?  Is your fear bigger than your vision and greater than your faith? 

in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11  

Because God is all powerful, we can accomplish great things when we trust God with the outcome.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rejected Again?

God is Love

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  II Corinthians 4:8-9

Kimberly Kennedy’s book Left at the Alter is a heart-wrenching depiction of rejection.  Could you imagine being told the night before your wedding that you would not be getting married the next day; that you were not loved by the person that you loved the most…?  No one likes rejection.  But it seems more common than we’d like to think – a rejected business proposal, a rejected invitation; a rejected date, or rejected affection…the list goes on. 

Even Jesus was rejected.  After his arrest, some of his best friends would not claim they knew him for fear they would suffer.  Isn’t it ironic that Jesus, the one who will never reject us is the one we so often reject?  He stands at the door and knocks, he wants to be a part of our life but so often we are too busy, too prideful, or perhaps, too foolish to accept Him… So why not run to God if you never have; or run back to God if you have strayed away?  Man may reject us, but God’s love for us is unchanging and we do not have to fear being rejected no matter what we do or say or think. 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  Revelation 3:20

Because God is Love, He will never reject you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Need a Hug?

God is Love

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  1 John 4:16

Have you ever struggled with feeling loved and accepted?  Most of us do, but we don’t have to once we grasp how deeply and completely God loves us.  While love from a spouse or a friend or a family member may be lacking, God’s love will fill that void in our life if we invite him to do so.  In fact, no one is complete without God’s love.  He created us to yearn for Him; that is why so frequently we feel emptiness irrespective of whatever our circumstances or relationships may be.  So, if you don’t feel complete, how about accepting God’s love?  He is waiting for you.  And remember, with God, you will experience love beyond imagine.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,   Ephesians 3:16-18

Because God is Love, He is committed unconditionally to you.