Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58   Entries 186-190 of 286
May 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

If you don’t define your anger, your anger will define you!

 “If you don’t define your anger, your anger will define you”, you may have heard this saying many times.   But ask yourself, have you allowed your anger to shape your identity?  What is taking place within our hearts when we get angry? Why are we so quick to seek vengeance and vindication?


There are numerous reasons our emotions get all amped up: feeling our “rights” have been violated, frustrated over our current circumstances, not having control over a situation, our pride getting hurt, feeling misunderstood, being disrespected or someone blocking what we desire. At the core of all these reasons is the fact that we wanted something and didn’t get it. We spend more effort trying to justify our response than dealing with our anger.


“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:1-2


Wow, “Kill” seems like a pretty harsh word.  You don’t really want to kill want to kill someone do you?  But, in Matthew 5:22, Jesus placed the anger you hold towards someone on the same playing field as the sin of murder. The Bible says we shouldn’t take our anger lightly.  It is no wonder then that Scripture also urges to not let the sun go down on our anger in Ephesians 4:26 and to put all anger away in Colossians 3:8 and Ephesians 4:31.


Selfishness, ungratefulness and impatience often define our anger. Yet, living in this fallen and mad world, sometimes our anger is justified. But, we must be careful not to work to justify our anger and unforgiveness because it places us on shaky ground. We either become a vigilante who takes matters into our own hands in hopes of seeking vengeance or we play the victim card for the rest of our days. Either way, if we don’t master our anger and deal with our unforgiveness, we will walk around with a chip on our shoulder feeling we are owed.


The longer we let this anger fester the more it clouds our judgment. In anger we can spin out of control. Our angry responses get us nowhere. It leaves our heart extremely vulnerable and causes us think unclearly. Proverbs 27:4 compares anger to a flood in its power to destroy and harm. Other parts of Scripture go as far as saying anger kills the foolish man. How?  By consuming our thoughts and dictating our actions which tend to bring with it all kinds of sin.  Your anger will bait you into doing things you regret and destroy the things that are most important to you.


We’ve got to go farther than anger management.  Anger is not to be managed, it’s to be mastered.  In order to learn what is required for mastery, you must start with a question, what did you not get that you wanted?  Then I must figure out if is it as important as I am making it out to be.  Is it worth destroying a relationship over?


This is my Prayer: Father God, instead of trying to justify my anger, help me to spend my energy on mastering it. Lord I know that all too often I take my anger too lightly and I lose sight of the distance it creates in my relationships.  Jesus show me how to not be a display of selfish anger, but to reflect Your heart and Your character.  Lord teach me to become a person who is patient, loving and forgiving. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

God isn’t asking you (or me) to solve the entire world’s problem!

A few years back, the gym at the church I was pasturing flooded. Water washed down the alley road and off the hill behind the building water filled kitchen, bathrooms, classroom, and gym floor.  It was a complete wreck. It was soaking wet and covered with dark mud, leaves, and debris.  I took one look at it and was overwhelmed.  How do I clean this mess up?  Where do I even start?


The emotion I was feeling when confronted with the work in front of me is very similar to how I respond to encountering the brokenness of this world. Where do I even begin? Everywhere I turn I see a mess: poverty, divorce, political disunity, racism, social injustice, suicide, hunger, loss, etc. All these issues are demanding my attention. I know I SHOULD care about these things (and deep down inside I do), but it seems hopeless.


This leads me to feelings of shame, guilt and discontentment. Because I can’t do it all, I often resort to inactivity and being overwhelmed with the futility of it all. I don’t think I’m alone with this struggle. Deep down inside each one of us has a desire to make a difference, to leave an impact and bring a bit of redemption, hope and change to this mad world.


But, here’s the thing: God isn’t asking you (or me) to solve the entire world’s problems; He is calling us to our part of the puzzle. This is what makes the body of Christ so beautiful. Each part is vital to our overall impact. God has equipped each one of us differently. We all have varied interests and passions.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:3-8


So, how do we figure out our part? We find it by staying connected to Christ, being others focused and praying for eyes to see the needs around us. We start somewhere, remain curious and pray hard. We do something about one thing rather than nothing about everything. Articulation and insight on how we can influence others comes when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. How would you describe the part you playing in bringing Christ’s love to the mad world around you?


This is my Prayer: Father God, it’s easy for me to lose faith when I come face-to-face with the brokenness around me. It paralyzes me. It makes me feel ill equipped and helpless. Lord,help me stop trying to put it all on my shoulders, open my eyes to how and where You want me to respond.  Help me to own my part. Jesus ignite my heart in this area so I can humbly serve You and make a difference for Your Kingdom. In Your name, Amen.

May 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

If God remembers our sins no more, why do we often wallow in our past? 

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”Jeremiah 31:33-34


If God remembers our sins no more, why do we often wallow in our past?  Mistakes of the past have the ability to bring a sense of condemnation or shame. The brokenness we’ve experienced or are currently engaging in has us wondering if there is any hope. The baggage we cling on to has us doubting that redemption is possible.  Clinging on to those past hurts, failures and regrets hinders walking freely with Christ.


Experiencing the full life Jesus promises is impossible when our backs are turned with our eyes fixated on our past. The weight of these mistakes slows down our pursuit of God by diverting our attention from the future. In essence, we are walking into the future facing the wrong direction. The problem is we were designed to move forward, not backwards.  What we are carrying slows us down, wears us out and causes us to stumble.  When a mistake gets in our mind, the scars and wounds influence the way we perceive ourselves, others and even God Himself.  Our baggage distorts what we believe about God as well as the way we think He sees us.


Then there are those who will try to ignore their wounds and pretend like everything is okay. They keep everyone at a distance by wearing a mask and hiding the pain and hurt that rages deep inside of them. All their effort is spent in making sure no one sees through their façade. The baggage prevents us from being transparent in community by obstructing our relationships with others.  Rather than letting them go, we carry these burdens with us.  As a result, our walks with God, as well as our relationships with others, are hindered.  Baggage and shame keeps us from enjoying the fullness of life that God wants us to experience.  In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God doesn’t want us to be weighed down by emotional baggage or carrying around burdens that we were not intended to bear.


Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30


The offer Jesus made thousands of years ago remains available: I will carry your baggage for you. It doesn’t matter the weight of our bags or the heaviness of our shame, none are too heavy for Jesus. The time has come to let them go and give them to Him. When we surrender our scars, wounds and hurts to Him, He heals us and lifts those burdens. Then we will be able to repeat the words found in Psalm 118, “in my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.”


This is my Prayer: Father God, give me freedom to no longer wallow in my mistakes. Lord help me to no longer be shackled to my regrets.  Show me how my past mistakes don’t define my present or determine the future You have for me. Jesus I trust that Your grace is enough. I know You conquered death so I might experience life to the full.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

Stories are huge when it comes to our faith.

Stories are huge when it comes to our faith. They have a way of capturing our attention. Think about it, everyone loves a good story – they inspire, they give hope, they speak of redemption. Every story is a good story if the Gospel is a part of it. This includes your story.


Sadly, some of you doubt that last statement is true. In your eyes, your story is too mundane and run of the mill. Nothing exciting happened. You’ve always “been a Christian,” grew up in the church and had no moments of rebellion. And because of this you think God can’t use your story. Or, perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum. There are numerous parts of your story that include things you are embarrassed about. Just thinking about sharing your story with others makes you cringe. The shame you feel overwhelms any desire you have to let God use your story to impact others.


Regardless of where you find yourself, you shy away from telling your story. So, I’ll say it again: your story is a good story if the Gospel is a part of it. If you don’t believe your story is a good story, then you won’t tell it, and it’s so important that we share our stories. As you understand your story within God’s story, when you share your life you share God’s story.


Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

Now, stop for a second and ponder: what would it look like to appreciate the story God is telling through your life? God is in control and He’s preparing you for something. He’s using your circumstances and experiences to make His name known. If you think your story is mundane, learn to appreciate what God has protected you from. Maybe your story includes a difficult and chaotic past. Wrestle through your past with God, allow Him to heal you and get to a place where you can appreciate what you’ve learned as a way to walk with others through similar things.


We’re called to share our story, not deliver a sales pitch. Talking about the Gospel isn’t laying out a marketing scheme aimed to get individuals to sign their name on the dotted line. People aren’t projects so we can’t treat them as one. The relationships we have with others shouldn’t have an agenda. Our responsibility is to help and love others, not fix them.  We are to plant the seeds and trust God with the work. Our responsibility is to love God and love people. The kind of love that we encountered is a love that transforms. The same unconditional love that has transformed our lives we have to pass on to those around us. Impact is about our life connecting with someone else’s.


This begins by expressing what He has done in our own lives and pointing to the hope that we have found in Christ. People should look at our lives and wonder why we are hopeful. True change causes people to take notice of God working in our life. The message that speaks volumes to family and friends is our life impacted by God’s love. When we share our story, people can relate to us, our story, and the God we serve.  Who needs to hear your story? Who are you investing in? Why does this person come to mind?  Trust God and share your story.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to see the story You are telling with my life as important.  Jesus my hope is that when people see me, they see You in my words and actions. Lord help me to invest, care and love those around me without condition.  Let me love them regardless of their response. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

How tuned in do you feel to God’s voice?

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13


How tuned in do you feel to God’s voice? Sometimes silence can be deafening. While everything and everyone around you is quiet, content and fast asleep, you sometimes toss and turn at night wondering why God seems distant. You struggle to remember the last time you heard His voice. You wrestle with the distance while at the same time yearn for that missing connection. Numerous questions roll through your mind, but the one you can’t seem to answer is what God is doing by remaining silent.


If you’re not careful, you can easily mistake silence with inactivity. This would be a mistake. Even in the midst of those quiet moments, God is still at work. When there is noise all around us, it can be difficult to hear the quiet voice of God. We’ve got mixed messages coming at us in all different directions while the message that truly matters gets lost in all the commotion.  However, other times the silence can be self-imposed.  Riddled with guilt we avoid God at all costs. Similar to the next-door neighbor whose tool we borrowed and never gave back, we attempt to stay out of God’s way. We know we’ve been slack in spending time with God, through prayer or reading His word, so we use that as an excuse to allow the distance to continue.


We feel like we should do more before we ask Him to reconnect with us. We’ve got to earn our forgiveness and we come up with a religious checklist that we need to mark off in order to even the score and be “right” with Him.  Then there are those sin patterns we refuse to give up. Having a quiet time with God feels awkward because the elephant in the room (our sin) isn’t being addressed. If not dealt with, sin breaks our connection with God. Sin always pushes us into hiding and causes us to avoid exposure to light. On the other hand, maybe you keep apologizing for your sin and telling Him you’re sorry and fail to hear Him saying you’ve been forgiven.


If sin isn’t causing the silence then it might be a disobedience issue. We remember vividly the last thing God asked us to do, but we blatantly refused to obey. Until we act in obedience, silence will remain. From God’s perspective, there is nothing left to be said. If you want to know God’s will it’s to do the last thing He asked you to do. The problem is we tend to filibuster God by talking too much. We go on and on with our requests, pleading and bargaining. Once that is done we go about our normal business. Our prayers are 99.9% talking and about 0.1% listening. Conversations aren’t conversations when they are only one sided. The time has come for us to be silent and reflect.


Don’t panic if you can’t hear God’s voice. Panic causes us to rush right through reflection. God’s silence is not arbitrary, but rather designed to awaken us to Him. In the midst of our sin, God is calling us to repent and receive His forgiveness. In the midst of our suffering, God is calling us to trust and lean on Him. In the midst of our success, God is calling us to praise Him. When God seems silent to you, it is time for you to be silent before Him. Faith requires both expectancy and contentment. Don’t be surprised when God breaks His silence for the sake of His purposes. God is always working to form us into His image and shape us in holiness.


This is my Prayer: Father God, I pray that I wouldn’t panic in the midst of those moments of silence. Lord help me to trust that You are still active when I might not be able to hear Your voice. Jesus help me to examine my heart and seek Your face.  God tune my ears to Your voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58   Entries 186-190 of 286