Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"How's Your Balance?"

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"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

Ephesians 6:10-11

In a world of polarization and far extremes, balance, though it is a term we don't use every day, most would agree is critical to our well being. We often use terms like, "take a stand", "hold your position", "don't let them take you down", "balance your priorities", and a host of other phrases and words to describe our need for balance. I was reading a few articles this morning on injuries caused by imbalance, or in other words, falling down. Are you aware that more than 33,000 people died from falls in 2015.

The National Safety Council's Odds of Dying list ranks falls as the 6th most likely cause of death, with the odds of dying as 1 in 127. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal medically treated injuries in the U.S. Each year, over 8 million emergency room visits are due to slips, trips, and falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults age 65 and older. The point in all this is our need for balance is critical to health and well being.

One of my favorite Pastor Chuck Smith sayings comes to mind when I think about balance, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken". Learning how to balance yourself in the storms of life is often difficult and we learn quickly that life is a lot about learning to maintain balance, and often times our success is measured by our ability to stay upright, especially if we are going to stay the course. In sports, athletes work on balance continually and even a ship is of little value in the sea if it loses its balance and capsizes. Balance is critical to our stability, be it physically, financially, emotionally and yes spiritually too.

The New Testament book of Jude reminds us that even in shaky and unstable times we can still find our balance in Jesus Christ. Jude 1:24-25 says, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."

That's a great promise to stand on today, loved one, and a great reminder too for us to place our hope and trust in God. Take a step of faith today, do not fear to walk by faith and not by sight. Trust God, I mean really trust Jesus today and balance your life on the sure Word of God. We might slip here or there in our journey of faith but the Lord wont let you fall for as Jude reminds us that even when we slip, and trust me, we all do, Jesus will be there to catch you! Amen!

"You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip."

Psalms 18:36

I LOVE YOU!


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"God Bless You Richly!"

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"I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints"


Ephesians 1:16-18


I was enjoying speaking with one of our college age girls last night after our mid week service about prayer and fasting, and not only was I encouraged by her genuine love for the Lord but I was reminded about the privilege God has given us to be able to pray for one another. I am humbled and always appreciate when someone tells me that they are praying for me. I become more aware with each passing day that the blessings in my life are the direct result of others praying for me, and not me praying for me. I remember this little story I read a number of years ago that serves as a great reminder to me of the power of a praying man or woman. May it speak to you like it does to me.


"A ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert-like island.

The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island. The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The

next day, another ship wrecked nearby, and the only survivor was a woman who

swam to his side of the island. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Eventually the first man decided to pray for clothes and more food. The next day, all of these were given to him as the belongings from yet another shipwreck were washed ashore. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found that overnight a ship had anchored on his side of the island.

The first man was welcomed aboard the ship along with his wife and he decided to say nothing of the other man, but instead leave him on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings since obviously none of his prayers had been answered…

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a Voice booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"

"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything."

"You are gravely mistaken!" the Voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, and I answered it. If it were not for his prayers, you would not have received any of MY blessings."

"Tell me," the first man asked, "What did he pray for that I should owe him

anything?"

"He prayed that all your prayers would be answered."(The end).


That story is a great reminder that when we are blessed in this life we may never know who it was who was praying for us and responsible for our blessing. I hope this story also serves to remind you and me to pray that God would bless the lives of those we come in contact each day. We don't even have to know the person to pray God would bless them.

As for me, I both want and need to thank those that pray for me and my family as our lives are blessed because of you! Know too, loved ones, my prayer for you today is that the Lord would grant you each and every petition of your heart that is aligned with His and that God would cause all your hopes and dreams to come true, spoken and unspoken alike!

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

James 5:16 (b)

I LOVE YOU!

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Jesus IS Heaven!

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"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

John 17:3

Growing up I believed the goal of the Christian life was to make it to heaven. After all, when I went to a funeral as a young boy and years before I became a follower of Jesus most of the people who spoke at memorial services spoke about heaven as being a place where people go when they die and then do all the things that they had once enjoyed while here on earth or wished to do but never did. Admittedly, heaven seemed to me to be merely a destination, a "place" kind of like a heavenly version of Disneyland minus the long lines and high prices.  

Though there is a real place known as heaven and one day you and I really will be there because of the grace of God, along with those who have throughout the centuries have put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ. As I began to study my bible, I learned heaven is so much more than just a destination. The destination is important, yet the reason Jesus came from heaven to earth in the first place was to purchase for Himself a bride without spot or wrinkle to be with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus came to earth looking for a bride and one day He will come for us and take us home to be with Him forever!

The whole purpose of our salvation is so that we can enjoy a relationship with God that was lost at the fall of Adam an Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are saved for a relationship with God Himself and is why we are called the "bride of Christ" and not "articles" or "items." It's why Jesus calls His disciples friends because life with God is all about a relationship. Yes, it's true that Jesus is in heaven right now preparing a place there for each and every one of us who have repented of our sins and set our heart to follow Him. Yes, its true that Jesus Christ is seated in heaven at this very moment praying for you and me and yes Jesus is there in heaven representing us as our advocate before the Father when we sin. We are always on His mind!

Yet, when you read the book of Revelation you come to learn that what makes heaven, heaven, is Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as heaven. Put it this way, Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there and hell is hell because Jesus is not there. Yes, loved one, Jesus Christ is why heaven is heaven. That's why Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father except by Me."

Think of it this way. A house isn't a birthday party; it's simply the location of where the party is being held. The reason for going to the party is to celebrate a person. A church isn't a wedding, but weddings are held in churches. What's funny about that analogy is many an atheist will grace the doors of the church when a wedding takes place because they see the church as it really is, a building. Even an atheist knows going to a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a donut shop makes you a police officer. The bible teaches that the church isn't a building, but rather, it's the people of God who gather to worship Jesus Christ as the risen Savior and living Lord who are being built up into a habitation. Its true, you don't even need a building to worship Jesus!

Let me ask you, beloved, have you ever longed to see someone? If so, you don't worry about the location where you will meet, what you long for is seeing them face-to-face. That's how it is with Jesus. Heaven is about seeing Jesus face to face, to be reunited with the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Yes, beloved of God, heaven is a person and that person is Jesus Christ, and not just a destination to be reached. Jesus is a relationship to be enjoyed, enjoyed every day throughout eternity! A day like today! Enjoy Jesus!  


"And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: " Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

Revelation 5:13

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​"Worship Without Lips"

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"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker"


Psalm 95:6


What if you couldn't use your lips to worship Jesus? How would you do it? Would it even be possible? Max Lucado wrote, "Worship is the thank you that cannot be silenced." There is nothing like getting together with other believers and worshipping Jesus, yet church shouldn't be a place we go as much as it is a life we get to live along side our brothers and sisters in Christ. Worship after all isn't an allotted time set aside for God, worship is a lifestyle, a way of life. Actually, worship is to be our life.

I appreciate what singer-song writer and best selling author Matt Redman wrote about worship when he said, "In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you're pretending or putting on. It's got to be an overflow of your heart. Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God." That is so well put, loved one. Worship as a lifestyle is drawing close to God each and every day and living in personal communion with Him. Living a life of worship is more than singing praise songs. Living a life of worship is listening to God through His Word and by His Spirit, and following His leading each and every day of our lives in everything He calls us to do. It's an adventure!

Let me ask you, do you feel like your life is an adventure with Jesus? Do you take time each day to hear Him by studying His Word and praying to Him discussing with Jesus the desires He has for you that day. The reason I ask is because that is what worship really is. Did you know there are things God wants you to see today, loved one? Did you know there are places God wants you to go today? Are you aware there are people He wants you to speak to, to pray with and to share the love of Christ with. Yes, you and me!

There are many different aspects of the life of worship. Don't get me wrong, friend, singing praise songs is a wonderful expression of worship but it is not the ultimate form of worship. Lifestyle worship is what the Lord desires most. Like all of us, God doesn't desire lip service; He desires life service. He wants nothing more than for us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength in everything we do. And yes, that includes singing to Him too!

Isn't it interesting that when Jesus said we were to love God, He didn't even mention our lips? Living a life of worship is what the Lord desires and I pray with all my heart that when you and I walk through the doors of whatever church we might call home, the only difference in our worship of Jesus is where we get to do so. Oh the privilege we have been given to gather together with others who love to worship Jesus too! We don't just go to church to worship Jesus we go to church to worship Jesus with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have come to worship Jesus too. That is why its called congregational worship!

Worship God by the way you park when you arrive at church. Stay between the lines. Worship Jesus by the way you acknowledge every person you come in contact while at church. Worship God by the way you sing to Jesus. Worship God by the way you give of your tithes and offerings. Worship God by the way you listen to the teaching of His Word. Worship God in the way you pray. Worship God by asking Him to help you live out what you learn. Worship God by looking for opportunities to get involved in loving Jesus bride. Worship God by serving the church and not just attending a service each week. Worship God by asking Him to help you make worship a way of life and not just an event. When worship becomes our life we will like David, the man after God's own heart say…


"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD."

Psalm 122:1

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"God Offers Shortcuts"

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"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

1 Corinthians 10:11

Listening to one of my favorite pastors the other day I literally laughed out loud as he taught from 1 Corinthians 10. He kept emphasizing his key point which was, "Everything happens for a reason" and then he would use scripture to answer some of the reasons why they happen the way they do. One explanation that stuck out was from 1 Corinthians 10 where he said regarding everything happens for a reason is, "some times the reason is, you make bad immature choices". I confess his answer caught me totally by surprise and like I said, I laughed out loud. He was going through a whole list of answers and that was just one answer so don't think that every time something happens its because you made a bad immature choice. But if you do I want to encourage you.

The book of Numbers tells the story of what is happening as the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for forty years. The reason it took them forty years to travel a mere 12 miles was due to their disobedience and faithlessness. We serve a blessing God and most often if God delays in blessing us it is to teach us how to walk by faith. I guess you could say with God besides being the right and wrong way there is the long way and the short way too. The long way is when we fail to stop and ask for directions of God and attempt to do things on our own and the short way is when we place our confidence in Jesus no matter what. Often times people choose the long way because it seems down hill where as the short way often appears to be a steep climb.

Learn the lessons from the bible and you will be walking in wisdom as you too learn from the experience of others. Did you know loved one that studying your bible is learning wisdom as your bible is unlike any other book you will ever read as your bible is a living word and not merely words on paper? I appreciate the expression, "You don't read your bible, your bible reads you!" Because the Word of God is alive it has the ability to change people, to bring life from death. It really is true, loved one, God works "all things together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purposes." The key is to listen to Him.

The book of Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom. Maybe today you feel as if you have made some bad choices in your life and now you are reaping what you have sown and you don't know how to fix it. Been there done that more times than I can count or even care too. Try this next time you make a bad choice, pray for crop failure, loved one, and ask God to begin a new work in you and then start by planting good seed (Your bible is good seed) in your heart and then water it every day with more of the Word and in no time you will begin to bear good fruit. Everything does happen for a reason!

Do you want to make wise choices in your life, loved one? Commit to reading the book of Proverbs every day. As I share with our church family often, "the best time to plant a shade tree was 25 years ago, the second best day is today!" As one of my favorite bible teachers always says, "read your bible every day and pray and obey." That's how we can walk in wisdom and make good choices and as well learn from the mistakes of others that we read about as we study God's Word. Try it for 30 days and if doesn't work, if it doesn't make a drastic improvement in your life call me and I'll buy you lunch. That's right, a free lunch. What have you got to lose?

Start today, start now. Here is Proverbs 1 printed out for you. Read it and put it into practice today and watch the changes that begin to take place and the confidence God's wisdom brings. Don't just learn from the mistakes of others, don't just learn from your own mistakes. Learn to walk in wisdom, God's wisdom and take heed to His instruction knowing as verse 33 of Proverbs 1 declares, "But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil." Talk about an offer! God's offer here beats a free lunch any day!

"A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel"

Proverbs 1:5

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"Are You Full Yet?"

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"To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Ephesians 3:19



Like most, I love a good illustration when I read one. I read this one again this morning and had to sit once again and ponder it for a while, a long while. I imagined myself sitting looking out over the ocean; as I love to do watching this bottle float on the water until it was consumed by the waves and yet knowing that as the bottle sank into the ocean it was also filling itself with the ocean too. This following illustration is one that A. B. Simpson used to describe what it is like to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Its good!

He said, "Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with the Christian."

I love the scene that plays in the theater of my mind as I picture what it means for us to get a little of the fullness of God and yet be filled completely with Him. What a beautiful illustration of our lives in Christ. The essence of oneness; where one contains the fullness of the other without the other losing any of its fullness. Proof there is enough of God to go around!

There is an invitation in this. Submerge yourself in Christ today, loved one, let God fill you beyond your capacity to contain Him all the while enjoying the fullness of His presence in your life, overflowing. Allow His life to overflow yours today touching everything and everyone you come in contact. Imagine if you will, walking along today and feeling the cool ocean breeze on your face and that smell, that amazing scent that comes off the ocean in the early morning hours. There is nothing like the ocean that conjures up our awareness of the greatness of God, gentle yet strong, soothing yet passionate. Yes, loved one, His refreshing presence will sustain and satisfy your heart and soul today as you open up to Him. And to think, all you have to do is just breathe!

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

John 20:22

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"Don't Worry Be Happy"

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"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7

Don't worry be happy, are the lyrics to a song thats easy to sing but hard to put into practice. To this very day I've yet to meet a person who enjoys worrying. Most of us who do worry from time to time recognize it to be wrong and readily admit that worrying has no lasting benefit to our overall health and well being. We worry about all sorts of things and when questioned by others as to why we often get offended and feel as if the person doesn't understand the nature of the problem, for if they did they would be worrying right along with us too. Im reminded of the old saying, "ignorance is bliss" as knowing too much can get in the way of simple abiding faith, trusting in Jesus. I guess the Lord was right to warn us not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as all that would accomplish is more things to worry about that we cant control.

In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus makes His thoughts about worry crystal clear, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

So why is worry wrong? First, worry puts the focus on the wrong things. In other words it takes our eyes off the Lord and places them on things that are subject to change without notice. Worry tends to cause us to look at life through a magnifying glass instead of a telescope. Have you ever heard the expression, "You are making a mountain out of a molehill?" Thats exactly what worrying does. Worrying distorts our ability to think clearly and it robs us of life by making more out of something than we should.

Second, Worry causes us to forget whose we are. We belong to God, we are the sheep of His pasture, His children and He has promised to take care of us. Recall Jesus words in Matthew 7:7-9, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Worry is sin and each time we start to worry we are confronted with the question, Do I trust God?" If I do, I learn to cast my cares upon Him because He cares for me. If I don't believe that God cares for me then I carry the burden until it wears me out and robs me of the joy I might otherwise have.

Third, Worry is simply wasted time and energy as Jesus said, "who by worrying can add a single hour to his life." Doctors will tell you and the medical evidence will support it that over 90% of all physical aliments begin as emotional stress. I know this from personal experience. Worry, and anxiety and stress are deadly and is why God invites us to bring our worries to Him.

So, whats the solution to worry? Trust in God and the best way to do that is in prayer. Next time you get the urge to worry, stop and pray. Take all your cares and bring them to Jesus in prayer. Don't try to figure out your problems, give them over to God and instead of seeking answers, ask God for peace that surpasses understanding. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Think about it, knowledge of your situation doesn't bring you peace. Often times knowing the answers to our stresses brings greater anxiety and worry in our lives.

God invites us to receive what knowledge can't provide, and that is His peace. God wants you and I to learn to trust Him, to rest in the fact that He is in control and that everything you and I will face today first has to go through God to get to us. Everything, and I mean everything must first pass through the filter of God's love before it reaches us. That is comforting to know.

If you are in Christ, you are in good hands today, loved one, safe in the hands of Jesus who is safe in the hands of the Father. Don't worry today, choose to be happy instead! Cast all your cares on Jesus knowing He cares so very much about you! Don't go it alone, don't attempt to carry your burdens. Lay them down at Jesus feet and with prayer and thanksgiving make your requests known to God knowing…


"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:19

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"Your Will Be Done"

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"Now Samuel said to all Israel: "Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you."

1 Samuel 12:1

When we pray we either ask God to do what we think is best based on what we see, think, feel and want or we pray, "Your will be done" and trust that God has our best interest in mind always. The best prayer we can offer to God always will be, "Your will be done" and sadly that is not what the children of Israel did here in 1 Samuel 12. Israel up to this point had enjoyed God Himself as their king and yet somehow that was not enough for them. They wanted a king like the other nations around them and reluctantly the Lord grants their request. It has been well said, "God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him" but when we demand our own way and God leaves us to make our own choices we never arrive at the desired end that we had hoped for and for good reason. We can't see the end from the beginning, only God can. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

We have a King over us, His name is Jesus! He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and wants you and I to enjoy life in His kingdom. Just like the Lord provided for the nation of Israel He provides for us too. Why would we look any place else than to the Lord? Just like Israel we rebel, we think we know best based upon how we see, think, feel and what we want so we ignore the instruction of God as if He is too distant to understand our current situation.

Thank God He knows us better than we know ourselves and doesn't just strike us dead when we reject His council or refuse to walk in His ways. No, loved one, God is patient and kind to us even in our stubbornness and rebellion. He loves us like a Father loves his son and instead the Lord chastens us in love. When we turn back to God He promises to be there, and just like He did for Israel, He will once again reign over us. God doesn't force His will upon us, as the God of love, God has given to us free will, the ability to choose whom we will serve. And prayer is where God loves that we make that choice known for it is in prayer where God communicates with His children and where we demonstrate our dependence upon Him.

Prayer is the proof of our love, and love is the fruit of prayer. If we love God we will seek God and if we seek God we will love God and in turn we will love His people too. Try it for yourself. Its been well said, "we can not hate those we consistently pray for" and its true as God changes our heart and in time we begin to take on God's heart as our own. It's a beautiful thing to see and here in chapter 12 Samuel is modeling a genuine faith by praying "Not my will but Yours be done" as he intercedes for the nation even though they are in the wrong in wanting what God does not. May you and I be like Samuel here when others live in rebellion to God, loving them still and praying for them all the while warning and admonishing them to come back and live under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, our King.


"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king."

1 Samuel 12:23-25

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"Redeeming Love"

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"Then she said, "Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day."


Ruth 3:18


As we read the book of Ruth chapter three we are reminded like Ruth is, that our redemption is worth the wait. When I read chapter three I am reminded of the words of Isaiah 40:31, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Maybe you are going through a tough time in life right now, and if so I pray you have people in your like who are like Naomi, a true friend who doesn't necessarily tell you what you want to hear but is motivated by love and wants the best for you and is willing to tell you what you need to hear for your good and even more important, the glory of God. As a person of Jewish ancestry Naomi knows the Jewish customs and laws and can help secure a hope and a future for Ruth. If only Ruth will trust her and listen.

If you are experiencing a hardship in your life right now let me encourage you to lie down at the feet of your Boaz, Jesus Himself and look to Him for your comfort. Bring all your burdens and lay them at His feet. I encourage you to cast all your cares upon Jesus knowing, He cares about you! Just like Boaz wouldn't waste any time in redeeming Ruth, God has not wasted any time in redeeming us. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

The book of Galatians teaches us that at just the right time Jesus was born into this world. Galatians 4:3-4 says, "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." Jesus didn't waste any time while He walked on earth. He was always about the Fathers business and when the time was just right as the scriptures teach us in Luke 9:51, "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem". Not even the suffering of the beatings He endured or the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of the Cross could distract Jesus from redeeming us and completing the work that He came to do. Just as the Bible tells us, He set His face like flint towards Jerusalem to make sure we could be assured a place in glory. Jesus did not rest until He secured a future and hope for all who would come to Him by faith. Talk about redeeming love! Thank you Jesus!

Just think, everything we have ever gone through in this life will be worth it one day when we get to heaven and our understanding is no longer limited by our finite minds. Don't be discouraged if today you appear to be going through a drought or a season of life that seems more like winter than it does spring time and harvest. Don't quit swinging your sickle, loved one, continue to glean the truth of God's Word as man can't live on bread alone. Determine to grow in your faith knowing that at just the right moment in time, and not a moment too late, Jesus will return for us and take us home to be with Him just like Boaz did for Ruth in our story here in the book bearing her name.

"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine."

Isaiah 43:1

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"Lift Up Is Pulling Down"

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"And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god."

1 Samuel 5:7

As a follower of Christ you gotta love this story here in chapter 1 Samuel chapter five. In verses 1 through 5 we read, "Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon's torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day."

"Our God is bigger than your god" you might say in speaking to non-christians about the gods they serve. There is none like our rock. What an awesome display of God's overwhelming power we see here in 1 Samuel chapter five. No matter how many lies the enemy tells you and me, he is a defeated foe! The book of Isaiah shows Lucifer falling from heaven and here and all through the bible we see Satan's kingdom falling time after time. Just another reminder that no weapon formed against you will prosper, beloved. Our God reigns! Hold onto that today as you will need it! 

Chapter five is a clear reminder that the idols, the false gods that men create with their own hands and raise up to worship will eventually fall. To live in rebellion against the Lord is like walking around like the idol Dagon with its head cut off. There is no life apart from our God, and the idols that men create as objects of worship only rob us of the life, the love, and the pursuit of true happiness that is found in Jesus Christ alone. Yes, there does remain a way that seems right to a man but its end brings forth death. The goal and the reward of the Christian life is to live in complete devotion to the one true God.

When I read chapter five I am reminded how easy it is for man to allow sin to coexist with God. I know that from the sin in my own life. Jesus told us that it is impossible to have more than one God in our lives when He said in Luke 16:13, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money)." Determine afresh today to stay pure in your pursuit of God, and ask the Lord continually in prayer to expose and destroy the things of darkness in our lives that are not pleasing to Him. Remember, one of the primary reasons for the incarnation we read in 1 John 3:8 is, "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Jesus was lifted up to pull the Devil down. The enemy has been defeated!

Knowing the above to be true, your job, and my job, isn't to go around everyday looking for idols to pull down per say, but just the opposite is true. Our job, our joy is to lift up the name of the Lord in every area of our life in worship to the King. The joy we have in this life, beloved, as true believers is the joy of living in complete surrender to God in each and every facet of our lives. To become a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to Him is the aim of our lives. When we focus on lifting up Jesus as we go about our day, He promised to take care of those things that attempt to rise up against us and Him in our path. Knowing Jesus has already defeated the devil, all that is left then for you and me to do is to exalt His name every chance we get today.

Remember Philippians 2:10, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth" Lets not miss the chance to bow our knee and lift up praise in His name today and sing His praises for the Great things He has done. If you don't want darkness in your life, walk in the light as He is in the light. What do light and darkness have in common? Not a thing! Lets not be idle in our worship of God, but rather, let the Word of God dwell in you richly today, renewing our minds and reminding us afresh that our victory is in Jesus. Draw close to Jesus, knowing as we do He will draw close to you. Oh, how the devil hates that. He can't stand to be in the presence of God so if you don't want Satan bugging you, stay close to Jesus.


"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

James 4:7

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"Repenting For The Joy Of It"

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"So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you." So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah. Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines."


1 Samuel 7:4-7


When the children of Israel gathered together at Mizpah and drew water and then poured it out before the Lord it signified their repentance from sin. Most all of us have heard the expression, "I poured out my heart". That's exactly what the children of Israel were doing. Their hearts were truly broken before the Lord and they were genuinely sorry for the sin they had committed against God by disobeying His Word, so they poured out the water in humiliation demonstrating their sorrow and the sense of emptiness they felt. That's exactly what sin does to us, loved one; it leaves us dry and empty. Sin might be pleasurable for the moment in some cases, but in the end it brings forth death. Sin not only brings forth death, loved one, it sucks the very life out of us along the way. It's a slow death! We do well to heed the Word of God that says, "Flee temptation, resist the devil and he will flee". The Lord Himself promises us victory as we abide in Him. Trust Jesus!

There is an amazing truth revealed here in chapter 7 when the children of Israel gather at Mizpah to repent of their sin before the Lord. As they gather to repent, the Philistines gather together to fight against them. Isn't that just like the devil, beloved? When you and I repent of our sin and pour our heart out in confession before the Lord, we need to be aware, beloved, because the enemy of our soul is gathering to attack us.

Without fail, when we go to God with a sincere heart regarding our sin and confess it the Lord, the devil will come against us believing we are vulnerable to his attack. How wrong he is! That's why Satan comes against us when we repent. He doesn't want to us to feel the cleansing power of God, or the refreshing feeling we sense in our hearts when we have been cleansed once again. Just like the Philistines found out, the enemy of our soul soon discovers too, that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Satan can't approach God any time he would like so he works hard to keep us away from the Lord too knowing that in His presence is the fullness of joy. We need to be encouraged by the strength we will experience each time we truly repent before God as "A broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise". It is true that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

The real joy for you and me in 1 Samuel chapter 7 is knowing that Samuel is a type of Christ for the children of Israel. He intercedes for Israel in the same way our Great High Priest Jesus intercedes for us. It's wonderful to know that today, right now at this very moment in time Jesus Christ is interceding for us at the throne of God! Oh, how I pray you find comfort and joy in knowing this truth. Take a moment and meditate on that fact today, that Jesus is praying for you, that you are in His heart and always on His mind. Enjoy as well the victory that only Jesus provides and continually experience the peace, the presence, and the power of God in your life as you continue to confess your sins to Him who has set you free from them. Don't hold onto your sins; take them to God in prayer leaving them at the feet of our Savior remembering always,


"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


1 John 1:9

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"Choose Love"

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"Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."

1 Samuel 8:4-5

It was C.S. Lewis who once said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened." If you ever wondered how the church of Laodecia that we read about in the book of Revelation got so bad all you have to do is look back at the choice they made. When the leaders decided they wanted a king to rule the nation instead of submitting their lives to God's ordained authority their fate was sealed.

Are you aware that every sin a person makes can be traced back to a single choice. In their choosing the children of Israel decide for themselves that they no longer wanted a judge to rule over them. Instead they decided they like the idea of having a king like the rest of the nations. Be careful what you ask for as you might just get it! Again, it was C.S. Lewis who wrote, "Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." How soon we forget that God desires to be king in our lives since He is truly the King of Kings. Having The Lord as king was to their benefit as He alone is holy and righteous and He alone has their best interests in mind, always.

Being the God of love God gives us the freedom to choose Him. Without a choice it wouldn't be love. Though God is sovereign, and has no rival, He allows man the freedom to choose the object of his worship. God knows if we choose to bow our knee to anyone or anything but Him, we will never be satisfied and will only end up frustrated and under the hand of a taskmaster as Israel will soon discover. Israel forgets the privilege it is to have the Lord as God. Instead of being set apart to God the children of Israel prefer to blend in with the world around them and set themselves apart from God.

The call of God upon the children of Israel is the same call that is upon our lives too, remembering that the Lord said, "be holy as I am holy". As the church, the body of Christ we are called to stand out, not to blend in. We are to sanctify ourselves to God as Jesus sanctified Himself for us. Don't follow the crowd; follow the Lord. Don't look for ways to blend in, look for ways to stand out and to shine in the darkness. Take to heart the message of the apostle Paul to the church at Rome, as we too will be faced with many opportunities to choose this day in whom we serve. We can be conformed to the world or we can transformed into the image of Christ. God leaves the choice to us! Choose in love!

"…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Romans 12:2

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"Don't Fix Me… Just Hold Me"

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"Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."

Matthew 26:38

I love my church family and the desire most have to live lives for the glory of God. We are constantly looking for ways to reach a hurting world with the love of Jesus. I don't know who it was in our Men's Ministry who coined the phrase, "Don't Fix Me, Just Hold Me" which means to the other guys in the group, "I don't need your advice right now, I just need your friendship, I just need to know that you care." That little saying has proven itself over and over again to be a great way to be a better friend to one another. And the good news is, it works in all relationships, not just men.

Hearing those words, "Don't Fix Me Just Hold Me" are refreshing to hear for the simple fact that often times in life we are fully aware of what we are struggling. Often times God is working in our lives in a particular area or we have just experienced a hardship or loss of some kind and what we need most from those close to us is their loving support, just knowing they are there for us speaks volumes to us. In the book of Job, I can almost hear Job speaking the words, "Don't Fix Me, Just Hold Me as Job's three friends when they first heard the news of his tremendous loss didn't try to fix him. When they got wind of the news they just dropped everything and they came to Job and sat by his side for days on end without speaking a single word. They cried with him and mourned his loss along side him but they didn't try to fix the situation by offering sage advice. That story provides for each of us an important lesson on how we can be a better friend.

Availability is sometimes the single greatest gift we can offer others, especially in their time of need. Think about it, loved one, what keeps any of us from helping others? I shared with our church family just this morning that selfishness is the enemy of our usefulness in advancing God's kingdom. Our busyness often times hinders us from getting involved in other people's lives. I remember a conversation I had with a pastor a number of years ago now who said unapologetically that if people wanted his help they could set up an appointment with him during his office hours placing the burden on them if they wanted his care. The way he saw it was, if people can take off time from work to go to the doctor he saw no reason not to make the members of his church schedule an appointment between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. if they really wanted his help.

I remember thinking at the time as he was speaking, is this what Jesus would do? I shared with him then that I thought he might need to reconsider his thinking on that for the simple fact that, "since people can't schedule all their pain, they can't schedule their need for an appointment conveniently between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m." As friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ we should all seek to be available for one another in times of need, understanding that in doing so we will be blessed with some of the most divine appointments God has to offer.

"Don't Fix Me Just Hold Me" is a basic human cry of our heart that can be met when you and I choose to "be there" for others. We don't need to worry about what to say, we don't even need special training. What we need most is a willingness in our heart to drop what we are doing, and to make ourselves available to those in their time of need. After all, isn't that what Jesus does for me and for you! Oh what a friend we have in Jesus, amen! I guess the question of the day might be, "what kind of friend will the world find in you and me?"

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

Romans 12:15

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"Rest Stops"

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I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."

Psalm 91:2


Driving up I-5 to our daughters home in Northern California my wife and I pass by a lot of turn outs known as "rest stops". They advertise them along the road for travelers far from home. A "rest stop" is designed to be a safe place to pull off the road to catch some sleep, stop and rest on a long drive, maybe stretch and use the restroom if needed. At 58 years old I need "Rest Stops" more and more when my wife and I travel. I also see along the way those signs that say "next fuel (x amount) miles" and its obvious someone who has traveled the road before has placed that sign there as a warning if you don't have fuel you might not make it to the next gas station and end up stranded along the road. No one truly appreciates those signs unless they are unfamiliar with the area.

Did you know you have to work at rest? It really is true, friend. To rest properly it takes work. Behavior scientists tell us that the average vacationer doesn't start their vacation until almost 72 hours into their vacation because it takes time to convince ourselves we are actually on vacation from being on the go so much.

The children of Israel during their wilderness journey collected extra manna on Friday so they didn't have to gather any on the Sabbath so they could rest and devote that time to the Lord. Studies show that when people plan a vacation it takes one week before the actual vacation to plan for it and then the week to take the actual vacation and then a another week after vacation is over to fully recover from the vacation they just took. Vacations don't sound too much like rest from that study. Ha! I think that is why the Lord gave us a model for rest. God rested from all His work on the 7 th. day. He commanded the children of Israel to rest from their labor on the 7th day as well and when they failed to do so they were disciplined by the Lord with 70 years of captivity as repayment for each Sabbath they skipped over the course of 490 years. God knows we need rest, a day set aside to connect with Him and to rest from our own labors.

As followers of Jesus we don't have any particular day that God has said we are to rest. The Old Testament Sabbath was established between God and the children of Israel. New Testament believers learn that God has said that man was not made for the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was made for man. It's just smart to rest. Animals needed rest to perform in the fields. Hired help needs rest to perform their jobs to the fullest. Children and adults need rest to be alert at school and work. Yet, in America it seems we just go and go and go. Like the old saying regarding shopping, "Shop until you drop" most of us apply that same method to everything we do.

Of all the things the Lord has for you today loved one I am certain He wants you to rest in His love. Take some time from your labor and find a rest stop. Realize just like the signs on the freeways were placed there to communicate to people unfamiliar with the way that they need to rest, they need to make sure they have the fuel needed to reach their desired destination. Rest is important in that we don't know what lies ahead for us and where our journey of faith might take us. People who knew the way placed those road signs on the freeway to assist us when we travel. God knows that you and I have never passed this way before. God knows we aren't as familiar with the roads of life as we might think. That's why God tells us in His Word to stop, to rest and get refueled. Life is hard, loved one, and the road is long. Trust that God knows best and take advantage of the rest that is made available in Jesus Christ today, stop and smell the roses and enjoy some time alone, just you and Jesus!


In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Psalm 62:7

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"Never Let Go"

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"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."


John 10:28

I never grow tired of the theme song from the movie, "The Guardian" as to me it could be a theme song for anyone who serves in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Reading Psalm 145 at our morning prayer time today I realize even more that if I am going to lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me I need to be the kind of man "who will never look back, will never look down, never let go." As I was praying this morning the Lord brought to mind men and women who have impacted my life by their faithfulness. Their faith is far from fickle. Their lives are refreshing to me as they faithfully serve the Lord not for a week or a month or even a year. My life is blessed and our church is blessed by their decades of service. As I look for common denominators in the rock solid saints I find men and women who "will never look back, will never look down, never let go." Their lives are like the song…

"Never Let Go"
by Bryan Adam's

Can you lay your life down so a stranger can live
Can you take what you need but take less than you give
Could you close everyday without the glory and the fame
Could you hold your head high when no one knows your name
That's how legends are made-at least that's what they say

We say goodbye but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go

Can you lose everything-you ever had planned
Can you sit down again-and play another hand

Could you risk everything-for the chance of being alone
Under pressure find the grace-would you come undone
That's how legends are made-at least that's what they say

We say goodbye-but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go-never let go
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go

We say goodbye-but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go-never let go

Never look back-never look down, and never let go (song ends)


Jesus was this kind of man and I want to be this kind of man too. The bible says Jesus set His face like flint to Jerusalem and would not be deterred from fulfilling the ministry that glorified the Father when Jesus laid His life down for you and me. The bible says, "No greater love than anyone than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends." In a sense you can say Jesus never looked back, He never looked down and He never let go. My hope is that we know this in our own lives, that Jesus died for me and for you so that we could know He'd never let go. No matter what you are going through in life you are not alone, loved one. Jesus made a promise to you and Jesus always keeps His promises. Jesus said He would never let go if we would come to Him and trust Him with our lives. Just as Jesus promised, we are safe in His love as He is safe in the Father's love. That my friends is security!

As I read the words to the song this morning they take on a fresh meaning for me personally. When I read the following lyrics;

"We say goodbye-but never let go… We live, we die-because you can't save every soul… You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down… And never let go- never let go… You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back- will never look down… And never let go"…

Reading those words I am encouraged to be in the ministry, to be able to share the love and the hope that is found only on Jesus Christ with a drowning world. I am reminded again today that there is no price too great to pay to get to tell the world of God's amazing love. Yes, we live, we die, loved one, but we never have to let go because we are holding on to the One who promised us that He loved us with an unfailing love and that He would never let go of us. If we fall, we fall into the arms of the One, the only One who the book of Jude reminds us who is capable of catching us! So, hang in there and hold on to Jesus no matter what, remembering always that the reward is worth the sacrifice! We are saved and safe in Jesus love because He never lets go!

"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."

John 10:29

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"Unchanging Love"

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"Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised."

Song of Songs 8:7


Devoted love, unquenchable love, unstoppable love, undeterred love, against all odds kind of love, unchanging love, that is the character of God's love. Oh that you and I would know the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Have you ever really considered what the apostle Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians 13 when he pens the words, "Love never fails". There is only one thing and one thing only in this world that never changes and that is God Himself and that is so good to know and understand, especially on days when life hurts.

Writer and bible scholar C.S. Lewis who once said, "Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not." Listening to the worship song, "Unchanging God", I find comfort in God's unchanging love and I pray you do too. The song goes like this.

Faithful in the waiting You are
Always faithful in the valley You are
Faithful in the midst of hurt and pain
You are faithful

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Mighty in the battle You are
Always with me, You're the God who overcomes
Mighty You will raise me from the grave
You are mighty

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Oceans will rise,
Kingdoms will fall
But the word of the Lord stands forever
The sun will start to fade,
The world will pass away
But the word of the Lord stands forever
And the death will try to come
The perfect love is won
Cause the word of the Lord stands forever
The word of the Lord stands forever
Forever

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Your kingdom is forever
Your love will last forever
All glory, all honor
Unto our God forever (Song Ends)

Wow, what a beautiful song. Reading 2 Corinthians 1:20, I am reminded, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." That is epic news for you and me if you consider how many promises there are in the bible. It has been calculated that in the KJV of the bible that there are 31,102 verses and when counted up we discover 7,487 promises of God made to man. Did you hear that, 7487 very precious promises we can hold on to and trust completely in and all because our God is unchanging and because of that His love is unchanging too!

That's why the greatest gift Paul says is love for God is love and because of that love never fails and even more, love has no end. We don't say of those we have lost, "I like them or I enjoy them but we can and do rightly say, "I love them" for love has no end. Not even death can break the bonds of love, actually in human terms it can strengthen it. But God's love is unique in that it doesn't suffer from highs and lows, like Him its unchanging.

The Word of the Lord stands forever, loved one, and no matter what, no matter how hard life might be today there is a promise that remains, God is unchanging and because of that His love for you and me remains true! If you find yourself in the midst of hurt and pain today loved one, let these words ring true over and over in your heart and soul…

Oceans will rise,
Kingdoms will fall
But the word of the Lord stands forever
The sun will start to fade,
The world will pass away
But the word of the Lord stands forever
And the death will try to come
The perfect love is won
Cause the word of the Lord stands forever
The word of the Lord stands forever
Forever

"Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Your kingdom is forever
Your love will last forever
All glory, all honor
Unto our God forever"

Many things in life will change, by choice or by chance but one thing never changes and that is the promise of God's love! Remember, nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus! The word of the Lord stands forever and God will not change for He is an unchanging God! Take comfort in knowing the promise remains!

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:37-39

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"Thank You, Thank You, Thank You"

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"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have you ever thought if there was one thing that if you did it every day would change your life for the better? Maybe you have thought there can't possibly be one thing that I could do that would make that big of a difference in my life in just one day. The good news today is, there is! If you and I would just simply do this one thing every day consistently, our lives would be forever changed for the good. The Bible teaches us that being thankful, that having a heart of gratitude does in fact change our lives for the better each time we express it, be it to God or other people.

Try it today and see if it doesn't change you. Count the number of times you say, "thank you" today to God and to people. Romans chapter 1 makes it perfectly clear behind every creation there is a creator and every design there is a designer, where as James chapter 1 makes it equally clear behind every gift there is a giver! Romans chapter 1 teaches us that when people become thankless they open themselves for a world of hurt where just the opposite happens in the heart of a person who remains thankful. We open ourselves up to both be and receive a blessing!

Think about the people in your life who you enjoy blessing and doing things for or giving gifts too. I bet they are thankful. Think of the people who aren't high on that list and I am willing to bet they are most likely not very grateful or thankful. Yes, there is something magnetic about a grateful heart, there is power in a simple thank you that motivates us to want to do more! Don't forget the words of the half brother of Jesus who wrote, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). It's true, that behind every creation there is a creator, behind every design there is a designer, and behind every gift there is a giver! God is the ultimate giver and today there will be countless opportunities for you and me to say thank you to the Lord and to those created in His image.

But don't be surprised if someone blesses you today and when you say "thank you" they humbly respond, "don't thank me, thank Jesus" because they too are living lives that are being lived out in humble appreciation for all He does. Just know today, loved one, I am setting out to count all my blessings today and I am beginning by counting you! Thank you for blessing my life like you do. For loving me and encouraging me as I set out to encourage, motivate and challenge you! My life is very blessed by you! And for that I am very thankful!


Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

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"Deeply And Completely"

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"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

Deuteronomy 6:5


Love was definitely in the air this past weekend as my wife and I enjoyed some time away after I performed a wedding ceremony for a very special young couple in our church on our favorite beach in Cayucos. They are very much in love and they picked the perfect place to start their new life together getting married right there on the sand with the ocean as the backdrop to their ceremony. Everything was perfect! 


At the same time I was trying to minister to a family back home whose marriage is under attack. I was reminded throughout the weekend of both the power of love and the enemies relentless attack against it. As I was studying the book of Matthew and the spiritual condition of the world in the last days I was reminded that there will be a lack of genuine love exhibited just prior to the Lords return. I couldn't help but think we are living in those days.


Sometimes when I study I'll have music playing as it helps block out other noises that can often distract me. As I sat there reading and taking notes a song that was familiar to me was playing, an "oldie", a song that my wife and I heard at a concert many years ago came up on my phone. It was a beautiful love song titled, "completely", and as I sat there listening to it I thought about the words and how they were simple, yet complex. A lot like love.


I thought as the song played about the different levels of love, not so much the different kinds of love, but the depth of love. Most everyone knows that love comes in degrees too. The bible says that in the last days, "the love of many will wax (grow) cold". The song actually went along with what I was thinking about and is why it caught my attention. I began to examine the words to the song "completely" and to contemplate in my own heart and mind the word "completely" and what it really means. As I did I thought about it the word that kept coming to my mind was the word, "deep" so I looked it up in the dictionary. It said of the word deep,


Deep adj

extending from the surface downward or inward

extending a long way from top to bottom

extending a long way from front to back

extending a long way from a surface or boundary inward

standing or lining up in rows of a particular number

relatively far down, in, or inside something

coming from or reaching down inside the body


My favorite description for "deep" was number 10 on the list of descriptions which said of the word "deep" as an adjective, "intensely held, kept, or experienced." That was good but it even got better, or deeper as I read the description for the word "deep" as a noun. It gave the following definition,


The middle or most intense part of something.


As I listened to that oldie but goodie love song playing I found myself longing to be a man who loves deep, who loves "completely", with all my heart and soul. Are you aware that's exactly how the Lord wants you and me to love too? Honestly, that is how God created us to love. No holding back, "all in" you might say. When the Lord God chose a people He would call "Israel" to be His own special people He taught them His ways, He instructed them in how they were to relate to Him as God. In essence He told them that they were to love Him "completely". In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 30 beginning in verse 16 the Lord, through Moses, teaches the people to observe His ways to focus their lives on living and loving Him completely.


"…in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess."


Yes, loved one, God wants us to love Him completely, knowing when we do we will love others with that same kind of love, that same depth. God isn't into half-hearted love because half hearted love leaves us empty, never satisfied. God loves us completely and He calls us to love completely too. That's why Jesus said in Mark 12:29-31, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."


Choose today to love completely, to love deep. Don't hold back. Remember that love is a choice, not just a response. Love God and love others from the deepest place of your soul, from the source and not the surface. Give your best and not your "left over" as it were today. Read the words to the song "Completely". It's a love song for sure but today I'm making it my prayer. You can make it yours too!


"Completely"

Completely wanna give my love

Completely

I'd rather be alone than be in love just half the way

I want to find someone that I can trust completely

Wanna give my heart completely

To someone who'll completely give their heart to only me

And when I find that one

That's when I'll fall in love

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me

Forever wanna feel the world

Forever

And know there'll be somebody there forever by my side

And when that feeling comes

That's when I'll give my love

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me

It's all or nothing at all for this heart of mine

And I won't give up this heart till the day I find

Somebody who can be

Someone who loves me

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me… (end of song)


Know today, loved one, you never have to be alone again. God loves you, completely! Have a wonderful day realizing that His love for you is both deep and complete!


"For God is love"


1 John 4:8


I LOVE YOU!

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"Do It Again God, Do It Again"

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"Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!"


Psalm 80:19

This last month I found myself watching many of the documentaries surrounding the events of 9/11. Though painful in many ways as human suffering is not something any of us enjoy the Bible is clear for those who desire to walk in love. "We comfort one another with the comfort that we ourselves have been comforted by God." Its important to the victims of 9/11 that we as a country never forget the events of that day.

I am endeared to those whose lives were forever changed that day when they lost a family member or friend and I completely understand their desire that we not forget those whose lives were taken in the worst terrorist attack on American soil in the history of the United States. One of the reasons we remember is so that no one who died or was impacted by the events of 9/11 would have died in vain. I thought a lot about all that has gone into remembering 9/11 and whats even more important for you and I to never forget is the power of God to change a human heart. Terrorism isn't going to be defeated by a military army but rather by an army of prayer warriors, men and women of God, young and old alike, from all walks of life joining together and asking God to do what we are praying the terrorists never do, and that is "Do It Again". If there is one thing I am certain of today its that America needs revival desperately and I believe its possible. We need to join hands and hearts and make it our daily prayer, "Do It Again Lord."

It was Saturday September 15, 2001 just days after planes were used in acts of terror against the United States of America on 9/11 that a prayer vigil was held for our country and Pastor Max Lucado wrote this prayer for the national prayer event,

Dear Lord,

We're still hoping we'll wake up. We're still hoping we'll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.

But we won't, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn't.

And so we come to you. We don't ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don't request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We've read the accounts. We've pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king's counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven's sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, 0 Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what discussion could not. Doctrinal fences have fallen. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you've used her to heal a hurting world.

Do IT again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.


That's a wonderful prayer to be praying in these challenging days. "Do it again, Lord. Do it again!" In Psalm 80 the writer is asking God to do it again, to bless the nation of Israel who had turned from God and His ways and now was repentant and turning back to God. The Psalmist knows first hand the only hope the people have is for God to show them the same grace He had in the past. Only God Himself was capable of turning their darkness to light, to reverse the curse their evil deeds had caused. But would He?

The Psalmist is crying out to God to do it again and to cause He face to shine on the nation as he knows by faith what we have come to know in reality, and that being Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever! God is not only a blessing God, He is a forgiving God too! When we come humbly before the throne of God in prayer, broken and contrite, God not only promises to forgive us our sin but as well He promises to restore our soul. Salvation has three tenses, past, present and future. God has forgiven us our past sins, He forgives our present sins and promises to even forgive our future sins and all because of the precious blood of His Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yes, loved one, if God did it once He can and will do it again! If you need forgiveness of sin today cry out to the only one who is capable of both forgiving your sin and in turn causing the blessings of heaven to rain down on you as He causes His face to shine upon you. Yes, loved one, if God could do it once, He can do it again! Lets join in prayer for ourselves, our families, our friends, as well as our country and this world! Revive us oh Lord!


"God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us. Selah"

Psalm 67:1

I LOVE YOU!


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"Refreshing Confession"

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"It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem."

2 Samuel 11:1

This is probably one chapter of King David's life he wishes never made it into the history books for us to read. Those who are chosen to lead in the kingdom of heaven live in glass houses. God doesn't cover up our sin, He does far greater. First He judges it and if like David we are seeking His heart He forgives and forgets it as He removes it from us, which is far better.

In 2 Samuel chapter 11 we get to look behind the scenes as it were in much the same way a jury of our peers would sit and listen if charges were brought against us in a court of law. Since it is David's life we are viewing here like an open-heart surgery, we don't get to emotionally involved. We can drop our own defenses and learn what went wrong and how the wrong was ultimately made right.

We see right off what went wrong. Wrong place, wrong time as David the king of Israel and commander of the Lord's army he should have been with his troops at war in the springtime but he in the neglect of his duty, the king was left with idle time. You know the old saying, "an idle mind is the devil's playground", and its true. Doing nothing has led countless numbers into serious trouble. Boredom is a great tool in the hand of the Devil regardless of your age. David fell to the tricks of the Devils trade, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life always lead to sin and David took the bait, line, hook, and sinker! That David, a man after God's own heart is susceptible to the snares of the wicked one should be a reminder to you and I to stay focused on the Lord and to never let our guard down.

When temptation comes our way we need to learn the lesson here from David's failure. Don't think for a second you can resist temptation because the bible says you can't. Flee the temptation is the only source of victory. Like the guy who prays the Lord would give him strength on his diet as he passes the donut shop and prays, "Lord, if you don't want your servant to have a donut today then make sure there is no parking spot in front of the donut shop…amen". The guy was overheard later that day telling others that God must have wanted him to have a donut that day because on the seventh trip around the block, low and behold there was an empty parking spot right in front of the donut shop. It must have been God! Flee temptation, friend, don't keep driving around your temptation testing God. If you do…you lose! Oh, how David wished he had fled as well.

David's self indulgence leads him into greater sin, sin has a way of leading us into greater sin, as sin is blindness and it reveals the true state of the heart of man, not the heart of the man of God. We have a sin nature, a nature that wars against our spirit, and we must fight and not pull back from the good fight of faith and not give into our flesh. David's lust moves to adultery, and from adultery to deceit, from to deceit to deception and from deception to death; and all because man is depraved without God ruling our heart. It truly is a downward spiral if there ever was one.

We can stop the downward spiral of sin and death in our own lives by crying out to God and confessing our sin to Him. Learn the lesson David learned from what he did "dodo" here. He tried to cover his sin when he should have been confessing it. Yet because of the great mercy of God David came to know God's healing grace that we first read of in Psalm 51. I pray you know God's mercy too, that when we confess our sins to our faithful God He is faithful not only to forgive but to wash us clean and make all things new.

Sin is a downward spiral where life in Christ is just the opposite. Life in Christ is upward and onward! Read what David discovered about the grace and mercy of God and what happens when we turn from our sin and seek His forgiveness. It's a life changing moment that we can enjoy again and again as we learn to bathe in His love!


"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

Psalm 51:1-2

I LOVE YOU!


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