Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"I Hope You Dance"

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"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?"

Psalm 8:3-4

Reading Psalm 8 this morning brought to mind a song my wife loves and so much so that when she heard it played for the first time she immediately sent it to each of our children to listen with the desire they would take the words to heart as a mothers hope for her children.

The words to the song are as follows,

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin'
Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin'
Don't let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin' out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance (Where those years have gone?)
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder?)
(Song Ends)

Both the psalm above and the song beautifully express the vastness of creation and exhorts the listener to give the world around us more than just a passing glance. Each time I hear this song the words of G.K. Chesterton come to my mind, "We are perishing for lack of wonder not lack of wonders." By God's design when we stand on a sea shore looking out or gazing up into the heavens we can't help but feel small. Psalm 19:1-4 puts it into perspective, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun."

Like a child I stand in awe as I consider the works of Gods hand and my heart agrees with what Evelyn Underhill once said, "If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped." Creation reminds us just how little we are. When we stand on the shore of the ocean, we realize there is a whole other world lying just beneath the waves. When we stand on top of a mountain and look up into the heavens we are drawn towards God. Psalm 148:1-6 explains why, "Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away."

Step outside today, loved one, and look up, look around and stand in awe, stand in wonder as you appreciate a fresh today all that God has made. Allow the work of God's hand to remind you how big He is and just how little you are, knowing as you do you will experience His majesty in a more profound way. Encountering God's creation is not at all belittling to us. Rather, His majesty is humbling as when we see God rightly, we see ourselves rightly too. God is great, we are small, and that reminder is to our comfort. It's freeing to discover our insignificance and to be left with a sense of wonder that everything that exists was created by Him and for Him and nothing that exists does so apart from Him. That includes me and you too! 

We were created for God's glory and we owe everything to Him, even the very breath we breathe. Knowing this, my hope and prayer for you today, loved one, is like that which my wife prays for our own children and grandchildren too, I hope you dance!

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness"

Psalm 30:11


I LOVE YOU!


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"Choose Joy"

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"I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you…"

Philemon 1:4-7


I think its safe to say that almost everyone wants to be happy and yet as quickly as we think we have found it, it can be gone and rightly so. Happiness is fleeting at best, and unfortunately our happiness is tied directly to our 'happenings' which change as quickly as our circumstances. If things go as we hope we are happy to varying degrees and time. If things don't go as we hope discouragement and sadness often grip our heart and mind with greater intensity than the happiness we were longing.

Are you aware there is something more satisfying than happiness? Yes, loved one, better than the pursuit of happiness is the gift of joy. C.S. Lewis once said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." What makes joy trump happiness every time is joy is not determined by our circumstances and therefore is not subject to change even when everything else does. Happiness is contingent on what happens to us, unlike joy which is dependent solely on what Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross. Joy is a gift from God to His children and constant through each and every circumstances we encounter that reminds us we are loved and that God is there.

Of all the apostles there was none who knew the difference between happiness and joy more than Peter. Before joy overflowed his life Peter was tossed to and fro by the emotional highs and lows that come with the pursuit of happiness it seems like almost daily. Peter, writing in the epistle that bears his name captures perfectly the impact of Christ's love upon our lives, "whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). "Joy inexpressible" because there are no words that can describe seeing Jesus work supernaturally in your life in a way that transcends seeing Jesus physically as Peter did. Its like the difference between seeing something beautiful and being touched by it. Seeking and finding Jesus brings an abiding satisfaction, a joy like nothing this life has to offer. Nothing else comes close.

Do you have a desire for more joy in your life? I know I do. Discover more joy as you discover more of Jesus as Jesus and joy are inseparable. So, instead of seeking happiness, make it your aim to seek Jesus and you too will discover joy inexpressible! I believe C.S. Lewis said it best, "aim at the world and you get nothing, aim at heaven and you get the world thrown in." Choose Jesus!

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 16:11 


I LOVE YOU!


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"You're Hot"

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(Especially For Tim and Michelle)


"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. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you."

Isaiah 43:1-2

Are you going through a trial today? Do you feel the heat being turned up in your life? Is your faith in God being challenged by your current situation? If so you are not alone, ever! Most everyone has heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, the three Hebrew young men who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar despite his threats of death by incineration. Though the king threatened to turn up the heat seven times hotter than normal, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were unwavering in their faith in God. Like Abraham, the father of faith who the Bible says, "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:20-21) these three young Hebrews were just as fully convinced. I like to think of it this way, their faith was on fire for God, hotter than the very furnace they were thrown into.

If you are in the midst of your own fiery trial today you've got to read all of Daniel chapter 3 and allow the Lord to remind you of a few things as you do. Trust me, no, rather trust God that your heart will be encouraged as you read this true story. For me, I was reminded as I read, faith doesn't prevent trials from coming our way, it merely provides us the opportunity to witness God exercise His sovereign plan right before our very eyes. Yes, God still performs miracles! Often times when facing life's difficulties we blame ourselves as if we were the solution to our own problems, robbing God of the opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf. We often play the "What if" or the "If only" game trying to change the scenarios of our lives in hope of improving our outcome. We desperately want to be in control. Most of the time when we face a difficult challenge and begin to doubt we become short sided like the disciples who limited Jesus by their own questioning regarding the man who was blind from birth. In John's gospel the disciples asked Jesus saying, "…Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him" (John 9:2-3).

Have you ever considered that what you are going through might not even be about you, but rather for you? In other words, the very trial you are facing might just have been permitted by God Himself not to harm you but to set you free? The fire that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrust into didn't even cause one hair upon their head to be singed or for the stench of smoke to be smelled as they came out. The only thing that was burned up in the fire were the bindings that bound them and held them captive. The fire was used of God to free them from the bondage they had been placed in. What was true for them is just as true for me and you!

The best news of all in this story is that just like Jesus, the Son of God was there in the midst of that fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Jesus has promised to be right beside you and me as we go through our own fiery trials in this life. Jesus told His disciples "I am with you always'", and the writer of Hebrews reminds us of His promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you".

Just as Abraham and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were fully convinced you and I can be fully convinced too that whatever God has promised, He is also able to perform! What was it that helped these men of faith to not waver at the promises of God? It wasn't that they had faith in their own faith but rather they had great faith in their great God. True faith isn't something we well up within ourselves. True faith comes by taking God at His Word. They might have doubted themselves all day long but what they did not doubt was that God was true to His Word and that what He had promised to do He would faithfully accomplish. Nothings changed as God Himself has not changed, as He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

In the end, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came out of that fire smelling like roses as God used their temporary imprisonment for their promotion. God never wastes a hurt in our life, loved one, but rather He turns our trials into our promotions too! If you are facing a trial today take to heart what James, the half brother of our Lord says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). Don't forget, theres something greater waiting for you on the other side of the trial. Wait for it!


"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Romans 8:28

I LOVE YOU!


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"Walk, Don't Run"

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"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."


Galatians 5:16-18


It was Henry Ford who once said, "Those who walk with God, always reach their destination." Most new believers are taught the importance of repentance with regard to sin. To repent is to turn from sin, and to go in the opposite direction. But thats only half the truth as repentance is more than just turning from sin but also includes turning to God. In other words the success of repentance isn't just that we seek to get away from sin but equally important is where and who do we turn to. Repentance might best be described as turning from self to God, from our way of thinking to God's way, from pleasing ourselves to pleasing God.

Have you ever heard the expression, "If I only knew then what I knew now." I imagine that if we could speak with the children of Israel as they were being led away into captivity because of sin, first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians, I believe the quote I read just this past week would be on the tip of their lips as both a warning and a exhortation to us alive today,

"Sin will take you further than you want to go…
Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay…
Sin will cost you more than you want to pay…"

We must not forget today, loved one, that sin is deadly. James 1:13-15 makes the point, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."

Don't buy into the lie that sin doesn't hurt you or anyone else, or even if sin does in fact hurt someone it only hurts the one who commits it. The Bible is clear that sin is deadly and it seeks to take the life of each person it touches. Just as important to know, sin spreads as quick as wild fire the Bible teaches, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-- (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." (Romans 5:12-14).

Just as well we cant forget that sin is bondage not freedom. The Bible tells us that many who claim liberty with regard to their lifestyle choices make that claim because of personal vice. In other words many who claim that their questionable behavior or indulgences are a liberty given to them by God say such things because they lack self control and are actually in bondage to the very behavior they claim to enjoy as a freedom. As pastor Greg Laurie has so well stated, "If you toy with sin, sin will toy with you."

Running from sin is like running a marathon, eventually you will grow tired and hit the wall as it were. Better than running away from sin is walking with God. Galatians 5:16 says it best, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." The luster of sin diminishes as we walk with God and enjoy His presence. More satisfying than the longings of our flesh is the joy we sense as we glorify the Lord by using our gifts to minister to others as the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:7, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." Sin looses its grip on us as we seek to please the Lord. 2 Timothy 2:4 serves as a great reminder that when we turn from sin and turn to God our focus changes as do our priorities and motives, "No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."

The Christian life wasn't meant to be a marathon that wears us out nor a sprint that zaps every ounce of energy we possess. The Christian life is a walk, a journey of faith, a relationship with the God of heaven that was meant to be experienced and enjoyed day by day. Consider the words of the psalmist today. Psalm 73:23-25 describes in a nut shell the understanding and the impact a walk with God has upon our lives, "Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You."

Once we take God's hand and begin to enjoy walking with Him each day, growing in the knowledge of His love and care for us we too like the Psalmist will come to the same conclusion, "there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You." It becomes much easier to say no to something when you have a bigger yes. Jesus is our bigger yes! The psalmist came to know what I pray you and I know today too. Because the destination in Jesus is secure we are free to enjoy the journey! Walk with God today!


"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"

Micah 6:8

I LOVE YOU!


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"You Were Born To Be A Star"

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"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Esther 4:14


Who doesn't enjoy the book of Esther, the story about a young jewish orphan who became Queen and with whom God had destined to do great things as she risked her own life to save the lives of the Jewish nation. Like our Lord and Savior, Esther is an advocate for her people, not a self proclaimed advocate like we often see in the world today as people promote themselves, but rather a beautiful and still humble woman of God chosen by Him to stand in the gap for the nation of Israel. If you didn't know, the name Esther means "star" and what a star she was. 

In what appeared to be a dark moment in the life of the children of Israel as wicked Haman, the Judas Iscariot of the Old Testament sought to have the Jews exterminated, it was left up to Esther to go petition the king and risk her own life in violating royal protocol in approaching the king without first being invited. Trusting in faith that she would have the kings favor in that he in return would extend the golden scepter as a sign of grace, he listened to her petition.  

So many lessons we can glean from this wonderful story but the one that stands out in my mind today is this. In the Old Testament when the Holy Spirit came upon a person for the purposes of God, once the purpose of God was fulfilled the Holy Spirit departed from them and moved on to the next person God would anoint and raise up for His special calling. We see it all through the Old Testament, from Moses to Nehemiah, King David and all the prophets, two who stand out to me are Elijah and then Elisha. Men and women, young and old alike were chosen and used of God just as Esther, "for such a time is this", but then they were done.

But the New Testament reveals something better, something so much more regarding you and me. When the Holy Spirit was given beginning in the book of Acts "for such a time as this" changed from a moment in time to "from now on clear into eternity". What wasn't experienced and what couldn't be known in the Old Testament has now come true for me and you. The apostle Paul puts it like this in Colossians 1:26-27, "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Did you catch that? God doesn't just come upon your life and mine "for such a time as this" and then depart as in the days of Esther and then moving on to the next anointing. No, loved one, the promise to you and me is not momentary, its permanent.

When we receive Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord God seals us with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells us so that every day of our lives from that moment on can be "for such a time as this". Talk about exciting! God doesn't just want to use our lives once and then set us aside and move on to someone else (though being used of God once would certainly be an honor enough that would be remembered for a lifetime), but the truth is, God wants to use our lives every day for His glory and our good. 

Just think, there is something of eternal value and worth that God wants to involve you and I in today. Maybe its to plant a seed in someones heart regrading the forgiveness of God and the gift of salvation? Maybe God wants to use you to reach someone today is at the end of their rope, discouraged by life's circumstances and is in desperate need of a good word. Maybe God is calling you to step out in faith and use your gifts and talents to bless other peoples lives or just the opposite. Perhaps God is calling you to humble yourself and reach out for help today so others can use their gifts in serving you?

All I know today is the possibilities to experience a "for such a time as this" are unlimited, as unlimited as is our God. I also know this to be true too, because life this side of heaven is limited, so are our opportunities in life to be used. Don't miss yours! Pray, spend some time in God's Word and ask God where and to whom is He calling you to go to this day. And just as Esther's uncle Mordecai reminded the Queen of the privilege we have to be used of God, let me remind you of the words from Esther 4:14, "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place…" Like I was saying, don't miss your chance to shine like a star! Be like Isaiah and say to the Lord today,

"Send Me"

Isaiah 6:8

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"You Are In Good Hands"

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"For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice"

Psalm 95:7


I remember visiting a friend in the hospital years ago now who had been involved in a very bad car accident that only by the grace of God he and his wife survived and are still with us today. Lying there in his hospital bed with numerous broken bones and in much pain (though he was sedated at the moment we spoke) he looked up at me from his bed and said something I will never forget. With an impish grin on his face he said to me, "Mike, I am not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens" to which I laughed out loud. I knew in that moment my friend would be just fine and that even in this seemingly stress filled time he had not lost his sense of humor largely in part due to his unwavering faith in God.

That scene came to mind because this same friend sent me this quote the other day in an email. It said, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" This quote reminded me of what pastor Greg Laurie once said in a podcast I was listening to. He said, "the safest place to be in this world is in the center of God's will, the most dangerous place to be is anywhere else."

In John 10:27-30 we read one of the most comforting and reassuring stories in all the Bible for one group of people and probably equally as well one of the most frustrating dialogs Jesus had for the other group as their attempts to silence Jesus were once again thwarted. Jesus dialog in John 10 is one of my favorite stories in all the Gospels. Jesus declares, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 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. I and My Father are one." If you ever wanted a specific text in scripture to support eternal security I cant think of a better verse than this one as Jesus is telling those gathered listening to Him speak that day that as the Good Shepherd, His followers were safe in His hands and just as important, He Himself was safe in His Fathers Hands offering us double security. Jesus assurance that "Your in good hands" is far greater than the old Allstate television commercial providing insurance.

John 10:10 reminds us that Jesus came to give life and life more abundantly. The Greek word for life used in John's Gospel is the word "Zoe", meaning "life without end!" That's a quality of life we should all want to enjoy and one we can as it is a gift from God as we follow Him and heed His voice. The key then to a God quality life, a "life without end" is discovered and enjoyed by following Jesus! Walking with Jesus is a radical way of life, a wild ride in many ways and yet it's also the safest place to be! You are in good hands today, loved one, as you walk with God. Be encouraged in your own journey as you call to mind the words of King David who himself recognized,

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me…"


Psalm 23:1-4


I LOVE YOU!


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"If It's True Its Not New"

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"That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun."

Ecclesiastes 1:9


I felt led of the Lord to write today to encourage those of you who seek biblical counsel for whatever reason big or small. Biblical council by far is the best way to go in life, not necessarily for the short run if you just want a temporal quick fix that you will end up paying double for later most likely, but council that always is best for the long haul, like say eternity. 

The bible is clear in that God gave us His Word to be a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path. The best place any of us can go for directions then in this life is to God Himself. Yes, even before we do a Google search, use a navigation app on our electronic device, or call someone for help, turning to God is always the best choice and for good reason. One of my favorite pastors has a saying, "If its true it's not new and if its new it's not true." We live in a world that is constantly changing and what was true in the worlds eyes a few years ago is no longer such, which to me is not progressive in thinking but in reality is destructive.

The best source of counsel any of us can seek is counsel that is not a respecter of persons. As a pastor I take what I say to others in counseling very seriously for the simple reason I know I am going to stand before God one day and give an account of my life and because I am a pastor I also know that I will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1). I realize we live in a day and time where the Bible says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4). And its sad to see so many believers walking away from the Word of God not realizing the consequences of their choices. 

Be very careful, loved one where and to whom you turn for help. You might keep this truth in mind when pondering the council you seek to receive from others. Never take advice from someone who doesn't have to live with the consequences. In other words the best council is the council that is not tainted one way or the other, that's not motivated by gender, race, religion, political or socioeconomical class. The Word of God, unlike human opinion is infallible and without error. It is not subject to change and is why in many circles it must be eliminated all together for that very reason. God's Word doesn't bend to human desire. The bible is relevant to culture always while culture itself is not relevant for the simple reason it is always changing. What's in one day is out the next and who decides? Don't forget, the Bible will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the Bible. 

One of the many beauties of biblical counsel is its consistency. If you find yourself needing counsel at some point in your life, (and for the record only humble and wise people seek counsel in the first place, the Bible teaches us) you should be able to get biblical advice today that if you came back in say 5, 10, 20 years with the same issue, the biblical answer would be the same as God never changes. I don't know about you but I find tremendous comfort in that. Knowing the Word of the Lord stands.

You can trust the Word of the Lord, loved one, and you can rest in the faithfulness of God's Word. Heaven and earth will pass away Jesus said, but His Word will never pass away. How important is the Word of God you might be thinking? There are only three things that last forever, God Himself, The Word of God, and the souls of men. Three things that are eternal and the Word of God is one of them. We cant put too much emphasis on understanding God's Word and our seeking it for both our faith and our day to day practice. Below are a few, Ok, maybe more than just a few verses to encourage you to seek, stand and stay in the Word of God. You will be blessed as you do!


"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17


"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12


"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Psalm 119:105


"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22


"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word." Psalm 119:9


"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." Isaiah 40:8


"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Matthew 7:24


"The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:130


"Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4


"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." 1 Peter 2:2


"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6


"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:114


"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11


"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

Psalm 119:11

I LOVE YOU!



















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"Lessons From A Shark Tank"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"Looking unto Jesus"

Hebrews 12:2a


Watching the television show 'Shark Tank' on Sunday afternoon I was enjoying the dialog taking place between one of the entrepreneurs seeking financial backing and wisdom and with all the Sharks, whom also expressed interest in becoming business partner to this entrepreneur. The conversation taking place sounded more like a bible study then a business proposition. By the time the show ended I was more convinced than ever that the same principle for building a successful business are much the same that are needed to build a successful spiritual life. Read on and you decide. 

One of the Sharks shared that to be a successful entrepreneur required "laser like focus" which in my mind meant putting Hebrews 12:2 into practice by fixing our eyes on the Lord, "looking unto Jesus". I thought of the conversation in Luke chapter 9 where Jesus is in a dialog with people who have expressed interest in following Him. Jesus doesn't refuse their request but instead challenges them to count the cost. Jesus says, unless a person is willing to forsake everything in their lives to follow Him they might as well not waste their time as Jesus response demonstrates that a half hearted commitment is no commitment at all, as Jesus plainly teaches in Luke 9:62, "But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

One of the other Sharks that entered into the discussion said one of the principles they live by in their own life is, "Get rid of the things that don't matter and focus on the things that do." To be successful they said you need to constantly evaluate your life and as they put it, "go lean", learn to be a minimalist if we are to get rid of the clutter. Two of my favorite passages of scripture came to mind as I listened intently to everything that these successful business executives had to say. 

First, going back to Hebrews 12:1-2 the writer of Hebrews shares with us the basis of a successful spiritual life, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Such wisdom there is in "looking unto Jesus". Just as the apostle Paul exhorts us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith we do well to get rid of the things that don't matter in our lives so that we can focus on the things that do.

The Bible provides us with many examples as to why and how we should and can get rid of the things that don't matter so we can focus on the things that do. In Philippians 3 we read the words of the apostle Paul who most would agree lived a very successful Christian life. If there was a Christian television show called, "Shark Tank" that was about men and women who are 'billionaires' spiritually speaking with regard to their faith in God and who willingly share their wisdom on what is takes to be successful in our spiritual journey I am pretty certain the Apostle Paul would be a regular on the show. 

The Apostle Paul puts one of his keys to spiritual success in writing for us in Philippians 3:12-14, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." In a nut shell, Paul affirms in the spiritual realm what I witnessed on "Shark Tank" Sunday afternoon taking place in the business realm. Had Paul been on the show on Sunday he might has simply said, "Let go and let God."

Are there things in your life, loved one, that are keeping you from reaching your goals? Is there something or someone that is weighing you down spiritually instead of helping you up so you can fix your eyes on Jesus? Seek to eliminate the distractions. Take Jesus words to heart today and "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Set your mind on the prize today! Live like a spiritual billionaire, loved one as you determine to keep the main thing the main thing! And don't ever forget that Jesus is the main thing! Focus, focus, focus… 


"Do you not know that those who run in a
race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I LOVE YOU!


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"New Normal"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

2 Corinthians 3:18

To use a baseball metaphor, life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect it so we need to be ready for anything at any time. Thinking back over the years following April 12 this morning a label I remember hearing years ago comes to mind, "New Normal" which was used to describe a new way of life because of something that happened unexpectedly and without warning and or preparation. In most cases "new normal" spoke of the adjustment we are forced to make with the sudden loss of a loved one.  

Speaking in baseball terms again, adjusting to "new normal" is like seeing a curve ball for the very first time. You either swing way ahead of the pitches arrival, you don't swing at all believing the pitch is so far out of the strike zone, or you bail out of the batters box and take cover on the ground thinking you were about to be beaned. None of those things happen though as the umpire yells out 'stttrrrriiiiikkkkeee'. You're only hope now is that it isn't strike three being called to add injury to insult as it were. The point is there are things in life we think we can handle and are prepared for that when they do happen to us, everything changes, and nothing is the same ever again leaving us to adjust to a "new normal."

Baseball is just a game but when life throws you a curve ball we are often times left frustrated or angry, anxious and confused as the life we had hoped for, the life we had planned was suddenly changed without notice. For example, writer and hope to be soon Cancer Survivor Mary Jean Iron who is in the midst of fighting her battle with cancer wrote recently in her blog, "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, treasure you, before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest for some rare and perfect tomorrow." This is from someone who has been forced by life to appreciate each and every day as they come as if it were the last. Mary is learning to live one day at a time just as Jesus instructs each of us to do in Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Mary's cancer blind side has caused her to change her perspective of life. Instead of not even thinking much about today, she is learning to treasure the very moments that make up today. Her cancer has for her created a "new normal" that is transforming her into the person God always wanted her to be. She didn't choose the path she is on but she has accepted it with grace and is learning valuable lessons and graciously sharing them with her readers as she is able along the way.

When I read Mary's blog I immediately thought of Psalm 90:12 which says, "So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom." As she is gaining a heart of wisdom she shared a couple of points in her recent blog that only a person dealing with a life threatening disease can capture with such clarity. She writes,

"Treasure your days. You never know how life will change. Slow down. REALLY slow down. Although I have talked endlessly about doing that on this blog, I was a hypocrite in ways, because I was a bundle of energy and stress trying to do too much sometimes even if just for my own family. I have realized I process stress terribly. I hold it all inside and have worried way way too much about things. Don't do that. Don't be strong all the time. It is ok and good to cry. It is ok to say "I am struggling with life" to your husband, your friends, or a therapist, and take time for yourself and to pray and journal and be calm. If you struggle with anxiety, get help. Take care of yourself. Totally reject the culture of perfectionism, competitiveness, and comparison and illusion that is so easy to find everywhere today. Get enough sleep. Take walks. Say no. Or if whatever it is helps calm and center you say yes. Grow closer to God. Build your faith. Take time to pray every day."

She went on to say, "Work hard to find gifts in struggles. God Almighty, this is so difficult when you are in the middle of crap. Really it is and some days I just couldn't (and can't). Sometimes I would set a timer to force myself out of bed. I have been lower than I ever have experienced in my life. I have seen and experienced a whole other level of suffering and hope and pain and strength in that damn chemo room. Often I have heard how strong I am-this is what you say to people facing cancer. But I have always been uncomfortable with that, although I know it is a form of encouragement and I would say the same thing. Let me tell you, I have seen strength through this experience from my fellow companions in the journey through cancer. But what does not being strong look like? It's ok to cry your heart out, and say you can't do it (with whatever you are facing) and don't want to and be mad and angry and sometimes hopeless and desperate."

To sum up Mary's thoughts from scripture in how to best process our "new normal" when life gives us an unexpected 'gut punch' we do well to remember the promises of God, like the one we find here in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Oh, and don't forget the invitation of Jesus when you are worn out from this life, Matthew 11:28-30 invites us as well, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Life does in fact dish out more than we can bear at times but know this today, loved one, God will never give you more than He can bear! Nothing is too difficult for God! Why not accept His invitation, cast all your cares on Jesus today knowing He cares about you! You can make it today because you don't have to go it alone. God Himself has promised to be with you and to never leave you nor forsake you. Talk about a "new normal."

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

1 Corinthians 10:13

I LOVE YOU!


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"The Beauty of Pain"

PastorMikeOsthimer1

"A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance"


Ecclesiastes 3:4


The wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3 is that of contrast, almost seemingly opposites. I remember writing the words down on paper years ago, "Beauty and Pain, to the extent you enjoy one you will also experience the other." They are inseparable as the only way to truly know and understand beauty is to also experience pain. Think about it, how would we know what sweet was like on our pallet if we didn't also know the taste of bitter. The comparisons are endless. April 12 will always be a day filled with beauty and pain for our family and some dear friends.

Beauty, in that it was on April 12, 2012 my wife and I received the news that we were going to be grandparents for the very first time. Beauty, as mine and my wife's best friends daughter Danielle, who also happened to be our daughter Bree's best friend was born on April 12, 1987. And like I said, April 12 is also a day of pain in that our friends daughter who would be celebrating her birthday today went home to be with Jesus on August 20, 2004 at just 17 years old leaving us to celebrate her birthday year after year without her here. As I think about Danielle today, there is beauty in knowing she will forever be my favorite "What If". More pain, as it was on April 12th that my dad went home to be with Jesus in 2014. Like I said, to the degree you experience one you will also experience the other.

As I think about the paradox of April 12 the words of Pascal come to mind. "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."

There is a richness to Pascal's words and yet I think like so many others I have come to enjoy equally as well a quote that is attributed to him that in fact he never said, "There is a God shaped void in every human heart that only He Himself can fill." I truly believe that statement is true but as the years pass I am just as convinced that when we truly love someone created in the image of God and we become separated by death there remains a void in our hearts that no one else can fill. At least I know that to be true for me regarding Danielle and my Dad and Mom. Enough time has passed since their deaths that if something or someone could replace them or fill the empty spot in my heart I would have already discovered it. With regard to those I love who are no longer here with me, there is a you shaped void in my heart that no one else can fill.

The bible tells us, "All things work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to His purposes." In the midst of the pain April 12th brings I have discovered beauty in that grief changes us. It sculpts us, transforming us into someone who understands more deeply, who hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately and loves more openly. Yes, if you look closely through the tears you find beauty amidst the pain.

Cathe Laurie, wife of Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie wrote a blog regarding the celebrating of her son Christopher's birthday that fell on Easter Sunday. Christopher, like Danielle was killed in an automobile accident, his in 2008, and on his birthday anniversary this year she wrote, "This is the gift we were given, in wrapping too horrible to imagine. I couldn't bear to open it, but tenderly wrapped in all those tear-stained tissues was a shining gem…faith more precious than gold, tested in the fire. What we believed was real. Jesus is real. He was with us in the furnace. His Word is true." Cathe's words captured so eloquently the beauty and pain that comes with discovering God's purposes through the life as well as the death of someone you love.

Speaking of beauty and pain. Author J.K. Rowling, in her book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone writes, "To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever." I cant speak for the rest of the world or even those closest to me but for me I have found that statement to be true. I feel comfortable in saying I believe Sherrill, Danielle's Mom feels the same way too. For Sherrill to know her daughters last words to her the morning Danielle stepped into eternity were, "I Love You Mommy" as she raised her head from the sofa and looked at her mom with her radiant smile as Sherrill headed out the door for work has provided a mothers heart protection forever. Yes, loved one, there is beauty in pain if only we would look at it and not turn away. The beauty in pain is discovered in that it sensitizes us to the world around us and causes us to cry out to God, the only one who can calm the storms that rage within us as we wrestle with the loss of the ones we love.

April 12th will forever be a bittersweet day but the good news is that with each passing year it becomes less bitter and much more sweeter as we choose to focus on the beauty knowing the pain is inevitable. So many wonderful lessons to go along with a lifetime of memories still being made until we all meet again one day. The words to a song by Garth Brooks titled, "The Dance" play in my head today and capture in many ways what my heart feels. The words go like this,
"Looking back on the memory of

The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance"

The beauty has become two-fold these days as more grand babies have been born and the beauty of life is magnified through each one of them in ways I could have never imagined. Yes, I am glad that I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, But I'd have had to miss the dance, and oh what a dance it has been.

I live today with hope, the same hope I had with each memorial service we have celebrated. It's not goodbye, its see you soon! Until then I recall to my mind...


"Thou hast turned my mourning to dancing for me, Thou hast loosed my sackcloth, And girdest me with joy."


Psalm 30:11 (YLT)


I LOVE YOU!


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"Our Understanding God"

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"For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."

Psalm 103:14

There is an Arabian Proverb that captures for me the pleasure each of us can enjoy as we spend time with God, "A friend is one to whom one can pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keeping what is worth keeping, and, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away. After all, it was Jesus Himself who said, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15).

Christian singer and songwriter, Benny Hester wrote a song around the time I first began my own spiritual journey that has helped me better understand the heart of God for His children that still encourages my heart to this day when I sing it in my head, as it ceased receiving air play decades ago now, ha! The song goes like this,

In the beginning, I never knew just how much I really needed you,
More than a friend, someone I could talk to, you've changed me in so many ways.

Nobody knows me like you,
You put your arms around me, you bring me through,
There's many times I don't know what to do,
Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like you.

All of my secrets, to you, I tell,
You saw each time that I slipped and fell,
And all of my faults, yes, you know them well...but you've never turned me away,
No, no, no.

Nobody knows me like you,
Put your arms around me, you bring me through,
There's many times I don't know what to do,
Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like you.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Walking in your presence is where I wanna be,
You said in your word...you said that you would lead me,
Yes, I love you, oh, I really love you,
Go anywhere, as long as I know you'll be there, (I'll be there)
As long as I know you'll be there. (I'll be there)

All of those nights that I was afraid, I stood on the promises you have made,
The way that I act, sometimes I am ashamed...but you've never turned me away,
No, no, no.

Nobody knows me like you,
Put your arms around me, you bring me through,
There's many times I don't know what to do,
Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like you,
Nobody knows me,
Nobody knows me like you,
Put your arms around me, you bring me through,
There's many times I don't know what to do,
Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like you.

Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like you. (Song ends).

Its so true, loved one, nobody knows you like God knows you! And equally true, nobody loves you like God loves you! And because God cares about you and what you care about He invites you to bring your cares to Him. The writer of Hebrews says it best, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Take advantage of the fact that God Himself is available for you today, and that He has extended an invitation to experience the freedom that comes from…

"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

1 Peter 5:7

I LOVE YOU!


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"Open The Box"

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"and human hands can't serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need."

Acts 17:25 (NLT)


When I consider that Jesus does in fact satisfy every need, a story comes to mind that was told of a man who died and went to heaven. Once there, an angel took him on a tour to explore his new, eternal home. The man saw incredible things of wonder and beauty. Eventually he came to an expansive warehouse that extended as far as the eye could see. When he looked inside, it he noticed it was filled pallets of boxes of all shapes and sizes from floor to ceiling and each box had the same sticker on the outside that read: "NAF." There were billions of boxes, more than he could possibly count. Curious, the man asked the angel, "What are all those boxes doing here in this warehouse?" "Oh," said the angel, "these are the many gifts God desired to give to you and His children throughout the ages, but see those stickers on every box? 'NAF' stands for 'Never Asked For.'" The angel went on to say, "Those boxes are filled with the answers to prayers that were never prayed."

James 4:2 is most likely the basis for the story above as James writes, "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." Have you ever thought or said, "I'm just too tired to pray." I think most of us would answer that with a 'yes', as often times life seems to keep us so busy we find little or no time for quality prayer. We get so worn out from living we often times find ourselves too tired to do anything, especially to pray. Can you recall the last time you spent a significant amount of time alone with God?

"The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" we read in this exchange between Jesus and Peter in Mark 14:32-40 (NLT). Mark recounts the event, "They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, "Sit here while I go and pray." He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. "Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Couldn't you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn't keep their eyes open. And they didn't know what to say."

The words, "And they didn't know what to say" slay me every time I read them. Even though the dialogue was between Jesus and Peter, I am often convicted and saddened because I know more times than not it could just as well be me who Jesus was speaking too. Convicted as I have used the excuse many times, "I'm just too tired to pray" when in reality I am many times just too lazy, period. Seriously, no one was more busy than Jesus when He walked this earth and who had every reason to be tired at the end of each day and yet prayer is what He did most of all and for good reason. Prayer wasn't a chore or a duty for Jesus, prayer was a relationship He enjoyed with His Father, it was the time where Jesus could be alone with His Dad and where He Himself could cast all His cares and lay His burdens down. (1 Peter 5:7).

We all tend to make time for what is important in our lives, tired or not. If you can relate to this, don't let the conviction of your lack of prayer keep you from God, let the conviction of God's Spirit regarding your prayer life cause you to run to God. The disciples came to understand that Jesus prayer life was His source of power and pleasure when He walked the earth and is why they asked Him, "Lord teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). After all, is there really anything that is more important in each of our lives that should keep us from spending meaningful time alone with God each day? Each of us will answer that question today by the choices we make. My prayer for me and you is we choose Jesus!

Think of all the things you need to do today and ask yourself, "will what I do today matter, say ten, fifteen, twenty-five, fifty or even one hundred years from now? Don't let life get you so busy that you invest your best effort and energy into things that won't make a difference in the long haul and leave you too tired to spend time seeking the very one who graciously gives us the breath we need to live today. Remember, prayer changes everything, especially the people who pray! Don't forget, prayer is never wasted when its spent enjoying the presence of God. After all, it's His gift to us!


"You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Psalm 16:11 (NLT)

I LOVE YOU!


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"Whats Love Got To Do With It?"

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"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."


John 13:35


Love is to be the distinguishing mark of all believers living in the world the apostle John writes to us. John, the apostle of love as he is known goes so far as to say in 1 John 4:8, that if you do not love others, you do not know God. In 1 John 4:12 the apostle John tells us why when he writes, "No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us." What's love got to do with it? When we love we make the invisible God visible. We might be the only bible the world ever reads. Pushing on ahead in verse 13 John writes, "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." So, what's love got to do with it? When we love, the love of God confirms to us that God is living in us. The proof is living inside us seeking to get out. As we read verse 14, John gives us more insight as to what love has to do with it when he pens these words, "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world." Gods love convinces us that Jesus is the Savior of the world by allowing us to see how extreme God is in all He does. His love, His wrath, His forgiveness were all carried out in extreme ways. Think about it, though our sins are like scarlet He shall make them whiter than snow. Thats extreme! And we get the opportunity to do acts of extreme love each day drawing attention to God's extreme love each time we do.

In verse 15 John tells his readers, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." So, the natural question is, "Whats love got to do with it? Gods love makes us aware of His presence in our lives, and as we grow in Gods love we become more keen to His voice and His presence in our lives. We experience the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit abiding in us. Read verse 16, "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." So, whats love got to do with it you might be thinking? Gods love comforts us enabling us to comfort one another. Love really is the most powerful force in all the world, more powerful than hate. Love really does conquer all!

John, the apostle of love just keeps the thought of what's love got to do with it going as he continues on in verse 17. "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." Gods love empowers us by giving us confidence. Confidence, as Jesus is glorified in heaven God's Word reminds us that we are too even now in this world. The point John makes is that God sees us now on earth as we are in heaven. Ephesians 2:6 (NLT) puts it this way, "For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus."

In verse 18, John pens one of the most profound thoughts about the power of Gods love, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." So, the million dollar question still to be asked is, what's love got to do with it? Simply put, Gods love overpowers our fears. We must remember that fear involves judgment and those who are not trusting Jesus for their salvation are rightfully fearful.

The final point John makes regarding what's love got to do with it is found in verses 19-21, "We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." John saves the best for last. We love God because He first loved us. Our love is simply a response to God's love for us. Isn't that what John 15:16-17 reminds us when Jesus says, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another."

Keep this in mind today, loved one. We are never more like God than when we love, for God is love. Charles Spurgeon once said regarding John 15, "I'm glad God called me before the foundation of the world ever was and before I was even born for I'm sure He wouldn't have called me afterwards." Just think, there has never been a moment in eternity when God has not loved you!

"For Yahweh is good, his faithful love is everlasting, his constancy from age to age."

Psalm 100:5 (NJB)

I LOVE YOU!


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"Burn Your Ox Cart"

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"he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."


James 1:8 (NIV)


James, the half brother of our Lord understood what has become to be known as, "The Law of Psychological Acceptance" which states, "When, in our minds, we habitually tolerate sin, our senses become dulled, thereby diminishing our ability to discern good from evil. Consequently, when faced with choices between the two, we may well choose evil over good, without the slightest awareness of sin or tinge of conscience." The point is simple, the further an individual or society moves away from the true worship of God the more likely that individual or group are to do exactly what the book of Isaiah said happened to the nation of Israel. When truth ceases to be your guide eventually you will begin to "call evil good and good evil." (Isaiah 5:20).

The million dollar question for today might just be, how do we prevent history from repeating itself, and how do we keep ourselves from becoming double minded? 1 Kings 19 gives us one of the best examples in all the Bible. Elijah, the prophet of God at the time is coming to the end of his ministry and has been instructed by the Lord to anoint Elisha who is to become the next prophet called of God to speak on His behalf.

When Elijah finds Elisha he throws his mantle or cloak on him without a word. Elisha would have understood the significance of this event as only the prophets wore these particular kind of mantle's or cloaks that served to make them identifiable to the people as they ministered. What Elisha did next provides a great lesson for us today as to how to avoid being double minded in our walk with God.

Read the interaction for yourself here in 1 Kings 19:19-21, "So he (Elijah) departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, "Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?" So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant."

I love Elisha's heart for the Lord reflected here. If Elisha would have ever been tempted to turn back and cease from following the call of God upon his life he would find it nearly impossible to do as he didn't just flee the temptation, he burned it. If Elisha ever toyed with the idea of what life would be like if he had just stayed home on the farm he'd never know as he slaughtered the yoke of oxen and he used his ox cart for firewood to cook the meat. In other words, there was no turning back as there was nothing to turn back too. You have to love this kind of devotion! 

Here we have in scripture is a life fully devoted to following God. Elisha did everything in his power to minimize his ability to be double minded in his devotion to the Lord by simply be eliminating the options. For Elisha there was no turning back because there was nothing there to turn back too. You and I do well to do the same, loved one. Eliminate the options, make turning back virtually impossible and for good reason. There is a peace that comes with not having options, as when there is only one way to go its much easier to focus all of our attention on it.

In Luke 9:62 we read Jesus own thoughts on double mindedness, "But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." God knows how easily we get stuck wavering between choices that are before us because He knows we tend to walk by sight and not by faith when we are tired, frustrated or having a lapse of faith. 

We cant back into our future and its hard to drive a car by trying to navigate only using the rear view mirror. To move forward in life in a way that honors the Lord we do well to take heed of the apostle Paul's words that we read in Philippians 3:12-14, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

If you desire to eliminate double mindedness keep your eye on the prize and severe your ties with your old way of life. Its much easier to flee the temptations in our lives if there is no temptation to return too. Determine today to follow the model of Elisha and cut off all access to the old life, slaughter the oxen as it were, and burn your ox cart and do what the writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts us to do…


"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Hebrews 12:1-2


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Easter Every Day!

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"But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him."


Mark 16:6


Don't let the title mislead you to believe that Jesus dies daily so that He can rise again. Scripture is perfectly clear that Jesus died once and for all and then after rising from the dead He sat down at the right hand of the Father never to die again! Our salvation is eternally secure as it was finished at the Cross of Calvary where Jesus shed His blood for us. That's why Jesus death and burial and resurrection are called the good news of the gospel. Jesus not only died for us, He rose again for us too!

Let me ask you a serious question today. Do you need hope, loved one? If so, know this, Jesus is still risen! And not only is Jesus risen still, "… He (Jesus), because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25).

You might be thinking, what does the resurrection of Jesus do to give me hope? Jesus resurrection from the dead means nothing is impossible for God and because of that, no matter what you are up against today you can have hope, but not just any kind of hope. Hope isn't exclusive to the Christian faith, only hope that doesn't disappoint is. What I mean is, people hope for a lot of things that don't necessarily work out the way they might hope. Things like hoping for a new car, a new house, a better paying job, good weather, good health, a good marriage, good kids and the list goes on and on. You name it and people hope for it. The unfortunate thing about misplaced hope is that it will leave you often times both disillusioned and disappointed.

There is only one hope that won't leave you disappointed, friend, and that is the hope we place in God. God Himself stands by that promise and He proves it over and over again throughout the scriptures. Listen to what the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah, "Kings will be your foster-fathers and their princesses, your foster-mothers. They will fall prostrate before you, faces to the ground, and lick the dust at your feet. And you will know that I am Yahweh; those who hope in me will not be disappointed." (Isaiah 49:23 (NJB). Read that last part again out loud, "those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Because Jesus is risen, and because He forever lives to make intercession for us we really can enjoy the benefits of Easter Every Day! All that is required of us is faith, and not even faith in ourselves or faith in our faith. To enjoy all the benefits of Easter everyday start your day by placing your hope in God.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken."

Psalm 62:5-6 (NIV)

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"Singled Out For Grace"

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"But go, tell His disciples--and Peter--that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."

Mark 16:7


Mark 16:5-6 gives us yet another eyewitness account of that first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Its obvious the women expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus there in the tomb. Yet, coming to the tomb and finding the stone had been rolled away Mark writes, "And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him."

The message was clear. God's not dead, He has risen just as He said! The unbelievable just became believable and the women excited and yet afraid hurried from the tomb to go tell Jesus disciples and Peter that Jesus would meet them in Galilee and there they would see for themselves that Jesus was in fact, alive and well. Did you notice that Mark tells us that the man dressed in white apparel gave clear instructions to the women to go tell Jesus disciples and Peter? Wasn't Peter a disciple? Why then would the angel single Peter out apart from the other disciples. I believe its because at this point in his life Peter felt like anything but a disciple. Remember Peter's last encounter regarding Jesus was one of denial, and not once or twice, but three times.

Imagine the scene here. Matthew's gospel tells us that while Jesus was being beaten and mocked, "…Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying." And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!" And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you." Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly."

Peter "wept bitterly" Matthew writes in his gospel. I don't know if you can relate to Peter but I can. I know first hand what its like to let down people I love, and what its like to fail miserably and to weep bitterly. Its painful to say the least and Peter was living with the memory of his last encounter with Jesus before His crucifixion as being one of betrayal. That would be hard for anyone to live with and Jesus, knowing the hearts and thoughts of all mankind understood and that is the very reason I believe He singled Peter out from the other disciples. Peter was singled out for grace. God knows what we all need to remember, "Those who seemingly deserve grace the least need it most".

If you feel like you have blown it once too often and that there is no way the Lord could possibly forgive you, think again. Peter's story here can be your story today if you need it to be. God showed Peter grace when Peter needed it most and the good news of the gospel is, what was true for Peter can be true for you and me too. Grace is God's one way love that He offers to us as a gift completely unmerited. Maybe you haven't blown it lately like Peter here but I'm sure you know someone who has. 

Let God use you, friend, single someone out for grace today and go tell them Jesus is risen just as He said. Let them know they too can find forgiveness in Jesus Christ just like you and me, and that because He lives they can live too. No one needs to live with guilt or shame, failure or regret. The Cross and empty tomb are proof! There really is nothing like being singled out for grace!


"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ"

Ephesians 3:8

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"Don't Worry Be Happy"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"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, those are the lyrics to a hit 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 (polite word for sinful) 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 too. I'm 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 can't 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. 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 trust God, I learn to cast my cares upon Him knowing He cares for me. If I don't believe that God cares for me then I will attempt to carry burdens until they wear me out and rob 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 overwhelmingly will support that over 90% of all physical aliments treated for in hospitals began as emotional stress. Worry, and anxiety and stress are deadly and is exactly why God invites us to bring all 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, just 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. Did you get that, everything, and I mean everything must first pass through the filter of God's love before it reaches us. That is so 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. Thats double coverage! If you believe that then don't worry today, be happy! 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 one by one at Jesus feet in prayer and with thanksgiving knowing God is listening and there to help you, make your requests known to God knowing all the while, 

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

Philippians 4:19

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"Hold Still"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Philippians 1:6


"Easter Changes Everything" isn't just a theme for a day, loved one, "Easter Changes Everything" is the reality that there is no obstacle in this life that can keep God from accomplishing His will in our lives. Some times we just have to be patient and hold still and let God bring His Word to pass. If you and I had been alive at the time of Christ the news of Jesus resurrection might not have even reached us yet since the only means of communication back then was word of mouth. There were no computers, no cell phones, you couldn't post up on your social media page nor send a group text to all your friends.

Many who had hoped Jesus was the promised Messiah but had witnessed His brutal beating and crucifixion were left disillusioned and confused by what took place, their dreams of the future were now shattered, leaving them feeling like they were now without hope in this world. Read the Gospel account and you understand that no one anticipated a risen Savior or a living Lord. No one ever thought they would go to the tomb where they laid the Lord's body and find it empty. That is, until they saw for themselves and the unbelievable became believable, as the words, "He has risen just like He said" came to their minds then were spoken out loud. The veil of despair was being lifted by the power of hope.

We can too easily forget that suffering can be intense, especially when trying to process the pain of losing someone you love. Sadness and sorrow, death and dying have a way of clouding our thinking, making remembering anything important nearly impossible. It's one of the reasons Jesus told His disciples before His crucifixion that when He ascended back to heaven He would ask our Heavenly Father to send another, another like Jesus who would be with us, and in us and to remind us of all the things Jesus had said.

Jesus knew then what He knows now. We tend to forget the things we need to remember when life hurts and we suffer loss and especially when what we are going through makes no sense to us at all. The good news is, God understands and He cares! You might not understand what I am about to write here but I pray you will ponder this thought long and hard today. Everything God does, He does with and from an eternal perspective. God is always working with the big picture in mind and is why we often miss out on what God is doing in our lives. We are way too short sided, much to here and now in our way of thinking. There is no doubt about it, the disciples were short sided that first Easter morning and it wasn't until they understood for themselves the power of the resurrection that their hope was restored and their lives changed.  

I don't know what you are facing today, loved one, I have no idea the trials you are up against in your life. But one thing I am certain of is this, Easter Changes Everything! Because Jesus is alive I know for fact your past can be forgiven, your present situation can be managed and that your future can be secure. How do I know that you might be thinking? Simply put, "God didn't bring you this far only to bring you this far." That's what Philippians 1:6 reminds us, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ". If not even death could stop Jesus, shouldn't everything else be easy by comparison to overcome! Experience the power of the resurrection today! Celebrate the victory that is ours in Jesus Christ! Put your hope and trust in God!


"who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began"

2 Timothy 1:9

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"The Proof Is In The Blood"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,"

Luke 24:45-46

What makes Good Friday so good many will be asking today. The answer is that on the Cross we get to see God's best, God at His best when man is at his worst. Everything good and glorious is on full display on the Cross. The depth love will go in redeeming the sinner. The compassion of Christ in how He preferred others over Himself. The list goes on and on.

What did Jesus do that He had to die? The scriptures only tell us that He loved people, He taught people, He healed people, He fed people. The scriptures never tell us Jesus did anything wrong and yet He died a terrible death. John 3:16 puts it into perspective, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Jesus died so we could have a choice. Love is always a choice. John 3:17-21 sheds light on what is beginning to happen, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

In John 11 we read of the death of Lazarus. John 11:4-5 tells us, "When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Love always brings things to life and thaw exactly what Jesus does here. The proof of love is made real when Jesus tells Martha in verses 25-26, "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus is making it very clear that He is the only way to God, and that in Him is life! Verse 45 tells us what is happening, "Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him." Love is attractive, it draws, or at least it seeks to draw. We see in John 11 that Jesus continues to teach the people, love the people, tell the truth to people and what does it get Him? Trouble, envy, jealousy, and hatred from those who love the darkness instead of the light..

Further down in verses 46-53 of chapter 11 we read, "But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. "

Why did they plot to kill Jesus? He only came to love and to teach and to give life? Matthew 23 gives us a glimpse wherever love is on display, hatred can't be too far away. Speaking to the Scribes and Pharisee's in verses 1-5. "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments." What Jesus tells us is that everything but love was on display in the lives of these religious leaders.

Mark your bible and go back and read this through. Jesus ticks off the religious leaders. He begins to make it very clear from His teaching that they are wrong, that they are in the dark and that He is the light. Jesus begins to correct them and they hate it. They hate it like you and I hate it. People love teaching that speaks of wealth and health and prosperity, but teaching that says like Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

We want options! God gave us options. In Genesis 3 God planted a tree and gave us the choice to listen to Him or not to listen. Man's love or lack of it has been on display ever since. Love is always a choice. God gave us then and He gives us now the option to choose. Without a choice it wouldn't be love. Revelation 3:20 tells us Jesus is standing at the door of our heart and is knocking. We have a choice to open the door and let Him or not. Jesus never pulls a seal team 6 on us and kicks the door in. The door is locked from within not out. Some people will say, "Jesus is too narrow minded". Its as if He is saying here, "it's Yahweh or the highway." I appreciate what Damian Kyle has said, "I'm don't believe God is narrow minded in that He has made only one way by which men must be saved. I am just thankful that God has made a way for sinners like us to be saved."

Yes, loved one, Jesus took it to a whole new level in John 14:6 when He said, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." That's it, He crossed the line. Jesus made a big mistake here gang. He claimed exclusivity. The Jews were wrong about life and how to live. People weren't stupid in Jesus day. They understood then what we understand today. All roads do not and have not ever lead to the same destination. They never have and they never will!

So what do you do when you don't like what you hear? You have two choices just like the people in our story here.
1. You agree with Jesus and you do what He says. You surrender your life to Him and follow Him.
2. You shut Him up; you tune Him out. You crucify Him. Yes, you crucify Him. You treat Him as if He were dead!

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him. For this purpose He came into the world. He was born to die. Matthew 26:2, "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified." Mark 10:32-34 tells us, " Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."

I hate calling this time when Christ went to the Cross Good Friday because it was anything but good. It was terrible. Yet, Good Friday is good for me and you as each year we are reminded again of the proof of God's love and just how far Jesus went to purchase our freedom.

Matthew 27 clearly shows us Jesus was innocent. Again, what had He done wrong? He loved the people, He taught the people, He healed the people, He fed the people. He was good all the time. He was a friend to sinners even at His arrest. We read in Matthew 26:50-55, "But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.

Matthew 27 gives us the best evidence of innocence when we read that even his betrayer had a change of heart. In verses 3-4 Judas feels bad for what he did. "Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!"

Then we have Pilate's wife in verse 19, "While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him." And Pilate himself in verse 24, "When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."

Pilate says in verse 22, "Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said to him, "Let Him be crucified!" In verse 23 he asks why, "Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!" Like I said, the Cross reveals the best of God and the worst of man. After all, what had Jesus done wrong? He loved, He taught, He healed, He fed them. He had done nothing wrong at all.

Love doesn't quit and Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus had no sin in Him and that is what makes His arrest, His trial, and His crucifixion so terrible. Jesus had not done anything wrong. And yet a trial is what God chose to reveal His love to us while exposing the heart of mankind.

They wanted to humiliate him. They arrested Him publicly. Matthew 26:47-50 makes this clear, "And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him."

They spit on Him. He just told them He was the Son of God and they spit in His face. Read verse 67, "then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands," It didn't end there as they scourged Him in hopes of beating the truth, a confession out of Him. Matthew 27:26 reveals the worlds choice between love and hate. "Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

It only gets worse as they stripped Jesus naked to humiliate Him further. Verse 28 says, "And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him." Then they twisted a crown of thorns upon His head to mock Him and beat Him in the head with a stick. Verse 29 reveals the evil being played out, "When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"

And the moment of truth where for all eternity the Cross would reveal the worst of mankind and the best of God as Jesus love was put on display for all the world to see. They crucified Him. Verse 35 records the painful moment. "Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots."

Why did Jesus have to die? Why so many specific details surrounding Jesus life, the way He lived and even how He was treated as they prepared to nail Him to the Cross. The answer is, to fulfill the very purposes of God. That's right, the very purpose of God. No one took Jesus life from Him, He laid it down willingly.

In John 10:17-18 Jesus makes it perfectly clear, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

You might say that Jesus went through hell so we go to heaven! The Reverend Billy Graham said this regarding Good Friday, "God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, "I Love You."

The message of Good Friday is that God turned His back on His own Son, so He wouldn't have to turn His back on me and you. As Good Friday services take place all around the world today may the love of Jesus be on display for all the world to see. And may we be reminded once again that eternal life is a gift, one we must choose to either accept it or reject it, the choice is ours as our response is our opportunity for the world to see the proof of our love!

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

John 1:12-13

I LOVE YOU!


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"Small Steps Equal Huge Success"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass. But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations."

Psalm 102:11-12


I appreciate a good word picture and in Psalm 102 the view the psalmist is seeing isn't that he is living longer but actually that our lifespan is getting shorter as each day passes as he watches his shadow stretch across the landscape. As King David watches his shadow in the late afternoon he is reminded of just how small he is and how great God is.

As I read psalm 102 I was reminded of when our dog Chloe was just a puppy and was playing out in the backyard of our home. My wife turned on the flood lights so Chloe could see better as it was pitch black, when suddenly she saw her shadow against the back wall. She froze solid in fear and would not move as the dog she saw in the shadow appeared to be much larger than her, not realizing the whole time it was her own shadow.

Oh how funny it was to watch her take step after step and to watch the shadow mimic her every move and cause her to ultimately lay down in fear of her own shadow, tucking her tail and then running back into the house to find safety.

We need to remember that we are small and our God is big and that time for us this side of heaven is very limited. So short is the span of our life the bible says our lives are like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.

Don't let the enormity of life discourage you as you set out to live life to the fullest today. Heed Jesus words in Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Learn to take life one day at a time is what Jesus is communicating.

A good friend and fellow pastor sent me a text message to let me know that he had met his New Year resolution for the year and that it was still only March! He said he had wanted to lose five pounds this year. He was so happy and I congratulated him the next time I saw him. I said kiddingly, "way to go, aim low and hit it every time". He said that was exactly his method of success. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. His method taught me a very valuable lesson I'm trying to apply each day (not year, Ha) of my life.

Each of us will accomplish far more today, hit way more goals this year and live with greater daily success if we set little goals each day and then set to accomplish them. While most of the world has already given up on reaching their goals for 2018, my friend is already moving on to other little goals that are motivating him to even greater successes this year.

My friend has learned the secret that, "little's make Bigs" and you and I can too. Its like the old saying, "how do you eat an elephant? The answer is, "one bite at a time". Maybe you have heard the old saying, "the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step." Its true! Take that first step today. I read another great motivational quote that said, "Its hard to steer a parked car", implying you have to put it in gear to get going!

We don't have to waste another day! Begin each morning in prayer asking God for a goal, His goal for your life, just for today, and then set out to accomplish it. Then tomorrow when you wake up, get up and pray again, and then set out and do the same thing all over again. What you will find in no time is a string of victories under your belt, littles that the Lord is using to make big advances in your life and in this world for His name sake. The key to our motivation is to know the time is short, the shadows are long and the opportunities to glorify God are great!

"For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."

Zechariah 4:10

I LOVE YOU!

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