Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"Happiness Really is a Choice"





"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men"

Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)


God has not called us to be the best at anything, but He has called us to give our best at everything! Mediocrity is never rewarded in scripture. Mark 12:30-31 puts it in perspective when Jesus says, "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Not only does God deserve our best, He commands it because He knows we have the ability to succeed at what He calls us to do. Remember, what God calls you too, He will see you through!


Growing up my Dad would periodically share with my brother and sisters and I that as our father he didn't care if we won or lost in whatever we chose to do in life, but what mattered most to him and what he did care about was that we always gave whatever we started, our very best effort. He would share with us that one of the best ways to avoid regret and enjoy more happiness in life is to always do your very best. My dad made the connection between happiness and the choices each of us would make and he wasn't even a scientist!


I think my dad understood what behavioral scientists concluded in that happiness is always a choice. Scientists studying brain activity can see clearly that once a decision is made the mind can rest. Making decisions doctors concluded reduces worry and anxiety. Indecision is the enemy of every child of God. Most have heard the expression, "an idle mind is the devils playground" and its true. Its why the apostle Paul instructs us in Ephesians chapter 6 to put on the helmet of salvation to protect our minds from the enemies attacks and writes in Philippians 4:8 to choose what we think about, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."


In 1 Kings 18 we read the famous story of the prophet Elijah confronting the 450 prophets of Baal. Elijah, knowing that their double mindedness was leading to their ultimate demise challenged the people to make a decision.1 Kings 18:21 tells us, "And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word." Here is just one example in the Bible where indecision can be a death sentence. God knows we can't be our best or give our best in life to anything or anyone we that we approach half heartedly.


I think James, the half brother of our Lord understood best from his own personal experiences that happiness is a choice and our choices determine the degree of happiness we enjoy in life. James 1:5-8 puts it like this, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."


Here is a recipe for a happy day. In choosing happiness daily make your choices prayerfully, and deliberately, seeking to love God and others wholeheartedly. Amen!



"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,"



Psalm 146:5 (NKJV)



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"Think Happy"

"I think myself happy"


Acts 26:2 (NKJV)




There is something to be said about positive confession according to scripture. What we think and meditate on has a major impact on our emotional, relational and spiritual health. Proverbs 23:7 states, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he". The wisdom of this Proverb is in knowing that people can act one way outwardly all the while feeling different in their heart. This type of person scripture says is best to be avoided as you will be forced to walk on egg shells not really knowing where you stand.

The second step in this scientific study I was reading earlier this week follows right on the heels of the first step to greater happiness in our lives occurs when each of us determine to count our blessings each day and ask the Lord to help us develop a grateful heart. The second step is to deal with the negative feelings each of us experiences in life. Bad things do happen to good people and processing our emotions is critical to our well being and personal happiness.

Happy people the report stated "Label Negative Feelings" by identifying the various emotions we experience throughout the course of our days. There are basically two types of people in this world. Those who talk openly about their feelings and get out the things that cause them discomfort and stress. Then there are those of us who tend to stuff our emotions and only let them out when they spill over the edge of "our cup". Try to image that your life is a cup that fills up with whatever the day brings our way. Whatever is in our cup when our lives get bumped by others will eventually spill out. Jesus put it like this in Matthew 12:35, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."

So how do we enjoy a greater sense of happiness each day with regard to labeling our negative feelings? Proverbs 4:23 instructs us, "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." Be conscious of what and how you feel. Envision your mind is like a big file cabinet that when you feel negative emotions your brain writes a memo. If we don't file those memos in specific files and put them away by dealing with them in a positive biblical manner, eventually they will just pile up on the desk of our emotional health and rob us of the happiness we long for due to the stress we feel when something remains undone.

Label your negative feelings, be honest with yourself why you feel the way you feel. Putting our feelings into words is the healthiest way to reduce stress and increase personal happiness. Most people can't fully relax when they know they have chores that remain unfinished. God is a God of order we see in Genesis 1-2 and life is best lived when we recognize there is a place for everything and when everything is in its place our minds can rest.

Don't suppress your negative feelings loved one, take each of them by name to God in prayer. File them away at the Cross of Christ and replace them with thoughts like the apostle Paul encourages the faithful to do in the book of Philippians when he writes, 

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things". 

Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)



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"How to Be Happy"


"Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You."



Psalm 143:8




I throughly enjoy reading about scientific discoveries that are really nothing more than biblical truths revealed. Scientists recently were studying "Happiness" and its effects which included determining its sources and solutions, as well as its evasiveness in our lives. After careful study these scientist concluded that if anxiety and depression are a downward spiral, happiness is an upward spiral that can be achieved consistently with certain behavior. You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? It boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude. The point being changing our behavior can reduce and at times even eliminate our need for prescription medication. Four major characteristics were found in the upward spiral to happiness that to me looked more like a bible study than a scientific experiment. I'm focusing on one today and the rest over the next few days so read along.



First on the list it was determined that the foundation to our personal happiness is gratitude. Thats right, happiness begins with gratitude. People who are grateful, those who have a thankful heart tend to be happier than those who are not. Romans 1:21 points out for us that the first step in the downward spiral of unhappiness is ingratitude or thanklessness. The apostle Paul wrote, "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." If the first step in the wrong direction in unhappiness is ingratitude its safe to say then that the right step in the upward spiral is gratefulness. Having a thankful heart. 


Researchers found in their study that the benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable. It's no wonder God has called us to be thankful, to have hearts that are grateful for God and others as its good for our health.



Did you know that being grateful is a sign of your emotional intelligence? The article went on to say, 'It's not finding gratitude that matters most; it's remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful." Did you get that, loved one? It takes less energy to be grateful than it does to be thankless. No wonder so many people are worn out. Being thankful energizes us emotionally and physically.



Do you want to be happy today? Know this, first and foremost, it's your choice, for happiness is always a choice. Choose to be happy today by taking the first step in the upward spiral. Begin by counting your blessings, add them up today and express your gratitude to God for just how good He is. And better still, don't just think happy thoughts today, express them out loud so you can hear them for yourself. Activate your brain, empower your mouth, and encourage your own heart by giving thanks to God and others today! If God inhabits the praise of His people as the Bible teaches, its no wonder that others will be drawn to us when we compliment and appreciate them, expressing genuine thanks for their life. Besides making someone else's day, scientists tell us we might just end up making our own day too.




"He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks."



Romans 14:6 (NKJV)




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God Proves Science Is Right!

"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,"



Hebrews 12:25 (NKJV)




I usually chuckle when I read anything about scientific discoveries that cost millions of dollars and almost as many man hours to learn something that could have been easily known simply by reading the Word of God, and believing it. Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes 1:6 tell us that the sea has paths, "The wind goes toward the south, And turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, And comes again on its circuit" and yet we still have scientist dedicated to determining the direction of the wind at sea. Thank God for men like Matthew Maury, a scientist who was first and foremost a Christian who believed in and trusted the Word of God, determined the paths of the sea simply by reading his bible. The Word of God guided his life and is what led him to make this important discovery.



In an article in the Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p.6, Isaac Asimov writes about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He wrote, "Another way of stating the second law then is: 'The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!' Viewed that way, we can see the Second Law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself, it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our own bodies in perfect working order; how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out - all by itself - and that is what the Second Law is all about."



So, if there is a Second Law of Thermodynamics, there also must be a First Law of Thermodynamics that affirms creation itself. If something is getting more disorderly it had to have a beginning or a starting point. You don't even need to be a scientist to understand that. Psalm 102:25-26, "Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed."



The First Law of Thermodynamics, which by the way is the most firmly established natural law in science, confirms (here is where I always chuckle) the Biblical statement regarding a finished creation, that we read of in Genesis 2:1-2 where God Himself declares, "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done."



Duane Gish Ph.D in his article entitled, Modern Scientific Discoveries Verify the Scriptures wrote, "If it could be shown that somewhere in this universe matter or energy was coming into being from nothing, then this Biblical statement of a finished creation would be falsified. The opposite is true. It has been precisely verified. Once again, a Biblical statement has withstood scientific test."



In John 24, we read about the apostle Thomas, who was also known as "doubting Thomas" (John 20:24-25), "Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Like it is for many people, "seeing is believing" and yet the greatest blessing is, "believing is seeing", as Jesus communicated in His response to Thomas, "And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:26-29 (NKJV).



I thank God for the science community that takes the correct approach to science and observes things that can be seen through the lens of what can't be seen but can be completely understood when received by faith. We don't need science to verify the Bible as the Bible does well in verifying science all on its own. In other words, God doesn't need our help. Trust the Word of God, loved one, take His Word to heart today and save yourself a lot of money and a lot of time. Keep this in mind today, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV). Most of all remember,




"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."



Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)




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True Love Never Dies

 "Love never fails." 

1 Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV) 


In studying the life of the apostle John one commentator noted that though numerous attempts were made to kill the last living apostle in hope that the message of Jesus Christ would die with him their attempts proved to be futile as John lived a long and full life before stepping into eternity. Legend and Perionius say the apostles attempted murder by being boiled in oil was ordered by the Proconsul of Ephesus and carried out in Rome. What they learned then and we know now is true love never dies. 

It was the apostle Peter who penned these words under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Jesus Christ…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 (NKJV). Its passages of scripture like this that help us understand that true love never dies. Though its been 2000 years since our Lord ascended through the clouds back into glory with the promise that in the same manner He would return one day, the love of God for us has not faltered for us and like the apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV), "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Yes, loved one, not even death itself can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus for the simple reason, true love never dies. 

Not only has God loved us with an everlasting love, a love like no other in that God's agape love has no beginning nor end. God created man in the image of God so we too are capable of loving and being loved in similar fashion. Though unlike God, our love does have a beginning but it doesn't have to ever end. 

I think about my Dad and my Mom who have each passed on and are now in the presence of the Lord along with others with whom I have loved in this life. Though my Dad and Mom are both deceased for a few years now, my love for them has not ceased. Actually, their absence from me has caused my love for them to grow even more. Love either grows or it dies, but one thing for sure is love is never neutral. Growing up, my parents would often say time would prove out the strength of love in that one of two things will happen. Its either, "Out of sight and out of mind or distance makes the heart grow fonder." Since true love never dies, I understand now why my love for my parents and others with whom I love and have passed on are more fond to me today than ever before. 

True love never dies even applies to friendships too. Think of friends that you love. You can't forget them even though time and space separate you. You know these type of friends, the ones that when you get together after a long period of time its almost as if no time has elapsed even though it could in reality have been years since your last visit. As soon as you get together you pick up right where you left off. Further proof that true love never dies. 

True love never dies because true love needs no reciprocation. True love is a choice we are free to make, a choice that communicates, I love you because I choose too. Time and space cannot diminish it. Like grace, true love is the gift of unmerited favor. The Bible has much to say about love but nothing communicates this kind of love better than Jesus own words… 

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you…" 

John 15:16 (NKJV)


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"Set Your Tent Towards Jesus"

 "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." 

Philippians 3:13-14 


"Location, Location, Location" is what any good realtor will tell you is the greatest factor in determining a properties value. In Genesis chapter 13 we read the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot whose herds had grown so large they needed to go their separate ways and relocate. Lot must have had this "location" principle in mind as Genesis 13:10-11 tells us, "And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other." 

Location does play an important factor in a properties value and yet are you aware there is another factor more important than location that determines a properties worth? The most important factor in determining your properties value is your neighbors property. It's like this, even if you take care of and develop your property and your neighbor neglects his property and allows it become run down, like it or not, that will cause your properties value to decrease and drop in value. Lot made a huge mistake in that he looked around and made a decision based on what he saw. What he should have done was look up to God and ask for guidance to make the best decision. 

Lot made a mistake that would cost him far more than just the value of his property. He failed to consider his neighbors when making his choice.1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us, "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." Lot had a bigger problem that he couldn't blame on anyone else. A problem that each of us needs to consider and guard against in our own lives when making the decisions we do each day. Genesis 13:12 tells us, "Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom." Lot pitched his tent in such a way that the first thing he saw each morning was the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

One of my favorite pastors has well said, "the ruthlessness of sin requires ruthlessness towards sin." 1 John 2:15-16 warns us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world." Lots problem was his infatuation with Sodom and Gomorrah the same way even believers have an infatuation with the world. Lot needed to do a 180 degree turn and face his tent towards Canaan, to set his eyes on the land of promise, being reminded each morning when he arose, "for we walk by faith and not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

The message is clear today. Be careful where you pitch your tent, loved one, be cautious of what you focus on each day when you step out into the world. What is your motivation today, loved one, what shapes your hopes and dreams of the future, what is your ultimate goal? Is it as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" or is it as Jesus warns us in, Mark 8:36-37, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" 

Corrie Ten Boom once said, "when I look around I get confused, when I look down I get depressed, but when I look up my hearts at rest." You might say it all comes down to which direction we pitch our tent. 


"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 12:2 

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"The Beauty of Confined Spaces"

"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." 

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) 


The literal translation for the word "trouble" in Psalm 46:1 is "tight spot". I don't know about you but I find tremendous comfort in knowing God is my refuge and strength when I find myself in a tight spot. Let me ask you, do you feel stuck today loved one? Do you find yourself in a tight spot? Have you ever had an overwhelming feeling that you are trapped and immediately you start to panic? Though you may not feel like it or are even aware, God wants you to know that you are never alone! Its estimated that somewhere around 320 million people world wide suffer from some form of claustrophobia. Claustrophobia is the fear of having no escape, and being closed into a small space. It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder and often times results in a rather severe panic attack. God does some of His best work in confined spaces, loved one. Let me share just a few examples from scripture for you to consider today in hopes that the next time you find yourself in a tight spot that you quickly realize you are not alone! 

Imagine being chased by an enemy who was seeking to take your life so as to hide yourself from harm you go into a cave with only one way in and one way out. 1 Samuel 24 tells us the story where the anointed future king of Israel, David, was being hunted down by the reigning yet rejected king Saul. David and his mighty men were hiding in the cave of Adullam when suddenly king Saul needed to relieve himself and entered the cave where David was seeking refuge. Talk about being in a tight spot. God used this moment to show David that He, the Lord God was in control and that David could trust Him when he found himself in a confined space. 

The space doesn't get much tighter than what we read about in Daniel 6 where Daniel is thrown into a lions den and a stone is rolled in front of its entrance making escaping a virtual impossibility. Yet Daniel did escape, as he walked out of that lions den the next morning with not even a scratch on him. Imagine Daniel sleeping in the midst of those lions all night long, snuggled up all cuddly and warm like one might sleep on a bear skin rug. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego not only found themselves in a confined space, it was extremely hot too as king Nebuchadnezzar had the fire of the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. Refusing to bow down and worship an idol their fate was sealed. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were placed with their hands and feet bound in the midst of the fire. As the king looked into the fire what he witnessed was astounding. The tight spot of this fiery furnace wasn't just occupied by three men but now four. The king saw not only Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in that furnace, but he also saw one he described like the Son of God. Once again, when we find ourselves in a tight spot, God is there proving once again God does some of His best work when we find ourselves in confined spaces.

Consider a mothers womb we read about in Psalm 139. Does the space get any more confined than that? Yet, it's here in this beautiful confined space that God does some of His greatest work fashioning and forming human life. Yes, beloved of God, not even an unborn child is ever alone! God is there. 

There are probably not too many places that can cause a person to become more claustrophobic than a Roman prison cell like the one that Paul and Silas occupied in Acts 16. Secured in stocks, meaning Paul and Silas were bound hand and foot and then placed in the inner chambers of the prison which was like going to "the hole" as solitary confinement is often referred too it doesn't get more confined than this. Beyond being in a tight spot, God was right there with them at midnight. Proof again that God doesn't sleep or slumber. Yes, loved one, God does beautiful things in confined spaces. As Paul and Silas worshipped the Lord in the early hours of the morning singing His praises the shackles that bound them came off and they were set free both physically and spiritually. 

I saved the best for last. Luke 23 tells us that after Jesus was crucified that a good and just man named Jospeh came and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and upon receiving Him, Jospeh took the Lords body and wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in an empty tomb. I think most would agree that there is nothing on earth more confining than the grave. Yet, it was in this grave where God has done His most beautiful work. It was in Jesus death and burial and resurrection that our salvation was made complete. The confined space of the grave is where God demonstrated His love for humanity, where purchase of our forgiveness was affirmed and the promise of eternal life became a reality. Yes, beloved of Jesus, God does His best work in confined spaces! 

Try to imagine the joy three days later when the women returned to anoint the body of Jesus for burial that He was not there. Jesus had risen just as He said He would and all that remained was neatly folded linen cloth that had been used to wrap the body of Jesus just a few days earlier. Not just piled up or scattered in haste as if someone was fleeing the scene of a crime. No, just the opposite took place as the linen burial cloth was now neatly folded and placed at the head of the tomb as evidence that the One who was wrapped, the one who had been confined by death was confined no more! Jesus is alive, as death could not hold Him down and the good news of the Gospel for us is, if our lives are hidden in Him, we too will never be confined in a space where God cannot deliver us from, not even the grave! 

There really is beauty in confined spaces, loved one. It's where God does some of His greatest work. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself in one. Don't panic, don't look at the limitations, look for the opportunity for God to do beautiful things! He can, He does, and He will. Trust Him! 

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ," 

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV) 


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"Failure Is Not final… Nor Is Success"

 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand."

 Psalm 37:23-24 


Its been said, "life is like a tea bag, Not worth much until you have been through some hot water" Listening to a leadership podcast with our staff yesterday the topic of the teaching was "feedback" and how to use it to grow in ministry and life. The speaker discussed how everything in life offers feedback of some sort if we are listening. 

In reading some notes following our meeting I ran across a statement that said, "successful people don't see failure as final, they simply see it as feedback." I liked that. It went on to say, "its not how hard you fall that matters most, its how high you bounce back after you do that counts! More than just trying to pass along some cliche statement, the author was communicating that each of us are going to experience trials in this life and how we respond to those trials is actually more important than the trial itself. 

Let me ask you beloved, when you fail (and we all will at some point in life), do you quit, do you try harder, do you pretend it never happen, or do you allow the Lord to teach and lead you through it? You see loved one, God often gives the test first and then the lesson follows. We do well to keep in mind that whatever God allows us to come to us, He will give us the strength to see it through. 

Reading about the world renowned famous inventor Thomas Edison, it was noted by his family that he didn't look at his mistakes as an inventor as ever being a negative thing. Once, when his warehouse containing his life's work burned up his wife thought he was going to flip out. To her surprise, she found him sitting on a grassy knoll watching the warehouse engulfed in flames full of all his experiments burning in the night enjoying the moment like someone at a fireworks display. 

When Edison saw his wife frantically searching for him near the burning building, he yelled out to her to come and watch by his side. She really thought her husband had lost his mind as all his hard work, literally decades of ideas, experiments, plans and one of a kind prototypes were all gone in a matter of minutes, and he was just sitting there laughing. 

She said, "Thomas, why are you laughing?" to which he replied, "Look at all my mistakes. They are all gone in a cloud of smoke. Now I can start over intelligently!" You see loved one, Edison didn't see this fire as a mark of his failure. No, beloved, Edison saw the fire as "an opportunity to start over more intelligently". 

Let me remind you today, loved one, that the mercies of God are new every morning, they are new every morning and great is His faithfulness! If you have failed, don't sit there thinking you are through. See it for what it is, an opportunity to experience God's mercy and grace, His refining fire, and with it a chance to rise up and start again, this time more intelligently! "


In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" 

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV) 


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"Because of You"

 "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…" 

2 Timothy 1:6 


The song playing on the radio went something like this, "Because of you I want to go a little faster, push a little longer, try a little harder, work a little smarter… because of you…" Hearing the lyrics to that song brings to mind the book of Hebrews which reminds us in chapter 10, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." Are you aware that none of us in this life can be our best without the help of others? 

Like an athletic coach or a personal trainer at a health club, we need people who will love us and support us, to come along side us and hold our arms up when we are tired. We need others to give us direction when we are lost, and to be there for us when it seems we can't go on and need that extra push. Its a proven of fact we can never achieve more on our own than we can with help. There is strength in numbers! We are better together than we are apart. 

Did you know those are just a few of the benefits of the church that God designed the body of Christ to fulfill? Remember, it is His design in how He would care for the apple of His eye, the love of His life, His bride, the church. God's love is best shown by the way His children love and care for one another. 

Don't go it alone! If you are not involved in a local church let me encourage you today to prayerfully find one where you can get involved and give your life away by using your God given gifts and talents. Let God use you to motivate, to inspire, to encourage, to challenge, and build each other up to assist the Lord by coming along side and helping one another become all that Jesus would have us to be. You never know, the life you change must just end up being your own! 

"you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 

1 Peter 2:5 

I LOVE YOU! 

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"You Were Worth The Wait"

 "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her." 

Genesis 29:20 


Almost everyone loves a good love story. Jacob's love for Rachel is one the best portraits of sacrificial love we see in scripture between a man and a woman. It gives us a glimpse of just how far a man will go when he loves a woman. To think a man would be willing to work seven years to be able to the marry the woman of his dreams. Because love was his motivation the bible tells us the seven years of waiting seemed like only a few days to Jacob. 

1 Corinthians 13 lays out for us the characteristics of love and the very first word used to describe love is patience. Love is patient because love knows the object of love is always worth the wait. Believe it or not, loved one, you are worth the wait to God. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." With a love greater than that of Jacob for Rachel, Jesus has patiently waited for everyone who has ever come to Him as Savior and Lord. 

Nothing this world has to offer compares to being chosen of God, nor comes close to the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Just as Jacob paid the required price to secure Rachel as his bride, Jesus paid the ultimate price to secure you and I as His. Jacob could say he patiently loved Rachel for 14 years before receiving her as his bride but that pales in comparison to the love of God for you and me. 

Consider this today, beloved of God, and try to imagine if its humanly possible how patient Jesus has been waiting for me and you. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us, "The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." Try to wrap your mind around this today, that God has loved you since before time began! Obviously then, you were worth the wait to God! 

"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" 

Ephesians 1:4 

I LOVE YOU!

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"There When You Need Him… and Even When You Don't"

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." 

Psalm 50:15 


Can you recall the last time you really needed God; I mean you REALLY needed God? Often times, maybe more than we would care to admit we fail to recognize our need for God. As long as our lives are agreeable to us, meaning they are going somewhat in the direction we had hoped or planned we don't really see a need for help. We all have a tendency to want to be in control of our lives as long as the choices we make are producing the results we hoped for. 

Often times, we recognize our need for Jesus only when the bottom falls out, when the results we had hoped for go unrealized, or our hopes and dreams are shattered by some circumstance or event. Oh how I wish it weren't so but I know it is many times, at least when it concerns me. It was Saint Augustine who once said, "God wants to give us something, but cannot because our hands are full". It has also been said, "God only pours His grace into empty vessels". How true. 

Know this today, loved one. God is always there for us when we need Him to be and He is there even when we (think) we don't. When we finally get to the end of our rope as it were and we look to God He graciously receives us to Himself. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book "The Problem of Pain", "If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is nothing better now to be had." We serve an amazing God, loved one, who patiently, graciously, and with long-suffering loving waits for us to turn our hearts over to Him. Don't wait until you have heartache to turn your heart over to the Lord. Do it now, do it today. 

Yes, friend, Jesus receives us when we come with our happy heart as well as with our broken heart but what God desires most is that we enjoy unbroken fellowship with Him and that we not wait until our pain drives us to Him. That's what it means to abide in His love. Reading in the book of Numbers I see again that God loves to lead His children around the pitfalls of life and straight into the Promised Land. For the children of Israel it was a land flowing with milk and honey, for you and me as followers of Christ, it is an abundant filled life being led by the Spirit of God. Both were meant to be enjoyed daily walking with God! 

The life of faith is one that says "I trust you Jesus" to lead me and guide me through my day and not just on Sunday. Following Jesus will keep us on our knees daily, recognizing our need for Him in this chaotic world in which we live. But more importantly, we will come to know Jesus in such a profound way because His Word tells us something I pray you consider with all your heart today, and that is, "in His presence is the fullness of joy." 

Not just joy, loved one, but the fullness of joy. Why would we look anywhere else when all our hearts desires can be satisfied in Jesus! Come to Jesus and discover this for yourself. Walk with God today, loved one, and taste and see for yourself that the Lord is GOOD! 

"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame." 

Joel 2:26 


I LOVE YOU! 


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"Loving You Is Easy"

 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." 

John 14:15 (NAB) 


Reading in 1 John 5:3 this morning, I could hear a song playing in my mind I felt that the Lord had quickened there knowing it would lead me on a journey into my Bible that would shine fresh light on His most amazing love for you and me today. As I read the passage in 1 John, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" I was reminded that love might be burdened but love is never burdensome. This is where the song, "Loving You Is Easy" came to mind. 

For God, loving you is easy because His very nature is love. 1 John affirms this truth when John writes, "God is love." In other words God can't help but love as love is not just what He does, it's who He is! Do you realize today that God has always loved you, even before you were born? He has and believe it or not, there has never been a moment in eternity that God has not loved us. As mind blowing as that thought is, we receive it by faith and with joy accept it. After all, He is God, and everything He does is out of this world. 

But what about us? Have you considered today that loving God and loving others was to be easy too? Thats exactly what John is writing here in his epistle and what Jesus said in John's Gospel as well. Loving you is easy because as John puts it, love is not burdensome. When we became followers of Jesus we became followers of the One who loves in all He does. Jesus put it like this in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." Did you catch that? Jesus said we 'will' keep His commandments if we love Him. Jesus statement wasn't a demand on us, but rather it was a promise to us. Love and obedience go hand in hand. 

The point is this. When you love someone, I mean when you really love someone, you want to please them, and you have no problem putting their desires above your own. That's what the numerous songs sharing the same title, "Loving You Is Easy" all seek to convey. That's what God's kind of love communicates too. Just look at the Cross where Jesus gave His life for you and me. Some might say the Cross wasn't easy and thats painfully true but what was easy was the love that motivated and lead Jesus to go to the Cross in the first place. "Loving You Is Easy" is how Jesus went about every day of His earthly life and John not only witnessed it for Himself but He was a recipient and was transformed by Jesus love. 

Keep this in mind today. When we receive Christ, we receive His love too, and as Jesus love grows in us and we grow in Him, His love shapes our thoughts and deeds in the same way love shaped His own. That's why John reminds us that the commands of God aren't burdensome to us because the burdens we bear for God and others we do in love. Now it makes sense as to why Jesus would say, "If you love Me, you WILL keep my commandments" because His love will provide both the motivation and the strength to do so. Jesus is promising us that if we love Him, we will love others too. We can't help it. If Jesus promised us we would keep His commandments each of us can say with confidence today, "loving you is easy" as easy as being loved by God and allowing His love to flow through me and you! 


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

John 13:35 

I LOVE YOU!

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'Flawed Instruments Glorify God"

 "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 


Have you ever talked yourself out of attempting a hope or dream only because you convinced yourself you didn't have what it took to succeed? Its been well said, "its not what you can do that counts most but rather what God can do through you." If only we really believed this, what a difference each of our lives could make in the world. Growing up my dad enjoyed golf and we watched a lot of golf together through the years. One of my dads favorite players was professional golfer Lee Trevino who as a teenager and before he went pro use to hustle guys at the golf course near his home. Lee would take a Coke bottle and wrap it in tons of duck tape making a club out of it and then bet the locals he could beat them in a round of golf using just his homemade club. And you know what? Often times he would, proving flawed instruments can do great things if they are in the right hands. 

Most believers would consider the apostle Paul a success in life on both a personal and spiritual level. As a tent maker by occupation he did well enough in business he was able to cover his expenses as well as his traveling companions as he went about his missionary work. As the human author of almost 2/3 of the New Testament there is no question he was used mightily of the Lord in spreading the gospel around the known world. And yet as successful as the apostle Paul was, he saw himself as a flawed instrument. But for him that was OK because he understood what I hope and pray you and i grow in our own understanding. Flawed instruments glorify God. 

Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." 

Yes, beloved, God does some of His best work through flawed instruments. Jesus said it best in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." The key to our success then in this life is knowing we can do nothing without Jesus, nothing that has any eternal value that is. That's why the apostle Paul penned these words under inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." With God, nothings impossible! The next time you feel as if you don't measure up, or that you don't have what it takes to chase that dream or reach that new goal remember, its flawed instruments that glorify God! 


"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 

2 Corinthians 12:9 

I LOVE YOU! 

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"Jesus, Our Odd's On Favorite"

 "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…" 

1 Corinthians 15:1-6 (NKJV) 


Would you trust someone who could predict the future with 100% accuracy even hundreds of years before the events occurred? And not just His future but yours and mine too! I would hope so as that is exactly what God has done when He gave us the Bible, God's Word. Are you aware that the Bible is filled with prophecy that reveals to us history in advance? God wants us to trust Him and He gives us His Word that He can be trusted. The Word of God proves that everything God says will absolutely come to pass in His perfect time. 

Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman wrote a book entitled Science Speaks. Their book was based on "the science of probability" and the odds of any one man in all of history fulfilling just eight of the 60 major prophecies fulfilled by the life of Jesus Christ. The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 1017. That's 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. 

The authors claim that that if you took 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars you could cover the entire state of Texas two feet deep. I've been there and Texas is a very big state. The chances of Jesus Christ fulfilling just eight of the prophecies concerning His virgin birth would be like covering the state of Texas two feet deep in silver dollars then marking one of them somewhere in the pile and then taking a man and blindfolding him and asking him to find the marked silver dollar on his first attempt. The odds of him finding that marked silver dollar the authors calculated would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. Impossible odds for man but not for God. 

Jesus told His disciples things that had to just boggle their minds and yet He did so to increase their faith in Him as the promised Messiah, to learn to trust His Word in that everything Jesus would say came to pass exactly as He said it would. Consider Matthew 21:1-4, "Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…" Can you imagine the look on their faces when they saw that donkey with a colt tied to her? 

I would have loved to listen to Peter and what he must have been thinking as he made his way down to the shore at Jesus request in Matthew 17:24-27, "When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?" Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you." Can you imagine the look on Peter's face as he pulled in this fish and finding a coin in its mouth? How fast do you think he ran back on his return? 

Yet to me, the most amazing statement Jesus ever made was to the religious Jews in John 2:19-22, "Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said." Nothing tops someone saying they were going to be killed but three days later they would rise from the dead. Only God could do that and the Good News of the Gospel is He did! 

You can trust God's Word, loved one. Everything, and I mean everything Jesus said would come to pass already has or is still yet to happen soon. Know this today, friend, the odds are with you not against you if Jesus is the Lord of your life. You can trust Him to fulfill His Word concerning you. Put your hope in Jesus, rest in His promises and obey His commands as He has your best interest in mind. Remember that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly! I like the odd's of Jesus Words coming true! Don't you? 


"And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" 

Mark 9:7 


I LOVE YOU!

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"Don't run from God, run to Him"

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You." 

Psalm 56:3 


It has been well said, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear" If you note the worlds of Psalm 56 it doesn't say, "if you are afraid", it says "when you are afraid" I will trust in You. I find comfort in that, knowing even King David was afraid at times and instead of denying his fears or running from them he did what I hope and pray you and I do when we become fearful. May we trust in You oh Lord! May we run to You! 

David's fear is not perceived, its real, his enemies were seeking to oppress him as they continually hound his every move. They continually plot against him and align to oust him forcing him to live always looking back over his shoulder as he seeks to move forward in life. As David considers the reality of his current situation in life he is reminded of the sovereign power of God and that noting happens in this life to us apart from the knowledge and permissive will of God. Yes, loved one, everything that happens to us must first pass through the filter of God's love. 

Though there is much man can do to us David does well as we do too, always keeping in mind God can do more. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for our God. David took to heart in his spirit the words Jesus would speak to His disciples hundreds of years latter in Matthew 10:28 when He said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." If you find yourself afraid today for any reason, I encourage you to turn to God not away from Him. Recount the blessings that are ours in Christ, and that God has made a promise to us to never leave us nor forsake us. The good news is even in our wanderings God is fully aware of what we are going through and yes, He even captures all our tears we shed along the way. May you know again today beloved of God, "if God is for us, who can stand against us?" (Romans 8:31). 

Only God can take our fears and turn them into faith, but only we can decide if we will turn to God or turn from Him. Don't let fear turn you away from God, allow your fear to cause you to run to God, to hide yourself in His love. The distance to God is shorter than the distance of fear is from Him. Let God help you turn your worry into worship today! Cast all your cares on Him because He cares about you! Let your choices today reflect your hope, not your fears! Walk with God and like David, put your trust in Him. Like King David, you won't be disappointed. "

Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, Because I have hoped in Your word." 

Psalm 119:74 

I LOVE YOU!

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"What A Difference A Day Makes"

He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see." 

John 9:25 


As difficult for some to remember, there was a day in every believer's life when we didn't believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. What a difference a day makes! Regardless of what someone might have said to us the day before we believed in Jesus as the Christ, we simply didn't "get it" because getting it doesn't come naturally to us but supernaturally by the Spirit of God. Like the blind man in John 9, we were blind to the things of God but when Jesus touched us we too can say, now I see! 

One of the many blessings we enjoy as someone who has come to a saving knowledge of Christ is that for any of us to come to that knowledge it is because God opened our eyes to truth. We would all love to say we were seeking God (and some were) but if the truth be told many of us encountered God more like the apostle Paul did (when he was known as Saul in the book of Acts). We were riding along through life as it were on our high horse until the day came and God knocked us off. Often times the Lord uses some difficult or trying situation or circumstance of life, a hurt, or pain or some devastating loss to get our attention. 

And like a good chiropractor, God gave us an adjustment to straighten us out. Though painful in the moment, afterwards we were capable of walking upright, holding our head up and standing tall in Jesus. It was A.W. Tozer who once said, "The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshiping heart needs none." So true! You and I who have placed our hope in Jesus don't need a reason to worship the Lord today; we already have one, as we see Him as He is. He is God and worthy of all praise! 

The good news today is this. God has given every man a measure of faith and it is faith that opens up our eyes to see the Lord. I liken it to the saying, "believing is seeing, not seeing is believing". If you want to see the Lords hand in your life today let me encourage you to place your hope in God, loved one, Knowing this. No matter what you are going through, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen" (yet). 

The call of every believers life is to walk by faith, faith in God, faith in His promises, faith in His power, and most of all faith in His abiding presence in our lives. Faith makes it possible to worship instead of worry today, loved one, because God is in control of everything! Knowing these things to be true makes it easier then today, to let go and let God. 


"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." 

Matthew 10:29-30 

I LOVE YOU!

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"Don't Get Cold Feet"

"And the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you."

Joshua 3:7 


This week the upper east coast of the United States is experiencing flooding like they have not seen in years. Every step taken is a step of faith as rescue workers have no idea what is or what is not under their feet. Sounds a lot like the scene we read about here in Joshua chapter 3. If you have ever seen the Jordan River in Israel during the flood season you would know that this was no small feat or should I say feet as the priests we read of in Joshua chapter 3 stepped out in the rising water as they sought to obey the Lord. 

Easily over a mile wide during the flood season, the Jordan River was no small step. Try to imagine stepping out into a flowing river that could easily just sweep you away to death only to have it suddenly quit flowing and the ground beneath your feet be totally dry with each step you took? It's almost beyond imagination but that is exactly what happened here. When the priests who were bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord, (which is a symbol of the presence of God) wadded out into the waters of the Jordan it ceased to flow and all the people following behind the priests crossed over on dry land. 

What makes this so significant is that up to this point in the bible we have seen the faith of individuals on display, men and women who trusted God and acted on faith as the Lord led them. Here in Joshua chapter 3 we see and entire nation stepping out in faith together. As a pastor that speaks to me because I know the power of unity when God's people determine to step out together trusting Him and not the circumstances surrounding them. What a testimony to the world when God's children walk by faith together. Psalm 133 always comes to mind when we do. 

I realize the difficulty if not the impossibility of getting people to walk by faith and not by sight. Thats why I appreciate what Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Joshua wrote when he said, "in the Christian life you're either an overcomer or you are overcome, a victor or a victim." After all, God didn't save us to make statues out of us and put us on exhibition. He saved us to make soldiers out of us and move us forward by faith to claim our rich inheritance in Jesus Christ. Moses said it perfectly: "He brought us out…that he might bring us in" Deuteronomy 6:23. Too many of God's children have the mistaken idea that salvation—being delivered from the bondage of Egypt—is all that's involved in the Christian life; but being saved from something is only the beginning. Both in our personal spiritual growth and in our service to the Lord, "there remains very much land yet to be possessed" Joshua 13:1." We weren't just saved from something, we were saved for something. There is a purpose for our lives, victories to be won, land to be possessed. 

My prayer for you today, friend, is that your faith in God will cause you to move forward, to overcome the obstacles that will surely present themselves to block your path. There is a Promised Land that God has for you to enter, a land that you are to possess. It will take faith to enter it; you'll have to do something to see it come about, as faith always involves action; as faith is not passive but active! Just as the Lord was with Israel He is with you and me today, beloved. God isn't calling us to go it alone, He promised to go with us, and that is why the priests lead the way. God will never have you go where He won't lead you and guide you, He'll never have us go where He isn't already there! That's comforting to those of us who seek to walk by faith, and is why Joshua calls the Lord, "the living God" and "the Lord of all the earth". Joshua came to know and trust that God is in total control of all creation, and you and I do well in this life as we seek to know and trust the Lord is in control of our lives too. 

May each of us learn the lesson of Joshua and the children of Israel we read about here in chapter 3. Often times, we must first step out in faith before the Lord opens the way for us. To please the Lord we must walk by faith and not by sight. With this in mind don't sit back and wait for the "perfect moment" today before you step out, for it will most likely never arrive. Instead, do what the children of Israel did…set yourself apart to God, seek to know Him by knowing His Word and trust what He says as you step out in faith. You won't be disappointed when you do! 


"Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." 

Galatians 3:7-9 


I Love You!

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"Someone To Sing About"

 "Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy." 

Psalm 33:3 


It was Warren Wiersbe who wrote regarding worship, " Will I make worship the heart of my life or just a part of life". That's a great question and one that needs to be answered by each of us. From reading Psalm 33 we see that David has a heart for worship and not just from his head but from the depth of his heart too. It has been noted the Psalms are poems for the most part, put to music to be sung and not to be dissected as a dissertation in theology. 

When we allow the Psalms to flow into our hearts and mind and we begin to understand the heart of the writer as well as the circumstances that led to the words penned. It is as if we have a window into the soul of both our Creator and the creation responding in psalm. The Psalms are where many a believer has learned to pray and where the greatest inspiration to both our public and private worship is set in order. 

The Psalms were the hymnbook of the temple, penned to assist us in expressing with our lips what our hearts long to say to God. "Oh, come let us bow down and worship" today, "let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker, for He is God and we are the people of His pasture…" That's an invitation to us to come to God as well as a great reminder that He is our God and we belong to Him. 

Let me encourage you to make the most of your time with the Lord today, loved one! Take a few moments if you can and get alone with God and worship Him in prayer and regardless of how you might sound, sing to Him a new song today. You might be surprised to learn that the time we spend with the Lord in private rolls over into the open of our public lives helping us to turn our every day work into worship. After all, its Jesus who puts joy in our journey! 

As you read Psalm 33 you gather quickly that David loved God and as well, he loved to worship God, and is why God said of David "he is a man after My own heart". We were created for worship, and not just on Sunday. Remember, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! We don't just have something to sing about, we have someone to sing about! 


"Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" 

Ephesians 5:19 


I LOVE YOU! 

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When Heaven Hurts Like Hell


 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:8


April 12 will always be a day of pain and sorrow, bitter and sweet, a day I love to celebrate and one I loathe its approaching. Four events mark this day in my heart and mind. The birth of Danielle, the passing of my father, the wedding anniversary of David and Candice, and the day our oldest son and his wife learned they were pregnant with our first grandchild. Like I said, April 12 marks the birth date of one of the most extraordinary young girls who have ever graced the face of this earth. It was on this day thirty years ago that Danielle Marie Gould was born the youngest child to our dear friends Tink and Sherrill. She was our daughter Bree’s best friend and what I like to refer to as our fourth child. We loved her like she was are own and yet on August 20, 2004 she went home to be with the Lord and our lives have felt the void since that day. Today she would have been 30 years old and though she is in heaven, in the very presence of Jesus, the pain of her loss still feels like hell. The sting of death is still with us though she is not.


I can relate with what Ben Witherington, who in the book he co-authored with his wife writes, “When A Daughter Dies” writes, “Here is one of the paradoxes of grieving. Grieving, for a Christian, is about you personally. That is to say, we are not grieving because someone is pain-free in heaven with the Lord! That’s cause for celebration! We are not grieving the condition of the Christian loved one who is deceased! For the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. There is nothing grave in that. No, we are grieving for our own sense of loss, our own sorrow over the sudden departure, our own feelings of being alone. Grief is the self’s shock over what has happened to itself—it is physical and emotional.”

Though the shock over what happened has passed, the emptiness of her loss has not as nothing, no one could ever take her place. So, though the memories of her wonderful life and the lessons she taught us all on how to “Live, Laugh, Love” continue to manifest themselves as we journey through this life by faith, believing like her that without it we can not please God, so we press on with the hope that we will in deed see her again one day.

Death has a way of making one bitter or better and God leaves the choice to us in hopes that we too, like Danielle will hold on to the promise of her favorite verse found in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Danielle’s death as painful as it has been all these years has revealed much beauty too in that it has taught us a very powerful and profound message. God never wastes a hurt. In fact God has taught us that pain really is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world and that though God does desire to comfort us in our affliction, He is more concerned about increasing our threshold for pain and suffering, and to know by experience that whatever God leads us too He will lead us through. She might have only been seventeen when she graduated from earth but she was wise beyond her years and beautiful from the inside out. I can’t wait to see her again one day!

I read a quote the other day that said, “In New York, you’re never more than 20 feet away fro someone you know, or someone you’re meant to know.” It reminded me of today and how inter connected our lives really are, far more than we realize. To think, my daughters best friend was born April 12, 1987 and on this same day in 2014 my dad, Clinton Rettig Osthimer went home to be with Jesus at the age of 81. The difference in Danielle’s death and that of my own fathers is I always thought there would be a day when my father would pass and I would still be alive. That seemed to me to be the natural order of life and death. He prepared me for that. Danielle’s death however, always seemed out of order to me. No parent ever expects to bury their child, especially at the age of seventeen and though Danielle was not our biological child, my wife and I loved her as if she was. Try convincing parents who have adopted a child that their love is somehow less than the biological parents and see what happens.

Though as natural a part of life as death might seem to us, God has not wired us for its experience as death is a by product of the fall of man, not a reflection of God’s desire for us. After all, Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. Death is our last enemy and God is just as appalled by it as we are, actually, He is more. With the passing of both my dad and my mom now, I along with my sisters and brothers have taken on an identity that is impossible to comprehend until it happens. Though all of us are over fifty years of age, we now are orphans in this life which brings with it a sense of emptiness, loneliness, even though we are surrounded by loving family and friends.

I miss my dad deeply, and not a day goes by when I don’t think about him and hold some kind of conversation with him in my head. I can still recognize his voice over my own. With each passing year his words become wiser and his knowledge much more profound. I was blessed with a father who loved me, who showed me and told me. The truest reflection of our Heavenly Father I have ever known.

Then there is the bright spot in April 12. David and Candice Mattison celebrate their third anniversary today as husband and wife. I was presiding over their wedding ceremony when my dad passed away. I had been with him earlier in the day but left to go to the wedding and learned on the way back to the hospital that he had passed away while I was gone. David and Candice are a sweet couple who are just getting started in life and who I am excited to know and be a part of their journey. God has great plans for them as they now have a one year old son Lucas and I am sure more will soon be on the way. Their marriage and family along with the news our first grandchild was coming into this world are my reminder that when one passes away another child is born. Proof that God is not done yet, that death doesn’t have the final say, Jesus does!


“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57

I LOVE YOU!

 

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"There You Will Be"

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 14:3

The greatest love story known to man is found in the Holy Bible. A love so pure, a love so divine, when you read it with an open heart and a thirsty soul you will be satisfied each and every time. I have yet to meet a person who grows tired of being loved unconditionally. When you fathom the depth of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ we can’t help but shake our heads in amazement. To think, someone loves me like this. It baffles the human mind and comprehension. We are so conditioned by the world to perform for love we struggle with accepting the fact that a perfect, holy God would be mindful of me. I don’t know about you loved one, but I am humbled to think God would or even could love me at all but to love me like He does. It blows me away. How soon we forget, heaven is conditional but the love of God is not. He loves us unconditionally.

I love reading Johns Gospel account of the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His followers. He took the opportunity at a meal to share His heart with them. He was preparing them for His departure from them and this earth by way of the Cross and yet His goodbye wasn’t really a goodbye at all because if you hear His words to them that night He tells them that He is simply going on ahead to prepare both the way and the place where they could meet Him again one day. Jesus was going to prepare a place to meet again and not just to share a moment here and there or even a meal, but to meet together and be together forever. Jesus tells those He loves, “where I am, there you may be also”. The words, “There you’ll be” is both an invitation and a promise to the beloved.

“There you’ll be” is an invitation for each of us to put our trust in Jesus. To know for certain that we won’t be stuck in our current state forever. Jesus words are our reminder each day that we are never without hope in this world as long as our hope is in God. There is something spectacular that awaits us down the road if we are looking unto Jesus. “There you’ll be” is also a promise to us that God knows our heart, He knows our needs and Jesus tells His disciples that He is going on ahead to prepare a place just for them. “There you’ll be” also provides the hope we need for the future in the midst of a world overflowing with sorrow and pain.  The hope of “there you’ll be” is what pulls us forward when the world tries to pull us back, its what picks us up when we are down.

We can only imagine what that day will be like when we step into eternity. Like the perfect marriage, the imagery of belonging to Jesus is likened to a groom who adores His new bride so much and though He has been away from her for so long He was all the while with a purpose. He was making sure every provision for her was made and no detail was left undone so that when they meet for the first time face to face there will be no distraction to turn them away one another. Only celebration awaits them. That’s how it is going to be one day!

Let this promise fill your heart today, loved one, and let it soak into your mind as you go through your day. Ponder it long and well. Meditate on Jesus words and allow the Lord to fill your heart overflowing with the hope of what is still yet ahead. Live with your heart wide open today and be ready to receive all that He has for you. Your Beloved is coming, and He is coming soon. Remember, that is both an invitation and a promise. Don’t miss out, be ready!

“The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” “…My beloved spoke, and said to me: “ Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” “…Let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Song of Songs 2:8,10,14

I LOVE YOU

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