Really God?

For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1.37

Think about the word used here: “nothing … ” Nothing is impossible with God. Do you really believe that? This verse appears in the midst of Mary’s conversation with the angel about her conceiving a child as a virgin. If EVER something appeared to be impossible, this was it. What the angel was proposing had never happened before. Mary knew it. The angel knew it. Joseph was soon to know it. And you and I look back on it and know it. But can we legitimately apply this verse to our own life circumstances? Why not? We have the same God. He has the same power.

Some who are reading this are currently going through impossible situations. I don’t know what they are, but that doesn’t matter. God knows what they are. The God that you and I serve cares when we have relationships that have gone sour. The God that we serve cares when His children don’t have enough money. The God that we serve cares when the sickness we are facing is said by the doctors to be terminal. The God that we serve cares when we have heard the doctor say, “I’m sorry. You can’t have children.” Have I described your impossible circumstance yet? If not, just plug it in here. “ … with God nothing shall be impossible.” Sometimes I just want God to change my circumstance and God just wants to change me. Are you willing to say to God, “I don’t know what the lesson is you want me to learn, but I want to learn it”? That won’t remove the impossible situation. It will change the way you see it. Give God the liberty to choose your path and trust Him for where that path leads. Remember, “As for God, His way is perfect.” (Psalm 18.30) Just my thoughts …

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Who’s the Object?

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (24) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3.23-24

So often we get caught up in the performance trap of doing things to please or impress men. Paul cautions the Colossians and us in these verses to not forget who it is that we are serving: “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord … ” While we may chose to do things that will make others happy or satisfy a need we see that needs to be filled, our ultimate goal is to do that particular task, whatever it is, “as to the Lord … ”

There seem to be so many of God’s children who want to receive the accolades of men and when that doesn’t come they are disappointed. But notice how Paul frames this issue for us: “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance:” Our reward comes from God. It will not always take the form that we think it should. But it will always be exactly what we need to meet out need at that particular time in life.

Paul seems very careful to remind the Colossians of the One whom they are serving. Have we lost sight of our goal? The Colossian Christians had been bombarded by intellectualism and in the face of such criticism it would have been easy to want to prove others wrong. But, when we get sucked into that trap. Satan wins every time. Let’s remember that our service for Christ bypasses the will of man and focuses on what God wants. When you and I discover what God wants, then our desire to serve Him becomes primary and our focus becomes fixed on Him, the One whose name is above all names. Just my thoughts …

Mercy, Compassion, and Faithfulness!

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3.22-23

There are three very important characteristics of God mentioned in these verses: (1) mercy, (2) compassion, and (3) faithfulness. Just to remind us, mercy is not getting what we deserve. I think we all realize that, if given what we deserve, we would all end up in hell. But “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed … ” The mercy of God is not something that you and I earn. It is something that God alone is able to freely give.

Compassion is such a significant part of the character of God. Compassion is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others.” When we as humans express compassion, we are generally unable to change the situation of the one who is struggling. But when God expresses compassion, not only does He KNOW about our sufferings and misfortunes, He is able to do something about them. That is the uniqueness of the relationship that you and I enjoy with our great God. “ … his compassions fail not. They are new every morning.

This next phrase is such great encouragement: “ … great is thy faithfulness.” Can any one of us deny that God is faithful to us? Think of the ways in just the last few days that God has shown you His faithfulness. I jokingly say sometimes, “Any day I wake up breathing and can still get my two feet on the floor is a good day.” The truth is that God is faithful to give me strength to walk with Him and serve Him every single day. I am grateful for the health that I enjoy and that is because of God’s faithfulness. Take a moment and rehearse God’s faithfulness to you and give Him thanks. Just my thoughts …

Pay Attention!

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1.8

This book of the law … ” Joshua focuses our attention on the Word that God has given to His people. He had just been handed the reins of leadership for two million people. How was he going to keep them focused on God and what God wanted for them? Here was his plan for them: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night … ” If he could keep their focus on what God had said, his job would be much easier. If Christian leaders today can keep our focus on what God has said, their jobs are much easier too.

Most of us have heard believers make comments something like this: “But I don’t know what God wants me to do. What should I do?” Joshua gives us the answer: “that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein … ” I cannot DO what I don’t know. But I cannot KNOW what God wants without reading His Word. God is not going to show me anything not revealed in His Word until I have done everything He has shown me to do in His Word. I have discovered that my greatest difficulty is not what I read in the Bible and don’t understand, but what I read and do understand and struggle to apply to my life. Remember, Satan doesn’t care how much you read the Bible as long as it never changes you. Do you want to have a prosperous way and success in your life? Take Joshua’s advice and stay in the Word. Just my thoughts …

He Sees and He Hears!

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 1 Peter 3.12

God is watching us and God is listening to us. What an awesome thought to know that God is watching and listening. When I read those statements, I ask myself, “Why? What am I that He would want to watch me and listen to me?” and the answer comes back, “You are my child. I love you!” Are you overwhelmed yet? I am! “his ears are open to (our) prayers … ” God loves us so much that He longs to hear our prayers. When we do not pray, we are saying to God, “I don’t love you like I should. I’m not sure I can trust you with this burden.” Listen friend, don’t let your love for God be affected by the way the world treats you. And there is NO circumstance in your life that your God can not handle better than you can.

the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” Did your mom or dad ever say to you, “Look at me. You listen to me.” I knew when mom said, “Look at me …” I was in trouble. Her look was enough to tell me I had done something wrong. God’s face is against us when we do evil. He looks at us and says, “You know better than that. I don’t approve of your evil doings.” How do we keep from having God’s face look at us in our evil doing? We stay in His Word. We spend time in conversation with Him. We allow His children to surround us and help us stay on the right path. None of us need to walk this path alone. We have the family of God to walk with us in this journey called Life. Use who and what God gives you. Just my thoughts …

Forgive Him? Yes!

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4.32

Kindness is an attitude that each of us could manifest to others every day, if we choose. Paul’s words to the Ephesian Christians and us are very clear. He links being kind to being forgiving. Take a look at this list of instructions Paul gives in the preceding verses: (1) put off concerning the former conversation the old man – v. 22; (2) be renewed in the spirit of your mind – v. 23; (3) put on the new man – v. 24; (4) put away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor – v. 25; (5) be ye angry, and sin not – v. 26; (6) neither give place to the devil – v. 27; (7) let him that stole steal no more – v. 28; (8) let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth; (9) grieve not the Holy Spirit of God; and (10)let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And his next words are “be ye kind one to another …

Two other attitudes are mentioned here – tenderheartedness and forgiveness. I certainly want other believers to act toward me with a tender heart. And I want God’s Holy Spirit to enable me to act toward fellow believers with a tender heart. It is an intentional act for us to be tenderhearted. Then forgiveness is an often misunderstand principle altogether. Look at Paul’s words: “ … forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I can scarcely wrap my head around what it took for God to forgive me in Christ. But this is what I know; no one has ever wronged me to the degree that my sin broke the heart of God. If He can forgive me (and He did), then I have no reason to NOT forgive another believer who has wronged me. Just think about it! Just m y thoughts …

What an Awesome God!

(God) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1.9

Do you ever read something and said to yourself, “Why would God do that?” Knowing what I know about me, and knowing the little bit I understand about God, I am amazed at this first statement: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling … ” I am so thankful to be saved and to be called by God to a holy calling. I do not take either of those for granted. Nor should you! But then Paul clarifies his statement: “ … not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace … ” God did not look down from heaven one day and see some guy named Jerry Burton and say to himself, “Wow, he would be a great addition to my kingdom. I think I’ll saved him.” To the contrary, he looked down from heaven one day and in spite of what He saw in me, He saved me. “ … not according to (my) works but according to his own purpose and grace … His purpose … God HAS a purpose for my life. God HAS a purpose for your life. We don’t have to wonder what that purpose is. He saved us to glorify Himself in and through us. The words of Matthew 5.16 are clear: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good words, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Everything that we received at salvation was provided by God in the person of His Son, Christ Jesus, “before the world began.” The benefits you and I enjoy today because we are God’s children were planned by God before time began. God has ALWAYS wanted His best for us. To think anything less is to misunderstand the heart of our heavenly Father. Just my thoughts …

Go Ahead – Ask!

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15.7

On the surface this appears to be a very simple statement by Jesus. Further examination reveals a deeper truth. When I was a young lad, there were times when I thought I could ask my parents for anything, and because they loved me, I would get what I asked for. However, as time passed, I came to realize that my parents were NOT going to give me everything I asked for because to do so would cause me great harm. You see, I didn’t always KNOW what I needed, but I thought I did. It was not until I learned a little bit about how they thought – about me and what was best for my life – that I began to understand why they granted some requests and not others.

We seem to want to focus on these words: “ye shall ask what ye will” without giving any consideration to the words that precede them. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you … ” What do these words mean? They mean far more than going to church once a week and reading the Bible occasionally. If I am going to abide in Christ, the focus of my daily life must change. I must focus on His presence in my life and who I am when I am living in His presence. Failure to do so defeats the very premise of abiding in Christ. When God’s words abide in me, then I know a little bit about what God thinks of me and what He wants for me. Knowing those things helps me to know how to ask, “what (I) will” so that God is able to say, “ … it shall be done unto you.” May God help us today to ask what we will, knowing that it shall be done because we have chosen to abide in Christ and allow His words to abide in us. Just my thoughts …

Let It Show!

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2.9

Peter mentions four distinguishing elements here: (1) a chosen generation, (2) a royal priesthood, (3) a holy nation, and (4) a peculiar people. I am well aware of Peter’s audience. Here are the opening verses of 1 Peter 1.1-2: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” But there are some things that you and I can apply to our lives here.

Every child of God, no matter his ethnic origin, should be able to display in his person and in his daily actions those characteristics that speak to God’s presence at work in his/her life. The simple fact that we have been redeemed is enough to tell the world around us that God is real and at work within us.

Take note of what should follow our initial relationship with God: “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” “Show forth the praises … ” My life and my lips, your life and your lips, should abound with praise for the one who “called (us) out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Praise should be as natural to us as breathing. We can live without breathing. We should not be able to call ourselves Christ-followers if our lives are not filled with praise for the One who redeemed us. Praise is always intentional. Let’s make an intentional effort to praise our God today and everyday as a way of demonstrating that we are “a chosen generation …” Just my thoughts …

Cling to Him!

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15.5

These are the words of Jesus. He quickly identifies Himself: “I am the vine … ” What is the value of the vine? Without the vine, there is no branch that can ever be produced. Then Jesus states that “ye are the branches … ” The wonderful part of this statement is that we are attached to Jesus. We have a relationship with Him: “He that abideth in me, and I in him … ” What does it mean to abide in Christ? I believe abiding in Christ is equal to enjoying being in His presence. I know we are always in His presence, but we don’t always live like we are in His presence. So abiding in Him means that I am consciously living my life totally aware that He sees everything that I do.

Jesus concludes His first statement with these words: “the same bringeth forth much fruit … ” What does it mean for a Christ follower to bring forth fruit? If the fruit of an apple tree is an apple and the fruit of a sheep is a lamb, then wouldn’t the fruit of a Christ-follower be another Christ-follower? I believe there is other fruit as well. I believe Christlikeness is certainly a result of abiding in Christ. In Romans 8, Paul speaks of the Christ-follower being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8.29). This is not a call to perfection, but a call to living a life that is as much like Christ as is humanly possible. That takes the focus off of us and places it securely on Christ.

Jesus concludes with these words: “for without me ye can do nothing.” Everything we do FOR Christ must be done through His power. Our strength is never enough to do what God wants us to do in His power alone. Let His power flow through you because “without (Him) ye can do nothing.” Just my thoughts …