Who’s In Charge Anyway?

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27.1

One of the reasons I find such great encouragement in the Psalms is that those who are writing (David, Asaph, etc) are dealing with very real problems and they are not saying, “Look at me. I’ve got life all figured out.” They are turning their hearts to God, and that is what we should be doing also. If anyone ever had occasion to fear, it was David – multiple times in his life. All of us, if we are honest, fear the unknown. So, David’s first statement shows us that he has things in proper perspective: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” “What is that perspective?” you ask. If God is his light, then everything that is coming David’s way is already known to God. If God is his salvation, then no matter WHAT comes, God is his deliverer and protector. When you and I are willing to look at life in the same manner, “whom shall (we) fear?”
This next phrase David speaks is every encouraging too: “the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” If God is David’s strength, then whatever battle comes his way, God’s strength is more than enough to win that battle. I know there are some things in life of which we should be afraid, but when it comes to battles of the flesh against the spirit of evil, we do well to send God to fight that battle for every time. Let God be your LIGHT, your SALVATION, and your STRENGTH today. He’s Got This! Just My Thoughts …

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Dead or Not Dead? You Decide!

“For the love of Christ constraineth (controls) us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5.14-15

How many times have I read these verses and just glossed over an obvious truth that we need to know? Look carefully at Paul’s starting premise: “the love of Christ constraineth (controls) us”. Why does he state this? He is telling us that this must be the premise upon which each daily walk with the Lord must be based. If ANYTHING ELSE is our premise for living that day, we are starting out wrong and we will finish wrong. That is a critical truth to believe and understand. Now, “we thus judge … that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Do you awake each day with the realization that you have died with Christ? If so, that will control what you do and why you do it. The WHY should ultimately point to glorifying Christ.
Let’s examine v. 15: “they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves …” A selfish life is not a crucified life. A slothful life is not a crucified life. A jealous life is not a crucified life. A demanding life is not a crucified life. The list could go on for some time. You get the idea. We are NOT to live unto ourselves, “but unto him which died for (us), and rose again.” Do you know what a life “surrendered” to Him looks like? (I’m not pretending that I get it right every time.) Think about the word “surrender.” When I surrender to ANYTHING or ANYONE, I have no options left. I have given up the right to choose the next step. That is up to the one to whom I surrendered. These verses are enough for us to contemplate throughout the day. Just My Thoughts  …

Want It? Take It!

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. ” Isaiah 32.17

I read this verse this morning, and it literally jumped off the page and into my heart. What a great assurance this provides for every child of God. Look at these words – I mean really look at them: “the work of righteousness shall be peace”. Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14.27) This is the voice of righteousness speaking. God does not HIDE His peace in some mysterious place and dare us to find it. He WANTS us to have His peace – not this phony stuff the world offers us. When people say, “I just wish I could find the peace of God for my life. Then I could get through this”, I am thinking, “It’s right THERE in front of you – just appropriate it.” The hidden truth here is that peace is the WORK of righteousness and when my life is characterized by foolish, selfish sin, I will never see it.
The second phrase here is powerful: “the effect of righteousness (is) quietness and assurance forever.” So what does the effect of righteousness do for us? It gives us “quietness” (a quiet spirit) and assurance (confidence) that lasts forever. No one and no thing can ever steal it or take it away. My responsibility is to ALLOW the “work of righteousness” to give me peace, and to ALLOW the “effect of righteousness” to give me quietness and assurance – FOREVER! PTL Just My Thoughts  …

Where Is the Trust?

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19.21

Do you ever just sit around and work through all the ideas of the things you would like to do? After a while, it is possible to have a pretty good sized list. In this verse Solomon gives us some insight about what we WANT and what God DOES. If we are not careful, we can become adversarial with God simply because we don’t get our way. Think about the times as a parent when your children WANTED something really bad, but your answer was no. They may have had a tantrum. They may have gone away pouting, etc. But YOU know you made the decision that was best for them. Now, extrapolate that simple illustration into our desires for our lives and God’s response that doesn’t make us happy. Do you think He may just know more about the circumstance that we do?
“Nevertheless …” When God chooses His plan over our plan, His counsel will stand. Consider this … the more we KNOW about God and His thoughts about His children, the easier it is to accept and embrace His plan over ours. It is when we INSIST on having our way – either because of selfishness or lack of insight into what God is really doing – that we find ourselves “grumbling” about what God has done. Let me encourage us all today to LEARN all we can about God, exercise faith that allows God to do what He wants with us without any rebellion, and display to this lost world that God not always KNOWS best but He always DOES best. Just My Thoughts  …

Ultimate Safety!

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalm 57.1

There are some days when I awake that I think I have things pretty well under control. Other days when I awake, I wonder about everything since nothing seems to be under my control. Then I read this verse: “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee”. What great comfort I derive from the truth that I can come to God and cry out for mercy. His goodness is only exceeded by His grace. The words “my soul trusts in thee” help me realize that when there is no one else in whom I can trust, I CAN trust in Him.
I love the phrase “in the shadow of thy wings I will make my refuge …” You may or may not have seen a mother hen gather her chicks under her wings when she senses their may be danger. She will give her life to protect those baby chicks. My heavenly Father has far greater power than that mother hen and when I am “in the shadow of his wings,” nothing can reach me there. It then becomes my responsibility not to run from that place of ultimate protection.
Notice the phrase: “until these calamities be overpast.” They WILL pass. My protection – your protection – will be there until “these calamities be overpast.” What  great encouragement. The faithfulness of God is NOT dependent on my faithfulness to Him. He can be nothing less that who He is. Just My Thoughts  …

Be Careful. Words MEAN Something!

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Proverbs 17.9

It has taken me longer than it should to figure this out. There are times when I should NOT say something that I am thinking. I think most of us have been around people who never left any doubt about what they were thinking. They said whatever entered their head. Notice Solomon’s words here: “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love”. Just because a spouse or a child or a friend did something that they shouldn’t have done doesn’t mean that we should “blab” it to the first person we see. When we love someone, our heart’s goal should be to protect them, not help others tear them down. In 1 Corinthians 13.4-7, when Paul was talking about love (charity), here is what he said: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behaveitself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in thetruth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” In other words, love swallows a lot of stuff in order to maintain the love relationship.
The last part of the verse above reveals the consequence of speaking out of turn: “he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends”. Friends are hard enough to cultivate. We don’t need to be doing anything to separate people from their friends. Let’s take Solomon’s advice today and remember that there are some times when we should NOT speak. Just My Thoughts  …

“Angry? Why?”

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16.32

We live in a world where “anger” seems to be the emotion of the day. So many people get up in the morning already angry before their feet hit the floor. Perhaps there are some things we need to know about anger. The number one thing to remember is that “ANGER is a secondary emotion.” What does that mean? It means that you and I have to choose anger over some other response. No one can MAKE you angry. Someone may do something that hurts us or offends us and we CHOOSE to be angry about that. There are so many people who are angry all the time and have been angry since childhood because of something a parent or sibling did to them – and guess what? They are miserable ALL THE TIME!
Look again at the verse above. Do you rule your spirit or does anger rule your spirit? I can almost hear someone asking, “So, if I don’t want to be angry all the time, what do I do?” There is ONLY one answer, and that is forgiveness. Again, you respond, “But you don’t know what they did to me!” I don’t have to know and it really doesn’t matter. Forgiveness is NOT for the one who hurt or offended you – it is for you. How long do you want to be miserable? If I have a choice between misery and joy, I will choose joy every time – and you can too. As long as you are angry, you are allowing anger to rule your spirit. Solomon’s words above indicate that we are to rule our own spirit. If  you are reading these words and you can admit that you are angry all the time, stop and go back to where that anger began. Identify the person who offended or hurt you. Make the conscious choice to forgive them and put them in God’s hands. He can handle it. Just My Thoughts  …

“Contentment? Really?”

“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” Proverbs 15.16

“Better is little …” We probably struggle with that short phrase because most of us want more than we have. Let me inject a word here that we know and may or may not understand. That word is CONTENTMENT. Contentment means that we are CONTENT with what we have. The dictionary says: “a state of happiness and satisfaction:” Now, let’s go back and finish the phrase we started: “Better is little with the fear of the LORD … “ Remember that “the fear of the LORD” is speaking about how we view God – we should see Him as “the all-sufficient One, the All-powerful One.” Since God IS all-sufficient and all-powerful, then it is possible to find contentment when we view Him as we ought. 1 Timothy 6.6 says: “… godliness with contentment is great gain.” When you and I see God for WHO He is, and believe He is all that He says He is, it is not difficult to find the state of contentment. Since God is all-knowing, He knows what I NEED – He knows better than I do. IF contentment is found in TRUSTING God (and it is), then such trust causes you and me to exercise great faith in this Heavenly Father who ALWAYS has our best interests at heart.
The latter part of the verse refers to those who have everything they may want, but they are still not content. Most people of wealth are interested in “a little bit more.” That is not contentment. May God give us a contented spirit today as we walk with Him. Just My Thoughts  …

Start Early!

“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16.2

I’m going to take another venture into my childhood today and build on what I wrote yesterday about teaching children and building a legacy. During the time that my dad and I lived with my grandparents, I got my first job – I distributed the daily newspaper in my neighborhood. I received a meager income from that but it was income none-the-less. One day I was sitting at the kitchen table counting the money I had collected. I separated what I owed to the paper company from my profit. Grandmother walked by, looked at the two piles of money and said to me, “Jerry, are you going to tithe on what you made this week?” I’m thinking, “I’m just a kid. It’s not that much money. What’s the big deal?” but I didn’t say that out loud. She said, “If you make $10.00, a tithe fro that would be $1.00.” She was TEACHING me a valuable principle at a very impressionable age and it has stuck with me to this day.
I am fearful that sometimes we fail to begin early to instill in children the value of learning to obey God early in life. If I am a Sunday School teacher, no matter what the age of my class, I am going to begin teaching them the value of obeying God IN EVERYTHING. You see, the thing about tithing is not that God needs my money, but He does want my heart and when He has that, He has everything. When I was in Bible college, I remember hearing our college president say over and over, “Tithing is not God’s way of raising money, it is God’s way of raising Christians.” Just My Thoughts  …

“Someone’s Watching!”

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6.6-7

This is such a powerful passage. I remember growing up how my parents would take me to church each time there was a service and in addition to that my mother was diligent about helping me memorize Scripture during the week. The legacy that she left me was one that marks my life to this day. But it doesn’t stop there. When I was 11 years old, my mom was killed in a car crash. For the next several months my father and I lived with my grandparents. They too were some of the godliest people I have known. My father was diligent in keeping me in church and encouraging me to grow in the Lord.
At age 17 I attended a youth camp where God spoke to me through the camp speaker on the final night and I surrendered to do “whatever God wanted“ me to do. I entered Bible college that Fall and began preparing for ministry. It was there that I met my wife and we were married soon thereafter. We soon discovered that we could not have children of our own, so we began searching for options to adopt. God allowed us to adopt a daughter and a son over the next few years. I quickly became aware of the awesome responsibility mentioned: “thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children”. The remainder of the verse covers the rest of our times as a family: “shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”. It is my prayer that I was able to leave a godly legacy for my children. Each of us carries that responsibility for someone who is watching. Just My Thoughts  …