No Worries, No Problems

I know many have heard the old song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”  That song popped in my mind as I sat down to write this because I have been thinking about the topic of worry for the past few weeks.  I know that scripture tells us not to worry, as many of us know, in the book of Matthew we see Jesus say, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (6:34, KJV)”

Don’t worry about the things that will come tomorrow, because you might miss out on the opportunities of today.  In Psalm 3 we see David mention this type of thought:

“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. (KJV)”

In verses 4-6, David lays out this beautiful schematic for living without worry.  He states that he cried to the Lord, and that he was heard.  David then does what we all must do when we cry to the Lord and trust in His power…David lets it go.  David then lies down and rests, resting in the knowledge that God had taken care of his situation.

We all need to have the same mentality as David when it comes to giving our problems to the Lord, if we have asked God to take care of it, we must trust God to take care of it.  Too many times we find ourselves continuing to worry about things that we have, “given to God,” and it is keeping us from experiencing the true joy that God intends us to have in our lives.

David then follows up by saying that he will not be afraid of the “ten-thousands” that have set themselves against him…No worries!  David knew that no matter what would come his way, he had given it all over to God, and he was safe from defeat…He would be saved because of God’s promises.

We all have this same promise today if we have given our lives to Christ…we can all rest in the knowledge that God has our problems handled and we can move on to enjoying the day that He has set before us while He is working on us.  Praise God that He doesn’t leave us alone during our times of need, Thank Him today for helping you find joy in times of trouble.  I challenge you today, if you have turned it over to God…leave it there; let Him do what He has promised you today.

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Seeking Perfection

As a new year starts and everyone takes a deep look at their life to see what type of changes need to be made to better life as they move forward.  As this happens, one thing that many seek to do is perfect their goals, and as Christians, this is something we must do as we enter a new life with Christ.

This being said, we find ourselves sometimes getting comfortable in the early stages of a walk with Christ, but we never “grow up” in our new life.  There are many, as addressed in Hebrews, who get comfortable in the “milk” of the Word, but never push themselves to move into the solid “meat” that is needed to grow deeper in our relationship with God.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)

The word translated as “full age” here is the word Teleios which is translated two different ways in the scripture…as either “perfection” or “coming of age”.

For us to realize all that God has for us to experience in life, we must challenge ourselves to dive into the deep end with God as our goal.  We must begin to keep our eyes on Him, so that we will adapt and begin to look like him.

It is like when we are younger and we watch our father and follow him around. We long to follow in his footsteps, at times even putting on his shoes and stumbling around in the oversized shoes just to feel what it is like to walk in his footsteps.

In the same way, God invites us to do the same – we are invited to put His shoes on and to begin to walk in His footsteps as we grow.  The thing is, just as with our earthly fathers, as we grow we begin to find a way to begin to fill those shoes a little better each day.  We grow into our own footsteps as we mature, and walking in this way ensures that we let go of the milk and begin to crave the meat of the message.

So as the year begins, I encourage you to seek perfection…seek to love one another as God loves us…show mercy and grace to each other.  Handle life’s situations with gratitude and grace, stop bickering with one another, and allow the love of God to shine through in the difficult situations. Show maturity in how you handle all things and allow yourself to grow up through the Spirit.  In doing this, we will do as Jesus states and become perfect or come of age, “just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)

Seek that perfection or maturity in your life today…allow the Spirit to guide you into a deeper relationship with God in the coming year.

New Year, New Plans

Face it, we’ve all found ourselves evaluating our lives at the end of each year, wondering what we could have done to make our lives better and figuring new ways to improve ourselves.

With the passing of each year comes the passing of old ways.  Many make resolutions in an effort to succeed in the coming months.  There are those who plan to lose weight, those that are dead-set on starting that new workout plan, and those that vow to make little improvements on their daily life.

The Christian life is one that is similar to the coming of a new year.  In the years of our lives, we face a new year when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior.  The old is passing away to the new, and our resolution is simple…to become like Christ!

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

— Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)

This statement to the Romans by Paul tells us as Christians that we all have the same “New Year’s” resolution.  God calls us His children; he has known each of us since we were in our mother’s womb.  David tells us in Psalm 134 who was foreknown –

“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

— Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

So we know that God has made the resolution for us, and Paul tells us what that is letting us know that we are to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, and we are called, justified, and glorified according to his will.  So this year make the resolution to be what God has called you to be….put away the old, and let the new come in.

“17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

— 1 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

It’s CHRISTmas Time!

Christmas is a time to spend with your families…it’s a time when we all sit back and analyze our lives.  We reflect on family members that pass on, we reflect on family and friends, and we reflect on our lives as a whole.  A number of people use their Christmas cards to send mass letters to update family and friends on their lives over the past 12 months.  We use Christmas to reflect on a majority of things, but due to the commercialization of Christmas, are we forgetting to reflect on the reason we celebrate all together?

Christmas in many cases has become about that perfect present, the perfect tree, and the perfect light show…but with all the hustle and bustle…where is the Perfect Son in all of this?  With all the hoopla around Christmas these days, are we making time for Jesus?  I can remember when I was younger seeing signs everywhere that said, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  Now, those signs have faded into the background; those signs have been replaced by signs that read, “70% off”, “Buy one, get one Free”, and “Financing Available”.

Why have we let the materialism of Christmas override the Reason we celebrate?  Why have we seemingly become like Peter in his denial of Christ, by taking Christ out of Christmas?  What was so hard when Jesus was the Center of our Christmas Experience?  What has changed?

We can blame it on a number of things…but it all comes down to one thing…YOU and I!  We need to refocus our Christmas; we need to refocus our lives…we need to refocus on Jesus.  Not just for December 25, but everyday of our lives…if our day revolved around Christ as the centerpiece, our Christmas would revolve around the reason we celebrate.  Everyday should be CHRISTmas … Everyday we should celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Everyday we should be thankful for the love of a Father who would send his Son to this world with a plan for salvation.  God looked at the world, saw OUR sin, and knew there was only ONE way to save us from ourselves…JESUS CHRIST!  This Christmas, remember your focus…remember the reason…remember Christ this CHRISTmas.

C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.

I can remember growing up and hearing a song that my dad sang in church once when I was a young child.  In fact, I can remember hearing the chorus and taking it all in to view the true meaning of Christmas as a young man.

The chorus was simple, yet powerful when discussing Christmas day, and I would encourage each of you to take a moment this week and truly focus on what Christmas truly means.  If you have children, share it with them, and let us all get back to the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas…let’s remember this Christmas to keep Christ in it and tell the story of a Savior that was born to save the world.

The verse of the song talks about being a child and Christmas meaning just one thing…getting presents.  I feel this is the common thought that goes through the mind of children everywhere…you can see it in their eyes when they enter a room.  For many of them, the first place they head is to the tree to count how many presents they have.  The song continues with the writer mentioning their mother sitting them down and teaching them to spell C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. The Chorus of the song fits into the acronyms that I have been doing over the past few weeks, and goes like this:

“’C’ is for the Christ child, born upon this day; ‘H’ for herald angels in the night.  ‘R’ means our Redeemer, ‘I’ means Israel. ‘S’ is for the star that shone so bright. ‘T’ is for three wise men, they who traveled far; ‘M’ is for the manger where He lay.  ‘A’’s for all He stands for, ‘S’ means shepherds came and that’s why there’s a Christmas day.”

As we approach the Christmas season, let us look upon Christmas by remembering the real reason for why we celebrate the birth of the Savior.  Another song that can help put it into perspective during this season is “Christmas is all in the Heart” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Chapman touches on the subject of Christmas with sincerity and heartfelt reality that can hit home during the times we are in during the Christmas season.  One set of the song’s lyrics sum it up this way:

“No, it’s not in the snow that may or may not fall, and it’s not in the gifts around the tree. It’s in the love heaven gave, the night our Savior came, and that same love can still be found wherever you are, ‘Cause Christmas is all in the heart.”

I would encourage each of you to look over every aspect of the season, focusing on the true meaning.  You may not have the money to have a great Christmas (in the eyes of the world), but in the eyes of the Lord, you can have the best Christmas you have ever had when you realize the most amazing gift that you have ever received – Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus the focus of your Christmas season?  Are you able to celebrate Christmas, even if only in your heart?  Focus on the true meaning of Christmas this year and share it with your children and those around you.  Take the time to read the Christmas story, but remember that Christmas doesn’t end with the manger; Christmas ends with the Cross of Calvary, where the joy of the Christmas season ends with the redemption of the world.  Jesus came to the world to save the world, and it all started in a manger in Bethlehem.

Dark Days

I have become more aware lately of Dark Days that we all tend to face…the reality is that we are either entering dark days, living in them, or coming out of them…but for the most part, we are all facing them or leaving them behind, but we all tend to have them.

These days can come in many forms, disappointment, despair, distress, doubt, depression…no matter the description, dark days can truly break us down and cause us to question a lot of things.  We feel that we are alone in our battle…maybe it didn’t go the way that we had quite hoped.  Just speaking Biblically there are many stories in scripture that we see similar stories.

Job, obviously had some dark days…he lost everything, but in the end he realized that God had always been working on his behalf. When the world came against him, Job trusted and praised God.

Peter didn’t plan to deny Christ, even when he was told he would, yet, when the time came, Peter denied Christ three times and found himself in some of the darkest of days.

Uncertainty, doubt, depression can overcome us and leave us feeling less than stellar on many days, and if we begin to rest in those days we find ourselves even deeper than we could have ever imagined.  I don’t think that Mary thought that her bringing a baby boy who was God’s own son into the world would happen in a stable, but yet it did; and the reality is, no matter our circumstances, light can still pierce the darkness.

That light…Jesus.  Jesus is the light that has already pierced the darkness for us, but we many times allow things to cast shadows and leave us in a false darkness, not realizing that He is right there with us.  Today, remove those shades, and allow the light of Christ to crash the darkness in your life. No matter how difficult the struggle that you face, God can and will work through the circumstances to bring you out of those dark days.

The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always the train.

Distracted Living

Let’s face it…almost all of us have a cell phone.

Lately I have been noticing something more and more in my own life, and honestly, I have seen evidence of it around also…that is the increased usage of cell phones, more specifically, smart phones.  They’re all the rage…they’re in just about everyone’s hands from 10 to 90, and the reality of it is that it has our attention.

Many of us (myself included) feel lost without our phone attached to us in some way…we almost can’t function without our phone.  We spend more than 4 hours a day focused on that small screen looking up news, texting, calling, browsing social media, and more.  A recent study showed that the average American adult uses the cell phone 4-5 hours a day and sends and receives around 1,000 text messages daily…

Where this really started to hit home for me is that I have realized that my phone usage has begun to be such a part of my daily routine that even my prayer life has taken a hit because of this modern marvel.  This began to bother me, because Prayer should be something that we are focused continually on.  In fact, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us that God’s will for us in Jesus is to, “Rejoice always, Pray continually, and be thankful in all circumstances.”

When we begin replacing these things, they begin to suffer…we begin to allow these things to take a back seat to posting that new Facebook status or Instagram post. No matter how many times we post something and say, “#Blessed” or “#Thankful”, it isn’t the same.  We must rejoice always and be in constant conversation with God…that is His will for us in Christ.

It also tells us to be thankful IN, not for, all circumstances…that means we may be going through a difficult time, but that isn’t time for us to take it to Facebook and let everyone know how awful our neighbor is or how bad we have it…it is a time to hit our knees and pray, being grateful and rejoicing that God has given us an opportunity to see Him work in our lives.

Let’s drop the distracted living, put down our phones, and turn to Christ.  If we want to see things improve in this world, we must take steps to remove the distractions that take our focus off of Him and allow Him to lead us….it’s hard to see where He is leading you with your head down in your phone.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life…no one comes to the Father except by me.” – Jesus (John 14:6)