What are we Doing?

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:1-9, ESV

This scripture speaks volumes to us, especially in today’s time, and this week I want to issue a challenge to each of you who reads this. There are many things that we do that can keep us from experiencing the blessings of God in our lives, and the unfortunate part of this is that many times we do not see it because we are so sure we are in the right.

I can think of a number of things going on in our society today that speak to this, and honestly, I know there will be some of you who disagree with me on this, but I invite you to please look at this with me and study it yourself. I feel that there are groups today at work in our world who think that there is nothing wrong with what they do, and in looking at scripture we can see why. Proverbs 16:2 tells us that in our own eyes we are fully doing what is right, but God weighs the spirit. In our mind’s eye we are doing what we feel is right, but does the Bible not also tell us to be careful what we show approval for?

There are many issues that we have around us in society today that we need to filter through the Bible to make sure we are not approving something that is wrong in the eyes of God. The unfortunate thing that I see around us today is that we are all guilty of this in some way or another, but we lose sight because our own ways are right in our own eyes, while we spend time trying to correct someone else’s problems because we feel they need correction.

Here is our issue, whatever it may be, we tend to criticize others of the way they are living while we ourselves have things that are hampering our walk. According to what we see in this section from Proverbs 16, all of our steps should be directed by God, not just his or her steps while mine are surely rooted in God. He did not ask us to condemn one another, but to love and respect everyone. Truthfully, according to what we see in verse 3 is that our commitment to the Lord and His ways will establish our plans and actions today. This means that if we focus on His ways, He will direct our steps; if we commit to His ways, our hearts are transformed to His purpose.

This covers all manners of sin…we cannot be on the fence about what God’s purpose and will are in our lives. Whether it be lies, lust, or any other sin that we come across in the world today, it is not our job to allow and show approval for things that God has spoken of in His word. His word gives us clear definitions of what is right and wrong, and the biggest problem that man has today in the world is that we all want to justify our own actions by ignoring what God says, but that can be dangerous. Again, God is clear about His intentions for us in His word. Don’t let your fence riding cause you to miss out on God’s blessing.

“Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

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Eating Crow

If you’ve ever heard or used the term “Eat Crow” then you likely know where this is going, but it may not be exactly what you’re thinking…

That being said, I must first start off giving an apology to any, and every, one that I have ever offended by spouting off out of frustration before allowing God to form my thoughts into encouraging and worthwhile statements; meaning, I realize, and have come to realize that I have said a number of things that have caused regret in my life; saying things I have heard or reacting before giving myself time to even assess a situation, or if I have said something that wasn’t intended the way it was taken,  I am quite sorry.

This apology is extended to anyone who I have caused any type of heartache and difficulty to…no matter what it is or why…I ask for your forgiveness…

I say this, because for us to move forward in life we must find redemption…and over the past few weeks I have come to realize a need for myself to self-evaluate and truly examine the heart of the issue…my heart in the issue.

That being said…I also realize that we need not beat ourselves up over things that we realize were mistakes once the moment is passed…and believe me…we have all done this…we have all eaten crow at some point in our lives.

We are not unlike some of the closest to Jesus, however; just look at the story of Peter…How much Crow did he have to eat after telling Jesus that he would not deny him?

Take a lesson from Peter, or Paul…Or maybe look at Job, David, Noah, Adam and Eve…in fact, many of the Biblical accounts of those who we consider saints of the Scripture made mistakes, but it was through those mistakes that God developed them into who they became.

It is with this in mind that I have been thinking and praying on three verses out of the book of Ephesians:

“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, CSB)”

We must bear burdens, not cause them.  We must take account in our own lives for our own actions.  Live worthy of the calling you have received…or, as the KJV puts it, the vocation to which you are called. The only way we can move forward in life is with a unity of the Spirit, bonded in peace…let’s face it….Crow really doesn’t taste that good, so what do you say we remove it from our diets?

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.

Faith that Heals

“For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.” – Matthew 9:21-22 (NKJV)

These two verses have been a focus of my studies lately, trying to get a grip on exactly what we can learn from this woman and her actions…and as the scene has played over and over in my mind, one realization I have come to is that two things happened here that can show us some great things about the God we serve.

First, the woman knew that if she could just get close enough to touch his garment she could find healing. She just wanted to find peace and comfort from 12 years of sickness, so she decided that she needed to be near Jesus.  She knew that just being in His presence would help…and we all feel that way, whether we know it or not.  How do I know this? Because we begin to pray when the going gets tough…whether we truly believe it will work or not, we give it a shot, right?

But that being said, the second thing that we see may show us why our prayers seem to go unanswered…Jesus answered her and told her to, “Be of good cheer…your faith has made you well.”  He didn’t say to her that he was glad she was able to touch him, he told her that her faith had made her well…HER FAITH is what brought her to his presence in the first place…and when there, she put action to it and realized that she could be healed if in his presence and by faith…she believed it would happen and it did.  She went away and was well from that point forward.

Do you have the faith that heals? Are you struggling through life in such a way that you may say a prayer, but may not believe in its power?

We must have the faith to approach his presence with a desire to simply touch his garment…to be healed by his power because we know he’s the great healer….We must seek his presence in our lives and know healing will come…because after all, it was her faith that made her well, and it will be your faith that will heal you in your time of trouble and need.

God has given us His Spirit and His Word to be that presence in our lives today, we must submit to His authority in our lives, seek the cleansing He offers, and allow Him to do what is needed.  He has given us the promise never to leave us nor forsake us, and he has given us each other for encouragement and support.  Approach Him with faith today!

Cover Songs

In the Music Business I have noticed lately that there are a number of songs out there that have been redone recently by different groups.  Some have a good quality to them, but we all know that it is hard to replace the original.

What I have realized in thinking about this is that there are many different versions of  the same song, but the original always seems to be the best copy because it has the artist’s original intentions for the song.  The original is the purest form of the song, it always seems to be the best and most preferred version for the listener…especially the listener that loves music.

That being said, there are often good cover songs out there, songs that remain pure to the artist intentions, and sometimes you will find a version that compares very closely to the original, but again, there is just something to be said about the original.

In thinking about this, however, I also realized that there is a preference for some to the first version of the song that they heard.  If a younger generation hears a song by a new artist that is a cover, but have never heard the original, sometimes they tend to prefer the version that they heard first.  Many times it tends to be the first version that is heard that becomes the one that is hard to overcome when hearing other versions….this leads me into a discussion that takes place within the church.

There are many versions of the scripture that have taken hold within the church today, and honestly, I understand the debate…but let me ask this question: Is the Word leading them to the One, True God?  This is not a debate about which scripture to use…in fact, what I want to discuss is that we are to be examples of Christ to the world…in essence, we are his cover song.

Is your life echoing the original, or have you messed with the tune and tried to make what was perfect better? Are you living a life that resembles Christ or are you trying to become a different version of Christ? There was only one version of Christ, and that version came to this earth and lived a perfect life, put it all behind him and endured a cross that was intended for you and I…and we are simply asked to live a life that resembles Him to the world.

Since we are the cover of the original, we may look and sound similar, but we are not the original…rather than trying to improve on the original, I would challenge you to try to look and sound as close to the original as you can, so that others can see the truth about who He is. The fact remains that the original was the purest form of what we are to be in this life we have on earth, and there is not a single one of us that can do it better than Him…so stop trying to form your own version of the Gospel, and live out the life that resembles the original artist. The Original was Jesus Christ Himself…do others see Christ at work in you? Or do they see you working to try and improve on Christ?

Just a thought.

“I Just Don’t Get it…Why Lord?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why did this person have to die?”

There are many questions that we sometimes ask; especially in times when we thought things should have been different.  We just don’t understand why things happen the way that they do in this life…that being said, we must look to the scripture for answers.

One of the best examples that we can find is the story of Job.  Job was a man who served God…he was a man that caught the devil’s attention and one that Satan wanted to cause to fall away.  Let me start by reminding you, if Satan is challenging your faith, you need to stay strong, you wouldn’t be on his radar if you were already living a life for him.

So why do bad things happen to God’s people?  Because Satan wants to try and make anything happen that will cause us to question our faith.  He took away Job’s family, his home, and all his belongings, but Job stayed strong through the testing and fire.  Are you staying strong in your trials today?  Scripture tells us in James 1:2-4:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The testing that comes from Satan will produce a sturdy faith that will stand firm no matter what storm we face if we will keep our focus on God.  Job stood firm, chose to continue following God, and when he became weak and questioned God, we see that God answered him, reminding him of who He (God) is and when all was said and done, Job was doubly blessed by the trial he faced.

Remember:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:26-28

God will help you through, don’t let these trials tear you down, but let them become a blessing; both for you and for someone else.

Life…Filtered

Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram…

All of these apps for our smartphones have become a way for folks to put aside the reality of life and almost put on an alternate reality in many cases…

Before you get mad, let me explain. It all has to do with filters.

Each of these has a way to alter reality and make it more appealing to our audience…we can change the lighting of a landscape, we can remove blemishes from our faces and add a dog face if we so desire.

What it comes down to is that we can take what we feel is ugly and turn it into something that we think people will be drawn to…something that they will talk about…but are we being real? Or simply just trying to mask the ugliness of life?

We tend to try and do this with sin as well…we see the ugliness in our lives and we try to cover it up by “filtering” it.  We try to cover it with a story of how it’s ok for us to do this or that because “God wants us to be happy,” or “God didn’t design us to be boring.” But the truth is, he does want us to be happy, but not by covering up the world and hiding who we really are.  In fact, the best filter that we can put on is Christ.

Jesus is like a permanent Snapchat beauty filter. He removes the blemishes from our lives, takes away the dark and the sin and leaves us beautiful before God.  He has smoothed out our wrinkles and made us look brand new because of his sacrifice.  Stop trying to find things to cover your sin and allow the blood of Christ to wash them away.

Live life unfiltered by the world so that the savior can work with the beauty that is the real you…allow him to be your filter….there is nothing more beautiful than when others can see Christ in you.