Be Careful

No evil trio

 

Luke 6:45

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

When I was a child there was a song that our children’s choir sang that said, “Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down with love. So be careful little eyes what you see.” The song went on to warn ears to be careful what they hear and little tongues to be careful what they say. I don’t know if children choirs still sing this song in most churches today, but I think they should because this song is correct in its warnings.

What we take in through our eye and ear gates is going to be what we put into our hearts and what comes out through our mouths!

If you know someone with a nasty attitude or a sour disposition and you HATE talking to them because you know they are going to be negative, nasty or uncooperative, it is because they have taken in nasty, negative uncooperative things. Jesus said it best in the above quoted scripture. We act, respond and deal with other people and things based on what’s in our hearts.

We take in so much without really thinking about it. We watch all types of TV shows, “The Have and Have Nots”, “Devious Maids, “Scandal”, “Modern Family”, “Blacklist” “Empire” and the list goes on and on. Do we ever stop and think about what we’re really taking into our hearts and minds? Do we really stop and think about the type of lifestyles we’re cheering for while we watch our favorite shows?

We read and watch all types of videos and stories on-line. We watch and read stories of people fighting each other in the street, bullies mistreating other people at school, teachers being hit and beat while they are trying to teach their classes, near pornographic dance moves and again, the list goes on and on. And we sit there looking and listening, in taking without thinking that these images and words are going to manifest themselves in us at one time or another.

I know I’m guilty of leaving of eye and ear gates open to feeding my heart ungodliness. So how about you? What are you taking in through your eye and ear gates?

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

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Out of the Box

Created Chosen Called

August 12, 2015

Genesis 1:26

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

When I purchase a rose for my garden, I have a plan. I know where I’m going to put the rose, the nutrient levels I need the soil to possess and how to feed, water and protect the rose until its root system stabilizes in its new environment. I have a plan that the rose doesn’t know anything about.

The rose is shipped to me in a plain brown cardboard box. There is nothing in the box with the rose except other bare root roses that I may have purchased at the same time. If I purchased a single rose, it is in the box by itself.

I can only image how the rose must feel when I plant it in its new place. It goes from being in a dark empty box without soil or water into an open air space with at least six hours of sunlight, soil, vitamins and food. What a shock to its fragile system!

I’m sure if my roses could complain they would. They have probably become use to living in the dark bareness of the box but, in order to live, the rose must have the sun, soil, water and food, things that the roses can’t get while in the box. So, they may have become accustom to living in the box, if they stay there, they will die.

Yes, God does the same thing to and for us. You and I ask God for growth; financial, spiritual or personal growth so we can do more, have more or become more for the Kingdom of God. He answers our prayers and responses to our request. He begins to move us from our dark and confining boxes to new places where we can grow. And what do we do? We complain!

We wanted to grow where we were, in the confines of the boxes we have put ourselves in! We don’t want to change, we don’t want other things to change, we don’t want to do anything different, and we just want to grow where we are. Sorry! It doesn’t work that way!

God did not create us to be confined to dark, lifeless boxes. He created us to live in His Son and in the sun. What does that mean? It means God created us to live our spiritual lives in the light, soil and be feed by the life of His son AND to live our natural lives in the abundance here on earth. God never designed us to live in lack or less than. Neither in this life nor the one to come.

In order for us to grow, God has to move us to a place where the totality of who we are can be used and displaced as we experience new things. God is taking out of our boxes because He wants us to live and not die in the dark empty lives so many of us are now living.

Yes, it’s time to come out of your box!

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” II Corinthians 9:10

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You Were Chosen

Picked out

 

Matthew 22:14

For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

When I chose a rose for my garden, I don’t pick it based on one characteristics of the rose; I pick it based on the totality of the rose. So not only do I pick a rose based on its color, I chose it on how the blooms are going to look. Will the blooms have lots and lots of petals or just a few?  I chose it based on the fragrance; is it lightly fragranced or is it heavily fragranced?  Does it smell like honey or does it smell like a traditional rose?

I also look at the type of leaves the rose is going to have. Will the leaves be bright green and shiny or will they be a matted green? I also look at the stem of the roses; will they be long-stemmed so I can use the rose in a single rose vase or will they be short stemmed so I can use them in an arrangement?

So you see, everything that the rose is goes into my decision-making process of whether or not I’m going to plant the rose in my garden. Yes, each facet of the rose is important, but one piece without the others doesn’t make the rose what it really is. It is the totality of the rose plant that makes the rose what I want in my garden.

God does the same thing with us. When God chooses us to do a particular assignment He chooses us based on the totality of who we are; our temperament, the things that we’ve gone through in order to bring us to the place where we are now, our looks, our background and upbringing. All these things make us who we are and are the reasons God chooses us for our assignments.

Unfortunately, all too often we look at ourselves through the eyes of the world system and only see what we think the world sees when it looks at us. The world system says over and over again, we have to be super model thin in order to be considered worthy of being called attractive. The world system says we have to be rich or famous in order to be counted amount those whom others should listen to. The world system says we have to be educated with the right type of degrees and from the right schools or we’ll be outsiders and not allowed to join them at the popular table. But, no matter what the world tells us, it does not stop God from doing what He’s going to do and it shouldn’t stop us from doing what God has assigned us to do.

If God has given you an assignment, and He has given us all an assignment, what the world system says about you doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. When God gave each of us our assignments, He has already measured the totality of who we are and He knows we can successfully complete the assignment.

The world system only knows the labels it has placed on us. God knows who He created us to be.

 

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27

 

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Prayer for Today

Man with bills

 

August 6, 2016

Father, I know so many people who are suffering financially right now. I know for some people their financial problems are their own making; over spending, using their credit cards without a plan or a thought and being a glutton when it comes to material things.

For others Lord, their financial problems came about because of loss of job, downsized salary, college for their children, or maybe for themselves, divorce or illness. No matter the reason for the financial stress and stretch they find themselves in, I pray that You will deliver them out of everyone.

We know when we go after money rather than coming after You, and Your will for our lives, we show a love of money, which is the root of all evil. This is because we know that You will supply all our needs according to the riches of Your glory in Jesus Christ. We know that Your word says that money answers all things, but we are to seek Your kingdom first, and everything else we need will be added to us.

Father, in the midst of the financial pressures that Your people are experiencing, please help us stay focused on You and Your will for our lives. Our hope is in You. We need You to be true to Your word and provide us as only You can. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture references:

Ecclesiastes 10:19

I Timothy 6:10

Philippians 4:19

Matthew 6:33

 

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The Same but Different

cropped-julians-pix-6691.jpg

James 1:13 – 15

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

I have a dozen roses in my front yard. I basically care for each of them the same way; I feed and water them at the same time, clip them when they need it and make sure the soil nutrient levels are correct. I care for them equally.

My Double Delight rose, which is pictured above, is right at my front door because it’s beautiful and has a strong honey sweet aroma. When you walk up to my door and Double Delight is in bloom, the last thing you smell before you come into my house is the sweet fragrance of the rose. YUMMY!

The problem with the Double Delight is it is susceptible to black spots and yellow leaves. It is so susceptible to the disease that I have to pay special attention to the rose all summer because if I allow the disease a little room it will destroy every leaf on the Double Delight and defoliate the rose completely.

Right next to the Double Delight I have the John F. Kennedy rose; which is beautiful too but in a very different way than the Double Delight. The John F. Kennedy rose is not susceptible to black spots or yellow leaves but, Japanese Beatles LOVE the John F. Kennedy but they don’t really care for the Double Delight. So, even though the two roses are sitting right next to each other in the garden, they have too different challenges that I have to content with in order to keep them alive and healthy.

It is the same way for us in the Body of Christ. We have been engrafted into the Body of Christ by His redemptive blood and His finished work on the cross. We have been made spiritual siblings and yet, we are all tempted and drawn away from God by our own temptations.

What tempts you to turn away from your relationship with Christ may not bother me at all and what tempts me may not cause you to think about it twice. You see, just like my roses, we are individuals with different challenges, needs and desires. Coming to Christ doesn’t make us clones, it makes us saved. We are still the people we were before our salvation.

Our struggles are the same, our issues are the same, our aptitudes are the same, and the things we are susceptible to are the same. The difference is how we handle the struggles and the issues. The difference is how we handle the temptations. We are all the same; we all have struggles, issues and temptations but we are all different in how we handle them. None of us have any room to throw stones at someone else.

This is why we can’t judge someone else’s walk in Christ. We can’t judge how God is using them, or not, when or how. We don’t know all the particulars in that person life. Only God knows that and He is the one that directs the steps of us all.

One reason I love gardening is because flowers don’t have the ability to look over at another flower and try to compare themselves, whether for better or for worse. They don’t have the ability to see what I’m doing to one plant that I may not be doing to or for them. There is no envy or jealousy between plants like there often is between people.

While we are all the same in Christ because God is not a respecter of person, we are all very different and He treats us different according to His call on our lives.

 

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” Galatians 6:4

 

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Prayer for Today

 

Ask believe receive

July 17, 2015

Father God, I trust You and my faith in You does not waiver. My issue is waiting for You to manifest what I need after I’ve prayer, waited, prayed and waited some more. I know You will do “it”, but when? This is the sticking point of my faith.

Forgive me for worrying and fretting when things don’t go the way I think they should. Forgive me for grumbling and complaining when Your timing doesn’t coincide with my timetable.

I trust You Lord. I have faith that You will so everything You said You’d do. I’ve allowed the reality of our microwave society to creep into my relationship with You and distort my perception of time.

I trust You and have faith in You, but too often I allow bad judgement or bad decisions that I’ve made to put me in a bind and then I expect You to run to my rescue. Over time, I’ve put myself in bad situations but, I want you to get me out of the mess I’ve made in an instant. Forgive me!

The truth is, You don’t operate on the world’s timetable and, for my own good; hopefully to teach me a lesson, You allow me to be uncomfortable so I can learn to be content with what I have, be content with where I am and involve You in my decisions.

Father, it is not my intent to operate with a lack of faith. Please help me to wait. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Scripture References:

Psalm 27:14       Psalm 130:5        II Corinthians 5:7

Psalm 37:1 – 8   Isaiah 30:18        Philippians 2:14

Psalm 40:1          Romans 10:17

 

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Real Faith – Is Not for Wimps

 

faith possible not easy

Habakkuk 2:2 – 3

“Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” 

If we follow God’s commands and decrees and are obedient to all God has instructed us to do and carry out our duties in excellence and expectation; we are operating by faith. Can I say that this is much easier said than done!

We often feel if we do everything we’re supposed to do then God should do what WE want Him to do, the way WE want Him to do it and when WE think it should be done. NOPE! That’s not how this works!

In the aforementioned passage of scripture, Habakkuk was asking God questions because, while he trusted God, he was confused about God’s methods. Habakkuk states, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts…” (Hab. 2:1a NIV) In other words, Habakkuk says he’s not going to stop doing what he’s supposed to do while he awaits God’s answers. He’s going to continue to fulfill his purpose and wait with expectation to get the answer he needs from God. Habakkuk knows he maybe rebuked by God, but he still seeks an answer and is waiting for God to give it to him.

To truly say we are operating in faith, we must wait for God’s timing AND still do what He told us to do WITHOUT complaining. Asking God questions, trying to get clarification is okay, but complaining is not okay. Remember when the Israelites started to complain in the wilderness after God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt? A trip that should have taken days ended up taking 40 years!

True faith; waiting on God to do it faith, can be nerve wracking! Faith can cause you to loose friends and gain haters. True faith can be a dividing line; do you really trust God enough to work while you wait on the answer? Do you really trust God enough to know that the answer is coming in God’s perfect time which will probably not coincide with your time? Are you willing to never give up on your purpose no matter what other people may say or do?

True faith is not neat and pretty. True faith is often not easy nor convenient. It doesn’t come in a cute little package all wrapped up and delivered to us just when we need it. TRUE FAITH IS WORK!

Noah operated in true faith.  He built an ark, according to God specifications without a basis for building it. People talked about him, ridiculed him but still, because he had true faith, he worked on the project God gave him until it was complete. Jesus operated in true faith. He allowed himself to die on the cross because He had enough faith to believe He would be raised on the third day.

So now, ask yourself, do you operate in true faith or wimp faith?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58

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Hold On – Part II (Revised)

Ice age squirrel holding on

Joshua 1:5

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God has told us that He will never leave us; He will always be with us. This is why we don’t have to seek after the things of the world system. We don’t have to love money, fortune or fame. We don’t have to give up our morals nor ethics in order to fit in with the world. We don’t have to go along to get along with everyone else because God, the Father of all things, has made us a promise; ‘I will never leave your; never will I forsake you.’

This means as children of God we can stand and fight just like the Israelites fought at Jericho; in an unorthodox non-world system method. The children of Israel marched around a fortified wall, singing and playing trumpets in order to bring down the wall of Jericho. Who does that? Those who trust in the Lord our God.

Our methods of warfare will be unorthodox by the world’s standards. Who shows love, kindness and compassion to people who are trying to take their jobs, their home or their car? Who still smiles and speaks to people who are rejecting you, mistreating you and saying all manner of evil against you? Those who trust in God because we know, God is with us!

Trusting in God will lead us to unorthodox methods of warfare because we know God has already promised us victory. “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you…” These words weren’t just for Joshua, they are for us too!

We can hold on when it looks like all is lost because we have confidence that our God is not only with us, but He’s for us! We can be strong and courageous, unswerving and stout hearted because we know that no matter what happens God is standing beside us to care for us.

Even in the most desperate or difficult times we can keep our lives free from the love of worldly things  and be content with what God has given us because we know that God will provide for all our needs according to His riches in glory through His son, Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19).

Proverbs 19:23 says it like this: “The fear (respect) of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” If we respect this truth and promise of God; that He is with us at all times, then we can rest untouched by trouble!

DO NOT GIVE UP NOW! God has been and will continue to be with you.  He sees what you’re going through and He’s right beside you to help you through it. This is not the time or place to give up!  Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus because He is walking right in front of you; The Holy Spirit is leading, guiding and directing you down the correct path for you. Remember Gods’ hook, “Hold on, I’m here!”

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave your; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”’ Hebrews13:5 – 6

 

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A F.I.T. Prayer Life

Prayer

 

F.I.T (Frequency, Intensity and Time)

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 (NIV)

Several years ago I hired a personal trainer. One of the first things he told me was, “I believe in F.I.T., which stands for frequency, intensity and time. If you really want to better your health and fitness you need to work out frequently, be intense in your workout and give ample time to complete the workout.”

The philosophy of F.I.T has stuck with me through the years. I found it to be true in every facet of life. If I want to save money, I have to monitor my spending frequently, be intense about self-control and make routine assessments (time) about where I am with my financial goal. The same thing is true for my spiritual life.

In the King James Version of the I Thessalonians scripture mentioned above says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing”. In this scripture the Bible sums up our F.I.T for prayer. It speaks to how often we should pray, how intense our prayers should be and how much time we should spend in prayer.

Daniel is a wonderful example of praying continually. He prayed three times a day whether he was under attack or not. David and Paul are also good examples of F.I.T. prayer. But the best example is Jesus. When he was about to be delivered into the hands of the Roman soldiers he prayed until he cried blood. But when he prayed to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead, the prayer wasn’t nearly as intense as the one he prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

F.I.T is the key is to key to a rich prayer life:

 

Frequency: You set aside time that is specifically dedicated to having a dialog, not a monologue, with God on a routine basis. Dialog means everyone in the conversation gets to talk and everyone gets to listen. Unless you are a late night talk show host, none of your conversations should be monologues.  Your prayer life is not hit or miss if you are practicing frequency.

Intensity: Intensity means the correct amount of effort to achieve your desired results.  Some people think that intensity means flat out all the time. That’s not the case. Every day I work out I’m not a sweaty mess. Some days I’m lifting weights, which don’t require as much intensity from me as floor exercises or cardio. What I am trying to achieve determines the amount of intensity I use.

Sometimes you may be praying, crying and lying prostrate on the floor. Other times, you may be praying while you’re driving, while you’re working or during an event. Your intensity will be different because your amount of effort is different.

Time: How much time are you willing to carve out of your daily routine to devout to communicating with God? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? An hour? How much time you devout to your communication with God will determine your relationship with God! The more time you spend with Him, the better you get to know Him.

So, how F.I.T. is your prayer life?

 

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Dying on the Vine

 

Tomator rotting on vine

I Corinthians 12:4-6

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in men.”

For the first time in my life I decided to grow a vegetable this year. I was talking to the farmer where I purchased my flowers and told her what I wanted to do and she suggested a table top tomato plant. She said they were easy to grow, easy to maintain and I could put them someplace where I would see them every day so they wouldn’t die on the vine.

She was correct on all points: the table top tomatoes are easy to care for and maintain, plus they sit on my deck so I see them every day and I can watch them as they flower, fruit and mature right before my eyes. If only our spiritual gifts were as easy to grow, maintain and watch. Maybe then so many Christians wouldn’t allow their gifts to die on their spiritual vines.

There have been several times I almost gave up writing Daily Prayers and Words for Today. I often thought “no one reads them any way” or “what I’m doing isn’t helping anyone” or, and here’s the best excuse I had for giving up this portion of my ministry, “who am I to try to help people live a fuller life in Christ. I struggle with stuff every day, how can I help them?”

During these times of defeat I’d still write the Daily Prayers and the Words for Today but I wouldn’t send them out. Then, I’d get an email from someone saying, “hey, where’s the daily reading?” Sometimes I’d know the person but often times I didn’t. I realized that what God had me doing in this portion of my ministry was important and helpful to people other than just me. And, if I continued to be selfish with what God was giving me, then the fruit that other people needed would die on the vine in my spiritual garden.

We all have spiritual fruit which grows out of our gifts. EVERYONE has at least one gift, according to I Corinthians 12:11, given to us by the Holy Spirit and, the Holy Spirit made the determination of who got which gift.

Sometimes we allow our fruit to die on the vine because we don’t value the gift we’ve been given. Selah!

“All these are the works of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

I Corinthians 12:11

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