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Have You Had Enough?

Have You Had Enough?

Let’s face it, life is filled with frustrations and pressure seems to come from all angles. These might include IRS notices, bill collectors, family issues, politics in the workplace, betrayal of friends, health issues, destructive and uncontrollable behaviors, lawsuits, and last but not least bounced checks.

Have I hit a nerve yet?

Life is messy and can be very unfair. Most of us start with such high expectations of life and I believe this is where much of the problem lies. Now that I know what I know, at 50+ years of age, I don’t think growing up with fairy tales, Disney movies, and cartoons is such a good idea.

I’m no psychologist, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever we fill our minds with is what forms these unrealistic expectations. Does the saying “garbage in, garbage out” ring a bell? The problem with children is that they don’t know what reality really is. They are still trying to figure things out, but whatever their minds process gets stored and it has a lasting effect.

So here I am today, an adult, with unrealistic expectations trying to figure things out and constantly disappointed. The dream house, car, spouse and job are nowhere to be seen. The idea of retirement still motivates many people, but that is no longer looking probable for many.

John 16: 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Reading this verse tells us a lot. Jesus tells us things so that we can have peace in Him. We will have trials and sorrows. And we can have confidence because Jesus has overcome the world.

Compare the truth we just read from the John 16 verse above with “…and they lived happily ever after.”

Do you see the problem with this?

Regardless of where we got our expectations, we all experience trials and have to deal with life as it plays out. So what about you?

Have you had enough?

Are you about ready to “throw in the towel”? (It’s OK, keep reading!)

It seems that God allows ourselves to reach these most frustrating times so that we in some way reach a “breaking point”. You can probably relate, this is when everything seems to be going wrong, the world conspires against you, and the pressure builds up and it leads us to either burst into tears of uncontrollable sobbing or shout out in a fit of rage, or both.

We can only handle so much and after allowing things to get to us, there is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and that’s when we let it go. Can anyone relate to this, or is this just me? When we come to God for help in these times I think we are exactly where He wants us to be, which is fully surrendered.

The fact is that we are powerless (without Jesus)

For many of us, after years of thinking we had things under control and that we didn’t require anyone’s assistance, we came to realize that we really needed God’s help and that led us to humble ourselves and cry out to Him:

Exodus 2: 23 Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.

This is where God steps in and starts to work.

We reach a place of brokenness and I think this is necessary or a normal course of action in which God uses to work in our lives. I’ve reached several breaking points with tears and they end up being times of healing and end with a great sense of peace on the other side.

Let’s examine a few characters in the Word of God who have reached a breaking point and see what God’s response was and where it led, shall we?

Exodus 5: 19 The Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble when they were told, “You must not reduce the number of bricks you make each day.” 20 As they left Pharaoh’s court, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. 21 The foremen said to them, “May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!”

22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

This was a particularly bad day in Moses’ life. It seemed that what he was doing was backfiring against the Israelites. Moses could not do a thing about it, except take it back to God, the One who sent him there, to begin with. Notice that he is very direct with God and he doesn’t hold anything back, including God’s call to send him in the first place. Also, as far as he was concerned, God had done nothing so far towards releasing the people.

What was God’s response?

Exodus 6: 1 Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”

2 And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’- but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. 4 And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. 5 You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.

In verse 1 God explains to Moses that it was all part of His plan so that “he will force them to leave his land!” And then God makes it clear who He is, the same God as his ancestors and He reaffirms the covenant.

Now let’s look at Elijah:

After winning the contest on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal, Jezebel threatens his life…

1 Kings 19: 1 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

He had had enough.

You see, even this great prophet and man of God had a breaking point. From this point, the Lord feeds and restores him and is then led to Mount Sinai where God teaches him a few things.

And then there’s Job:

Job 3: 1 At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said:
3 “Let the day of my birth be erased,
and the night I was conceived.
4 Let that day be turned to darkness.
Let it be lost even to God on high,
and let no light shine on it.

Of course, after having lost everything, Job goes on and on in utter agony, understandably. He doesn’t know why the tragedy (read chapters 1 and 2) happened to him and he wants answers. Sound familiar?

Finally, after an unspecified amount of time, God responds…

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Job 38
1 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
3 Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

Notice how God puts Job in his place right away, as if to say: “I am the Creator of all things, and you are a mere human”
God goes on and on to set His servant straight, bringing Job to this conclusion:

“I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Job 42
1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Through Job’s trials and sorrows, he questions God and really wrestles with his circumstances and why God allowed it. Ultimately it all leads to his repentance and Job takes back everything he said. Through these trials and sorrows, he becomes a changed man, true transformation (even in the Old Testament!).

Although he was the most righteous man in all the land (Chapter 1), he had only heard about God before. But now, after going through a tragic sequence of events and the dialog with his friends and Maker, he has seen God with his own eyes. Without his trials, would he have had a chance to get to know God in such a personal manner?

Psalm 50
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.”

And then there’s Jeremiah

For those that have read about Jeremiah, you know the trials he endured, check out this plea in chapter 15:

Jeremiah 15: 15 Then I said,
“Lord, you know what’s happening to me.
Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
I sat alone because your hand was on me.
I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
like a spring that has gone dry.”

This sounds like a typical prayer, doesn’t it? Can you relate to this? “I’ve done all these good things, and you still allow me to suffer?” I think he crossed the line, however, at the end of verse 18. Then God responds…

Here it comes…

19 This is how the Lord responds:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

God has a great way of putting Jeremiah in his place, then gives Him great instruction and ends up by encouraging him.

Notice that in neither of these responses does God give a direct answer to the questions He’s asked. Nor does He respond to the ignorant accusations. He always offers something that brings conviction, builds up, comforts, encourages and is instructional. He doesn’t get into arguments with His servants, nor defend His decisions. He does things His way, which are always right and it is our decision to work with Him or against Him. It is our responsibility to allow Him to change our lives and transform us so that we work with His perfect plan through our daily surrender, not fight against it.

Matthew 12: 30 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

And Jesus illustrates this Himself in the garden just prior to His own trial:

Luke 22: 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

On that note, I will leave you with these last few verses…

Philippians 1: 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

Galatians 6: 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Romans 5: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Revelation 3: 10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.

“Dear Lord, your Word is precious. Thank you for revealing yourself and your very nature in these passages we’ve read. You give us understanding and help us to know you more. This will help us to be more faithful to you. For we know that your plans for us are good and that you have a great purpose through these trials which we endure. Thank you for these trials and for what you are doing in our lives through them. You are a great and masterful God. We love you and give you all the praise, in His name, amen.”

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 5

Before I get started, for those of you who are wannabe readers but are not currently in the Word, please find a link below to create your own reading plan. And also, will you please let me know that you’ll follow a plan by replying to this message with a simple “I’ll follow a plan”?

Psalm 119: 34 Give me understanding and I will obey Your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.

 Let’s face it, the Bible is massive, compared to most books anyway. To the uninitiated, the thought of reading through it is daunting. This is no surprise; after all, it includes 66 books which contain 1189 chapters! Where does one start? How do you know what you should read next? These thoughts and related questions used to haunt me. I’d have enough guilt that finally the idea came to me to just read the book of Romans.

Can anyone relate to this?

So I made an attempt to read Paul’s letter to the Romans. That worked out for a little while. I started to read it daily but got busy and I’d skip a day here and there, no big deal, right? I’d eventually finish the book, but with little momentum. Then I’d think to myself “What’s next?”. I’d eventually pick another book, days later, and “attack” it in the same manner, which was not with a whole lot of zeal. My Bible reading habit mirrored my faith, which was lukewarm.

Revelation 3: 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!

Anything but lukewarm!

This is not a good verse to identify with, but that’s where I was. I had no real eagerness to read the Good Book, nor did I have any consistency.  Now that I look back on it, of course, I wasn’t very eager, I wasn’t planted in very good soil. A big reason is that there was no one to coach me or inspire me enough to get me started, but was I ready to listen anyway? Were these just excuses?

They were and I knew better. In my heart, I was convicted about reading the Bible. I knew that I should’ve been reading His Word. Besides these excuses, I was labeled a “slow reader” in middle school and that was a big deterrent for me. “I’m not much of a reader.” I’d say to myself. I allowed my past to dictate my present. Although I might read through a book or two, I’d lose momentum, and the “worries of this life and the lure of wealth” (Matthew 13:22) would stifle my reading altogether.

The Christian faith is not for spectators.

It is one that requires participation if any growth is to be expected. To follow Jesus with my whole heart requires all of me, just as the greatest commandment states: “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). The effort put forth into seeking Him wholeheartedly is not easy, but it is incredibly and indescribably rewarding. The joy, the security, the sense of purpose, the sense of belonging and the unnatural peace are benefits that cannot be overrated.

John 4: 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!

These benefits are greatly undervalued by the world, but what do they know anyway? The world is trying to tell us that if we only won the Lotto everything would be great, while the God of all creation is telling us to forsake everything and follow Him.

Luke 14: 33 “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

Reading the Holy Scriptures cannot be overemphasized.

I really hate to say “You have to read the Bible.” But tell me this, how else will you gain an understanding of God as the verse in Psalm 119 started us off? If you desire a “close fellowship” with Him, there are no shortcuts. Relying on sermons and second-hand, processed scripture found in devotionals (like this message) and the latest “Christian Best Seller” is not good enough. While there are powerful devotionals and great Christian books, they are not adequate substitutes for God’s personal Message. The Bible is raw, unfiltered and organic. It was not written to appeal to all readers and be easily understood by just anyone. He reveals Himself only to those who sincerely seek Him.

Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

People are dying because of the Word

Do you realize that there are Christians in remote parts of the world that would do anything to get their hands on the Bible? While here in the States, we have any number of Bibles lying around the house simply collecting dust. What’s wrong with this picture? In those remote Countries, they are willing to die for their faith, while we (the majority of self-proclaimed, North American believers) are not willing to give 15 minutes a day to get closer to God.

Talk is cheap. thirteen years ago I knew all the right words to say and knew enough about God that I could’ve fooled anyone to think I was a believer, but my heart was not in it. I didn’t really understand God, much less know how to love Him. It’s never just about our intellectual knowledge of Him. While this type of knowledge is an asset, what really matters is where our heart is. But the heart is not something we can change, that is His job when we give ourselves to Him.

This is the Divine Partnership.

He calls us, like when He gave you the idea to read this message, and you responded by reading it. He put it on your heart and you responded. These words are promoting Him and prompting you to get to know Him better. The question now becomes “How will you respond to this message?”. You can delete it and forget it, you can “repent of your sins and turn to God” (Matt. 4:17), or say “I think I’ll forward this to my friend who seems to be straying from God, as for me I’ll keep on reading the Word.”.

He calls on us daily to reach out to Him for fellowship. “Will we respond and how?” is the question we each have to ask ourselves. This partnership is meant to grow and develop into something beautiful, precious and fruitful, both for us and for His Kingdom. He actually takes pleasure when we move towards Him, it is mutually beneficial, which is really cool when you think about it.

Genesis 5: 23 Enoch lived 365 years, 24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

If you are content with your relationship with Him, then maybe you’re reading enough. How much is enough? That depends on where you’re at and where your conviction lies. I can’t tell you how much is enough. For me, I personally cannot get enough, but I am where He has led me and this was not my doing. I gave my heart to Him and He’s changed it dramatically since the time I was indifferent, about thirteen years ago.

I once was lukewarm, but now I’m passionate!

Although I knew Jesus and was introduced to Him as a child, I’ve grown more in Him these last thirteen years than the entire 38 years prior. He put it on my heart, late in 2006 to read through His Word in 2007. I responded and never looked back. He took me from a place of indifference to a place of being consumed by Him. He has truly turned my life upside-down and I am eternally grateful for that.

I haven’t got it all figured out, my life is not “perfect” by any stretch of the imagination, but I know in my heart that God is really good. I’m learning the secret, just as Paul did, about being content in any given situation. Just when I find myself losing my peace due to a change or disappointment, I’ve learned how to go to Him and find peace regardless of the situation.

Philippians 4: 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

I am certainly not telling you that you need to read the Bible in a year. While that is a great thing to do, that is too much to ask of many people. It was what I needed and keep in mind that I did not do it alone. My brother Jeff and my friend (and brother) Joe joined me in 2007; that was simply the start for me. The Scriptures came alive as did my soul. Along with the reading, my prayer life slowly started to develop. But at the start, I had very simple, short prayers as I was reading. These prayers went something like this “Lord, I want to know you more, please reveal yourself to me.” That simple.

Learn to be flexible, if you’re rigid, you’ll break and not be useful!

Tell Him that you desire more of Him, and just keep your mind open and do not be “set in your ways”. If you are truly ready for change, He will set things in motion to make that happen. So after praying these prayers do not expect your circumstances to get better, but expect to be drawn closer to Him. As you draw closer to Him there will be “growing pains” and there is a great purpose behind them as they are for your good.

Hosea 10: 
12 I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

That being said, Paul had this to say and I encourage you to study these verses and meditate on them throughout your day. Reading the Word is “doing what is good” and there is no better way to love your neighbor than to draw near to God.

Galatians 6: 7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

How will you respond to Him?

“Oh Heavenly Father, please don’t give up on me. You seem so far away at times and I desire a closer walk with you. I want to know you as Paul knew you. Please change my heart that I may know you more and have a greater desire for your fellowship. Help me to understand your Words. Thank you for calling me and for your loving mercies. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Click here to create your own Bible Reading Plan!



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 4

These last few weeks we discussed the small or simple things that promote spiritual growth. For review, these activities (disciplines) include reading the Word, private prayer, and Spirit-led fellowship. These are the essentials. These disciplines are foundational and without them, we’ll have no firm ground to stand on.

Remaining in Him is making certain that we’ll continue to grow and be ready for whatever challenges He leads us to next. We are never to stop growing as He is inexhaustible. At the very least, we are to pursue these three activities. They lead us to become one Body of Christ and one with Him, which is what He’s always intended.

John 17:  20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

As we also discussed, these three disciplines are in direct pursuit of being obedient to His two greatest commandments. This act of worship and devotion will sow many seeds into Him and He’ll be certain to reward us richly when we’ve shown that we can be faithful and trustworthy with the “small things”.

Matthew 25:  21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

At the very least, the “small things” are the work He’s given us to do. It is in these small, simple tasks that we learn what He likes, dislikes, and how He operates.

Think of it as an orientation for a job.

Only it is an orientation that never stops. Can we ever master the Scriptures? Will we ever really know God? Will we ever be self-sustaining, not needful of others? These are the small things in each of our lives that we can control. These duties will always be required of us in order to keep growing.

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

This is practicing the very presence of the Living God and yields eternal blessings beyond our belief. It is true discipleship and is far more important than what any seminary will teach. You do not need a seminary to teach you how to draw near to God.

The apostle Paul, when considering his knowledge and pedigree had this to say, and it’s quite a statement:

Philippians 3: 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him.

When we seriously pursue Him, we find that He is an incredibly personal God and He takes the greatest interests in the minor details of our everyday lives. What He wants most is our undivided attention and He teaches us lessons that He exclusively designs for us. Always remember that He is the Teacher and seek Him for direction that only He can give.

Only Jesus truly knows you

People cannot ultimately tell you what to do, although they try, they really don’t know what’s best for you or what you should be doing next. But Jesus does know and He wants to show you how to love Him, how to love others and how to live your life in a way that is pleasing to Him. Who else can teach us these things when we are so uniquely shaped and have our own diverse backgrounds and family cultures? In a society that seeks a one-size fits all, cookie cutter way of educating people this is a very foreign concept. Consider what Jesus says here:

Matthew 23:  8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant.  (NIV)

Remember, there is really only one thing worth being concerned about:

Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Is that simple enough?

Ephesians 3: 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

“Dear Lord, you have the words that give eternal life. Where else would I go? Teach me your ways, oh Lord. Help me to know you more and lead me along your path. Thank you for creating me, for loving me, for calling me and for teaching me. You are everything to me and I owe everything to you. My heart is yours, Lord, do with me what you will, I surrender myself to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 3

1 Corinthians 1: 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

Most plants require 3 essentials for growth. For those of you that are not green thumbs, let’s review: They are water, sun, and good or fertilized soil. Most plants require all three.

For the past two weeks, we discussed two elements that are essential for our spiritual growth. They are reading God’s Word and prayer. But they are not enough for us to thrive.

3rd small thing: Christian fellowship

The third essential element (and small thing) is Christian relationships (fellowship).

John 15: 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

This conversation Jesus has with His 11 remaining disciples takes place during the last supper. Notice how intimate it is. This is the culmination of spending three years with each other. Jesus actually exercises this “great love” the next day! This was a very tightly knit group of tax collectors, fishermen, a zealot, and we don’t know so much about the one’s whose professions are not mentioned, but they were a mixed bag that for the most part did not have a lot in common with each other. It was their love for Jesus that made them tightly knit. They were, of course, brothers:

Matthew 12: 48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

We are to be known for our love for one another

It is through these relationships that prove to the world that we are His followers:

John 13: 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Can someone look at your life and know that you are His because of your love for your friends?

These relationships are special and just like any other special relationship they take time to build. This is where believers become “Christ in the flesh” for each other. To me this is “fertile soil” that enables a believer to grow.

Matthew 13: 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

We can just call them “fellowship meetings”. 

These meetings of brothers and sisters should be a safe place where you are listened to without judgment. It should be a place where those issues that weigh heavy on your heart can be discussed openly without fear of laughter or shame.  They should be regularly occurring, consistent events that become typical of our lifestyle as believers. This is the only way for this love to grow, as we practice getting to know and love one another.  The fuel that keeps these meetings “alive” will be the reading of Scripture, discussion, praise and prayer. This can be between 2 or more people. I know this might sound like “just another church service”, but this is much more intimate with fewer people. It is OK to have several meetings a week other than the “regular church” service and I think it is vital.

Other than corporate worship, there should be a small group of the same gender as well as for couples if one is in a relationship.  A small group should be not much more than 6. The bigger a group gets the less likely certain people will share and the more frequently they’ll need to meet for the group to “gel” (grow closer together). The leadership of the group should ensure that the focus of the group stays on the Lord and that the conversation stays positive and encouraging making sure that what is being said is applicable to the whole group. This is not always easy to do and certain people might need to be reined in accordingly. All meetings should start in prayer which sets the tone, always asking for the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation, inviting Him to be present.

I am convinced that this should be the normal lifestyle for the Christian individual. 

For some I know this could be a radical change, but it is this radical change that I needed to get my life in line with His and keep it there.  It did not happen overnight, but over time I started to integrate meetings into my schedule until I had enough and was not overburdened.

These meetings can also take place over the phone. I don’t think its ideal, but it works. Just like any relationship or plant, you will reap what you sow.

These meetings are an investment well worth your time. It is in these meetings where relationships blossom which make our lives incredibly rich.  The more time invested, the greater the value becomes.

If you are not currently in fellowship on a regular basis then
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Ask Him to bring people into your life or help you to meet with others and you can be certain that He will answer a prayer like that. He wants His children to get together and anytime I pray for a great meeting with others He answers it.

Acts 2:  42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

These are the small, yet essential things.

These three regular activities of reading His Word, praying and God-centered meetings are simple, yet essential for spiritual growth. When all three are combined it is most powerful and dynamic. Participation from each individual is key. It is important to make sure each person is engaged and a part of it. The leadership or simply those most mature of the group should naturally pray for all members on a regular basis as well. The evil one does not want these meetings to occur and he will do all that he can to disrupt.

Once meetings are established, it should be considered as if God engineered it and it becomes the work He’s given us to do. This is not work in any negative sense, but work that yields much joy and is something to look forward to because we know that it pleases Him and greatly blesses us.

Keep in mind that the great purpose of these meetings is all about putting into practice the two greatest commandments: To love God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbors as our selves.  These meetings prepare us for ministering to those in greater need and those that do not know God.

Hebrews 10:  24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Are you ready for true growth?

Dear Lord, thank you for the precious relationships that you have blessed me with. Thank you for my family and for those people in my life that make my life rich and blessed. Help me to invest my time where it matters most, which is relationships. I pray that these relationships make you the focal point and lead to greater service for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.



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Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 2

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 2

Psalm 112:

1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands…
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Does this describe you? How do you handle “bad news”? When you realize the last check you wrote will bounce. Or maybe when you’re called into your boss’s office after a day when you know you made a poor decision?  How about when you’ve had an ugly dispute with your spouse who brought up the “D” word and they were serious? Or when you receive an intimidating letter from the IRS?

Does the passage in Psalm 112 resemble you?

If it does, and bad news doesn’t phase you, then you have found the peace that truly passes all human understanding.

If this does not resemble you, and you cannot relate to it, then let’s discuss an additional “small thing” that is essential in bridging this gap from who you are now to this “gold standard” of a believer given in Psalm 112. This peace is not something one can get from reading self-help books. It cannot be found in a yoga class or a zen garden. While some methods, such as these, may provide temporary relief, they do not compare to the peace that only our Heavenly Father can provide.

Peace, of course, is a spiritual fruit:

Galatians 5: 22 There is no law against these things! But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

How is this fruit produced?

John 15: 5  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Isn’t this a fantastic verse? We’re actually told how spiritual fruit is produced. But wait, what does it really mean to “remain in Christ”?

How do we “remain in Christ”?

I think I know, and I am convinced that it is in these “small things”, exercised day after day, week in and week out, after many months and in some areas only after years can significant growth be seen.

Consider the oak tree, which begins as a humble acorn. It takes many years to grow to its full height and you wouldn’t want to sit around watching it grow. It would be like watching paint dry. But it grows, little by little and over time it becomes gigantic. It was designed that way and so are we.

In this microwave, drive-thru, cell phone and ATM culture we seem to want to go to church, pay for a fully grown “tree of spiritual growth” and bring it home.  That “tree of spiritual growth” starts at home, daily.

Here is my favorite Psalm that illustrates this growth:

Psalm 1
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Do you see the connection to John 15? Last week the “simple thing” was reading the Word of God. Today it is prayer.

Prayer and Reading the Word go hand in hand.

They feed off each other. Reading His Word drove me to a greater, richer prayer life. God gave me a voracious appetite for reading the Word as a result of my sincere and diligent prayers. Prayer prepares my heart to receive His Word. The knowledge of Him, what He likes and dislikes have helped sharpen and enrich my prayers. Picture two vines growing together, intertwined as they continue to grow. This is how I see these two disciplines in my life. They are both maturing. I get more out of my Bible reading now than I did last year and my prayer life is more pervasive throughout my daily activities.

There are many different ways to pray and variations of it so I’d like to refer to a passage so that we are on the same page.

Matthew 6: 5 “ But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

This is the type of prayer that matters most. Taking the time to be in His presence, seeking Him in prayer alone, can never be underestimated. But I know for myself it is what I lack the most.

How important is it?

Luke 10:  38 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

41 But the Lord said to her,  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

Reading the Word and meeting him alone in prayer is sitting at the Lord’s feet. What does Jesus say?

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

This makes it clear to me, from my understanding Jesus’ statement, that if there is ANYTHING that I do that is worth being concerned about from day to day is “Did I spend time at my Lord’s feet today?”. How do you read it?

When I meet with Him I usually like to get on my knees, in a prostrate position. I don’t know why, but I think this helps me meet Him with humility. This is my conviction, not to put it on anyone else, but this is what works for me. You could sit, lie face down, kneel at your bed, whatever you feel most comfortable for you. Not comfort in a physical sense, but comfort in a spiritual sense. Some days I am too tired and just lie on the bed and pray. This is not something to be dogmatic or legalistic about. God simply wants you to meet with Him and meeting with Him on a regular, consistent basis is essential for spiritual growth.

“…let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2c

I don’t necessarily know what I want to say to Him or ask of Him. There are times that I don’t have anything to say, but I feel a great desire to meet with Him anyway. I close my eyes, am still and take deep breaths. Slowing down and being still like this helps me to think and maybe prepare my words for Him. I usually start with “I praise your name”, or it’s never a bad idea to just start thanking Him and let the list go on for everything you have to be thankful for.

Psalm 50: 23  But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Once you start a dialog with Him pray whatever comes to mind and let it go.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD

Psalm 55: 22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

If you are anxious, tell Him. If you are scared, let Him know. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, ask for His help. Don’t be in a hurry to leave. Pretend that you are a six-year-old that had a bad day with the other kids on the playground.  As a young child, you run to your Father with all your needs, anxieties, questions, and strange feelings that you cannot express.

Unload on Him as any child would and make it a habit. After a while, after you begin doing this, the idea to pray will change from “I have to pray” to “I really desire to pray.” You will find that you will desire it more and more, rather than as an obligation. Then if you stop doing it for any reason, maybe when taking a vacation, you will miss it dearly and He will teach you just how important it really is to maintain your peace of mind.

Remember that Jesus is humble, gentle and very patient.

He is not like some harsh taskmaster that likes scolding us. He has been good to me and I’m certain you’ll see that for yourself.

For those of you that are incessantly worrying about something right now, I want to give you an exercise that has helped me tremendously.

I’d like you to meditate on these two verses:

Philippians 4:  6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God promises that if you meditate on this verse, storing it in memory, you will take on a new way of living. A way that is peaceful. This is what letting go is all about.

Fall into the arms of a great and loving God, the One who created you uniquely for His good purposes.

Will you join me at His feet?

 “Dear Father in heaven, you are so good to me. Thank you for calling me to know you on a more intimate level. Help me to remain in you and hold me tight. I need you now more than ever and I thank you in advance for leading me to a closer walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Eating Right?

Are You Eating Right?

Before we discuss “eating right”, my last post, “What are you focusing on?” , was about the need to focus on Jesus rather than the law. The difference is day and night, white and black and according to the Apostle Paul, life and death.

Galatians 5: For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

In the same way, in the natural world, if we desire better health, we’ll put more focus on healthier food choices, which brings us to our topic today.

Everyone should know the concept of eating right for their bodies, right? The well-known saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” has a lot of truth to it, or at least there is good logic to it, given that it is “eating right”. What if we changed that saying to be “A candy bar a day…”? It wouldn’t end the same, would it? 🙂

Aside from getting hit by a bus, all things considered, I believe most will agree that the healthy diet leads to a healthy lifestyle, where the person lives longer, has a higher quality of life, and fewer ailments than those that don’t eat as well. I try to eat healthily, but I admit that most decisions I make are more for flavor than for health. I’ll choose bacon over broccoli any day of the week (not that I don’t eat broccoli at all), but I stay away from most fast food and do not drink sodas. But that’s just me!

Now let’s get to the good stuff, spiritual food.

Consider this passage from the Apostle Paul when giving advice to his apprentice:

1 Timothy 4: 7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Keep in mind that they did not have fast food those days (at least as we know it), so it wouldn’t have been mentioned. But apparently, they did have physical training. Here Paul gives value to physical training, but clearly values “training for godliness” much more. So I no longer worry myself over what people put in their physical bodies, but I am concerned about what people feed their souls with. Sure I want people to be physically healthy, but there will be physically fit people separated from Christ and unhealthy people meeting with Jesus on good terms.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

While reading Ephesians I ran across some great verses that support the idea of living our lives with intention. You see if we wake up every day and commit the day to God, saying “Today I will commit myself to you, Lord”, that sets the tone for the day. And suddenly, before your day even begins, you have volunteered to serve Him and do as He pleases for the duration of the day. Would that change things for you?

Ephesians 5:  1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

…  10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

…  15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Do you get the idea here that God wants you to put thought into your day and think about what you ingest spiritually?

What is your great “distraction”?

Take music for example. I like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Rush, The Eagles, and Van Halen (today’s classic anyway), just to name a few. I grew up listening to these bands and I can easily play their tunes in my head. While I used to think of this entertainment as neutral I no longer do. God’s given me a conviction about this and I am much more careful about what I listen to. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to destroy all of your secular music unless God has convicted you as well in this area. I’m not saying “Don’t listen to this music.”, this is just my personal conviction, 

Romans 14: 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

So here’s the thing…

My flesh enjoys this secular music. It seduces me. When I listen to the Eagles “New Kid In Town”, it takes me to another place, and if I let it, it dominates my mind. Sometimes I can’t get the music out of my head. Am I the only person that this happens to? I can play an old tune that I loved 30 years ago and three days later it’s all I can think about! Is that crazy or what? This is what began to convict me; when I realized that this secular music dominated my mind.

I thought to myself “What if I could fill my mind with praise and worship music?” and that’s what caused me to reconsider what I intentionally listen to. I took this conviction seriously as though God was telling me “Larry, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to so much secular music.” It’s like anything else that can dominate your mind, such as movies, TV, food, sports, exercise, shopping, work, sex, drugs, money, video games, etc.

“I am humble and gentle at heart” – Jesus

What I love about following Jesus is that He’s done this gradually and gently. First, it was my love for the New York Yankees; they used to dominate my mind. When I started to take God seriously, reading His Word gave me peace, more than I ever thought possible. Then April rolled around and Baseball season was in full swing. Just like an instinct (doing something without putting thought into) I started to follow the Yankees (just like every year prior). If they won, “Woo Hoo! the Yankees are awesome! ”, I was sky high. If they lost, “I can’t believe those stupid Yankees lost that game!, I am so bummed.” Keep in mind that there are 162 games in a season and the Yankees performance each day would determine my mood.

Isn’t that insane? It was an addiction for me. I would even watch the game online (simulated), waiting for every pitch! And this happened during work hours. That wasn’t healthy and this insanity started to rob me of the peace I was finding from spending time with God. So I could hear God nudging me “It’s time to distance yourself from baseball.” So I did. I am still a fan of the game, but a former Yankees addict. I am healed of that, but I know very well that I could get right back into it if I allowed it. They were clearly an idol to me, but no longer.

Isn’t that exciting how God changed me? 

Do you see how God has been gently working on me? He didn’t convict me of everything all at once. I have a long way to go and as I submit to Him daily in prayer and continue to read His Word and meet with other believers I’m certain that He will continue to work on my faults and what I spend my time doing. I have a long way to go as I have many faults still, but knowing what I know now, He will continue doing what He’s been doing.

Philippians 1:  6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

This change that I speak of was totally from God. I simply gave him myself each day in submission and read His Word diligently and this act of obedience has given the Spirit of God fertile soil to work in which led to spiritual growth.

Will this nourish me or harm me?

The things that fill our lives, whether they are relationships, books, activities, and substances we consume, can be either toxic or nourishing to our soul. Toxic is anything that leads us away from God by either poisoning our minds or taking the focus off of God. This is why baseball and secular music can be toxic for me. Nourishing is anything that leads us closer to God and promotes spiritual growth. This will include daily devotionals, sermons, Christian music, godly books, the Bible and genuine fellowship.

Just like certain plants need daily watering for growth, I believe we need to be nourished daily as well.

John 6: 32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

What will you purposely use to feed your soul?

Just like food, “Will you eat the Twinkie or the Taco?” Although Tacos might not be the best food (depending on how they’re made), they are certainly better than Twinkies.

Likewise, if there was only one source to choose from on a daily basis, would you consume Motor Trend/Field & Stream/a James Patterson Novel/People/Good Housekeeping or the Word of God?

I am convinced that if you are not in the Word of God each day, then you are, at the very least, missing out.  Don’t you realize that there are people in the world that crave the Word of God and don’t even have access to it? But here in the US, we have Bibles that collect dust, while we rely on daily devotionals, a sermon once a week and “The next great Christian book” (if we read at all). I think daily devotionals can be good, but it’s the Word of God interpreted through the mind of man. This can be great, but I think God wants you to learn to feed from His hand directly.

Matthew 23: 8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

Great habits are difficult to develop

That being said, I know that it is not easy to pick up the Good Book and just read. For those not accustomed to it, it is an acquired taste. Once you start the habit and develop it over time the Word of God comes alive. The more you read it, the more you’ll want to read it and the more you’ll know Jesus. The more you know Him, the more you’ll love Him. If it is a challenge to understand it, then find someone that might help you or send a message to me at Larry@KeepSeekingJesus.com and we can discuss it. Your spiritual growth depends on it.

My friends, this is “eating right” and feeding our souls daily from an organic source, which will lead to spiritual growth and produce much fruit. If you seek Him, you will get to know God in a way that you’ve never thought possible.

I’ll leave you with this:

Colossians 3: 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Will you eat with me?

“Dear Lord, help me to get to know you more. Thank you for all that you have taught me so far and thank you for giving me a voracious appetite for your Word. Also, thank you in advance for what you’re doing in my life and where you plan on leading me. I want all that you have to offer me and I rejoice in this relationship with you. You are my Teacher and my Creator and I will praise your name. In Jesus name, amen.

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
A Beautiful Life

A Beautiful Life

I have something beautiful to share with you today. Something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s so precious and valuable to me that I can’t help but share it whenever I’m given the opportunity. It is something that I never want to take for granted or think to myself “It’s not so special after all”.

John 9: 25b “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (ESV)

If you’re still wondering what I have to share with you…

It’s my story.

At least the story of my life as it is so far. God is writing through me a beautiful life, with a beautiful wife, beautiful daughter, a really cool son-in-law and three of the most amazing grandkids that any grandfather would be jealous of!

I cannot recall a time in my life that I did not believe in God or even challenge that belief. I’m not saying that I never had doubts or that my faith was perfect, but I can honestly say that I never had an affair with Atheism or considered leaving my faith to be an Agnostic. I thank the Lord that I always had a belief in Him (and that He was always faithful to me, even when I was unfaithful).

Living in Lukewarm City, USA

Don’t get me wrong, although I always had faith, for most of my life I was lukewarm at best. There were a few occasions that I had a strong passion for God, like after a spiritual growth conference, a retreat, or even a Promise Keepers event. The longest “hot streak” was when I came back to the Lord after being stone cold during my college years, but that lasted for only about a year and a half. Yes, for most of my adult life I was in a lukewarm comfort zone.

I was just another church attender, sitting in a pew, week after week, singing the songs and going through the motions. I was a fan of Jesus, but not a follower (taken from the wonderful book, “Not a Fan”, by Kyle Idleman). I said all the right things and knew the language, I was steeped in it. But I wasn’t a phony, like a “wolf”, so to speak. It was just that my faith was shallow. There wasn’t much depth to it.

Mark 6: Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

I had no idea! (I once was blind)

More than a few Christians told me over the years “It’s about a personal relationship”. I heard it many times and thought I understood it, but I was clueless. We cannot understand what we don’t have knowledge of or experience. I had a relationship, but it was superficial at best. I knew of Jesus but really didn’t know Him. I’d said “Hi, Jesus”, but never spent the time to truly get to know Him.

I must say that I don’t understand all this nor can I take any credit for it. It’s truly a work of the Spirit. All I can say is that if any of what I said resonated with you and you’re seeking a deeper faith, then I recommend that you read my post from last week and watch the video below…

But Now I See!

That was me (keyword: was), prior to 2007, Mr. “hot nor cold” from the Land of Indifference, but as you watch this video, you’ll learn about the rest of my story.

Photo by niko photos on Unsplash



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
What Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

What Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

When I consider the whole of Scripture I think of a summary of what God has to say to us, in a nutshell. Many ideas come to mind and when I considered the constant theme of His sovereignty, I thought I’d write about it.

His sovereignty is best understood once we’ve read the entire Bible. We can see it in the New Testament, but the Old Testament drives this point home and it gives the reader a completely different perspective and understanding of God than the New.

Consider these definitions of sovereign as an adjective:

  1. Self-governing; independent
  2. Having supreme rank or power
  3. Paramount; supreme

Which of these definitions apply to the most high God? If you answered the missing number 4, “all of the above”, you’re absolutely correct!

Psalm 115: 3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.

I believe to fully trust God we need to have an accurate perspective of Him. After all, what kind of God are we serving here?

Genesis 1:  1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This is the perspective we need to constantly keep. We see many prayers in the Bible referencing this very event, for example:

2 Kings 19: 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.

I think this is so important to keep in mind because I get so caught up in my day to day life which causes me to focus on material things and the difficulties I have. Before too long I can lose sight of my God and start to lose hope or just become confused.

Isaiah 26:  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

When I was young my Dad could do anything, he was all-powerful and took care of all my problems. That’s exactly how we should think about God, as our heavenly Father who is always there when we need Him.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Knowing that our heavenly Father is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, gives us a great sense of peace doesn’t it?

Knowing that God is sovereign also gives me a healthy fear of God. For example, suppose a married man is working in an office. He’s been living right and fears God.  But one day he starts thinking of the cute, new secretary in the shipping department that smiles at him when he talks to her. He then has this thought to make up an excuse to go see her, “Just to talk”, he thinks to himself. Although this idea is not from God it keeps running through his mind and is very seductive. Before too long it’s time for lunch and he didn’t have a chance to act yet on this thought, but it’s still alluring to him. He takes his Bible to the lunch room and as he normally does he cracks it open and starts to read as he eats his meal. Suppose he reads one or more of the following verses after a prayer for discernment:

Ecclesiastes 12: 13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Job 31
1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.

Proverbs 5:3-6
3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.
She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Hopefully, after reading any one of these scriptures, the man will humble himself before God because in his heart he knows that what he has been planning is wickedness, I think that when he reads any part of the Bible he’ll get convicted as the Holy Spirit works on his conscience. When he’s done reading he has a choice. He could simply forget what he’s read and continue as planned or he’ll have this renewed sense of fear of the Lord which will cause him to pray something like this: “O Lord, thank you for showing the deceitfulness of my heart and making it clear to me that I was going down a dark and dreadful path. Your ways are pure and righteous; please change my heart so that I’ll willingly obey you. Draw me close to you so that I’ll love my wife so much that I wouldn’t want to jeopardize this precious gift of marriage that you’ve given me, amen”

I think the more real our God becomes in our lives the more fear we have for Him and the more we wish to please Him. Just like the more a man loves his wife the more he wants to please her.

King David understood His sovereignty very well and it is illustrated beautifully in Psalm 139. I’ll end this message with just the beginning of this psalm and I encourage you to read the entire psalm as soon as you can.

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

What does His sovereignty mean to you?

“Dear Lord, I cannot even begin to understand you. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. My hope is that I can continue to know you more so that I can love you more and share your kindness and everlasting mercies with others. People need to know how great you are. Please help me to stay on your path. Thank you for your patience with me and calling me, to begin with. You are a great and mighty God, Creator of the earth and who am I that you even think of me? In Jesus’ name, amen.”

You can read Psalm 139 online using this link: Psalm 139

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Deep Do You Want To Grow?

How Deep Do You Want To Grow?

I believe that the depth of our growth directly relates to the frequency of the fruit we bear.

Consider these verses:

Psalm 1

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

If we live a shallow life we shall yield shallow results. I think this is exactly what this verse means:

 2 Corinthians 9: 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.

In addition to daily Bible reading, I have set aside some time to read additional materials that further stimulate my spiritual growth. A very dear friend of mine encouraged me to read the book entitled “They Found the Secret” by V. Raymond Edman. The author of the book compiled mini-biographies of 20, mostly well-known, saints who have lived from the 1600’s through the 1900’s. Some of the lives he writes about include John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, D.L. Moody, Amy Carmichael, Andrew Murray and J. Hudson Taylor.

The common thread throughout the book is that each of the subjects had a great love for God and were serving Him in the way they were led. In each of their stories, they share an experience of a deeper relationship with God or a greater presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I don’t know about you but this gives me hope!

It has led me to believe that there is more to learn and a deeper and much more satisfying experience to be found in this divine romance. (Thank you, Phil Wickham!)  Can any modern day saint actually relate to Jesus’ disciples? In some ways perhaps, but in many ways I think not, especially after the day of Pentecost. On this planet today I think there are very few if any. But those first-century saints spent time personally with the Messiah, of course, we couldn’t totally relate. Prior to His death and resurrection, however, I think much of what Jesus’ taught went over their heads. For example:

 John 17:  21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

I don’t think there is any way that the disciples could understand what Jesus is saying here. Do you understand what He means when He says “that they will all be one“? I am learning that this is a very advanced topic and that He has not yet led me to fully understand it. But I strongly believe that He will, as long as I continue to sit at his feet and long for more.

Referring back to the book I mentioned, those characters seemed to understand this verse. I think that only after the day of Pentecost could the disciples understand it. Have you ever had a “pentecostal” experience that took you to a deeper relationship with the risen Savior? This is not to be confused or limited to the Pentecostal denominations, by the way.

You will only grow as deep as those you surround yourself with.

If you are currently limiting your interaction with God and His Word on Sundays, Wednesdays and these messages, you will not grow as deep as those interacting with Him daily, seeking Him on a more frequent basis. If the believers you currently spend time with are not taking His Word seriously or are not wanting a deeper relationship with Him then you will either walk along with them or be so discontent that you will find others to “walk with”. If your pastor does not inspire you to seek a richer spiritual life then God may either be telling you to support him in prayer or to find one who has a closer walk with God.

The bottom line is that you can grow as close to God as much as you desire. It is up to you. The choice is yours. I am convinced that God desires this for your life, wherever you currently are.

James 4: 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

Jesus is alive and you can get to know Him and follow Him just as the great saints that have gone before us knew, from Abraham to Billy Graham. Jesus was there for each of them. What they all had in common was “close fellowship with God”, which you can experience today.

If your exposure to God’s teaching is limited only to and filtered by what one leader has to share, then you will only grow as deep as they can lead you. However, if we know Jesus personally and seriously acknowledge Him as The Teacher, the depths to which we can grow are limitless. God’s Word is inexhaustible and it knows no bounds. He will lead you down His perfect and pleasing path.

Consider the disciples of John the Baptist. They had much to learn from John, but he could only teach and show them so much.Whereas Jesus disciples were in the presence of the visible God. They learned far more than what their minds could comprehend at the time. This explains this verse:

Acts 4: 13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

This concept that I am addressing can be found in nature and I think makes complete sense when viewed in that light.

A couple of these examples are fish only grow as big as their surroundings allow. And a plant will only grow as big as the pot they are planted allows. Think about the trees planted along the riverbed as in Psalm 1 above.

When we are planted in the Branch, the everlasting, living God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, how deep do you think we can grow?

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

How deep do you want to grow?

“Dear Lord I want to know you more. Your Word speaks of peace and joy and I don’t always have that, in fact, there are many days that I don’t. How can I experience peace and joy more consistently? There is much in your Book that I cannot relate to or understand, will you teach me? Thank you for all that you have done for me, for you have blessed me more than I can remember. Your undeserving grace is amazing. Thank you also in advance for what you have in store for me. I look forward to seeing how you are shaping my life to carry out the work you have for me. I pray that you use me in such a way that will give you all the glory and the praise. In Christ’s name, amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 5

Over the last four posts, we’ve been discussing the transformation process. The theme, in the form of a question, has been: “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?”.

Have you been asking yourself this question? God will transform you if you offer yourself to Him. Consider this key passage:

Romans 12: 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

If your definition of worship is limited to singing and praising God, let me suggest that you study these verses carefully. God deserves our worship, doesn’t He?

What does it mean to you to “give your bodies to God”? I must confess that this is a tough verse for me. What it means to me is to allow Him to totally take over my life. He wants me to yield my time, my activities, my attitude, what I eat, what I drink, who I spend time with, what I consume with my eyes, my ears, and even what I think about!

Consider this verse:

1 Corinthians 6: 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

That is what a “living sacrifice” is all about.

This means we can sing and worship in church all we want, but unless we are yielding our lives to Him with a soft heart, it is only lip service.

Can you relate to the following verse at all? Would you say it applies to many sitting in our pews today?

Isaiah 29:
13 And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

I can certainly relate to singing hymns of praise and walking out of church feeling far from God. I’ve had a hard heart before and that’s not a good place to be.

Of course, transformation cannot begin unless we have a soft heart. The very fact that you are reading this message would lead me to believe that you are open to change and that your heart is not hard. The key now is to make yourself available to God and pursue Him with all you’ve got.

Be careful that you don’t end up like so many incapacitated and powerless believers described in this way:

Luke 8: 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Wouldn’t you rather be described like this?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

So while your heart is soft, follow through with the rest of it. “hear God’s Word” (read the Bible), cling to it (meditate on what you read), and be patient, the harvest in your life will come. All the while we can plead to God in prayer to change our hearts. I have first-hand knowledge that He likes to answer these types of prayers.

In order to be successful with a continual habit of reading the Word, it is highly recommended to associate and fellowship with others who do the same. In order to be successful at anything, it is required that you run with those seeking the same results. If you are not currently spending time with the likes of those seeking a closer walk with God, consider the Bible Team calls where some of them congregate on the phone.

As you continue to expose yourself to His Word, seeking Him in prayer and getting to know other like-minded saints you will be staying in good soil and spiritual growth will happen, He’s promised.

Always consider what God truly desires:

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

What better way to know Him that to read the Book He personally wrote?

We started this message with Romans 12: 1-2 which happens to be a very popular passage. Now let’s read the next three verses:

Romans 12: 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Do you realize that your personal faith and relationship with God has a tremendous impact on the lives around you? People are watching you, believers and non-believers alike. We all have a responsibility to each other and we, by default, either encourage or discourage others with our daily choices.

I urge you to take the time to meditate on what I’ve compiled here and I’ll close with this:

Philippians 4: 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

How bad do you want to be transformed?

Pray this prayer (I couldn’t have written it better myself.) 🙂

Psalm 119:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.

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Have you seen my testimony?

If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.