Friday, January 19, 2018

37 Days – Take A Step: Speak


Pastor Randy’s devotional:
Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” Jeremiah 1:9-10

January 19th Prayer:
Father God, You have placed Your words in my mouth. Your words can move mountains, change hearts, change minds and convict of sin. Your word is alive and active. Give me courage to speak to my world—to change the atmospheres in my relationships, business, school and family. Fill me with grace and truth so that I can speak Your word in love . . . in Jesus’ name!

My thoughts:

There are times in my life when I have no idea what I’m going to say in a given situation.  Have you been there?  When a friend is going through deep, heart wrenching struggles; or when a family member’s feelings are deeply hurt by something and they come to you for counsel; or the death of a loved one; or someone comes to me for counsel on life decisions.  These are examples where the answers are seldom something known or derived from my own wisdom.  But, in the moment of truth when the counsel is needed, the Lord has placed the perfect words in my mouth that the other person might need to hear.  Many times it has been in the written word, but also in the spoken word, as I have trusted that He is wise, compassionate, all knowing and will use me as a simple vessel for His truth and love.

In Numbers 22:28, “…the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak.”  In Exodus 3:4, “God called to him from the middle of the bush…” and in 1 Kings 19:12, “…but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”  The Lord has the ability to put Himself wherever He so chooses.  He is fully sovereign over all things, plants, animals, elements and yes even humans.  If He wants to speak through you, do you truly believe it is not possible?

Has He spoken through humans in the past?  Certainly you must agree that He has.  Biblical examples include the prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel & Elijah; the apostles like Paul, Timothy, John and Mark; John the Baptist in the wilderness; and of course the son of God – Jesus Christ.  Beyond the bible though, God has continued to speak through people in visions and dreams and even in prophetic voice.  Sure there are showmen who claim this, but there are also those who are authentically given the word of God to share with others.  Our Pastor Randy Harvey is one such man.  He has a keen ear and ability to hear the word of the Lord and then relay that to us in his congregation.  I believe Jesus is speaking to and through thousands of Muslims and Jewish people today as they come to a belief in Him as their Savior.

God can speak through anyone, or anything He chooses.  We have to have enough faith, trust and willingness to allow Him to.  Sometimes (as in the 2nd chapter of Acts) this will sound like babble or utterances, and unrecognizable by humans in our given language.  This “speaking in tongues” is as real as the very next breath you take.  The Holy Spirit (God in spirit) is able to speak through us in a manner that most will not understand, but the Father does.  I’ve witnessed this first hand and know of it’s truth.

So, when you face the unknown and someone asks for your counsel, your advice, your helping support and wisdom on a subject, first go to the Lord in prayer and ask for Him to use you, to speak through you and to help you.  He is your provider and your counsel on all things and indeed will provide you with the right things to say at the right time.  Trust in Him.

Be Blessed,
Rich


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Thursday, January 18, 2018

37 Days – Take A Step: Say “Yes”


Pastor Randy’s devotional:
The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Jeremiah 1:5-9

The gifts and callings of God are under full warranty. He will never remove your call from you. Romans 11:29

January 18th Prayer:
Heavenly Father, You have known me before I was ever born. You know why You created me and what You’ve called me to do—and who You’ve called me to be. I surrender. I want to please You and obey You. Please fulfill Your purpose for my life in my lifetime. Don’t let me die without succeeding at the call on my life. I say “yes” to Your calling . . . Your assignments on my life . . . in Jesus’ name!

My thoughts:
I’m not capable of doing what the Lord wants me to do.  I’m too young, I don’t have enough time, I can’t speak in front of people, I don’t know enough, I can’t answer questions, . . .  Have you disqualified yourself from serving the Lord?  Yeah, me too.  The good thing is God never disqualifies you, and He is extremely patient with us as we try to convince ourselves that He can use us.  If we accept the fact that God actually knew us before we were born, we would realize that He knows us better than we know ourselves.  With this principle we must learn to accept that He will call us into what He knows we are capable of, not necessarily what we are comfortable with.

At conception God created you with a purpose to serve His kingdom.  He formed you in your mother’s womb, spent 40 weeks with you one on one.  You know His voice because it was the first one you heard.  When He calls upon you to do something, why would He not be there to help you do it?  Think about it, God has given you specific gifts and talents in order to serve Him.  You are designed to do it, you have the ability to do it, you are capable.  You may not recognize it or feel comfortable with it, because you have convinced yourself that you aren’t capable; but God says you are.

Be Blessed,
Rich

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

37 Days – Take A Step: Risk




Pastor Randy’s devotional:

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost! “But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Matthew 14:25-30

January 17th Prayer:

Jesus, if it’s really You, tell me to come! If you are calling me to take a risky step, then help my heart to know Your voice. And, if it’s You, I’ll do it. I do not want to live safe and risk free when You have so much more for my life. I don’t want to coast in to my finish line. I want to take big steps of faith. Give me the courage to obey You . . . in Jesus’ name!
(If you have a decision in front of you now that involves risk, write it down and pray about it. A tough conversation that needs to happen . . . a business decision . . . a financial decision, etc.)


My thoughts:

What does it mean to trust in the Lord? 
Does it mean to believe in Him? Yes.  Does it mean to follow His teachings? Yes.  Does it mean to share His word with others? Yes.  Does it mean to step out and do what He is asking you to do?  Yes.  Peter stepped out of the boat, David picked up 5 smooth stones, Mary listened and followed the angel Gabriel, John the Baptist baptized others, knowing the Christ was coming, Abraham raised the knife above his son Isaac bound body – all examples of individuals in the scriptures that stepped out in faith, trusting God without knowledge of the outcome.  They took risk, which in turn lead to great things for the Kingdom.  So what is God calling you to do, and will you step out?

There are so many huge opportunities to make an impact in this world, but most of us aren’t willing to actually step out in faith and trust in the Lord’s promise that He will be with us.  We contemplate the risk to our current lifestyle and often times retreat back to a place of comfort.  By nature, most of us will evaluate a scenario and upon seeing the potential risk required, will find ourselves unable to fulfill His request.  Rather than stepping into it with faith and seeking the wisdom of the Lord, we pass and stay put in our comfort zone.

God calls each of us to greatness.  This cannot be achieved by staying in place, it takes an act of courage, and act of faith and getting out of your comfort zone.  In Houston and surrounding area there are around 6 Million people.  By national statistics 35% of those are 2.1 million claim to believe in God and saved by Jesus Christ.  Because we are in the “Bible belt” you could raise that percentage to over 50%.  So 3 million +/- would make this claim, and 3 million +/- would say they don’t believe.  How will these folks come to know the truth about Jesus Christ?  What about your city, your area or your state?  Think about those that are destined for eternal separation from God the Father simply because someone did not take the risk to step out and have a discussion with them.  Perhaps today is that day.  Praise be to God the Father.


Be Blessed,

Rich

 

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37 Days – Take A Step: Witness




Pastor Randy’s devotional:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” - Acts 1:7-8

January 16th Prayer:

Precious Holy Spirit, I open to You today. Place an opportunity before me today. I have (name the person)__________________________________________ on my heart today. Please use me to be a witness to them. Empower me to move past any apprehensions and fear to be an opportunity for them to be saved. I know You are the one who deals with the heart. You are the “Convincer” of the soul. I avail myself to be used today . . . in Jesus’ name!


My thoughts:

The day of Pentecost in the scriptures, referenced in Acts 2, as an amazing event; “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Some would laugh this off as one of those crazy bible stories, but not me.  You see I believe that God is capable of things we cannot imagine or fathom.  He created the universe, the water, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the animals and finally man.  Is it so far fetched to believe that He actually spoke to and through these individuals in a manner that they could not understand?  Why is this so hard to accept?  He’s God and capable of anything He so chooses to do.  Perhaps we need to think on that for a minute or 10; and accept it as fact rather than cliché`.

The Holy Spirit is God indwelling in every Christian.  Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit is our counselor, advocate and helper.  He is not a “force” as in Star Wars; or a “ghost” as in Casper.  He is ever present in your life though and there to encourage, comfort and lead you towards righteousness and away from the evil in this world.  Some would refer to the Holy Spirit as your conscience, but they would be wrong.  Is the Holy Spirit guiding your conscience, probably so, but only towards those things of the Father.  For you see, the Holy Spirit is the Father, but within you.

Your prayers, your thoughts, your actions and your words are all a part of your being.  The Holy Spirit is capable of engaging you in all of these areas, if you will let Him.  Many struggle with the concept of God living within them because they still have sin, they still make mistakes and they still struggle each day.  The closer your relationship with the Holy Spirit becomes alive in you, the less of these things will threaten you each day.  Living in the Holy Spirit is our goal.  This helps defend against the worldly evil which knocks on your day every hour of every day. 

First, you must accept the fact that there is truly a Holy Spirit living within you.  Second, you must be able to trust and have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide you and bring you comfort against the world.  Finally, you must strengthen your walk with the Holy Spirit through your prayers, words and action so that you can become the person you were created to be for God’s true purpose.  Take the steps today, with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, and ask Him to walk with you and strengthen you.


Be Blessed,

Rich

 
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

37 Days – Week 3 foundation - Take a Step: Give


37 Days – Week 3 foundation


Get Your Feet Wet

The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” Joshua 3:7-8; 15-17

 
It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

I love this part of our story. Joshua has taken his new position as the leader after Moses’ death. All eyes are on him, and he has to be feeling the pressure. Everyone is thinking the same thing. “If Moses were here, he would lift up his staff and command the Jordan river to part. After all, this is what he did at the Red Sea. A river would be easy for Moses.” But God was going to teach the new leader and the new Israel a different way of living. The land of Canaan was reserved for a people of faith. That’s why God left the giants and all their enemies in the land. He wanted Israel to believe in Him enough to act in faith. Fight in faith. And this “Joshua generation” was up for the task. God was moving His people from the desert of “just enough” to the land of overflowing. And in order for His people to take their inheritance, they would have to take a step of faith. God was saying, “Instead of Me drying up the Jordan so that no faith is required of you, I want you to take the first step into the water in faith. And when you act in faith, I will respond in power.” In other words, “Get your feet wet!”

Years ago, our hearts were stirred to be more generous in our financial giving as God was doing a healing work in the way we thought about and stewarded our finances. It was exciting. However, I was praying that God would increase our income. In prayer, God spoke clearly. He gave me a list of things to sell to decrease unnecessary debt. The list had a prized bass guitar—my pride and joy as a musician. “No Lord! Not my bass?” “Yes. Sell it and free up the money so you can do what you said you wanted Me to do.”

I did it, but now I had no bass guitar. This was part of my livelihood, not just a hobby. I was under orders to pay cash for its replacement, I had only one-third of the purchasing power and was very discouraged with the available choices. Late one Wednesday night, as I was locking the church to go home, a man came running into the building with a bass guitar in hand. He was a local custom bass-builder and had built this one-of-a-kind prototype instrument. When he opened the case, the woodwork and hardware were stunning . . . beautiful woods and elaborate detail. And then he said, “Whatever you were going to pay for your next bass, I’ll take that for it.” I bought it, and it’s now worth double the one I sold. That single step began a series of wonderful blessings from God on our home and finances.

This week we are going to pray and listen to hear God’s directive. We are anticipating an action step that He might speak so you and I can get our feet wet and see Him move miraculously.

Got a river to cross? Get your feet wet!

January 15th – Take A Step: Give

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38


Father, I come before You today to honor You with my finances. You have blessed me. I desire to see Your power manifested in my income, job, investments, and all sources of financial provision. Please show me where to give today. Put someone or something on my heart. I look forward to giving the tithe. I look forward to giving an offering. I am excited to obey You in stewardship. I am listening for my next step. And I anticipate Your blessing upon my financial life this year . . . in Jesus’ name!
(Take a moment and just listen. Ponder any impressions you may receive.)



My thoughts:
I have become so deceived in thinking that I can handle my finances, my work and my bills based on my own strength.  How easy it is for the world to enter into my thinking and tell me that I need more, deserve more and am entitled to more.  It all belongs to God.  I know that is a nice thing to say, but when you step back and think about it, it’s actually very true, for those of us who believe in Him.  He has given me the skills and knowledge I require to do my job, which in turn provides and income, which in turn buys the food, the clothing, the home, the cars, the “stuff” that we use everyday.  If I didn’t have the skills and knowledge that was designed into my DNA, I certainly should not expect to have all of the benefits mentioned above.

It’s funny, I was talking with a family member just the other night about income and entitlement. When I started my professional career (1984ish) I made $27,500/year; and thought I had hit the jackpot.  Right after Lisa and I were married (3 years later), I was given a raise to $31,400; and together we thought we had it made. Over the last 30 years, I’ve relocated my family to Florida, then Massachusetts and for the last 20 years Texas; all chasing higher wages and better jobs.  Sure, the income has gone up substantially over that 30 year period, but there is a part of me that realizes I sure seemed happier at $31k than I do today.

 I am now interviewing candidates coming out of college demanding 6 figure salaries as their starting income plus flex days, where they don’t have to come to the office or only work 3 or 4 days a week.  The attitude is as long as the project gets done why should they have to work 5 days or 40 hours a week.  This generation have decided that living a life is not about working; it actually is about living.  I’ve also noticed that many in this generation are unbelievably compassionate and supportive of the underappreciated and undervalued in our society.  These young adults spend much of their free time giving back to charities, missions, and shelters. 

I also see many of them lost in their spiritual life.  Seeking a higher purpose while in this life is the goal of many – but it’s not about religion or scripture or belief in a deity.  No, it’s about self worth, morals and values.  I have found them to be genuinely engaged in causes of suffering and justice in the world.  They are giving of themselves and using their gifts in a way that isn’t tied to income, or a 9-5 schedule or 2 hour commute.  They want income for food, shelter and electronics; but not the frivolous things in life.  Many, including myself, have been found making jokes or sarcastic remarks about the millennial generation, when honestly, they probably have it more together than any of us “aged veterans”. 

So the question is, how do we help them find Jesus Christ and use their gifts for His Kingdom?  That is a new goal of mine.

 


Be Blessed,

Rich

 

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Monday, January 15, 2018

37 Days – Embrace the Grace


Pastor Randy’s devotional:
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  - Ephesians 4:7

January 14th Prayer:
Paul was confident in the measure of grace apportioned to him. Like Paul, you must embrace the grace God apportioned to you. When you live within your sphere of grace, you will stop comparing your life to others and wrestling with all the insecurities that accompany comparisons. You have a specific deposit of God that you are responsible to reflect. God has dealt each of us a measure, and it’s all you need to fulfill the purpose of God for your life. Relax and enjoy your measure. Embrace the grace! Thank You for the measure of grace You’ve given me.

Thank You that I’m not called to perform like anybody else. Thank You that I’m free from the need to compete with any of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I applaud the grace in the lives of others. And I thank You for the unique expression of Jesus that I am. I am excited to grow more and more in the grace apportioned to me . . . in Jesus’ name!

My thoughts:

One of the greatest differences of Christianity vs every other religion of the world (past or present) is Grace.  Simply put, you have the opportunity to receive eternal life with God in heaven because of what He has done, not because of what you have done.  He has graciously given us a path to redemption, despite the fact that we don’t’ deserve it or for many, even accept it. 

He had to create a sacrifice to atone for our sins, because God is perfect, His heaven is perfect and our sin-filled lives cannot enter therein.  But God had a plan, He created the perfect sacrifice because He realized man could not do it alone.  He created a path just so you could join Him in heaven.  This path would cost Him the very life of His only Son, but His love for you is so deep that He went through with the plan.  He brought His Son to the earth, and watched mankind, amidst the pain and suffering, destroy him on a cross.  What man didn’t know though was this was actually God’s planning, and a part of how He would redeem the world.  In the sacrifice of His son’s life; a perfect spotless, sinless man; He saved the world.  This is an unspoken love that neither you nor I can fully comprehend, because we are unable to do the same.  You can’t ever pay it back, it is beyond your ability; yet He gave it to you anyway.  This is God’s grace, His oh so amazing grace; and you can only choose to accept it or not.

He gives it to you, so you can be saved.  He gives it to you, so you can find salvation in Him.  He gives it to you, so you can live eternally with Him one day.  He gives it to you, so you can share it with others.  Just as He gave everything to set you free, are you willing to do the same?  Are you able to give grace to others when they absolutely, without a doubt don’t deserve it, or even want it; and can never pay it back?  To each of us grace has been apportioned accordingly.  Enough grace to overcome our sinful, unrighteous and worldly lives.  God has enough grace to overcome anything you have done.  You can rest on this truth, that by believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He and He alone, can bear your sins so you can stand before the Lord, blameless and worthy of His Kingdom. 

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
was blind but now I see.

You were lost, but now you’re found.  You can now see how much God loves you and has prepared a way for you to join Him in heaven.  Take the step today, admit you have been a wretch, but you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the redeemer of your sinful actions.  Be born again today, and rest in the grace of our Lord.   

Be Blessed,
Rich

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37 Days – Grace to Transition


Pastor Randy’s devotional:
The end of something is better than its beginning. It is better to be patient than arrogant. Don’t be quick to get angry, because anger is typical of fools. Don’t ask, “Why were things better in the old days than they are now?” It isn’t wisdom that leads you to ask this! - Ecclesiastes 7:8-10

January 13th Prayer:
Transition is a part of life and part of God’s plan. Seasons of life start, and they end. We leave one season of life to enter another. David went from shepherd to king. Gideon went from cowardly farmer to a warrior of great valor. Joshua went from Moses’ assistant to the leader and commander of Israel. And it was scary for him to make this transition. Your role, responsibilities, and authority will grow and change. Change will always involve tension and stretching. Receive grace to change well this year. And give grace to others as they reach for new heights in God.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You never change. You are my anchor—the one constant in my life that I can always count on. And yet, you call us to change. You call us from childhood to adulthood. You call us from following to leading. You call us to be transformed into the image of Christ. You call us to change. Help me embrace the changes necessary this year. Help me give grace to others as they grow and change. Help me to see myself in the new authority and capacity that You’ve assigned in this new season . . . in Jesus’ name!

My thoughts:

Have you ever heard the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” ?  It’s an encouraging statement, meant to help someone deal with difficult circumstances that often time we would rather walk away from.  But, the more I learn about God, the more I’ve come to realize that I don’t think that’s necessarily true.  The reality is God knows your potential, and knows that you are living well short of it.  He will give you more than you “perceive” you can handle, but with His wisdom to realize that you can grow into it.

Above Pastor Randy gives several great examples of men who were called by God to do something much greater than their perceived ability.  Like them, you are called by God for a much larger purpose than you are currently living in.  If you feel unable to expand your purpose and contribution to His Kingdom, you are leaning on your own understanding and not the strength and power of the Lord.  For in our Father we have the premier ruler and authority of all things on earth and in all of time and space.  If indeed you seek a deeper purpose, a deeper desire to live for God, you are the only thing standing in the way.

You see, we are the biggest obstacle to serving God completely.  We set boundaries because of our limited knowledge, experiences and perception of the world around us.  Some say that we are only using 10% of our cognitive capacity, and that through constant learning and stretching of our life experiences we are capable of expanding this capacity.  So with this limited wisdom, we have decided that we are incapable of serving God in a larger manner.  Not the case.  The reality is that you and I have much more capability and capacity to serve God, but it will require a closer relationship with the Father in order to truly understand what it is He wants us to do.  Secondly, through this closer relationship with the Father we are expanding our wisdom and our perspective to a more Christ like perspective, which then enables us to discover the ability He knows is already there. 

You and I are His children.  Just like you know the potential of your children to do bigger things then they believe they can do, so does your Father know you have much more potential.  Join me in expanding our vision, our abilities and our faith in trusting the larger things God has in store for us.

Be Blessed,
Rich

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