Tuesday, December 19, 2017

She Said “Yes”

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  - Genesis 3:15

Take close note of the reference in this prophetic scripture -“…her seed…”.  We all know, or should know based on your age, that conception comes from the seed of the father and the egg of the mother.  This prophecy was directly from the Lord to the serpent in the garden after he had deceived Adam and Eve into sin.  In this case though God references “her seed” which can be connected to Isaiah 7:14 – “Behold, a virgin will conceive….” 

Mary, Did You Know
Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby, you kissed the face of God?

Oh, Mary did you know, ooh

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
That your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the great, I am
 
In Luke’s 1st chapter, verse 30-31, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, So the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall give Him the name Jesus.”  The child would be conceived without a man, but through the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary.  Therefore the zygote, the embryo, was conceived with perfect, sinless blood.  Unlike every other human up to that point and since (other than Adam and Eve) who are created through the seed of the man (filled with sin through generations from the original sin in the garden). 

Did Mary know everything the angel explained to her?  Who knows, but it is unlikely that she could fully comprehend everything that her son would go through in his life.  From scripture we learn that she knew:
- He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High
- The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David
- He will reign over the house of Jacob forever
- His kingdom will never end!
-  the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

In the custom of that day she would have relied heavily upon her father as the spiritual leader of their household to understand scriptures.  Many prophecies had foretold of the Messiah, and here the angel Gabriel had told her that she would bear this child, the Messiah, the chosen one of God, Immanuel.  Could she have understood all of the prophecies which spoke of his persecution, tortuous death and resurrection?  Most likely not, but she trusted in God’s plan and humbled herself to be used in His plan, even if that meant being disowned by her family, her betrothed and her community.

In Luke 1:38, “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.”  She knew what the Lord wanted her to know and nothing more.  So when we think about this wonderful, beautiful song, Mary-Did You Know, we have to be honest and say, NO.  There is no way she knew everything that was to come and everything that her son would do for humanity.  But, we are all so blessed that she trusted in the Lord’s omnipotence and plan.

Be Blessed,
Rich


Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Least became the First

" But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”  - Luke 2:10-11

I find it very interesting that God chose the shepherds as the first group of people on the earth to reveal the birth of His Son.  Sure, the wise men followed a star, but God sent the angels to announce the birth of the King to the shepherds in the fields that glorious night.  He did not send a host of angels to the royalty, living in palaces or to the Pharisees or Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.  No, He chose a group of shepherds living nearby to Bethlehem.



The first Noel the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East, beyond them far
And to the earth, it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.


In that day, shepherds were often times uneducated, illiterate and ruddy men living in the fields at night. They weren't likely steep in the knowledge of the scriptures or prophecies, but they were trusting, compassionate and found to be loyal to their flocks safety and security.  They were employed by the owners of the flocks to defend their sheep from predators, bandits and other dangers lurking in the deserts of Israel at night.  Typically, there might have been 3 or 4 shepherds per flock rotating shifts throughout the nighttime hours, varying in age from young teenage boys to old, experienced men.

You recall God had once before chosen a simple shepherd boy as the anointed King of Israel.  His choice of an insignificant, humble boy with a heart of love and a fear of the Lord, to lead His people set a precedent that His love was for all mankind, not just the elite.  David, a man after God’s own heart, was chosen instead of any of his 7 older, stronger brothers.  As the King of Israel, he lead God’s people through trials, wars, abandonment and rejoicing.  David was from the city of Bethlehem, and the ancestry line of Jesus Christ that brought Mary and Joseph to be in Bethlehem that very first Noel.

Noel has French roots and comes from the word natalis in Latin, which means “birth”.  The celebrated birth of God’s own Son has been debated for years.  Was it in April, September or December has been questioned by skeptics and pundits in attempts to disprove the event from happening at all.  Here again is an example of the human knowledge and logic getting in the way of the omnipotence and sovereignty of the Almighty God.  Don’t get caught up in the arguments of what day Jesus was born on, but focus your attention on the fact that He was born.  He was born to take away the sins of mankind and provide a path of salvation to the one true God.  This salvation is available to all of us, from the lowliest to the elite; from the illiterate to the educated.  The only individuals left out of this celebration, and destined for eternal Hell are those that refuse to acknowledge the divinity and grace of Jesus Christ, our Savior.


Be Blessed,
Rich


Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who Do You Adore?




"Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.  Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”  - Psalm 8:1-2


In Hebrew the word ‘hod’ (הוֹד) means glory, splendor and majesty.  A reference to how magnificent the Lord is, above all things.  The word adore (or adoration) means – the act of paying honor, of giving reverent homage and fervent or devoted love to another, and comes from the Latin word – adorare’ – to love or worship.  As we think about this Christmas season, are we really adoring the Christ child, or simply recognizing Him.


O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yes Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv'n
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord

There were wise men, who travelled great distances across deserts and rough terrain to worship the new born King.  They dedicated their lives to studying astronomy, religion, history, and medicine amongst other sciences of the day.  According to scriptures they saw and followed the star, referring to the prophetic scripture, which brought them to Bethlehem and the King of the Jews.  They adored this child, not because he was a new born baby, but because He was the King of Kings and in all of their wisdom, they recognized it. 

I fear that we are hurrying through this season, which was created to worship and bring glory to the Christ child.  In our attempt to make this Christmas a special one for our families and friends are we forgetting to stop and adore the child?  It’s not about the gifts you are giving to others, or receiving.  It’s not about the trees, the lights, the decorations, the cookies or the sales.  It’s wholly about worshipping and adoring the Christ child, the King of Kings. 

I propose that tonight you turn it all off, stop the madness, the stress, the worry and simply gather with your loved ones around a nativity scene and truly worship Him.  Give Him the praise as He so rightly deserves.


Be Blessed,

Rich

 

Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Trusting Man


"The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.”  - Genesis 49:10

Do you ever wonder what Joseph must have felt when he held the baby Jesus in his arms for the first time? Well, this song brilliantly composed by Michael Card presents the birth of Jesus through the eyes and heart of Joseph. 

Joseph's Song
How could it be this baby in my arms Sleeping now, so peacefully
The Son of God, the angel said
How could it be

Lord I know He's not my own, Not of my flesh, not of my bone
Still Father let this baby be
The son of my love

Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the Son of God
Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a king, How can I raise a king

He looks so small, His face and hands so fair, and when He cries the sun just seems to disappear
But when He laughs it shines again
How could it be

Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the Son of God
Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a king, How can I raise a king

How could it be this baby in my arms Sleeping now, so peacefully
The Son of God, the angel said
How could it be
--------------------------------
Alone in the stable with his pregnant wife, he kneels to hold her hand and wipe the sweat from her brow.  He removes his robe and lays it on the ground for her to lay upon.  The stable is lit by the brightest star known to mankind.  Softly the animals neigh and bleat against the quiet of the night.  Back in the city of Bethlehem, people scurry here and there in reunion of lost loved ones.  Fear overwhelms him as she begins to cry out in pain.  The birthing process begins for this blessed woman and he is the only one there to help.  A position few men would have participated in, but he had no other choice, he kneeled near her legs.  He was the only one to first hand witness the emergence of our Savior into this world. 

His loving hands were the first human touch this precious child would ever feel upon his body.  As the birth concluded, he raised the child to his chest and sobbed bitterly, for he held the Christ child in his arms.  The love of God the Father born into this world, and he was chosen to father the boy.  Laying the child upon the chest of his wife, he covered the babe with some of the swaddling cloths carried the many miles from Nazareth.  He took water from the trough and washed the blood and mucus from the new-born as it rested upon her bosom.  He then proceeded to tend to the care of his wife and her needs as well.  He covered the mother and child with his cloak and turned from them to let them rest.

This man, then looked about the stable for a resting place for his new-born.  He emptied the hay trough (manger) and found fresh hay from the corner.  Breaking the stalks, softening them, he filled the trough and placed it near to the woman, as she slept with the child cradled in her arms.  He lay next to her, wrapping his arms around them both as he looked to the sky.  The star of the Lord cast a light upon the young couple.  He lifted his prayers to God the Father, asking for strength, wisdom and courage to raise this child and take care of his wife.  His mind filled with the love of the Father as he closed his eyes to sleep.
-----------------

You realize this is my imagination.  There is no written record of how the event played out that night.  As a father of 5 and grand-father of 5, I can attest to the emotion of seeing the miraculous event of a child being born.  My heart fills with love every time, so I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of love Joseph had to be feeling that night, but the love I have experienced pales in comparison.  Joseph was a man chosen by God, from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Judah – just as the prophets had declared.  God’s perfect plan came to fruition because this man trusted in the Father, not because he asked for it or desired it.  He accepted his position in the plan of salvation.  We hear very little from Joseph after the birth, but can deduce from this very event his love, commitment and belief in the Father and his sovereignty over mankind.  Joseph was truly a servant of the Lord.

Be Blessed,
Rich


Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Who Was He?



"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  -  Isaiah 9:6

Cold and afraid, in the dark of the night.  Surrounded by animals in the stable.  God provided salvation to the world through a child.  A baby shivering in the night air, comforted by his mother Mary and father Joseph, who themselves were afraid.  The King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Savior of the world was born in the most humble of settings. 

What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.
Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.
So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come peasant, king, to own him;
the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

We’ve all seen some sort of nativity re-creation, depicting a kneeling Mary, a strong and confident Joseph and a small baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger (a feed trough).  Have you ever attempted to insert yourself into that scenario?  What if you were the inn-keeper that cold evening, would you have found a room for a pregnant women?  What if you were Joseph, would you have lost your temper with God for putting you in this situation?  What if you were Mary, no mid-wife, no nurse, no doctor, no medication, no warm towels nor ice chips.  I’m sure this isn’t the setting which Mary had in mind for giving birth to the holy Son of God.

Imagine being Mary.  The angel Gabriel has come to you and told you that you would bear the Son of God.  You’re Jewish heritage helps you realize that the Messiah is to come as the Savior of the children of Israel.  She must have been confused, alarmed, scared and humbled to have been chosen by God directly.  What would this mean to his life on this earth?  How could she provide a life for the Son of God that is worthy of His holiness?  I have a 14 year old daughter, and I can’t imagine the shock and fear that would be present in her mind if she were informed of this same message.

What child is this, that will change the world?  What child this, that we will still be following, debating, discussing and celebrating 2000 years later?  What child is this, brings eternal salvation to those whom believe?  A single birth established the basis for the Gregorian calendar that we use to this very day.  More books have been written about this child than any other person in history.  His, is a name that is known in every country of the world.  Since his life and death, more people have chosen to believe in his path to salvation than any other path to eternity or paradise.

What child is this?  This, this is the Son of God, the King of Kings, Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords – the Savior of mankind, the Messiah for the children of Israel. 

Be Blessed,
Rich


Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

He Is Coming

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."  -  Isaiah 7:14

Veni, veni Emmanuel, Latin text documented first in Germany in 1710 has continued to be one of the most dramatic and deeply thoughtful Christmas songs recorded to date.  It has been played and sung by countless musicians over the centuries and translated into many languages to bring peace and joy to billions around the world. 

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home,
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind,
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Israel, oh Israel – you have waited patiently for a King, a Messiah to lead your people out of bondage and suffering.  The prophets of old told you of his coming and you have set your eyes on the day of reckoning, when God would come to you, Emmanuel.  A Messiah would take the throne of David and lead once again, drawing you close to God forever more.  Oh, Israel, why were you so blind.

Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophetic verse from Isaiah.  Nearly 700 years before His birth, Isaiah, speaking to Ahaz as others were encroaching and planning war on Jerusalem.  To give him peace, and comfort the Lord spoke through Isaiah that a child will be born, who will bear the name Emmanuel, which means “God with us”.  This birth would be a prophetic sign from the Lord that He and He alone would save Israel from those who would attack, but on His timeline, not on man’s.  For God Almighty is Sovereign and Holy, above all earthly things.

Who are we looking for today, to come and save us from ourselves?  God has already sent His son.  Israel rejected Him, but the gentiles accepted Him.  Now there are many in Israel having personal encounters with the Holy One, the Son of God; while many of the gentiles are turning away.  Are we once again at risk of being blind when the Son returns to claim His bride; because we are so comfortable and full of our own pride and arrogance in this life? 

Read the full verse of Isaiah 7 about the people of Jerusalem and King Ahaz.  They lacked patience in trusting the Lord and turned in fear to those who threatened them.  Are we not the same?  How weak we are when we are not trusting in the Lord for our wisdom, power and authority.  In all honesty, we have become less focused on God and more on ourselves as we wait for the return of Emmanuel, the Christ foretold by Isaiah.  When He returns, He will not return as a child but as a heavenly groom, coming to take His bride home.  I pray that we do not miss it, and that we are on watch for Him through this Christmas season and the coming years.

Be Blessed,
Rich

Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email 

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Little City on a Hill



"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. "  -  Micah 5:2

Twenty one days until Christmas.  So, I’ve decided to take 21 of my favorite Christmas songs and dive deeper into the lyrics.
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!.
Humble beginnings, servant, peace and modesty describes the child born to Mary and Joseph.  He was born in a stable, be it a stable made of wood or carved from the stone in the countryside, it doesn’t truly matter.  He was born in a lowly place, a small village rather than the posh palace of the King.  Yet, he was born King of the Jews, destined to bring them salvation and redemption.  A light from heaven above and a choir of angels proclaimed his birth and his deity.

He came for us, to cast out our sin, to give us eternal life.  He came to live with us, not just in the human form, but in the form of the Holy Spirit, to dwell in each of us.  He came to teach us, to set an example by his very life.  He came to bring peace to men on earth and the path to eternal righteousness.  He came as Emmanuel and proved his divine power, God with us.

Be Blessed,
Rich
 
Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Worry Tree




"...And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever..."  -  John 14:16

According to the National Health Interview Society, “75% of the general population experience some level of significant stress every two weeks.”  So tell me in the last two weeks, what has you stressed?  What are you doing to eliminate it, reduce it or at least control it?  If you are anything like me, you bottle it up inside and just work harder at solving the problems that are causing it.

 I recall a story a few years back.  A man brings one of his employees home for dinner.  As they walk up the path leading to the front door, the man stops reaches for a tree next to his front porch.  Laying his hand upon the tree, he closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and then proceeds to enter the home.  The other man looks at him in a rather peculiar way and then follows him in.  He realizes throughout the night that his boss is not the same man at home as he is in the office.  He is laughing, hugging, playing with his children, relaxed and at ease, almost a exact opposite of how he is in the office.  The next day at work, the employee walks into his boss’ office and asks, “Sir, I’ve been running it through my mind all night and this morning.  I noticed a complete transformation of your personality as you walked into your home last night.  How do you just shut it off like that?”  The man laughs a little and replies, “It’s my worry tree.  Do you remember the tree I touched just before I walked in the door?  That is my worry tree.  I place my worries there every night when I come home.  From that point on, I focus only on what’s important – my family.  Surprisingly, the worries aren’t there the next morning when I walk out.”  The other man nods his head in understanding, “I like that idea.”

God sent us the Holy Spirit to live within us, rather than leaving Jesus Christ here indefinitely for us to follow.  But, make no mistake, the Holy Spirit is God Almighty in spirit, living inside of you.  He takes your worries, your burdens, your concerns and gives back peace, confidence, strength and courage.  He is the gentle reminder of righteousness and the one who convicts you of unrighteousness.  No condemnation, no belittling, no guilt, but rather a counselor in love and understanding to put you back on the right track.  This counselor and comforter is there at any moment you need Him.

 There is no worry tree outside of our front door, other than for symbolic reason.  The Holy Spirit within you is the source of comfort, peace and rest from your daily worries.  I recommend that you offload your daily concerns to the Holy Spirit before you enter your home each night, and leave the day’s work behind, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lighten that load by the time you want to pick it up again in the morning.  Find peace in the One who created it, not in your own ability too.


Be Blessed,

Rich

 
Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here

Monday, November 27, 2017

Managing Change


“Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” –  Psalm 119:89
 
Change is something most of us have become comfortable with.  That is not to say that we like it, but it is a part of life and we have learned to deal with it.  A change of job, change of location, changing a major in college and even as small as changing our plans for the weekend when something comes up.  It’s inevitable, we allow our lives to become so overwhelmingly busy that we must be able to adapt when the circumstance requires it.  Therefore, we often expect that our children can adapt just as quickly and easily.

 Children have a hard time with this though.  A parent’s word must be something that a child can hold onto as the truth.  Make a promise to a 6 year old and then don’t follow through, if you want to see first-hand the disappointment and rejection.  We must become consistent, authentic and reliable for our children to learn what integrity and trust really mean.  There are few things more valuable than building a solid, trustworthy relationship with your children.  As the single most influential person in your child’s life, you must be the person they can rely on.  Otherwise, I can assure you they will seek it from other’s outside of your home and once that becomes the norm, it is a downhill slope for the parent/child relationship.

 This is no different than our relationship with God the Father.  We must be able to trust in His Word as the absolute truth, otherwise we will seek the truth elsewhere.  It is often times hard though, to accept God’s word as truth when we see so much devastation and evil in the world today.  It takes a faith beyond just reading His Word, it must become a part of the fabric of our heart and mind.  We must be able to grab a hold of His promises as fact and build upon these as the foundation of our life modeled before our children.  First, we must accept that God is immutable, unchanging.  He is the Alpha and Omega (beginning and then end) and everything in between.  There is no sequel, no corrections or updates to His message.  He is perfect in all ways, and therefore cannot be improved upon, or edited for accuracy. 

 As discussed I previous Daily Thoughts – eternity is forever and the life we live here on earth is a microscopic spec on the path to eternity.  God’s word is for eternity, not just the life we live here.  His truth will never change, can never change and must be accepted as is.  Take it or leave it, there is no compromising or negotiating with God.  We come at Christianity with a feeling that if God would bend this rule or soften that rule it would be a whole lot easier, but that isn’t going to happen.  It is what it is, and we are the ones who must change and conform to His image, not the other way around.  Christianity requires accepting God’s Word as truth and holding it as the standard by which we should live.  We can’t achieve perfection, as only Jesus Christ could, but we also can’t use mankind as our benchmark.  We need to shoot higher and live by the eternal word, for only it is reliable and consistent.

Be Blessed,

Rich
 
Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Part of the 1%



“During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.”
                                                                                                – Judges 7:9

As they awoke that morning 32,000 strong, armed and ready to fight for their God, Gideon heard from the Lord.  What he heard had to come as a surprise, but he knew to obey and trust in the Lord.  “You have too many men…”  Gideon then proceeded to watch 22,000 men leave his army, and I can imagine that immediately he began recalculating and wondering how to adjust his tactical plan to defeat the Midianites with only 10,000.  But wait, there’s more.  God wasn’t done just yet, as His word came down upon Gideon – “You still have too many…”  God sifted another 9,700 from the ranks and left Gideon with 300 courageous men, ready to defend God’s honor against the Midianite forces which lie awake in the valley below.  What Gideon had prepared, in all of his careful planning and strategy to succeed in battle could be thrown out the window.  How could he execute an attack on such a strong formidable adversary with less than 1% of his forces still under his control. 
That’s the issue.  You see, Gideon had prepared an army that could have won the battle, but the outcome would have brought glory to them rather than to God the Father.  With only 300 men standing for God against the massive Midianite army, there would be no doubt in anyone’s eyes that it was the hand of God that won this battle.  All of the planning and strategies Gideon had prepared were useless, he must resort to following the plan and direction of God perfectly, and the Lord promised to deliver the Midianites into his hands.  Gideon had to quickly learn that he must trust the Lord for his life and the lives of those 300 men.  By the end of the night, the Midianites had been defeated, by their own hand against themselves, and God was given all of the glory.
Who are you trusting with your biggest problem of today?  Seriously, do you think your problem compares to the problem Gideon faced?  What if you were only given 1% of the resources available to you to solve that problem, what would your first reaction be?  God is in the business of successful planning and accomplishing things in unbelievable ways, for those that will follow Him and give Him the glory.  When He is Lord of your life, your problems become His, and there is no problem He can’t solve when we chose to follow Him.  Today is open and He is ready for you to trust in His leadership.  Put your ego, pride and self-centered thinking aside, and reach out to the Creator of all things, for He alone is worthy and capable.


Be Blessed,
Rich
 
Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Get Out of the Way




 

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light”
                                                                                                – Matthew 11:28-30

 

Well here we are again, five weeks before Christmas.   Boy, this year sure has flown by, but then again, maybe it’s just me and the pace at which I am living each day.  It seems as though the days come and go at a much faster pace than when I was a younger man.  Yet, a second is still a second; a minute still a minute and an hour is still an hour.  We are choosing a faster paced life and it makes me ask the question, “Why?  What will it get me in the end? “

There is but one end for each of us.  The path to that destination though should be enjoyed, relished and memorable.  Rushing from here to there seems to be the norm today, because we have let the busyness and pressure of keeping up with others control our lives.  Be it materialism, greed, jealousy, technology or vanity; there certainly seems to be more stress and pressure on everyone I speak with these days.

Can you imagine your life without the luxuries we have become so accustom too?  No cell phone, no internet, no ATM card, no cable TV, no blue ray, and so on and so on.  Take a step back and think about everything you have become dependent upon, just to make it through one day.  I’d ask you to give it up for a day, but I know that’s unreasonable in today’s world.  But, as dependent as we have become on these “things”, compare it with how dependent you are on God’s provision in your life.

If you woke up tomorrow and had to make a choice – all of these things that make our life comfortable or God.  You have to choose, you can’t have both.  Would it be a hard choice, and would you complain about not being able to have both?  Most of us would have a hard time.   What if you your boss said you either give up your faith or you’re fired?  I think we all would say valiantly, I’d let them fire me first, and that’s honorable.  But, what if that job was the only income source for your family of 5 at home, and you were a month behind on bills already? 

The hard reality of it is, we have allowed ourselves to become dependent upon ourselves more so than God Almighty.  Give up your worries, your burdens and your stress.  Allow God to become your main priority, and let Him work through you to accomplish great things.  You see, in taking control of these things yourself, you may actually be getting in the way of something far greater that God has in store for you.  We must all learn to trust that He is our provider and that He will watch over us.  I hope you find comfort in knowing that despite our intent to control this life, He never turns away from you.  He simply asks for your to trust in Him, and let him lead.

Be Blessed,

Rich

 

Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Knowing God’s Love



“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
                                                                                                – 1 John 4:11-12

As the moon falls onto the waves crashing upon the beach, the earth rotates through the night.  The gravitational pull of the spinning sphere draws the tide from the depths of the see to the sands of the shore.  It’s consistent and has been for thousands of years, from the moment Adam walked and the serpent slithered along the sandy floor of the garden.  The battle ensued at that time, and has ebbed and flowed ever since.  Today, we look with wonder as the tidal waves crash onto the shores and marvel at the complexity of it all.

Many believe we are in the worst time of history, yet we have no clue of what this world has been through.  Trials have come and gone, and the human race has continued to thrive through it all.  What began as a garden, a perfect paradise if you will; has now evolved into a cesspool of evil, temptation and pain.  Why?   Why was Adam and Eve incapable of obeying the Father’s simple instructions and choosing to surrender to the evil one, the ruler on this earth? 

It’s not a blame game, but we are certainly a by-product of our ancestral chain.  Through ages we have fought each other over pride, greed, selfishness and power.  I propose that the original love God implanted in mankind is absent from humanity today.  We say we love one another, but do we really understand what that even means?  Is it simply affection for one another?  Is it an emotion that makes one’s heart beat a little faster, makes one’s palms sweat and breath quicken?  Do we really understand what the Lord gave us in the garden? 

It makes me wonder, what if Eve had run away; what if Adam had actually stood for righteousness and took his rightful place to lead her away.  Would we even be here?  Would this world then be the perfect paradise that God had so meticulously formed from his very breath?  I know it’s deep and unfathomable to comprehend what might have really become of mankind and this earth.  But, one thing is for sure, had they resisted the evil one on that day, love would have conquered and would have become the nature by which we all live.

We were created in love by the Abba Father, to dwell in love and perfect harmony with Him forever.  Mankind allowed evil to seep into our existence and it has been ever since.  When we say we are born in sin, it ties all the way back to the garden.  For the love that was provided to and for us, became a long distant obfuscated memory over generations.  How long did it take before God’s original plan of a loving human race became unrecognizable?  The single closest resemblance of His love that still exist today, is the love between parent and birth child. 

As DNA and genes are passed through the bloodline, we have an identity with our children and likewise with our parents.  Even multi-generational gaps weaken the love tie, but it’s still there none the less.  Compare this with the love tie you might have with a spouse.  This is a learned or chosen love that you decide to share, not because it was inherent at birth.  The love you share with your family and friends is a pale representation of what the love God had intended.  The temporary lustful love you have for others is nothing more than a selfish intent to satisfy one’s desires, nothing more.

So, how then are we to love one another the way God loves us?  First, in our simple mindedness we must try to understand the depth of God’s love.  Refer back to Deuteronomy 7:9 – “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands”  This is clue #1 – His love is for a thousand generations and He will keep his covenant, made with Abraham, to love you and bless you.  God has promised His love to mankind for all time, only dependent upon obeying his commands, which we all agree is nearly impossible.  But, in the depth of His love for us, He alone provided a way. 

We all know John 3:16 by heart, “For God so loved the world that He gave is only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This is clue #2 – mankind had become so evil and incapable of loving God and keeping His commands, that in order to find redemption from the sins, it would take a sacrifice which could not be found in this world.  Therefore, because of His immense love for us, He sent Jesus Christ to die for us, so that we could once again be able to kneel in His presence and love Him in return.   Also, reiterated in Romans 5:8 – “
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

We don’t know this kind of love in our world, for you see, Satan is the prince of this world; and Satan lives by hate, envy, pride, greed, love of self and pleasure.  In this world we cannot begin to understand the love of the Father, and just how intense that love truly is.  Think about the person in this world you love the most.  Now ask yourself, if that person hates me, turns from me, rejects me and degrades me; will my love for them be unchanging, immutable?  Jesus demonstrated this in His life, but no other man in all of time has ever been able replicate it. 

That is why we need Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  He alone can love the Father as the Father loves us.  Through Him and only through Him can we return love to the Father that He is worthy of.  The more we learn about Jesus and the more we allow Him to work in our lives, the more we become like Him and can love others as He first loved us.


Be Blessed,
Rich


Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please send an email here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

But By Grace




“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
                                                                                                – 2 Peter 1:2

 

As he ran from the door, he pulled the ski-mask off of his head and dropped it to the ground.  He had left the scene with a satchel of large denomination bills and two diamond banded watches.  On the floor of the jewelry store lie several customers and the owners, bound at their hands and feet.  Sirens were blaring in the streets as he ran away from the building.  Suddenly two police squad cars pulled onto the curb in front of him.  He darted to his left into traffic, just missing being hit by a truck as it’s horned screamed into the night air.

He turned down an alley between two buildings and hid behind a dumpster in the shadows.  Red and blue lights strobed against the brick wall as he inhaled and tried to remain still.  The lights faded and then the alley was black again.  He stayed still and quiet.  He asked himself, how long.  How long should he stay here to be sure that they were truly gone.

“Thank you God.  Thank you for helping me get away.”

What was that, he asked himself, as he turned to see a flashlight shining against the brick wall and coming his direction.  He tucked in close to the dumpster trying to make himself invisible.  They walked past the dumpster a few steps, he remained perfectly still until the two police officers were past him, then he jumped to his feet and ran.  He heard them yell, “Stop or I’ll shoot.”  But, he truly thought that they’d never do it, so he kept running. 

His left thigh burned incredibly as he went to take another step, then he heard the shot echo through the alley.  He fell to the ground in agonizing pain as the realization of what just happened raced through his mind.  He knew that the bullet had torn through the flesh of his thigh and his race was over, regardless of how much he wanted to crawl away.

At the hospital they dressed his wound and gave him a shot for the pain.  Then the police took him to the local precinct, booked him and locked him in the infirmary.  They had caught him, red handed with nearly $200,000 and $40,000 in watches.  His brief life of crime had come to an abrupt end that night, as the morphine kicked in and he fell asleep.

In the early morning they came by and gave him some yogurt, bread and coffee, with the warning that he would see the magistrate at 9AM.  Is there anyone they could call on his behalf?  He shook his head no, and rolled over.  You see, he had no-one.  He was a loner, orphaned at a young age, in and out of foster care, dropped out of school and was living in shelters and the local church mission most of his early adulthood.  An hour later he heard his cell door unlock and the officer held out a pair of handcuffs and ankle-cuffs.  After attaching them, he was escorted with a limp down the long corridor and into the courtroom.

He was seated at the table in front of the bench.  There was an empty chair next to him at the table.  The judge entered the chamber and the gavel fell to the wooden bench.  The judge looked down from his bench and called the court to order.  He looked at the suspect and then at the older man on the other side of the courtroom and said quite clearly, “Is this the man who stole from you last evening? “  The clerk looked across at the suspect and nodded his head.  The judge looked at the police officer sitting in the chair near the side door.  “What did you find as evidence of this crime?”  The office laid the satchel of money and the two watches on the table as evidence.

Then the judge looked straight at the suspect.  “Sir, did you take this money and watches from the jewelry store on main street last evening?”  The suspect nodded his head to affirm the accusations, and quietly mouthed the words; “Yes, I did it.”  and tears fell from his cheek to the table.  At the tender age of 20 he knew this was it, he was headed to prison.  The only question was for how long.  As the judge raised the gavel, he questioned to the room.  “Is there any to offer a defense as to why this man should not be sentenced for the crime in question?”

A man stood up from the gallery and walked forward past the table right up to the judge’s bench.  As he past the table where the suspect sat, he paused and laid a keychain with a single vault box key on the table.  Quiet conversation ensued between the judge and the older gentleman, until the man turned around and held his hands out wrists together.  The judge motioned for the bailiff to secure the man and take him from the courtroom to the prison cell. 

Then the judge looked at the suspect and addressed him directly, “You are free to go, Sir.  The key before you will open a lock box at the bank on 5th Avenue, where you will find adequate documentation for insurance to cover your injuries and additional documentation detailing the inheritance, including several bank accounts, vehicles and a house in the sub-burbs; all of which has been granted to you by this gentlemen.  Just then the door closed behind the older gentlemen as they took him away.

Grace – the free and unmerited favor given to one that does not deserve, but rather deserves the full wrath and punishment for their actions.  God's loves us so much, His grace is overwhelming when you truly sit back and think about what we deserve as sinners in this life.  We deserve the full punishment for our actions, but we are forgiven and set free while another takes on the punishment that we should have received.  Such is the life of a Christian.  Jesus Christ took on the pain and suffering that you and I so deserve for our actions.  We are given freedom to enter into salvation and eternal life with God Almighty, by believing and acknowledging Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  Don't take it for granted.


Be Blessed,

Rich

 

Join us on Facebook @ 10 Minute Reader Daily Thoughts or on Twitter @Sondove
If you would like to be added to the email distribution, please
send an email here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

He Hears You




“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  – Ephesians 6:18

When most people think about armor they think about the protective pieces that cover our body and defend against the attack of another.  I am here to tell you that the strongest element of armor you have at your disposal is prayer.  The communication between you and the Father is the strength from within that conquers all that mankind can put in front of you.  God knows what is upon your heart and mind, for He is omniscient (all-knowing).  The prayer lifted up to God is our recognition of dependence upon Him, it’s not to educate Him on what is happening in our life and what He should do.  He already knows what He should do, I mean, He is God and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t need our advice.

So many of us lift a prayer with the expectation that our desires and interests will be met.  What we often fail to grasp is that our desires and interests are not the deciding factor in whether a prayer is answered or not.  I propose that God has a plan for your life, a desire for who He wants you to become and an interest in what is best for you.  We do not have the full picture when we lift our prayers to the Lord of all creation, some might say our perspective is myopic.  Before the thought enters our mind, and the words leave our lips, the Lord has already recognized the need and whether it is in line with His plan for your life.  There are those times that prayers are lifted which are in perfect alignment with His plan, He was simply waiting for you to acknowledge it.  These tend to be the times when we recognize prayers answered quickly.  There are those times that prayers are lifted which are not necessarily in line with God’s plans and we find that they are not answered in a manner we would like.  Either case though, the Lord is hearing your prayers.  The bible assures us that Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf; Romans 8:26 tells us “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”  The Holy Spirit is God within you, and therefore He knows what you need even when you don’t.

It was December 2003, we had just come back from Michigan after attending my Grandmother’s funeral.  That night my daughter and I were involved in a car accident.  We both walked away okay, a little bruised and scraped, but no serious injuries.  I had glanced away from the road for nothing more than a second and a car pulled out in front of me.  I was doing 50 mph at the time and ran straight into the backend of their car.  It was determined that I was at fault for not controlling my speed, even though I wasn’t speeding (per se’).  We thought everything was going to be okay, up until a week or so later.  The owner of the other vehicle had chosen to sue us for liability, which is within their right in the state of Texas.  We believed that our car insurance would handle it though, so it didn’t worry us at first.  Then came the notification that our insurance premiums, due the week before while we were in Michigan, had not been paid and our insurance could not cover the claim. 

Imagine our shock and dismay looking at a pending lawsuit for medical care, time off work, transportation and grievances in the area of over a hundred thousand dollars, with no insurance.  In speaking with the insurance company to reinstate our insurance we were told that they could reinstate it but could not cover this claim.  There computer systems would not allow for it to happen.  The first time our agent put the data through it kicked it back out and denied the claim just as she said it would. 

Do you notice that in most dire cases we turn to the Lord in prayer, and I did that day as well.  I was an emotional wreck, having, only weeks prior, attended my Grandmother’s funeral, then to have this happen, fears had formed in my mind of the worst possible case.  Could they take our house?  What if we couldn’t pay?  Where could I ever get that kind of money in a short time frame?  None of this was from the Lord mind you.  Recognize that all of my thoughts were fearful by nature and when I knelt to pray I had no idea what to pray for.  Through my mumbling and quiet whispers of love for the Lord and trust in Him that He would see us through this, I started to regain my composure.

No less than 15 minutes later my wife, Lisa, walked in.  After speaking to the insurance agency, climbing the ranks from supervisor to supervisor, she had been receiving the same answer, “There’s nothing we can do, the computer and software do not allow us to override the dates in the policy.”  But with persistence, Lisa had convinced the agent to re-enter the claim one more time.  When they put the claim through the system accepted it and we were covered with the exception of our deductible.  Some may claim coincidence, but Lisa and I both know that God answered my unrecognizable prayers at the very moment I was crying out to Him.

The world will pose trouble, trials, temptations and evil every day; but God promises that He will be with you to overcome these things.  Prayer is unbelievably powerful, and when coupled with the armor of God provided in
Ephesians 6:13-18 you are more prepared for battle with the enemy than you can ever imagine.  God is good, and nothing in this world can separate us from His love and peace.