Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Key


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"It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people." – Psalm 118:8

I sat on the rocking chair looking out at the God’s perfect ocean.  It was late in the evening and the sun was just above the horizon, casting brilliant hues of pink, orange, yellow and red over the dark blue, purple and aqua of the water.  White crested waves crashed against the sand and rocks of the jagged Pacific coastline.  The day had been filled with stressful meetings and the disappointing news that we had not won the deal.  The others that I traveled with on this particular trip had gone back to their rooms to dwell in the missed opportunity.  I could have done the same, Lord knows there were 100’s of e-mails waiting for me in my Inbox.  But, I needed to be reassured that everything was still okay, and there was not one single e-mail that would have convinced me of that.

As always, I knew I would find God at the ocean’s edge.  I could find Him in the beauty, magnificence and power of the Sun disappearing beyond the edge of the vastness of the water.  It calmed my spirit to just realize that I am a part of His day, and that regardless of what occurs during the day, He has control of it all.  The world is still rotating, the sun is still in the sky and God still hovers over the ocean just as He did on day one.  When I’m at the oceans edge at sunset I observe the originality of God’s creation:


  1. Depths of Waters in darkness and God created light, separating darkness from light
  2. God created the sky to separate the waters above and below
  3. God created land amidst the waters below, and vegetation on that land
  4. God created lights in the skies – to give light to the earth, and to determine time.  The greatest light for the day and the lesser light for the night
  5. God created animals in the sea and in the air
  6. God created animals on the land and then God created mankind in His image to rule over the animals and the vegetation of the land.
  7. God rested in all of His goodness having created perfection
All of this is captured in the stillness, quietness and majesty of sitting and looking out over the ocean.  It brings me back to a place where I am not depending on what happens in a day’s activities.  It brings me to a place where I can remember that God created all of this and controls it all.  I am but just one part of His amazing plan, and I must not forget that my trust lies in Him, not in mankind.

When I am not near a beach or ocean or majestic mountain though, I can always turn to the exact center of the bible and find a reminder that God is in control, not mankind.  Psalm 118:8 is the very center of God’s word and the key scripture to understanding God. I suggest you put a marker there in your bible, so you can always find a quiet place and quickly reflect on this scripture when the world is closing in.  Be blessed. 



Prayer:
Loving Father,
You are my amazing creator.  You fill my mind with righteousness and my heart with love.  You have created this world perfectly for us to live in and serve You.  Let us not lose sight of that as we are attacked daily by life’s problems.  We rest in knowing that you are in control of all things and know us very well.  Bless me Lord, that I might live long in Your service and praise You throughout my life.  In Your name we pray – Amen



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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I am Strong


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“That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  – 2 Corinthians 12:10

 

You Say (click Youtube)Lauren Daigle (2018)

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe


 

 

The path that we walk each day is going to be filled with individuals that don’t believe in you, and your purpose.  The reality is that each of us have an opinion of yourself that is known to us and our Creator.  That opinion is flawed though.  It is flawed in the understanding that we are using our most comprehensive knowledge of everything we have done, we have thought and we have said to form this opinion.  That leads us to an opinion that is open to the weakness of our flesh, our worldly perspective, and shame.  You must agree with me then that this opinion and perspective indeed is the most complete representation that anyone could have about you, because you know yourself better than anyone else.

With this opinion of yourself, good and bad, you will struggle, at times, to view yourself as deserving of the love of our Father in heaven.  But, you see, although your opinion is the most comprehensive opinion on the earth, it doesn’t compare to the opinion and perspective of your Father.  God’s perspective of you is void of your shortcomings, mistakes and misgivings.  He knows you through and through, deeper than you know yourself.  In Psalm 139, we learn that God knew us before we were born, He formed us in our Mother’s womb, He knows us and everything about us. 

In the Gospels, we learn that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be the propitiation, the sacrifice for our transgressions.  By His death and resurrection, and through God’s grace, we are forgiven of our unrighteousness and given eternal life with Him in heaven.  God provided a way for sanctification because He so deeply loves us.  With this knowledge, that surpasses the knowledge of any man or woman, He knows you, better than you know you.  He decided that you were worth dying for, worth salvation.  He gives you value and worth, even when you don’t see it.

As the song above says: “you say I am loved, when I don’t feel a thing.  You say I am strong, when I think I am weak.  You say I am held, when I am falling short”  God is your strength and power when you are at your weakness.  He holds you high above anything mankind will say, because it is not based on your actions, but based on the you that He created.  Don’t misjudge the love of the Father, for it is unchanging, and forever there for you.


 

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Just Cruisin’

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'Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you' - Psalm 63:3
 
Remember when you were young (some of you still are) and you would slide the cassette or 8 track into the car radio. There was no Sirius XM, no Bluetooth, no USB, no MP3.  You would turn the radio up as loud as you could, roll your windows down and just cruise up and down Main street. No destination, but it was all about the experience and who saw you, right?

Remember when your favorite song came on the radio and you would begin shouting out, singing along with the lyrics. Was it "City of the Angels"; "Satisfaction"; "Up Around the Bend"; "Don't Stop Believing"; "Lil Deuce Coupe"; "Come Together"; “Stairway to Heaven”; “Juke Box Hero” ... the list goes on. Why was it so simple to sing along with the music?

Basically, it goes back to the principle of what goes in, must come out. Music continues to be a very impactful method of reaching our youth. They hear the beat of the drums, the screaming guitars and the lyrics seem to stick; at least when they mean something to the listener. It makes it easy for them to memorize, because they listen to it over and over again. I remember tucking my lil’ ones in and they would sing along with me at nighttime.  ‘Awesome God’, ‘Here We are to Worship’, ‘Jesus loves Me’ and ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ are all part of her concert series now.  Now, I’m cruising with these same kids, and though their playlist and mine don’t always match up, we’ll still do our best to sing along in the car with each other.  My point here is that we remember what we spend time focusing on. This in turn, results in an increased confidence and comfort level in sharing or singing out the words.

This is the same as with God's word. Reading it, studying it on a more frequent basis will result in your memorization. Just as you cruised the streets in your "ride" back then singing out your favorite tunes, it brings much pleasure to God to hear you singing out worship and praises to Him. I recommend beginning tomorrow morning. Find a scripture verse, two or three and write them on a 3x5 index card. Carry this card with you for the week. Refer to it often throughout each day and think of how it might apply to your daily walk. Tape it to your dashboard while you drive, recite it out loud as you come to stop lights/signs. Let these scriptures become comfortable with you. As your confidence and comfort level build, feel free to share your verses when God puts opportunities in your path, and He will. Give Him the praise and glory for everything you are learning and how it is impacting your life. I've even heard of some who put scripture to music and sing it out to God with their windows down cruisin' down Main street. The only difference is you now have a destination for your cruisin', and Main Street is paved with gold..



Prayer:
Loving Father
,
You have placed a passion for music and worship in my heart for a reason, to glorify You.  Thank You for creating in me a love for music and art.  Help me to build on this desire and in doing so bring glory to You.  Fill me with knowledge and passion to grow in this area of my life.  Help me to discover more of Your truth in Your word each day, that I might share it with others.  In Your name I pray – Amen




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Monday, February 25, 2019

Make it Count


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“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:14-17



The Motions
  by: Matthew West  (link on Youtube)


This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life


'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

These are the lyrics from Matthew West, a contemporary Christian artist, who writes deeply inspirational songs from the heart.  As I find myself working through the struggles in life, trying to find a way to more completely serve the Lord, this song has weighed heavily on my heart.  Stop for a moment, listen to this song (click the link above) and then let it sink in.  God has given you unbelievable opportunities to serve Him with all that you have.  The responsibility is yours to do something with what He has given you to impact those around you for Him.  These actions don’t get you to heaven, the blood of Christ has already done that.  These actions on your part help to expand His Kingdom and bring His grace and love to others that they in turn might come to know Him.  Don’t waste another moment, stop going through the Motions of being a Christian and start living / serving others, with the only life you have.



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Friday, February 22, 2019

Matter of the Mind


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“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. “ – Romans 12:2




Walk in peace today; all of you who happen to be on the receiving end of this message this morning.  Allow your heart to be filled with His love today, and share that love with those that you meet throughout the day.  The opportunity to reach the world is present whenever you and I allow the Holy Spirit to reach within our heart and transform us to think differently. 

The world’s message is one of self indulgence, personal gratification, “It’s all about me”, succeed at any cost and then help others.  When we choose to walk within this attitude we deceive ourselves to believe that we are in control of our destiny.  We separate ourselves from the Creator, the farther down this path we walk.

Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)?  The son takes all of his inheritance and pursues life’s pleasures.  He chases the self indulgent lifestyle that appears so attractive on the surface.  Eventually, as it will with every one of us, it is discovered to be empty of any real substance, for the pleasures are temporary.  Upon return his father spares no expense to welcoming him home.  Likewise, your Father in heaven will spare no expense in welcoming you home; even to the point of sacrificing His own Son for your redemption. 

The world’s view on life is to get as much as you can before you die.
God’s view of life is to give as much grace and love to others as possible before you die.

In either case, the end will come, and when it does our eternal fate will have been set.  Shift your thinking from focusing on the patterns of the world to focusing your mind on the spirit of God and rest in the joys that will last forever with Him in eternity.






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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Here I am to Worship


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“And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you give your bodies to God, give your whole life to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind that He will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship Him.“ – Romans 12:1



So many people today are seeking purpose, the most common question on the minds of our youth is “Why am I here?”  The reality of man’s purpose on this spinning orb in the Milky Way galaxy has caused many to stop living life aimlessly and become invigorated to pursue life with a passion.  Have you ever taken the time to ponder the possibilities in life beyond the next corner?  Or, are you like most of us and just trying to make it through one more day?

Face it, busyness has enveloped our daily lives and as so often happens, our focus becomes centered around our worries, our concerns and our problems rather than on the One who should be receiving more of our time, not less.  Jesus did not look at Peter and John and say, “Hey, if you’re not too busy, do you want to follow me?”  What did he say in Matthew 4:19 or to Matthew in Matthew 9:9?  Come, Follow Me.”  It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t a suggestion, it was a command.  They did.

Why are you any different?

Come on, this was Peter, John and Matthew.  They were the original disciples and Jesus was standing in their midst.  Of course they followed Him.  They gave everything they had to follow Him though.  Everything.  This is the 21st century, times have changed, life’s not as simple, there are bills to pay, kids need to go to school and so on and so on, right?  Have we chosen that our own life dreams, goals and ambitions are more important than following His call?  I look at my life and realize just that. 

We are called to follow Him and this will not be reduced to a second priority.  The choice we have to make comes down to our desire to pursue our worldly success in life or to pursue His eternal plan.  We must get past the acceptance that it is okay to “dabble” in following Christ.  It’s all in or it’s not.  We look for our purpose in life as if it is going to make us feel complete.  Worshipping God the Father is our purpose in life.  Lifting praise and worship to Him draws us closer to realizing why we are here.  At some point today, we all need to stop and find a quiet moment to simply tell God how much we love Him and worship Him in whatever way you can.






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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What is Going On





“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ – Luke 12:20

 

These days will draw to an end, to this there is no doubt.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, for it is not within our power to determine when the sun will no longer rise or the mountains will tremble.  Can any one of us cause the sun to fall from the sky?  Does this power exist amongst mortal men?  Example after example could be given demonstrating the immediacy of death upon us in a manner by which it is, without a doubt, outside of our control.  The people of the world have been shaken of late with natural disasters, rioting in the streets and terrorism at it’s finest.  A boy walking to class is struck by a stray bullet in the streets of Chicago.  A woman just finishing her grocery shopping steps out of the store and is crushed by the debris from buildings collapsing around her.  An elderly couple are struck in the side of their car as they drive through an intersection, one is taken, the other is not.  A young man with a bandana around his head and fist raised high is trampled as hundreds of thousands storm the gates of the capital building.  Let’s face it, as we step into the world each and every day, we only have so much control over the events in our life.  Certainly we can live cautiously and watch every step we take to ensure that we return home safely at the end of the day, but in this day and age a simple walk to the curb could lead to a tragic ending.

Sadly, some chose the method of their death by self infliction.  This desperate move represents a person’s loss of hope in those around them, and in God.  When a person’s judgment is clouded by the obstacles in life rather than the opportunities, life can look hopeless.  It is easy to look at the strife, anguish and helplessness of people in the world today and begin to lose hope that there is a way out.  I, myself, have looked at the utter chaos within the world and asked, “Can it ever be completed?”  Can the peace, love and hope of the Lord ever reach the masses in a way that draws them nearer to His bosom?

Many are driven by the moment.  This is no different today than in the biblical days of old.  As new and fresh as people believe it is today, the same lack of respect of our Lord has existed since time began.  The only difference is the scale by which it is measured.  Instantaneous pleasure, selfishness and shameless addictions are a part of the lives of the majority today.  We are all addicted to one thing or another and in most cases, it’s sad to say, it is not God’s will in our life.  As much planning and preparation we do to ensure that our future retirement and lifestyle is secure, is all for naught when the winds blow or the earth shakes tomorrow.  How valuable is our possession when it is buried under 30 feet of rubble after an earthquake, or 20 feet of water after a hurricane.

We are taught to store up our treasure in heaven, where it is secure and ever-lasting (Matthew 6:20).  Not to be taken literally, but to be understood that the things we treasure, the things of this world are meaningless in the Kingdom of heaven.  This very day your life could be taken from you.  This is not a threat, but a fact that we all must deal with.  The choices we make each and every day as to how to spend our time, our money and use our talents will go to benefit one of two masters.  Either we are investing in our future eternity or we are investing in our temporary comfort and pleasure.  Don’t complicate it more than that, because it’s not. 



Prayer:
Father,
We come before You this day filled with hope.  Hope in Your truth and justice to oversee our life and give us purpose each day.  We pray for the safety of Your children in the war torn regions of the world and those places of unrest.  Be with them and guide them to Your side that they might draw wisdom and strength from You, their Creator.   We pray for Your children in those areas of the world struck by natural disasters.  Bring them peace, hope and courage to rebuild and renew their strength in You.  Bless us this day with confidence to face the challenges in our path.  In Your name we pray – Amen






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Monday, February 18, 2019

I Want to Know You


“Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also."”  – John 8:19

 

Her eyes are brown.  She loves the hiking in the mountains and reading a good book while hanging out at the beach. She is a mother of 5 and “Mi-Mi” of 5.  If she could save one beautiful little girl in Haiti, she would do everything should could to make that happen.  She likes to sleep in, yet she’s up at early in the morning to help get her 3 children ready for school and take them.  She runs the school, a non-profit Parent-partner school for 82 home schooled children in and around the Woodlands.  She enjoys her coffee with lots of Pepperment Mocha cream, or a caramel macchiato from Starbucks.  She loves Jesus Christ with everything in her heart and goes out of her way to help others each and every single day.  She has led bible studies, mother’s of pre-school groups and been the teacher of our 3 home-school children.  She wears the hat of a nurse, a chauffeur, school administrator, teacher, coach, and a banker.  She likes Moscado, White Zinfandel from Australia or the Napa Valley and an occasional beer, but most of the time would rather have a tall glass of sweet ice tea.  Her favorite restaurant is Saltgrass Steakhouse, where she likes her steak well done with no pink in the middle.  She also loves baked ziti from Olive Garden if the mood for Italian strikes her.  I love it when she laughs, and I can tell when she is going to cry.  She loves everyone with the same unconditional, what you see is what you get, love.  The incredible woman I refer to is my wife of 31 years - Lisa.  This is the woman I love and I know her very well (or so I think).

We all have relationships with others that can be described in deep details.  You know your spouses, family and friends very well.  You know what makes them laugh and what makes them cry.  You could tell any person you meet on the street how special these individuals are to you.  We spend time with them, learn about their idiosyncrasies and habits.  We are willing to invest in a certain few individuals because we care about them and we want to know them more.  I’m sure you will agree with me in this matter as you look back at those in your life and begin to think about the deep details you know about each of them.

So, I have established that we are all capable of knowing someone if we chose to.  It takes work and effort and a desire to know them.  It takes time, not just studying about them, but spending time with them and learning first hand.  So, with this in mind I can honestly stand here and say with full sincerity; I don’t know God?  Don’t get me wrong.  I know He is my Lord and King and has provided me salvation by His grace through His Son Jesus Christ.  Now, having acknowledged that, I continue to struggle daily with wanting to know Him more.  Accepting God is a statement of faith, trust and belief; but knowing God takes work.  Just as in any relationship, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it. 

If I put 1 spend 3 hours a day with my kids and 3 additional hours a day with my beautiful wife, 2 hours commuting to/from work and 10 hours at the office with my co-workers and try to get at least 5 hours sleep each night that leaves 1 hour a day with my Creator.  Plus add Sunday church service and the occasional Wednesday or Saturday night and I am getting somewhere south of 500 hours a year with God almighty.  We are given 8,760 hours in a given year.  This means I am spending less than 6% of my time getting to know the Lord.  That just doesn’t seem like a plan to build a relationship now does it.

I have the desire to know Him more, but has it become important enough to actually do something about it?  That is the question that is posed for all of us to address.  I propose that the majority of us are in this same boat.  We get swallowed up in the busyness of the day and all of a sudden God is getting our leftovers rather than our first and best.  Today we have homework.  I would like to ask you to take an index card or a piece of paper and write down everything you know about God.  Put it somewhere in a prominent place that you will see everyday.  This will remind you daily of who it is that you serve.  Now, try to add to that list each day.  Can you spend enough time in the Word each day or on the internet learning about God and strengthening your relationship with Him to add one item a day.  I promise you as you learn more about Him your relationship will become stronger, because you see He’s already done His part of the assignment and knows everything about you.  The gap in this relationship rests on your shoulders, not His.



Prayer:
Almighty God,
We want to know You and serve You.  Please forgive our busyness as we allow the daily tasks to steal from our time with You.  Strengthen us Lord, to see You in a more fruitful manner and learn more from You and about You daily throughout this year.  Help each of us become more aware of our relationship and focus our attention on You, for it through You that we are given life.  In Your name we pray – Amen



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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

14 Days of Love – Day 14 – God is Love




 “God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
 
Happy Valentines Day.  Today is the day that millions of people will go to any means to express to their spouse, children, parents, and friends that they love them.  Some will give flowers, some will give candy and still, others will give jewelry.  It represents a need deep inside every one of us to feel loved and to hear from others that we are loved.  But what about the giver?  How do they benefit from the giving?  I, for one, love giving gifts.  I love seeing the joy and happiness that is derived from receiving gifts that I have put thought and effort into.  It’s not just physical gifts though.  In many cases, it’s serving and helping others, without their knowledge or request.  Taking a warm bowl of soup to a homeless person, or buying the lunch for a soldier before they head off to serve our country.  It warms the heart to do something for others, without any visible gain from it, but often times an enormous spiritual and emotional gain. 
 
A simple example happened to me just today.  I came out of the store with several things in my shopping basket.  I arrived at my car, and proceeded to load them into the backseat.  As I stood to push my cart back down the parking lot to the cart return area, a gentlemen looked up from his car and walked toward me.  “Are you all set there, you want me to take that for you?”  He then proceeded to push my cart 100 feet down the aisle to the cart return area and then walked back to his car.

Certainly, one of the most recognized verses in the entire bible is John 3:16.  Its popularity has been broadcast worldwide on sporting events, from concerts, journalistic events and a plethora of other entertainment events.  Where it could be predicted that millions, if not billions, would be watching there was always someone who was willing to stand up for God and in doing so spread His good news.  This one scripture sums up God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  To once again draw them close to His side, He took it upon Himself to bridge the gap. 

God so loved the world.  I tell my wife, “I Love You Most” and it comes from deep within.  The deepest feelings I have for anyone in this world are shared with one person only.  This love exemplifies the emotional as well as physical love that brings two souls together.  One step removed is the love I have for my children, grandchildren, parents, and family, often greeted with “I Love You More”.  I would cross the ocean, desert or tundra to help any single one of them, because we share a bond of blood that cannot be reversed or unseeded, there will always be an emotional tie between family.  Finally, there is the love I have for my friends.  A love that is bound by values and life’s experiences.  A loving relationship that develops stronger over time.  Do I love the world?  Could I?  Certainly not.  Trying to put logic around God’s statement of loving the world, one must first realize that God is omnipotent and omnipresent and solely capable of loving every person in the world at the same time with the same depth.  Without first accepting this fact, one can never fully embrace God’s ability to love the world and everyone in it.

God gave His one and only Son.  I have 5 children and 5 Grandchildren, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.  I would give up my own life before putting any of them in harm's way, so I can’t fathom the type of love that is referred to here.  How can a loving God ever consider sending His Son to become the sacrifice for all mankind?  It wasn’t that God sent His Son to die, for this result was predetermined and God knew the glorious events that would unfold 3 days afterward.  It was the pain, temptation, suffering, rejection, humiliation, and degradation that Jesus Christ would have to endure leading up to Calvary.  Jesus even asked for another way but ensured his Father that if not, he would follow through.  God gave His Son to establish a path of salvation for mankind and to demonstrate the love of the Father for everyone forever more.

The path to eternity was clearly articulated in John 3:16.  “..whosoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life.”  It seems straight forward.  Many claim that they don’t understand the Christian faith and all of the rules and guidelines.  They don’t comprehend the differences between Catholicism, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Methodist, Calvinistic or Reformed Baptists.  Partially because of these differences the world has been led to believe that there are many paths to heaven.  The truth comes from the scriptures.  Salvation is derived from believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah, and will return one day to bring His children home.

When we reflect on the last 14 days of devotionals on God’s Love for mankind, it all boils down to one thing, which is captured in 1 John 4:8;
“…God is Love.”  That sums it up.  You can’t escape this definition of God, for everything we understand of love – emotions, serving others, words of affection, time with one another, and even the physical touch; it all stems from what God has given us through His Son - Jesus Christ.


Prayer:
Loving Father,
You have given us love.  You have shown us the truth in how to love one another and the future in how to receive salvation.  You have given us Your Son to teach us and to demonstrate Your unending love which is available to all mankind.  We rejoice in knowing that You love us and want us to be with You in heaven.  Thank You, Father, for providing a path of redemption, sanctification and eternity in Your presence.  I tell my wife, “I Love You” and it comes from deep within.  The deepest feelings I have for anyone in this world are shared with only one person.  One step removed is the love I have for my children and grandchildren. In Your name we pray – Amen


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14 Days of Love – Day 13 – Amazing Love


 “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”  – John 16:25

 

It was the day after Sabbath and the people stood along the pathways into Jerusalem, waving palm branches and laying them upon the ground as he entered the city.  Riding upon a small colt, the King of Kings was received by all of those in Jerusalem as Hosanna, the chosen one.  Cheering, reaching out for him, singing praises and worship, the crowds accepted him as their savior.  In a matter of a few days, less than one week, oh how their attitudes and opinions would change though.

It was Friday and the people once again had gathered together.  No love in their voice, no reception or greeting with praises and worship.  They had gathered once again to ensure that this man was put to death for all his supposed claims of blasphemy.  They yelled from the crowd, Crucify Him, crucify Him.  What had happened in 5 days?  This man must have been a serial killer, a complete heathen, an enraged convict escaped from prison, a man who had stolen from the temple or something outrageous like this in order for the entire population of Jerusalem to be up in arms and insisting on his death.  We are told of his week throughout the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John.  In them we clearly see the amount of love, compassion, joy and peace that he had lived for.


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He challenged the authority of the time with the truthful and righteous love of the Father and in doing so, drove a wedge between them and the people.  He opened up the gates of heaven to all people, not simply the Jewish brethren of that day.  This contradicted everything the leaders had been teaching, and was seen as a challenge to their authority.  In dealing with this challenge their choice was to put him to death, and they stirred the crowd with enough distorted perspective to create this demand for his life.  They could not see that he had come from the Father to usher in eternity and the Kingdom of God.  Their blindness was prophesied by Isaiah and lived out during the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus took the pain, humiliation, guilt, suffering and death on that cross for one purpose and one purpose only.  YOU!  As the blood dripped from his back, arms, legs, chest and head; he was completely focused on fulfilling his mission.  His mission was to sacrifice himself for the sins of mankind, such that we all would one day enter into eternity with God the Father.  That’s it in a nutshell.  He came and loved all of those he met.  He shared God’s love through parables, actions, words, joy and laughter; so that we could see the beauty of our Father.  He healed people, performed miracles and even rose the dead in demonstration of his authority granted by God above.  But, his most enduring and meaningful action of his short 33 years on this earth came 3 days after he had died.  When he rose from the grave and ascended into heaven, he put to rest the questions about who he was.

For the last 2000 years (or so) people have had to make a choice regarding their salvation.  Those who have chosen to follow this man – Jesus Christ – and accepted Him as Savior and Lord, have been promised God’s love and eternity in heaven one day.  Those of you that have denied this man, still have the opportunity to realize the truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our salvation.  If you have questions or would like to discuss this, please email me directly at sondove1@yahoo.com  or leave comments on my blog at http://sondove.blogspot.com .  Be blessed.



Prayer (in a song):
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.
Amazing love, How can it be
That You, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true.
Its my joy to honor You.
    - Chris Tomlin, 2010




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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

14 Days of Love - Day 12, Called to Love





“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  - 1 Peter 4:8



“Who amongst ou has no sin? Let him throw the first stone.”  A quote that many of us are all too familiar with.  For the truth that lies in these simple words are relevant to this very day and impact every single one of us in a manner by which we have the opportunity to be Christ-like in our actions.  Let’s face it, sin is a real in your life as much as it is in mine, and those around us have every right to throw stones, if indeed we have in any manner caused them damage, pain or shame.  But the reality is that demonstrating love to those that have sinned against you is a much stronger response than retaliation. 

You see loving another person that has wronged you sends a message to that person that despite their action or words, they are still worthy to be loved.  Retaliating or seeking revenge for their wrong doing will do nothing but fuel the anger and the feud which in turn will cause you to sin against them.  The opportunity that is presented to each of us is to love them when they have wronged you and in doing so, demonstrate a very solid example of God’s love, which in turn may have eternal benefits on that person.

God’s love is not conditional on our ability to love Him, for if it were He would not have sent Jesus Christ here to provide our means of redemption.  “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He chose to provide a means for you and I to be forgiven of our sins, despite the fact that we do not deserve it.  He, by grace, has given you eternity in heaven because He loves you so deeply.  This love is not uniquely for you though, it is for all mankind, even that jerk that cut you off this morning, or the one that hurt your feelings last week with the words they said.

You will sin today.  You will sin tomorrow and the day after that and so will every other person around you.  Joy comes through experiencing God’s grace in your life and the comfort of knowing that we serve a forgiving Father.  Joy also comes in the act of giving grace to others who likewise don’t deserve it.  Loving others takes a peace, patience and presence of God in your life, and you have the opportunity to let that presence be visible and known through your actions.  Take the next step today by forgiving those who have wronged you and demonstrating His love to others in all things, so that they might discover this eternal presence as well.



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Monday, February 11, 2019

14 Days of Love – Day 11 – Nothing to Hide




“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  – Galatians 5:22-23
 
Hypocrites!  They are all hypocrites.  How many times have you heard someone say something like, “If they got to know me, they would know that I am a good person.”  As we walk the streets and shopping centers of our life, this includes school, work, the mall, the hairdresser, the gym, the playground and yes even the bar.  We are making an impression on those around us everywhere we go.  Oh they won’t always tell you what they are thinking, but they are sizing you up and making an assessment.  The language, the mannerisms, the embrace, the tone and the body language all tell a story of who you are.  When you walk into the church on Sunday morning or Wednesday night are you the same person as when you walk into the office each morning?  I’ll be the first to admit, I struggle here.

A typical Sunday morning for us is unbelievably hectic.  Many times Lisa handles it alone, because I have already left early, usually with Sam, to help out at church.  Getting three teen agers around on a Sunday morning, includes some type of breakfast, brush your hair and your teeth.  “No, you’re not wearing that to church, it’s God’s house.”  “Seriously, you’ve worn those jeans for 3 days straight.”  “No, I said brush your hair, not put it in a rubber band.”  Everybody pile in the Suburban, what do you mean we’re out of gas?  Looking in the rearview to see one missing.  HONK-HONK-HONK. Come on.  Finally, we’re pulling out of the driveway only to see the dog running down the driveway after us.  “Who left the door open?”  Back it up, catch the dog, put him back in the house, try not to hit the kittens as we squeal the tires out of the driveway. 

 
It’s like putting on a theater production, and I must admit it’s hard to maintain my composure each week.  I’m a time watcher and I know it takes exactly 27 minutes from the moment I pull out of my driveway until the moment that I am sitting in the sanctuary at The Crossing Church, and this assumes that I hit all of the green lights and there are no bicyclists on Honea Egypt road (another pet-peeve of mine).  Lisa will be the first to tell you that as I stare at the clock on Sunday morning and watch the minute hand progress my patience is wearing thin.  If we leave home and I realize that we won’t make it on time, my whole attitude is going to reflect it.

It’s funny though, as soon as I take those three steps leading up to the church, and reach my hand out to shake the hand of the greeter, my entire attitude displays joy, stability, peace and love.  I move through the congregation and take my seat and for the next 90 minutes or so, there is not a person in that sanctuary that realizes the chaos our family just went through.  We’re really good at putting on the face of Christ when we need too, aren’t we.

God’s love needs to show from you always.  You never know who is watching, who is taking note and who is sizing up the Savior of the world based strictly on the Christian they see standing in line at the grocery store or on the stool at the local pub.  When the Holy Spirit took residence within your heart, He brought along a few characteristics, just to make sure you knew He was there.  The love of the Father is within you, and available to everyone you come in contact with.  It’s likely that you aren’t really good at sharing it with everyone you meet, all the time; but it is intended for that purpose.  The Spirit of the Lord is not within you to be kept in the shadows until you’re home and alone in your quiet time.  NO, the Holy Spirit is alive, has much to say and wants the world to know – “This one is mine.  Hear him/her and listen to what they say.  The Lord Almighty has something to say though him/her.” 

Hypocrisy is the act of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.  You cannot always be perfectly in line with the image of Christ, it’s impossible.  But as you mature you need to let God’s love show through you, so others you encounter will see.  You are a child of the most High God.  It’s not an on-again/off-again switch.  When you step outside of your front door, your neighbor sees your actions and hears your words.  Maturity comes when you are able to realize this and know that you are an ambassador for Jesus Christ all of the time.  Do those around you know you are a Christian?  If not, don’t feel guilty, but do something about it.  Why don’t you want them to know it?  Is it because once others know it, they will expect you to carry it with you and live up to it all the time?  They’re right, you do.  But, there is nothing more important for others to see in you than the love of God the Father on display. 


Prayer:
Loving Father,
Your love is amazing and fills us to the point of overflowing.  Let it always be upon our lips and in our actions as we make our way through this day.  Fill me with Your words and allow me to display Your love to all that I meet. Let the world see You when they glance upon my image.  In Your name we pray – Amen


© Sondove Enterprises, 2019
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

14 Days of Love – Day 10 – It’s in the Book


“For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult”  – 1 John 5:3

 

Seriously, are we to believe that we are expected to follow the commandments handed down to Moses on stone tablets.  This is the 21st century.  We can’t be expected to follow the law written by God’s own hand, and delivered to the children of God in the shadows of Mt. Sinai.  How absurd it is to think that we are to abide by these principles from 3500 years ago.  Times have changed and society is much more mature and advanced today.  We know so much more about the world and the psychology of mankind and human relationships than they did in those days.  Just because these laws were acceptable through the times of King David, the Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and His disciples, in no way implies that they are still valid today.  Right?

Ummm… no – this assumption could not be farther from the truth.  God did not reign down from heaven one day in the 3rd or 4th century AD and state, “Hey, all those rules and laws I gave to Moses.  Eh, just kidding.”  These are God’s laws and like everything else about God, they aren’t up for debate.  He’s not looking for our input on what the law should be, He’s already established it and made it broadly available to all mankind.  Consider that He carved them out of stone, so as to last for all time.  This leads me to believe that they were not temporary, but very important to all of us.  Just to review what is contained in Exodus:
   Have no other Gods before me
   Do not have idols
   
Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
   Keep the Sabbath Holy
   Honor Your Father and Mother
   
Do Not Commit Muder
   
Do Not Commit Adultry
   
You Shall not Steal
   You Shall not bear false witness
  
Do not covet your neighbor’s things, wife or servants


It is so unbelievably easy to discount these as old school, just because the appeared in the Old Testament.  Upon the entry of Christ many will interpret the 10 Commandments as less important.  Christ did not come to abolish the laws (Matthew 5:17), but to provide a path of righteousness and salvation for all of mankind, not just the Jewish population of the time.  He broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile, and opened up the opportunity for eternity to all.  Keeping in mind that at that time the Jew attempted to live strictly by the Mosaic law from the 10 Commandments and would require atonement for their sins when they would fall short in any area.  Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice, the final atonement for all sins; but in no way abolished the laws of God. 

Jesus Christ lived perfectly within the Father’s laws and set an example by His life of how we ought also to live.  These commandments did not dissolve or become obsolete upon Christ’s birth or death and resurrection, but rather are even more engrained as the proper way for us to live our life.  As we strive for these laws, we will stumble and fall short, and this is where Christ’s grace picks us up, washes us clean and strengthens us to continue.  We are redeemed in our unrighteousness and transgressions by the blood of Jesus Christ, just as the Jews are.

If you look closely at the 10 Commandments, they are structured in a perfect way to demonstrate God’s love.  #1 - #4 – provide a structure for loving God the Father; while #5 - #10 give us a glimpse of how we should love one another, based on how God loves us.  These need to be engrained in our memory and in our hearts.  We need to demonstrate them to one another in our daily walk and focus on them when we are tempted to step outside of the bounds.  God loves us so completely that He wants nothing more than for us to abide within these laws and bring Him honor in the process.  Even more so, He knows we cannot because of our humanity and our propensity to sin.  This is why He offers us His grace, even though we don’t deserve it.  That is true love.

Prayer:
Loving Father,
We lift up Your law and honor it before You.  We acknowledge that Your commandments are alive today as much so, if not more so than they were when Moses brought them to the people.  Help us Lord to live within Your law and convict us Holy Spirit when we are tempted.  Thank You for Your grace, to redeem us when we stumble.  We love You for what You have given for us.  In Your name we pray – Amen