Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Love Hateful People

I John 3:18-20

Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but withactions and truth

Love is not a noun it’s a verb. It only works when we put it into action and most times it's needed when we don’t feel like giving it.

During the fight for Civil Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and so many courageous people marched against the evils of racism and faced so many hateful people. Dr. King reminded the people marching with him that, “We must overcome their capacity for evil with our capacity to do good.” That capacity was filled and fueled by Love.

There are times when your heart doesn’t want to cooperate with the action of love because we go into protection mode. When you feel attacked the heart’s natural reaction is to fight or take flight but God’s solution is to Love. How do you love hateful people?

1. With actions and truth. Our practice of love is different than our proclamation of love. You can say you love people all day but it doesn’t mean anything until you put it into practice. Love is not always some warm and fuzzy feeling but it’s the hard work of doing right by people when they are doing wrong by you.

2. Our hearts must rest in God’s presence. When our hearts condemn us, that is they will not cooperate with what we know is right, we must bring our hateful hearts and let them rest in the presence of God. Many times we have to love hateful people with God’s love not ours. We can only get that transference by being in his presence through prayer and worship.

3. God is greater than our hearts. His will overrides our need to hold onto hate. Love will not allow you to keep records of wrongdoing.

Dear God,

Give me the strength to Love even when it’s difficult to do so. Take my heart and repair it and use it to Love the unlovable. I thank you that you loved me so much that you sent Jesus after me when I was a hateful mess. Now my heart is filled with gratitude knowing you didn’t have to let Jesus die for me but I’m so glad He loved me first.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's Not Time for You to Die!

Psalm 118:17

I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done

People are under an extreme amount of pressure these days. More and more young people are turning to suicide as an option to their stress. Just the other day, Lee Thompson Young, lead actor of Disney’s “Jett Jackson” took his own life at the tender age of 29. On the verge of coming into his 30’s, he hadn’t really lived his best life yet. What would make such a promising young man give up on life?

What makes us feel like life is over? What could cause us to think that God is finished with us? Jesus said, “I have come to give you Life and Life more abundantly.” There is nothing so devastating that God can’t see us through.

Under siege, despised for telling the truth, uncertain about the future of his country, Jeremiah the prophet writes a bold declaration in the middle of devastation; I will live and not die! When we are plagued with uncertainty and we feel like we are under siege with negativity, we cannot give into negative thoughts. We must fight back with the confidence that God is not finished with us.

It’s not time to die but it’s time to:

1. Take Captive every negative thought. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
2. Count it all Joy! Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
3. Tell everybody how we made it over. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 NLT

Dear God,

Thank you for sparing my life and giving me something to live for. Although there were times that I was chastened severely you did not give up on me or give me over to death. I will not give up on you or life because you did not give on me.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Have You Claimed Your Baggage?

Claim Check

I John 1:6
If we claim to have fellowship with Jesus yet, walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by truth.

Claim Check is a numbered receipt given to a passenger for claiming his or her baggage at the destination.

As we travel through life, we must choose our mode of transportation. Some choose to fly; others take the highway, others use the train. Regardless of what you choose, you must make a decision of how you get to where you are trying to go and at your destination you are allowed to get your bags and your bags only. When you travel out of the country it becomes even more challenging to retrieve your bags from customs because the agent will make sure your claim check matches your bags before you exit to your final destination.
For those of us who claim to have been traveling with Jesus on this “tedious journey,” our receipt must match our baggage. What we claim must match what we have in our possession.

There are three things that we might need to claim

1. If we claim to have relationship with Jesus but we have no evidence of walking with him….we lie. John said, “If we walk in darkness but have a claim check that says we rode in with Jesus we lie. Walking implies lifestyle. If your lifestyle is not in alignment with God’s word we will not be able to claim anything at the end of our journey. Jesus will be the customs agent in heaven and if what we have received doesn’t match what we gave him then he will say, "Depart from me, I don’t know you."
2. If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves,and the truth is not in us. “but if we sin doesn’t that disqualify us anyway?” There is a difference between missing the mark and not trying to hit it at all. We all fall short, we sin by accident and on purpose but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
3. If we claim we have not sinned ever we make him out to be a liar, and his word has no place in our lives. In other words, we deny that sin even exists then it is evident we have not experienced God at all because his light would have exposed our condition. God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.
Dear God,

Check my baggage, please inspect what I’m carrying so that it will not stop me from making my connection nor delay my destiny. If you find anything not like you please take it out. Forgive me of my sins and help me to consistently walk in the light.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Monday, August 12, 2013

How Do I Build Endurance

Jeremiah 12:5
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?


My son Jordan wants to try out for the wrestling team and decided he would run the neighborhood to get into shape. I told him that running the neighborhood twice would be equivalent to 3 miles. He put on his sneakers, ear plugs, iPod and set out for his run. I looked out the window 15 minutes later and he was sitting at the end of our driveway. 5 minutes later he came in the house. He smiled and said, ‘How do you build up endurance?” I said, “By continuing to run even when you are hurting or don’t feel like it.”
My son thought he was just going to go out and run 3 miles the first time out. I admire his ambition but like many of us he wanted to run with the horses but had not mastered running with men.
The race is not given to the swift or to the strong but to those who endure to the end.
How do you build up our endurance?
  1. Learn how to suffer. Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. If we learn how to make it through our sufferings then we can move to the next step of spiritual growth and conditioning of the soul. Often times in conditioning there is a saying, “No pain no gain,” meaning that pain is part of the process of getting stronger.
  2.  Lay aside every weight we have to get rid of everything that will get in the way of us getting stronger. Hebrews 12:. 1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God...
  3. 3. Disciplining my body to make it obedient to my goals. When you are training it is often times a battle of your mind over your body.  You have got to win that fight.

    1 Corinthians 9:26-27
26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
Dear God,

Help me to finish the race and fight the good fight of faith. Give me the ability to endure suffering like a good soldier so that I can compete at a high level and give you Glory in the way that I live my life. All I want to do is hear you say well done.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Right Time

John 7:6
The right time for me has not yet come, for you any time isright

Don’t let anybody rush you into anything that is not ready for you. Notice that I didn’t say,“That you are ready for.” It’s not about what we are ready for but its moreabout what God has ready for us. We must be in tune with God to know what time it is.

Jesus’ brothers were trying to push him into a public popularity contest but Jesus was like Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Jesus was on God’s time. He told his brothers, who didn’t really believe in him anyway, “It's not the right time for me, but anytime is right for you.” It’s amazing how people who have their own agenda for your life want to rush you into something that God has put on your schedule. If you are not careful other people will push you into something that God hasn’t allotted your time for.

Jesus’ brothers were not sensitive to the will of God for his life so therefore it didn’t matter to them when the right time for promotion was. Jesus knew that promotion doesn’t come from the east or he west but from God, therefore you have to wait on God’s timing for your life not what other people think about your time. In order to do that you must:

1. Discern the time. There were some men from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do I Chronicle 12:32 we need to pray to God that he would give us the gift of discernment so that we can interpret the times in which we live.

2. Don’t let people rush you. Only you and God know the exact time in which you should act. At best people can confirm what you already know from being in relationship with God. Be careful in letting other people set your watch.

3. Take your time to make sure you’re ready. Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.

4. Use your time to prepare for your time. When God puts you on stage make sure you’ve prepared yourself ahead of time.

5. Don’t waste your time. When it’s your time make sure you utilize every moment that God gives you.

I have only just a minute, only 60 seconds in it Forced upon me,can’t refuse it
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it
But it’s up to me to use it
I must suffer if I loose it
Give account if I abuse it
Just a tiny little minute
But an eternity lives in it

- Willie Jolley

Dear God,

Thank you for taking the time to prepare me for my season. Thank you for letting me have my turn when it was my time. Keep me in tune with your time so I will not miss my turn.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to Win By Losing

Philippians 2:3-4
New International Version (NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Coach Phil Jackson, one of the successful coaches of all times, details in his book “Eleven Rings", how he was able to take two different teams of ego driven young men and turn them into back to back champions. It was all about the triangle system offense that required everyone to work together and specifically challenge the superstars to take on a diminished role to empower the other players.

Kobe Bryant battled with this more than Michael Jordan because in Kobe’s younger days he was a lot more selfish. He was more concerned about being the greatest player than he was being a part of the greatest team. Fortunately, Kobe grew as a leader by decreasing his ambition to be the greatest player ever and helped to increase the value of his other teammates involvement through the triangle.

After a humiliating loss with the Lakers, Rick Fox once said, “A team always beats a group of individuals.”

It’s only when we lose our selfish ambition that we can win. We must:

1. Check our motives. Do nothing out of selfish motives or vain conceit. All the players on Phil’s Championship teams had to learn how to think about team over their selfish pursuits of Vain Glory.

2. Humble yourselves—in order to win championships these players had to get up under the tutelage of Phil Jackson. If they were not coachable there was nothing Phil could teach them. At one point Kobe was instrumental in getting Phil Jackson fired only to have to humble himself when they asked him to come back.

3. Look out for others. Phil Jackson told Michael Jordan that he would not be able to win another scoring title if he wanted to win the championship. MJ who was averaging 38 points a game told Phil, “I guess I could score 32 a game.”

Dear God,

Help me to make other people better.  Teach me how to serve others so I can be great like Jesus who humbled himself as a servant even to the point of dying on the cross. Help me to win like Jesus won…by serving others.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just Enough

Proverbs 30:8-9
New International Version (NIV)
8
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

In his book Future cast, what today’s trends mean for tomorrow's world, George Barna has noticed a trend in how people deal with their money. People tend to save more money after they come out of a recession vs. saving less when the economy is strong. Based on an analysis of surveys among 450,000 adults, Angus Deaton and Daniel Kalmon concluded that the more money people earn the more contentment they experience in the moment—until income reaches $75,000. After that point the additional toys and comforts afforded by increased income add nothing to improve their current mood.

Many of us are thinking if I had $75,000 I’d be straight! Whether the magic number is $75,000 or not the point is there is a point where we should have enough. What is your enough?

The writer of Proverbs prayed an awesome prayer that is a good formula for a balanced life:
  1. Don’t give me too much lest I forget you God. When God gives us more than enough, we have to remember who it was that blessed us. We can’t worship our provision and ignore our provider.
  2. Don’t give me too little, lest I have to resort to illegal activity. When we come up short we have to trust God to make up the difference.
  3. Give us this day our daily bread. God’s obligation to his children is to give us daily bread, anything beyond that is prosperity. When we pray for daily bread it is not just for us but that God would supply all with daily bread. It is our Christian responsibility to make sure that those around us have daily bread. When we have more than enough God expects us to share.
Dear God,

Help me to appreciate all you’ve given me and to bless others with my extra. Help me to be a good steward and be content with just enough.

In Jesus Name,
Amen