Be Still and Know that He is God

I have felt a little frustrated lately…I think I have just been tired.  When I feel frustrated I am reminded of a sermon I heard Charles Stanley preach years ago.  He said when you are frustrated you should halt.  Halt before you do something you might regret.  He went on to give an acronym for H.A.L.T. and say that we often become frustrated when we are too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely or too Tired.  When we recognize that we are in one of those conditions it is time to halt.  When I am frustrated I do my best to HALT and I also try to remember Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  It is good to remind myself that God is in control.  I can be still, relax and allow Him to minister to me, comfort me, lead me, and guide me.  There is no need for me to be frustrated; I don’t have to have all the answers.  I just have to halt and let the Lord be my Lord.

How about you?  Are you frustrated today?  Are you too hungry?  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to glorify God in our body.  That means we need to walk right and talk right and it means we need to eat right.  Some of us need to eat right – right now for the sake of our testimony.  The Snickers candy bar commercial is right…we are not ourselves when we are hungry.  You may not sound like Joe Peschi but chances are if you go around hungry long enough you won’t sound like a child of the King of Kings either.  I understand trying to drop a few pounds, my belt being on the last notch can attest to that but we have to remember that we don’t gain our weight in one day, we don’t lose it in one day either.  Be sensible about what you eat or don’t eat.  It would be a shame to lose more friends than pounds….

Are you too angry?  For me sometimes being hungry leads to being angry and the Bible says in James 1:20 “the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.”  Ask the Lord to help you to deal with your anger.  Ask Him for discernment to be able to recognize situations and people that get you riled up and ask Him for wisdom to deal with those situations and people in a way that brings Him glory and honor.  You will likely find that there are simply some places you should not go and some people you rarely need to see.

Are you too lonely?  Way back in the beginning in Genesis 2:18 the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  We were created in God’s image.  Not only does that mean that we have emotions, free will and the ability to reason, but it also means that we have an innate desire for fellowship.  It is not good to be alone or to feel lonely.  Feeling lonely for an extended period of time does something to our physiology and can lead to depression.  If you feel depressed, pray and ask the Lord for relief.  And make an appointment to see your doctor.  The Lord has ordained the use of physicians.  Whether healing comes from a doctor or prayer or a combination thereof it all originates from the Great Physician.  When you pray, ask the Lord to bless you with godly companionship and fellowship. Ask Him to help you not feel lonely or to be alone.  You CAN find a friend.  You CAN find a body of believers who will welcome you.  And I know that as you pray for godly relationships to be established in your life that the Lord Himself will embrace you, comfort you and encourage you.

Are you too tired?  Here is the secret you won’t find on Google, grab a pencil.  Ready?  Get some rest!  I know, I know.   You have too much to do.  That is the way it was in Mark chapter 6.  The disciples were helping Jesus minister to the crowds and people kept coming and coming.  There was so much work to do.  Yet, in the midst of all that work to do, with so much yet to be done, Jesus tells the disciples in Mark 6:31, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)”

See, Jesus said it before Charles Stanley.  HALT!  Stop what you are doing and rest!  Everything does not depend on you.  Get to a secluded place where you can relax; a place where you can let God meet your needs and minister to you!  HALT and do the right thing so that you don’t go on in your own strength and do the wrong thing.  Take the time to simply be still and know that He is God.  He is in control and ultimately He will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted in the earth!”

Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, eat right, faith, God, Psalm 46:10, Snickers commercial | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Does the Cross Mean to You?

Going to work drawing  When the granddaughters come over our afternoons are filled with lots of activity.  We generally wind things down by spending some time coloring and drawing.  Sometimes I will begin to draw a picture and the girls will try to guess what it is going to be before I am finished.  This week I drew a picture of a bear wearing a shirt and tie holding a brief case.  When I first started the picture and drew the face, Avery who is 4 was the first to yell, “It’s a bear!”  But when I was finished the picture, it was Haley who is two and a half years old who looked at it and said, “Hims going to work.”  The images of the briefcase and the shirt and tie meant something to her.  She sees her dad wear a shirt and tie and carry a brief case when he goes to work.   This bear in my cartoon was decked out in similar fashion so she just knew he was going to work.  And she was right, that was exactly what I had in mind when I drew the picture.  I love those girls.

Images can be iconic.  They can convey great and powerful messages.  Picture the image of a cross.  What thoughts come to your mind?  As I thought of it when I sat down to write this devotion, I initially thought of Christ, my Savior subjecting Himself to death willingly and willfully as Atonement for my sin.  As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Yes, the cross reminds me that Christ gave His life for me…what a wonderful Savior we have!

But that is not the only image that comes to my mind.  When a Christian looks at the image or picture of the cross, if they just see a picture of Jesus as Savior, they are not seeing the full picture.  The Bible records in Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  Jesus spoke these words just after He told the disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem where he would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and scribes, be killed, and then be raised up on the third day.  This did not line up with Peter’s plans or desires so Peter rebuked Jesus and told Him, “No way!”  Jesus then told Peter that Peter was doing the devil’s bidding by setting his mind on the desires and will of man rather than the desires and will of God.  Jesus then told them that if they wanted to follow Him, they would need to deny themselves and take up their own cross and follow Him.  The cross was known to be an instrument of death.  The disciples knew that Christ was telling them that they would have to put to death their own desires and wills.  To follow Him they would have to forego their own path and submit to His leadership and Lordship.

As Christians we must take up our cross.   We must be willing to submit ourselves to the interests, the desires and the will of God.  We must be willing to follow God’s plan and do things the way that God wants us to do them, even if we don’t like them.  When we see the cross we should not just think of Jesus as our Savior, we should think of Him as our Lord.  That is the complete picture.  He doesn’t want to just save you; He wants to sanctify you!  He doesn’t want to just give you eternal life; He wants to give you abundant life.  He wants to do a work in you and through you but you must submit to His Lordship and His leadership.  Denying ourselves is not easy.  But anything God asks us to do; He will help us to do.  And if you are like me, “Hims still got a lot of work to do.”

Posted in 2 Corinthians 5:21, Christianity, faith, God, Matthew 16:24, religion, the cross | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I have to tell ya

I love various types of music.  From time to time I like to listen to different types of Spanish music.  I like salsa, merengue and other genres.  One of my favorite songs of all time though is a Cuban folk song called Guantanmera.  Today on the way home I listened to that song.  There is a verse in the song that says, “Antes de morirme quiero, echar mis versos del alma…”  Roughly translated this man is saying that before he dies, he must share these verses, these words from his soul.  Every time I listen to that song, as I sing along in my car or maybe on the treadmill I think of the way that God has blessed me.  I think of the words deep in my heart that I long to say, want to say, and need to say to my wife, my kids, my grandkids and those I love.  Oh my, the Lord has been good to me.  As I listen to that song, I also think of the words that I want to share with others about how good and gracious and merciful God is.   I think of how God demonstrated His love for me in that while I was yet an unrepentant sinner Christ died for me.  The Lord has been so good to me, given me eternal life, blessed me with abundant life, that I just have to tell somebody.  John said it like this in 1 John 1:1-3 “ What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life… we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Yes, I recognize that the Lord has blessed me in ways that I do not deserve; not because of who I am but because of who He is.  He has blessed me with eternal life.  He has blessed me with a wonderful family and fantastic friends and I cannot and should not keep such news to myself.  “Antes de morirme quiero, echar mis versos del alma…”

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You Can Count On The Lord for Wisdom

I knew I was in for a treat when my granddaughter Avery said, “Pawpaw, let me tell you something.”  This is the same phrase she has used to initiate conversations about what it is like to be a big sister, what it means to be in love and what the consequences would be if I cheated at cards.  My 4 year old philosopher had my attention.  “One plus one is two.  Two plus one is three.  Two plus two is four and four plus four is…it’s…wait a minute.”  She stopped long enough to look at her hands and count silently then she continued, “Four plus four is eight!  See Pawpaw, if you don’t remember, you can just count your fingers!  There is always a way to figure it out.”

I love that girl.  She’s right.  Not just on the “four plus four” thing (I checked) but she is right about problems in general.  There is always a way to figure it out.  Sometimes we encounter problems that stump us.  We don’t know what to do and it just seems like we will never be able to find an answer.  The Bible lets us know that there is always a way to figure things out.   We are told in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  No matter what difficulty we encounter, no matter trouble befalls us there is always a means to discerning the answer.  The Lord desires to help us sort out our messy situations and work through the difficult problems and scenarios in our lives.  There is always a way to figure things out; there is a means of solving your problems.  Maybe you are having difficulty making a tough decision today.  Maybe there is something that you just can’t quite figure out.  Turn to the Lord, seek His help, and ask for His counsel.  As Avery would say, “Let me tell you something”…you can count on the Lord.   He will help you.  He will give you wisdom.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

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Being Pruned for New Growth

I have some type of house plant on the desk at my office which I guess really makes it an “office plant.” It was given to me a few months ago by the person who occupied the desk before I did.  It looks like a Caladium except it is greener and thicker.  The truth is that ever since it was placed in my care I have been struggling to take care of it.  Though it did not start off in the best of health, and has not had the best of care, things are starting to get better.  With the help of my cubicle neighbor Allison I think I have finally discovered just how often it should be watered.  I have also discovered how often it should not be watered; which is to say that my neighbor Allison has helped me soak up the extra water out from under my printer after I surpassed the appropriate “watering threshold” on a couple of occasions.  I am a slow learner, what can I say.  Despite my best efforts and a little plant food, my plant still has not grown much or been as healthy as I would expect.  Last week though, things took a turn for the better.  I pruned some unhealthy and dead leaves just so that it would not look so bad.  Soon thereafter I was surprised by some new growth.  A whole new bright green stem started to pop up.  Within two days there was another nice shiny green leaf!  I was so excited ran to go get some more water – until Allison stopped me and reminded me it was not watering day.

As I reflected on the new growth that God provided in that plant, I thought of some great words in John chapter 15.   Jesus is speaking of how we exist to glorify God.  He says that we can only do that through a relationship with the Father through Him.  In John 15:5 He says “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Sometimes our lives are like that poor little house plant on my desk.  We want to grow, we want to bear much fruit, and we want to do great things!  We try watering, we try plant food, we try so many things but we don’t get the results we want – still our life just doesn’t look right.  Very little happens.  We still don’t seem to be healthy; we still don’t seem to be bearing fruit.  The Bible is true; it is spot on.  Apart from Christ you cannot really do anything; at least not anything that really matters in the grand scheme of things.  First, we need to ask ourselves if we have the right relationship with the Lord.  Have we been reconciled to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ?  Have we received Christ as Lord and been forgiven of our sins?  Are we abiding in Him?  That is the relationship we need to be able to do anything significant, anything of eternal, lasting value.

Even, if we are confident of our relationship with Christ, we can still experience times when our lives don’t look right.   There can still be times when we struggle to grow and bear fruit.  It is in those times that we need to ask if there are some unhealthy or dead areas that need to be removed from our lives.  Are there some things that need to be avoided, let go or tossed aside?  When we prune those areas we make room for new growth.  Please understand, if you don’t prune it the Lord will.  In the beginning of that same chapter Jesus says in John 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

Yes, the Lord loves to see us grow.  For that reason He will prune the branches so that new growth can occur.  Sometimes pruning can be a painful process.  But even if it is painful, the new growth that follows is always a blessing.  Bearing fruit is also a blessing for it brings glory to the Father.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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Be Courageous – The Lord is with you

I was blessed to spend some quality time with the granddaughters the other day and Avery the 4 year old informed me that next week she was going to Disney World.  This was news to me and to others in the family too, I’m sure.  “Who’s taking you?” I asked.  “You and my daddy.  And while I’m there I’m gonna ride a HUGE roller coaster as big as a mountain.”  “Won’t you be scared to ride a roller coaster as big as a mountain?” I inquired.  Avery replied without a second thought, “I won’t be scared because my daddy is gonna ride it with me.”

I was not surprised by her answer.  Just a few Saturdays ago when I was surfing channels the rodeo was on and Avery saw some cowboys riding bulls.  She declared, “I could do that…. if I was sitting in my daddy’s lap.”  I love that girl.  And I love the faith and trust she places in her earthly father.  As a Christian I pray that I may express and exhibit the same faith and trust in my heavenly Father.  Sometimes life does get a little crazy.  Sometimes we feel like we are on a roller coaster as HUGE as a mountain or we feel like we have been asked to take our turn riding or facing a raging bull.  Certain situations can be scary and intimidating.  As Christians we must know that we never face these situations alone or in our own power.  The Bible reminds us of God’s presence and His power in several passages.  I am particularly fond of this verse in Joshua 1: 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Today you may face the roller coaster of a relationship that needs some stability.  You may face the need to begin a new job, a new ministry or need to simply continue on in a task that has been very difficult and the thought scares you just as much as a thought of riding a bull scares this 50 year old man who bruises very easily.  Whatever path is set before you, remember that you do not walk it alone.  You do not walk it in your own power.  Be strong!  Be courageous!  Do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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Mission Minded – It only takes a few funerals

I have been praying about and researching the topic of church revitalization a great deal in recent months.  There is a great need for revival in our country and there should be a sense of urgency and spiritual unrest felt by all Christians to reach out to this present generation and introduce them to our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is sad that at a time such as this that so great a number of churches in our country are on the decline.  Many are closing their doors or soon will be in the upcoming years unless a change takes place.  As I talked to several pastors about the topic of church revitalization this year, many have made a similar statement, “There is nothing wrong with some churches that a few funerals wouldn’t fix.”  Wow.  What a sad commentary.

This sentiment comes from those who have witnessed or experienced firsthand attitudes and behaviors that fit in with what Jesus was describing in Mark 7:7-8 “BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Many of our churches have become irrelevant to the current generation because they have embraced their own ways rather than the Lord’s will.  They have failed to go out and seek after the lost in their community.  They have failed to go out “into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that the Lord’s house may be filled.”  Some churches have failed to find ways to engage and involve new generations with the Gospel.  They are unwilling and unbending when it comes to trying to relate to and be relevant to generations that did not grow up in church and who did not grow up singing the same songs as we did.  From what I have been told, some churches would not even consider contemporary songs even if it would save a soul.  That is even sadder than the statement about “a few funerals.”  After all, we are singing about the same Jesus.

Is there anything wrong with tradition?  In and of itself, no.  But as Christ pointed out, we have to be careful not to neglect His commands as we still cherish our traditions.  Anytime we do what we want to do rather than what God wants us to do we are engaging in sin.  Anything that we give priority over the Lord and His will becomes an idol.  It can be easy for us to place our emphasis on the order of our worship rather than the object of our worship.  It can be easy for us to place our emphasis on the kind of our music rather than the King of our music.  We must learn to become mission minded Christians rather than preference minded Christians.  We must place the mission of the Church over and above our preferences about the church.  I am sure that when Jesus jumped in Simon’s boat and pushed out from the shore to preach to the crowd that some muttered to themselves, “That is not how you teach God’s word.”  Oh, they were wrong.  There was nothing wrong with His means or His method.  The Lord simply desired to do a new thing and reach more people with His word.

When I hear the statement, “There is nothing wrong with some churches that a few funerals wouldn’t fix” I have to agree.  As Christians, we need to die to self.  We need to need to deny our desires and preferences and seek the desires and preferences of the Lord.  We need to pray for the churches and pastors in this country and around the world.  We need to be mission minded and seek and serve our Lord.  To Him be the glory and honor forever and ever, amen.   Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, I don't like my church, Mark 7:7, mission minded or preference minded, traditions of men | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment