Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:25-33 ESV

In today's world there is a lot to be anxious about. Natural disasters, the failing economy, crumbling political, and social structures, just to name a few, can turn the flame up on our stress levels.

Often when we are faced with the challenges that impact us, we look to our own skill set, the advice of others, experts, and so on. Jesus offers us the best way. The surest way. He offers us the Father's Kingdom. Through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we become children of God. Not only are our sins forgiven and we receive eternal life--but there is more! We inherit the Kingdom of God. We become recipients of God's power, protection, and provision.

Today when you are faced with a challenge--stop, think, and pray. Seek God's Kingdom. Nothing can overcome His power, provision, and protection in your life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Perfect Planning

"'9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.'” Joshua 1:9 NLT

Joshua had a great challenge--he was to replace Moses when Moses died and finish leading the Israelites into the promise land. What a ominous role that was! He had to accomplish something that a great leader, such as Moses couldn't even do.

It wasn't Moses' fault. It was the fault of the people. The people were ungrateful. They were wishy-washy. They loved God one moment, and then were seen worshiping golden idols the next. And Joshua was there and experienced all of that, first hand.

Now God is telling him not to be worried! Not to be afraid? Not to be discouraged? Truth be known, in the preceding two verses, God tells and encourages him in each verse not to be be those things.

Reflecting on your life, how would you feel? When you feel that the Lord is prompting you into a situation that you feel totally unqualified for, or not ready to face or something totally new, how do you feel? A little nervous. A little on-the-edge. Like wishing you could put your head in the sand like an ostrich and then it would all go away?

What you are feeling is totally normal. But don't give in! As with Joshua, God too is with you. Look at the last sentence. What does it say? "For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." He is with you--you are not doing this alone.

You see, each and every one of you have been created for a special purpose--the Lord's purpose--His perfect plan. And think about if you were too afraid to go through with what His perfect plan for you--how much worse you would feel in your spirit?

What if Joshua said to God, "Sorry, my God of Abraham, but I've seen what these people are made of. I've seen how they treat their leader. If Moses couldn't accomplish Your perfect plan--surely I can't. Thanks, but no thanks." Where would we be now? Probably still wandering.

So please, have an open spirit to your Heavenly Father. When He calls you into His perfect plan, He knows what He is doing. And the wonder of it is that He's not asking you to do it alone--No. He has promised you that He will be with you wherever you are.

"41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 'Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.' 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him." Luke 22:41-43 NLT

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Walk on the Beach

I enjoy walks along the beach. It doesn't matter if the beach is on the ocean or a lake I enjoy walks along the shore. Peggy and I have had lots of great walks together on the shore.

Today I'm thinking about a walk that Peter and Jesus had together along the Sea of Galilee. It was after the Resurrection. On the night that Jesus was arrested and lead away, he told his disciples that they would all deny him. They all told him he was wrong, they would never leave him. Peter said that he above all the others would never deny Jesus. But he did.

"While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept." Mark 14:66-72 NIV

You might say, "Wow did he blow it." But the fact is we all have. None of us has never denied Jesus. Our thoughts deny him. Our actions. Our lack of love. We have all at one time or another been in Peter's sandals. We have felt the remorse of denying the Lord.

Let's look at Jesus response to Peter. It is after his resurrection. Jesus and the disciples have just shared a meal together. Picture Jesus walking along the shore with Peter. This is how it went.

" When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." John 21:15-17 NIV

Peter had denied the Lord three times. The Lord knew Peter's sorrow. He gave Peter an opportunity to repent. Three denials, and three affirmations. Jesus not only forgave Peter, he gave his life a sacred purpose.

Don't let your failures keep you from Jesus. He offers forgiveness and gives a sacred purpose to your life.

Do you need a walk on the beach?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Gift of Brokeness

"If God hadn't been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, 'I'm slipping, I'm falling,'
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up."
Psalm 94:18-19 The Message

How many times have you been in that spot? The spot that David was in. Claiming and acknowledging that he would never would have made it without his Heavenly Father. That he couldn't do it on his own.

That is where He wants us. As we go into this Holy Week, it is a sobering, humbling yet exhilarating feeling that our Jesus did this for us. Because of what He did that week, ending up on Easter Sunday, we can forever say "If God hadn't been there for me, I never would have made it..."

This may sound like a strange thing to say, but I do pray that you get to that place--that place that you need to call out to Him, as a child to a Father--I need you. I can't do it on my own. I am lost without you.

Please, don't misunderstand me, I'm not wishing you evil--I'm praying you to new life. A life that once you can truly realize that you cannot do it on your own, that you need His strength. That in order to be your best, you need to be broken so that you truly do experience His saving grace, His awesome power, His everlasting love--for you, yes, you. Once that happens, you will be able to truly appreciate what He did for you and me on Calvary's Hill. Do you understand?

"1 Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
2 Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves."
Psalm 96:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Humble King

"Tell the people of Israel,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’” Matt 21:5 NLT

Jesus humbly rides into our lives. He is unpretentious, not proud or haughty. He even came into the world in a humble way. Born in a manger. A humble carpenter. Jesus knocks at the door of our heart waiting to be invited in. Waiting for us to receive the gift of everlasting life.

In Jesus' day, kings would either ride into battle on a war horse or, in times of peace, on a donkey or mule. I think that we can forget that while Jesus comes as the humble servant, he will return on a war horse. He will reward those that accept him as Lord and Savior, and judge those that reject him. We have brought Jesus down to our level. We have reduced him to the Jesus of our imagination. Yet, he cannot be brought down or reduced. He is the captain of the army of heaven. He is the one that makes demons tremble. When his friend John, saw Jesus in heaven, John fainted with fear. Jesus is not safe, but he is good. Just because he rides a donkey doesn't change his identity as King of all creation.

Jesus is not some toothless old grandpa that sits in a corner of the house at the family reunion, only to be tolerated. He is not our genie in the lamp. He is God Almighty.

Jesus rides into our lives humbly offering salvation, forgiveness, strength, and hope to those that receive him. He will return on a war horse to bring wrath and judgment to the wicked.

Have you received the humble King? How do you feel about his return?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 2 Corinthians 5:17 Child

"17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

As I was driving to the coast yesterday, the Lord brought this verse to mind and so I pondered it between Joey chattering away in the backseat and Peter in the front blasting Toby Mac.

Just as you may have, I have heard this verse many times. In fact, it happens to be our church's life verse. But I feel that I have become blase about what the words really are saying.

When you first look at these words, you can say, yes, of course, I know when you give your life to God, you are a new person in Him--that He forgives your sins. That you are white as snow. That is what is promised by Him. But when I was driving yesterday, the thought was brought to mind, is that it? Is that verse a one shot deal? Is that the only time that you are new in Him? The only time that your old sins are gone, and that you are a new person?

I have a thought. No. At least for me. My God is constantly changing, growing and challenging me. And I would hope that each time that I have to rededicate myself and my life to Him, crying for forgiveness, I am a 2 Corinthians 5:17 child.

How about you? Do you need to know that whenever you are shown by the Holy Spirit that you need to be pruned for the next level in your walk with your Heavenly Father, that any of the sins that you need to confess, will be forgiven and you are a new creation? That you haven't played your one ace card--get out of jail free card? That as long as your are truly striving to be in the Holy Spirit, that your Heavenly Father will continue to bring that true feeling of total forgiveness and oneness with Him, back.

So, please, take this verse and really ponder on it. During this time of Passion Week and Easter, this is a great verse to bring into your daily life. What Jesus did on Calvary that Good Friday, is what this verse is all about.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Something Great to Know

"As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 'Go into the village over there,' he said. 'As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.'” Matthew 21:1-3 NLT

I'm preparing for the upcoming Passion Week before Easter. Matthew 21 gives us the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and entering what has become known as Passion Week. What struck me right off the bat when I look at this passage, is the sovereignty of God. Jesus knew right where to tell the disciples to go to find the donkey and her colt. He gave them His authority to use the donkey.

I think that it is great to know that Jesus is in control and all knowing. The Bible says that there is no place we can go from His knowing. He sets the dates and places of our lives. He knows the story of our lives. He is all powerful and in control. Even this seemingly out of control world we live in is subject to Him.

I find in encouraging to know that Jesus never shows up late. He's not surprised. He's not caught off guard. The One who knows and loves you and I more than we know is in control. He is sovereign. I don't have to control or know everything, He does and that is more than good enough. I guess I just need to submit to His control, His will, and His sovereignty.

Our church in Mariposa is growing. Somebody asked me, "What are we going to do?" "I don't know," I replied. I like to be in control. I like to have all of the answers. But there is something really great in knowing that I don't have it all together. But Jesus does. He knows. He'll reveal the what and the how, when He's ready. He even gives the strength to do His will.

I think that's something great to know. What about you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Strength in Weakness

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor 12:8-10 NIV

It's wonderful when God answers prayer the way we want Him to. We rejoice, share the praise, and feel close to Him. But what about when God doesn't do things the way we want? What about when we go through times of trial and suffering?

In tough times we can feel rejected, punished, lonely, and hopeless. Satan comes along and takes advantage of our situation and spews lies to us that God isn't there, or He isn't real, or He has abandoned us. Jesus said knowing the truth has set us free. The truth is that this life is tough. This side of heaven we live in a broken world. But God does love us. He is for us, even when it doesn't seem so.

Paul faced more challenges than most of us ever will. He was rejected, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, beaten, and whipped, abandoned, and left to die alone. Yet, he knew God loved him and would be strong on his behalf. Some of the most mature people I know in the faith are those that are in, or have gone through, hardship. The person fighting cancer, the person with depression, the person that has suffered much loss. In their greatest weakness, God's power comes through. His grace is more than sufficient.

Jesus told us that we would face troubles in this fallen world. He also said to take heart because He has overcome this world. We are overcomers in Him.

When we come to the end of our strength, we are at the beginning of Christ's power!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

True Freedom

"Jesus said, 'I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.'"John 8:34-36 The Message

Pastor Eric did this as his main verses for last Sunday and it was so awesome! He had used the NIV version which is a lot shorter and simpler, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." and that is the main part of the verse that I've been mediating on--if you have been set free, you are free indeed. WOW!

Free from what? Free from addictions? Yes! Free from feelings of hatred and judgement? Yes! Free from thinking that you are not worthy, not acceptable to your Heavenly Father? Yes!

Now, does this mean that you will be free from trials? No. Free from backsliding? No. Free from having any struggles? No. But the difference is that you will NOT be alone. If you truly give yourself and your life to our Heavenly father, He will be there to guide, comfort and sustain. You are NOT a slave to the past or to the future. You are free, free indeed!

The Message version of these verses seem, at least to me, to expound a little more so that I can apply it better to my life. It is wonderful to be "free, through and through." What does that tell you? That you are only 25% free? 50%? 99%? No! You are 100%! Completely!

So, if you have not given yourself 100% to the Lord, why not today? What do you have to lose? Imagine losing the feeling of being chained to a life of slavery and experiencing the cool refreshing wind of freedom blowing through your life. Your Father is waiting--run to Him!

"11 This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
12 If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is."
2 Timothy 2:11-13 NLT