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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let's Party...

I touched upon a point in yesterday’s post that was brought into a greater light during my Bible study time this morning.  I felt that it presented a thought provoking perspective concerning the importance of the completion of the plans, purposes and pursuits that we endeavor to accomplish in our lives.  Yesterday I said that God has not intended for us to go through our search for His will alone, and that He has provided men and women in the ministry as well as fellow Christians to assist us in our quest.  Evidence in support of this direction came up as I read the beginning verses of the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians.

The Apostle Paul wrote his second recorded letter to the Corinthian church immediately following a time of severe testing and persecution in his life and ministry.¹ But instead of feeling sorry for himself, he presented a totally different approach that got me to take a serious look at some of the emotions that I have recently been experiencing and thought that it might be a good word to pass on to you.

After his initial greetings to the church, Paul began a dissertation on “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3 Gods Word ©)  The contents of his next few statements is what quickly stopped the rising temptations in me to give myself a rousing pity party because of the state of affairs concerning my wife’s health.  In describing God’s comfort in times of suffering Paul explains “That is why whenever people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4 Gods Word ©)

Paul saw the experience, that he was still reeling from, as part of the ministry tools that he had acquired to assist others when they had times of need.  Now, while Paul knew that the trials and tribulations that he experienced were not from God, but from the deceiver of our souls, he openly used the lessons learned and emotions felt to comfort those that he came into contact with.  What a lesson for us to learn!  If Paul had quit and run during the intense times of persecution he would have no right or reference point from which to help support others when they faced similar situations. 

This teaching from Paul forced me to turn my attention from focusing completely inwardly, and caused me to look beyond myself.  I began to see how I could assist another individual by my unyielding stand upon the truth of God’s Word that talks of our impending victory no matter what the current circumstances may be screaming into our ears.  So what’s my point?  The experiences of how we successfully complete our goals and persevere through the difficult times today, may just be what someone in our future needs to hear in order to make it through their tough times in life.  And… it just grows from there.  They pass on what they’ve heard and learned to someone else, and that one to another... and so on. 

So the next time you’re tempted to organize a pity party, take a moment and consider the consequences that your decision might have in the future life of another.  Kind of eye opening isn’t it!  Your successes could be the foundation for even greater triumphs for the next generation.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

¹Paul may have written as many as four separate letters to the Corinthian church.  There is some scriptural evidence that seems to indicate a letter written before I Corinthians (see I Cor 5:9) and then the “severe letter” that came before 2 Corinthians was penned. (see 2 Cor 2:3-4).  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are You Connected?

We talked yesterday about what the Bible says concerning the Christian’s ability to know the will of God.  The various writers of the New Testament, including Jesus Himself, concurred that it was the Father’s desire for us to know it.  But, where most of us miss it, is in the finding and then in the doing! 

Once again, our base text that we looked at from Colossians 1:23 talks about “the solid foundation of the expectations that the Good News contains.” (Gods Word ©  I took the liberty of exchanging the original word “hope” for what I feel is the better translation of “expectations”) The main emphasis of this verse though, is that in order for us to live unshaken upon that solid foundation, we must “continue in the faith without being moved” from what the Word says. (Colossians 1:23 Gods Word ©) 

Here lies the crux of the matter.  In order to know God's will and then to have it active in our lives takes a life long commitment.  It takes all the things we have spoken about concerning the completion of the goals that we set forth for ourselves.  Dedication, consistency, and perseverance all come into play here, and God set it up so that we don’t have to do it all alone.  In fact, He prefers that we don’t pursue “all the promises of God…” (2 Corinthians 1:20 King James Version) without the help of others.  Ephesians 4:11 says that “He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church,” and then in the next verses Paul explains why.  “Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of his church… until we become mature… no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind.”  (Ephesians 4:11-14 Gods Word ©)  These people are ordained of God to help in guiding us to the truth that God’s Word contains.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also states the importance of regular fellowship with other Believers saying: “We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing.  Instead, we must continue to encourage each other…”  (Hebrews 10:25 Gods Word ©)  So it is clear that in order to find out and then live successfully in the will of God, we must “Study to show thyself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15 King James Version)  This takes personal Bible study and application, regularly attending a good Bible based church, and fellowshipping with others of like faith.  In my years of ministry I have seen many good people, who were once strong in the things of God, slowly allow the distractions of life begin to pull them away from church and the consistent study of their Christian beliefs until they drifted totally away and settled for what I would consider a second rate life “tossed and carried away” by the circumstances around them.

So… stay connected, keep studying, and keep acting upon what you learn.  When you do this the Word in Hebrews 12:28 saying: “that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Gods Word ©) will come to fruition in your lives.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand?

While in the midst of my morning Bible study today I came across the scripture in Colossians 1:23 where it talks about the “solid foundation of the hope (better translated as ‘expectations’) that the Good News contains.”  (Gods Word ©)  I paused after reading this particular verse and began to consider how I have been writing posts on this blog for almost four months now, talking about the importance the “foundation(s)” in our lives.  Throughout this time I have pointed to the Word of God (ie; the “Good News”) as the unmovable footing on which I have entrusted my life.

What occurred to me was that many people believe in the Bible, and even consider it as the word of God, but may not have that same solid conviction of it’s immutability (see: http://pjberruto.blogspot.com/2011/03/forecasts-of-rain.html) that I have come to depend on.  So I thought that it might be best to spend a few moments explaining my understanding and therefore conviction of God and His Word from which I base my viewpoint.

To put it rather simply, I believe that Christians can know the will of God, and once His will is known can put their faith to work for them in order to receive “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3 Gods Word ©) and to accomplish the “good works that he has prepared for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 Gods Word ©).  In the New Testament the Gospel of Christ (which tells of God’s plan for salvation as well as who we are in Christ and therefore how to live out this salvation to the fullest extent on this earth) is consistently referred to as “the Mystery of God” or the “Mystery of The Kingdom”  Jesus told those who knew and trusted Him that it was given unto them to “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” but to unbelievers “it is not given”  (Matthew 13:11 / Luke 8:10 King James Version)

The Apostle Paul made it even clearer to us in I Corinthians chapter 2 where he is talking specifically about “God’s mystery” (Colossians 2:1 Gods Word ©)  He quite pointedly states that this information is available to Christians in verse 12 where he says “we didn’t receive the spirit that belongs to the world.  Instead, we received the Spirit who comes from God so that we could know the things which God has freely given us.”  Paul also prays for Christians that God would “fill you with the knowledge of his will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight.”  (Colossians 1:9 Gods Word ©)  Peter, the leader of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, also relates this in his second epistle.  (see 2 Peter 1: 1-15)

Now, knowing and then receiving His will for us are two different steps!  This is where the lifestyle of diligence and consistency in the study and acting upon God’s Word come into play.  But, we’ll talk a little more about this phase of knowing God’s will tomorrow. 

Once again, Colossians 1:23 talks about that solid foundation that we can base our expectations of good happening in our lives.  It is on this “Solid Rock” that I stand, for when things appear contrary to what I see in His Word I can joyfully sing :

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds with in the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand."

(“My Hope Is Built” / “The Solid Rock”  -  words by Edward Mote, circa 1834; music by William B. Bradbury 1863)

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Will There Be A Seward's Day in Your Life?

As I sat down in my chair at my desk in our study on this bright sunny Monday morning, I instinctively glanced at my wall calendar and noticed that today is Seward’s Day in Alaska.  Since I had no idea what that was all about, I let my fingers fly across my keyboard and Googled it up.  What I discovered was that Seward’s Day commemorates when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, not to be confused with Alaska Day which celebrates the actual transfer of the territory of Alaska from Russia to America and the subsequent raising of the Stars and Stripes at Sitka on October 18, 1867.  William Henry Seward who was the Secretary of State at that time, signed the treaty with Russia on March 30, 1867

The price for the purchase was about 7.2 million dollars.  It seems that many people across the country felt that it was an outrageous price and began to call the treaty “Seward’s Folly” or "Seward’s icebox” due to his work in arranging the transaction.  No doubt they had based their comments on all the hardships and great losses the Russians had endured when they owned the “great wasteland” in such a remote outpost.  (For more information check out: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/sewards-day)

As we look back at the purchase today, we can appreciate the foresight that Mr. Seward had.  He definitely saw things that were not visible to others.  Alaska’s natural resources, along with it’s seafood and timber industries have paid back the initial purchase price countless times over!

There is a scripture in the book of Colossians that talks about the good expectations that are found within the pages of the Bible, “which is the message of truth.”  (Colossians 1:5 Gods Word ©)  So, just as Secretary of State William Seward had good expectations concerning the worth of the purchase of what became the state of Alaska on January 3, 1959, we too can have good expectations about our future, when we base our foundations on the Gospel or "Good News" which just happens to let us know the truth about any situation we face!  Thayer’s Greek Definitions explains the meaning of the word “truth” in Colossians 1:5 as: “what is true in any matter under consideration.”  With that assurance, we cannot help but be successful in the endeavors of our lives!

So, don’t allow those who would utter taunt’s of “folly” to stop you from pursuing the activities and goals in life you feel led or called to complete.  Keep your eyes and your trust on that solid foundation and see it through until the results are plainly visible to all!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Haunting Memories

Happy Friday everyone!  I think that we’ll spend one more day on the subject of “Joy” as we take a quick peek at the way we tend to view our futures.  While roaming through the Bible this morning, examining many scriptures where joy was being expressed, I came across a very interesting story.  It took place in the book of Ezra when the Israelites were restored from Babylonian exile and allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls and the temple.  This particular scene took place when the builders had just completed the laying of the temple foundation and the faithful gathered to give thanks to the Lord.  As the congregation began to shout their praises two very divergent points of view began to emerge.  Ezra the priest stated that “many of the priests, Levites, and the heads of the families who were old enough to have seen the first temple with their own eyes began to sob when they saw the foundation of this temple.  Many others shouted for joy.”  (Ezra 3:12 Gods Word ©)

What occurred to me as I read this was that those who looked at the future through the memories of the past were saddened by what they saw, while those who simply knew and trusted in the abilities of their God, looked with great expectations toward the future and were filled with joy!  This is a good lesson for us to learn.  Take a moment this weekend and look honestly to see what influences steer your vision of your future.  Don’t allow your past to take the drivers seat.

Now please don’t miss-understand me here.  Memories are a very important part of our lives.  The experiences in our past hold a major part in shaping us into who we are today.  We can learn a lot through our experiences in life, but the key is to learn the lessons, profit from them and then move on in our progression in life toward becoming all who we were created to be. 

There is another scripture in I Chronicles 16:27 that says that “strength and joy are where He is” (Gods Word ©), and that is exactly where I want to be!  When I am strong and full of joy, I feel as though I can overcome any obstacle that stands in my way.  With my eyes upon Him and in His abilities working in and through me, my future expectations are as bright as the ray of sunshine that just broke through the dark clouds and is currently shining upon me at my desk in my study!  You know… it feels kind of warm and cozy too!

Take that thought into your lives this weekend as you ponder what you are expecting to happen.  Is your expectation based on that immutable attribute of a strong and joyful foundation or on a memory of what could have been?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Forecasts of Rain

I’d like to continue today on the theme of “Joy”.  Yesterday we talked about how this joy is not dependent on the outcome of the circumstances in life.  Instead it comes from the immutability of the foundation in which we have entrusted our lives to.  That big word “immutability” means Unchangeableness; the quality that renders change or alteration impossible; invariableness.”  Webster’s 1828 dictionary also adds that “Immutability is an attribute of God.”

When you walk in the confidence that your foundation renders change to it’s guiding principles as impossible, you will see the ordinary things around you in a different light.  A good example of this would be the conversation that I had with my Mom this morning.  Today the weather in our area is quite stormy.  Strong winds and heavy rains abound, and my Mom called to encourage me to not go out because of the dire predictions of falling trees and flooding streets that were being broadcast on a local radio station.  As we talked I quickly recognized the fear in her voice and I related to her how my wife and I did not want to get out of bed this morning because we were enjoying the sound of the rain beating against our windows.  To my Mom the storm presented insurmountable obstacles, while my outlook was one of wonderment and pleasure at the sound and sights of a good old fashion winter storm (even though it is now officially springtime!) I even suggested to my wife that we bundle up and walk down to the community lake so that I could get some photos of the raindrops pounding down on the water!

There is a portion of scripture in the Old Testament book of Isaiah where the prophet compares the falling of the rain to the infallibility of God’s Word.  He says that the Word is like the rain, in that they both produce a predicted result.  While the rain causes plants on the earth to sprout and grow, the Word also accomplishes what it says it will do.  Then he goes on to expound that because of this knowledge “You will go out with joy and be led forth with peace,” and that your vision of the things around you will change and it will seem to you as though “The mountains and the hills will break into songs of joy in your presence…”  (Isaiah 55:10-12 Gods Word ©) I’d definitely call that a different outlook on the world around you!

What a thought!  Instead of seeing the negative aspects of a situation, you will see only the positive and joyful representations of your immediate future.  Remember that your expectations are always about what’s coming up next.  So expect the best, and let your foundation do the rest…  Don’t let the forecasts of rain flood your life!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Consistent Joy...

This morning as I excitedly began to un-pile the stack of various Bible translations on my desk, my eyes became riveted to point #4 under the “Characteristics” section on the opened summary page to the book of Philippians, in my NIV study Bible.  It stated that this book “is outstanding as the New Testament letter of joy; the word ‘joy’ in its various forms occurs some 16 times.”  This got me thinking about yesterday’s post where I mentioned how the Apostle Paul, as a prisoner, was writing to the Christians in the city of Philippi, encouraging them to think on good things.  Paul exemplified what he penned to his friends.  Even though church historians say that Paul wrote this letter during a period in his life where he was physically chained to a Roman soldier, day and night, for 4 years, he was not afraid for himself, neither was he worried about his circumstances. 

Paul faced every new day with an attitude of deep seated joy, without a care in the world, and while he was a unique individual with tremendous faith, he was no different than who you and I can be today!  That statement may bring up some disquieting thoughts among religious scholars, but to my way of thinking, he would not be encouraging us to do the same if we couldn’t aspire to it!

The 1828 Webster Dictionary defines “joy” as “the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or EXPECTATION of good.”  Paul’s confident joy was not based upon the outcome of the circumstances that he was presently involved with.  His joy was cemented upon the foundation of his faith.  He said that “I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in” (Philippians 4:11 Gods Word ©).  This joy was directed from the inside, excited by his rock solid trust in his foundation.

Think about the potential of experiencing that consistent joy in your life.  A joy that does not bounce up and down depending on how you feel, but is securely entrenched upon the immutability of the foundation in which you have entrusted your life.  My foundation says in Psalm 119:160 that “there is nothing but truth in your word, and all your righteous regulations endure forever” (Gods Word ©) 

Forever… that’s a long time!  If your foundation is like mine, then anytime you need a little joy, all you need to do is to bring some of His words to your remembrance and those threatening cares will have to run away!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  (hopefully your expectations will match up with what Mr. Webster wrote 183 years ago…)  See ya tomorrow!

PS:  I would love to hear from some of our friends reading this blog in Europe.  Please feel free to write a comment or email me at pastorjim@whatareyouexpecting.org

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Are Your Favorite Things?

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”

Don’t ask me why, but that song started going through my mind as I was completing my Bible study this morning.  Now I can’t seem to get it out of my thoughts!  I even had to look it up on the internet so that I could get all the verses right!

“Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad”

Maybe it is just one of those days where we need to take a few moments and reminisce on some of the good things in our lives.  In the Bible, Paul encouraged the church at Philippi to think on good things, while he himself was imprisoned and facing trial with his life at stake.  He told them that these thoughts would bring them peace. (see Philippians 4:8-9)

With all the problems, crime and natural catastrophes occurring in the world, it can be easy to find ourselves slipping into a hopeless state of mind. While it can be prudent to stay aware of what is happening around us, we need to make sure that the newspaper headlines are not what directs our thoughts, actions and most of all, our personal peace.

So when you find yourself becoming overpowered by some of the negative factions in this life, take the Apostle Paul’s advice and begin to remember some of your favorite things, and you know what… after awhile, you might just find yourself singing: "And then I don't feel so bad!"   Stay tuned and keep asking yourself...  “What am I expecting today?”

PS:  Need a pick-me-up?  Click on one of the "My Favorite Things" videos and sing along with Julie Andrews!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Help! I Need Some Encouragement

Today I experienced the beginnings of one of those typical Monday mornings that Hollywood likes to portray.  I arose from the bed fighting off a multitude of concerns, was not too sure about how and when I was going accomplish everything I had to face, and was generally, not a happy camper.  Have you ever faced a day like this?  I think that we all have had the opportunity a time or two in our lives! 

After wallowing around in a state of semi-confusion for awhile, I finally pulled myself together enough to go to the source of my encouragement, in order to reverse the direction that I was heading.  Where do you go when you need to be encouraged?  Do you have a reliable source that you can depend on to pull you free from the forces that would drag you down?  Will your foundation help you to weather the storms and earth quaking events that arise in life?

This morning, as I forced my mind to be quiet, I sat down in my desk chair, closed my eyes and prayed for direction.  Then I opened the cover of my Bible and began to turn to a familiar verse in the book of Colossians.  On the way there, I suddenly found myself stopping in chapter eight of the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome.  My eyes drifted down to verse 38 where he stated that “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…”  (Romans 8:38 Gods Word ©)  At that point in my morning… everything changed!  The restlessness that had been charging through my veins abruptly ceased, and a warm glow arose from deep inside me.  The vision of my foundation became so big to me, that I could not imagine anything but His love, His abilities, and His desire for me to succeed today!  From there, my attitude for this day and this week can only go up!

You may have noticed that I added a tagline to the title of this blog.  The more specific name is now: "What Are You Expecting… a daily encouragement.”  We all need to be encouraged each day.  We all need to know that we are special, that we can succeed in those things that we put our hands to, and that we are not alone.  Take that thought to heart this week as you face your world…  and know that “nothing can separate us from His love!”  Allow that vision to so fill your view that any difficulty that arises will seem as a grasshopper in your sight!  I look forward to encouraging you again tomorrow.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

PS:  The comment section is now unrestricted, so I encourage you to let me know how this blog has influenced you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Let The Rain Get You Down!

Rain, rain, rain, oh gee… another day of rain, and what does the forecast say about the next few days, in fact, for the rest of the week ahead of us?  You got it, more rain!  Makes you want to revert back to your early childhood days and shout aloud out the front door:
“Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to

Never show your face again!”

Okay, okay… so maybe you don’t want to pout and say the old nursery rhythm with me, but I bet that if you live where I live, that you’d be praying for some good old California sunshine too!  I guess that someone forgot to tell the weatherman that spring is just a couple of days away! (go back and read the 3/15/11 post).
So… what are we gonna do about the wet weather?  If we think back to yesterday’s post we would look to see what the old yellow lemon would do.  The one saying that I purposely left out, that would fit real fine today would say: “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade!”  Ah! A  great piece of advice for us to follow.
Take a few moments today and consider all the good things about the rain.  There are the obvious factors like higher water levels for all our summer fun, personal needs and consumption.  Great looking lawns and flowers, and the added opportunities to get a little more wear out of all that rain gear you have!  Then there is the not so visible attributes of an abundance of stormy weather. Did you know that the "Rain, rain go away” poem is said to have it's origins during the reign of the English Tudor Monarch Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1533 – 1603?
At that time in history there was a constant rivalry between England and Spain which culminated in the launching of the Spanish Armada in 1588.  The Armada was led by the Duke of Medina Sedonia, with a fleet numbering over 130 navel warships.  The English fleet, on the other hand, was under the command of Admiral Lord  Howard, and numbered only 34 small navel vessels accompanied by 163 armed merchant ships.  Despite its dominance, though, the great Spanish Armada was defeated, with only about 65 ships returning home.  The attempt failed, not only due to the swift nature of the smaller British ships, but also because of the relentless stormy weather which scattered the ships of the Spanish fleet!  The nursery rhythm is said to have been a product of this event!  (http://www.rhymes.org.uk/rain_rain_go_away.htm)
So, with that in mind, am I going to let the relentless rainfall defeat my pleasure this weekend?  Definitely not!  I plan on making the best out of this time and plan for activities that can be joyfully completed inside the warm confines of our home!  I even talked to my wife about playing a game of Monopoly this weekend!  (If you know me at all, you know that I usually can’t stand board games… but this weekend will be an exception!)  How about you?  Is there lemonade in your weekend plans?  Laugh in the face of anything that might try to discourage you and make plans to overcome whatever stands in your way!  Stay tuned, stay dry, and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adding A Little Zest To Your Life

Have you ever thought of the many uses of a lemon?  While I was sitting at the table, this morning, eating breakfast with my lovely wife, my eyes fell upon our Myers lemon tree just outside our window.  Although we have had the tree for many years, it had never really been very prolific… until this year.  I went to great lengths this last summer in caring for this tree.  I tenderly pruned away the dead and misshaped growth, added fresh soil to its redwood container, placed it on a regular feeding program and watered it on a regular schedule.  Currently, with the abounding threats of frost, I check the weather forecast daily, and cover the tree when the temperatures even hint at dropping below the freezing mark!

And now, like a proud and diligent father, I am enjoying the fruit of my labors!  (no pun intended!)  Our little tree is abounding with fruit and has been providing the “kick” for many new recipes!  Lemon juice is approximately 5% – 6% acidic acid which gives it a sour taste.  It has a pH of 2 – 3.  It can be used as a marinade, as a neutralizer, a tenderizer, a preservative, and is a popular garnish.  It is an anti-bacterial agent, can be used in the fermentation process, has electrical conductance, can be used as a wood cleaner and polish, as a household cleaner, and as a nontoxic insecticide treatment.  I’ve always enjoyed its flavor in drinks, cakes and muffins, lately as a marinade over baked chicken, and as a household deodorizer.

The one downside to making it attractive to the palate is the amount of sweetener that you have to add in order to soften the sour tang it produces.  But once the right combination is found, the results are mouth watering!  This is like the extra effort that we sometimes have to put in with the different people we meet in life.  There are some personalities that come off as very sour compared to the ones we enjoy being with.  Many times though, these acidic influences are just what we need to spice up our lives.  They cause us to dig a little deeper, to work a little harder, and to look at ourselves and at life from a different perspective.  Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the wits of another.” (God’s Word ©)

Sometimes it is just that one small squirt of lemon over your fish, or in your beverage, that makes all the difference to the enjoyment of what you are consuming.  The same statement can be said about that small dab of influence from that “different” personality when mixed into the flavor of your life.  It can improve the overall quality of your well-being and purpose!  That sour lemon might just add a needed zest into your life…

“Whose for a lemon treat?
Suck it slow, your mouth contorts
Eat it quick, you might feel sick
But add it little to a drink
or whip it in some cream and sink
your spoon into the lemon-goo
I bet , like me, you like lemons too”

So, before your shrug off that individual who may seem a tad sour to you, take a moment and think about how a cup of sweetness can totally change their taste… and yours!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't Allow First Impressions To Deceive You

At first glance, our kitchen patio looked fairly bleak, as I opened the slider to let the dog out to complete her morning ritual today.  Something caught my attention though, and I slid out into the brisk morning air to have a look.  As I did a 360 around the area, I observed that even though everything was wet and kind of bedraggled, all the plants gave off the deepest hue of green that I have ever seen!  Even the artichoke which is normally a tint of grayish green reflected a text book, color chart example of forest green.  I stood there for  a little while awestruck and just allowed myself to absorb the beauty of the lush green lying in the midst of the otherwise drab morning scene.

When I went out to the patio a few minutes ago, this time equipped with my morning cup of java, I began to see how first impressions can be so deceiving.  I could have taken that first glance, observed the overall bleakness and walked away having missed the wonder that lay just below my initial point of view.  Had I not taken the extra moment to step outside, I would have had a totally different outlook and sense for the beginning of my day.

How many times do we just take that quick look at someone, or some situation, size it up, make our judgment and walk away thinking that we have it figured out?  Proverbs 21:5 says that people who are hasty end up in want.  In want of more information, in want of more income, in want of better relationships with others and generally in want of a better life!  Do you every find yourself in want in any of these areas?  Maybe it is time to slow down a little and allow yourself the extra time and effort to take a second look, as I did this morning.  Don’t be to hasty in making decisions based on that first view or impression.  You may come to see that there is real beauty hidden beneath the outside wrapping of the package you are observing.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Will You Jump At The Chance?

Last night as my wife and I were lounging on the couch, savoring a delicious slice of lemon meringue pie, I looked out the various windows around the room and joyfully commented on how cool this experience was.  When my wife asked for more details, I wiped the meringue from my beard and said “The daylight… It is still light out there!”  It was close to 7:30 in the evening and there was still light in the skies.  With the beginning of daylight savings time this last Sunday, our days are getting longer, which means the curtain is opening for the first act of the dramas of springtime!

If you don’t believe me, take a look at your calendar   The Vernal Equinox will occur at 4:21 pm PST this coming Sunday, March 20th.  On this date the day and night are each approximately 12 hours long.  (According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs a few days earlier).  As the Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward, it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.  (http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons)

The thought of spring gets me excited.  This season of the year represents the ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth.  The fact that it begins when the day and night are equal in length is like the idea that we now get another chance to start even, with the opportunity to grow from there.  Next week the days will get longer, the temperatures will rise, the trees will bloom and the grounds across our land will demonstrate the birth of a new season, as all kinds of flowers exhibit their colors!

How will you choose to exhibit your colors this spring?  Will you keep the status quo, or will you jump at the chance of expanding your horizons… at the chance of personal rebirth, renewal and regrowth?  The scripture promise in Philippians 4:13 popped into my head this morning as I considered my answer to this question.  It says: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  (NIV)  The answer is clear to me.  How about you?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is It Right To Celebrate Birthdays?

I awoke this morning thinking about birthdays.  In past generations there were many religious groups that did not celebrate an individual’s day of birth.  They considered it to be a pagan custom.  Some of these beliefs still exist today.  I guess that I take a different stance on this custom.  Birthdays encompass a wide spectrum of milestones.  They celebrate the years of one’s life, the many accomplishments, experiences and lessons learned during that life span, no matter how long or short in duration, and they simply honor that person’s existence on this planet!

One of the scriptures that we taught on in yesterdays Children’s Church reminded us that we were originally created in the image and likeness of God.  (Genesis 1:26)  This to me, solidifies the whole idea of celebrating birthdays.  God in His all knowing, all loving benevolence, thought enough about mankind that He designed us to His unique and wonderful specifications.  There is no other creation in the universe that comes close to the intricacies of men and women.  Then, when man rebelled against his Creator and forfeited his access to Him, God in His ultimate love sent His only Son to act as a substitute for us.  He who knew no sin became sin for us!  (Second Corinthians 5:21)  If God feels so highly about His creation, then I think that it is only right for us to celebrate the time that we spend on this earth. 

Not everyone honors God and what He has done for us.  God is a gentleman and gives men and women the choice to reach out to Him or not.  Moses instructed the Israelites to choose whom they would serve, as they entered the promised land.  (Deuteronomy 30:19)  One choice would bring blessings while the other would bring curses.  Which choice would you make?  The opportunity still exists today.  As the knight in the third Indiana Jones movie said… “Choose wisely!”  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… ”What am I expecting today?”

PS:  You may have figured it out, but today is my birthday and although I don’t believe that my wife realizes the significance of this day, I want to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed on me and on us in our wonderful marriage, as well as for the continued manifestation of her healing.  I also want to thank everyone who has expressed birthday blessings to me. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Life In An Unpregnable Castle…

This morning as I was reading through some of my commentaries concerning the idea of God’s peace, I came across a series of publications that were written by an English Preacher by the name of William Gurnall in the years 1655, 1658, and 1662.  The three volumes entitled “Christian In Complete Armour” were considered a classic on the subject of spiritual warfare, and were held in high esteem by such well know ministers as Charles Haddon Spurgeon and John Newton, the converted slave trader who is possibly best remembered as the writer of the revered hymn Amazing Grace. The comments from these works that caught my eye concerned the portion of scripture found in Philippians 4:7 where the apostle Paul tells us to not worry about anything, but instead to give our cares to God and thereby allow His peace to “guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.”  (Gods Word ©)

Gurnall wrote “The peace of God is said to garrison the believer’s heart and mind with such blessed privileges that he is as safe as one in an impregnable castle.” (p.419 William Gurnall “Christian In Complete Armour” Public Domain)  That is the kind of safety that will position our minds in that realm of peaceful solitude (that we mentioned in yesterday’s post) in the midst of any trial we may face in life.  And it all originates in an unshakeable trust in an unmovable foundation based on the love of God!  It is the kind of PEACE that is available to you and me.  It is the kind of PEACE that will guard your mind from the haunting thoughts of despair and failure, and perpetuate in you a continual expectation of good things happening for you and those you love.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour on Saturday night before you hit the sack!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strike Three!

Today I was able to experience the decadent luxury of not being roused from a deep sleep until the late hour of 6:15!  What awoke me from my slumber was not the need of assistance, but the growing awareness of my legs being squished together under the pressure of our 50 pound dog on one side and my wife on the other.  As my mind became more lucid, I heard that old McDonalds jingle playing in mind… do you remember it?  It was the one that went something like “2 all beef patties, special sauce, 3 pickles on a sesame seed bun!”  At that I began to grin as all I could imagine was my legs being those 2 all beef patties being compressed between those sesame seed buns!  The extrication process was tough going as neither the dog or my wife would budge, but I finally made enough progress to exit the bed without falling on the floor! From there I ambled over to close our large bedroom window in order to quiet the soon coming sounds of the world awakening for the days activities. As I turned away it hit me… The silence, and then the single bird chirping away to announce the arrival of the new dawn!

I was instantly drawn away to the memories of the many tent camping adventures where the early morning light would be brightening the tent and the forest was hushed, broken only by the sounds of the bird’s melodious calls echoing through the trees.  After unceremoniously moving the dog a foot or so, I returned to the warmth of the bed and just laid there, totally captivated by the quiet atmosphere.  My mind began to travel as the enjoyment of the silence spoke to me.  My thoughts were centered around how nice it would be if this quiet peace would be present at all times during the hectic hours of the day ahead. 

Later on after I had completed my early morning routine, I found myself sipping my coffee and recalling my earlier experience. At that point I turned in my Bible to Colossians 3:15 where it says to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts”  (King James Version) and I realized that the early morning solitude that I felt is available to us as we tune our minds in to the correct frequency…  The word “rule” as used in this particular verse means to act as an umpire.  With that understanding, this verse could actually say to “let the peace of God act as an umpire in your heart.  (heart meaning the seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, affections etc; – Thayer’s Greek Translations).

Now with that thought, think about the final game of the last World Series.  When the Texas Rangers batter Nelson Cruz came to bat with two down in the bottom of the ninth with the Giants leading 3-1, all eyes in the stadium were fixed on the umpire as Brian Wilson, the Major League's 2010 saves champion with 48 saves, fired each pitch across the plate.  At that point it didn’t matter what anyone else said or did, all eyes and ears were fixed on the man standing behind the Giants catcher, Buster Posey.  A sudden silence filled the stadium in Texas as Brian Wilson delivered the 3-2 pitch, and then Giants fans (including this one…) across the country went wild as the plate umpire shouted “strike three!”

Do you see my point?  That’s the way we could be all the time.  Having the eyes and ears of our minds so focused on God and His peace, that it is the only thing that we hear.  The umpire of His peace gives us the call, we take it and then only hear that solitude that I experienced this morning!  Wow, just think about that!  Is it really attainable?  Well, it wouldn’t be in the Word if it wasn’t so.  Is it easy to do?  To be honest, no!  In our busy, noisy technical world we are trained to listen to a myriad of voices, to analyze the information and then make a decision.  To my way of thinking the Creator of the Universe, probably knows what’s best for the ones He lovingly created.

Now, this may be different to the way you’ve lived your life.  But I encourage you to think about it.  Think about the last time you experienced the peaceful solitude of a forest, or other quiet place.  Wouldn’t you like to have that as a permanent resident in your life?  More on this tomorrow.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Darkest Just Before The Dawn

I had to get up this morning about an hour or so before the breaking of the dawn.  As I stood in the bedroom loft, I spent a few moments gazing out the various tall windows in our living room and stairwell.  What caught my attention was the dark shadows of an oak tree protruding through a window against the wall near our piano, the neighbors roofline silhouetted against the darkness, and the trail of low wattage lighting that follows the pathways around the cluster homes in our little community.  The thought that arose in me was the old saying that “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.”

I had to chuckle a little at this point as this is exactly the position that I have found myself in over the past few weeks.  Many of the goals that we have been working on are finally coming to a point of reality, but the timing is getting critical.  Will everything come together at the right time?   Will all the puzzle pieces fall into their perspective places as the deadlines arrive???  When will we see the first signs of the new day appearing over the eastern horizons?

I did a little research on that old saying that I thought of early this morning, and it seems that it has been around since at least the 1600’s.  The first known individual to put it to print was an English theologian and historian by the name of Thomas Fuller.  He penned “It is always darkest before the day dawneth” in his religious travelogue “ A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine And The Confines Thereof “ in the year 1650.  The source of the proverb is not really known although some think that it originated with an old Irish ballad.

From this bit of information, we can deduce that mankind has been faced with this dilemma for many hundreds of years.  I am fairly sure that you may even have faced this situation… In fact, some of you might be in the midst of it right now.  Maybe you are not standing in a dark room looking out at the inky blackness, but in your mind's eye, this sight is very vivid.  The question is, how will you deal with this condition?  Most people come through these times unscathed while some fall short of the morning light.  Many years ago I had a friend and fellow co-worker commit suicide when a situation that he found himself involved with turned ugly.  Just as things were looking better for him, another event arose where he thought that the original incident might be reopened and he panicked and took his life.  The sad part is that the thing that he feared the most did not occur, and had he hung in there just a little longer, his life would have had a fresh beginning.  He left a wonderful young widow behind.

What is the answer?  For me the answer relates back to my personal belief system and foundation.  As I continued to read through the book of Colossians, when I got up for the second time this morning, the first verse that I read said it all.  Colossians 3:1 states: “Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things above – where Christ holds the highest position.”  (Gods Word ©)  Just like I’ve talked about in past postings, all I have to do is keep my eyes on the Light, that always overcomes the darkness.  It may be black right now, but as long as I keep my eyes on my foundation, I can relax and even chuckle again, because I am assured that the dawn light will arise at the right time and at the right place, just when I need it!

So why let the darkness prevail over you.  Do as I did this morning and after glancing at the spooky shadows, look to the lights on the pathways, illuminating to me the way to the answers that I am expecting to receive!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Decide To Have A Good Day... No Matter What!

Today was one of those days that I had pre-decided was going to be GREAT!  Yesterday was a long and emotional day.  Piper had her initial appointment with a new doctor.  I had more paperwork to fill out, had to relive the trauma of her medical situation as I answered the multitude of questions with the various caregivers at the office, then go shopping, return home and get dinner ready.  While everyone we spoke with was kind, sympathetic and helpful, by the time we went upstairs for the night, I was totally drained, but, before I turned out the light I determined that today was going to be spectacular, no matter what it looked like when we arose for the morning.

Well, the morning we got up to was gray and dreary, but I was still expecting good things to happen. As I went about my usual morning routine, I did everything I could to encourage my wife and myself.  I have to confess that my body was just not cooperating, but I still persisted.  As I prayerfully sat down to write this post I was reminded of one of the first additions to this blog that I had written, under similar circumstances, back in December of last year.  When I went through my files and read the post, I suddenly discovered that I had a new attitude and things were looking a lot better than they had a few minutes before.  So… with that in mind I thought that I would re-share with you those words of encouragement entitled:

 “Look For The Color In Life.”

I awoke this morning with a determination that I was going to have a good day.  I was not about to let a headache or the dark clouds that greeted me, as I looked out the large window over the staircase that rises to our bedroom loft, have any negative effect upon me.  So I threw on a sweater, ambled down the stairs, flipped on the heater and headed into the kitchen to brew up a fresh pot of Starbucks coffee.  Well, it seemed that things were not going to go my way as I opened up the cupboard door.  Reaching in I suddenly remembered that I had run out of coffee beans the previous morning and had failed to pick up a fresh bag!  Turning slowly around I thought about my morning resolution and bravely poured out the day old brew left in the coffee maker and put it into the microwave.  At the sound of the timer bell I gingerly pulled out the hot cup, poured in a little 2% milk (yuck… I was out of half and half too!), took a sip and looked out the kitchen window.  As I peered up past our patio fence, what caught my attention was not the dark clouds or light rain, but the beautiful colored leaves on the tall maple trees reaching toward the heavens beyond our home.  Those bright tones of red and orange totally captivated my thoughts and instantly brought a warmth and cheer into my morning.  You know… even that first sip of the day old coffee tasted good!

Isn’t it interesting how a little color can brighten even the dullest of days?  Do you look for the color in life when things seem to be going contrary to what you desire?  Maybe it doesn’t jump out at you like those trees did for me today, but it is out there all around you just the same.  Keep expecting good things in your life, and don’t be deterred when obstacles may get in the way.  Look for the color and after awhile you won’t be swayed by the gray in life anymore!  Stayed tuned, and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting today?

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Excuse Me?"

Well, she did it again…  I mentioned on a posting last month about my wife’s habit of offering compliments to the cashiers in the various stores that we shop at.  Today was no different, but yet, this cashier’s reaction was worth writing about!  As we were checking out at the local Lucky’s grocery store, my wife and I were joking with the cashier when my wife paused and told the women what a good job that she was doing.  What happened next was almost comical.  The lady just froze and stared at my wife.  Finally she came out of the daze and said: “excuse me?”  My wife repeated her compliment and the cahier just looked incredulous as she stammered out a: “thank you!”   We all stood there for a moment and then I stated: “you don’t hear those very much do you?”  She just shook her head, thanked my wife again, and laughingly went back to scanning the item that she still held in her hand. 

Isn’t it funny how a little positive reinforcement can make another person’s day?  As we turned to leave at the completion of our transaction, the cashier stopped, and told us to have a very special day.  The shinning look in her eyes said it all. 

Give it a try the next time you go into that busy supermarket or department store.  Take an extra moment and compliment the cashier for a job well done!  Who knows… you just might be the only positive thing that happened in that person’s life that day!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bright Shiny Places

After a week or so of rainy weather, it was really nice to wake up to the sunlight streaming in through the windows this morning!  I like to be in light cheery places.  It just sort of lifts my whole being into a place of content and joy.  Have you ever noticed that folks who battle with depression tend to keep the blinds drawn, and enjoy indirect lighting?  I really believe that the darkness gives these folks a sense of false security.  It’s almost like they won’t have to deal with reality if they can’t see it very clearly.  The Bible makes vivid distinctions between the dark and light.  It portraits Jesus as the light (John 1:4), and as such, is the one who has the ability to disperse the darkness.

I guess that I am talking about our foundations again today.  The more I know of my foundation, the more I am able to walk where my pathways are well lit, and easy to follow.  Colossians 2:7 says that one should “Sink your roots in Him (speaking of Jesus) and build on Him.”  (Gods Word ©)

The weatherman for our area is forecasting mostly clear skies going into this weekend.  Hopefully it will be the same wherever you live.  As you gaze into the blue above you, as it reaches to the horizons during the next couple of days, take a few moments to reflect on how well versed you are with the foundation in which you have placed your trust.  Take a close look at the level of intensity of the light around you.  Is that light bright and clear, or low and a little hazy to your vision?  Maybe you’ll find it time to pull the blinds all the way up and allow the full extent of the Light to fill your personal environment.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… ”What am I expecting today?” 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is It Time To Re-Create Yourself?

This may seem a little different to you, but Thursdays have always been one of my favorite days of the week.  I’m not totally sure why this is.  It may have to do with the ministry schedule that I have kept over the years.  I usually spend Saturday’s preparing for Sunday’s lesson, teach on Sunday and then begin to think about the Wednesday night program right off the bat on Monday.  Come Thursday I’m finished for that week and have 2 days off!  (off from the ministry work but not from the secular jobs I’ve always worked in conjunction with the church work.)  The ministry is my passion and I tend to put my entire heart and soul into it.  Maybe that’s why I look forward to the two day respite between my prep and teaching schedule.  Hopefully that doesn’t sound like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth at once, but even Jesus took time off from His demanding ministry to rest and regenerate!

R&R is an important part of our busy lives.  Without times of rest and recreation we can burn out, open the door to illness and end up despising the things that we enjoy the most!  Note that the word recreation is a derivative of the word recreate.  The American Heritage College Dictionary defines recreate “as imparting fresh life, mentally or physically.”  The word recreation, which is listed immediately below it, is defined as “refreshment of one’s mind or body through activity that amuses or stimulates.” (American Heritage College Dictionary Copyright © 1993 by Houghton Mifflin Company)

Our bodies are a unique and complicated creation, but we can only push them so far!  We need to take the time to allow ourselves to be renewed and have fresh life imparted to us.  In the past, my wife and I used to take two vacations a year.  We would schedule a two night stay at an inn on the coast in the winter, and a trip to the mountains in the summer.  In recent years with new jobs, Bible School, a growing and changing family, and a whole host of other activities, we slowly got away from the winter holiday and to be honest, we haven’t actually had a real summer vacation to rest and just have fun for five years!  I think that it is about time to reverse this course of direction!  What do you think?

While this wasn’t one of my originally set goals for 2011, I think I’m about to add an additional one!  How is your schedule looking?  Do you take the time to participate in recreational pursuits?  Notice that I said “participate”…  If you look back at the definition of recreation it stated that it is accomplished through an activity.  I tend to believe that this does not just refer to watching a movie or going out to dinner.  I believe that it requires some type of extended physical action.  We have always enjoyed hiking, and while we take daily walks, there is nothing like hiking along a path that follows a winding stream, a tree filled countryside, green meadows, birds, deer (bears?)  and a noticeable absence of man-made structures!  This type of adventure will obviously take a little more planning and time, but the rewards are enduring to your emotional and physical state of being!

Just think about it.  What fun physical activities do you enjoy, and when was the last time you participated in them?  Maybe it is time to plan a holiday!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How To Avoid A Crash Landing

I have to admit… I was not in the most joyful of moods when I awoke this morning.  I have had a lot of things pressing against me lately, and had not done the best job in relinquishing them.  After dragging myself out of the bed, following another restless night, I grabbed the handrail and carefully negotiated my way down the stairs.  Once there I went thoughtlessly through my morning routine of turning on the heater, letting the dog out, making the coffee and then my wife’s favorite hot drink consisting of two spoonfuls of chocolate marshmallow mix, a couple shakes of cinnamon, and splash of vanilla, combined with a half a cup of hot water, a little fresh coffee and then topped off with a few ounces of milk.  Having this completed, I fed the dog, poured myself a steaming hot cup of coffee, handed Piper her drink and then padded off to the study to get my spiritual energy kick for the morning!

With my thoughts driven askew by tiredness, I was experiencing frustration and an inkling to just give up!  When I sat down at my desk, I was immediately led to open my Bible to Hebrews 10:35 where the writer says: “So don’t lose your confidence.  It will bring you a great reward.”  (Gods Word ©)  As I stared at that verse with my head in my hands, it was almost like a voice arose from the pages of my Bible accentuating the word “So!...” 

“So… what are you going to do ,Jim…  throw in the towel, and give up, or press on in – by continuing to do what you know to be right and attain your reward?”

Right after hearing this I glanced up at my computer Bible study program and clicked on the Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek definitions for the word translated “confidence”.  My eyes skimmed through the definitions and stopped at Thayer’s second listing which included the thought of “cheerful courage!”  So… there was that idea, again, of being happy or joyful in any situation based on your foundational belief system.  You know what, I was not in the mood to be happy just then!  A few moments later I had to get up to go into the kitchen to clean up something, and my thoughts were wavering from what I’d just read when the phone rang.  Now, that was unusual, as no one normally calls us before nine in the morning.  I grabbed the phone, swallowed hard and put on my best cheerful face and said “hello!”  Well, the caller turned out to be a good friend of mine who just called to “cheer us up”.  He shared a joke with me, prayed a prayer of joy for Piper and I (without having any foreknowledge of what I was going through!) and hung up!

I’d say that was a direct confirmation of what I had been reading (or hearing) in my study!  With that, I returned to my desk, wrote down everything I’d read and heard, put a real smile on my face and returned to the kitchen to start breakfast with a little bit of a hop in my step!

Joy can be a powerful force when you are in the midst of a trial.  It is not always the expected course of action.  In fact, most times, it is just the opposite of what you feel like!  So I encourage you today, to take a look at your thoughts and emotions and see what path you are on.  If you’re angling toward a crash landing, like I felt earlier today, I would suggest that you stop, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and then allow the joy of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10) to strengthen you and propel you back on course, flying through the clouds to your victory!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What are you expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Only Believe!

Yesterday I read a sermon by the great evangelist Smith Wigglesworth.   Wigglesworth (who was called the man with two last names!) was considered a radical minister who traveled the world and preached from the early 1900’s until his home going in 1947.  He was considered radical because of his unwavering faith in God which caused him to be bold and sometimes gruff when ministering to the sick, and because of the signs and wonders that accompanied his meetings.  Hundreds of people received miraculous healings, and up to twenty people were said to have been raised from the dead after he laid hands on them.  He is known in Pentecostal circles as the Apostle of Faith.  His favorite saying as well as the foundational basis for his ministry was “Only Believe!”

In the sermon which was entitled “The Substance of Things Hoped For” Mr. Wigglesworth said that it is important that people have a foundational truth that is greater than themselves, on which they can rest.  As I absorbed that thought, I smiled in agreement because this is the basis for what we expect to happen each day.  Once again, Hebrews 11:1 in the Gods Word translation states that “Faith assures us of (the) things we expect…”  (Gods Word ©) and as I have stated in the past, those expectations can be either good or bad.  It all depends on your personal foundation.

Like Smith Wigglesworth, my faith is based on the unshakeable foundation of God’s Word.  Therefore, no matter what the circumstances around me present, I know that I will eventually overcome any negative events and walk forth in victory.  (Check out I Corinthians 15:57!)  How is your foundation holding up this week?  Do you have that same confidence as I do?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”