Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Friday, April 29, 2011

911- You Are Not Alone

This morning I was blessed, once again, with the sight of a glorious blue cloudless sky, highlighted by the early morning sun shimmering through the greenery in our kitchen patio.  Stepping outside with the pooch, I walked over to the climbing white rose bush I described to you yesterday and began examining one of the fully opened blossoms.

The first thing I noticed was the intricacies of the delicate white flower.  I counted about forty petals, each with a slightly different shape and contour.  Then I gently pulled back the smaller petals from the center of the bloom exposing the stigma, antler, filament and other fragile parts deep inside the flower.  How amazing!  Coming back inside I grabbed a magnifying loupe that I keep on my desk and was astounded at the detail that it opened up to me.  Each of the various inner workings looked like a complex flower of its own!  It is remarkable to me that something as simple as a white rose, can be so complicated in its construction.

You know what?  The same could be said about you and me.  Not only are we a physical marvel of intricacy, but each of us are also a unique compilation of experiences, emotions, personalities and genetic combinations that set us apart from everyone else!  It is kind of a miracle that we can even relate to each other.  In my years of ministry though, I have talked with many individuals who have felt that the tribulation they were experiencing was so different, that no one could help them.  “You have no idea what I am going through,” is a common saying that would be expressed as a barrier toward my attempts to help them.

And to be perfectly honest, they are right!  Since I have not gone through a similar set of events as they, I cannot necessarily “know” the feelings that they have.  But… I know of someone who has!  Hebrews 4:15 says that “We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.  He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin.”  According to this, He is knowledgeable of every situation that we could possibly go through, and with this in mind “we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness (or grace) to receive mercy and find kindness which will help us at the right time.”  (God’s Word ©) That means anytime, day or night – 24/7!

We have an advocate in Jesus, Who is willing and able to help us through any and all the dramas that occur in our lives.  Nothing is impossible for Him to assist you through.  The devil loves to use the tactic of separation against us.  If he can get you to think that no one can help you, then you fall right into his trap and become prey to the bondages of addictions, adverse lifestyles, negative and hopeless attitudes or even suicide.  Our heavenly Father made you to be a special and wonderful individual.  He loves you and knows you like the back of his hand!  Matthew 10:30 says that our heavenly Father even knows the number of hairs on your head.

Are you feeling alone and without help today?  Let me encourage you to not try and go it alone.  There is someone who can help and He is just waiting for you to call on Him!  Reach out to Jesus in prayer, get in touch with your Pastor, or call a strong Christian friend and together allow the truth of His Word to set you free from ANY difficulty that may be coming against you.  (see John 8:32)  Have a great weekend and a victorious recovery!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

White Roses

As I slid the door to our kitchen patio open this morning, so that the dog could go out, my eyes drifted to the climbing rose that is growing up the side of our outside storage closet.  For a good part of the year this plant tends to be an unsightly monstrosity that I have given a minimum of care, due to it’s location and size.  But alas, the once brown scraggily branches are now in full green array with beautiful white blossoms beginning to open up everywhere!  With in a matter of days that corner of the patio will be draped in a flowing blanket of fragrant white roses.

With that metamorphosis in mind, I immediately thought about the scripture in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes where the writer says that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 King James Version)  That “everything” includes not only the products of nature, but also you and me! 

We all go through different “seasons” in our lives.  There are times of building, and times of tearing down.  There are the good times and then those that we may have to work through.  There are times of joy and times when we experience pain.  The point to remember though, is that just like my climbing white rose bush, the barren times are soon forgotten when the beauty of the blooming season comes into its fruition.

If you’re going through a hard season, rest assured in knowing that this too, will pass.  Spend some time in the Word, and hold on to those scriptures that promise you the answers that you are expecting to receive.  Hebrews 10:35 inspires us to keep keeping on, by encouraging us to not “lose your confidence, (for) it will bring you a great reward.”  (Gods Word ©).  Hebrews 6:19 says that Jesus is our confidence.  So keep your focus, your expectation and your dependence on Him, and before you know it, your reward will become a flowering blanket for you to enjoy!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh What A Beautiful Morning ♫♫♫

What a beautiful morning we awoke to today.  The sky was a bright blue, the sun was slowing rising on the horizon and the temperature although a little crisp, definitely had the feel of the warmth of late spring.  Days like today just can’t help but get me thinking about the goodness of God.  He created the green hills that surround our community, the tall Redwood trees, the towering Oaks, the little gray squirrel that likes to take acorns from our side patio (while infuriating our dog!), and even the musical tones of the lone bird that has sung outside our bedroom window every morning for the last month, and He did it all just to bless us, His kids!

If He thinks it’s important to bless us through our surroundings, just think about how much He must care for each of us personally.  Matthew 6:26 says “Look at the birds.  They don’t plant, harvest or gather the harvest into barns.  Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them.  Aren’t you worth more than they?”  (Gods Word ©)  Sometimes we may feel like nobody cares for us.  But it is important to remember that God cares more than we can imagine.  All we have to do is reach out, take His hand, and then allow Him to comfort us, guide us and meet the various needs in our lives.

So the next time you feel left out, take a look out the window and notice how the bright shining sun makes everything grow and prosper around you.  Then open up the window to your heart and let the Son of the living God cause you to grow and prosper in the endeavors of your life.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reversing The Tide

Have you ever been enjoying a day of rest and peace when it seemed like suddenly everything turned a shade of gray?  I had that experience yesterday. Late in the afternoon we decided to splurge and have an extravagant meal at Carl’s Jr’s.  (Hey, don’t knock it.  I had a 2 for 1 coupon!)  When we got out to the car my wife had some real difficulty getting into the front seat.  That situation frustrated and spooked me at the same time!  While working through that difficulty we decided to forget the fanciful plans and just eat the leftovers from our Easter meal.  When we returned to the house, the red light was blinking on the answering machine.  The news from that call was not pleasant.  It was just one more situation that I had to deal with.  From there things just continued to go down hill.

This morning after I went through my morning ritual of making the coffee, opening all the curtains, looking out at the garden area and so on, I padded down the hall into the study.  I had already started praying in earnest as I really needed to hear a word from God today.  There were just too many hard circumstances that I did not want to deal with.  Since I have been studying the book of Hebrews, I automatically opened up my favorite red Bible to Hebrews 3 and continued where I had left off the previous day.

Do you remember last week when I talked about how reading the Word was akin to visiting with Jesus personally?  Well, that definitely was my experience today.  He knew exactly what I needed.  It felt like He was sitting across from me at my desk sharing a cup of Java with me.  As I read through Hebrews chapter four, He began to share about entering into His place of rest.  He told me how the Israelites under Moses’ command could not enter that rest, because of their unbelief.  Then He looked me straight in the heart and told me that I could go there, and that I could do it today!  He said, “God set another day.  That day is today.”  (Hebrews 4:7 God’s Word ©)

That realization worked better than any antacid could in calming down a nervous stomach!  His words to me felt like a warm creamy liquid flowing throughout my entire being.  Referring back to Hebrews 2:8, He told me that Our Heavenly Father put everything under His control, and that “nothing was left out.”  (Gods Word ©)  None of the tough situations, needs or questions I faced today where left out of His reach!  As I entered into His rest, He would take charge of my day, and my paths would become smooth (see Proverbs 3:5-6)

It is now late in the day, and as I look back, I can see when He took over and how each of the difficult situations were successfully handled.  My letting go of anxiousness and fear, released Him to confirm His Word with miraculous signs following in my life.  (see Mark 16:20)

All of us will face tough times and situations in our lives.  When they pop up in yours, I would encourage you to find a quiet place, grab your Bible and invite Jesus to join you and share His words of peace and rest with you.  It is amazing how a short conversation with Him can stop your feelings of anxiousness, and reverse the flood of bad tidings until His rest and peace come surging back into your day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Igniting The Glow

Yesterday my wife and I had the honor and the pleasure of leading a short Easter service at a Convalescent Hospital in a neighboring town.  What really stuck in my mind as we drove away at the end of the service, was the look in the eyes of the small crowd that had assembled.  It was a look that sparkled in brightness with the appreciation of our being there for them.  It wasn’t necessarily because of the presentation that was made, or even of the Word that was shared, it was simply because someone had taken the time to come and be with them.

 I concluded my message by sharing a few thoughts on how Jesus’ resurrection provided for us His “peace that passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 King James Version).  At that point the folks began to clap their hands and a little crippled lady in a wheel chair sitting in the very back, began to wave her hand at me.  When I came to her side she gave me a big smile and then quietly asked me if I was going to come back again.  The look on her face said it all!  When I said “yes” her face glowed.

Have you ever felt that “glow” of appreciation when someone made a special effort to come and be with you?  Have you ever been the recipient of that “glow” because of your taking the time to share your life with another?  In a way, that is what Our Heavenly Father meant the celebration of Easter to be all about.  John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…”  (King James Version).  God gave His only Son to be with us, to brighten our lives, to give us a hope and expectation.  We should follow His example by giving of ourselves to brighten the lives of those around us, to those who really need a little “glow” in the lives.

Take the time to extend the celebration of Easter throughout this year.  Look into the eyes of those you pass by, find the one’s who need some light and share a word of joy and expectation with them.  The “glow” that will begin to shine in their eyes will be a reward beyond measure to you.  Be like Jesus.  Be one who ignites a “glow” that gives the downtrodden a greater purpose, hope and expectation in the world.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”




Friday, April 22, 2011

The Empty Cross

I have a dramatic sermon that I like to preach around this time of year that describes many of the events and their meanings that surround the cross of Christ.  Over the years I have honed the scriptural points and theatrical delivery of the oration.  It began as a simple object lesson for elementary age children, was upgraded for the Youth Ministry, and then expanded to a complete sermon for adult congregations. In the address I vividly picture my interpretation of Jesus’ immediate activities after His physical death on the cross.  I describe His being tossed about and left chained in a dark, dingy corner within the devil’s lair, while demons tauntingly dance around Him.  Then just as those days and nights seem like they might never end, we flash up to the throne room of our mighty God, Who suddenly stands in the midst of the hushed hosts of heaven and loudly declares “It is over!”  Above the roar of the crowd that begins to emanate from the room, He waves His right arm and dispatches the armies of angels led by the power of the Holy Spirit to go and take the gates of hell, capture the enemy forces and gain the everlasting release of His precious son.

The following scene complete with the widespread panic and fear that spreads throughout the devil’s strongholds as the tangible force of the Father’s verbal decree literally shakes the foundations of the dark, followed by the lightning quick actions of the angelic forces as they overrun the demoniacs defenses, along with Jesus’ bold entrance into the inner sanctum of the devil, where He strips from him the ownership of the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:8), brings to the audience the stark and dramatic revelation of what Jesus has done for us at His now empty cross.

The recent popularity of stories that involve the actions of covert teams of military operatives in the movies, on TV and in books has helped to keep the freshness and current relevance of my story in the eyes and ears of the listeners.  About a month ago though, I had a revelation that changed my insight and the script of this sermon.

It actually came to me as my wife and I were watching an old episode of the 1980’s TV hit “The A Team!”  In the show, the A Team has been hired to deal with a rich cattle baron who is illegally rounding up wild Mustangs, and shipping them off to a dog food factory in Mexico.  In one scene near the beginning of the two hour special, the boss is talking to his foreman just after the A Team has made their initial humiliating attack on the unsuspecting bad guys.  While not knowing exactly who they are facing, the boss tells his hired hand that he is not so concerned if the American Indian who hired the A Team has just brought in a bunch of gun toting “Ya Who’s”.  He said we can handle them, but that the real concern was if the good guy had brought in “legal” help in order to prove that they were taking actions that were against the law.  If that was the case, they would have no leg to stand on, and would have to quite their illegal operations and yield to the consequences of the law.

At that statement in this comical, cheesy program, the light went on inside of me concerning Jesus’ victory over the devil.  His victory was not the result of a quick and decisive military action.  It was a highly planned (from before the beginning of time, with types and shadows of it described throughout the Old Testament) and unquestionable legal move that has resulted in eternal implications for all of mankind!

When it came down to the redemption of mankind, there was only way to take the authority that the devil had received from Adam, as a consequence of his rebellious act in the garden of Eden.  Legally, a sinless man had to sacrifice his blood in order to release the human race from all the statues of judgments that was held against them.  Jesus, God incarnate, was the ONLY one who could accomplish this task.  His birth through a young virgin who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit insured a blood line untainted by sin.  While the priests in the Old Testament had to offer yearly sacrifices, first to cover their own sins, and second to cover the sins of the people, Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time event that took away sin forever.  Roman 6:10 says that “When he died, he died once and for all to sins power.”  (Gods Word ©)  That one perfect sacrifice legally took away the sin problem and enabled man the path to God while extending the offer of eternal life.

Now, I didn’t have to change the script of my sermon too drastically.  Colossians 2:15 says “on that cross, Christ freed himself from the powers of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession.”  (Gods Word ©) Robertson’s Word Pictures likens this activity to the triumphal processions of victorious Roman generals who paraded their captives through the streets.  The devil and his cohorts were whipped and they knew it as Jesus publicly marched them through the streets of their hometown! 

I still talk about the angelic armies coming to Jesus’ rescue, and the defeat of the enemy forces.  The major rewrite comes in the final victory scene when Jesus placed the legal document proclaiming the cancellation of man’s" unfavorable debts with its binding rules that were done away with at the cross" (Colossians 2:14 Gods Word ©) into the trembling hands of the cowering devil.  It wasn't by the sword, but by the everlasting binding legalities won in the courtroom of the universe.  At that point, Satan had no other recourse but to cease and desist and yield to the consequences of the law of the tribune of Heaven…  And I can see Jesus walking away from the smoldering ruins of the kingdom of darkness, making a similar comment as Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith of the A Team always said at the end of each show… “I love it when a plan comes together!” 

The cross is now empty.  At the cross, the strangle hold that the enemy of our souls had over us was ended, and our new life with Christ began!   Have a blessed and victorious Easter celebration as you consider all that Jesus accomplished for you!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”






Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

As we proceed through what many religious traditions refer to as Holy Week, we come to Maundy Thursday which we celebrate today.  This is the day before Good Friday when Jesus and His disciples partook of the Passover meal, which Christians call the Last Supper.  It is a time for us to recall the events that led up to Christ’s crucifixion and death, before the celebration of Easter when Christ rose triumphant from the claws of death, thereby enabling mankind to have a way to receive eternal life, and come into the presence of God without shame or guilt.

One of the other important events that happened on Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday as known in some denominations) is the one from whence the day derives it’s name.  This would be when Jesus humbled Himself by washing the feet of His disciples.  The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum” meaning commandment.  Therefore the “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday refers to the command that Jesus gave in explaining the foot washing experience.  In John 13:34 He said: “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you.”  (Gods Word ©)  Basically Jesus was telling us to love others with a humble attitude.  He said that no one is better than anyone else.

I think that this is a basic tenant of the Christian faith that many times gets put aside in our day to day life.  We (myself included) can get so involved with what’s happening in our own lives that we may fail to see the needs that others have.  As I was reading the story of the Last Supper in John 13 this morning, the Lord spoke this message loud and clear to me!  There have been times while dealing with all the personal emotions and pressures of caring for my wife that I have found myself getting angry that some of those closest to us are not responding to my wife’s concerns like I think they should.  You know what?  They probably have needs too, and I most likely should stop sniveling and find out what I can do to assist them.  That’s what Jesus would do, isn’t it?

I mean… Jesus was getting ready to go through the most awful, terrible ordeal known to man, be beat beyond recognition, become sin for every man, women and child born on this earth, and what does He do?  Instead of taking one last respite, and letting His disciples wait on Him, He takes off His outer garments, humbling Himself like a servant, and washes the feet of His disciples!  Wow, what an example to follow.  How totally opposite to what the world around us preaches.

That lesson gave me a shocking reality check this morning!  How about you?  As we approach Resurrection Sunday, are there any “adjustments” that you may need to make in the way you think and act toward others?  Remember in Hebrews 12:2 where it says that Jesus was able to go through all the pain and suffering that He endured because of “the joy” He saw “ahead of Him?”  (Gods Word ©)  He put his feelings and needs aside and only considered how His actions would be a blessing to others.  I suggest that we take notice, and do the same!  Let this celebration of Easter be like none other before.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Conversations With God

Over the years I have developed the habit of spending time in the Bible the first thing in the morning.  As I think about this now, I’m not quite sure of when I started this routine.  I assume that it goes back to the early 1980’s when my growing family and I started attending a small fellowship that met in a now defunct motel/conference center in the southern part of our city.  The Pastor of that church, Doug Smith, was a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center during it early years in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Pastor Doug taught the Word in such a way that it began to open up with such power and revelation to my wife and I as we’d never experienced before.  To me it was just like being in Bible School.  My hunger for the Word began to grow.  The more I got, the more I wanted!  I could literally sit for hours as the Word was taught to us.  It was then that I invested in my first study type Bible and began to take copious notes and mark all the pertinent passages.  I’m not sure how many notebooks I filled up during those six years, and you would be hard pressed to find a page in that old New American Standard Study Bible that does not have passages underlined, circled or high-lighted!  I still refer back to that Bible even though I have since accumulated countless translations, study Bibles, commentaries and Bible dictionaries over the last 30 years.  In fact it was on top of a stack of reference materials yesterday and my wife spilled a little milk on it… ah, like that old Timex watch slogan said: “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

My time in the Word, each and every morning, is priceless to me!  I can honestly say that there has never been a time where I have not come away from those morning encounters uplifted, encouraged and ready to face the day ahead.  Today as I was looking for something to get my study time jump started, I reviewed a view pages of the current book my wife and I are reading together.  The book is called “Advanced Bible Course, studies in the deeper life” by E.W. Kenyon.  Pastor Kenyon was a Bible teacher, Pastor, writer and Bible school administrator who lived from 1867 – 1948.  His books are still available through Amazon and other major book outlets as well as directly from Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society (http://www.kenyons.org/index.php)

The two sentences that got me thinking about today’s subject mentioned how the written Word of God, contained within the pages of the Bible, “takes the place of the unseen Christ, and that meditation (or study) in the Word is a visit with Him.”  (chapter 2, pg 15)  With that thought in mind, no wonder I’ve never come away disappointed after meeting with Him! 

This brings a whole new meaning to each of our personal times studying the Bible.  We’re not just sitting there alone, but we are visiting face to face with Jesus, the living Word of God!  Hebrews 4:12 concurs with this by stating that “God’s Word is living and active…”  (Gods Word ©)  The Bible is unique in that it is not just a book of words, but a living and active and personal force that can change your life for the better!  When you study the Word, you are spending time in the presence of the Master!  (John 1:1)

Think about that the next time you grab your Bible, your cup of coffee, notebook and pen!  You are going to get to have a personal visit with the One who saved you, who wants you well and successful, and who desires more than anything else to fellowship with you.  He loves you that much, so much that He will always make time for you.  Is He on your schedule today?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Distractions

I was led back to twelfth chapter of Hebrews during my Bible study time this morning.  While perusing through the first verse I stopped and began to meditate on the phrase: “sin that so easily distracts us.”  (Gods Word ©)  The thought of how easy it is to get distracted captured my imagination. 

I began to think back of many incidents where distractions caused problems for me.  There was the time I dented the front bumper on my brand new shiny Pacific Blue 1977 280Z, when I took a moment to rub my aching head and nudged the big truck stopped in front of me at a red light.  Then another time when my wife and I were leading the music service at church many years ago and I allowed my concentration to wavier off to a person in the congregation playing an offbeat tambourine and totally lost my place in the song, or the incident just last night when I got so involved in a phone conversation that I missed three quarters of the show my wife and I were looking forward to watching together, and left her alone in a semi-dark living room.

Now, these occasions may not seem like a big deal, but distractions can cause us to lose a grip on the things that are important to us.  The King James Version of Hebrews 12:1 uses the word “beset” instead of “distracts”.  Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries pictures this word (in the context of running the race of life) as a “competitor thwarting a racer in every direction” Distractions can put us behind, keep us in a catch up mode, or maybe better explained by the old phrase “being behind the eight ball” which is a common term that means to be in “a difficult position from which it is unlikely one can escape.” (For a background on this saying see: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/behind-the-eight-ball.html)

Some distractions can have disastrous consequences to you or those around you.  I will never forget the time many years ago when my father-in-law and I were trying to wire up the power to a darkroom we had erected in our backyard.  At one point I found myself getting so totally frustrated and upset when one particular connection was not coming together, that I failed to observe our one year old Sheltie get into some snail bait that I thought was securely stored away.  Later that afternoon she went into convulsions and we had to have her put to sleep a few weeks later.  That was a hard lesson that still harbors deep emotions within me.  What if that had been my young son that I was distracted from?

While I realize that we can’t allow the “what ifs” of the past to haunt us, I do try to use that life lesson as a guide in my present.  (I use the word “try,” as distractions like the extended phone call last night pop up when least expected!)  As you go forth today, be aware of the temptations that present themselves in order to get you distracted away from your planned path.  Stay focused, ask for the Lord’s assistance and then trust Him to help you through.  (see: I Corinthians 10:13)  If you make a mistake, know that “He will abundantly pardon”  (Isaiah 55:7 New American Standard Version), and then get up and get going again!  By staying aware of and in control of the distractions around you, you will find yourself enjoying a more productive and happy life.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Monday, April 18, 2011

Patriots Day

Today is Patriots Day!  This holiday is celebrated in the states of Massachusetts and Maine, and commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.  On April 19, 1775 a ragtag force Colonial Militiamen stood up against approximately 700 highly trained British Army Regulars under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts.  The first shots that changed the course of world history were fired just as the sun was rising.  After the initial skirmish, the outnumbered militia fell back and the regulars proceeded on to Concord to capture and destroy Patriot military supplies known to be stored there.  At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 500 militiamen fought and defeated three companies of the King’s troops.  The British then fell back and retreated to Lexington where they were rescued by additional reinforcements.  (for more information check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Lexington_and_Concord)

This life changing event was forever embedded in history as the “shot heard round the world” by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his poem “Concord Hymn” written in 1836 for the dedication of a battle monument in remembrance of the men who gave their lives at Lexington and Concord.  One source of the power of this statement may come from the personal ties that Emerson had with these battles.  His grandfather fought at both Lexington and Concord.

The recalling of this tiny victory by a small band of loosely trained farmers over the forces of His Majesty’s mighty military power encouraged the colonies to stand firm and continue on in the face of insurmountable odds over the next eight years.  Patience, guts, and the iron clad will to not give up finally yielded the colonies the independence they had fought long and hard for.

As we face the week ahead on this dreary Monday morning (in northern California), it would do us good to remember the victories in our past that helped us to achieve the long and hard fought goals we have sought to complete in our lives.  These memories can act as an incentive to propel us through the hard times we may currently find ourselves fighting.  The One that helped you stand and win in battles past is there at your side to give you the final victory once again.  Ephesians 1:21 says that “He is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named…”  (Gods Word ©)

Whatever the “name” of the difficulty you may face, He is greater and your dependence on Him will see you through!  Just as the hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed Patriots continued to fight on through a long and arduous war, in order to finally attain an independent nation that would eventually become a major force in the world, you too, can make it through and become a major force in the day to day world that you abide in.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sharp Turns Ahead

Well it’s Friday and the week has just about come to an end.  As I look back at everything that was on my to-do list on Monday, I am simply amazed at “the unlimited greatness of his power (or ability)” (Ephesians 1:19 Gods Word ©) that we previously discussed over the past few days. 

The full spectrum of that truth is still overwhelming to me.  I had many detailed and difficult responsibilities to accomplish this week, and the Lord not only helped me to successfully complete them, but He managed to put me ahead!  Just when it seemed like I might not make that upcoming sharp turn on the winding road of life, He showed me the validity to the statement the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans where he said, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  (Romans 8:31 King James Version)

And you know what?  “God doesn’t play favorites.”  He is “no respecter of persons.”  (Acts 10:34 Gods Word © / King James Version)  If He’ll do it for me, then He’ll do it for you.  He wants to be strong on our behalf.  He wants us to win the battles in our life.  The only thing we have to do is put out trust in Him.  (See Proverbs 3:5-6)

Like I mentioned yesterday, as we proceed through the difficult situations in life with this truth as our guiding principle, the path is smoother and the transaction is a lot less intensive to our beings.  God never said that this life would be a cake walk, but He did give us the tools in His Word, to sustain and empower us through the tough times and end up in victory… just like I have experienced this week!  Have a great weekend.  Put your trust in Him, and let me know of your victory celebrations!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do Not Attempt Without Parental Supervision

Yesterday was one of those days that you wish you could live over again, from a totally different perspective… the one that you finally came to by the end of the day! 

I started the day by completing the last minute preparations for our early afternoon meeting with our tax specialist.  (Nothing like waiting until the last minute…)  Last year had been a year like none other in our lives.  The changes in my wife’s health had caused me to make the tough decision to quit my merchandising position with the company I had worked with for the last five years, and concentrate on self employment positions and our savings, so I could spend more time with her.  This all happened about half way through the year, so our income sources and tax requirements were quite varied!  Needless to say, I was a little confused and really had no idea what the final tax outcome for the year would be.  (Even our tax specialist commented on the unusual spectrum of jobs that I held during the year!)

So, being the strong man of faith that I am, I prayed about the whole situation and then “attempted” to walk in His peace.  (See Philippians 4:6-7).  “Attempted”... that’s a good description of my actions!  I would concentrate on His Word, sense His peace and go on for a little while.  Then I’d start thinking about all the “what ifs” and the anxiousness and weariness would jump right back on me.  Have you ever been there?  It is no fun!  It zaps your energy, your joy and your confidence.  The funny part is that during the entire time previous to the appointment, this little voice inside of me kept trying to reassure me by repeatedly saying, “It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.”  Now I had heard that voice many times before and it did give me enough fortitude to push on through the morning.

Finally the moment of truth came.  We drove to the office, parked the car, whispered another quick word of thanks to the Lord and went in the door to the lobby.  The results were rather funny.  It turned out that the tax preparation was a breeze, and that we are going to get money back from both the Feds and the state.  So then I ask you… What was I so confused and anxious about?  I knew God’s Word on the subject, I asked for His help, and I attempted… Oh, there’s that word again… I “attempted”.  I didn’t make a firm enough commitment to “do” without doubting!  James 1:8 says it very clearly.  “A person who (entertains) doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.”  (Gods Word © I injected the word “entertains”)

By the time the evening came I was shaking my head at my earlier antics.  Like I previously stated, I wish I had thought of this when I got up.  The morning would have been much more relaxing and productive!  But you know… what does that old adage say?  “Live and learn?”

Next time you find yourself in the midst of a potentially disquieting situation, keep checking your thinking to see how many different directions your heading, and then get yourself back on God’s road.  The scenery is beautiful, the trip is of shorter duration, and His peace will fill you with a joy that will spill over onto everyone you come in contact with.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

I wanted to give you a few more thoughts concerning the scripture we touched on in yesterday’s post.  I just can’t seem to get away from the vastness of what the Paul was trying to convey to his readers.  If you remember, we were talking about Ephesians 1:19 where the Apostle prayed that “You will also know the unlimited greatness of His power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers.”  (Gods Word ©) The King James Version of this verse uses the word “exceeding” instead of “unlimited” when talking about the greatness of God’s power or ability working in us.  According to Vincent’s Word Studies, Paul’s use of the words exceeding, abundantly, above, over, superabundantly and beyond as stated by various other translations for this verse, Ephesians 3:20 and other places are “characteristic of Paul’s intensity of style and mark the struggle of language in defining the immensity of the divine mysteries and opulence of the divine grace”  (Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies – 1886, Public Domain)  In other words, there is no way that human languages can fully capture the depth of His power or abilities that are available to us!

The extent of His ways goes far beyond what we could ever dream of.  Why then, do we tend to put Him in a box and limit Him according to our tiny imaginations or experiences?  Just think what we could accomplish if we were totally, 100% sold out to Him.  What if we really took the Bible at face value?  Do you know that the word “all” as used in Philippians 4:13 where it states that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13 King James Version) means just what it says?  All means all! 

So okay, if you’re like me right now, your adrenaline is about to explode with excitement as you ponder that potential and you are ready to take a run around the block!  Pause for a moment, take a deep breath and then take a few moments to meditate on Ephesians 1:19 and Ephesians 3:20. Then reconsider all those thoughts, suggestions or dreams that you tossed aside as being beyond the limits of reality.  Whose reality were you thinking about?  Yours, the scientific community’s, or God’s, which we now know to be exceedingly, abundantly beyond our wildest dreams!  (Check out Ephesians 3:20 in the Message Bible) What did that old rock song say about taking a walk on the “wild side"?  It might not be so wild when you look at it through the capabilities of God’s power and His abilities!  Just think about it… Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mission Impossible!

The Apostle Paul prayed two prayers for the church at the end of chapters one and three in the book of Ephesians.  Although written a few thousand years ago, they can be personalized and prayed by the modern church today, with the same sense of force and reality that they possessed in the first century.  I usually read Ephesians 1:17-23 and Ephesians 3:16-21 by inserting my own name or “me” wherever the word “you” is used.  When prayed this way, the words begin to take a eye opening and powerful effect in your daily life. 

In a few of his books, the noted Bible teacher Brother Kenneth E. Hagin told of the time, early in his pastoring ministry, when he prayed those prayers daily for a six month period.  He related about the revelations in the Word that began to open up to him, and the remark that he had made to his wife in that he was surprised that the deacons of the church had not dismissed him for the lack of knowledge he had before the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” and the “deeper insight” in the understanding of the Word came to him as he prayed the Ephesians prayers!  (See Ephesians 1:17 & 18 Gods Word ©)

I have made the effort to read these verses as regularly as possible at the beginning of my daily Bible study time and before I retire at night.  Today as I read Ephesians 1:19 I was captivated by the thought of the vastness of God’s power working in us.  The verse reads “You will also know the unlimited greatness of His power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers.”  (Gods Word ©)  According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, the word “power” can also be translated as “ability”.  With the word “ability” inserted, the verse took on a whole new twist for me.

Yesterday, my wife and I were talking about the various jobs that I have had since I was in High School.  We calculated at least ten or eleven different positions ranging from working at a local print shop while in High School to management at Hewlett Packard, while also Pastoring part time for the last 30+ years.  This information got me to thinking about the verse in Ephesians 1:19.  Except for the work in the ministry, I have had no formal training in any of the various fields I worked in, yet in most of the full time secular jobs, I quickly moved up into a management position.  That, to me, demonstrates Ephesians 1:19.  It was not my ability that got me those promotions.  I firmly believe that it was the “unlimited greatness of His ability” working in and through me that caused my progression up the line.

You know what?  That reality takes much of the pressure off of us in trying to make good things happen in our daily lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that education and experience are not important.  We are to do our part in obedience to His directives to us, and then allow Him to do His part in making everything come together as He has planned it for us! 

Joshua, at the end of his namesake book in the Old Testament, nicely sums up this idea by reviewing the events that occurred as the tribes of Israel took the land God had promised to their ancestors.  In speaking of the various battles they participated in, he clearly pointed out that it was God that gave them the victories.  He talked about the armies that came against them, but concludes by saying “But I (God) handed them over to you.”  Then he related how the Lord set events in motion that would assure their victories and to remember that “These things didn’t happen because of your battle skills or fighting ability.”  (Joshua 24:11-12 Gods Word ©)  Remember the Israelites were not trained soldiers.  The only training they had previous to this was as slave laborers building monuments for the Pharaoh, yet they fought powerful armies and won major victories over them!

I challenge you to put that truth to use in your life!  Think about all you can accomplish as you learn to depend on His abilities working in and through you!  You could turn into an unstoppable force!  The word “impossible” would no longer be a part of your vocabulary.  You truly would be one who actively demonstrates “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 Gods Word ©).  What a thought!  If that doesn’t energize you, I don’t know what would!  I look forward to talking to you again tomorrow.  Until then, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today's Weather Forecast

Last night, my wife and I read through some of our favorite encouraging scriptures just before we turned out the light, in preparation for the busy schedule we had to plow through today.  When I arose this morning, I went down stairs and snuck a peek out the sliding glass window to our kitchen patio.  What I observed was not in agreement with the sense of victory we had received from the Word the previous evening. The sky was overcast and the entire world seemed to be cast in a neutralizing, downcast shade of gray.  

Although I was tempted to give in to the gloom, I decided instead, to resist the thought, wait on the coffee preparation and delve quickly into my morning Bible study.   I began by reviewing some of the same verses that we had read last night.  I sleepily read for a few moments in the waning verses of the first chapter of the book of Ephesians and then moved on into the second chapter when I felt a warm glow of recognition begin to rise up inside of me.  The warmth increased to a sizzle as I stopped and meditated on the awe inspiring truth found in verse four.  “But God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us.” (Ephesians 2:4 Gods Word ©) Suddenly the idea of being moved by an overcast day was thrown explosively aside by the love and care of God.

Think about that for a moment.  The word “mercy” according to Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek definitions means to have an especially active compassion, and good will toward the miserable and afflicted.  That verse is saying that God has so much love for you and me, as individuals that He will actively reach out and help us whenever we are tempted to be miserable or downcast!  Jesus told His followers that our heavenly Father is so familiar with us that He even knows the number of hairs on our head!  (Matthew 10:30)  With that much love and ability to intercede on our behalf available to us 24/7, how could the ever-changing weather or any other outside influence have any lasting affect on us!

The choice is up to you.  That promise from God stabilized any fluctuations in my constitution this morning and helped to get me clearly focused on His unlimited power “as it works with might and strength for us, the believers (Ephesians 1:19 Gods Word ©).  

So… what’s my suggestion for you today?  Close your eyes to the gray around you and run, don’t walk, into the loving arms of the One who is just waiting to actively care for you right now!  “In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God and the Word was God.”  (John 1:1 Gods Word ©)  That Word is held within the pages of your Bible.  Open it up, find the promises you need and depend on Him more than any other scene that you may observe throughout your day.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?” 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Full-Time Employment

Talking about having our best in mind… I was reminded this morning about the time we began to run a series of medical tests on my wife a few years back in Oklahoma.  Since I was enrolled in Bible school, I could not commit to unlimited availability at the store I was working at.  I attended morning classes during the week and could not begin work until at least 1:00 pm.  In order to be considered a full-time employee I had to commit to be available to work any shift, any day of the week.  While the original store manager promised me forty hours a week (and kept to her promise except for one slow time in February during our first year in Oklahoma), I was considered a part-time employee and had to settle for the company’s part-time status benefits package.  The health plan had a high co-pay structure and a limited yearly maximum benefit dollar amount.

When we were about half way through the medical tests that the various doctors prescribed for my wife, we reached the maximum benefit payout and were forced to stop the tests for a few months until the beginning of the New Year.  It was a very frustrating time for us, as we wanted to know what was going on with my wife, but could not afford to pay for the medical care without the assistance of the health benefits. 

At one point during that next year, a new Personnel Manager came to our store and was able to legally change my status to full-time because of the set amount of hours I did work each week.  At that point I immediately switched our insurance to the best available health package that I could sign up for.  With this plan we were able to continue with the tests up until the time we moved back to California. It so happened that the full-time status plan was not only immensely more comprehensive than the part-time one, but it actually cost me a few bucks less each pay period!  You figure it… I guess it was another “benefit” of choosing a full-time career position with them over that of a competitor.

That experience in our life caused me to think of the “benefits” of being a full-time employee of the Kingdom of God!  2 Peter 1:4 says that “through his (God’s) glory and integrity he has given us his promises (in the Bible) that are of the highest value!”  (Gods Word ©)  His benefit package is so comprehensive and cost effective that it far out shines anything that any other source in this world can offer.  It makes me wonder why someone might even consider going with another kingdom employer.

His benefit plan covers any difficulty that may arise in your life.  You just have to find out what He promises for that particular need and then act on faith.  If you don’t know what is in the plan, then you can’t partake of the benefit that is offered to you.  Once you find out what He says is available to you, all you have to do is ask for it in faith, and stand firm until you receive the manifestation in your life.  Jesus Himself said that “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” (New American Standard Version) The answer to your request may not come instantly, in a day or week or even more, but it will come as you stay consistent in your expectations in the truth of His Word.  Remember that “Faith assures of things we expect!  (Hebrews 11:1 Gods Word ©)

God always has our best in mind and has given us the best benefits package available to us for our daily walk in this life!  Are you familiar with the extent of the benefits that His plan offers to you?  This weekend might just be a good time to delve into the Benefits Manual.  You may find that you have been living below the standard of life that He has provided for you to live!  Have a great weekend and a wonderful time of exploration in the Word!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Benefit Packages

One of the first questions that an individual will ask a potential employer concerns the quantity and quality of the “benefits” that the company offers to its workers.  I can remember talking to my two younger children about this as they were looking for work in the retail market in Oklahoma.  They were looking for 30 – 40 hours of weekly work while they attended school, so it wasn’t necessarily a career decision that they were making.   Having worked some in the retail field, I mentioned that the larger chain stores usually offer a better benefits package than the smaller proprietor stores.  Their sheer size alone gives them an advantage when it comes to negotiating plans with insurance companies.

I found myself considering all these thoughts about benefits as I was reading Paul’s prayer in chapter one within the book of Ephesians today.  This particular letter is generally considered to be a circular letter that was intended for other churches in addition to the assembly located in the city of Ephesus.  Many of the Greek manuscripts do not include the words “at Ephesus.  There is also an absence of controversy in it as it does not deal with the problems of any particular church in difference to the majority of Paul’s letters written to specific congregations.

The verse that caught my attention was Ephesians 1:22 where it states that “He (God) made Christ the head of everything for the good of the church.”  (God’s Word ©)  The New Living Bible uses the term “benefit” instead of “good.”  While many other translations do not state this thought, most commentaries agree that it is intended within the meaning of the verse.  Ponder that idea for a moment.  Christ is the head of everything for our benefit!  He is there for our welfare and our good.  He is like an insurance plan that is provided for us to use in times of need, and the best part is that there is no co-pay!  His benefit plan covers us 100%.

My wife is now covered by a medical plan that has no co-pays!  When we received her benefits package I was flabbergasted as I read that piece of information.  The first time I picked up her prescriptions under the new plan, I very hesitantly asked about the zero co-pay and was still amazed when they confirmed it!  They must have gotten the idea from God, for this is exactly the way our heavenly Father designed the benefits package plan given to His family members!

So now you’re probably wondering about these benefits.  What are they, and where would one find the written documents that explain them?  Ah… you know what am I going to say!  They are written in God’s book, the Bible.  Specifically they are found in the New Testament, within the epistles which were written directly to us, the church.  On this note, the Apostle Peter tells us that “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life…”  (2Peter 1:3 God’s Word ©).  Paul told a young pastor that “Every scripture passage is inspired by God.  All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval.”  (2Timothy 3:16 God’s Word ©)  It’s all there, all the details of the promises, or benefits that God has given to us.  All we have to do is jump in and study the manual and then take the actions necessary to receive what He has intended for us to benefit from.  He’s got our best in mind!  I’ll talk a little more about this tomorrow.  Until then, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Winter Clean Up

Well, I finally mustered up the confidence to go out to the kitchen patio yesterday, to begin the process of cleaning off the layers of winter yuk that had accumulated over the last few months.  I had gotten a little spoiled since last year when my wife had kept a tight reign over the falling leaves, weeds and other unmentionable items (ie; compliments of the dog…) that would find their way into our large patio.  This year things had sort of gotten out of hand and the time had finally come to accomplish the dreaded task!  (Of course the thought of my grand kids coming over today played into this decision also!)

On the positive side, the weather was nice, the sun was warm and once I began, I actually found myself enjoying the work.  After about an hour and a half, the brick patio and the deck areas began to emerge, followed in quick succession by the roses and other plants in the garden area.  When I finally walked back into the house, I turned and looked through the sliding window and was amazed at what I observed.  What had been an untidy scene of old leaves, dead plants and clutter was transposed into a comfortable outdoor living center complete with a clean walkway, scrubbed decks and beautiful potted plants.  It got me excited about the summer prospects of reclining in our patio chairs with an ice cold glass of soda and a good book.

This morning as my wife and I ate breakfast while gazing at the reformed patio area, I thought about how the before and after view of the area was similar to how God sees us.  There are times in each of our lives when it seems like all the yuk of a winter season has settled upon us.  Times get tough, things get covered up and we begin to have a hard time loving ourselves.  Then the season changes, our outlook on life improves, and we begin the process of removing the clutter that has accumulated about us.

What struck me today was that God always sees the real us that, at times, may be hidden under the clutter of life’s rough seasons.  He knows us and loves us through any stormy time in life!  Romans 8:31-39 talks about some of the rough times that attack us and sums up God’s point of view of these events nicely in verse 38 with the Apostle Paul saying: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love… by anything in the present or anything in the future…”  (Gods Word ©)

What a wonderful foundation to set your life upon.  Even though I detested the thought of cleaning up our patio area yesterday, I was driven on to completion by the knowledge of the serene times that the clean patio presented for my wife and I to enjoy in the coming summer months.  Keep that thought in mind when you find yourself buried under a pile of problems or condemnation that have come upon you.  Think of how much God loves and trusts in you, how He sees the real you, your gifts, your talents and the unique qualities that make you shine to others, and then know that He is with you, on your team and available to help you dig out from the wintry clutter.  With that vision, you will soon find your real self emerging and looking forward to enjoying the pleasures of life in the summer months ahead!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Red Tagged

I forgot to ask if any of you had a “fragrances of Spring” experience this past weekend.  (In case you don’t know what I’m talking about read last Friday’s post: http://pjberruto.blogspot.com/2011/04/fragrances-of-spring.html)  I had one, but instead of being the fragrance giver, my wife and I found ourselves on the other end!  We received a spur of the moment dinner invitation on Saturday evening for the next day from two of my wife’s close relatives.  We immediately said yes, and began to look forward to a fun evening with them.  On Sunday evening we experienced just what we expected and enjoyed a wonderful Italian dinner (is there anything else!!!), stimulating conversation and most of all, great fellowship with believers of like faith.  The fragrances of Spring were all over that house and seemed to emanate from every word they spoke.  It was just what we needed!

Carol is a first cousin to my wife and along with her husband Danny are just plain great people!  Although they have been through a lot in life, they continue to move on and reach out to others all around them.  Danny has been deeply involved with AA for probably a couple of decades.  The program literally saved his life many years ago and he has dedicated his second chance to help others looking for help through AA.  During one of our many different conversations, I mentioned about how many lives that he has positively influenced through the years.  Danny’s response turned a light on in me and I thought that I would share his revelation with you.

He began by reminding us of his past training and work as a diesel mechanic.  While working for one large trucking firm, part of his responsibilities included emergency roadside service.  He related how seriously he took his job.  He said that he always followed the personal rule of thumb, that if he felt that it was not safe for him to drive, then no one would drive it.  If he did all he could and still deemed it as potentially unsafe, he would “red tag” the vehicle.  His next comment is what stirred me.  He said that this was the same rule that he used when sponsoring others in AA.  He purposed to live his life and always act in a manner that after doing all that he could in assisting others in straitening out their lives, that he would not be “red tagged” as an “unsafe” influence.

That thought of having that “red tag” attached to me has vividly stayed with me over the last couple of days.  It got me to thinking about all the things that I do in public as well as in private.  Are there areas of my life that could make me “unsafe” to others?  I thought about my wife, my kids, my grandkids, our church congregation, other family members, friends and acquaintances.  When you stop and look at it, each of us has the potential to influence many, many people!

I want to assure that my influences are as positive and encouraging to others as I can make them to be.  How about you?  It goes back to what we talked about last week concerning our ability to become more outside of ourselves focused!  Sometimes it takes us to imagine looking at ourselves through the eyes of someone else!  What do they see? 

The Apostle Paul talked about running his life race with clear goals before him, and that he toughened his body so that he would “not be disqualified after I spread the Good News to others.” (I Corinthians 9:26-27 Good News ©)  He was very aware of his reflection on others and so should we.  Each of us was created special in His eyes with particular gifts and talents.  Are you using those abilities for Him in blessing others?  I would encourage you to take a serious look at your life, work to straighten out the crooked paths and fire up the personal integrity so as to not find yourself wearing the dreaded “red tag!”   Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Twilight Zone

As we move into the workings of another week in our lives, I have a thought that I’d like you to consider… On Friday afternoon we received a rather negative report from my wife’s physician, and while it was not totally unexpected, it still had the potential to shake me up.  Have you ever had something like that happen to you?  I was a little surprised when the roller coaster emotions and stress of the whole ordeal never materialized.  I’m mean, we’ve been standing in faith, but we’re only human and the feelings are still a natural reaction right? 

What I experienced was almost a sense of relief as I gathered my thoughts on Friday night.  It was kind of like the pressure to see if the medical route would work or not was over and there was “nothing left” but the promises in God’s Word.  “Nothing left” in the sense that all other distractions were behind us and now we could clearly focus on what we knew to be the real answer from the very beginning.

The final clarification came as we were watching a video about Moses in our Children’s Church class on Sunday morning!  The animated movie told the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt.  When it got to the part when they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching forces of the Pharaoh’s army, the screen sort off disappeared before me and I began to see my wife and myself standing in a desert. 

We seemed to be in the middle of nowhere with what appeared to be God’s army behind us and an enemy army approaching before us.  Suddenly I observed a line being drawn in the sand and a voice said “The line has been drawn and the challenge has been made… It is man’s word against God’s word… It is No Hope verses Great Expectations!”

Now, you got to remember that I’m in the middle of teaching a class here!  Thank the Lord that the movie was on because I found myself getting quite excited about this "Twilight Zone" experience!  I knew right then why I didn’t fall apart with the doctor’s report.  I knew why the natural reactions did not take over.  It was because I had put my trust in the Lord and His Word and that the reports of man had no bearing on what I knew to be the truth!  When push came to shove, it is was a “no brainer!”  Man’s word has no power over the power and ability of God and His promises.  Yes the line is drawn and the challenge has been made, but my decision still stays the same.  My answer is summed up beautifully in IJohn 4:4 where it says that we “are of God little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”  (King James Version)

We have already overcome that approaching enemy.  The victory, the healing, is already ours. That is exactly what we are expecting!  How about you?  Are you at that same level of confidence with all the things that you face this week, this month… in this life?  When I refocused my sights on the screen before me in the class yesterday, the Red Sea split, the Israelites went through safely and the Pharaoh’s army drowned.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 God’s Word ©) He did it for them, He’s doing it for my wife and I, and He’ll do it for you!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Fragrances of Spring

As my wife and I were walking through our community of cluster homes this morning, we were starstruck by all the trees showing off their beautiful spring colors.  We were especially captivated by a little lane that was lined with sections of freshly cut lawn with a variety of colorful trimmed shrubs, all framed by flowering plum trees which were fully engulfed in soft white blossoms.  The sight was so overwhelming that I told my wife that we had to return home so that I could record the memory with my camera.

Something else that abounds this time of year are the fragrances that drift through the air as the flowers take center stage around us.  Each of these unique scents can take on special meanings to us as we reminisce about the places we’ve been, and the people we have been with, when we passed by those specific aromas emanating from the flowering plants.

I read a scripture today in 2 Corinthians 2:16 that says we, like the blossoms lining our paths, can be a sweet or even a “life-giving fragrance” (Gods Word ©) to people around us.  Think about that for a moment.  Your life can be a fragrant blessing to someone else.  According to our verse, your life could also help bring new life or great encouragement to someone in desperate need.

With that thought in mind, take a look at how you are living your life.  Like I mentioned yesterday, are you so inwardly minded that you can’t be of any service to someone else, or are you living in the peace that only God can give and thereby sharing Him with those you come in contact with? 

This weekend, allow yourself to be a sweet fragrance of Him to another individual.  Your actions may be the very stimulus that someone needs to push them over the obstacles of defeat into the arena of victory.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


PS:  Please leave me a comment informing us of your "fragrant" encounters with others this weekend!