It’s only temporary!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Times are tough! We see economic crisis all around us. We hear of wars and rumors of war. Families are falling apart. Kids are shooting other kids at schools. It seems our world is spinning out of control. But listen my friends, I have some good news, God is still on His throne and Jesus is coming again, so these things are just temporary.

I have friends who have to deal with family members who have cancer, in fact, just this last week another friend past into the arms of Jesus. It is hard for us to understand what we can’t see. As a result, we become discouraged, bitter and alone. God understands where you are. He sent his “only begotten son” to a world He created to die on a tree he created to be our savior.

The apostle Paul encourages us not to lose heart. We see these things happening and that’s where we end up…losing heart…we waste away outwardly because we can’t seem to bear what is happening to us or those we love. Paul reminds us of what the writer of Lamentations said, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

You may be facing some crisis in your life right now, you may be thinking, does God even care. Let me assure you, yes He does. The things you are experiencing right now may appear too hard (and I am sure they are) but they are only temporary. With each new day, God will renew your strength. These things are “achieving for us an eternal glory that for outweighs them all.” So in this momentary time of trouble and discouragement, fix your eyes on Jesus and not on your problems. Believe me, I know this can be hard, but trust Him for strength to carry on and He will. That’s my point for today.

“Nip it in the bud!”

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NIV

You may remember the Andy Griffith Show.  Andy was the town sheriff and Barney was his goofy deputy.  There were times when Barney would see something going a little beyond the law and he would remind Andy that he needed to “nip it in the bud!”  Meaning that he should step in before a situation grew out of control.

In the verse above, the apostle Paul is basically saying the same thing.  Let’s consider what is being said here.  First, let me give you a quick difintion of temptation.  It is a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.  Adam and Eve were faced with a temptation in the garden.  They choose to do something wrong and unwise.  Satan laid a trap and they fell for it.  Has that ever happened to you?  If you’re breathing it has.  Temptations come from many places and can catch you and me off guard.  So how do we “nip it in the bud?”

When we are tempted we need to look for the “exit” so that we are not overcome and fall into sin.  If it depended on us, we would never get out but “God is faithful and will with the temptation make a way of escape.  In the book of James we find these words, ‬‬“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
(‭‭James‬ ‭1:13-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬). It is when we yeld to the temptation that leads to sin and sin leads to death or seperation from God.

What if we fail to nip it in the bud and fall headlong into sin?  Remember, we have Jesus who was in “all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 5:15 KJV). We need his forgiveness and strength in order to find the way out.  Trust Him who is faithful to show it to you.

So, when you find yourself (this goes for me, too) with temptation knocking at your the door of your heart, find the way to escape and “nip it in the bud!”  That’s my point for today.

Copy Cat!

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

I remember as a kid irritating my brother by copying what he said.  It was all fun and games until he got mad and hit me.  Then I realized that when he copied me, I got mad too.  I am impressed by some who can imitate several different people.  They sound just like the person they are copying.  One of the best impressionist of all time was Rich Little, “the man of a thousand voices.”

The apostle Paul is telling the Ephesians that they needed to be imitators, not of each other but of God.  Can you imagine that?  How can we be imitators of God?  Read the next couple of paragraphs and see what I’ve discovered in this verse.

First, we need to realize that when we accept Jesus as our savior, we become children of God.  Some say that every person is a child of God and in the fact that God is the creator of all things I guess we are.  But we are separated from Him because of sin in our lives.  Through Jesus we receive forgiveness of our sin and we are brought back into right relations with the Father (this is reconciliation).  Just like I look a little like my parents, we should take on the characteristics of God.  According to 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love“, therefore we love others more than we love our self.

Secondly, our example of living a life of love is Jesus.  During the earthly ministry of Jesus, he showed compassion and love to those around Him.  We, too, should show that kind of sacrificial love for others.  Here’s what I’ve found out…sometimes that is hard to do.  So how to I overcome that?  I have to become more like Jesus by spending time in the Bible and in prayer.  When we do that, we begin to take on His personality.  People will begin to see Jesus in you and in me.

So basically, Paul is saying, “It’s ok to be a copy cat of God as we live out our lives like Jesus did…giving himself out of love for others.”  Now go out there and do your best to act like Jesus.  That’s my point for today.

Planning your next step

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 HCSB)

I like the book of Proverbs.  Here you can find short and sweet statements that help you through your day.  Like the verse above.  You may be one of those people who grab your calendar the first day of the new year and begin to fill it with all kinds of plans.  Me, not so much.  Oh, those federal holidays are marked out for me and occasionally I will add a birthday or two but most of the time it’s one day at a time, “Que Sera, Sera”.

We look to the future with exciting plans and ideas that will brighten our days ahead, but the second half of the verse is what we need to consider, “But the LORD determines his (our) steps.”  If we believe that God is sovereign then we must trust that He is in control of all that happens.  Remember what the apostle Paul wrote, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 HCSB)

Yes we set our plans in motion and when they are planned and done in God’s will, they prosper.  But sometimes its the in-between steps that are the hardest.  God may take our plans and route us through the hot desert or through the valley green or up the steep mountain just so we will end up where He wants us to be. The thing that you and I need to do is to trust that He is still in control.  Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34 NIV)

The thing I need to do is put Jesus first in my planning (even if it is day by day planning) and leave the results to him.  I will trust Him step by step.  That’s my point for today.

Being Content

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

We live in a world of discontent.  It seems that no one is satisfied with what they have.  My dad often said, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”  There is nothing wrong with being rich (which may be a matter of perspective).  Also, there is nothing wrong with the poor wanting to better themselves so that can have more.  God has given us the ability to work so that we can improve our status in life.

As I looked at “POWERBALL” today, the total winning would be half a billion dollars ($550 million).  For many that sounds like an easy way to go from being poor to being rich.  I heard someone say that statistically you have a better chance of finding the winning ticket on the sidewalk than buying it.  Yet some would say, “someone’s going to win it why not me?”  But the verse above doesn’t tell us not to gamble but to keep our lives free from the love of money.

Jesus says, ““No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” (Matthew 6:24 HCSB)  You see it’s the love (strong desire) of getting rich and having more and more stuff that allures us away from following God.  As Christians, we “should keep our lives free from the love of money.”

So if we are free from the love of money, where does that leave us?  Being content with what we have.  This is the hard part because the world around us says, “Keep up with the Jones” (whoever they are).  God wants us to rely on him for our needs.  He is the one who promised that he would never leave us or forsake us.  That doesn’t say that we shouldn’t work to get more.  But how much more is enough?  Is the accumulation of things claiming all of your attention and what money you do have?  Is getting rich quick the answer to your problems?  Don’t get me wrong, this is not an anti-gambling post but it is about being content.  Don’t let the world dictate what you need to have to be rich in the Lord.  Trust God for your daily supply and plan for the future.

One last thing to remember, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” (1 Timothy 6:8-10 HCSB)  Don’t fall for the “get rich quick” schemes of the world but be content with what you have.  That’s my point for today.

Something New

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”  2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV‬

Today, as I write this, is the last day of 2017.  At midnight tonight it will become 2018.  It boggles my mind just how that works.  The verse of the day from the Bible app YOUVERSION speaks of something old becoming something new.  That boggles my mind too but lets take a look at this verse.

First, what does it mean to be in Christ?  Here’s what I think it means…I (or anyone) have come to the place in my life when I realize that I am a sinner and I need a savior.  That savior is Jesus the Christ.  So by receiving him into my heart (life) I become his and he is mine.  We abide (dwell) together to do what is right in the sight of God.

As Jesus comes into my life, he begins to clean out the dross and sin that I am prone to cling to.  I become a “new” person in Christ.  As a new person, I begin to bear the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  My attitude and desires begin to change and become like Jesus’ attitude which was to become a servant.

So as a new person (creation) the old stuff in my life has been done away with.  I have a heavenly home that is waiting for me when I leave this life and pass into eternity.  This new life should be different from what it was before.  Yet, there are times when bad thoughts or desires come into my life, what happens then?  I have an advocate with the Father who intercedes on my behalf.  He also sends the Holy Spirit to be my helper in times of temptation.

As we enter this new year,  remember, in Christ you and I are made new through what Jesus did for us.  If you have not received Him, Jesus, as your savior, ask him to forgive you of your sins and invite Him into you heart.  He loves you and gave himself for your salvation.  That’s my point for today.  More next year!