Archives For Attitude

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

storm

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Of course, He cares. But even better than that, He knows!

Jesus knew the storm was  coming when He commanded the disciples to cross over to the other side. He even knew the storm was upon them during His nap.

It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.

You know you’re in a storm when it’s all you can think about. It’s on your mind so heavy you toss and turn on your bed at night.

However, I want you to know that Jesus can be calmly trusted in the middle of trouble.

He knew they were destined for the other side, and He knows how to write your story also.

He knew they would arrive, and He knew they would arrive different men than when they launched out from the other side.

The kind of differences only a storm can bring.

It is not that Jesus is not around; He is there all the time.

You may not understand His timing or the way He chooses to answer but please understand Jesus is sovereign over all forces and that’s enough.

Jesus can calm the inward and outward storms of your life. He will get you to the other side.

Psalm 89:8-9 (NIV) 8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

Choose Image_0

I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.

Whisper

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now. Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here. Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.” A. W. Tozer

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now.”

That’s correct. You serve a ‘now’ God.  God can move in your life at this present time or moment. Take a breath and then Whisper to your soul, “God is closer than the air I just breathed.” I challenge you today to be mindful of Gods presence in your life. He doesn’t just drop in for a visit. God lives inside of you if you are a Christ follower. You are submerged in the unconditional perfect love of the God of the ‘now.’ The future can’t be experienced, and the past is consumed in the annuals of time.  You only have this moment and God has you in this moment. Whisper to your soul, The ‘now’ God is completely loving me right now!

“Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here.”

The scriptures declare that God is the great “I Am.” You don’t have to  look back at a past event God has performed for His glory and wonder if He can do a great miracle where you are in the present. If God can do a miracle anywhere, He can do it where you are.  He is not the “I was” or the “I might be.”  He is the “I Am.” Whisper to your soul, “God is here.”

“Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.”

You are His child. He loves and cares for you. Be awake to what he wants to do for you in order to bring Him glory. Be awake to the fact that it’s not about you in the first place. Life is about bringing God glory. You have been chosen to bring Him glory, and therefore, He will do for you in order to make much of Him. You are a branch attached to Jesus, the source of life. He is the vine, and we are just branches that produce fruit for His glory. Whisper to your soul, “He will do for me and through me what best brings Him glory.”

May this day be the great day you have hoped for! Whisper to your soul, “Let it be.”

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

carrying-sheep

1 Samuel 16:11
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Experiencing the pain of being overlooked touches each of us from time to time and can be extremely difficult to carry. Being overlooked transcends age, gender, culture, rich and poor. The loneliest place to serve God is in the land of the overlooked.

I’ve often thought about David and what it must have been like to be around 15 years of age watching sheep day in and day out. I find myself asking questions of wonder. Did David ever feel loneliness living in the shadow of his older brothers? Did David drift away in his thinking while watching the sheep, thinking to himself, “Will I always be overlooked and stuck out here in the field smelling like sheep?” When David played games with his older brothers and the neighborhood kids, was he picked last? If Dave was anything like you and me, then the answer to those questions are an unqualified, “Yes.”

I remind you again; while David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Everyone wants to feel significant, that their life matters, that they have a place in this world. However, you must never forget that God looks not to you in order to give you significance; He looks toward you in order that your life will make great significance of Him to a lost and dying world.

Allow me to make a few statements of clarification at this point before we continue on. God never overlooks you, but God doesn’t look your way in order to make much of you; God looks your way in order to make much of Him. In other words, life is not about you and me ultimately.

Life is about God’s glory. When you come to realize that one simple point, then and only then can you truly be free to live as God has purposed. Otherwise you are trapped serving yourself first and God second.

I opened this devotion with the scripture of David being called from the field, where he stood before God and his brothers to receive the anointing as the future king. The older brothers were all passed over for this particular purpose. It was David God wanted to be king and not any one of them. That’s not to say they were overlooked because God never overlooks any of His children. It’s simply to say that God’s plan for their lives had a very different direction.

In 1 Samuel 16:12-13 we read, “12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

David went from being overlooked by the world around him to learn in a moment that God had not overlooked him at all. While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

As I close this devotion, I leave you with one last meditation. David received his call and found out he wasn’t overlooked; however he returned to taking care of the sheep until God directed him otherwise. Never forget, it was about 15 years between David’s anointing as king until he took the throne.

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

live-like-jesus

The latter part of the verse found in Luke 6:35 rocks my world and I think it will rock your world if you read it slow enough for it to read you. Jesus of course, if you will remember, is talking about loving your enemies.

Jesus is saying things like, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” He then goes on to take His grace and mercy to deeper extremes that often causes our flesh to cry out, “INSANITY!”

I can’t speak for you, but if I wrote those verses myself, it would have to read something like the following to make sense to me. I would write, “Crush your enemies, do the worst thing to them before they can do something bad to you, don’t pray for them that abuse you, they deserve what they have coming.” I think you get my point.

It’s deep in us to seek revenge on those who mistreat us, and to point the accusing finger at the unjust and evil people of the world. However, the latter part verse 35, found in Luke 6 deals the ultimate conviction to the soul.

Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, (THEN HERE IT IS) for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Yes, that is correct! You read that right. God is KIND to the ungrateful and the evil. Now that is love. That is God’s love, and it should be our love. If He can love like that, then He can still love like that through us if we submit to His control and leading.

Anyone can have a ‘invite a friend to church Sunday,’ but can you have a ‘invite an enemy to church Sunday?’ Now that would change the world- don’t ya think?

I know you can love the loveable, but can you love the unlovable, the ungrateful and the evil? God does and I’m convinced that you and I can also. It’s hard but not impossible.

I challenge you with the words of N.T. Wright,“Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it.

God has called us to be like Him and being like Him means you must love and seek to do good to the ungrateful and the evil. I bet if you do, you just might smell a little bit like Jesus.

Serving Jesus can’t be detached from serving others; otherwise you are not serving Him at all. Also, serving Jesus without serving your enemy is not serving Him at all also.

Peace

loneliestroad

Empty is the perfect starting place for God to do His work in your life. Let it begin. You are not forgotten, but you might have forgotten Him. You just might have something to recapture.

According to Wikipedia, In July 1986, Life magazine published an article that gave US 50 in Nevada the name “The Loneliest Road in America”. The article portrayed the highway, and rural Nevada, as a place devoid of civilization.

I can attest to the fact it is long, hot and lonely for sure. Years ago a friend and I took the route on our Harley’s as we were making our way from San Francisco to Florida. It wasn’t long until we needed some gas, but finding gas wasn’t easy at all. We started getting low on fuel and started looking well enough in advance for gas, but a gas station was nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t long until we were running on fumes. In order to conserve fuel, we slowed our speed  to only 25 miles per hours. Mile after mile went by and still no gas station in sight. It was looking bad, and all we could do was begin to imagine what it was going to be like stranded in the middle of nowhere-The Loneliest Road In America.

Finally, just when all hope was about gone, we saw a gas station a few miles ahead. I’ve never been so thankful for a gas station in my life! Normally, gas stations are on every corner, and you don’t even give them a passing thought. However, when you are on a remote road in the middle of nowhere, it recaptures proper value.

I often think there are times God allows us to run close to empty in order to RECAPTURE His proper value in our lives. We can get so use to Him that we don’t give Him the value He continually deserves.

We made it to the station. We filled our gas tanks. We smiled at each other and didn’t have to say a word. We both knew how valuable this gas station was to us.

Is your spiritual life running on empty? It might just be that God wants you to recaptures His proper value in your life. Take time today to allow Him to refuel your life and my prayer for you is that God Recaptures that very distinct place in your heart again.

holdingnose

N.T. Wright once said, “Moral reformation which leaves the heart untouched is about as useful as tying bunches of grapes on to a briar-bush.” I  totally agree with his assertion.

Adding more good things to your life in the effort to become holier than the next guy without heart transformation can only lead to more darkness. God is interested in our relationship with Him as the source of our light.

Often, someone trying to prove to God and others how good they are, end up becoming obnoxiously zealous with a spiritual stink.  You can never walk your way into a deeper relationship with God by moral reformation that is self-generated.

Moral reformation is birthed out of a surrendered relationship to the potter who alone can shape you into His own purpose. Any and all enduring reformation comes from time spent with God.

He is the vine, and we are the branches. We must allow the fruit to grow from the perfect source. We can’t grow our own fruit without Him, and we can’t offer our own fruit back to Him as something special.

Morality isn’t ultimately an individual thing for the Christ follower. Morality is found in the soil of a fierce relationship with the creator.

Do you have a spiritual stench?

A Beautiful Addiction

March 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

God Smile

Pastor Rick Warren once said, “The smile of God is the goal of your life.” It’s been years since I read that, but I see it fresh today. I must also acknowledge, it read me today as well. It is one single sentence, but it is packed with beauty.

Think about that sentence for just a few minutes and how it can be applied to your life. I warn you in advance that it will inspire you and convict you to be more aware that God is longing for you to bring a smile to His heart.

I plan this week to be acutely aware that God is watching me in every situation of my life. When I am around my family, God is watching to see if I will make Him smile. When I’m around complete strangers, God is watching to see if I will make Him Smile. When I’m around people that don’t like me, God is watching to see if I will make Him Smile.

When you actually think about it, if you and I make God smile we have fulfilled the law that Jesus summed up in two commands.

In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Then in verses 37 through 40, we read, “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I challenge you today. For one week make it your goal to get God to smile. Make getting God to smile the attention of your life.  I believe if you do, it will become a beautiful addiction.