Focus

Every day we wake up and have a choice.  What are we going to think about first.  What is our mindset going to be like for the day?

We are all human and have negative thoughts come in our mind all the time.  We have a choice if we are going to listen to our negative self talk or not.  What we feed our mind with absolutely affects our behavior and how we are going to act and speak.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”.

We are to gaze on Christ and try moment by moment to ask ourselves, “what would Jesus think about this” or “how does this look to Jesus”?

It re-focuses us on what’s important and what’s eternal.  It re-aligns our heart and gets us centered back to our walk with God.  We have to be intentional about it.  Our natural thoughts are to waver and go the opposite direction.  We have to pray and ask God for help moment by moment.  It’s a battle we all face!

I want to encourage you today to focus on Christ and his goodness.  Remember all that he has done for you in your life and believe by faith that he’s not done with you yet!

Waiting on the Lord

Nobody likes to wait…..on anything, anybody, anytime!

In our instant download culture we live in, we are conditioned to get it right here, right now.  So why is it that when God doesn’t give us what we are looking for, we begin to doubt?  Thats a fair question that we all battle with.

We begin to think that when we have to wait, the answer must be ‘No’.  Its easy to begin to think that way, after all we have not ‘seen’ anything happen.  We begin to make alternate plans since we are not seeing our prayer answered.

Could it be that God is doing a work in your heart while you are waiting?  Could it be that he is testing your faith in Him and his timing?  Maybe you are not ready for what He wants to do yet and He needs to purify you.  Purifying and changing someone from the inside out takes time.  There could be some motives he wants to purify, some heart issues that need to be worked out before he brings about his plan.  Seeking God in his Word, talking to him every day and spending time with those that are going after Jesus helps unfold his plan and his timing…….so we wait……. 

Lamentations 3:25-26 says “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord”

We serve a great God and He knows whats best for his children, just like a parent knows whats best for their son or daughter.  Its when we surrender to him our mindset and actions that we find true peace!

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Broken Seashells

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Recently our family took our annual summer beach vacation.  It’s been a tradition in our family for many years and we always look forward to it.

One thing I can count on and thats God to give me a reminder or a lesson that I need in my life at that exact time.  God is faithful and like a Father loves his children, God knows what we need and when we need it.

One day we were out on the beach enjoying the scorching July heat in Florida. You know what to expect in Florida in July and August….really hot!  It was a beautiful day and the water was calm and the waves were at a minimum.  I was walking in the shallow water looking for some nice shells to pickup.  Matthew, my 10 year old, was curious as to what I was doing.  So I told him I was picking up seashells.  He joined me for a few minutes and I explained to him what to look for. I told him that I look for the shells that are not broken or messed up.   We walked along the beach shoreline a little longer and I said it to him again.  “I only like to keep the shells that are whole and not broken.”  Instantly God reminded me how that sounded and what he thought of us.  It sounded so ugly coming out of my mouth and tying it into the lesson God wanted to teach me that day.

God reminded me our world we live in has a different expectation than he does. Culture embraces looking good on the outside and not displaying any kind of brokeness.  The exact opposite of what God values and loves!  God loves us and takes the brokeness in our lives and uses it to draw us near to him.  He loves taking flawed sinners like each one of us and takes delight in healing us and making us whole. Psalm 147:3 says “he heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”  God never throws us back into the ocean because we don’t look good.  He picks us up, broken and battered, loves us and reminds us that He sent his one and only Son, Jesus to die on the cross for us (John 3:16).

It was a short, quick lesson that would leave a permanent impression on me and how I felt about broken sea shells.  I thank God that he took a broken, messed up person like myself and made me whole in Christ.  He gave me a new life, a new identity, a different outlook on life.  God wants to do the same thing in your life today if you will let him!

 

 

 

Our Words

Words-Are-Powerful   I was reminded this morning how we use our words is important to God.  He says in Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

As followers of Christ, people are paying attention to what you say and how you say it.  Your reaction to when something goes wrong or unplanned often will spur words from our mouth that indicates how our heart condition is with God.  This scripture also challenges us that what we say is good and helpful to others.  Our words that we communicate should be used to encourage others in the lives.  Your words of hope may be the only ones they hear from someone that day.  What an awesome privilege!

Lord, help us choose our words carefully and be mindful to those who we are speaking to.  Use our mouths as an instrument for your glory and to build others up in their faith in you.

 

Joy

“Rejoice Always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

No matter what we are going through in our lives today, God reminds us to have Joy.  Joy that the world cannot give us, Joy that can only be found in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  He gives us a formula, a principle here in his Word.  Three things:  always have joy, to always pray and to give thanks no matter what your situation is.

In a world starving for Joy, God reminds us thats its ‘in’ us waiting to be tapped into.

Rejoice!!

 

Do you really Care?

This morning I got to take my 9 year old son, Matthew, fishing at Anna Maria Island at a place called the Rod and Reel.  It was a nice morning with a slight cool breeze blowing off the water.  It’s Spring Break 2016 so everyone and their brother, cousin and bestie was there fishing this one particular morning.  We rented a couple of fishing poles and bought 2 dozen shrimp that like to jump out of the bucket they gave us.

father-and-son-fishingWe walked around the back of the small older shack that sits on the water, only to find an empty bench where we would sit and fish for the next hour or so.  Matthew counted on me to bait his hook and position his pole in the water where he would catch the fish he was after that day.  After we sat down and got all settled in, I noticed that nobody was casting their lines out very far.  Instead, they were just dropping their lines right down in front of them trying to catch the fish that directly beneath them.  I got up and walked around to the place I had rented the poles looking for the guy who sold us the shrimp.  He was not around however there was a another guy doing some busy work in the same area.  I asked him, “Why isn’t anyone casting their lines out in the water, they are all dropping them straight down”?  He replied,”All the fish hide underneath the dock”. He told me to drop the line straight down and try to catch them that way.  After all, everyone else was fishing that way.

I went back to the bench and Matthew and I fished for the next hour or so and caught nothing.  I just enjoyed spending time with my son fishing.  Were we trying to catch something?  You bet!  So we kept throwing the lines over and over and over.  Now something caught my eye at about the had way point I neglected to mention.  Many of the people weren’t sitting on the bench anymore fishing, they were laying down on their stomachs, hanging over the edge of the dock and casting their rods underneath the dock.  You see, thats where the fish were!  I knew that, after all, the guy who works there had told me where to catch the fish.

I began to notice 4 or 5 people sitting around us lying down and fishing.  Here’s the funny thing, they began catching fish.  One by one, they reeled them in and celebrated catching a fish!  They weren’t big fish but that didn’t matter, after all they were catching something.  I was faced with a decision, do I make the sacrifice and lay down on my stomach to catch something or sit on my bench and hope for the best.

I wish I could give you a happy ending to the story.  I had a choice that morning.  I honestly didn’t want to get uncomfortable and lay down on the hard, wooden dock to fish.  I wanted to catch a fish, but not sacrifice myself to that point.  It felt as though the Lord was speaking to me and saying, “to follow me you will have to make some uncomfortable sacrifices in your life.”  It won’t be easy but will certainly be worth it.  The ones that chose to lay down and do the uncomfortable, were the ones who got the reward.

God reminds us all the same thing.  How bad do you really want it?  How much of a sacrifice are you willing me make for Christ?  I was challenged this day and reminded that to follow Christ, will require me to get uncomfortable sometimes.

The Reward is always greater than the sacrifice!

 

 

 

Jesus changes Lives

He is Risen

Its a great day to Celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It happened over 2,000 years ago but is still changing lives today.  People have tried to kill it, oppose it, make it illegal and do just about anything to stop it, but the Gospel can’t be stopped.  It is still just as forceful, powerful and real.  People’s lives all over the world are being transformed and set free from addictions and old ways of living.  God is Good!!!

Closer

CloserWhen God allows us to go through seasons that aren’t particularly pleasant…we always wonder why.  Searching, reasoning, forecasting our future, talking it out with a best friend..still we are not sure. Rest assured God is in control and wants to help you through seasons of wilderness that may seem to last for an eternity.

 Here are 3 tools that have always helped me push through times like these:

1.  Prayer– talking to our Heavenly Father first about the concerns of our heart is our first step .  We need to “get it all out” with him first before going to anyone else.  True confession and crying out to Him will begin to align our heart with the heart of God.

But in my distress I cried out to the lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.  Psalm 18:6 (NLT)

2. People – spending time with friends face to face does good for the soul.   God puts friends in our lives to encourage us and give us hope to see our situation through a different set of eyes.   In a culture that bends our perception of friendship as a ‘friend’ on Facebook, a ‘favorite on Twitter, or a ‘like’ on Instagram, we need more than that.  God uses others to give us Victory over our struggles.

 “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.”  Proverbs 27:9 

3.  Scripture –  reading the promises of God that he has for you will change the way you are viewing your current situation.  When we fill our minds and souls with God’s truth, it gives us an eternal perspective of our lives.  God’s Word gives us hope that what we are walking through now has a “reason and a purpose” in it.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8

God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life.  The season in your life will not last forever, no season ever does.  Allow God to shape you and mold you into the person he wants you to become!!

Grace

Grace It’s something we cannot possibly earn and certainly don’t deserve.  If we all got what we deserved, it probably wouldn’t be pretty, at least in my case it wouldn’t.  Grace.  God’s Grace.  His undeserved favor in our lives.  Grace is a word that’s thrown around in culture but rarely unpacked.  We have a ‘grace’ period in paying our monthly mortgage payment.  We say ‘grace’ over our food.  When we look into our lives and see what Jesus has done, we start to remember his grace in a whole new way.  We fall into a state of thanksgiving and humble thoughts about who and what God has rescued us from.  We remember what we used to be, a wretch, who said yes to a God who wants to teach us his grace the rest of our lives. This Holiday season allow God to use you to be a ‘grace giver’.  Allow him to use you to be a ‘dispenser’ of his grace.  His awesome, powerful, life changing grace.  Offer it to those who certainly don’t deserve it, from the world’s viewpoint, and it will glow even brighter.  It will take an intentional effort on your part & will more than likely take you by surprise.  You will find yourself right in the middle of the moment where you get to be a ‘grace dispenser’.  Will you ignore the opportunity or allow the Holy Spirit to work through you?  You get to decide in the freewill God gives you. Watch God use you this season to be a ‘grace giver’ and a ‘dispenser’ of his grace.  It will bless the person receiving the grace and bless the giver also. His Grace is Amazing……