Tag Archives: Bible

The Key To Everything

Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of history.

Poetic, isn’t it? The quote above, in part, is from a German theologian.  After writing more than 17,000 pages on the Bible and Christ these are his concluding thoughts.

The key to everything is Jesus Christ.  If you leave him out the box remains locked, the mystery still a mystery, the reason for our existence still uncertain.

Jesus himself told the religious leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” That’s either the most arrogant thing ever said or the most profound truth ever revealed.

Your response to Christ is the most important decision you will ever make.

Years ago I spent some time with the great Major Ian Thomas.  He was a wonderful man of God, crusty to be sure, but he loved the Lord.  Once, before he spoke, I made the mistake of asking him, “What are you going to talk about tonight?”

He replied, with a bit of irritation, “I’m going to talk about Jesus, what else is there to talk about?”

And he’s right.

In the last book of the bible these words begin the text, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.”  In five words we get a hint to the theme of this last book, to the entire bible, and in this book revelations about Jesus are in nearly every chapter.  It’s about him.  He’s the key to everything!

Without Christ, without knowing him, life remains a mystery. Without him we have no purpose, no meaning, no reason for being.

Jesus Christ is the key to everything. Do you know him?

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Quiet Time

Quiet time

I think our culture needs a time out….a quiet time out.  This morning, EARLY this morning, I’m reading,  praying, thinking…and in my ears is noise all around.

The neighbors next door fighting,

the neighbors behind me hollering at their kids,

dogs barking in response,

airplanes flying overhead,

will you all please be quiet!

Silence is something our world does not like.  We are a world of noise…noise 24/7.  Noise to keep the silence away.  There are few places where we can go to find a place without the noise of our world….because in the silence we have to deal with ourselves, we have to deal with God, we have to deal with the things we have done and so we turn up the noise.

It’s interesting that in the bible quietness and peace with God are spoken of together.  Noise and sin are partners as well.  It seems that quiet is the posture of peace, of a right relationship with God…it’s comfortable when peace with God is a reality.  But when we haven’t resolved our relationship with God, when there is no peace with God we keep the volume turned up so we don’t have to deal with him.

Isaiah wrote, “The Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.””

In Psalms God said to David, “Hush, be quiet and know that I am God.”

As I listen to the noise all around me, volumes increasing as the sun rises, I am thankful for the peace, the quiet of a relationship with God that gives me calm in the storm of noise swirling all around.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Do Not Fear

do not fearDo you know how many times in God tells us to ‘fear not’, ‘do not fear’ or ‘do not be afraid’? I don’t either.

It has been said that there are 365 ‘fear not’s in the Bible, one for everyday of the year. Others have searched and found only 100. Whatever, the number, it is a powerful promise from God…even if it appeared only once, it still stands as an AWESOME comfort for us.

Here are some of my favorite ‘do not fear’ and ‘do not be afraid’ verses from Genesis to Revelation:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” – Genesis 15:1

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” – Genesis 26:24

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. – Genesis 46:3

And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” – Exodus 20:20

Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ – Deuteronomy 1:21

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” – Joshua 10:25

Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” – Judges 6:23

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. – Ruth 3:11

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. – 1 Samuel 12:20

So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:4

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” – Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. – Isaiah 54:4

“But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid. – Jeremiah 46:27

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. – Daniel 10:12

Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler. – Jeremiah 51:46

‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ – Haggai 2:5

So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. – Zechariah 8:15

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:20

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. – Matthew 10:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. – Matthew 28:5

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. – Luke 1:13

But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:3

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. – Luke 2:10

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. – Luke 12:4

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” – John 12:15

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear ; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:14

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. – Revelation 1:17

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10

Equipping Ministries

We hope you will find great encouragement, wisdom, and support from the following web sites.  If you have any suggestions for others sites that should be listed here, please email us.

 

hanegraaff

CRI – The Bible Answer Man

 

Hank Hannagraff is the host of the nationally syndicated Bible Answer Man radio broadcast, heard daily across the U.S. and Canada or online at www.equip.org. Visit the CRI site to catch up on broadcasts were he answers questions to equip Christians to be so familiar with truth that when approached by counterfeits, they recognize them instantaneously. You can call in your questions at 1-800-ASK-HANK and listen for thoughtful, biblically sound response.

 

ravi_zachariasRZIM

Visit Ravi Zacharias at RZIM as he and his team work tirelessly to reach and challenge those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Distinctive in its strong evangelistic and apologetic foundation, the ministry of RZIM is intended to touch both the heart and the intellect of the thinkers and influencers of society through the support of the visionary leadership of Ravi Zacharias.

 

 

The Way of the Master

According the their website, 150,000 people die every 24 hours—most without the Savior. Statistics show that as few as 5% of Christians reach out to the lost because many don’t feel equipped. Their ministry’s sole purpose is to inspire and equip Christians—to teach them how to share the gospel simply, effectively, biblically . . . the way Jesus did.

 

 

pluggedinFocus On The Family’s PluggedIn online is a great family, friendly site to get the latest on movie, tv shows, song, and game reviews. These reviews will help you decide what movies, programs, music, and entertainment are right for you & your family. Check out their site and download the app to your mobile device and always be equipped!

 

Visit them now and get equipped!

 

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Never Alone

My heart is amazed at just how big this world is and how technology can keep us in touch with those who have moved away from us.  But sometimes, my heart is even more amazed at just how alone we can feel even though people are close to us physically as well as through technology. 

We often feel alone when:

  • The pain in the night is unbearable
  • The silence is deafening
  • Friends should rejoice with us but are envious
  • Family squabbles become bitter feuds
  • The darkness engulfs us
  • The well deserved promotion is shot down by assumptions
  • No one understands
  • Everyone says they understand but act as if they could care less
  • We’ve tried a million times but continue to feel like a failure
  • We’ve asked for forgiveness but there is no hope of receiving it
  • Good news is overshadowed by great hurt

You’ve probably been there and felt as if your prayers were going no further than the ceiling.  Let me remind you that not only does your Heavenly Father hear those cries, they matter to Him.  He hears you and cares about what your heart is feeling.

The time you feel completely alone is when you typically withdraw and close your heart off to the world.  Worse than that, you close your Bible and think; I don’t even know what to pray, so why bother and you let isolation MOVE YOU from your Father’s side.

God never moves from us.  We move from Him.  But, even when we stray, move or completely ignore Him…we are never alone.

What verses do you wrap yourself in when you feel completely alone?

Please leave them below and encourage those that are feeling completely alone.

 

I Know You’re There

2 Chronicles 13:12
And, behold, God himself is with us 

2 Chronicles 32:8
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.

 

 

You’re Not alone

 

 

Deut 31:6  Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

God With Us

 

 

Lamentations 3:24-25 

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

 

His Blessings

Recently, we have come to realize just how much the Lord has blessed us. This, of course, rouses the curiosity about how many verses there are in the Bible about His blessings.

Here’s just the beginning…

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3
  • Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2
  • Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. Psalm 1:1
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt 5:9
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matt 5:7
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:8
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matt 5:6
  • Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed are those who heed wisdom’s instruction.  Prov 29:18
  • Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20
  • Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Rev 1:3
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matt 5:5
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matt 5:10
  • “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matt 5:11
  • Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:10
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Psalm 32:1
  • Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29
  • Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  Rev 20:6
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matt 5:4
  • “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” Jer 17:7
  • When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed are those who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15
  • Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33:12
  • Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Psalm 119:1
  • Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. Prov 3:13
  • But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matt 13:16
  • “Blessed are those whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Rom 4:8
  • Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 10:23
  • Those who give heed to instruction prosper, and blessed are those who trust in the LORD. Prov 16:20
  • Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21
  • It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed are those who are kind to the needy. Prov 14:21
  • “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Luke 7:23

 

There are so many more. We are richly blessed by our heavenly Father. In turn, we are so blessed to be a blessing to others!

Insights Into The Heart Of God

 

It happened more than 40 years ago.  I was at university, sitting on a bench on campus talking to God.  I wanted more, wanted to understand God’s love.  I prayed, “Lord, let me see people the way you do.”  In a moment a friend, Evelyn, walked by.  We didn’t exchange a word, but my heart began to break as I saw how much God loved her.  I began to weep with the weight of God’s love for her.  It was more than I could bear, more than I could imagine.  It was too much and I prayed, “Lord, stop, I can’t take any more.”

I think of that moment often.  It was a life changing moment for me to see others the way God sees them.  His love for us is more than we can understand, more than we can bear, it’s wonderfully overwhelming.  I could only see a small glimpse into his love and it broke me, it changed me.  I think of that park bench and Evelyn often and remember the sense of God’s love for her and for others as they walked by.

But only recently did I get the full meaning of that moment more than 40 years ago (yes, I’m slow). During this time of sabbatical it suddenly struck me that God loves me the same way he loves Evelyn!  I don’t know why I never put those pieces together, but I didn’t.  I suddenly realized a message meant for me more than 40 years ago finally got through- God loves me!

Yes, yes…I know all about that from the bible.  I know God loves me, but to really know it, to really understand how he feels about me, the emotion of it…even if it’s just a glimpse….has changed my walk with him.  It’s a shame that it took 40 years for me to “get it”.

There’s no way to describe the depth of this love of the Father, this overwhelming love he has for us.  There’s no words for it other than what we can see in the cross.  The cross tells us all we can bear about the love of God.  God loves us so much that he gave the eternal son to redeem us, to make us his children.  This love isn’t just actions, but it’s rich with emotions.  It’s a love with a depth we could never fully understand.  It’s a love that is overwhelmingly wonderful.

God loves you, he loves me, he loves Evelyn more than you could possibly imagine.  It’s this love that has made it possible for us to be his children.  A love wonderfully beyond words.  A love so grand that the cross is only a glimpse of how glorious it is.  A love that would overwhelm you…..a love for you that is more than you could bear or even imagine.

God loves you.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

It’s All About Him!

Romans 11:36 ~ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

This amazing verse comes at the end of a difficult treatise by Paul about his people, the Jews.

The question unasked in Romans, that Paul now answers in chapters 9-11, is this- what about the Jews? What is God’s plan for them. Many are still trying to understand all that Paul wrote in these three chapters, but this verse we are looking at today is his conclusion.

From him– God is the source of all things. They all come from him. He made everything. That’s a clear declaration of scripture from beginning to end. Why? He will explain that at the end of the verse, but core to understanding all that exists is this source question- where did all of this come from? God declares clearly, “It all came from me. I made everything that is.” Even science agrees with God on this. The word science uses to describe this “from Him” idea is a term science calls biogenesis. It means that living things come only from other living things. This is a scientific principle that agrees with the declaration of scripture. Life made life. The life that is the source of all life is God himself.

Through him– Not only is God the source of all things he is also the sustainer of everything. One of the things science cannot explain is life itself. Where did it come from? How did life start? What is life? What the bible declares is that God not only gave life to all things, but even holds them all together and sustains everything that is. He keeps it all going, every cell, every life, every breath. (Col. 1:15-18)

To him– And, finally, he is the one all things return to. Life came from him and returns to him. Source, sustainer and finally culmination of all things.

Why? Why has he set it up this way? I love the last part of this short verse, so that “To Himbe the glory forever.” Why did he do it this way? So he would be glorified, worshiped and praised. All that is comes from him, is held together by him and will return to him so that he will be glorified and praised. That’s the right response to all he is and all he has done.

It is, in fact, all about him. Man’s response? In our world today, as Paul describes in Romans 1, is to deny the creator and credit the creation with its own inception, but there is no question in scripture that at the heart of everything is God himself. It is, in fact, all about him! Amen!

Visit Mike at FinishingWell.

My Hope Is In The LORD!

At Your Feet…   

As a Child of the King, we don’t have to face fears, failures and an uncertain future alone.  Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the day to day living that we forget to look to our All Knowing, Always Caring Heavenly Father.  When we come to sit at HIS feet and simply adore Him, may I ask that we place some things at His feet and leave them there.
We can leave these things at the feet of our Lord and KNOW that “it’s” going to be okay.
  • Fear, finances, failure, an uncertain future, despair.
  • Our Children, parents, lost loved ones, and those closest to us that have yet to trust in Christ
  • Dreams, desires, hopes, employment (or lack thereof) health and other issues
The Bible asks us: Is anything too hard for the Lord?  Genesis 18:14  Jeremiah 32:27  Jeremiah 32:17
Come praise the hurt away.

 

My hope is in YOU Lord.  

We dream big dreams, and hope that God will bless.  We reach rock bottom and hope that God will carry us the rest of the way.  We HOPE in the Lord…the One that hung the moon and sun in place, the One that created all that we know simply by speaking.
Where is your hope?
There are 53 verses on Hope in God available at Biblegateway.com.

 

Lord, I’m amazed by you!

Everyday God is amazing.  Everyday HIS mercies are renewed. Every single day I have to say, Lord…I’m amazed by YOU.

A Little Word And A Big GOD

One of the most amazing chapters in the bible is Daniel 11. It stands out because of its content. In this chapter of 45 verses you will find one little word repeated more than 116 times! Here’s how the chapter is set up-

The angel Gabriel appears to Daniel near the end of the book and near the end of his life. In this encounter, planned by God, Gabriel tells Daniel, “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” In the 45 verses to follow Gabriel unfolds the entire end-time history of the world. A history we are living in right now.

What caught my attention as I read was one little word. A word repeated more than 116 times in this one chapter. It’s this word- will. This king will do this, that king will arise and do that…. On and on, more than twice a verse, the word will is used by Gabriel to talk about future days. There is a certainty to the word “will”. It’s not “might” or “maybe”, but it’s “will”. These events told more than 3,000 years ago will happen.

It caught my attention that this little word of just four letters tells me something very important about God- He is in charge of the events of our history. He’s unfolding a plan to save men and women and glorify himself. All of history will unfold as he describes it through Gabriel. That does at least two things for me. It gives me peace that God is in control when it feels like everything is out of control. And, it gives me confidence that God has a plan he is moving the events of history towards. We are seeing the unfolding of God’s grand plan to save mankind and glorify his name.

All of this could cause me to be a fatalist, but in reality it brings me great peace that as I see what seems to be a world out of control I’m really seeing the unfolding of God’s grand plan with everything completely in control…HIS control.

This morning I’m blessed by a little word and a big God.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Know That I Am God

I woke in the night last night with this verse my first thought, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

It’s a much quoted verse, but I think we miss so much that it’s trying to say. May I rewrite it in Mike’s paraphrase?

“Hush, be quiet, stop, rest, don’t move….just pause for a moment and know that I am God.

That I am God over your joys and over your sorrows.

That I am God when you are at peace and when you are afraid.

That I am God when your health is good and even when it isn’t.

That I am God when you have food and when you are hungry.

That I am God when there is abundance and when there is nothing.

That I am God when you have a job and when you don’t.

That I am God when you have hope and even when you are in despair.

That I am God over everything.”

The one theme I see throughout the bible is this very important truth- The Lord is God, He is Lord of everything, both good and bad, both smiles and tears.

He’s Lord and you can trust him, he’s got it all under control. So, be still, rest, relax, let down your frown, exhale, stop worrying, stop trying, stop everything and rest in the Lord who simply wants you to know that HE is LORD.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 29:10. In this short verse is a very important truth. Here it is, “The Lord sat as king at the flood, the Lord sits as king forever.” At the worse time in human history God was seated on the throne fully in charge. At the worse time in your life God is seated on his throne fully in charge of your life. Relax, he’s got it. Stop, cease, be still. The God of the universe loves you and is Lord of your everythings. Trust him. “Be still and know that HE is God.”

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

A New Year

A new year.

A fresh start.

Hope for better things.

Desire for change.

It was just another day. It wasn’t anything special in the grand scheme of things, but we have made calendars so for us it was the start of something new. Another year, a new beginning, fresh hopes. Maybe this year…..

A new year is a wonderful opportunity to make a new list of priorities for our lives. It’s often the case that as a year moves through its seasons we forget what is most important and find ourselves busy with the small urgencies of life. Let me suggest, let me encourage you to make a short list of what is most important to you this year, no more that 5 things, and make those things the filters through which you use your 365 days of the year ahead.

Here are a few suggestions- Pursue a relationship with God, read a book each month about something that will encourage or inspire you, commit to reading the bible each day this year, take time each day to dream, write a journal, write a book, do something fun each week, develop a new hobby or interest, learn something new, intentionally ask one person each week about their life (this could be a daily activity for many of us), and on the list goes. These are not necessarily resolutions, they are simply priorities. And yes, for some of you exercise is on the list isn’t it? But whatever you do with this new year do it intentionally. Don’t simply let the year fly by and not use every moment well for the glory of God.

Have a great year!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Blurred Vision

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

These words are from Paul’s pen in 1 Corinthians 13. He’s writing to describe our vision problem. You see we all see poorly when it comes to the things of God and the reality of what is going on around us. We all find ourselves near-sighted. The things of God and the truths about our world are fuzzy at best. With our vision problems we often can only see shadows and shapes.

There is a desire to see clearly, but our vision problems will only be resolved at last when we see the Lord face to face. In the meantime we have to use glasses. We have to have help to see. In our world we all know what glasses look like. They are used to correct our vision problems.

In spiritual things most of us have no idea what “spiritual glasses” look like. The fact is that without them none of us can see clearly. The “spiritual glasses” we need to see well is God’s word, the bible. This is the correction for our near-sighted vision. God’s word is meant to give us clear vision about the things of life, reality, relationship and the future. Only his word can give us 20/20 vision.

Many continue to deny they need glasses as they look at shapes and shadows describing them in this way, “It looks like…”, “It could be….” and with great and grand words and a knowing tone they wax eloquent on things they can only see dimly, things that are at best fuzzy.

What’s sad to me is that many Christians believe the near-sighted men of the world rather than wear the glasses of God’s word. They trust those can only guess instead of looking clearly through the lens of God’s word to see what really is. Jesus once healed a man of blindness who said, “I see men, but they look like trees.” Jesus once more touched him until he could see clearly. God wants us to see clearly and that vision correction only comes through his word.

We are all near-sighted. We all live with blurred vision. We all need glasses to see clearly. The only glasses that will ever give us clarity to see the way things really are is God’s word. When you can’t see clearly go to the bible and you will find you suddenly have 20/20 vision.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Thankful

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thes. 5:18

Today is Thanksgiving day in our country. It started with a group of men and women pausing to thank God for his care and provision. It continues as a tradition that has lost much of its initial purpose.

Today it’s a day off, football, turkey, family, pumpkin pie, a nap…..

Today God will find only a brief mention for those who give thanks for the meal, but there is so much more to say. Paul’s exhortation to the church speaks volumes for us. All that we have, all that happens, all we experience gives us opportunity to thank the one who gave it from his great kindness. Let me share a portion of my list as I begin this day of thanksgiving.

I’m thankful for God’s great goodness to me, for the day, for sight, for health, for family, for a warm home, for salvation…oh how wonderful is that, for purpose, for hope, for love, for food, for clothing, for God’s love in my life, for his constant care, for feet that work, for grace to experience, for friends…oh what a blessing they are, for a God who hears when I pray, for my bible…I so love God’s word, for my wonderful wife, for children I dearly love, for grandchildren, for glorious parents, for life itself, for this moment to celebrate a good God, for stars that show me how grand God really is, for thousands of other things, moment by moment, I say thank you, God. You are glorious!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Seekers

We all search for something.

We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.

We are born seekers.

But it’s easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after.  Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled.  Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.

As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, Seek humility;” I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look.  It’s natural to be a seeker, but we don’t always know where to look.

As children we all played “hide and seek”.  We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.

It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look.  And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places?  Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest?  If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest?  Here are just a few of the clues that I found,

Psalm 53:2
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible!  To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.

We are, by nature, seekers of things.  God invites us to be seekers of relationship.  We search out external happiness.  God invites us to seek internal happiness.  We make our search about US.

God invites us to seek HIM.

Seek Him.  In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest.  It’s simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search…a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after.  It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.

Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Choices For A Reason

2 Timothy 2:20-22  Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Therefore flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 

This passage has always given me encouragement and direction. It gives clarity to usefulness. It describes my part in being a vessel the master can use. I admit that I’m still, even at 60, in process…being molded, making choices that determine my usefulness. It’s a lifetime project to become a vessel for honor, sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for EVERY good work. It’s my goal to be a vessel God can use. I know he’s doing his part, but he also challenges me to be part of the process as well.

The last verse of this passage is my part. In it Paul turns from what God wants to see in my life, my choices and my actions. It begins with this admonition, “Therefore flee _______, and pursue ________. After both verbs are things to make decisions about. How do I participate in becoming a vessel, a person, God can use? I make some simple choices, 1. flee certain things and, 2. pursue other things. The bible calls this sanctification. It’s my intentional decisions to agree with God’s desire for me and make choices that conform me to what he wants me to be.

Flee some things, pursue others. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Yes and no. First, I need to know what God wants me to be. I need to know what the good and bad choices are. I need to know a few basic things and from those things I am invited, I’m challenged to make some choices. They are choices to follow and obey God or follow and obey the flesh and the enemy. I know, this all sounds really complicated, but it’s not. It’s so simple children get it. How do so many of us adults miss it?

Here are some things I have heard from adults that tell me they don’t understand what God wants or is trying to do in their lives. They don’t want to be vessels the Lord can use. From their mouths you will hear, “I know God wants me to be happy, so….” or, “It may be wrong, but I know he will forgive me.” You have heard things like this as well. It’s a way to give us permission to pursue the wrong things and flee the right things. We have gotten it completely backwards when we choose to do it our way. One thing is clear, if we choose our way we will be of little or no use to God.

I wonder, as I encounter people and their choices, what do they really want? Do they want to please God or themselves? If, and I think some would be so honest, if they want to please themselves they have just declared themselves god of their lives and dismissed the God who saved them. It’s a dangerous path. There is no happy ending when we choose our own way.

But, I watch others who want to be that “vessel of honor”, that person God can use. They are amazing! I’m thinking of several of them now, both men and women, who are intentionally working with God to become a vessel of honor, someone God can use. They are fleeing the wrong things and pursuing the right things. They are choosing wisely and it shows. They are becoming what God designed them to be and the glow of that, the impact of their life is changing lives around them.

God, the master potter, is making vessels of honor, but each one of us must be part of the process if we are to be what God designed us to be. We make the right choices for a reason….choices because we want to please God. Choices because we were called to be people God can use to change the world around us. Choices that have eternal rewards.

Make your own list. What is on your “flee list” and what is on your “pursue list”? These two lists will tell you a lot about the vessel you are becoming. It may mean you have some choices to make. It may, and I hope it does for many, encourage you that you are becoming what God designed you to be. Either way we are challenged to be part of what God is making us. What kind of vessel are you becoming?

 

Visit Mike at http://mikemesserli.blogspot.com/

Big History

I just watched a video by David Christian called “Big History” on T.E.D. It was fascinating. He began with a video to show how impossible, improbable it is to go from chaos to order and then proceeds for 15 minutes to whimsically declare that’s exactly how the universe came to be. With no reason or real defense he described how the universe just suddenly happened, and how order began.

If you were listening closely you had to wonder, who could possibly believe any of this? With no apology or embarrassment he declared evolutionary events of the last 13 billion years as if they had really happened. I was amazed, humored and honestly surprised anyone stayed through the whole speech, but they did. Maybe what kept everyone distracted were the beautiful PowerPoint slides he used. Maybe it was his British accent, but whatever kept the crowd enthralled with his speech simply missed me. I could not believe he could make such bold statement in complete contradiction to his opening statement and yet declare it all with great flair and confidence.

Maybe that’s the secret….maybe all you need is a British accent, a few credentials and a boldness to declare the impossible. In fact, that’s exactly what David did. Without evidence or proof he described how the Universe came to be. As he spoke my thoughts raced, “how does he know that? where’s the proof? that’s a bold statement you can’t prove!” On and on I debated him in my mind as he spoke. Surely even a simple man like me could see through this silliness, why do so many buy into this without question or rational thought?

It’s clear, after listening to David’s speech, that to believe in evolution takes more faith that it does to believe in the Bible. Yes, I said it, but just to make sure I’m clear let me repeat it, it takes more faith to believe in order coming from disorder, something coming from nothing, complexity coming from simplicity, all breaking the second law of thermodynamics than it does to believe in the Bible and the God who says very clearly and simply, “I made all of this!”

After watching David I’m more convinced than ever that this is a faith discussion, not a knowledge discussion. I wonder if they realize that?

The Great Exchange

In my reading I’ve come to Mark 1 and one of my favorite stories in the bible. It’s a very short story…not much said about it, but it’s heavy with impact to me. I always slow down as I read this story because I love the message it communicates. Join me in the crowd as we watch what unfolds…. 

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

This very action was completely contrary to the law. A leper was required to move from family and friends and live alone. If anyone came near who was not a leper the law required that the leper announce, “Unclean! Unclean!” so that those coming near would know not to get too close. This man did the forbidden, he came unannounced to the very feet of Jesus! When the crowds saw him I’m sure the outcries and insults were loud and emotional. How dare he come here unannounced. But his plea was an amazing one. Listen to his words over the cries of the crowd, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Mark 1:41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and *said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Now stop just for a moment and read those words again….moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. I can just see the faces of the crowd. Surprise, amazement, shock…how could Jesus touch a man covered in leprosy? I can hear the outcry, the shock. Now Jesus is unclean as well! Now Jesus has made himself an outcast. But he frames his touch with these words, I am willing, be cleansed.

Then it happens, in a moment, with a touch that changed everything for this outcast man…

Mar 1:42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Immediately, instantly, right then his life was completely different! Not only was he healed, but Jesus had touched him! I believe that Jesus’ touch was meant to heal two things- his body and his mind. A man who had not been touched in years was touched by Jesus. The compassion of that touch changed everything. He was a different man!

Mark 1:43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away,
Mark 1:44 and He *said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 1:45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

And here is the great exchange – the man who was a leper and outcast to the unpopulated areas was now whole because of Jesus’ touch and I can just see him hugging everyone he saw and telling them his story. His life was completely changed, and a great exchange happened. Now the outcast was welcome back into community, and the healer took his place….Jesus is now the one in the wilderness, in the unpopulated areas.

The story of the leper is my story. It’s his touch when we were in our sins that cleansed us, made us whole and gave us new life. And with his touch he took our sickness and sin on himself. He took our sin and sickness and gave us his life. The story of this leper who experienced the touch of compassion of Jesus that changes everything is my story, it’s your story. It’s the story of the great exchange.

But God…

One of the great statements of the bible is summed up in just two words, “But God…”

In those two small words tragedy turns to triumph, problems are explained, sadness has hope, and we are not left without answers. God is involved in our world, in our lives. God is the great problem solver, course changer, sorrow solution. When an answer is needed, when grief seems beyond bearing, when questions overwhelm us then comes these words from scripture, “but God” and suddenly everything changes. Here are a few of those moments from the bible, Continue reading But God…

When Things Happen Suddenly

According to the dictionary here are some definitions for suddenly:  happening, coming, made, or done quickly, without warning, unexpectedly, occurring without transition from the previous form or state, done abruptly, quickly made or provided.

So often we get caught up in the day-to-day processes of life that we can lose hope and feel like things will never change.  Sometimes we hear of famous people who seem to be an overnight sensation and wonder “why did it come so easily for them”?  However, you discover from the story of their life that they had been diligently working away for years in small ventures, gaining experience and perfecting their skills, just waiting to land the right opportunity.

Looking through the Bible there are some wonderful examples of those who experience their sudden moment.  Shepherds tending their flocks, a group of people united in faith and purpose, prisoners praying and singing, and a misguided man on a journey of cruel intention – all of them experienced their appointed moment of “suddenly”.  Listed below are their stories.

 

Luke 2:13 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God…

God shows up to announce a fulfillment of His promise and purpose.  These were ordinary shepherds doing ordinary work.  They weren’t too busy or distracted to hear and respond to the spectacular announcement made by the angels.  Sometimes the promise has been a long time coming, but as we remain available to respond God will make sure we don’t miss its sudden arrival.

Matthew 17: 5 – While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Don’t be surprised when God suddenly decides to publicly praise, reward or honor you as a result of your faithfulness.  When your praise is God ordained, you don’t have to be fearful of pride gaining a foothold.  He knows just the right way to bless and acknowledge you in such a way that you won’t become prideful.  You can rejoice in knowing that your Heavenly Father is pleased with you.

Acts 2:2 – And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

As we wait patiently and faithfully continue doing what we know we’re supposed to do, God will show up in a big way to reveal something more of His purpose for us.  Something new and unexpected is suddenly made available to us by His gracious provision.  The key is to be patient and faithful right where you are at now.

Acts 9:3 – As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Then there are those times when God encounters people when they aren’t even looking for Him.  Perhaps you have been interceding on behalf of someone else for a long time, but don’t be surprised when they share with you about their sudden and unexpected, God-orchestrated encounter.  He knows exactly how, when and where to meet people in their journey of life.

Acts 16:26 – Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Sometimes we feel resistance that is the same as heavy chains upon us.  But there are no chains so great that God cannot loose us from them as we keep our focus on Him.  The resistance you feel can be used as a point of growth and strengthening, but it is not meant to endure forever.  When the time is right you will be enabled to freely move on to the next thing appointed for you and ultimately celebrate success.

Sometimes what feels like a sudden change is something that has been gradually building and it just feels sudden because it has been a long time coming.  Some sudden moments have been built by the bridge of faithfulness and endurance, other times those moments have been built through life experience and preparation, and others are simply God’s grace and purpose extended to us.  Be encouraged and remember that God has not forgotten you and He knows the perfect timing for your moment of “suddenly”.

I have personally experienced an entire season of sudden moments where multiple things seemed to converge like change and crisis, leaving me both confused and in awe.  It could have been entirely overwhelming at the time, but looking back I see where God’s hand guided me and the wisdom of His timing makes so much sense in hindsight.

Have you ever experience a moment of suddenly with God?  Are you anticipating God to move suddenly in your life this year?  What can you do to be prepared for you suddenly moment?  Your comments are always welcome and are a wonderful source of encouragement for others.

 

Lightning photo by Larry Johnson

Hezekiah and Judah

It’s clear, as you read the bible, that Godly leadership evokes a following. If a man, one man, will pursue God then others will gather and follow a man hungry after God.

As I read further into the life of Hezekiah it’s obvious that after many years of poor leadership his walk with God was refreshing to Judah. He brought them back to God and they responded.

As I read more of his life story it was interesting to me that he even went into Israel to clear out the idols of the land. There was a passion in him to follow God, to wholeheartedly follow God. There was a desire to seek God that others wanted as well. From that man came a revival in Judah. The priests returned to God, the people returned to God and the results changed a country that had for years forgotten the God of Abraham.

It doesn’t take a big church, a great choir, an amazing preacher or dynamic youth pastor. It can start with me, with you. One person, following God, seeking God, hungry for God will change the culture around them. One person who is really seeking God, not the glory of man, will find men and women hungry for the same thing. As one old preacher said years ago, “Set yourself on fire for God and the world will come to watch you burn.” I may be only one man, but I want God. I’m not interested in much else….just him. From that passion for him will come a community of people seeking after him as well. I hope to be a man like Hezekiah….a man seeking after God.

On being a fool

I woke early this morning thinking about a passage of scripture that I thought I understood. As I thought about my own life and the verse I will share with you in a moment it suddenly struck me that the way I had viewed the verse was all wrong. I had missed the main point! Here’s the words from Psalms,
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”As I thought about this verse and my own life I realized I’m the fool! It’s not the denial of God that’s the problem, it’s thinking and living like there is no God! I’m the greatest fool of all in this. 

Yes, I am a Christian. I’m a pastor. I do love the Lord, BUT I often think, act and live like there is no God. The bible calls me a fool and it’s right to do so. If God is really there then my thoughts and life should be different because of that.

If there really is a God who is there then that will affect what I look at on the internet and on television. For any man or woman to get involved in sin, whatever the flavor, is to say in your heart, “there is no God…no one is watching…no one will ever know.” If you’ve ever done that, and I have, then you’re a fool. I speak from first hand experience. When you make a decision to sin, in any way, you’re saying in your heart “there is no God…no one will know.” But he does. He sees. You’re being a fool when you do that and so am I. Continue reading On being a fool

Encouraging Ministries

You will find great encouragement, wisdom, and support from the following web sites.  If you have any suggestions for others sites that should be listed here, please email us.

Steve FarrarPeaceWithGodThe HopeLineChildhelpSpreadingJoy

Steve Farrar

Steve’s mission is to equip men to be the spiritual leaders they are meant to be. The author of best selling books such as Point Man: How A Man Can Lead His Family, you can find Steve at conferences throughout the country or join him for Bible study if you are in the Dallas area.

PeaceWithGod

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in partnership with Jesus.net now operates PeaceWithGod.netTake your next 4 steps on a journey to peace by learning more about who Jesus is…read testimonies of changed lives…get support through online chat and help connecting to local support.

The HopeLine

TheHopeLine has partnered with strong faith-based partners to provide longer term care and services to those seeking help, advice and healing, offering biblical perspectives and prayer. If you find you or a teen or young adult you know is struggling, call now:1-800-394-4673 (HOPE) Considering Suicide? 1-800-273-8255

Childhelp

This non-profit child abuse prevention and treatment agencies maintains the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), servicing the entire U.S., its territories and Canada.

SpreadingJoy

Marie is always looking for Spreading Joy Heroes who love making a difference with compassion, joy and a tiny bit of silliness.  Follow her and you’ll soon see that “There’s no joy like Spreading Joy”!

Focus On The Family

Focus on the Family

This global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. Visit them for resources to help you build a healthy marriage and raise children according to values grounded in biblical principles.

Occupy the AltarWE InternationalDave RamseyBirthmother

Occupy the Altar  

This movement of Christians in the Nashville TN area are united in prayer for our nation, spiritual leaders, politicians, fellow Christians and Non-Believers. Their mission is spread the Gospel of  Jesus Christ. Follow them on twitter at @OccupytheAltar1 for updates on where they will be praying up next!

WE International

WE’s mission is to be a justice advocacy and economic development organization working with indigenous governments, NGOs, and other private organizations.

Dave Ramsey 

Get REAL debt help: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Plan.

Birthmother Ministries, Inc.(Birthmothers®)

This faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, one-on-one assistance to any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Their mission is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ by offering unconditional, one-on-one support and life-affirming, adoption-informing resources to any woman who faces an unplanned pregnancy.

 

 

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