No One Knows

Are you doing your best? Do you do the best you can every moment of every day? Or do you allow yourself to get out of control? Do you conscientiously go about your day? Are you doing God’s Will? Are you obeying Him today? Are you living a life that others want to emulate?

We often hear people say that life is short. We hear it said that none of us know when our time on this earth will end. Yet we don’t really see people live that out. At least, we don’t see them do it at all times.

When a tragic event, such as the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter, and 7 other people happens, people will say it’s horrible, and it is. We then hear people talking about how life is short and can come to an unexpected end, and it often does. We see people commit to living better lives, but it often doesn’t last.

Folks, when will we wake up and realize we are being hypocrites? When will we commit to making a permanent change in our lives? When will we decide to give up our selfishness, hatefulness, anger, jealousy, and all that we claim this recently deceased person did not have and model our lives after Jesus?

It is true, truer than anything anyone has ever spoken, that we don’t know when our time on this earth is done. We don’t want to admit we are not in control, yet we are not. Wake up! Step out of the stupor that Satan, and this world, has cast over you. Open your eyes and realize what is truly important. It is the people around you, not possessions. Show those people they are important to you and stop the quibbling over silly things.

My heart and prayers go out to the Bryant family and friends in this time of extreme sorrow. I also pray that a tragic accident such as this will cause others to commit to the change they need to be the person God wants them to be. Because the truth of the matter is, none of us know when our last moment will be. Stop the arguing, fighting, disrespectfulness, and hatefulness. Let’s all focus our efforts on being a shining example to others.

I pray we all commit to be the person God desires us to be. I pray we release our self-centeredness and allow God to make the change in us that we need. We only have one shot, one life to be who we are meant to be. Let go of yourself. Let God make the change. Give up yourself. Be who God created you to be. He is waiting for you to make the decision, the commitment. Commit today.

Matthew 24:36,42 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Don’t Worry

What are your plans for tomorrow? Are you planning for next weekend? Are you planning your next vacation and wondering how you will save the money for it? Are you worried about the doctor appointment you have next week? Are you worried about the job interview you have coming up?

We all plan different activities. We build our “to do” lists. We wonder what is going to happen at work tomorrow. We worry about saving money for a family vacation. We worry about college loans piling up and how we will pay them off. We scurry about with a long list of things on our minds.

I’m sure there are people who are planning for that Super Bowl party. They are deciding who to invite, who not to, and who is on the maybe list. They are setting up a menu, deciding when to cook, what they need to buy, and where they need to buy it. They are deciding if they should rearrange their living room for optimal viewing and whether they should use the stereo to boost the volume. Lots of planning and worrying going into that party.

We are told by Jesus not to worry about tomorrow. He instructed us to focus on today. I’m not convinced He meant that we should not properly plan for our future or future events. I do believe He meant that we should not allow the future to overwhelm the present.

Too often we fret about what is going to happen or what we need to do a week, a month, or even several months from now. We allow these things to cause us to be in bad moods, have negative attitudes, or simply be distracted and unable to function optimally. I believe Jesus is telling us to put these future events in their proper place. I believe He wants us to lean on Him and trust He is in control.

When we trust God to care for us, protect us, and provide for our needs, we can put the future into proper perspective. It isn’t easy. We want to feel like we are in control. We want to believe we can take care of things. We fool ourselves with this perception, even when deep down we know it isn’t true.

I pray we all learn to give everything over to God. Ask Jesus to take care of our future. Believe in Him and trust him to deliver on His promises. Know that God is in control. Lean on Him to provide for you. Stop worrying about tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Working Today

What are you doing today? What are you doing for God today? Are you showing His blessings to others? Are you telling others about Him? Are you sharing your blessings with others? Are you willing to work for God as much as you want Him to give to you?

We see people every day who want to be handed whatever they ask for. Our culture has transformed into an entitlement culture, where multitudes of people now believe they are entitled to whatever it is they want. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is something as large as a new house or as small as a stick of gum. If they want it, they think they are entitled to it and they should have it now.

There are still many of us who grew up having to earn what we got. I remember delivering The Grit newspaper as a young boy, saving everything I made. I had my eye on a new skateboard I wanted. Every week after I made my paper deliveries, which meant my Mom had to drive me around since we lived in a rural setting, I would go deposit the dollar or so into the bank. It took about a year to save fifty dollars. Once I had that saved, then I started saving for the skateboard. I eventually got it.

Unfortunately, we rarely see people saving for more than a few months, let alone more than a year, to get what they desire. This is a sad state for multiple reasons. The obvious one is we are not saving our money or our resources as a good steward should. Another reason this is sad is we are not saving those resources to serve God. Our resources also include are time, which often is completely scheduled, leaving no room to do God’s work.

God has the power to do what He wants when He wants. Yet He chooses to work through us when we are willing. The question becomes, “Are we willing to work for God?” God is calling us every day to work for Him and with Him to further His Kingdom here on this earth. He calls us to give of our time, our money, and our resources. But first, we must give Him our hearts.

Giving our hearts to God is not simply giving our time to Him for an hour or two on Sunday. It is giving Him our hearts every moment of every day. That is the requirement. It is what it means to give yourself up and give yourself to God. When we work for God, we find ways to bless others. We see people in a different light. We see the need and give what we have to fill the need. That may be as simple as paying for someone’s meal. It may be as difficult as sitting quietly, holding someone’s hand while they mourn a loss. It may require us to give financially or spend extra time in prayer. In the end, God blesses us richly when we give of ourselves to work with Him.

I pray each of us will decide to work for God and with God today and every day. I pray we give up ourselves to be who God wants us to be. Bless others with the blessings God has granted you. Be God’s hands in this world. Touch someone’s life in a positive way today. Receive God’s richest blessings.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Christian Talk

How well do you use your words? What is your daily language like? Do you think about what you say? Do you understand the meaning of the words that come out? Do you think about the tone of your speech? Do you know the tone and the words you speak can cause people to tune you out? Are you willing to work at consciously changing how you talk to people?

We see all kinds of TV shows where people “speak their minds.” We are blasted with hateful, deceitful, and angry words on that colorful box we spend so much time watching. Unfortunately, we end up acting just like those people we complain about. Why? For one, we regurgitate what we’ve been fed. For another, we don’t consciously think before we open our mouths.

It is true that some words change meanings over time. Yet that takes several years and often the meaning doesn’t really change that much. Not to mention, the root of the word stays the same. So even if the contemporary meaning of the word has changed, the root meaning still exists. It is simply hidden by modern culture.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be different. That includes the way we speak to others and the language we use. When we dig into the Scriptures and learn more about God, we understand this calling from Him. We understand that we are to carefully consider not only how we treat people, but how we speak to them or about them. We should eliminate gossip of every kind, speaking ill of someone else, taking God’s name in vain, and cursing in general.

Some may say that we should not sugar coat the truth. That is very true. We see examples where Jesus did not sugar coat it. Yet He did not use the offensive language we hear so much of today, even from Christians. He confronted evil and bad behavior straight on. But He did so with the Word of God, not hateful language and a bad attitude.

Many of us would love to change the world, even if we don’t verbalize it. We may simply wish someone else we are acquainted with would change. We can affect that change by being the positive example, the one who shows them through actions and words that they can change. No, it doesn’t mean we have to tell them they need to change, though that may be appropriate at times. It means we can be an example for them to follow. That’s being a leader.

I pray we all decide to be leaders in actions and words. I pray we all decide to think before we speak. I pray we set the example, as followers of Christ, for others to follow. Seek Jesus’ words. Speak as He spoke. Act as He acted. Treat others as He treats them. Love God, love your neighbor.

Psalm 34:12-13
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.

Following Today

Are you following the plan today? Are you doing what God plan for you today? Are you listening for His voice today? Are you willing to hear what He wants you to do and do it? Will you be in God’s will today and every day?

We have lots of demands put on us. There are demands from our boss. There are demands from our teacher. There are demands from our spouse or dating partner. There are demands from our parents. Yet, how many more demands do we put on ourselves?

We put as many or more demands on ourselves than others do … every day. Some come from our innate desires. Some come from our learned desires. Some come from our desire for self-improvement. Some come from our desire to be accepted. All are self-generated. But what can we do about them?

We can simplify our lives. We have the ability to reduce the demands we put on ourselves. We do that by listening to God and His direction for us. When we are doing what God wants us to do, our life becomes simpler. God has specific tasks He wants us to do. Many of those are written in His Word, in the Bible. Yet there are also many that come to us through His Spirit—from that quiet inner voice. We are to listen and do what He wants us to do.

I know, many of you will say “I don’t hear that voice.” Folks, if you don’t hear that voice, I suggest you slow down, set aside some quiet time, and pray earnestly to God to help you hear His voice. We fill our days with so much noise that we often don’t hear Him. When we spend quiet time with God, more than just a couple minutes, we are able to block out the noise of the world and hear the plan and desire God has for us.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it takes practice to learn to hear God. We must learn to block out the worries of this world and focus on God. It’s a little challenging when we first start doing this, but it becomes easier as we continue the practice. In fact, it will get to the point that you can hear God, even in a crowded, noisy restaurant.

I pray each of us will decide to set aside some quiet time today to spend with God. I pray we each do so, no just today, but every day. I am confident that you will hear God, if you do and you keep at it. Listen for God. Hear His Spirit talk to you. Do as He guides you. Trust in Him. God is faithful.

James 1:22-24 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Unity in Christ

Are you of one mind? Are you of one heart? Will you stand together against evil with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Will you do so when evil is lurking and coming for your mind, for your heart, for your soul? Do you know that Jesus prayed for you, especially that you would be unified as one body in Him?

We see far too much individualism in today’s world. Oh, we all complain about it until it comes to ourselves. When we want to be an individual, we become offended when someone complains about us doing so. We love to see our favorite sports teams perform as one on the field of play, but won’t apply that togetherness, that oneness to our daily lives.

Why is it we are so individualistic? Part of it is the culture we live in. Part of it is the fact we are all individuals with our own DNA. However, the vast majority of it is due to Satan preying on that bit of our nature and causing it to explode into selfishness. Perhaps that is why Jesus prayed for all of us just prior to going to the cross.

We see in John chapter 17 that Jesus prayed for the apostles and for us. He prayed that we all would be unified in our love for Him. He prayed that we would stand unified against evil. He prayed that we would be one as Jesus and the Father are One. We should read this prayer and submit to God’s will declared in it every day of our lives.

When we don’t stand as one, we are divided and fall. We know the parable of the house that is divided (Mark 3:24). We know from our own experience when sports teams have discord in them, they don’t win championships. We know this and still we sow discord, hate, discontent, rumors, gossip, and division among believers. Shame on us for not following Jesus into oneness.

I pray we all read Jesus’ prayer carefully. I pray we all commit to unity of spirit. I pray we all decide to be of one heart, soul, and mind in Christ. We need to be unified in the love of Christ; else we fall. Be unified in love. Be a disciple of Christ. Read His prayer. Trust God.

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Trusting God

How much do you trust God? Are you willing to trust Him with everything? Or are you only willing to trust Him with the things you think you can’t control? Do you only turn to Him when things have gotten out of control and you are at the end of your rope?

We often forget that God is always there. He’s there when wake up and when we go to sleep. He’s there when we have our morning coffee and when we eat our supper. He’s there on our drive to work and during the meeting that never seems to end. God is every present, also known as omnipresent. He is all knowing, also known as omniscient. God is there, so why don’t we trust Him with everything?

We lean on our own understanding, our own judgment to determine what our priorities are for the day. We lean on ourselves to decide whether to keep a piece of clothing or donate it to a charitable organization or to throw it away. We trust a friend or family member to give us advice about a relationship. Why not trust God?

Trusting God and asking Him to guide us doesn’t mean we ask God a million questions a day. It does mean that we spend time in prayer each day asking Him to guide us in all we do. It means having that close relationship with Him, one that we’ve built over time and continue to build every day. It means being of the same mind as God so that we know He is guiding us.

God guides us by working through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit talks to us in small nudging’s, a whisper on the wind, and sometimes through other people. We can be confident our decision is in keeping with God’s desires for us when we feel a deep internal peace about it. This isn’t a peace that comes from doing what we want, but a deep peace that we get when we know the decision is the right thing to do.

God doesn’t ever leave us. He guides us as long as we are willing to listen and see where He wants us to go. He provides the light to guide us along the path. We are to follow the path that He lights up for us.

I pray each one of us will decide to trust God today. I pray each of us will decide to follow the path He is guiding us to take. Trust God. Follow His light. Spend time with Him in prayer. God is always there. He will never leave you alone.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Decisions

How many decisions will you make today? Will you need to decide what you will prepare for supper? Will you decide how much money to withdraw from the bank? Will you need to determine how you will respond to someone else? Are you in the midst of making a larger, life-impacting decision?

We all make numerous decisions every day. We decide what we will eat. We decide the route we will drive to work. We select the groceries we will buy and where we will buy them. Often, we will decide what projects we will work on, whether at work or at home. We even decide if we are going to watch television or read our Bible. So many decisions are made every day, many without putting any serious thought to them.

Have you made the ultimate decision? The decision to follow Jesus Christ? To accept Him as your Lord and Savior? This is one of those decisions that should not be taken lightly. There is a cost to following Him. Sure, Jesus tells us that He will give us rest and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). But He also says we must give up everything to be His follower (Luke 14:28-33).

Much of what we must give up is the sinfulness we love so much. We must decide to leave behind the ways of the world. We must decide that we want to see others as Jesus sees them. We must give our fears over to Him. We are to commit our lives to becoming more like Jesus each day—following His teachings and His example. For many of us, giving up all this is very difficult. This is mostly due to our fear of how our family and friends might look at us. We don’t want to be ostracized.

Once we make that decision, how do we go about executing it? Jesus made it pretty plain and simple when we gave the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to His apostles shortly after He arose from the grave and prior to ascending to heaven. Of course, there is the maturity of a Christian that must take place over time, which is why He includes teaching in His command. As human beings, we continue to learn throughout our lives.

I pray for those who are in the midst of the decision-making process to decide to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I pray for those who haven’t yet faced that decision. I pray for those who are reaching out and teaching others about Jesus. May all make the decision to follow Jesus and continue in their maturity, increasing their faith each day. Make the decision today. Trust Him. Believe Him. Commit to Him.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Response and Accountability

How do you respond to others in your life? How do you respond to your boss, your teacher, your parents, your siblings, your friends, or the stranger you just met? Who is responsible for how you respond? Who is ultimately accountable for your behavior or words, even if you don’t really want to admit it? Don’t we all want to blame somebody else for our response and claim they provoked it from us?

We see it every day in all types of situations, don’t we? We see people respond to someone in a negative or melodramatic or over-hyped or maybe even a dangerous way. We see people claim it was the other person’s fault for them responding the way they did. They claim they were taunted or goaded or were simply responding in kind.

Why is it that we see such lack of accountability for our own actions? It seems the only time we are willing to be held accountable is when we’ve done something good, something noteworthy. Too often, we want to hold someone else accountable for their wrong actions, yet not hold ourselves accountable for our wrong actions. However, when it comes right down to it, when we have to stand before the ultimate judge, we all will be held accountable for all of our wrong doings.

That sounds a bit scary to me. How many wrong things (or sins) have I done over the course of my life? How can I ever remember them all, let alone explain why I did or said them? Here’s the good news—Jesus came to cover those for us. He will stand there with those of us who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior to state all our wrong doings have been erased by His blood. That’s an awesome thought, isn’t it?! Yet it doesn’t give us license to continue in our bad behavior.

As a true follower of Christ, we are to emulate Him, to become a reflection of Him in all we do and say. That means giving up the thought of blaming someone else for our response, for our lack of accountability. We must hold ourselves accountable and pursue His pure holiness. We may never achieve it until the day we stand beside Him in heaven, but we must never stop pursuing it.

I pray each one of us will give up our bad behavior of blaming others for our wrong doings. I pray we all decide to pursue being more like Jesus every day. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone held themselves accountable and pursued righteousness? Start making the world a better place by being a better you today. Pursue being like Jesus. Ask Him to help. He is faithful and will guide you along the path.

Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Belief and Faith

Do you believe there is a God? Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God? How does your belief play out in your daily life? Do you know that simply believing isn’t enough? Belief must be put into action in the form of faith. Our faith in Christ sets us free.

We see people in this world caught up in the slavery of worldly desires. They want all the shiny new things. They chase all the glam and glitz advertised in various media, whether on television or in social media. They allow their lives to be governed by what they are subjecting themselves to on a daily basis. Their willingness to live trapped brings to mind an analogy I want to share.

If you look back to the cold war, there were two world powers that generally controlled what happened around the world. By that I mean, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had the world divided into two factions and each controlled their allies to some degree or another. The U.S. was the land of opportunity, where people could chase their dreams and many would realize them. The Soviet Union was completely controlled by the government. The people were employed by the government in one way or another. They were assigned to government housing. This was not just the military or the government bureaucrats, but the average person who worked in a factory or a store.

The people of the Soviet Union heard about the U.S. They heard about the freedom the Americans had to choose their own jobs, to choose where they lived, to buy their own home, to send their children to college, and many other opportunities. However, they largely believed these were lies, propaganda. Sure, they believed there was a U.S., but they believed the grand statements made about the freedom Americans had weren’t true. Why do I know this? I’ve visited a country that was formerly controlled by the Soviet Union on multiple occasions and spent significant time talking with those people.

How does this relate to God versus Satan? Satan also tells us lies. He wants us to wallow in our self-pity, selfishness, hate, anger, frustration, and indifference toward others. Does he believe in God? Absolutely! James 2:19 tells us that Satan and his demons believe and shudder. They are afraid of God and don’t want us to build our faith.

Jesus came to set us free from the trappings of Satan and our sin. He came to give us a life of abundance (John 10:10). When we decide to stop following Satan’s lies, we begin a new life of freedom. We experience something far better than we can imagine. Our selfishness, hate, anger, anxiety, and fear leave us. We are set free!

I pray we all decide to leave behind Satan’s lies and live the life of freedom that Jesus provides. I pray we all graduate from belief to faith. May each one of you decide today to commit to Jesus and begin that walk of faith, growing in it each day. God is there. He will provide. Jesus will set you free.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.