There is Only One

How many gods are there? Can you count them all? Do you recognize all the gods? Are you aware of them? Do you fall for all those other gods or do you follow the One God? Are you aware that you fall into the trap of chasing after these other gods?

Our world is full of gods. The god of money. The god of fame. The god of power. And many more. Virtually all of us chase after one of these gods at some point in our lives. It’s a constant struggle to put them back into perspective and realize they are false gods.

We also hear people refer to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We hear other names such as Immanuel, Jesus Christ, Yahweh, Lord, Almighty God, Son of Man, Prince of Peace, and others. Are they all referencing the same God? Yes!

In general, we are taught there is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are taught they are one, but often don’t understand how that works. I must confess, I can’t fully explain it either. What I can state is that our faith allows us to believe what we are told in Scripture. There is One God. He is represented by three different persons or personalities.

You see, we don’t have to understand every detail about God to believe in Him, to believe His Word, and to follow Him. In fact, if our justification for not believing and following Him is that we don’t understand it all, using the same paradigm, why would we believe or follow anyone or anything?

We don’t understand everything about our favorite sports team. We are not in all the management meetings, scouting meetings, coaches’ meetings, and player meetings. Yet we follow our team and cheer them on. We hear a press conference and trust the management is doing the right thing to make the team better. Even the most fervent fan can’t know everything about their team.

We know a lot about God and we have a lot written in the Bible about Him. We can read about Him and gain a good understanding. There is more than enough to convince us that God is who He says He is. There is enough to believe in Him, believe Him, and follow Him. Once we start following Him and trusting Him, our faith will grow through experience.

I pray each of us recognize there is One God and we can’t know everything about Him. I pray each of us will realize we know enough or can know enough to choose to follow Him. Read God’s Word and know Him. Trust God with all you do. Rely on God to build your faith through your experiences with Him.

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Arrogant or Humble?

Are you arrogant? Are you humble? Are you a little of both? Sometimes arrogant and sometimes humble? Do you know that being humble doesn’t mean allowing people to walk all over you?

We see a lot of arrogance in the world today. We see people who will take the smallest bit of being good at something and turn it into arrogance. Not only that, they will usually show arrogance toward someone who they know doesn’t have the skill they have. These people don’t account for the fact the other person likely has skills they don’t. It’s all about “one uping” the other person.

All of us have some skill that we can do better than others. Do we all have a world class skill? No. Yet we all have skills we have been blessed with. We know what they are. We know we are better at some things than we are others. We also know there are others who have skills we don’t have. So why do we need to be arrogant toward someone else?

It goes back to wanting to feel important. We want others to tell us we are good at something. We have a desire to fit in. We are looking for appreciation, acceptance, and worthiness. Yet we all look for that in the wrong places.

Jesus is our model of being humble. He had the very power of God in Him, yet He didn’t hold that over everyone else’s heads. He associated with the sinners of the world, often the worst of sinners. He healed the sick and forgave the prostitutes. He taught fishermen and tax collectors. He tolerated a thief to further the will of God. He also destroyed the arguments of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

If we truly want to find appreciation, acceptance, and worthiness, we need to be more like Jesus. We are told that when we humble ourselves before God, He will lift us up. We will be honored by God because we have humbled ourselves.

Humbleness is an attitude. It causes us to serve others. It prompts us to love others. It allows us to work with the less fortunate in our world. It helps us to be patient when teaching someone who is a bit slower at grasping the point. Being humble is an awesome way to show Jesus to those around us.

I pray each of us will be humble, truly humble and not simply acting humble. I pray each of us will submit to God in our humbleness and allow Him to lift us up as He sees fit. Be the humble servant of God. Trust He will lift you up at the right time. Know that God will keep His promises. Love God, love others.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Got Pets?

Do you have pets? I’m guessing many, if not most, of you have a pet of some kind. How much do you love and care for your pets? Do you ensure they have water and food? Do you take them out to get some exercise? Do you train them not to potty in the house?

We treat our pets pretty well. We love them and take care of them. We ensure they are vaccinated and take them to the vet if they get sick. We play with them and get them out to exercise. In general, they become part of our families.

If we do this for our pets, how much more do we think God does this for us? Particularly, how much more does God love us than we love our pets? Can’t imagine that? Well, He does. He loves us more than anything we can fathom. God takes care of us in more ways than we can count.

Oh, I’m sure someone out there is saying God doesn’t take care of them. They have run across a bad patch of luck and think God has abandoned them. Sorry, but you are wrong in that assumption. God has not abandoned anyone. He is right there in the thick of it, right beside each and every one of us.

Too often, we don’t reach out to God unless we are in way over our head. Unfortunately, because we have not reached out to God and developed a right relationship with Him, we will feel as though He has abandoned us in our time of need. Yet, He has not. He often will allow us to flounder for a while until we come to the ultimate conclusion that we cannot get out of our mess without Him.

This may seem harsh to some of us but stop for just a minute and think about it. If someone is so unwilling to spend a little time with God to build a right relationship, why would God not decide to let them flounder until they realize they need Him? As parents, we do that with our children at times. Since we are created in the image of God, we can make a reasonable assumption that God will do the same with us.

I pray each of us will take time to build a right relationship with God. I pray that we never forget that God is always with us. I pray we understand that we are His most valuable possession. I also pray that none of us gets in so deep due to our own mistakes that we think God has abandoned us. Spend time with God. Build your relationship with Him. Trust Him in all you do. Trust Him with all you are. God is always there and always faithful.

Matthew 12:11-12 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Convicted

Are you convicted? Have you been accused of being a believer is Jesus Christ? Can others clearly see you are a follower of Jesus? Do they see Him in your actions and behavior? Or, are you convicted of sinful behavior? There really is no in between.

In today’s world we see so many people who want to believe they can do whatever they want. They want to believe they can set their own truth. We hear people saying that, “Perception is truth.” Perhaps in some very specific situations, but not in the vast majority and certainly not in all.

It is true that our perception can make us think that something is true—for a while. Yet, if we were to dig into the details, do a little investigation, there is a very high likelihood that we will find our initial perception was false and the truth is something different. Let’s take one example.

Let’s assume I see a husband and wife in a very animated discussion from afar. I can’t hear what they are saying, but their heads are jerking around, and they are making hand gestures as though they are trying to prove a point. My initial perception is they are having an argument. But what if I go ask them what’s going on to get to the truth? I might find that they were in complete agreement about how a teacher was treating one of their children. They might tell me they were rehearsing for a play. Then again, they may state they were, in fact, arguing.

You see, I don’t know all the information and therefore it’s very likely I don’t know the truth. I made an assumption based on limited information, which means I could be incorrect. Even if my initial assumption that they were arguing is correct, I don’t know what they were arguing about. There are numerous things a husband and wife could disagree about.

However, there is a truth we can know. When we dig into this truth, it will convict us. We will be cut to the quick and our hearts will have no recourse but to make a choice. For most people, once they learn the truth about Jesus Christ, especially when they’ve never known Him before, we see a deep conviction take place in their heart and a very strong commitment to following Him. It is those who have grown up hearing about Jesus that often take Him for granted. So, I encourage each one of you to dig into the Scriptures and really, really discover the truth.

I pray each one of us will be convicted in the truth of Jesus Christ. I pray each of us will encourage one another to seek Him out each day. I pray that we all stop making incomplete assumptions and pursue the truth. Study God’s Word. Seek God every day. Investigate to find the truth. Trust God to reveal His truth to you.

Hebrews 3:12-14 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

Perfect in Love

How well do you love? Do you love only the “right” people? Are you only willing to love those people who will love you back? Do you not know that God has called us to love everyone, not just the ones we like?

We may have heard that God has called us to love everyone before. If so, we have likely said, “Oh, that doesn’t really apply to me. God didn’t make me so that I could love everyone. I can’t.” If you have said or thought this, you are sadly mistaken.

True, it is not easy to love everyone. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. Yet, Jesus gave us explicit instructions to love everyone, including our enemy. He has told us that if we love only those who love us, there is no reward.

How do we go about loving our enemies? How can we get to a point of looking beyond their evil ways and actions to love them? There is only one who can do such a thing and that is God. We must rely on God’s Spirit living inside us to help us get to the point of being able to love our enemy.

This is no easy proposition, mind you. We are bombarded by the media, co-workers, friends, and family to hold that grudge, give payback, return evil for evil. Much of this world will do exactly that and the cycle continues endlessly. At what point do you get tired of riding on the merry-go-round? When is enough, enough? When will you jump off and plant your feet on solid ground again?

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and our enemy. He lets us know that even the worst of the worst in this world will love those who love them back. We are called to live by a higher standard. We are to love as God loves. We are to be perfect as God is perfect. Perfect in love. Perfect in seeing each person as a child of God that God cares deeply for and provides for, despite what we may think.

I pray each of us will reach out to God and ask Him to lead us in loving unconditionally. I pray that we take on the hard work of loving all people as God loves them. I pray God moves mightily in our lives. Love all God’s children. Show your love for them in your actions. Pursue being perfect as God is perfect. Perfect in love.

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor  and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Thought of the Day

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Today’s reading is included below with the link to the Amazon Kindle format of Thought of the Day below it.

Word vs Action

Who are you representing today? Are you representing God? Are you showing Jesus to others? Are you spreading the gospel the world needs to hear and see? Are you doing as Jesus Christ commanded you to do?

We all speak of many things throughout each day. We talk about our work. We discuss family decisions. We likely talk about what so-so should do. You know, observing what everyone else is doing wrong and how they can fix it, even though they aren’t in the room to hear our “advice.”

Our churches have workgroups, councils, or action teams that discuss ministry and outreach plans. Often those discussions will go through several iterations with some of the ideas shelved and others (maybe) put into action.

Folks, if all we do is sit around and talk about what should be done, but do nothing, we’ve lost the point of what Jesus told us to do. Sure, we are to put our faith in Him. Yes, our first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. However, once we’ve taken that step, He has given us a command to go and do for Him.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Great! Now he’s going to tell us how we are all to be ministers and preach the Word.” Yup. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. However, I’m not going to tell you that you should become what we call a pastor, minister, or preacher.

All of us are called to spread the gospel. As one old saying goes, “Preach Jesus Christ and when necessary use words.” Paul explains to us in Ephesians 4:4-16 that some are called to be pastors, ministers, or preachers. They are called to prepare the rest of the body to perform service. Notice Paul did not say that these pastors were called to do all the gospel spreading that needs to be done. That is the service the rest of the body is to do.

Each member of the body is to spread the gospel. And, yes, use words when necessary. I have had people I’ve worked with and clients of mine that have come to me and ask how I can remain so calm amidst all the chaos. My answer is always my faith and my trust in God. You see, the actions we take speak far louder than any words we can shout. Our actions allow us to use fewer words to spread the gospel. Now, doesn’t that make spreading the gospel a little easier?

I pray we all spread the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, through our actions. I pray we answer the questions people will pose to us with a faith filled responses. Be the positive force in actions the world needs. Speak when needed to spread the gospel. Trust God to provide you with faith, actions, and words.

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Sneaky Lion

What are you wrestling with today? Are you debating with yourself about a decision you need to make? Are you analyzing the pro’s and con’s? Have you lost sleep over a major decision in your life? Do you worry about what other people think? Are you fighting against a serious temptation?

As we walk this world and live our lives, we face numerous decisions, temptations, and worries. How we go about navigating them will define us as a person. We see some people who seem to always make the right decisions and their lives appear to be smooth and easy. I’m willing to bet that isn’t really the case.

We are all human and we all struggle with decisions at some point in our lives. For some, it all comes down to sound logic. The logical thinkers will weigh the options, list the pro’s and con’s, and make a logical decision. It may not be the choice they prefer, but they will make the choice with an understanding that it is the best choice based on their analysis.

Others will look at the options and choose solely on emotion. Their choice is based on what they want now, rather than looking at what’s best for them down the road. This may ultimately end as a bad decision, since the choice made today can lead to disruptions later on.

Now, what is wrong with both of these types of decision making? In neither case has the person sought God for His guidance. Seeking God to make our decisions is difficult for us. First, we want to be in control. Second, we don’t want to wait. In our “give it to me now” society, waiting for an answer from God is simply unacceptable.

Unfortunately, all too many of us lack the patience to wait for God. Tragic! I once worked for a Warrant Officer who said, “If we are making any decision short of life and death, we should take time to think it through.” I believe that includes taking time to pray about it and wait for God’s answer.

Praying and waiting is extremely important. Why? Satan is using our earthly logic, our impatience, and our own desires against us. He is purposely using our weaknesses to trip us up and cause us to fail. Our Scripture reference states he is prowling like a roaring lion. Yes, but a roaring lion doesn’t roar when it’s on the prowl. It sneaks around quietly, approaching the unsuspecting victim, and pounces when they aren’t looking. I’m guessing none of us like sneaks and deceivers.

I pray we all become aware of Satan’s sneaky attacks. I pray we all seek God in our decisions. I pray we all acquire the patience to wait on God, while also accounting for our human logic and desires. Seek out God’s wisdom. Be aware of Satan’s tricks. Trust God to provide the answers you need, when you need them. God does not disappoint.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

In Step With God

Where do you see God in your life? Do you see Him at all? Do you see Him in your friends? Is He revealed in what you see around you? Can you see Him in the people you interact with? Or, do you feel as though God is hiding from you or has abandoned you?

We all experience what is termed as “dry times” in our lives. Those times when it seems God is not listening, or He isn’t answering us, or He isn’t guiding us as we would like. We may be going through a trying time, when there are tough decisions to be made. We may be going through a time when we don’t feel connected to God, other Christians, the church, or don’t feel like we can pick up the Bible and read.

The good news is—God is still there. He is right beside us, behind us, and in front of us. Though we may not see or feel Him, he is guiding us as He walks beside us. He is gently guiding us by the hand or shoulder. He is whispering in our ear when we come to a fork in the path, telling us which direction to go.

God is in front of us, clearing the path for His plan. He is ensuring the path we are to travel is cleared of obstacles. He is working in other people’s lives, putting them where they need to be to support His plan for us.

God is also behind us, keeping the predators away. He is putting His shield up to cover our back. Since God is everywhere at all times, He can be beside us, behind us, and in front of uys. Isn’t that amazing?!

I know, some of you will say this is all a bunch of hogwash. You don’t believe it. You say you have had too many bad experiences. I only have one question for you. Were you walking in step with God when you had those bad experiences?

True, God, like any good parent, will at times let us fail. It is when we fail that we learn some of life’s greatest lessons. Yet, if we are walking in step with God, He will never desert us and never allow us to go through more than we can bear.

I pray we all learn to walk in step with God. I pray we all learn to see God every day. I pray each of us will seek Him out in our daily lives. Look for God. Seek His face. Trust He is always there. He will strengthen you and guide you.

Isaiah 41:10

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.

Blessings Large and Small

How often do you praise God? Are you thankful for the many blessings He has been so gracious to grant you? Do you recognize all those blessings? Do you believe God is the One who gave them to you? Or, do you believe you’ve earned them all?

As we go through our lives, we have diverse experiences. Even with some of those being what we would call low experiences, we are still blessed. We quickly recognize those high experiences as being blessed. Though we often don’t attribute them to the proper Giver.

Isn’t it funny that we like to question God when things don’t go exactly the way we want and fail to shout for joy and give Him the praise when they do? Our humanness wants to take credit for our successes and place blame on someone else for our failures. The truth of the matter is, we are wrong in both cases.

There are some who believe in full destiny, meaning that every tiny little thing is scripted by God. There are others who don’t believe anything is scripted by God. I believe the true answer is somewhere in the middle. I believe we have the freedom of choice. I also believe God blesses and orchestrates situations in order to bless us or enhance a blessing.

What does this freedom of choice and destiny have to do with praising God? Whether you lean far to either side of these beliefs or are somewhere in the middle, you must recognize that God is the One who blesses. So, praising Him is the right thing to do, regardless of where you are on this seesaw.

Praising God for His wonderful blessings is good for our soul. As we spend time praising Him for the obvious blessings we easily recognize, we begin to see the smaller blessings as well. Giving thanks to God and praising Him is a good habit to form. It is one that will bring us peace, comfort, and contentment. Through our praising of God, we will be further blessed by His gracious works in us.

I pray we all develop a habit of thanking God and praising Him for all He does in our lives. He works in both large and small ways. He knows exactly what we need and the exact time we need it. Praise God for both His wonderful blessings and His perfect timing. Praise God. Know He is always with you. Trust Him in all situations. You have a wonderful inheritance ahead of you.

Psalm 16:5-8

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; 

you make my lot secure. 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; 

surely I have a delightful inheritance. 

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; 

even at night my heart instructs me. 

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. 

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.