Rely on God’s Strength

How are you doing? No, how are you really doing? Are you relying on yourself to do all you need to do? Do you ask others to help? Do you rely on others to do for you rather than doing for yourself? Do you ask God to give you the strength you need?

We see all kinds of people as we go through this world. We see some who refuse to ask for help, who will do it on their own or not do it at all. We often think these people are strong. Yet sometimes those people have become that way because others have failed them in the past or they simply want it done their way and don’t trust anyone else to complete the task the way they want.

We see some who ask for help all the time. We may refer to them as being needy. It seems they can do nothing for themselves. We may get tired of them asking for help. Yet they likely have gotten this way because people have done for them for a long time and they’ve become accustomed to others doing their tasks for them, sometimes without even realizing it.

As someone who follows Jesus, we are to be neither of these type of people. We are to lean on God’s strength to help us through whatever we face. We are also to rely on God’s people to help, when needed. Imagine what we could accomplish if we all relied on God’s strength and we all helped each other as needed.

We are to do everything we do to the glory of God. This means every word we speak and every task we work. We are to ask God for the strength to do so and be confident He will provide. This does not mean we do it without the help of others. In fact, God often works through others to our benefit, which means He works through us to the benefit of others.

We have heard the saying, “it takes a community.” When that community relies on the strength of God, our potential is limitless. When the community speaks as Jesus would speak and approach tasks in the way Jesus would approach them, with the strength of God, we find we can take on whatever faces us.

I pray we all determine to rely on God’s strength in our lives. I pray we all speak each word to the glory of God. I pray each of us help each other with tasks. I pray we decide to ask for help when needed and complete what we can without someone else’s help. Be kind to others. Speak as Jesus would speak. Help others. Ask for help. Rely on God’s strength.

1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Courage and Peace

What is courage? Do you know? Have you had courage at some point in your life? Do you have courage now? Are you experiencing difficulty in finding the courage to continue in these difficult times? Do you know there is a source of courage available to you?

Dictionaries state that courage is a state of mind or spirit. It allows us to face difficult times, danger, or pain. It allows us to face them without fear, facing them with bravery. Courage is what enables us to overcome those bad times in our lives.

Courage will enable us to face and overcome the difficult times we face today. It will allow us to face and overcome the fear many are facing today regarding the coronavirus, COVID-19. Courage is what enables us to face moving away from home. It allows us to move forward with our lives when we’ve lost a job. Courage is a motivator.

We have access to unlimited courage in the person of Jesus Christ. He has already overcome this world. He has overcome all diseases. He has overcome our sin. He has overcome Satan. Jesus has overcome whatever it is we face. We can rely on His courage.

Jesus overcame this world in order to give us peace. When we live in peace and at peace, the troubles of this world have no power over us. Oh, we will still face them, but we face them with the strength, power, and courage of Jesus Christ.

The peace we have will allow us to be calm in the chaos. It will allow us to think through and work through the problem. It will enable us to hear God speaking in that still, small voice, telling us how to overcome. That peace will make us stand out in a crowd—people will ask how we can remain so calm. Our answer—Jesus Christ.

Jesus taught many lessons while He walked this earth. He has continued to teach through the apostles, preachers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, parents, and many more. He has taught us all this so that we may have peace and courage to face the difficulties thrown at us during our lives. It is available to us. We simply need to reach for it, take hold of it, and put it to use.

I pray each of us will reach out to Jesus for courage. I pray we all seek His peace. I pray we all feel the calm come over us as Jesus provides it for us. Seek Jesus. Seek His courage. Seek His peace. Be an overcomer. You can do it.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Calm vs Panic

Are you afraid? Are you fearful? Is it the fear of the unknown? Is it the fear of a mortal existence and the possibility of it ending? Are you in panic mode? Has fear been feeding fear within you?

We all have fears. We see others who have fears. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with fear. It’s a natural emotion when we are faced with a dangerous situation. Certainly, we should experience fear in a life-threatening situation. However, when fear becomes overwhelming, to the point of panic, it is unhealthy and unholy.

God is holy. He is also perfect. His holiness is part of His perfection. Jesus tells us, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). If we are to be perfect, we also must be holy. Jesus also told us not to be afraid, but to believe in him (Mark 5:36).

As Christians, we are called to help others. This can be done in many ways. We may be doctors or nurses, caring for the sick. We may pray for those who are sick, their families, and the medical personnel caring for them. We may be the person who is a voice of calm in the chaos. We may be the person who only purchases what is needed for a couple of weeks rather than hoarding supplies.

Most certainly, we are the person who does not allow fear to control us, to force us into a panic. We trust God and know that He is in control. We know that we will be with Him for eternity when our time on this earth is done and we find comfort in that knowledge.

The belief of being with God forever is what drove the Christians of the 16th century to care for those suffering from the bubonic plague, the black death. They stayed with those who were sick and cared for them. They kept calm, did the work God called them to do, and did it all in the comfort of knowing they were guaranteed heaven.

During this time of uncertainty, chaos, fake news that incites panic, and hoarding; we are called to remain calm and not panic. That doesn’t mean we should be foolish. We should be cautious, yet also serve others as we are able. We should only purchase the supplies we need for a couple weeks. We should pray for those who are sick and those who are caring for them. All while trusting God to carry us through it and trusting that when we leave this life, we will be with Him for eternity.

I pray we all trust God. I pray we all remain calm. I pray we all lean on the strength that God will provide. I pray that we find courage in a time of fear. Trust God. Do not fear. Know that God is in control. Know that God is always with you. Serve others in love. God loves you.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Believe In God

What do you believe? Who do you believe? How do you live out your beliefs? Do you share your beliefs with others? Do others accept your beliefs? Are you willing to live out your beliefs, even if others disagree?

We all have many beliefs. Some of those beliefs are very simple and some are more complex. Some are easy and some are more difficult to explain. Some may be shared with most or all of our friends, while some may be ones that few people share with you.

Whether we realize it or not, we do live out our beliefs in most cases. Occasionally, we fake it and go along with something that doesn’t fit our beliefs. Yet, we often feel guilty later, after we have had time to reflect.

We are most satisfied and happy when we follow our beliefs. It’s when we walk in concert with our beliefs that we feel most fulfilled. When our beliefs are in line with God, we are at peace, we experience joy, we are comforted.

Many, if not most of us, believe there is a God. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We believe He taught great things and was a living example of how we should live. So, why are we troubled in this world? We do we worry about tomorrow when He told us not to (Matthew 6:34)? Why do we fear when he told us not to (Matthew 5:36)?

There are many things that cause us to be fearful, to worry, to lose our peace. We often can’t list them if someone were to ask us to. Yet we know them when they hit us—right between the eyes. You know it, don’t you? We all do.

It bothers us that God doesn’t always heal. It bothers us when we don’t understand how God works in our lives. We get confused. We try to figure it out. We want to have a scientific explanation. We read theology books, hoping to find answers.

Jesus simply tells us to believe in God and to believe in Him. If we are in Him, we have nothing to fear. You see, if we were to lose our life today, we end up in heaven with God for eternity. That is like going from living in the worst slums you can imagine to living in Disneyland forever. Can you imagine? No, I don’t think any of us can imagine how wonderful that will be. Yet we are not going there yet. We will have to continue to use our creative imaginations for now.

I pray we all believe in Jesus. I pray we all believe that He has the best in mind for us. I pray we each decide to trust God to remove our worries and fears. Believe in God. Trust God to have your best interest at heart. Trust He will get you through whatever you are going through. Believe in Him.

John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

Sharing In Times Of Need

Are you in need? What needs do you face today? Is it clothing, food, shelter, water? What are you doing to fulfill others’ needs? Could it be that by fulfilling someone else’s needs that your very own needs would be fulfilled?

We see a world gone crazy with hoarding. We see people panicking all around us. We are normally used to seeing this type of frenzy during the black Friday Christmas shopping time. Yet we see people doing much the same thing now for basic necessities.

Unfortunately, many are being left out. The poor, homeless, elderly, and homebound people are struggling to get the basic necessities of life. As followers of Jesus Christ, this is not the way we are to act. We are called to help others.

I can remember times as a child and adolescent when our family had very little. In fact, there were times our cupboards were pretty bare. Yet my mother and grandmother never turned someone away from the dinner table. We shared what we had with whomever walked through the door. A lesson I learned as a young boy.

Perhaps we need to go back to those principles. The principles my grandmother learned during the Great Depression. You see, if we share what we have with others, we all have more than enough. This is a lesson for not just the current situation, but a lesson to live by at all times.

As Christians, we are commanded by Jesus to do just that—share with others. Jesus commands us to love one another (John 13:34, 15:12, 15:17). He also says that we show our love by keeping His commands and we are His friends when we keep His commands (John 14:15, 14:21, 15:14).

Folks, I encourage us to keep His commands during these turbulent times. Share with others. Be there for each other. Sure, take care of your family, but also look for opportunities to show the love of Jesus to others by sharing what you have.

I remember being in the Marine Corps and making C-ration stew. For those unfamiliar with C-rations, they were meals that came in a box with a variety of canned foods. We would take a helmet, which was basically a metal pot at the time, and turn it upside down over a fire. Everyone would pour their can of food into the “pot” to make the stew. We all ate and were filled. Perhaps a lesson our society needs to learn.

I pray we all decide to follow Jesus’ commands. I pray we all look to show Christian charity to others. I pray we all learn to share so that we all have enough. Be a follower of Jesus. Obey His commands. Take care of one another. God will be in the midst of it. God will provide.

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Intercession

Do you care for others? Are you selfish, only looking out for your own interest? Do you pray for others’ needs and their well-being? Are you only praying for your own wants? What do you think God wants you to do?

There is nothing wrong with praying for our needs. It isn’t even wrong to pray for our wants, as long as our wants fall in line with God’s desire for us. It’s when we only look inwardly, at only our wants that we become disobedient to God.

We are to love all people and especially those who belong to God. The people in this world need to see our love for them. They need to see the love God has for them. Obviously, we can’t show our love for all people individually, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take action for all people individually. How you may ask?

Paul gives Timothy some basic instructions in his first letter to him. Instructions that are just as relevant for us today. We can pray for all people. This may sound daunting yet is not as difficult as you may think.

We can start by praying for those in our family. I’m sure we all have people in our family who are struggling with something. Stop, think, and pray. Name the specific person and the specific need. Pray for healing, for jobs, for financial stability, for positive relationships, and any other need you see.

We can expand our prayers to our community. Watch the news, read the paper, read the online community news to be aware of the needs. Pray for those needs specifically. Pray for whomever is in the ambulance as it passes by. Pray for the store clerk that seems to be having a bad day. Pray for the utility worker repairing the power lines in the storm.

We can continue to expand our prayers to our nation. Pray that elections are conducted without interference. Pray that our representatives and leaders carry out God’s desires for our country. Pray the people of our nation will turn their hearts to God and follow His instructions.

Finally, pray for rest of the world. Pray for those who are being persecuted because they are Christian. Pray the leaders of other nations will carry out God’s desires for those nations. Pray for those who are affected by natural disasters.

I pray that we all intercede for others. I pray that we all come to understand this is an important task that God has given each of us. I pray each one of us will pray for someone other than ourselves this very day. Pray for your family. Pray for your community. Pray for your country. Pray for the world. Pray continually. Pray for others.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Renewal

How are you renewed to face each day? Is it a good night’s sleep? Is it by looking forward to something good happening today? Is it because of a positive attitude? Or, do you have a more powerful source that renews you?

We have all experienced the drudgery of this world. There are numerous worries that can weigh us down. Most recently, the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has many people concerned. Some are cancelling travel. Some are hording necessities. Some are deciding to no longer go out in public unless it is absolutely necessary. For some, fear has frozen them. Certainly, we should all carefully take care of our health and be respectful of others.

There are others who seem to be at peace. These people seem to have no worries at all. We may wonder how they can go through life with no worries. Yet, are we sure they have no worries? Or, are they relying on a greater power?

Paul tells the Roman church in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This transformation is not something we can do on our own. We must rely on God to transform our thoughts. It is through the knowledge of what God has done and knowing His promises that our minds can be transformed.

Do we reach out to God and ask Him to transform us? Or, do we simply ask Him to bless what we want and our current plans? We, too often, refuse to be transformed. We want things to stay the way they are. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, the only constant is change. The world changes every day. We change every day. Each day we have new experiences. Each new experience will change us, even if only in the minutest way.

If we are changing every day and the world around us is changing every day, why not ask God to transform us each day? Don’t we believe we would be better off if the Creator of all things was the one directing our change? God knows every particle of us, each tiny piece of our DNA. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He can make the best changes in us.

I suggest we start asking God each day to transform us, to build us up, to make the changes in us that He knows is best. We just might find that we become someone others admire. We just might find that we come to respect ourselves. We just might find that we become the person God wants us to be and the person we want to be, even if we don’t know it beforehand.

I pray each of us will ask God to transform us from the inside out each day. I pray that we release our desires to take on God’s desires. I pray we periodically step back and review the changes God has made in us. Ask God to transform you. Ask God to renew you. Ask God to create you anew. Trust Him to make the right changes. Trust the Creator of all things.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a pure heart, O God, 

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Love or Love?

Do you love? Do you know which kind of love it is? Do you recognize the type of love you have? Do you know there are different types of love? Can you define the different types of love? Once you know the different types, will you make the effort to recognize them?

We hear people saying they love this or that quite a lot. We hear people saying they love someone multiple times a day. We see it in TV shows, in movies, in commercials, and on social media. We may also hear people say they love God. But what kind of love is the love they are referring to?

Our English word love is quite ambiguous. There are multiple meanings for the same word. That makes it difficult at times to determine the meaning the person intends. In fact, because we’ve grown up with different meanings for the word, we often don’t even recognize ourselves which meaning we intend.

In the New Testament, written in Greek, there are two different basic words used for the word love. There are derivations of those two words used depending on whether it is used as a noun or a verb. Using the two different words made it easier for both the writer and in some cases the speaker to get their specific meaning across.

When we look at John 21:15-17, we see Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him 3 times. What we don’t see in our English translation is Jesus used one word the first two times He asked the question, yet Peter answered with a different word all three times. Jesus finally gave in and used the same word as Peter the third time He asked the question.

You see, Jesus used the word with the meaning of a committed, deep love that could never be broken. Peter used the word that meant emotional or friendship type love. In other words, Peter used the word for love that could go away or could be lost. Jesus used the word that meant love could never be lost, could never disappear, would always be committed, no matter what.

We see the word for love used in today’s Scripture that means being committed for eternity, no matter what. It is a deep love that goes far beyond the affectionate, friendship love that can be fleeting. It goes to the very core of our being and changes us. It is the type of committed love parents have for their children. It’s the type of love that makes marriages last for 75 years. It’s the type of love that God has for us and He expects us to have for Him and each other.

I pray we all develop the committed deep love for one another. I pray we all grow to love God with a love that lasts for eternity. I pray each of us allow this type of love to change our lives. Love with commitment. Learn to love as God loves. Allow God to make changes to your being. God loves you no matter what.

1 john 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God Fulfills Needs

What do you need? Are you in need of something today? Do you need some material object? Are you in need of emotional support? Do you need spiritual renewal? Are you emotionally, spiritually, and physically drained?

Our lives go in cycles. We have times of emotional highs and lows. We experience times of feeling as though we are on top of the mountain and times where we feel like we are trudging through the lowest, muddiest ditches. We experience times of boundless energy and days when we can barely drag ourselves out of bed.

In our humanness, we experience a wide variety of emotions, physical abilities and frailties, and spiritual ups and downs. Can we or should we try to eliminate these? No, but we can seek to limit their negative affect on us. How can we do that?

God is the answer. That may sound a bit flip or cliché. Yet God, our Creator, can provide us with what we need in all situations. He is not a genie in a bottle that we can reach out to only when we need or want Him. He is someone who wants a continual relationship with us. He wants us to be in conversation with Him every day and at all times.

Let’s think about that for just a moment. Don’t we build relationships with our family, friends, co-workers, and classmates? The stronger these relationships, the more we can count on these people to be there for us when we need them. Doesn’t it make sense to do the same in order to expect the same from God?

God has the power to meet all our needs. Sure, even if we haven’t built a solid relationship with Him, He can still fulfill our needs. In fact, He often does. Yet we miss out on the best He can provide when we don’t work on our relationship with Him. We miss seeing how He is working in our lives. We miss growing in our understanding of Him. All this leads to a lack of trust in God, because we haven’t recognized His work in our lives.

Much like we work on our relationships with other people in our lives, we are to work on our relationship with God. When we do, we see just how big God is, just how awesome He is, and we begin to rely on Him more. We depend on Him to provide for our needs.

I pray we all work on our relationship with God. I pray each of us recognize His awesome power. I pray we see God as our all-powerful Creator and lean on Him for everything we need. Come to know God for who He is. Build your relationship with Him. Trust God to fulfill your needs. He won’t disappoint.

Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

Chosen By God

Do you know you are chosen? Are you aware that God chose you before He created a single thing? Do you know that you are called to be holy and blameless in the sight of God? Do you know that in Christ all this has happened?

The world we live in wants to put blame on us for just about anything. Sure, there are times we are to blame for having made a bad decision or doing something that isn’t good. But we also see other people putting blame on us for things that we didn’t do and perhaps were completely unaware of.

There are times when we put blame on ourselves, even when we shouldn’t. We’ve been conditioned to believe someone is to blame. When there is no obvious person to blame, we will often blame ourselves. If we don’t blame ourselves, we look for someone else to blame.

We have forgotten two key components to this life. First, not everything can be blamed on ourselves or others. Sometimes, there simply isn’t a reason to blame someone. Sometimes, there is no one to blame, it simply is what it is.

Second, we are chosen by God. This isn’t something we should use to look upon ourselves as better than someone else. In fact, every one of us has been chosen. Yet some of us don’t recognize it and won’t answer the call. God wants each one of us to be part of His family.

We are to answer His call to be adopted into His family. Jesus Christ came to pay the price for our adoption. Surely we understand there is a cost. It costs us to adopt someone into our family here on this earth. It is no different to be adopted into God’s family.

The good news is that Christ paid the price for us. When he paid that price and when we answer God’s call to be adopted, we become holy and blameless. No, it doesn’t mean we become perfect immediately, never making another mistake. It does mean that God sees us in Christ, meaning He sees us as perfect. Jesus has filtered all our wrongdoings out of the picture.

As we continue to mature in our walk with Jesus, we will grow and become more like Him. When we learn more about the price He paid and our love and respect for Him grows, our natural reaction is to try to emulate Him in all we do. We also find peace in knowing, without a doubt, that He loves us and has made us holy and blameless.

I pray each of us will come to realize that we are holy and blameless. I pray each of us answers the call to be adopted into God’s family. I pray we all mature in our walk with Jesus, becoming more like Him each day. Know that God chose you before creation. Answer His call. Be adopted by Him. Mature in Christ. Know that God loves you.

Ephesians 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.