Tag Archives: Will

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

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Prayer Changes Us

Prayer Changes Us

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

“A fifth grade boy who had heard a sermon on persistence in prayer was praying by himself in his room one night. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.” The next day, the dad asked his son what he was doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that Tokyo would become the capital of Mexico.”

Some people pray trying to “fix” a situation or change the way things are.  What if prayer changed us more than the situation?  It is very possible. Observe.

  1. When we pray the will or Word of God, we are “in tune” with God’s plan.
  2. When we pray for the will of God, we are asking for more than merely what we think is best.
  3. When we pray in the will of God, we are demonstrating faith and confidence that “His way is best.”
  4. When we pray the Word of God, we are allowing His presence in us to be more evident.
  5. When we pray in God’s will, we are able to rest, have peace, and totally rely on His working it out. All the while, the practice of prayer is also changing us.

While pray does “change things” – it can also change us!

 

 

 

 

 

When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come True

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.”  Genesis 37:5

 

“Dream Big Dreams!”

“Follow your dream.”

“Make your dream happen.”

The world philosophy says much about dreams today.

While the New Testament has several people who are given dreams, there is no evidence that God continues to give dreams today.  Then, the dreams were part of God’s special revelation, the Bible.  The dreams Joseph is given are revelation of the Lord.  Today we do not receive special revelation.  We have a completed Bible.

However, the Lord does burden our hearts.  We are convicted by the Spirit of God to action.  The Lord gives us “desires” that are informed by our Bible knowledge and yielding to His Holy Spirit.

For the Christian, the dream must be rooted in the Bible.  Following God leads to fulfilled dreams.

Don’t just follow a dream; follow the Maker of the dream. 

Here are 3 considerations on the way to seeing dreams come true.

 

The Path to the Dream Does Not Always Make Sense. 

The Lord may not take you straight to the conclusion of a dream.  When the dream came, Joseph saw his promotion and blessing, but he did not see his the problems he was to face.  On the way, he was enslaved (Gen. 39:1-6).  He was accused (Gen. 39:7-20).  He was imprisoned (Gen. 39:21-23).  And he was forgotten (Gen. 40:23).

Many “health and wealth” teachers fail to mention the heartache, suffering, and difficulty that followers of Jesus will truly face.  “Name it and claim it” did not work for Joseph.  He endured much suffering and the path he was on did not make sense.  Truly, Joseph was following God, not a dream.

 

The Hand of God Can Be Traced to the Dream’s Fulfillment. 

Arriving at the fulfillment of the dream is seldom a quick proposition.  For Joseph it took many years before the dream was fulfilled.  All that time, the hand of God was evident in his life.

The Lord prospers Joseph in spite of the circumstances and the lowly positions he held. Everything that Joseph touched was prospered.  The Lord also gave an opportunity for growth.  Joseph was not ready for the fulfillment of the dream until he endured the time and trouble he faced.

Sometimes the Lord allows problems in our lives to make us into the people He wants us to be.  If we never had any problems, why would we need God?

  • Sometimes problems come because of our sin. Genesis 3:17 says, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
  • Sometimes problems come because of the sin of others. Daniel and Joseph are examples.
  • Sometimes the problem tempts us quit, but God can help. I Corinthians 10:13  states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
  • Sometimes problems come to grow us. Such is the case with Joseph on his unlikely journey to become Prime Minister of Egypt.

The Lord oversees the dream.  God was the maker of the dream and He was the One who could bring it to pass!  Joseph was faithful, not to his dream, but to the maker of the dream.  Psalm 37:4 -5 teaches, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  We trust God with His will. 

 

The Equipping of God for the Ministry Enables the Dream. 

Joseph was equipped of God to declare God’s Word (Gen. 41:25-32).  When speaking to his brothers, the jailer, and the Pharaoh, he merely told them the Word of God.  His dream was from God and Joseph was living a life according to the Word of God.

Dreams can come from the world, our flesh, and the devil.  For example, Jeremiah 23:25-27 demonstrates that some believers forgot the Lord and chose to follow the dreams of Baal, a false god.

Or the dream can come from God.  The dreams Christians arrive at are realized because they are living the Word of God.  They are walking through life with the Maker of the dream.  The dreams God has for you are always rooted in the Bible.  God-given dreams are never in contradiction to the written Word of God.

Joseph was also equipped by the Lord to fulfill the will of God (Gen. 41:33-50).  The famine was prepared for.  An administrative brilliance is displayed.  A nation was spared.  Pharaoh takes his advice from the former slave and rejected brother.

The dream of the sheaves is fulfilled in Genesis chapters 43-44.  The dream of the 11 Stars, Sun and Moon bowing down takes place in Genesis chapter 46.  The dreams God gave did come true

Following God leads to fulfilled dreams.  Don’t just follow a dream; follow the Maker of the dream. 

In one interview, Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, told 60 Minutes, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, it’s got to be more than this. I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” “What’s the answer,” asked interviewer Steve Kroft. “I wish I knew,” Brady replied. “I wish I knew.””  (Ministry127)

When we follow our dreams instead of following the Maker of dreams, we will feel empty, unfulfilled, and will fall short of glorifying the Lord.  Ask yourself these reflective questions:

  1. Am I following my dream or the Maker of the dream?
  2. Will I be faithful to truth when the tough times come?
  3. Will I grow spiritually through the circumstances?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Calling of God on Your Life

The Calling of God on Your Life

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1

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“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life.  The Lord can answer that question for you!  Every Christian has a calling on their life.  The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him.  Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   

As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle.  Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus.  His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle.  Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles.  However, you can be a disciple of Christ.  You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon.  At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life.  Have you found the will of God yet?  All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots.  Kent  Hughes tells the following missionary story:

“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.”  All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!

In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries.   It could be at summer Bible camp.  It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life.  What will you do?  Will you follow His will?  Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life.  Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life.  We may call this “Responding to the Call.”   Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life.  Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord.  A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first.  Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.

Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to MinistryThe Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…”  After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things.  They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God.  Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed.  I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way.  I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling.  Attitudes like this can be dangerous.  There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way.  If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:

The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call.  Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.”  He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established.  This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry.  Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers.  Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us.  Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses.  You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ.  The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call.  Finally, there are the People of God.  I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary.  Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to.  Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind.  Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority.  Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training.  A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up.  The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled.  This can be done in an Ordination service.  If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that.  You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord.  It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.”  Consider this:  In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved.  Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved:  “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”   Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study.  We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry.  He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament.   (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry.  Bible College takes about four years.  Teacher training takes at least four years.)  Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real.  Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.”   With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord.  In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem.  They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet.  They send him to his hometown of Tarsus.  Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26).  It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.”   It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry.  After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.

Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life.   A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long.  Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you.  Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.

If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too.  Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry.  Your service in helping ministers is important!  I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.”  Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.  

Are you called to ministry?  Do you have these three affirmations in your life?  At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years.  I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling.  I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry.  Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will.  When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!  

Following Jesus in A New Year

Following Jesus in A New Year

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

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Peter has just declared that Jesus was “The Christ of God.”  Jesus tells them to “tell no man” and that He would suffer many things.  Peter and the other disciples did not really understand the suffering of Christ until after His death and resurrection.  The next part of this narrative directs us to this verse: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Self denial is one of the most difficult things to do as human beings.  Recently, our family was treated to a terrific Chinese Buffet.  Walk into a Chinese buffet or similar “all you can eat” restaurant and you will see that many Americans struggle with denying self.  Denial issues could relate to eating, exercise, music, the friends we have, time in front of a screen, and nearly every area of life.  Even things that are not necessarily a sin of themselves can become sin to us when we do not practice moderation and the discipline of self denial.

Taking up the cross includes suffering for Jesus.  Some people at work or at school will not love Jesus like you do.  Some will persecute you.  You may be passed over.  The neighbors may not be as kind to you.  You may have people threaten you or mock you.  Take up this cross, letting others know you are a Christian, no matter what suffering you may encounter.  This is to be done daily.

Then Jesus says: “Follow Me.”  “Deny self, take up cross,” and “follow me” are great places to begin a new year.  Here are a few suggestions to help you follow Christ.

  1. Decisions are about Jesus.  A new year’s resolution?  Read the Bible in a year?  Handout a Gospel tract each week? Accept a new job?  Relocate?  Become engaged?  Get married?  What about other spiritual decisions such as confessing sin?  Going to the altar during the altar call and making a decision for Christ?  How about service in the through the local church?  Will you serve in areas you like most or areas that are needed the most?  Make all your decisions about Jesus. 
  2. Discussions are about Jesus.  What will be the topic of our conversations?  Will you boast, exude pride about self?  Will you speak of personal selfishness?  Will you talk about the Lord to others?  Will you say how good God has been to you?  Could you tell someone about Jesus and His gift of eternal life in this new year?  Avoid talking negatively about your local church, pastor, Sunday School teacher or other Christian.  They are not perfect, and for that matter neither are you.  We are to talk to others about Jesus and talk to the Lord about our “problems.”  Be sure to tell people about Christ while at the same time speaking well of His bride – the church.  The lost will pick up on dissension in your speaking about other Christians and it will turn them away.  Be careful of the words you say and how you say them.  If it would be improper to say something in a press conference in prime-time, it would be wrong anytime.  Discussing the Lord will help you choose proper words because of the proper topic being Christ.
  3. Dedications are about Jesus.  To Whom or to What will you be dedicated to?  “Me, myself, and I” is very shallow and humanistic.  The “world, the flesh, and the devil”, are other choices for the dedication of your heart, but will leave you in sin leave your heart heartbroken and enslaved to sin.  “Money, fame, and getting ahead” are insufficient to bring you true peace and lasting joy.  “Following Jesus” is all that really matters.  Be dedicated to following the Lord in every area of your life. 

 

Whether the dedication of your heart, the discussion of your mouth, or the decisions of your mind, let’s determine to be followers of Jesus Christ this year.  Deny self, carry your cross, and follow Jesus.