Yes, you can do this.

BIBLE READING:  1 Thess 1: 4 - 7 4 We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. 5  For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. 6 So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7 As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.

BLOG:  Yes, you can do this.  

Have you ever had to face a difficult time or situation in your life?  We all have to one extent or another.  Today I heard about a broken friendship, a terminal illness, a difficult decision, and a broken heart.  It can be exhausting but for one thing.  Love.  

Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
Here are a few truths you need to embrace. 

Your "everything" may not be enough.  But it wasn't supposed to be.  Jesus said that He will save people, you don't have to.  

While it is tempting to close the door of your heart to others, keeping it open will actually be a blessing.  It's tough, but not impossible. 

Your "hope" is in Jesus not in your results.  You and I are not perfect, therefore, we cannot manufacture real hope.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I need your help to face some tough times.  Help me!  AMEN  

Don't Give Up

BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-2, 1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God give you grace and peace. 2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

BLOG: Pro. 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

I have long said that making assumptions is disastrous. Often you don't know what you are talking about, and thus you cannot make the right decisions. I have made more than my share of bad decisions based on my assumptions. 

One way I see people self destruct with their assumptions is in regards to their future. 

I'm not going to get that promotion because the boss likes my co-worker better. 
My spouse is going to leave me because they don't pay attention to me anymore. 
I can't get a job because nobody likes me. 
I did something stupid now everyone is going to disown me. 
There is no reason for me to do my best; it doesn't matter; they have already made up their mind. 

These are over-generalizations and assumptions. Sure, there may be some truth in those statements. But that's no reason to give up or not do your best. 

So, what do you do? 

Remember that your future in God's hands. Regardless of how things turn out. God is still in control. 
Rejection isn't a reason to quit. It is a reason to try again. Ask Isaac about digging wells. 
One closed door may open a better one. A "no" can become a better "yes."
Stop being a fortune teller. Don't assume things about your future that lead you to give up. Believe that God is in your future and be faithful to honor Him today and tomorrow. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, You've got my future in Your hands. Lead me, and I will trust You. AMEN 

A Little Busy?

BIBLE READING: Col: 4: 14 - 18 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, "Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you." 18 Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember my chains. May God's grace be with you.

BLOG: Each of us is probably going to have a hectic day. Even if you don't plan to have one - WHAM! Then life comes and visits you. A flat tire, traffic jam, a family emergency, or something else.

You may be worrying about what is going to happen today? Are you going to make it to work on time? How's the teachers meeting going to pan out? What is my boss going to say?

Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Some people take Jesus' words here to mean, "Don't sweat the small stuff." But in fact what He is saying is don't worry about what is going to happen, take care to protect yourself from evil. The real trouble you need to be focusing on is being ready to face temptation and opportunities to disregard Christ.

What happens to us every day doesn't have any impact on our eternal life. But how we react to these events does. God will take care of us. That very passage promises that. But focus on honoring God with a lifestyle of worship. Take care to guard your heart and honor Christ.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, keep me from temptation and deliever me from the evil one. AMEN

You're Not Jello

BIBLE READING: Col: 4: 10 - 13 10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas's cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

BLOG: As a kid, I remember my mom making me my favorite jello. Green. (Hey, don't judge!) On occasion, she would pour it into a mold. Out would come these funny shapes and characters. I didn't care; they all tasted the same. 

But it got me to thinking about this evening Wednesday Life Group. I am teaching from Romans 12 where in verse 2 it says. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I couldn't tell you how many times I have preached and taught from this passage. This message reminds me, "Don't conform - transform."

Paul warns us that the world, culture, and how it reasons consistently works against God. It will try to conform you to it's will a process that we must actively resist.

But how? Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Notice what Paul didn't say. That you must act differently, turn over a new leaf, find a new cause, or deal with your "demons." No, he says that we have to start thinking like Christ. 

When we think with our heart, we ask questions like, "How do you feel about... .?" If our emotions "feel good," then all is well. But if our feelings don't like what is happening, then we will rebel or run. 

Some people want three secrets to a better life or 5 ways to fix your marriage. The problem is "doing" something - even the right thing - doesn't mean it will work if you're not thinking more like Jesus. 

This isn't to say that God is against your feelings or actions. But the renewal of our mind can only happen when we submit to the Holy Spirits leadership and teaching in our lives. Think of it this way. He answers the all-important question that most people avoid. "Why do I want to do this?" 

Real change never happens until we understand why we are doing and personally invest in making it happen. 

So the question you need to be asking yourself here today is, "What does God want me to do?"

PRAY: Dear Jesus, What do you want me to do today? AMEN 

Doing Life Together.

BIBLE READING: Col. 4: 7 - 9 7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.

BLOG: Community is a BIG thing. In the New Testament, it was called Koinonia - fellowship or communion. But in the early church community was a new idea. It was more than a family and friends. It was the glue that held everything together.

Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

"Let us" is a reference to the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God is in community with Himself. One writer calls is a holy dance. Think of a Greek wedding dance — people dancing in a circle to the same beat, but each dancing in their way.

This is an excellent example of community. Everyone is striving to achieve the same goal, to be more like Jesus. But each person brings their uniqueness, which is added to the community.

There was a term in my devotions that I had never seen before — the "shyness" of the Trinity. No member of the Trinity boasts about itself above the other. You'll never see the Holy Spirit cowering down to the bravado of the Father, nor will you find Jesus making Himself brighter than either.

It is humility in a community that keeps it healthy. Each has their gifts. Some may lead, others may follow. But all are important. It is that humility that helps us to love one another even more. When our relationship with God becomes so important that it affects every other relationship around us, then we will enter into community with others of like-minded faith.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I need to be part of a loving group of people who will help me grow to be more like You. AMEN

Day One

BIBLE READING: Col. 4:1 - 6 “Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” NLT‬‬

BLOG: Today is the first day of school. As a general rule, it is rather hectic but uneventful day. What happened? The car line to pick up students is now 3 to 4 miles long. No joke. It is as if the world flipped a switch and everyone went into turbo mode.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Now I can hear someone yelling at me, “Pastor, you don’t understand.” I do understand. I understand when I am in control and I understand when I’m not in control. I understand the circumstances I can do something about and I understand the ones I can do nothing about. I understand that sometimes I need to have a conversation with someone. I understand that sometimes those conversations are unfruitful. I understand that life can be rewarding and that it can be frustrating.

The world will tell you that life is about winning and losing. But to the follower of Jesus it isn’t. Why? Because we’ve already won.

Romans 8:35–39. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Shall long car lines that I shouldn’t have to be in separate me from the love of God?
Should angry parents who didn’t get their way separate me from the love of God? 
Should the monsoon that drove everyone into my favorite coffee shop separate me from the love of God? 

Petty you say?  You would be right.  But it is the little things that can steal our joy.  So what can you do? 

Start your day with gratefulness.  Tell yourself something that you are grateful for everyday. 

Remain grateful.  Look for something to be grateful about in every situation. 

Confront with love.  True, not everyone responds to that, but it’s a better place to start. 

Be Jesus.  Let Jesus show up in your life, especially when you’re in need.  In other words, don’t try to do His job for Him. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, keep my heart pure and help me to keep you first in my life today.  AMEN.