About two years ago I wrote this blog.  I reread it today, and it inspired me.  I thought I would share it with you again.  

The desert was a proving ground for Isreal. But there is an even stronger example of this in the New Testament.

Matthew 4: 1- 2 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

After Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert. There He would be tempted personally by Satan himself. You can read how Jesus faced each of these temptations with the Word of God. Oddly enough, the same words were spoken to the nation of Isreal while they were wandering around in the desert.

My first assignment in ministry was a wilderness experience. I don't like talking about it too much because it makes the church where this happened look bad. But that was 30 years ago now. Both the church and I have changed - drastically for the better.

What did I learn in that desert experience? I learned that God had called me into the ministry. Good, Bad or ugly didn't matter. I was here to serve Him. I also learned that I loved my wife more than ever. Through this experience, our marriage was galvanized.

After I had moved on, some of my contemporaries would approach with their stories of trouble and woe. I would look at them and say, "Been there and done that." Then they would ask me to help them through their tough times. I gladly agreed.

Now if you asked me to go through that desert experience again, would I say yes? Absolutely ------- NOT! But would I trade what I learned there? Not for anything in the world.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I want to learn everything I can in my desert experiences. Then let me help others as they go through it too. AMEN.

What Did You Experience Today?

God created you to experience His presence and character every day.  I know that some people think that it's a Sunday only thing, but really?  Do you think that God only works on Sunday?

Lamentations 3:22-23 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God is a creative God.  That means that He's never boring or dull.  The world would like for you to think that a relationship with Him takes all the fun out of life, but I'm here to tell you that isn't true.  

Each day God is going to share some new truth, a new vision, a new song or a new challenge to bless you with.  Each day God is going to help you see more than you've ever seen before.  He is going to help you discover more than you've ever known.  He is going to empower you with more than you can imagine.  The question is, "Do you want it?" 

Every go to someone's house, and they ask you, "Would you like a drink of water?"  After saying yes the give you directions to the kitchen and tell you which cabinet holds the glasses?  I have.  If I wanted a drink of water, then I had to go get it.  

Well, this is true with God.  God will give His new mercies to you each day.  But you've got to show up for it.  

Pray for it first thing.  PRAY:  Dear Jesus, teach me, show me, do something new in my life today.  AMEN

Look for it.  Don't go through life aimlessly.  Look for God to show up!  He will 

Evolution vs. Creation

No this isn't the age-old argument about whether God created us or if we evolved from apes.

But I do want to talk to about how your life changes.  Does it evolve or do you create it?

One definition for evolution says, "the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form."

While creation is, "the action or process of bringing something into existence."

One newspaper has reported that the average age of females is 81.2 years; for males, it's 76.4 years.  So for all of those years did your life just evolve or did you create it? 

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  (NIV)

Too often I see people living from crisis to crisis ever evolving and changing to adapt to a new problem or situation.  Over time, the quality and purpose of your life is nothing more than an accumulation of these changes.  Good or bad you get what you get.  

I can't embrace the idea that God's plan is just a series of events that loosely connect together.  That is just hoping that success, hope, and joy will pop out somewhere.  But if it doesn't, then apparently it wasn't God's will.  

So how do you create your life? 

Understand that you are created in the image of God.  Gen 1:27.  If God is a creative God, and He is, then you are a creative person. 

Sin corrupts our thinking, and we need to change.  Rom 12:2  You need to know the will of God, but that will require you to change your want of thinking.  Don't think like the world, think like Jesus. 

You'll need help.  John 16:7  The Holy Spirit is here to guide, teach, lead and direct.  Pray that He does just exactly that. 

Work hard at it.  Col 3:23  Work at learning.  Work at discovering wisdom.  Work at faithfulness.  Work at it!!!! 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I need to create my life into Your will.  Teach me.  AMEN  

Bounce vs. Splat

You've heard the old saying, "You'll bounce back!"  The problem with that is I've never heard the "boing" when I've fallen down.  I've heard "splat" many times though.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Perseverance is an act of faith.  Why do I say that?  Because you have to believe that something is worth coming back for.  Even after you have taken it on the chin.

Colossians 4:2–4 2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear,

How do you recover from a "splat" so well that it looks like you "bounced" back? 

First of all, face your failures or mistakes with faith.  

True, you may have messed up.  You might be wrong.  But forgive yourself.   Don't wallow in your mistakes. 

Pray for clarity and ask for direction from the Holy Spirit.  Being on the right path in life has a lot to do with how you come back from failure. 

Don't give up.  Learn from this.  Determine to let God lead your life, not the opinion of others. 

Label yourself an expert.  When someone asks you what you're good at, tell them, "I make failure look good!" 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to respond to life and my mistakes like You would.  AMEN 

You Were Created To Pray

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Confession is good for the soul, but hard on one's reputation.  When we confess our weaknesses to each other, especially the ones that snare our souls in sin, we must be careful who we speak to.  

Choose someone who is rich in mercy.  This person can listen without judging. 
Choose someone who understands the struggle.  The will forgive because they are forgiven. 

Don't hold offense against someone else.  Confess, repent and move on.  Lack of repentance here can prohibit the healing you need in your life.  

When you pray this way, you will become the righteous person whose prayers impact the lives of others. 

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication (interceding in prayer) for all the saints,
Praying all the time means to be in an attitude of prayer.  To put it another way, "Pay attention and pray!"  When you hear that a marriage is about to all apart.  Pray.  When someone is going to the doctor for an unknown illness.  Pray.  When you see an accident beside the road.  Pray.

Then, especially pay attention to your like-minded friends of faith.  Pray for them, their health, their future, their needs, and their lives.

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

Pray for yourself! (supplications)  What are your needs?  Let God know
Pray for others!  (intercessions)  Pray for the needs of others.  
Give thanks!  Before God answers your prayers, thank Him for interceeding iin your life and in the lives of those you are praying for.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I am praying today for . . . . AMEN  

Praying Through

I was reading about the plagues of Egypt this morning.  You know, frog, flies, blood, and stuff.  I noticed that in the beginning things didn't go well for the Jews.  After the first plague, Pharaoh ordered the Jews to make clay bricks and to get their own straw too.  They couldn't reduce their daily quota of brickmaking either without punishment.  This means that the Jews had to work twice and made three times as hard.

They gave Moses and Aaron an earful for it.

Exodus 5 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

The Jews have been living in Egypt for nearly 400 years.  For much of that time, they have been slaves to the Egyptians.  They have been praying for God to deliver them.  They have waited a long, long time for an answer to their prayers and it seems that Moses is that answer.

But things didn't go as planned.  In fact, the situation got worse, not better.

How many times have you prayed for God to deliver you from something?  Then in the midst of your trial things got worse.  Many of us have experienced this at some level.  What do you do?

Don't blame yourself.  Many times when things get worse, we think that it is our fault.

Remain faithful.  Don't stop praying and don't stop believing that God will answer your prayers.

Learn, don't revolt.  This was a learning moment for the Jews.  That even in the worst of situations God would come through for them.  Calm your heart and listen to the Holy Spirit.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I'm going through it right now, and it isn't getting any better.  Please encourage my faith.  AMEN.