A Bad Thing Happened

BIBLE READING: Philemon  8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: I didn't blog yesterday, but in my defense, I was very, very busy. 

Around 1 pm, I heard a scream. It was my wife, and I recognized what kind of cry it was. She had fallen and hurt herself. Long story short, she broke both arms. Now, remember, she broke her leg just a couple of weeks ago. She was and is in pain. 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We all love to quote that verse, especially when we face something whose reward is welcomed. But the problem is when we encounter something severe and painful. We don't want to quote it. No, I am not saying that I don't want to serve and love my wife. I am saying that I don't want to watch her go through this. It is painful and harsh. 

But - I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

How, Pastor, can I face these seemingly impossible problems? Here are a few things you can do to meet the unwanted or undesired. 

Remember that God is the God of the impossible. You say, "impossible." God says, "I've got you." Trust Him through this time. 

Love the person, not the problem. We can and will get angry. But remember to focus your love on the person, not your anger. Sure, maybe they deserve it (no my wife doesn't) but not now. There are a time and place to do the right thing. 

Believe in yourself. God created you knowing that you were going to go through this. 

Don't be afraid. What if I make a mistake? It isn't a matter of "if" as much as a matter of "when." Don't be afraid to make mistakes, to say "I'm sorry," or forgive yourself. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I can do all things because you are my source of strength. AMEN 

4 Keys To Prevent Yourself From Being Deceived.

BIBLE READING: Philemon 1 This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people.

What does this passage mean to you?

BLOG: A 48-year-old man suffered severe burns after falling into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The man walked off the boardwalk without a flashlight and tripped into the thermal water near Old Faithful.

Have you ever heard stories like this one and said to yourself, "What were they thinking?"

We've all had our moments when it seems that common sense has left the building. But some believe in the flat earth theory, psychic surgery, and pyramid power too. You wonder - why? 

Matthew 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

You and I live in a world that is desperate for hope. While the Church has the only real message of hope, some will counterfeit it for their gain. You and I have to be aware and ready to challenge, with love, those who are deceived. 

A week ago, I was in a store, and a young man walked up to me and asked if he could speak to me. I immediately recognized that I was about to be "evangelized" by someone. He immediately took me to the book of Revelation, where he asked if I would like to be one of the 144,000 to go to heaven. I'm not Jewish, so I know that I can never be that. Then he told me how the angels were holding back the four winds of the earth so we would be saved from the war to come. But I pointed out that the four horsemen of Revelation (Chapter 6) had already brought war, famine, death, and pestilence. 

Then he told me that Jesus showed us how to be saved. "Ok, how?" I asked. He said, "I have to take Passover, just like they did in the New Testament." "Where is that in the New Testament?" I asked. He took me to the Last Supper in Matthew. I said, "This is Old Testament, not New." He insisted that it is, look it is in the book of Matthew. "Yes, but the New Testament doesn't start until the death and resurrection of Jesus. Read his words, the New Covenant is established in His blood. The events of the Gospels happen under Old Testament law, which Jesus obeyed until the new contract was fulfilled." 

He invited me to his Bible study, I told him I was a pastor and asked him to attend my Bible study, and he disappeared. 

So let's review a few of the basics.  

Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus.  He is the Son of God who died on a cross for our sins and rose from the grave to give us life. Salvation never has nor will ever be about our works. 

We must repent of our sins and turn away from them. We are asking Jesus to save us, but we are also committing to following Jesus with our whole life. 

The Bible, Genesis through Revelation, is the inspired Word of God. Every word all the time. 

Sometimes I see false religions turn on the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But I read where Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28) and see otherwise.

Oh, Pastor, you don't need to review the "basics" with me.  Maybe not.  But it doesn't hurt to remember them.  You and I live in a world that wants to take these truths and twist them to into their own design.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, keep my heart pure, my mind clear and my spirit ready to follow You everyday.  AMEN  

3 Ways To Improve Your Week

BIBLE READING: Titus 3: 12 - 15 12 I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, do your best to meet me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to stay there for the winter. 13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need. 14 Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. 15 Everybody here sends greetings. Please give my greetings to the believers—all who love us. May God’s grace be with you all.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: It's Sunday afternoon, and your thinking about your week. The weekend was lovely but like all good things ... 

Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

So how are you going to prepare your week? What are you doing to make it better? Here are a few things that I do to that you might want to try. 

Plan your week. I sit down and make a list, like everyone else, of what is going to happen on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. Now, do I get everything done on my list? Not usually, but I do get a lot done. To those who are saying, "I can't do that, my life is too hectic!" Now you know why. 

Change your attitude. Every morning I tell myself, I will be positive and grateful. These qualities do not come naturally to any of us. We must choose to do so. Some days I get it right, and we will not talk about the others. But I would hate to see what I would be like if I didn't do this. 

Welcome interruptions. I'm not talking about the time stealers like the "ding" on your cell phone or computer (Hint: Turn them off - I did, and my life got better!). I'm talking about those moments when God sends someone to you. Those opportunities to bless someone and be the Gospel. Don't get upset about it - if God is God, then He is the God of your time too. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, lead me to be the best I can be for You this week. AMEN. 

4 Ways to Pray Better

BIBLE READING: Titus 3:9 - 11  9 Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10 If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Most people misinterpret this passage to mean that they can ask God for ANYTHING and get it. 

First of all, you can ask God for anything. No, it doesn't mean that He will give it to you. God can say yes, He can say no, and most times He will say, wait. 

So what can you do to pray better? 

Pray His will, not yours. Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer, not my will, but yours be done.  Find out what God wants, submit your will to that, and you will see answers - quickly. 

Have patience. Even the great faith warrior Daniel had to wait 30 days for an answer to prayer? Why? Because hell tried to stop it. Pray, and pray persistently.

Keep good records. You've got a bad memory. No, that isn't an inditement, it's a fact. Our lives are so busy we forget what we had for lunch yesterday. So write your requests down. Review them frequently - you'll discover that God has been active. 

Give God credit for what He has done. I have said that God hasn't answered prayer because He isn't going to get credit for it. Purpose to tell someone what God has done in your life. Tell anyone who will listen. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to pray better. AMEN. 

It's Moms Birthday

BIBLE READING: Titus 3: 8 - 11 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. 9 Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10 If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

What does this passage mean to you? 

Question? I switched from English Standard Version to New Living Translation. Do you like NLT better?

BLOG: Today is my mom's birthday. She is (cough) years old today. But I can tell you that she was born in the middle of the Great Depression. I remember visiting the remnants of the log cabin she was born in. The farm she was raised on and the stories she would tell me about how they survived. 

For years she wanted to have a child, but my dad was hesitant. She prayed, "Lord if you will give me a child, I will dedicate it to you." Little did she know that the son she bore would become a pastor. 

2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Her faithfulness is her crown. She was faithful to raise me in church, to serve Christ through her giftings and to give to others with love. But believe me, it wasn't easy for her to do. My dad reluctantly agreed to let me go to church, but he thought it was making me weak. Northwest Arkansas was Baptist country, so being a Pentecostal was a bit controversial even in those days. God blessed her for her faithfulness. 

So what is the lesson that you can learn from this story? 

Being faithful to God for years reaps a blessing like none other. What you are looking for isn't going to appear overnight. Working hard and keeping the faith will. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to be faithful to You for the rest of my life. AMEN. 

3 Ways To Be Shrewd

BIBLE READING: Titus 3: 1 - 7 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: What you do think when you hear the word "shrewd?" I know that I think of someone who is taking advantage of an opportunity or a customer. The word doesn't conjure up any happy thoughts for me. 

But in the Bible, the word means (in the greek) "to act with foresight." 

Luke 16: 1 - 9. He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.' 3 And the manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.' 5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6 He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' 7 Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.

If you read this parable, you may very well miss the point of Jesus' parable. He wants us, by faith, to look into our future with foresight. To what purpose, you might ask. To be more affluent, more powerful, and influential? As we can see in the following verses, it is none of those things. He wants us to be good managers of the resources He has entrusted us with so we can be a blessing to others. Be the good news of Jesus. 

So how can you be shrewd? 

Who are you going to bless today? Can you think of someone that you want to bless today? How about two people - more? 

What are you going to give away today? It could be monetary. It could be a smile. But commit now to do it. 

How are you going to do it? This speaks to attitude. Are you going to do it, begrudgingly? Then may I suggest that you don't do it. But if you are going to do it with joy-full steam ahead! 

Here is the beauty of all of this. You're only limits are the ones you place on yourself. Your creativity can be a blessing if you let it. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, teach me how to be shrewd enough to bless others. AMEN.