Bad days…

God is with me even on my bad days. I don’t feel like doing anything or writing much but He has inspired me to do it anyway. Why? Because He is my Savior and my Friend. He is Life and the Author of it, so whether you are feeling down or depressed or just “not feelin’ it”, He is still there with you every step of the way. God loves us whether we are good or not and He can bring our lives to the point of being even better than they could be without Him.

So…truly with Him in your life, there are no bad days just days where you don’t feel as “up” as you did yesterday or the day before. That’s the best way that I can describe it. One of the performers on AGT in the past few years really touched my heart when she came on. Her “stage name” was Nightbirde. I say was because her cancer came back before she could make it to the finals and she passed away. But her spirit was infectious and happy even with cancer hanging in the background. Her advice after her audition was this: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before deciding to be happy”… Nightbirde

The only thing that I would add to her advice is that “You can’t wait until life is great to feel joy”. Joy is the giddy cousin of happiness and you can feel it even when you don’t really feel happy.

The Diligent Worker Shall Be Satisfied

The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, But the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied. (Proverbs 13:4)

As I adjusted to the general education system in 6th grade, my mother taught me the principle of working hard. This is something that still resonates with me today, especially with senior year right around the corner.

Now that I am a senior getting ready to graduate high school, there comes the temptation to slack off and blow everything off to the last minute. This temptation is especially going to come with a 3-10 page research paper that all seniors must complete prior to graduating. However, every grade in the gradebook counts, because now you are looking for colleges and universities that demand such high academic standards. For many, Zoom and remote learning has created the perfect opportunity for us to be lazy and shoot for mediocrity.

However, it is the diligent, hard-working person who reaps profitable results. This attitude of diligence is what landed me on the honor roll for five consecutive school years, and what allowed me to earn the Principal’s Award for Mathematics this past school year.

When God sees our work ethic (whether in our academics, our personal responsibilies, our career, or even the way we worship and serve God), we will inevitaly reap good fruit. To be clear: You sow the seed of diligence, while God Himself produces the results.

Today, let us all use today as a day of productivity, not being idle or lax in what we done, but pour out our hearts and souls into each and every task or assignment God gives us. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the wisdom and motivation to work for the kingdom of God, and for those around us. Amen!

Where do you find “JOY!!”

Joy is a baby’s cry exclaiming that they are alive! Joy is a child chasing butterflies and laughing. Joy is the love that you find in another when God brings you together as husband and wife. Joy is seeing a puppy open its eyes and gaze in wonder at the world around them. Joy is the love that you finally find in Jesus because He knit you together and He put all of your parts together and He knows you better than anyone in the whole world.

We look for the source of this joy all during our lives. Sometimes we find it in the person that we feel is our soulmate. Then we find that they can’t fill that space because they aren’t the One that can. Many times we try to find it in our careers or our accomplishments, if there are any, but this is also false.

Jesus Our Yahweh. He is our God, our Creator, our Savior, our Yahweh and He is our joy. Cling to Him during your hard days and during your trials. Cling hard to Him during those times that you don’t understand what is happening. Stay close to Him in all of your trials and your tests and in those days that turn out to be joyous and happy…thank Him for giving you His JOY!

Have you had a “But, God” moment?

I don’t mean the kind of moment where you are asking a question or even feeling like He is in the way of something. I mean one of those times in Scripture where the text says, “But, God….” meaning that He moved in some fashion to do something for a person or a people. Some of them happen in such a way that you really can’t miss it, and some seem to be an afterthought.

So, have you had a moment like this? Many times, I think we actually have moments like this but at the time, God does something in our lives which allow us to skirt danger or miss something which could’ve been dangerous or worse. In those moments He doesn’t ping us with a bat and tell us what He caused to work for His glory and for our good because God is not like that. He is better.

We should know this already but there are times where we need to be reminded Who we actually serve. He is not our servant, we are His. Why is this important? Because God says so that’s why. Seek Him out in this life so that you will have Life abundant and free from sin and the destruction which it brings with it.

I have had at least one of these “but, God” moments, except sometimes I use it more as a question and answer time with Him. Not that I am questioning His Wisdom in any area of my life, but sometimes I do wonder why things work out as they do. Children get sick, parents fall and fail each other for one reason or another. Essentially, life as we have to live it happens. We can’t control the things which happen around us, right?

No, but God can! When we give up or decide that our faith isn’t strong enough to think that God would intervene in our life or in the lives of those that we love…then we give the enemy an opening to attack. While it is true that he can’t touch you if you are a Christian, God can allow things (including Satan and disease) to test you in your resolve. Don’t believe the lie that you won’t get better or that you have to have treatment by the doctors who are only getting rich off of cancer and its treatment.

God can come into your life and change the conditions and the diagnosis into something which will draw more people to Him, like one where cancer just dies and the doctor can’t explain it. It does happen but many times our media just doesn’t know what to do with a miracle so they may not report it at all. Natural treatments work on cancer and other diseases but the pharmaceutical companies don’t want people to know this because they can’t make millions from a natural cure.

Treatments which can go on for years gives them far more leverage over our lives. The news media also spreads their “propaganda” just as it did with cigarettes years ago. Millions of people paid with their lives because of the lies about cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco products and their effect on a person’s body.

Please, seek out God’s way of dealing with disease and other problems in your life. Don’t let the enemy win because you aren’t willing to give something natural a try or to ask for prayer in your situation. God can use your life and your situation to turn more people around if you will give Him a chance to do so.

Laugh a little

As much as the news bombards us with things which bring us down, it is good to find something to laugh about. Just as David danced and praised the Lord as they brought the Ark into Jerusalem, we should laugh and find joy in our days. I know it isn’t easy to do at times, with all of the news being confusing and bad, in ways that make you want to give up. Find little joys in your day like seeing a child having fun or a bird flying and living its life the way God intended. Seek out joy and it will find you.

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Life is too short to live with a sour face and a spirit which says to others “Leave me alone in my pain and sorrow!”. Children in happy homes find all sorts of imaginative things to do and be happy about. Unfortunately when we get older and have too many responsibilities, we lose that joy and wonder mostly because we don’t have time for it. Live…because you are designed for life and God gives you each day to enjoy every minute!

Lightning Storm Over City LightsLook at the stars, watch and sunrise or sunset and see the beauty of it, if you can watch a storm from a distance and see the dance of the electrical storm and the power in it. Above all…know that God loves you and has provided everything that you need in this life as a practice run for eternity! Run your race reaching for that goal of seeing your Savior and the reward of eternity after this life is finished!

Magi, who came to see the King

threemagiIn the days of King Herod, there were three magi (not kings) who came from the East. When we think of the East with respect to Jerusalem, many people in the past have portrayed these magi as the rulers of their countries. Many times they were also portrayed as Oriental and possibly from India, the truth is much different from fiction.

These three magi are also portrayed as astrologers, but they were not in the sense that we know it today. They watched the stars for signs of a King. Most, if not all, of the magi came from the area around Babylon. The school of magi which Daniel began when Israel was in captivity for 70 years is where they were from. They studied the scriptures which foretold of a coming King, One Who would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem.

Specifically, they were studying Isaiah and that is when they saw the “star” and decided it was time to go and see this King born in Bethlehem. These magi did not do magic nor were they into the occult, they were simply educated men who had been studying the prophets of Israel. It was those prophecies which brought them to Israel and then to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, looking for the One Who would be King of Kings!

The announcement went out to the shepherds that night when God put on flesh and came to be near His Creation, so that He could pay the penalty for our sins and make right what had gone wrong at the first. He was the only One Who could pay the penalty for ALL of mankind, past, present and future. All that we need to do is believe in His sacrifice and accept the grace given to us.

Problems in our lives

How many problems do we all have today? That question alone could fill up many pages of text. Suffice to say, all of us have problems of one kind or another. Some of them are of our own making, some are caused by the economic conditions in the world today.

So, what can we do about our problems? Not much really. Individually, we have to notice what is going on before it becomes a problem. The same is true for states and nations, but that doesn’t always work. In our lives, as short as they are, problems are going to be a part of them and there is no reason to think otherwise.

Sounds pessimistic doesn’t it? Jesus told His disciples that we would always have trouble (tribulation) in this world but to be of good cheer because He had overcome the world. Will that help in today’s climate with wars happening all over, earthquakes and hurricanes happening in places where they haven’t in a while if ever? For some people, no it won’t because they don’t want to give their hearts to Jesus. They don’t want the peace which comes with knowing Him.

Why don’t they want this? I haven’t got the slightest idea. Jesus and the Holy Spirit give me the strength to get by and get through the problems which come up in my life and they can do this for you too. I don’t have the problems that many people have with their health, but I can’t work because of my disability (at least not at an 8 hour a day job). I preach on Sunday and I give these sermons here when the words come to me, but that is about all that I can accomplish.

It saddens me that I am like this, but I like to think it was because I was making a difference in some people’s lives and Satan tried to stop it. It didn’t work. I am not letting this get me down and you shouldn’t either! I have days where I am depressed, but I do my best to read in the Psalms and give it to God and let Him take care of it. I can’t get rid of the depression on my own, but He can.

Your problems may have to do with money or lack of a job or an illness, but God can take care of them all if you will let Him. God doesn’t move at our pace, He works in His time which is why we sometimes try to help Him get things done. That is the wrong thing to do because it just postpones His answer! He will let you give it a try, and He will give the problem back to you if you think you can do better, then He will sit back and watch. When you figure it out, then He will ask you in a small voice (if you are listening), “Are you ready for my solution yet?”.

God loves each of us more than we can imagine and since He lives outside of time, He can see down the road, so to speak, what is coming and what is best for us. He wants us to wait for His best! We just get impatient. It is important to add here something that I learned a LONG time ago: DON’T ASK GOD TO TEACH YOU PATIENCE! You won’t like His class on that at all!! Learn it at your own pace, teach yourself patience through the reading of His Word and then listen to Him and wait.

I promise, it will be worth it.

What is important to you?

There seems to be many people who are running around searching for something which makes them feel good. The travel to places which are beautiful, they go to sports arenas and watch football games and baseball games, some go to race tracks and watch professional drivers run around in circles. Many go on trips called vacations to places that they do not live, to see things for a few days and live there for those few days, sometimes in the lap of luxury. Then what?

You come home. The excitement and the newness of living has worn off. You are sitting in a house, a home, with the same people who went on the vacation but..something is missing. You feel restless, unsatisfied, nervous, anxious, what do you do? Many who can afford to will be off on another trip, somewhere. Anywhere but at home, in a place that is boring and uninteresting.

Contentment is hard to find, unless you have allowed it to find you first. Contentment is a state of mind where you know where you belong and to whom you belong. You don’t have to be married to be content, but it doesn’t hurt! Paul wrote “I have learned to be content in whatever state I find myself in” Philippians 4:11 , wouldn’t it be great if we could all find that place?

Contentment, what is important to you, these two are not exclusive, they are the same. Have you found your place, your “happy place”, the place where you are content and fulfilled with where you are and who you are? Sadly, some people never find that place. Many search for it their entire lives and don’t realize it until they are on their death-bed. By then, it’s too late to enjoy it. I see it in many of my friend’s lives and some of my classmate’s lives as well. Over the years I have watched many of them chase after something which is elusive like a puff of smoke.

A few have found it, but some are still looking even after their children are grown and they are retired from their jobs. Why? Your job doesn’t usually give you contentment and sometimes neither does your family. It seems that many people are content until one or the other is gone, the job or the family and children. Then what do you do?

We identify with our jobs or our family during the productive years of our lives and then when we get to a point, whether young or middle-aged or past 65, where we have the option or maybe we have been forced to “retire” from work, we find that our identity was our contentment. Now that we are past the point of being productive in work or raising a family, life is a big question mark now. Who am I? What do I do now?

Seek out your Savior! If you have not done this during your so-called “productive years”, then truly you need to make it a point to do it today! Why? Because, that place where you have placed your contented feelings during your career or while raising a family is now empty. It was supposed to contain the Holy Spirit all along! Ask Jesus to come in and clean out the space which has been occupied by life and all of its busyness and place His Spirit in there!

That is where Paul got his contentment from. He was a murdering, hunter of the followers of “the Way”, until Jesus stopped him and got in his face. If you have felt the call of Jesus, but you have pushed Him aside, it isn’t too late. Seek Him out in scripture and in a real Bible teaching church, then ask Him to come into your life and clean out the cobwebs and the left over stuff from your life. When He does, you should begin to study and read His Word!

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t understood it before, with His Spirit helping you, the meanings will be clearer. If you can’t grasp something that the Bible says, ask Jesus to make it plain to you so you can.

Then, the things which are important will rearrange themselves and begin to line up from His perspective and your perspective will be lined up with His. That is contentment and being in that place is more rewarding than any “vacation” or any amount of fun that you could have before. I don’t mean that you have to stop doing those things, just keep your eyes focused on Jesus first. Take Him with you, learn to love things from His point of view. He is the Creator, so enjoy His creation, and when you do it in that order…contentment will come to live with you.

Life, what will you do with it?

Since we are all alive if we are breathing, then we are all living right now…today, but have you considered what tomorrow might bring your way? Have you even thought of what will happen or may happen in an hour or two? We are not gifted with that kind of sight, thank goodness! We can’t see into the future even a few minutes from now regardless of where we are or how much we may like to see the future. So, how are you living your life right now, this very instant? Have you ever thought of that or even considered it at all?

Life is something that we live one tick of the clock at a time or one blink of your eyes at a time. Just fractions of a second stand between you closing your eyes in a blink and then opening them again and it only takes a fraction of a second. But, there are times that just that tiny fraction of a second could make the difference between having a wreck in a car or not. But, we can’t stop blinking or driving or walking because that is what we do while living!

Faith in God’s provision brings us through those milliseconds of time when we blink. He will see us through and bring us out the other side. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but consider all of the milliseconds that people experience every day, every month, every year and you realize that we all live faithfully in God’s grace whether we believe in Him or not! Isn’t that great? He loves each of us THAT much regardless of our faith or belief in Him.

Some of us are given much in goods and things that the world sees as our blessing from God. In the eyes of many people of the world, outside America, each person in this country is wealthy. Most of us have a place to live that is warm or cool according to the season, many of us have food on the table or in the house every day of the year, many of us have jobs which pay us a nice wage or if we happen to own a business it may be doing well enough to provide us everything that we need in this life. The problem with looking at our “material wealth” from the perspective of those outside of our homes or our businesses is that they don’t see or feel the loneliness and fear and helplessness that comes with being “well off”.

Many of us don’t even consider ourselves well off in wealth at all. Business owners have payroll and insurance and overhead expenses like utilities and such. Homeowners and those in business have insurance and grocery bills, utility bills, cable bills, dental and clothing bills, tuition bills, etc. So much so that after you take out all of the money for bills and life, there isn’t much wealth left at all! But, to those who live in Africa or India or Turkey or China or North Korea our way of life and the apparent wealth that they see is far above anything that many of them will ever attain.

That is why America and Americans are not on the lists of people who are liked or loved, because we are seen as a culture and a country that has it all. Everyone else wants what we have, up to a point, but they also want to bring us down a notch or two if possible. The biggest realization that the world needs to find out about is that we can’t fill that spot that has always been empty or hollow. No amount of money or stuff will ever fill that empty part of your soul until you realize that Jesus is the One that does fit in that spot! Once you understand that, all of the stuff that most are holding onto for dear life just doesn’t matter! Yes, you still have to have money to pay your electric bill and your other bills, but the i-Pads and the i-Pods and the phones and computers and any other amount of things which this season tries to tell you that you HAVE TO HAVE…they don’t matter at all!

Jesus said that your life is like a puff of smoke and compared to eternity it really is! Your life doesn’t matter much unless Jesus and belief in Him is a part of your everyday existence. No amount of time or effort or money invested or given to any charity will make an eternal difference unless you are doing it with faith and the love of Jesus in your heart.

Do you have everything that you need?

Many in the world’s countries don’t, at least from the world’s viewpoint. You notice that I put in the title “everything that you need“? I did not say anything about stuff that you want!

Wanting things and more things doesn’t give you anything but a storage building that you didn’t need but it is necessary because of the stuff that you wanted. So, now what will you do with it all? Store it in a building? What good does that do you?

What about the garage with status symbols in it that cost you more than your house payment every month? You have to put a hundred dollars worth of gas or diesel in those every week at least to keep them going. You have to replace the tires on them at about two hundred dollars apiece every so often. I know that they are necessary for you to go to work or maybe you use one of them for your job, and that’s fine. They are useful, but some stuff just isn’t and it gets your money and barely any notice after that, at times.

Our needs involve food, shelter, clothing, and health. I am not speaking of having more of any of these than others but just what you truly need. The best is good as long as it doesn’t cost you more than you can afford. Enough food is great for anyone, but more than you need is bad for you. Everyone knows this, but there are many who don’t seem to care because they want more.

Did you also notice that in your needs list, I didn’t have wealth. Why is that? Because in order to have your needs met you don’t need more money, you only need enough to take care of your needs. Wealth is for those who want to do it all and have it all and it is a good thing for some people. But, Jesus said that is would be “harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle”. Why is that? Simply because a rich or wealthy person doesn’t feel that they need Jesus, because they have every “thing” that they want and they have money to get what they need if that need arises.

Wealth can’t buy happiness or health though. Yes, you can pay your bills so it makes the stress level go down somewhat, but that isn’t happiness. If your health takes a turn toward the cancer ward or something happens to your child, your money can help you to have the best care that money can buy. But, what if that isn’t enough? What if there is no cure or amount of medication which will take care of the problem? Money’s just paper at that point.

Your needs, your life, your happiness, and your health are all important to God because He created you for a purpose. He cares for you and loves you far more than you even love yourself. I am not saying that all of your needs will automatically be taken care of if you trust in Jesus for your salvation. Your bank account won’t suddenly swell up with cash after you become a Christian (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing as long as you give God the glory for it). But, the love and the peace which comes with knowing Jesus and His Father will make even a diagnosis of incurable cancer bearable because you now have eternity in Heaven to thank Him for His love and grace for you. No amount of money or fame will ever fill that void in your life unless Jesus fills it.