Staying Connected

Staying Connected

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” – Psalm 143:8

Two of the greatest inventions of our time have been the laptop computer and e-mail. The laptop means we no longer have to stay in one place to be productive in our personal & business life. E-mail has allowed us to stay connected to people all around the world with the touch of a button.

A greatest frustration is when either of these does not work. Sometimes e-mail cannot be used because we can’t get a connection. Sometimes we cannot use the laptop because it has not been properly charged and then the charge runs out in the middle of something important. Both of these situations mean we are unable to tap into the resource that allows us to be productive

The morning time with God is much like these situations for me. God pours His Word into my spirit, and I am recharged. This recharging has an important effect on my day. It allows me the greatest opportunity to hear the small voice that directs my steps. If I refuse to “get connected,” I risk following my own ways of fulfilling the duties of my day. It sets forth the opportunity for God to speak into my spirit what He desires for me each day. It allows me to focus on God’s purposes, not mine.

The only way to know someone is to spend time with him or her. The only way to discern the voice of another is to hear that person’s voice. David, the author of this psalm, was a warrior, king, and businessman. He understood this principle of connecting with God in the morning. His morning allowed him to connect with God’s love, renew his trust in Him, and hear His directions for his life. Shouldn’t you and I do the same?

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A Heavenly Strategic Planning Session

A Heavenly Strategic Planning Session

“And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ One suggested this, and another that. – 1 Kings 22:20

There are few times we get a glimpse of what goes on in Heaven. Here is one instance when the angels were conferring with the Lord about the judgment of King Ahab for his sin and who was going to set up Ahab for this judgment.

If God wanted to use you to impact your world for Jesus Christ, what circumstances would have to be created in order for you to respond to His call? Would prospering you materially encourage you to this end? Would a major change in what you are presently doing be necessary? What would your response be should God and the angels conclude that the only way to move you into a position of fulfilling God’s purposes was to remove some things that might be very dear to you? Would you agree with their plan if you knew this would be the only way you would achieve the purposes for which God made you? Hard questions, aren’t they?

This is the very thing God does in many who have been called for a special mission. Moses had to be stripped of his royal position in the family of Egypt and sit in the desert for 40 years. The apostle Paul had to be knocked off his horse, blinded, and receive a personal visitation from Jesus. The 12 disciples had to leave their jobs for three years to follow Christ. Imagine what kind of disruption this had on their lives. There are many examples of God bringing major upheaval in the lives of those He called for His purposes. Why?

The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit’s work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.

Would you be willing to sit in the strategic planning session for your life and agree with the plans God has for your life? Could you give God complete freedom to implement that plan, no matter the cost? Ask God to give you the grace and trust in His love for you to say “yes.”

The Poison Garden

The Poison Garden

. . .looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Hebrews 12:15

Recommended Reading – Genesis 50:15-21

In Eureka, California, best-selling author Amy Stewart tends an unusual garden behind her house. Every plant could kill you. Some of her plants, if ingested, would paralyze you. Some would stop your heart. Amy is a specialist in poisonous plants, about which she often writes and lectures. They are grown behind a secure fence.

Few of us would want such a garden, but how many of us have allowed a root of bitterness to spring up within us? How many have a little toxic garden in our hearts?

If anyone had reason to remain bitter, it was Joseph in the book of Genesis. Yet he forgave his brothers, was reconciled to them, and provided for them. His forgiveness melted their hearts, and old wounds were somehow healed. Forgiveness isn’t just a behavioral adjustment or psychological device. It is the sum and substance of every page and paragraph of the Bible. It’s what the Bible is all about. It’s the theme of the ages, the crux of the cross and gist of grace.

Beware lest any root of bitterness spring up within you.

He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his book, Strength to Love

Today is Gratitude Day

Today Is Gratitude Day

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1

Recommended Reading – Hebrews 13:15

We often say, “God bless you!” to others without thinking about what it actually means. When God blesses us, He speaks a word of care or favor over us (Psalm 29:11). And when we bless God, we do the same — we speak a good word about God’s many attributes that benefit (bless) us (Psalm 26:12). So when the psalmist says, “I will bless the Lord at all times,” he is saying, “I will continually speak of God’s goodness, kindness, generosity, and other traits.” That is, I will continually manifest an attitude of gratitude toward God for who He is and what He has done.

Do you see this background of blessing in Paul’s words, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but on every day, we should give thanks to God and bless His holy name for His many gifts of grace to us. Even on challenging days, we can be grateful for the fact that God is with us, causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Let today be a day of thanksgiving for sure. But let every day be one in which you live with an attitude of gratitude toward Him.

Christian doctrine is grace, and Christian conduct is gratitude.
J. I. Packer

God’s Perspective

God’s Perspective

And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:7

Recommended Reading – Ephesians 3:20-21

Chameleons and dragonflies have eyes that can cover a full 360 degrees of vision. With their peripheral vision, humans can cover only half that range. At any given moment in life, we humans are missing “half” of what is going on around us. Ours is a limited perspective to say the least.

Our perspective is limited spiritually, too; we don’t often see things from God’s perspective with our limited spiritual vision. For instance, for years Joseph thought he was only in Egypt to be God’s representative among the Egyptian nation — to demonstrate God’s wisdom and righteousness. And he did that well (Genesis 41:38-40). What he didn’t see at first was that God had him in Egypt to prepare a place of refuge for the descendants of promise — the family of Jacob. He was overcome when he realized he was meeting his brothers for the first time in many years, and that he could help preserve his family (Genesis 42:24).

We should live our lives with the knowledge that we are not seeing the whole picture. We must ask God to show us His perspective — to show us how we can be a blessing to others.

God’s plans reach from an eternity past to an eternity to come. Let Him take His own time.
William S. Plumer

Check Under the Hood

Check Under the Hood

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” – Colossians 3:8

“The root issue you are dealing with is fear. The physical symptom is control, and when you cannot control, you get angry because of unmet expectations.” These were the words I spoke during a conversation in a restaurant to my friend who was separated from his wife. He described his anger and how he never saw some of these characteristics in his life until he entered this marriage.

A friend once said to me, “Anger is like the lights on a dashboard. They tell you something is going on under the hood. You must find out the source of the problem.” Whenever we have expectations of another person and those expectations do not materialize, our tendency is to get angry. The source of the anger is often the fear that the unmet expectation will negatively impact us.

We fear that our finances, our well-being, our image, or any number of things may be impacted by the unmet expectation. My friend’s wife had not met his expectations in many areas of his life, so then, many times it resulted in harsh words that damaged his wife’s self-esteem. Now, it was leading to a marriage crisis.

Jesus often spoke of living as though we were dead. How can you live as though you are dead? “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). It is a choice each of us must make. Once you become dead to that which stirs an emotion in you, God is free to change that situation. Until then, you can expect God to allow that situation to remain until you reckon yourself dead to the effects of the issue that causes you to struggle.

Is there something that causes anger within you? Ask God what the source of that anger is. You might be surprised at what you find. Then ask God to give you the grace to reckon yourself dead to that issue. You will find new freedom in your relationships and your own peace of mind.

Wait Until Wednesday

Wait Until Wednesday

But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Genesis 39:21

Recommended Reading – Genesis 45:4-7

A tongue-in-cheek theological axiom concerning the will of God goes like this: If it’s Monday, and you want to know what God’s will is for Tuesday, just wait until Wednesday. The point of that saying is this: God’s will is always active, always ongoing, always being worked out — even when circumstances are difficult. The mistake we make is thinking that God’s will can never involve discomfort or pain.

We know for a fact that it was God’s will for Joseph to be taken to Egypt; Joseph himself said as much to his brothers. In fact, Joseph said it was God who sent him to Egypt (Genesis 45:4-7; 50:20). But God’s will was not just the end result — Joseph being made second-in-command in Egypt. God’s will also included everything that resulted in that appointment — like being cast into an Egyptian prison for a time. Even in that dark period, “the LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:21), an indication that Joseph was clearly in God’s will.

When your circumstances make you question God’s will, recommit yourself to His presence and His purposes.

To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.
J. I. Packer