It is the thought that counts?

 

 

This is one yearly habit that I would like to do more of.  “Hobo Breakfast!”

Dear family,

 Sow a thought, you reap an act;

Sow an act, you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, you reap a character;

Sow a character, you reap a destiny.

                                    –Author Unknown

 You hear the expression, it’s the thought that counts.  Ask my wife how this would work. 

“I thought about going to work today.”  “I thought about buying you those flowers.”  “I was looking at some cards, and I thought about sending you one.”  “I thought about fixing that leak.”  “I thought about taking a walk with you.”  “I thought about filling your tank up with gas.”  “I thought about fixing dinner for you.”

Would this be her reply?  “Oh, Steve I love the thoughts you have for me.  Thank you so much!”

Yeah.

God has thoughts for us.  How can He do that and not me?  Well, you see His thoughts turn into action.  You can count on it.  That is why His words toIsraelmeans so much in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 29:11-14(KJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

God is totally faithful.  His Word does not return void!

So, what do I do with all my thoughts, with the good ones that is, and there are a lot of them!?

Here is where I think we need to talk with a farmer.  Where isKentright now?  Going back to our little poem, how do we sow a thought?  We need to get beyond those thoughts.  If we do not get those thoughts in the “ground”, those habits will not appear, and some habits seem important.

In Luke 22, we see Jesus going out into the Garden to pray, as was His habit.  

Luke 22:39-40 (AMP)
39 And He came out and went, as was His habit, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed Him.
40 And when He came to the place, He said to them, Pray that you may not [at all] enter into temptation.

He encourages the disciples to pray so that they will not fall into temptation, that is sin.  Jesus prays and is tempted to avoid the cross, yet is consistent with following after the Father’s will. 

Luke 22:42 (AMP)
42 Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.

He does not fall into temptation.  But the disciples will and do.

Seems that the habit of prayer is critical in our walk with the Lord and to keep from falling into sin.  It seems that memorization of Scripture is also vital! 

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

How are your habits of prayer and memorization?  Seems like we need to get planting those thoughts, and memorizing His Word.  It is the planting season.  Any farmers or gardeners out there that can help us out?  Maybe we just need to get our hands dirty and dig in! 

What a great week to begin, as we celebrate God’s gift of forgiveness and Life!

Hoping your thoughts take root today, and your habits will flourish!

Love,

Steve

“Like, duh!”

Do you think you need a sign here that says “Do not swim with the alligators”?

Or is a tag needed on this mask warning you to not wear it to a “Down with Clowns” convention?

Dear family of God,

I used to get a kick out of reading all the tags and warnings on different products.  “Like, duh!”  Well the problem is that the things that are warned about, have probably been done one way or another.  So what appears to be common sense, isn’t always used.  It seems often that we do not like instructions, throwing them away before putting something together.  Why do so many do that?  Is it because we think it is so easy, or we just are so smart, or are the directions too complicated?  Or do we not trust the one writing them?  When will we learn?  So whether you think those warning tags are worthless or not, follow what they say.

The bigger question is why do so many not listen to the Word of God?  Is it because we think we know better?  Are the directions too complicated?  Do we not trust the One who is behind them?  Or maybe it is because it just doesn’t feel good.  Maybe we are just too tired, and it isn’t worth trying to listen anymore.  No matter how you feel God is acting in your life today, remember the truth about what He did on the cross for you and me.  He is worth listening to!

What are you and I doing with the Word today? 

Listen to this song: 

Word of God Speak (words and music by Peter Kipley and Mercy Me)

I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

[Chorus:]
Word of God speak
Would you pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That you’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In your holiness
Word of God speak

I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

[Chorus: Repeat 2X]
I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay

 

Is it okay with you?

Remembering His Love expressed to me,

Steve

Jesus Consciousness

 

There are some things that just grab your attention!

Other things we must make an effort at remembering and we need each other’s help!

Readings Matthew 24:36-51 

Dear Family, 

It has been a year since the Tsunami hit Japan and caused such devastation and loss of life.  Current pictures of the “mountains” of debris (cars, clothing, household items….you name it), men still looking for bodies of victims, boats where they should not be (way inland), landscape that is totally altered, are a continuing testimony to what happened a year ago.

A report I read spoke of many that are struggling with chronic insomnia, and many psychiatric disorders including severe depression and anxiety, as a result of the sudden destruction.  Most were not prepared for such a sudden devastating event.  There was a town named Taro which suffered less casualties than many other similar villages because of it’s preparation.  You see, back in 1896 all but 36 residents were killed by a Tsunami, then in 1930 a thirty foot wave killed 911.  Ever since then on March 3 the town’s people practice Tsunami drills.  The drill held in 2011 was only 8 days before the Tsunami.  The people knew what to do, get to higher ground! 

There were still officially 130 that died, and 58 still missing out of 5000 people.  Yet, those numbers are much better than most other towns in similar settings.  Locals in Taro have what they call, “Tsunami consciousness”.

In today’s passage we see Jesus warning the people to have a “consciousness” regarding His return.  It appears in this passage that He is speaking of His return after the Great tribulation.  The exact time is not known, so people living then are to be aware, to be prepared. 

I believe the same applies for us today.  The day and hour of Jesus returning for the Church, which is commonly called the Rapture can be read about in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.  I Thessalonians 5:1-11 then continues to discuss the “Day of the Lord”.  This “Day” is better expressed as a period of time when a lot is going to take place, both blessing and judgment.  It is my belief that the rapture of the Church will really set this time off.  In I Thessalonians 5:2 we see Paul telling his readers that the “day” will come like a thief in the night.

We must be looking in great anticipation, knowing that the day is coming.  If we are not in Christ, we must look with great fear.  Just as the citizens of Taro were better prepared for a Tsunami than others, we should be prepared for the sure coming of our Lord and Savior.  Are you living as if it may be today?  Are you prepared?  Preparation doesn’t take a lot of work, at least not on our part. 

To begin the Day of the Lord “drill”, we must first simply trust in the One that took our penalty for sin and died on the cross, and receive the Life that He offers.  Once we have done that and are in right relationship with God, at peace with Him, we need to continue to be ready.  Preparation for me means continually looking at the gift of Jesus’ life and death, and thanking Him for it.  The natural response is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.  The problem comes when we stop looking at Jesus.  Fix your eyes on Him, not the storms around us. 

I believe that to be ready means having a “Jesus consciousness” (as opposed to a “Tsunami consciousness”), Coram Deo, if you please. 

Coram Deo!  Meaning “before the face of God”!  When I review the lives of others in the Bible that “failed” it seems that they were not at the moment living “Coram Deo”.  Many had just had an encounter with God, and then the next moment were off doing their own thing, certainly not like they were in the presence of God.  My “preparation” for Jesus’ return must involve a life of “Coram Deo.” 

As we drive our cars at every corner we seem to need a reminder of the speed limit.  If the signs are not enough the presence of a policeman seems to get our attention the best.  Sometimes we forget that policeman do not just give out tickets.  Their presence provides protection, direction, comfort, relationship….  How I want to live in the presence of my God continually. Submit to Him, draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:6-8 ) In the middle of that wisdom, James states that we are to resist the devil, and as we are submitting to God, and resisting the devil, our enemy will flee from us. 

Who does that leave us in the presence of?  And what are we expecting? 

Love, 

Steve

Promises, Promises

 

Do you think they are being promised something?  They look pretty interested!

Hopefully it wasn’t a fish dinner! At least not this one. (Sorry, if you are squeamish.)

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Readings Matthew 24:1-35

During this political season, I struggle with all the speeches. I have lived plenty long enough to know that promises made prior to election don’t always get kept. In making promises myself, I know that I have failed. Most of us have either been on the receiving end or the giving end of broken promises.

Jesus in the midst of giving predictions of the terrible things that are going to come in the future does give some very comforting words, the fact that He is going to return. (Comforting for the elect, for those that are His.)

Matthew 24:30-31 (NASB95) 30 “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31 “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Then in verse 35 we read this.

Matthew 24:35 (NASB95) 35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” “My words will not pass away.” They will not fail.

Reminds me of an Old Testament passage.

Isaiah 55:11 (NASB95) 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

In this day of uncertainty it is good to know that in the midst of many promises that are likely to be broken, we can turn to God’s Word and find Truth that is Truth, eternal Truth.

What are some truths/promises that God has made?

Do yourself a favor, review them today.

Rest on them tonight!

And share them with someone tomorrow.

They need to hear some real PROMISES!

Love,

Steve

Knowledge, it is a terrible thing to waste!

 

I just don’t understand how people can not put all the ingredients on this “Snow on the Mountain” meal, including the Coconut, which is the “snow”.  (For those that call this “build a mountain”, please forgive me.)  They just do not have the knowledge of how good it tastes with all the flavors blending together!

Dear food lovers,

Have you ever been eating one of your favorite foods and someone by you says, “I really do not care for this, would you like mine?”  You respond, “You must be kidding, how can you not like this?  Sure I will take yours!”  In your mind you are thinking, this person is really missing out.  You may even try to encourage them to give it a try, because you are sure they will like it.

It reminds me of the verse that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I can not get the man out of my head who responded a week ago to my question, “How are you doing?”  He responded, “I can’t get enough of the Word!”  As I told our Church on Sunday, he is finishing up memorizing Romans and his next step is Psalm 119.  But he is not just memorizing, he is hungering for the Word, chewing on it, digesting it, letting it nourish him.  He is longing for what it tells him about our Lord.  He is longing for knowledge of God.

Today as I was reading in Hosea, I came across these verses below.

Hosea 4:1 (NASB95)  
1 Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 4:6 (NASB95)
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Hosea 6:6 (NASB95)
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Seems like knowledge is an important thing.  Not just any knowledge.  Sunday, when asking what the problems were with believers who were struggling in their Christian walk, I believe the first response was lack of understanding or knowledge.  It appears to fit with the above verses.

In fact in Paul’s prayers, knowledge seems to be something that is foremost in his desire for his readers to have.  Listen, as first he gives thanks for his gospel, this mystery that has been revealed, that has been made known to all nations, leading to obedience of faith..

Romans 16:25-27 (NASB95)
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Continue to listen to his desire for us.

Ephesians 1:15-19 (NASB95)
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB95)
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NASB95)
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Colossians 1:9-12 (NASB95)
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB95)
13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

I think we get the point. 

How much are we longing for the Word of God?  And how much are we hoping to see Christ in it?  Can we say, “I just can’t get enough of the Word?”  Are we struggling?  Is it because of lack of knowledge?

Do we fully understand who God is and what He has done?  That is an easy answer.  No.  We can not comprehend an Eternal God.  Yet he wants us to seek Him, listen to Him, long to be with Him.  He wants us to gain knowledge of Him.  That only comes as we spend time with Him.  Give Him undivided attention.  When you talk with someone they get ticked off if you are texting while they talk with you, or if you are watching the TV, or playing a game.  And I don’t think it is just them.  You get upset as well.

The life giving Creator, our Savior, Jesus, wants that undivided attention, that focus.  Let’s learn from Him today.  May your knowledge of His love increase, and of His power be revealed, and that He “may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”  When and where can you be quiet before Him?

Psalm 34:8 (NASB95)
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Avoid “fast food” today!  Savor knowledge of Him! 

Love,

Steve

PS  Now you know how to pray for me, and for others.

What message are you teaching?

 

Not sure where this man learned the art of “bungeeing”!  I would like to see his teacher’s credentials!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If you have been reading the Scriptures for the last week that I had posted for Lent readings, you would have been reading some very harsh words that Jesus has been speaking to the religious leaders.  Many do not think that Jesus would speak in such a manner to anyone.  “He is all about love.”  And that He is, but love sometimes must take strong measures to insure that the message of love is being spoken. 

Today’s reading, Matthew 23:1-39, is a very strong passage to warn the Jewish religious leaders of the time.  Jesus tells the people that everything the leaders are doing is for men to see, it is for selfish reasons.  It is all about pride.

Matthew 23:5-7 (NIV)
5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

Jesus goes on to call them, “hypocrites”, “blind guides”, “blind fools”, “blind Pharisee”, “snakes”, “brood of vipers”.  He tells them that on the outside they look one way, but on the inside it is so different.

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV)
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

This is a scary statement:  Matthew 23:13 (NIV)
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (italics are mine)

What message are we speaking today?  What is our motivation?  Are we showing people how to “enter”?  Or are we making a “bungee” mess (see picture above), confusing those around us. 

It better be a message of grace!  It ought to be motivated by love!

As we are headed toward the cross in our readings, take a moment to consider the cross now?  There should not be a day go by where we do not consider His gift of His life!  What Jesus finished on the cross is the only way that you and I can now enjoy God’s presence.   Look to the grace of God and His love continually, and then you can not help but speak of His gift to us.  You will not fall into the place of giving wrong teaching to anyone.  (Are you considering anyone, or are there some you shy away from?)  If you stray from the cross, so will your life and how you teach.  Yes, you all are teachers.  All of you by the way you live, speak, or do not speak, are teaching lessons every day.  What a privilege we have!

I know a lot of what I write seems repetitive.  But how often do we get busy and don’t consider the love that Christ demonstrates for us on the cross?  How much of His Word is a continual reminder of His love.  I do not grow tired of hearing of that Good News!  Remind one another.  I already have appreciated the reminder someone e-mailed me this morning!

In Christ!

Love,

Steve

Stop talking about it!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Zip line?  You just have to do it.  Don’t talk about it.  Just keep going up.  Hook up.  Step off.  In this you have full support!

Readings  Matthew 21:23-27 

“And they began reasoning among themselves.”  Matthew 21:25 (NASB95)

Big mistake!  Reasoning among themselves! 

Here they had the Word become flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, the Son of God, Creator, the Way, the Truth, the Life, before them, and instead of receiving Him, they reasoned among themselves!  They questioned His authority.  They missed the Messiah, their Savior.

What can we learn from their mistake?  We have the very Word of God.  We have His Word as clear as if He was standing in our very presence.  In fact as believers in Christ, we have His very life, His very Spirit within us.  And how do we respond to His Word?

Sometimes we begin reasoning among ourselves.  Rather than simply obeying, submitting, following, we begin reasoning. 

How?

“It has never been done like that before.”

“What credentials does he have?  What gives him the right to lead?”

“I just can’t do what He is asking me to do.  I have never been able to do that.”

“They will change our group.  They are so different.  We should not invite them.”

“You shouldn’t give up what you have now.  God is using you where you are.  You do not need to go overseas to be used by God.”

“There is no way we can accomplish that.  It will cost too much.”

“They will never respond to what we tell them.  It is not worth the time.  We need to focus elsewhere.  Besides, it is dangerous.”

“Their marriage is too far gone.  They better just split up.”

“We can’t do it without him.  We might as well stop meeting.”

“There is no way you should forgive him.  I can not believe what he did to you. God would not expect that out of you.”

“You want me to do what?  You have no idea where I have been and what I have done.  God could never use me.”

“What will they say when I tell them about Jesus?”

 

Maybe instead of reasoning among ourselves we should just do it!

Matthew 5:44 (NASB95)
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Galatians 5:13 (NASB95)
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 6:1-2 (NASB95)
1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 12:10-13 (NASB95)
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Romans 12:14-16 (NASB95)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB95)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

Let’s stop reasoning among ourselves! 

Let’s not question His authority!

Let’s just do it, in His power!

 

Love,

Steve