Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “for I know the plans I have for you… plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” If we take this verse literally, God has a specific plan for our life, and it is for good and is to give us a future that is filled with hope. If God has a plan for us, what hinders it from coming to pass? Satan, people, situations or circumstances? No. The biggest issue impeding God’s plan from happening in our life is us. Jesus lets us know His ultimate goal for all humanity in Luke 19:10 when he said, “I came to seek and save those who are lost.” That’s it. That’s the reason He robed himself in flesh, lived with the humanity He created, died on a cross, resurrected and ascended into heaven, so that everyone can be saved. But is that it? Is that His only plan for our lives? No, I believe God has a specific plan for each of us, but how? It begins by getting in alignment with God’s Spirit, getting in the flow of His purpose. For that to happen it requires that we have a hunger for His will to be accomplished in our life. It requires continually humbling, submitting and yielding to His leadership. It means being led by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. It means as John said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Regularly, daily, we must pray that prayer. God let Your plans, Your will increase and let mine decrease. Help me to yield my plans, ideas and concepts to yours. What awaits? Joy. Happiness. Calm. Diminishing fear and anxiety. A peace that passes all understanding. Get in the flow. Get in alignment with His Spirit and His plan. It will be life changing.
Moving toward a new year, one of your purposes should be to create a culture in your heart, life and home that is growing closer to God. For your spiritual life to be authentic, your relationship with God must become personal; you must have ownership. One of the best ways to grow in passion and make spiritual changes is to read inspiring and challenging books. As you read, take time to pray and fast a day or a meal. Below are some suggested reads for 2019 that will change your life.
- The Bible (Start with Proverbs and read as led.)
- Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson
- The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn (365 Day Devotional)
- The Fasting Edge by Jentezen Franklin
- Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
- It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado
- Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt by Jentezen Franklin
- Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
- Storm by Jim Cymbala
- Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd
- Men: Play the Man by Mark Batterson
- Ladies: A Heart Like His by Beth Moore
A raindrop, pebble, rock or stone; no matter the object or size, it creates a ripple that the diameter, effect and end, no one knows. The impact of our lives, are much like a ripple. We serve God, share the Gospel, give money and tell our story, yet often leave this life not knowing the impact of our existence. Stephen is an example of such a life. The Bible simply says that Stephen was a man full of faith, full of grace and power and full of the Spirit. His life ends tragically with a stoning by wicked men. Those who witnessed his life likely talked about his potential and all that he could have done if God had spared his life. Yet, that day was just the splashing of a stone. The impact of his life had not ended, but just began. That day a young Saul watched his stoning and a ripple started in his heart. A ripple that would takes years to see its effect, but on a road to Damascus, everything changed. Saul becomes Paul, is converted, and the rest is history. Countless messages preached, missionary journeys, many churches established and twelve epistles written. All a ripple effect from a life that seemed to end so senselessly. When we get to Heaven I imagine Stephen will be shocked by the impact of his life. I have a feeling it will be the same for many today who read this story. Live a life that leaves a ripple.
I need new shoe strings. It’s not that I can’t afford them, it’s just that I haven’t taken time to go to the store. So, I deal with frayed shoe strings that get in tangled knots. Instead of taking a few minutes to make the purchase I find myself spending extended time trying to untangle the knots. What a picture of life. There are so many aspects of life that become complicated, not because God doesn’t have the solution but because we refuse to bring our difficulties to Him. Instead of saying, “God I’ve got a mess or God, this is broken,” we sit for hours, weeks and months trying to untangle, get the “knots” out, by our self. Jesus said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden or overwhelmed and I will give you rest,” in essence just give it to me. How many times do we find ourselves wanting to talk it out with a friend or even worse, trying to fix it our self. Our lives will have areas that get frayed and there will be complications. Just like the solution to my shoe strings is to go to the store and buy a new pair of strings, the solution for our tangled and knotted messes is Jesus. Have complicated situations in your life that’s bringing stress? It’s time to simplify, take them to Jesus. He specializes in taking care of knots and tangled situations.
Moments of opportunity. If we miss them we may miss a life changing experience. They don’t come in neon lights, they come in common every day moments. They come disguised as an opportunity to make a difference in a life, to impact your child with an encouraging word, to take your marriage to a new dimension, to see a dream come to life or to take your faith and spiritual life to another level. Be careful not to miss your moment. Elisha hands king Joash a bundle of arrows and says, “strike the ground.” Joash, oblivious to the opportunity, strikes three times and misses a chance to utterly destroy Israel’s enemy. Agrippa, hearing Paul’s persuading testimony, says, “Paul, you’ve almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” As far as we know, Agrippa never became a Christian, he misses his moment. You never know when a moment or a season of opportunity is coming to an end. It calls us to live with spiritual awareness every day. Too many times we find an excuse instead of opportunity. We look at moments and think it’s too expensive or difficult but it may be too expensive or costly not to act. The woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years hears that Jesus is coming to town. Rather than making excuses, reasoning why she shouldn’t, she chooses to seize her moment of opportunity. In that one moment, her entire life is changed. May I suggest we follow her lead. Seize your moment!
In the prophet Haggai’s day, God had brought His people back from failure and difficult situations. Instead of focusing on what God had done and the possibility, many of the people could only focus on “what was” and on their failures. Haggai’s message was, “the end was going to be greater than the beginning.” To someone today you need to know your best days are in front of you! But it’s a choice. How you view your situation is so important. We have a choice. Do we talk about the past, the problems and the pain? Do we give more power to the failure or the Father? Do we keep grace from covering us, mercy from mending us and forgiveness from freeing us? Do we live in the old house or move to the new? If we move to a new house mindset we see the possibilities in Jesus. In the new house there’s a God view instead of a guilt view. In the new house faith starts speaking, the gifts start working and we start living in the Spirit. In the new house there’s a different countenance on our face, different attitude in our spirit and conversations that springs from our heart. Your end is supposed to be better than your beginning. It’s time for someone to move into a new house.
The Dukan Diet. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Keto Diet. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Nuitrisystem. So many diets, so many options all because so many of us have become what we eat. Too much sugar, too much starch, too many carbs, the list could go on and on. Our lives have been consumed by diets and fads all because of the fact that we simply need to be more disciplined and need help. Really it should be pretty easy, stay away from processed foods, sugars and eat a lot of stuff that comes from trees and the ground. What is true of the flesh is also true in the Spirit. Paul says all that is of the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Jesus said they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be fed. He calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and says that “all that come to Him shall never thirst again.” Basically, God says if we want to be spiritually healthy, if we want to have a right heart that it takes staying away from the world, pursuing Him, reading His Word and spending time. Getting worldly, carnal or feeling spiritually drained? Maybe it’s time to go on a diet. Get in His Word, get on your knees and get refilled with His Spirit.
There are two moments in the Bible that scare me. It’s not when Pharaoh is pursuing Moses, David is facing Goliath or the Hebrew Children are being thrown into a fiery furnace. The first moment that grabs my attention is found in 1 Kings 22 when Josiah comes to the throne and looks to restore the love for God in his nation. As the priest are going through the Temple they discover a scroll, the Word of God. What we learn is that for years, likely generations, they had been operating in ritual and tradition. They had simply learned how to go through the motion, operating without Gods Word. The second moment that overwhelms me is Jeremiah 3:16; it is the last time the physical Ark of the Covenant is mentioned. Tradition says that Jeremiah was so concerned about the state of his nation and their lack of passion for God that he took the Ark and hid it in a cave. If true, that means for over 600 years those who ran the temple operated without the presence of God. Operating in ritualistic and judgmental tradition without the presence of God. That scares me. What happened in these two moments can happen in any life or society. We cannot afford to ever learn how to do church, live for God without His Word or His presence. Traditional, ritualistic and performance-based religion is the greatest danger we face. Ask God to give you a hunger to know Him.
Reading the book of John, a phrase caught my attention in the second chapter. It was the story about the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle. What caught my attention was the phrase, “Jesus was invited also…” It made me wonder, how many events had taken place where people didn’t invite Jesus. And why hadn’t He been invited? Were people unaware of who He was? Did people feel like He was irrelevant? Maybe He wouldn’t be interested in attending. We don’t know the scenario, the names or relationship but what we do know is someone said, “lets invite Jesus.” What a novel idea. Inviting Jesus. Whether a wedding, a day at the office, into a marriage or any other of life’s events, inviting Jesus is a good idea. Little did the bridegroom know he was going to miscalculate the number of guest and face potential embarrassment. The good news, he had invited Jesus and whether its turning water into wine, healing a blinded eye or forgiving sin, Jesus can take care of the problem. Let’s take the example of this nameless bridegroom and invite Jesus into the everyday events of our life. Who knows when we might need Him and if He’s in the room, anything can happen.
We often look at the failures of well-known people to feel better about ourselves. But if we feel good about the wrongs of others, we don’t truly know ourselves. For example, the Bible doesn’t tell us about the sins of David to weaken our sense of moral alarm, but to put all of us on notice. Though we have accomplished much in Christ, we must always be on guard. Satan is always looking for an opportunity to take us down. When we see the failures of others, it should cause us to be more aware of our own weaknesses and need for the mercy and grace that only comes through Christ. Only when we acknowledge our weakness do we become dependent on the strength of our God. One man said, “the Bible is just like a mirror. It shows me the need of my heart, for in it we see an accurate image, a portrait of me–every part.” As we continue to work on our lives from the inside out, take time to reflect on your life, it’s strengths and weaknesses and then pray that God will help you humble yourself before Him and ask Him to be the strength in your weakness.
Weeds. You don’t have to plant them, water them or care for them in any way. They just grow; anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I planted a garden and now I’m attempting to grow a garden. I’ve pulled weeds, tilled soil, bought garden soil, planted plants and kept them watered. This week I walked out to my garden and in just a few days the weeds had grown larger than my plants. What I’ve come to understand is that I have to be intentional about my garden. I have to regularly water it, pull the weeds and protect from insects and animals. What’s true in the natural is also true in the spiritual. It takes nothing for the cares of life, temptation and sins take over our life. They just show up. To have a spiritual life we must be as meticulous as we are with a garden. The soil of our soul must be enriched with the atmosphere of prayer and praise. We must plant the Word of God in our heart and keep it in our heart. David said, thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. We must be committed to staying filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the power that fuels our spiritual growth and brings out the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. Be intentional, as Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit.”
The purge. It happens in the Hudson home a couple times of year. We go through the entire home and we purge the closets, cabinets and garage. We get rid of stuff that we haven’t worn, stuff we haven’t used and things that have become obsolete or broken. Sometimes it’s hard. There is sentimental attachment. Sometimes we struggle because we remember what we paid for some things instead of what they’re worth. Regardless, each time there is a purge a lot of stuff leaves the house. After the purge there’s a since of clarity. We feel like we’ve streamlined life. There’s a sense that we’ve made it easier to access the things of value and importance.
David had a purge moment. It was the moment he realized he had things in his life that had taken him far from God. When Nathan brings an awareness to David about the junk and clutter in his life David goes to purging. We find it in Psalms 51. Here are some of the purging phrases David uses. Have mercy. Wash me. Purify me. Create in me. Restore to me. Deliver me. After the purge David’s life is different. He is broken and humble. He is a contrite man of worship. His trust is more solid and his faith stronger. Let me encourage you, do a summer purge. Get rid of junk in your heart, spirit and attitude. You will be amazed by how clean and streamlined your life will feel.
Bill Gaither’s song, “A Few Good Men,” is an amazing song that all men need to hear as we celebrate Father’s Day. The chorus says the following.
Men of compassion, who laugh, and love and cry.
Men who face eternity and aren’t afraid to die.
Men who’ll fight for freedom and honor once again.
He just needs a few good men.
Today, those words to that song have never been truer. Men were created for challenges, adventure and difficulty. In most churches today, men are the minority. It’s understandable why. Our songs and our messages have went soft. We’ve went from All Hail the Power of Jesus Name and The Old Rugged Cross to sloppy wet kisses and butterflies. Our messages are more about the love of God than the power of God. The return of manhood must start in the church. As men we need to go back and take a look at what God created a man to be. For example, Abraham, the Father of Faith. He was rugged. He fought for his wife and land. He bickered with his nephew over sheep. He stood up to the challenges of his day and built a family. He walked with God, taught his son how to worship and built a lineage that last until today. That’s a man who lived an adventurous and challenging life. Father’s Day 2018. Let it be the beginning of men who are men. Men of faith. Men who live for the challenge. He just needs a few good men.
Pot holes, chug holes, crater. Does it matter what we call them? They seemingly are a part of rites of spring in central Indiana. We try to avoid them. We swerve. We dodge. Invariably though, we hit one. There is no sound like the thud of tire hitting a pothole. Hit one and you’re praying that the hubcap stayed on and your tire isn’t flat. But a pothole does more. It damages the balance of the tire and knocks your car out of alignment. Hit one and in a moment a round tire is an egg making the ride anything but pleasant. Hit enough and when you let go of the wheel, your car can make a left or right turn without you even turning it. So, what do we do? We get to our local tire store or mechanic.
Much like central Indiana and potholes our spiritual lives have seasons, moments in life that can knock us out of balance or alignment. We’re traveling along and suddenly, bang, we hit a hard spot in life. Unexpectedly our life is out of order and our walk with God is going the wrong way. Again, the question, what do we do? Just like you would take your car to get repaired, we get our self to church. We get to an altar. Hit your knees. Cry out to God. Get realigned and refilled with the Spirit. Be confident. God can realign you and get your life in balance.
Obstacles; they are defined as something that obstructs or hinders progress. Every person faces obstacles, situations that obstruct or hinder our progress. Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden became a part of our DNA and as a result every person is entangled and bound by sin. Regardless of how hard we try to live well, we fail. The obstacle called sin is not something we could overcome, it took a Savior, His blood and a cross. Only Jesus can free you from the obstacle of sin. The second obstacle every person faces is the obstacle of circumstances that brings to light or challenge our faith. These obstacles appear to be overwhelming, but if we ask for God’s help He will make a way of escape. This escape involves our participation, God makes a way but we must be willing to walk through in acts of faith. The final obstacle that every person faces is the obstacle of our own mind. We hear God promises but we live in doubt. God has promises, successes and blessings far beyond our imagination, the problem is they require us to believe, to act upon them, to live and walk in faith and in the Spirit. Today, I want you to know if you will trust and believe in God, He will help you overcome every obstacle in your life. Run your life with faith in God!
Life is more like a game of Monopoly than we realize. We go around a board year by year. We gain wealth to buy property and build assets. At the end of the game, regardless of who wins, everything goes back in the box. If all that we live for in this life is material possessions than we are basically playing monopoly. Whether we realize it or not all that we obtain in this life is simply leased. We strive to get the social status. We want a certain job. We buy the right home in the right community. We get the dream car. But it’s all just a lease. After whatever allotted time we have on earth, it all goes back in the box. If this is all there is to life then this life is very futile and worthless. Jesus said, “for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul?” On the other hand, if we believe that this life is only down payment on an eternal destination, then this life is much different. Things don’t possess and control us. We live, not for this life, but for life in heaven. It changes everything. It changes perspective. It changes goals. It changes aspirations and values. Life changes from a game of Monopoly to life with purpose. Start living today for the eternal instead of the earthly. Quit playing the game.
The eternal questions are the most important questions of life. Four questions that will determine everything about our destiny. Do I believe in God, not in a god, but the God, the one found in Genesis 1:1, the “in the beginning God?” Answering that question leads to the next. Do I believe in the Word of God; the Bible, that it is the infallible Word of God, that it is true and that it is the final authority? If I believe that there is God, that His Word is true then the next question is, do I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that each of us will arrive at one of those destinations? If I believe there is a heaven and a hell then the next question to ask is, what must I do to secure my eternity? If I truly believe there is an eternity then who do I want to answer the question about getting there? Do I want a religion, a religious institution, a church, a pastor, a friend or an internet source? I suggest you want only God to answer that question. The question answered by Jesus, God in flesh, in John 3 when He said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born of the water and Spirit he cannot enter in.” The real questions of life. Four eternal questions. Answer wisely.
As the drought has taken over here in central Indiana I’ve watched how trees responded to the lack of water. Basically, there has been four responses. Some have dropped their leaves to protect the leaves that remain, others have held their leaves but reserved more water for the base causing the top leaves to begin the change color, then there are those who have held water in reserve and have been able to protect all their foliage; no leaves lost, no color change. Finally, there are trees who didn’t have any moisture reserved, they lost their color, lost their leaves, became brittle and died. What made the difference? All had ample rain through most of the year and all enjoyed a very mild August. If the trees didn’t have someone watering them it came down to two major factors, preparation and location. Some trees absorbed enough water for the dry times and some trees were planted close to a water source. If those two factors weren’t in place then leaves fell, color changed and sadly, in some cases, some died.
In many ways, our Christian life mirrors the seasons of life. There will be times of extreme heat and cold, there will be times where there is plenty of rain and times of drought. How we survive those seasons is largely dependent on two issues; our preparation and where we have planted ourselves. Recalling the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins in Matthew 25, it’s important to remember that they all were virgins, they all had lamps and they all had oil. The difference was preparation, five anticipated and prepared for the potential of a delay or problems and the others didn’t. Often the difference between those who survive spiritual droughts and those who don’t is simply being prepared. The second great issue to surviving spiritual drought is staying near the life source. In John 6, when things got hard for the followers of Jesus, many stopped following him, after they departed Jesus turned and asked His 12 Disciples, will you also go away? I love Simon Peter’s response, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We must understand that regardless of how bad or difficult life gets or how dry our faith becomes; Jesus is still our life source.
Feeling dry, burnt out and weak in faith? Every storm has its end; every battle comes to a close. Be prepared for the whole journey and remember it often doesn’t go the way we have it planned Stay close to Jesus, He provided mana to the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness, bread to Elijah, oil that continued to a poor widow and food for 5000 men plus women and children with one little boys lunch. He is your life source! You will survive!
Month of the Family 2017. Preparing the keynote for the month one man’s life came to mind, David. It was not David’s talent, skills, ability or accomplishments that grabbed my attention, it was David’s hunger and desire to know God and be in His presence. That hunger, desire and passion brought him a lineage that would bring the savior. Acts 13:22 says, “…I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.” David didn’t seek fame, education, riches, kingdoms or even to reach lost souls, David sought the heart of God. David longed for a relationship with God, to know Him, His heart. He searched for Him, wrote songs and sang about Him, and prayed to Him with a desperate desire to know Him and to be in His presence. That kind of life brings blessings, favor and possibilities for generations that follow in your lineage.
My desire is to have a legacy that seeks God. If I could ask anything of God it would be that He would give me the promise that me, my family and my lineage would have the following four passions in our Spiritual DNA until eternity. First, that my lineage would pursue a relationship with Jesus with all their heart, mind and soul; that they would have hunger for a relationship with Jesus, to know Him, not religion or doctrine, but Him. That they would desire His presence, to know Him more than anything or anyone. Second, that they would have a passionate desire for prayer and the Word of God; that prayer and reading the Word would be about knowing Him. Third, I would ask that my lineage would have a knowledge, desire and passion to be filled with His Spirit with evidence of speaking in a language they do not know. That unknown language confirms in a way that no religion or man can that God has come inside of them and will, if they allow, transform them and translate them when the trumpet sounds. Finally, that my lineage would always believe as the Hebrews of the Old Testament were taught, “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]!” (Duet. 6:4 AMP). That God is the Father, He is a son, He has and is a Spirit and His name is Jesus who has all power and authority. To understand, that through the name of Jesus, anything they ask is possible by the power and authority that is in His name.
What will your lineage look like? Will it be filled with people who were educated, great in sports, that had good jobs, lived in a nice home and drove expensive cars or were simply good people? My challenge this month is that you take on the responsibility of leaving a spiritual legacy. A legacy that will lead generations to eternity in Heaven. Return to God, make His house your highest priority. This month begin a new journey, fill your life and home with prayer, spiritual songs and seek Him with all your heart, in so doing you may leave a legacy that last until eternity!
In the book, The Noticer, Andy Andrews writes of a man by the name of Norman Bourlag, who received the Noble Prize for creating a technique that created a hybrid corn that saved the lives of over two million people. Andrews reflects on the possibility that it might have been Henry Wallace, Vice President under Roosevelt that might have saved two million lives because he was the one that asked Norman Bourlag to come up with the process. Andrews then submits that it may have actually been George Washington Carver who saved over two million because he invested and taught Henry Wallace much of what he knew about farming. Finally, Andrews proposes that it may have been a farmer by the name of Moses and his wife Susan who saved two million people because they saved the life of George Washington Carver. What is amazing is most of these people went to their graves never realizing that their one action would eventually impact two million people.
I suggest that many of the biblical hero’s we read likewise had no idea that one act was going to change history. Abraham’s obedience, taking his son up a mountain, would lead him to being called the father of faith. Moses, listening to a small voice coming from a fire, leads people out of Egypt but likely went to his grave feeling like a failure for not getting them into the Promise land. Little did he realize the impact, that his willingness to trust God, would live on for dispensations. Might I suggest that Simon Peter will be stunned by the impact of one message, the message on the Day of Pentecost and that Paul will be overwhelmed by the fact that the letters he was writing trying to straighten out churches that were frustrating him with their inconsistency would end up in the Bible. These men, and so many others in the Bible, simply lived the life that was laid out before them, did what was asked, and were willing to walk and be led by the Spirit.
Like generations before us, we have been given an opportunity to Outlive our Lives. Like those we call heroes of the faith and like farmer Moses and George Washington Carver it is possible that we have been brought to a “such a time as this,” moment. An opportunity to invest in something that will outlive us, something that when we get to heaven will cause us to say, this happened because we gave, because we believed? What is your faith feeling? What is the small still voice saying? Will you Outlive your life? I want to be overwhelmed by what God did with my simple act of faith, obedience and giving. I want to be a part of something that Outlives My Life!
With the progress of modern society has come he never ending modernization of our homes; the latest kitchen appliances, computers, game systems and surround sound equipment. With each an instruction manual is given. Generally, we discard it to the side, tear open the box and a half hour later ask, “where are those instructions?
Unfortunately, we often do the same with our life, we jump right into life’s journey without looking at the instruction manual, only to get to a place where we finally ask, “are there any instructions on how to live in this world?” Fortunately there is, its called the Bible. Read it and you get instructions on how to raise your kids, treat your spouse and get along with friends and neighbors. Struggling in life? Try opening up the instruction manual and see what the creator of life has to say about your dilemma. It will be amazing how much easier life will go together. Now back to programming this DVD player…