Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The arrival of TITUS!


2 Corinthians 7:5-6 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn't settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn't relax because we didn't know how it would turn out. (6) Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus.


Think about what Paul wrote. He was facing trouble on the outside, as well as internally. His heart was full of dread and fear, then God sent a great gift! What was the gift? Titus. The name Titus means "nurse." A Nurse is a great help and assistance to a doctor. He/she many times are the hands, words, and care of the doctor extended. The nurse represents the doctor.


Some of the people around you, even successful ones, are dying on the vine for lack of encouragement. Solomon writes, "How delightful is a timely word." (Proverbs 15:23) Isn't that true? It's delightful to receive a timely word. The Message says, "The right word at the right time - beautiful!"

Encouragement brings emotional healing, restores hope by putting the problem into perspective, and makes the day more bearable. Is there someone you know who needs encouragement? A prisoner trying to stay strong in a hostile environment while repaying his debt to society? A divorcee trying to rebuild his or her life? A breadwinner who's out of work, worried about their family? A widow who needs companionship? A servant of God labouring in an obscure and difficult ministry? Everyone is struggling with something - so everyone needs encouragement.

William Barclay writes, "One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… it is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of such discouragers. But we have a duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word."

Paul writes: "Outside, trouble was on every hand… within us, our hearts were full of dread and fear. Then God who cheers those who are discouraged refreshed us by the arrival of Titus. Not only was his presence a joy, but also the news that he brought" (2 Corinthians 7:5-7 TLB).

Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them,
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus is the great physician, the doctor. Every doctor needs a Nurse. God is looking for "Titus’" to step into situations and bring joy, cheer, encouragement, refreshment, and good news to those who are down trodden and feel like giving up. So many people are battling deep pits of despair, discouragement and depression. There is a great need for Titus’. There is a great need for Nurses in the kingdom of God.

The question that I asked myself after reading these verses was, "when I arrive at a place, do I bring encouragement? Do I bring joy? Good news? Do I refresh those who I come in contact with?" Or, am I messenger of bad news, discouragement, and do people avoid me because of my negativity?

I hope and pray that I am a nurse (Titus) for the great physician. God knows in my heart, that is what I desire! But desire left alone, isn’t effective. I must allow it to drive me to action!

So, be a Titus - encourage someone today. Amen?


"Lord, as I said above, my heart's desire is to encourage someone today. I believe that you will bring people in my path, divine appointments, that need some help because they are battling discouragement. May I be ready and willing. In Jesus name, amen!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just for TODAY!


Luke 11:2-4 He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. (3) Give us each day our daily bread. (4) Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"


Notice the order in this prayer. First, Jesus praised God; then he made his requests. Praising God first puts us in the right frame of mind to tell him about our needs. Too often our prayers are more like shopping lists than conversations. These verses focus on three aspects of prayer: its content (Luke 11:2-4), our persistence (Luke 11:5-10), and God's faithfulness (Luke 11:11-13).

God's provision is daily, not all at once. We cannot store it up and then cut off communication with God. And we dare not be self-satisfied. If you are running low on strength, ask yourself, How long have I been away from the Source?


Max Lucado says, "Worry is to joy what a vacuum cleaner is to dirt; you might as well attach your heart to a happiness-sucker and flip the switch."

Jesus said, "Don't get worked up about… tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." When it looks like things are falling apart, Paul reminds us, "Every detail in our lives… is worked into something good" (Romans 8:28 MSG). When it seems like the world's gone mad, don't forget God "existed before anything else,… and He holds all creation together" (Colossians 1:17 NLT). When worry whispers, "God doesn't know what you need," remember God promised to "take care of everything you need" (Philp 4:19).

Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." You won't get the wisdom or resources to handle tomorrow's problems till you need them. When we "go confidently to the throne… [we'll] find kindness, which will help us at the right time" (Hebrews 4:16).

Over a century ago Charles Spurgeon said: "Enough for today is all we can enjoy. We cannot eat, drink, or wear more than today's supply of food and clothing. The surplus gives us the care of storing it and the anxiety that someone might steal it. One staff aids a traveler; a bunch of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is as good as a feast, and more than gluttony can enjoy. Enough is all we should expect; a craving for more is ungratefulness. When our Father doesn't give you more, be content with your daily allowance."

As Author Bob Gass said, "Just for today, I'll enjoy each moment to the fullest and try not to tackle my whole life's problems at once. Just for today, I'll try to improve my mind by learning more than I know; I'll read God's Word faithfully for it's my source of wisdom and strength. I'll be particularly sensitive to those Scriptures that require personal obedience, corrective action, and greater commitment. Just for today, I'll be agreeable, try to look my best and make sure my words are "seasoned with grace." Just for today, I won't find fault or try to change or improve anyone - except myself. Just for today, I'll have a plan and a goal. I might not follow them exactly but I'll have them nonetheless. By doing that I'll save myself from two enemies - hurry and indecision! Just for today, I'll develop my character. I'll do someone a good turn and keep it secret; if anyone finds out it won't count. Just for today, I'll do something I don't naturally want to do, thereby train my spirit to rule my flesh and my will to rule my emotions. Just for today, I won't be afraid to love or to risk; I'll take steps of faith that stretch me beyond my present comfort level, try to enjoy all God's blessings, and believe that every seed I sow in His Kingdom will be multiplied back to me many times over. This is how I'll live - just for today!"


"Lord, thank you for providing me with daily bread. You always take care of me. You always make "all things" beautiful in your time. Forgive me for doubting. I choose today to trust you. I give my needs to you, and thank you for Your provision. Your truly are Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. You promise to give me JUST ENOUGH for daily bread. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, November 18, 2011

In the Midst of the Fire


Daniel 3:24-25 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." (25) He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."


It was obvious to those watching that this fourth person was supernatural. We cannot be certain who the fourth man was. It could have been an angel or a preincarnate appearance of Christ. In either case, God sent a heavenly visitor to accompany these faithful men during their time of great trial.

God's deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was a great victory of faith for the Jews in captivity. They were protected from harm, they were comforted in trial, God was glorified, and they were rewarded. Let us determine to be true to God no matter how difficult the pressure or punishment. God's protection transcends anything we could imagine.


The phrase that really spoke to me this morning is, "walking in the midst of the fire" I am so thankful that Jesus doesn't bail out on me when I am going through the fire.

Over and over again I read in the Scriptures that God spoke in the storm, walked with His children through the fire, stayed with them through the lions den, led them across the Red Sea, knocked down walls, walked with them in the valley to face giants, stood with them as they were martyred, and I could go on and on. I am so thankful that in today's text God was seen "within the fire..." I am not alone when I face difficult times. Even if I feel alone. I walk by FAITH and not FEELINGS.

God never promised that we wouldn't have difficult times. In fact, quite the contrary. Jesus said in John 16:33 (msg) "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

The Word says in Isaiah 43:2-3 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. (3) For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."

One of my favorite songs is "Through the fire" by the Crabb Family. The words are powerful:

So many times I've questioned certain circumstances
Or things I could not understand
Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
And my frustrations get so out of hand
It's then I am reminded I've never been forsaken
I've never had to stand the test alone
As I look at all the victories, the Spirit rises up in me
It's through the fire my weakness is made strong

And He never promised the cross would not get heavy and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered victory without fighting but He said help would always come in time. Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in Just hold on, our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again

I know within myself that I would surely perish
But if I trust the hand of God, He'll shield the flames again

Thank the Lord that He is "in the midst of the fire!"


"Lord, when I read Daniel 3and saw the words "in the midst of the fire" I wanted to shout hallelujah as I was once again reminded how many times you have walked with me through the fire. You promised me that I would make it through the fire, and that you would be with me. You have never broken Your Word to me, and you never will because Hebrews 6:18 says 'God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.' Thank you for that truth Lord. I will make it through this fire because you are WITH ME! In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A life of Thanksgiving or Complaining?


Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], (15) That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,


Why are complaining and arguing so harmful? If all that people know about a church is that its members constantly argue, complain, and gossip, they get a false impression of Christ and the Good News. Belief in Christ should unite those who trust him. If your church is always complaining and arguing, it lacks the unifying power of Jesus Christ. Stop arguing with other Christians or complaining about people and conditions within the church; instead, let the world see Christ.

Our lives should be characterized by moral purity, patience, and peacefulness, so that we will "shine brightly" in a dark and depraved world. A transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God's Word. Are you shining brightly, or are you clouded by complaining and arguing? Don't let dissensions snuff out your light. Shine out for God. Your role is to shine until Jesus returns and bathes the world in his radiant glory.


We don't realize that when we complain, we are saying that God isn't caring for us like He should. We rob Him of the praise and Thanksgiving that He so deserves.

We complain about the price of groceries instead of offering Him thanks that we can afford to buy food.

We complain about our spiritual struggles instead of offering Him thanks that Jesus died on the cross for my salvation.

We complain about the price of gasoline instead of offering Him thanks that we have a vehicle.

We complain about how messy our families are instead of offering Him thanks that we have a family.

We complain about how much our kids fight instead of offering Him thanks for our children.

We complain about our country instead of offering Him thanks that we live in the greatest nation in the world.

We complain about our spouse instead of offering Him thanks that we are married.

We complain that we don't feel very well instead of offering Him thanks that we are alive.

We complain that we don't make enough money instead of offering Him thanks that we have more wealth that a large percentage of the world

We complain about the traffic jam on the interstate instead of offering Him thanks that we are not causing the jam due to car problems or an accident.

We complain about the music of our church instead of offering Him thanks that we have the right and freedom to worship God in our church

We complain about the problems that have to be fixed in our house instead of offering Him thanks for our house.

We complain about how busy we are today instead of offering Him thanks for this day

I could go on and on. I can very easily become a complainer. That is why my theme verse is Psalm 118:24, "This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it." I have to remind myself often that I choose to be full of thanksgiving and not complaining… TODAY. I have to take one day at a time. I often teach on how we need to enjoy each season of our lives. Well, I actually believe that we need to enjoy each minute of each day, or each season of our lives. How do we do that? Develop an attitude of gratitude.


"Lord, please forgive me for the times I have taken your blessings for granted. I fail to praise You like I should for everyday blessings I take for granted. But then, when one thing doesn't go the way I think it should, I easily turn to complaining. Thank You for making me aware of this. I choose today to live a life of thanksgiving, not of complaining. In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Distress, Debt, Discontent


1 Samuel 22:1-2 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to him there. (2) All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.


Until now David had been alone, but at this juncture in his life he gathered people around him. The first to come were "his brothers and all his father's house" (1 Sam 22:1). There was a unity to the clan or family that made this a natural move, but they were also now in danger from Saul who might be expected to attack them merely because they were David's family. As society has moved from a pastoral to an urban culture, and from a sense of corporateness to the prizing of the individual, there have been losses as well as gains. One loss is the strong support system that families are capable of providing for their members.

The second group that was drawn to David did not seem as attractive, for they were people who were drawn to him because of common troubles. They had been made into a family not by blood ties but by suffering similar problems. While the one-sentence description in the text is not exhaustive, it paints a clear picture of David's four hundred men as "everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented" (1 Sam 22:2). The establishing of the monarchy had not solved all their problems and had probably created new ones, and these were the people caught in the social upheaval. It's easy to see why they accepted David as their captain.

While the group bore no resemblance to the elite unit that David had commanded for Saul, they made a contribution to his preparation for being king. They taught him the problems of the common people. Had he stayed in the palace, eating with the king and enjoying the company of the prince, he would have never been able to understand the people who came to him. When people suffer they discover others who are suffering and are able to communicate with them at a deeper level than is ever possible for those who have not shared the experience.


How do these verses apply to me? I want to take a look at each "group" that assembled with David.

First of all, the distressed. The Greek word used here means: a narrow place, confinement or disability: It refers to hardships and anxiety especially brought on from disobeying the Lord but also from general social and political conditions.

So, the distressed in the Cave of Adullam were those who were "boxed in" with a disability or a "narrow-minded" view of things. They were those who have been in disobedience to the Lord for various reasons. How often has my narrow-mindedness brought me into distress? I must allow my hardships and anxiety to drive me to God's presence, and not from it.

I know people who are "narrow-Minded" in the style of music that they will worship to, that there is only one translation that is worth anything and if you don't use that one, than you are wrong. Some are narrow-minded in how to deal with people, in how you are supposed to lead people, in their opinions. I could go on and on. I can become "distressed" because of my narrow-mindedness which leads to hardships and anxiety.

Secondly were those in debt. The Greek word used here means: A verb indicating lending or interest, serving as a creditor. It refers to a person who has made a loan, It means those who lend or charge excessive interest.

So, those who were in debt represent those who have not put the Lord in charge of their finances. Instead of looking to God, they looked to credit, or high interest abuse of people. It all adds up to a lack of integrity in their finances. It is so tempting to use credit cards to get what we want right now.

Instant gratification is a lack of self-control that has gotten many folks in a mess financially. In fact, it has pushed entire Countries into messes that the government has to start "bailing out."

The very basics of giving my finances to God is to start giving. Some want to argue that paying tithes isn't a New Covenant principle so many use that as an excuse not to give anything. God's heart is giving, not receiving or being tight fisted. God blesses the giver, not the stingy. Help me Lord, to be a better steward of the blessings that you have given me.

Finally, there were those who were the discontented. The Greek word used here means: bitter (literally or figuratively); also bitterness, or (adverbially) bitterly: angry, chafed, discontented, heavy.

So, those who were discontented were people who were bitter and extremely angry. We are living in a very angry culture. From road rage, to school shootings, home invasions, and drive by shootings.

God is looking for a people that will raise the standard of living and be salt and light. We cannot be salt and light when we act like those who do not know Christ. There are many angry, bitter people in God's Kingdom. We must allow the Lord to change our character and attitudes. And give our bitterness and anger to Him daily!


"Lord, please help me today. I have been distressed, in debt, and discontented at various times in my life. That is not a great place to me, in fact it is very troubling. I need to lean on you today to make sure that I don't go there again because of my lack of self-control and sour attitude and disposition. Jesus, I want to live, act, talk, walk, think and love like you do. I thank you that you can, and are, using my experiences that I have had in each of these categories of people to help others. You never waste pain, you always use it to assist others if I will allow you to do so. I honor you today, and choose to make every effort to keep my life from becoming distressed, in debt, and discontented today. In Jesus name, Amen! "

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Permissible yes, but is it Beneficial?


1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. (24) Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.


Sometimes it's hard to know when to defer to weaker believers. Paul gives a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision: We should be sensitive and gracious. The goal here is not a general hypersensitivity that worries about what others might possibly think. Rather, it is a genuine awareness of others and a willingness to limit what we do when there is a real possibility of misunderstanding and offense. Some actions may not be wrong, but they may not be in the best interest of others. We have freedom in Christ, but we shouldn't exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a Christian brother or sister. We are not to consider only ourselves; we must also consider the needs and perspective of others


Apparently the church had been quoting and misapplying the words "I am allowed to do anything." Some Christians in Corinth were excusing their sins by saying that:

(1) Christ had taken away all sin, and so they had complete freedom to live as they pleased, or

(2) what they were doing was not strictly forbidden by Scripture.

Paul answered both these excuses:

(1) While Christ has taken away our sin, this does not give us freedom to go on doing what we know is wrong. The New Testament specifically forbids many sins (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) that were originally prohibited in the Old Testament (see Romans 12:9-21); Romans 13:8-10).

(2) Some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our life and lead us away from God.

(3) Some actions may hurt others. Anything we do that hurts rather than helps others is not right.

I am troubled by the attitude that some Christians have of "everything is permissable" or "it isn't sin so why shouldn’t I do it!" Too often, we become selfish in our decisions and "liberty's." We don't care who we hurt or how much our testimony is affected, because I can do, and WILL DO what I want to do. The whole time Jesus is saying, "You are the salt of the earth" and you are the "light of the world" so desiring for His children to get back to living for Him AND for others.

Jesus COULD have called angels from heaven to come and deliver Him from the cross, but He showed self-control, and died to his way, and the RIGHT that He had, by putting the needs of other's before His own.

My friends, I want to live that way. I don't want to be a stumbling block to those around me who are seeking Jesus because of my freedom or liberty. There are simply some things I WILL NOT DO, not because it is sin, but because I want Jesus to be seen in me, and way too often, the world, those not living for Jesus, has seen hypocrisy in the followers of Christ because of "freedom!" To say, "I'll do it if I won't to" is living for myself, and selfish.

Too often we put our own desires over the desire of Jesus for His children to be influencers in this increasingly evil world. We need Light to penetrate the darkness. But too often we have allowed darkness to influence the Light of Jesus in us. It happened to God's Children (Israelites) in the wilderness, and it is happening again in the day we live.

When we are more concerned about my rights, freedom's and liberty's than we are for letting Jesus be seen in our words, decisions, and actions, then we have become selfish and living for ourselves and not Christ!

As Paul said, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." Forgive us Jesus and help us!


"Jesus, please forgive me for the times I have put my desire over Your desire and the needs of this world to SEE YOU in our life. I want You to be seen in my life today in everything I say, do or show. In Jesus' name, amen!"