Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christ IN you


Colossians 1:27 (MSG) God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message.

Colossians 1:27 (NIV) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


The false teachers in the Colossian church believed that spiritual perfection was a secret and hidden plan that only a few privileged people could discover. Their secret plan was meant to be exclusive. Paul said that he was proclaiming the entire message of God, not just a part of the plan. He also called God's plan a "message . . . kept secret for centuries and generations past," not in the sense that only a few would understand, but because it was hidden until Christ came. Through Christ it was made open to all. God's secret plan is "Christ lives in you"-God planned to have his Son, Jesus Christ, live in the hearts of all who believe in him-even Gentiles like the Colossians. Do you know Christ? He is not hidden if you will come to him.


The Virgin birth is more than just another Christmas story; it illustrates just how close God wants to get to you. In fact, He's asking you the same question He asked Mary, "Are you willing to let me move in?"

Throughout scripture it's always been His desire to get close to His people. He told the disciples, "I am in you" (John 14:20). Paul prayed, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts" (Ephesians 3:17) John says, "Those who obey… live in him, and he in them" (1 John 3:24). Paul wrote, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27), then he added: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). And Jesus said, "If any one… opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).

In the Old Testament God was with Adam and Eve in the Garden… He was with Abraham, and even called him His friend… He was with Moses and the Israelite.

But as a believer He's in you - and He'll keep growing in you, and as He does, He comes out in what you say, how you act and the decisions you make.

Do you struggle with bitterness, worry, habits and fear? Not Jesus! And because He lives in you, you have access 24/7 to His limitless power! That's how come Paul writes about "striving according to His power, which mightily works within us" (Colossians 1:29). What's in you? "His power!" What more do you need? Remember when the Angel appeared to Mary and she said, "Be it done… according to your word" (Luke 1:38)? Make that your prayer this Christmas!


"Lord, yesterday I studied how You are WITH ME as Immanuel. Today, I am so thankful that you are IN ME as Christ, my Savior and Lord. I am so thankful that you are being formed in me, and I am daily striving to allow Your character to be seen through my words, choices, attitudes, etc. I ask today, as Mary did, 'Be it done according to your Word.' Thank you Lord, for giving me the great HOPE that I have today. In this day, I refuse to be bitter, depressed, discouraged, or in despair. Because you are my hope, I will savor this day and realize that you will provide my daily bread. You have provided me already with new compassion and mercy, they are new every morning. You have given me my breath. Your Word says in Job 34:13-15 "He's the one who runs the earth! He cradles the whole world in his hand! (14) If he decided to hold his breath, (15) every man, woman, and child would die for lack of air." I understand that you hold my life in your hands. You are giving me the breath to breathe at this very moment, and as long as I have your breath, I have YOUR hope. I love you Lord, and I am so thankful that you are IN ME. In jesus' name, amen!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let Judah lead the march


Numbers 2:9 The total number of men assigned to Judah, troop by troop, is 186,400. They will lead the march.


Numbers 2 gives the specific arrangement and disposition of the tribes, and lists the number of each tribe and where they were to be positioned. It is seen from this arrangement that the vanguard and rear guard of the host had the strongest forces-186,400 and 157,600 respectively-with the smaller tribal groupings within them and the tabernacle in the center.

To each tribe, then, there was given a specific place and function, and each was to be in his divinely appointed place. It is not difficult to see shadows of New Testament patterns here. The apostle Paul says, "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (1 Corinthians 7:20), and "You are the body of Christ, and members individually" (I Corinthians 12:27).

The words in verse Numbers 2:17, "everyone in his place," provide the direct link with these New Testament references. The Danites, for example, were behind the others in most of the march; yet they were good fighting men, and therefore particularly fit for that position. They were needed there to ward off surprise attacks from the rear. The tribe of Judah was to lead the march into battle. In every battle, Judah was to go first.


Judah, in Hebrew, means: "the praise of the Lord." When you understand this meaning, we get a clear picture of what God is telling His Children.

"Praise" should always go first into every battle. It doesn't matter how great the struggle or the storm, go into the storm with praise in your heart that flows out of your mouth. God is giving His complaining, whining, belly aching children an alternative. Praise and thanksgiving! Their tendency was to go into battle complaining about "not enough food" or "no beds" and how they "needed a new leader". God knew that they would never be who God created them to be if they didn't start sending Praise (Judah) first into battle.

Many times I find myself going into a battle not with praise, but with complaining, and words of fear, or doubt. God is showing me today, through His Word that I need to have His praise in my mouth, at all times, but especially heading into a battle.

The whole pattern in Numbers 2 presents a vital picture:

Here are the people of God on the move, with the ark of the covenant in their midst, the Word of the living God at the heart of everything, as it were, directing all the operations and sending forth its influence in grace and power. And a church with the Word of God at the heart of its life is a church that will advance purposefully, because it is one that has life and influence. It is certainly no accident that, later in the ongoing story of Israel (Joshua 2:10-11), when the Canaanite tribes heard of the advancing host of Israel, their strength was turned to water within them because they knew that in the midst of these Israelites was a real and living God, a mighty God who did exploits for His people.

What a blessed people we are! God's Word in our midst and hearts, and praise to our God going before us. I can't help but be victorious with that combination! Amen?


"Dear Lord, I am so thankful for your Word today. I am so challenged with the thought of entering each battle, struggle or storm with 'Praise' and not complaining. Please forgive me for the times that I have allowed a wrong spirit to develop within me. Also, for the times that I have been more of a complainer than a praiser. You deserve my praise. Today, I choose to emphasize praise and thanksgiving. I will also continue to hide your Word in my heart, and declare it victoriously while praising. When I enter a battle with praise and thanksgiving, I am declaring to the enemy that 'the battle is not mine, but it is Gods!' I love you Lord, and thank you for the blessing of today. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shake it off!


Act 28:1-6 Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. (2) The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it. (3) Paul pitched in and helped. He had gathered up a bundle of sticks, but when he put it on the fire, a venomous snake, roused from its torpor by the heat, struck his hand and held on. (4) Seeing the snake hanging from Paul's hand like that, the natives jumped to the conclusion that he was a murderer getting his just deserts. (5) Paul shook the snake off into the fire, none the worse for wear. (6) They kept expecting him to drop dead, but when it was obvious he wasn't going to, they jumped to the conclusion that he was a god!


The island of Malta is 60 miles south of Sicily. It had excellent harbors and was ideally located for trade. The islanders on Malta were of Phoenician ancestry.

Dawn brought sight of land for Paul and his shipmates, They did not know that it was Malta. A beach on the land looked like a safe place to ground the ship. What they didn't know was that beneath the waters was a treacherous reef. They cut the four anchors, loosed the rudder ropes, and hoisted the mainsail. Then it happened. The prow of the ship stuck fast in the shoal and the stern was battered to pieces by the surging waves. There was nothing to do but abandon ship and grasp anything afloat to aid in swimming ashore. Paul and the other prisoners barely escaped execution. The soldiers wanted to kill them, fearing they would swim away and, once on land, would slip out of their grasp. Julius, the centurion, stepped in. Luke tells us that he wanted to save Paul. Was this allegiance to his duty to deliver the apostle to Rome, or in gratitude for what he had done to save their lives? I think the latter. He knew that they would not have made it if it had not been for Paul's leadership, prayers, and the blessing of his Lord. The apostle had made another friend. The account of what happened on Malta is further evidence of how the Lord will use everything for His glory and our effectiveness.

But something happened to Paul while building the fire that was even more convincing than his practical helpfulness. A viper was forced out of a crevice in one of the pieces of wood by the heat of the fire. It fastened itself to Paul's hand. This was a vivid picture: a leaping fire, the apostle in chains, a serpent dangling from his hand, and the natives of the island, as well as Paul's shipmates, looking on in horrified fright. The natives who had kindly greeted the survivors now expressed the superstition of their culture. The viper's attack was surely the just punishment of one they perceived to be a murderer on the way to his execution.

Paul, with customary calmness, shook the viper off his hand and went about his duties of helping others. The natives watched, waiting for his hand to swell and death to come. After a long time, when Paul was still joyously alive and active, the natives decided that this was no murderer but a god!


How does this apply to my life? There are several things that I would like to note:

Paul was still alive because of God's favor! Every where Paul went, he had enemies because of his preaching, but he also had dependable, trustworthy friends. I want to live my life so that God is able and willing to give me favor with men. There are so many things that need to be done in God's kingdom, but he is looking for men and women who will love the Lord God with all of their "heart, mind, soul, and strength" and "love his neighbor as himself." When we do that, expect God to reward that type of love with favor with God AND man.

Secondly, Paul never thought work was below him. He didn't have to, but he got right in and helped start the fire and bundle sticks. True, godly, pure leaders are not lazy. They are willing to do anything it takes to make someone or something successful!

Thirdly, as he placed wood onto the fire, and very venomous snake latched on to his hand and attempted to poison Paul. The poison SHOULD HAVE killed Paul. In fact the villagers watched and waited for Paul to die. He didn't! He shook off the snake into the fire. I noticed it said that the snake "wouldn't let go." It was stubbornly, and potentially fatally, latching onto Paul and refusing to let go. If Paul hadn't of shaken it off into the fire, I believe it would have killed him. But by faith, he took action and did something about the snake.

As I read that, God spoke into my heart that there are things in our life that poison our spirit and and stubbornly hold on to us. It could be failures from the past, it could be offenses from years gone by, it could be dislike or hatred of a person, it could be unforgiveness...again, I could go on and on. But the bottom line is, I must shake that poisonous creature into the fire. It is time to move on! It is time to walk in victory and to stop making excuses for the reason that I am allowing that poison into my life. I must adjust my attitude and begin to live like Jesus in every area of my life. How long will I allow the poison to effect my relationships with: my wife, my children, my co-workers, my church family, my friends? It is time to take action! It is time to move past your past! God can and will use your past today and in the future, if you stop allowing the poison to effect your spirit. King David cried out, "Lord, renew a right spirit within me" and God did. He will do the same for me!


"Lord, once again, I need your help. As I daily read your Word, you are showing me areas that I need to allow your Holy Spirit to work on inside of me. There are too many times that I allow a poisonous situation or person to stay attached to my spirit for days, weeks, months or years. This ought not to be! A poisonous spirit hinders my relationship with you and every other relationship that I have. Please forgive me for not "shaking the snake into the fire" and moving on joyfully with my life. I ponder, linger, relive situations where I have been hurt over and over again. I am sorry Lord, I am wrong. I cry out to you like King David did many years ago, 'create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Right now I make the decision to shake this poison off of my life and spirit and I will live victoriously. The way I shake this off of and out of my life is through your Word, prayer and meditation. I STOP talking about how I was wronged, and instead talk about how blessed that I really am. I decide today to focus on the good things in my life. I do that through thanksgiving and praise. Thank you Lord for revealing this to me this evening. I love you Lord, and thank you for helping the poison to be removed from my life! In Jesus name, amen!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Am I a Barnabas or a Job's Comforter?


Job 19:1-3 Then Job replied: (2) "How long will you torment me and crush me with words? (3) Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me.


Violence begets violence. Job expected his friends to help him. Instead, they turn into his tormentors. The issue is between him and God, not between him and them. Why do they add to his torture?

With all of the supports of the past and the present taken from him, Job can appeal only to the future. If only he could engrave his case in stone, he knows that ultimately he will be vindicated. Suddenly, in a flash of prophetic insight, Job knows that God is alive and will be his redeemer as well as his mediator and vindicator. While he is yearning for that moment, the reality of his torment takes over again. Turning back to his friends, he warns them that they too are open to God's wrath because of their cruelty toward him. The initiative now belongs to Job.


As I read the text this morning, verse two troubled me, "how long will you torment me and crush me with your words?"

Job is going through a crisis like very few have ever known. All of his children had died, he had lost all of his wealth, as well as his health. His wife was blaming God and telling him that he should just "curse God and die!"

At least he had friends...but his friends who had come to comfort him are not being very comforting. They are tormenting him and crushing him with their words. They weren't very symphathetic, nor were they encouraging.

The Japanese have a saying: "One kind word can warm up three winter months." In the book of Acts, Barnabas speaks words of encouragment to a young man by the name of John Mark. He reached out to him to encourage him. Don't we all need that?

So many times God can use you to reach out to somebody. You know all of us find stress and difficulty in life and you can speak a word to a person, do something for them, believe in them, reach out and meet a physical need.

Sometimes, just a note. You know a written thing is sometimes better than a verbal one and I'll tell you why. Because when you write it you'll probably express your feelings better and the recipient will have it to go back to when he needs it and read it again. I know when you get a written word of encouragement, you keep it. When you get a note that tears you up, you tear it up. The human heart needs encouragement and Barnabas was a man who knew how to do it. Job's friends had no idea how to do it. Quite the contrary actually.

What a contrast. Job being tormented and crushed by the words of his "friends" and John Mark receiving booster shots of encouragment from Barnabas early in his career. Mark had a problem and Barnabas said, "Let me help you fix it."

My question today is, "Are you a Barnabas type of person, or a Job's comforter type of person?" Do people feel refreshed after being around you, or drained? Are you careful with your words or careless?

I pray that no one will ever say of me that my words have "crushed them" or "tormented them" because of my lack of compassion. I want to be an encouragement to everyone that God brings my way today. As you read this, why not ask the Lord, "who can I encourage today" through a text message, facebook, or email. Being careful applies to facebook as well. Too often, Christian people don't sound like Christian people by their status updates. They try to make a point more than pointing someone to Jesus.

Help us Lord!


"Lord, forgive me for the times that my words have tormented or crushed. That is not Your purpose or will for my life. Help me today to be an encouragment to someone. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Arranging my mind


2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.


Paul had faced suffering, trials, and distress as he preached the Good News. But he knew that they would one day be over, and he would obtain God's rest and rewards. As we face great troubles, it's easy to focus on the pain rather than on our ultimate goal. Just as athletes concentrate on the finish line and ignore their discomfort, we, too, must focus on the reward for our faith and the joy that lasts forever. No matter what happens to us in this life, we have the assurance of eternal life, when all suffering will end and all sorrow will flee away.

It is easy to lose heart and quit. We all have faced problems in our relationships or in our work that have caused us to think about giving up. Rather than quitting when persecution wore him down, Paul concentrated on the inner strength that came from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Don't let fatigue, pain, or criticism force you off the job. Renew your commitment to serving Christ. Don't forsake your eternal reward because of the intensity of today's pain. Your very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.


A 90-year-old widow was moving to a nursing home because she was legally blind. On the elevator when a nurse began to describe her new room, the elderly lady exclaimed, "I love it!" "But you haven't even seen it yet," said the nurse. "That doesn't matter," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide ahead of time! Whether or not I like it doesn't depend on how the furniture's arranged. It's how I arrange my mind that's important, and I've already decided to love it. Every morning when I wake I can choose to dwell on the parts of my body that no longer work, or give thanks for the ones that do! Every day is a gift, so as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the blessings of each new day, and all the great memories I've stored away." What an attitude!

Old age is sort of like a bank account; you get out only what you deposit. In fact, all stages of life are like a deposit. If you deposit lots of good stuff early on, you'll be able to withdraw it later when you need it. So - what are you depositing today?

Read again Paul's words from today's text: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.


"Lord, I love the attitude of the 90 year old lady. She had already decided that she would enjoy her new room even before she had seen it. Why? Because she started out the day DECIDING and DETERMINING to enjoy whatever that day brought. She savored every moment that she had. Oh God, please help me to do the same thing. Please forgive me for the days that I have allowed to pass me by without savoring the moments. I am a blessed man, and I take so much for granted. Today, I determine that I will bask in and savor each moment. I deposit memories of blessings, even the seemingly small things. I will draw from those memories in days to come. When I go through a struggle, help me to remember what I am depositing today. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

God pleasing Meditation


Psalm 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.


You can learn how to follow God by meditating on his Word. This means spending time reading and thinking about what you have read. It means asking yourself how you should change so you will live as God wants. Knowing and thinking about God's Word are the first steps toward applying it to your everyday life. If you want to follow God more closely, you must know what he says.


There have been times when I have gone to see my Doctor and he tells me that he needs to change my medication. He will then make adjustments to my medicinal intake. In today's verse, I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me, "You need to change your meditation. You need to make adjustments to your emotional intake. I need to change what I am dwelling on each day. I need to learn to trust in the Lord, and dwell on His goodness.

There's an old Greek proverb that says, "The bow that is always bent will soon break."

Deep-seated worry can be harmful to your emotional and physical health. Dr. Charles Mayo, the founder of the Mayo Clinic, wrote this about worry: "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the digestive system, and the entire nervous system. I've never known a person to die of overwork, but many who died from worry."

Our English word "worry" is derived from the old German word wurgen, meaning "to choke." The term has come to be used to denote "mental strangulation" to describe the harmful effects of worry.

I would like to share with you a few quotes that I have gathered that speaks about worry:

"Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you." -- Anonymous

"God never built a Christian strong enough to carry today's duties and tomorrow's anxieties piled on the top of them." -- Theodore Ledyard Cuyler

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength." -- Corrie Ten Boom, cited in The Best of BITS & PIECES

"Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow's troubles." -- E. Stanley Jones

"Let us not bankrupt our today's by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and by borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow." -- Ralph W. Sockman (1889-1970), minister, B&P 8/22/03

The opposite of worry is TRUST. Whenever we approach a situation, we can grab it by the handle of trust or the handle of worry.

Trust and worry are mutually exclusive. You can experience one or the other but not both at the same time. God has promised to love us and to take care of us. He has promised that all things will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). He has invited us to cast our burdens upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Whenever we worry we are suggesting that God cannot be trusted, that He can't fulfill His promise. Many evangelical Christians would never commit adultery, steal, or commit gross sins of the flesh, but at the same time, they are chronic worriers. You will not have victory over your worry until you admit that worry is a sin. Worry must become our ENEMY and not our FRIEND.

And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." (Luke 12:22-23, NASB)

All the water in the world however hard it tried, could never, ever sink a ship unless it got inside. All the hardships of this world, Might wear you pretty thin, But they won't hurt you, one least bit ... Unless you let them in.

Are you a worrier? If you're like a lot of people, worry just might be one of the things that makes life miserable. It's not uncommon for people to lose sleep, drop weight, develop "nervous tics," suffer ulcers or other gastric disorders, or get pretty sick in other ways, all from worry. Worry just might be one of the elements that feeds a grand variety of mental and emotional disorders. And even though we don't usually diagnose things this way, worry is the cause of countless spiritual maladies as well.

Some people waste time worrying about things they really cannot change. Perhaps the point is this: if something is within your ability, do something about it.
If it's not, try changing yourself first, by developing new abilities, then attacking the problem. Remember one thing above all else - worry doesn't fix anything. In fact, worry will add an extra burden to any problem. It clouds the mind, wrecks the emotions, and kills the spirit. How does a befuddled, nervous, spiritually dead person accomplish anything worthwhile? You've got to get a handle on worry.

How can you get a handle on worry? By changing your MEDITATION. Change what you allow to dwell in your mind. As I have already mentioned, if you went to a doctor for a physical problem, he would probably give you some medicine. If after a few days the medicine didn't work, the doctor would CHANGE YOUR MEDICATION to something else. That is exactly what we as Christians need to do. What we have been meditating on leads to worry and anxiety so Jesus, the great Physician, wants us to CHANGE OUR MEDITATION.

What is meditation? In its simplest form, it is what you dwell on in your mind. If you are a worrier, then you are dwelling on, or meditating on, your problem. When you change your meditation, you change what you are dwelling on. Stop dwelling on your problem, and start dwelling on your problem solver, Jesus Christ!

Some people seem more prone to worry than others, but it's possible for anyone to reduce the extremes. Legitimate concern can serve as a powerful motivator. The fact that we care deeply about some issue is a positive. Worry, however, paralyzes us, and leaves us powerless. Try to figure out if you can do something or not. If so, do. If not, don't. Either way, worry isn't the answer, but trusting your faithful God is!

One day a man is walking through a park and stops to observe a dad who is tossing his child up in the air and catching him. He noticed the child seemed so calm, and had very little fear at all of falling to the ground. The man walks over to the dad and ask him why the child remains so relaxed although he is out of control. The father says "It's because we have a history. We've played this game before, and I've never dropped him."

My friend, remember the history that you have with God. He has never dropped you, and HE'S NOT GOING TO START TODAY!


"Lord, I am so thankful that I can trust You. So many times I wondered how we were going to make it through a situation, but You are always faithful and good. May I meditate on that today. I truly want my meditation to be pleasing to you today. If it isn't, then I will change my meditation. In Jesus' name, amen!"