Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Course Is Important

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God   Hebrews 12:1-3
The Course Is Importantthe race marked out for us
The race we are on is not a smooth circular track but an obstacle course. We have a variety of hurdles and traps to negotiate.  (Stress, Family, Friends, Job, Ministry) The course I have may be totally different from, everyone else’s.  Whatever my "course" is it carries my purpose and responsibilities. My job is not to complain about my course or compare it to others... I am to run.
We do not race each other in this race but our challenge is the course. I may even be called on in my race to help another as our courses cross.  It is the course that will defeat us (life) if we don't conquer it.  
The Vision Is Important-   fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
No runner ever was effective who looked at the crowd or looked at the course, or looked at himself, or looked anywhere but at the goal.  If we live in fear, we allow fear to be the focus over Christ.  Fear creates a focus.  
We can look to Jesus for:
You will never go very far without a goal.  Get a good one.
What do you plan to do between now and death?  What will you leave behind that shows you made this a better place to live?  At the end of your life God will ask you one question - "Did you do what I asked you to do?"
So many people have failed to find victory because they refuse to run the race.  Potential is not lacking in our world...effort is.  Our greatest desire should be to prepare ourselves to be victorious. We should then be ready to run the course as God designed it for our lives. 
Running is a chore but when we throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us it is much easier.  Yesterday is past - tomorrow is future - today is your PRESENT! Being a winner in the present is daily victory.  The one who is winning each day will be victorious in the end.  

Scripture to Claim: 
Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1

Monday, July 30, 2018

Run For Your Life

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-4
Running, whether for pleasure or for competition requires much discipline.  Discipline begins with purpose or having a reason to do something.  We can do almost anything if we want to bad enough.  That "want to"is the purpose of our effort.  We don't put out a total effort for the things that we feel are not important.  The importance of your goal will determine the effort you put forth in your life.
The people in the stands have expectations for us as well - "cloud of witnesses”.  There is often that concept of the 12th man in a football game as the crowd brings encouragement to the home team.  To run for others is often a strong incentive.  Parents, teachers, friends, or even preacher.  But it must become YOUR purpose to succeed.  
The Training Is Importantlet us throw off everything that hinders… (Heb. 12:1)
For a man to compete he must be in condition.  For example, can you imagine a runner coming to the track dressed in a long trench coat and combat boots saying he was going to win? If the runner weighed 300 lbs. and was running a 100-yard dash would you bet on him to win or lose?  The one who approaches the track unfit shows a lack of desire or intention to win.
Training For Life Must Be In All Areas To Be Effective.
It takes only one weak area to be defeated. For example, picture a weightlifter approaching the bar. A weightlifter can lose who has strong arms and neck muscles but weak legs.  If his mind cannot concentrate he will also fail to give his all. 
Knowing our areas of weakness will help us to grow stronger in our personal life. The sin that so easily entangleswill often be the one which so frequently trips us.
In the race of life we must be careful to observe the areas of our life that need to be stripped away to make us more effective runners.  
The Method Is Importantwith perseverance…
There are always those who can jump high but they cannot walk straight. (Meaning those who can be real committed for a moment but can't live it out.)  An important quality is faithfulness.  Life is not a sprint or a dash but a distance race.  Life is not measured by our momentary gains as by our lifetime achievements.  The word "perseverance" means endurance or hanging in there when the going gets tough.
The ability to run is developed by running.  When a man is preparing for a long-distance effort he will not begin by going out every day and running the full distance.  He will build up to that distance and train his body. Each day he will find it easier to run the shorter distances.
You will never be a successful without trying.  To try and fail is understandable - To fail to try is inexcusable.  When you do fail, don’t let temporary failures create an attitude of being incompetent.

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Wanted: The Unwanted

John 9
Why does a good God allow suffering and pain? Why do some people seem to have more than their fair share of bad hands dealt to them in life? Many look at difficulties in this life and think that God is distant and uncaring, but the truth of the matter is that God doesn’t let our suffering go to waste. The struggle you face today has the potential to bring about something wonderful in your life. May we be those who find a way to embrace the difficulties that come our way, knowing they are the building materials from which the Lord can fashion His glory.  
The irony of having a thanklessjobis that you don’t realize it is a thankless job unless it is yourjob.

  I.     Was This Thankless Role A ProductOf Sin?

·       The disciples voice the foundational questionof all suffering: Why?
·      According to the disciples, this man's blindness was either the result of hissinor his parent'ssin.
·       Although God is faithful to judgesin in every generation, the deck is stacked toward mercy.
·       God warnsus that if we sin we’re going to be responsiblefor it.
·       Each person will stand before God and answer for himselfor herself.

     II.        Was This Thankless Role A ProcessOf Selection?

·      The reason this man was born blind was so the worksof God might be displayedin him.

·       Unlike anything else, miserygives opportunity for ministryto happen.
·      The question is not, 'Who causedthe misery?' The question is, 'Will you allow God to useit?'"
·      Sometimes our obedienceto God is not a statement of great faith as much as it is a desire to relieve our discomfort.
   III.        Was This Thankless Role A PerfectSituation?
·       The more difficult the role you've been asked to fulfill, the greater God's glorywill shinethrough in your life.
·       The bloodof Jesus is what cleanses us from our sin, and the word of your testimonyis what proves that the blood did its job.

·       Peaceis found in the worshipof Jesus Christ the Lord.  

Friday, July 27, 2018

Some Things to Watch for

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secretand shamefulways; we do not use deception, nor do we distortthe word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  2 Corinthians 4:1-2

Sometimes secrets are fun.  For example, it’s fun to plan secret surprises for people we love, or to have someone confide in you a secret they haven’t told anyone else yet.  But there are secrets that we may find ourselves in the middle of that are not fun, and anything we feel that we have to try to keep secret from God or His people is never good.  
Four words stand out from the verses above: secret, shameful, deception, and distort.  Look at the original Greek meaning for these words:
·     Kryptos:  Hiddenor Secret – Concealed, private, inward
·     Aischyne: Shameful, disgraceful, shamefacedness, shameful deeds
·     Panourgoa: Deception, crafty, cunning, false wisdom, shrewdness,
·     Doloo:  Distortion, to corrupt, to ensnare, to handle deceitfully, to lure, 
When there is something or someone in our life that we feel we need to keep secret, we become prisoners held captive by our secret.  We are held captive by shame and fear, trading in our freedom.  Sin makes us believe we are free but actually its chains of bondage are wrapped tight around us before we even know what has happened.  It keeps us there, locked up tight, secretly in shame.  
Freedom comes when we realize that God sees our heart and we cannot hide it from Him, even though we are hiding it from the rest of the world. Nothing is hidden from Him.  Everything is laid bare in His sight.  He still loves us, pursues us, and values us in spite of our deepest, darkest secrets. The good news is that we can be free from our secrets.  We can be free from the prison of shame.  No matter what you are hiding, or what you are struggling with, Jesus still waits for you with open arms.  
Part of the verse above was in reference to false teaching by some of the teachers in Corinth.  Paul was talking to the believers in Corinth about how he did not distort the Word of God but some of the false teachers there had been teaching untrue facts.  People tend to interpret the Word of God to fit their needs and desires, the most common being distorted to condone a behavior that it actually doesn’t.  Some may read only what they want to see and try to build a case to others.  Some can distort the Bible to condemn others’ behaviors that it really doesn’t condemn at all.  We need to carefully and responsibly discern the words of the Holy Spirit and know what the Bible says so we can see it when distortion is used.  
We can guard ourselves from falling into the false teachings and from secrets we shouldn’t be a part of by abiding in Christ.  Every decision we make, whether to partake in some activity or who we listen to teach the Word of God, should be made with careful consideration of the outcome.  We have free will but using that free will irresponsibly can bring devastation to our lives.  Truth sheds light on secrets and false teachings and in the sight of God we are safe from both.    

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.  1 Corinthians 4:5

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Will Go Bravely With My Eyes Wide Opened!

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:1

God gives us many tasks in life that are bigger than we are. We may want to sit down in the road and not budge.  In reality, God is saying this is what I am going to dothrough you. He doesn’t expect us to strike out on our own. The greatest privilege of man is to be used by God to perform His work.  God is not interested in man’s ability but rather his availability. He can give us what we need to perform the task at hand.  
There is a word that describes how life can be at times...Daunting.  The definition of daunting is to abate the courage of; discourage. There are times we just want to close our eyes and not see what is coming at us.  But that is not how God wants us to handle the hard things in our life. He wants us to be courageous.  The Bible says He does not put us in any situation that we cannot handle with His help.  Therefore, take courage!  Be brave and open your eyes!  Face life head on and brace yourself.  You can handle what is coming your way with the help of your Heavenly Father just as Moses did.  
The word couragemeans the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; bravery.  Let’s face it. Life is sometimes difficult, dangerous, and painful.  It can be scary and often wearisome.  We might not want to go on and our confidence might waver.  All of the fears distract us from our God’s promise and our purpose. But open your eyes and look straight ahead.  Exercising courage, we can be brave as we advance.  Remember, God will never leave you or forsake you.  He carries you when your strength is gone.  He lifts the burdens if we let Him and He will see us through.  
Omar Bradleysaid,Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death. That’s what life sometimes requires for us to perform properlyeven while trembling in fear.  We don’t know what this year holds and that in itself can inspire fear in us; fear of the unknown.  But God knows our future. Psalm 1:6a tells us that, The LORD knows the way of the righteous.  Surely this means, in part, that the Lord watches over the way of those who seek Him. He guides us in His paths, guards our ways and protects us from the evil one.  But this verse also relates to God’s plans for us: He knows the way He will lead us, how He will take us from our present situation until we stand perfect before His throne. He knows His plans for His people; just as with the Israelites in Egypt.  So, persevere!  Hold on! Trust in the God Who Knows!

Scripture to Claim:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Launch Out

Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.  Luke 5:4 NKJV

Someone has said that mediocrity is just the best of the worst and the worst of the best.  Is that what you want in life?  If not, you must be willing to leave the safety of where you are, and go where God wants to take you. 
After fishing all night and catching nothing Jesus told His disciples, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  In other words, leave the safety of the shoreline and be willing to face the fury of the storm, knowing that God is with you. 
Helen Keller, who overcame incredible challenges, said, "Security is a myth. The reason we don’t experience it is because it doesn’t exist. Avoiding danger or failure is no safer in the long run than outright risk. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  
Launching out means setting goals, establishing a plan to reach them, and becoming accountable. It requires staying in sync with God's will, confronting your fears and discovering the rewards that lie on the other side of them.  It demands looking in the mirror, and either respecting or correcting what you're becoming.  All of these steps are birthed from a belief that I can be better, my family can be better, my church can be better and life can be better.
It calls for devoting your life to something greater than yourself, even when others don't understand. It's having an "l will fear no evil for Thou art with me"(Psalms 23:4) attitude, and attempting great things for God.  The comfort of the known is one of the greatest anchors to growth, success, victory and abundance.  Too many spend a great deal of energy trying to maintain instead of move forward. It’s hard to believe, but the same energy we expend on trying to stay where we are can actually enhance our lives when redirected to growth.
Launching out does require leaving a known place.  It may mean developing new relationships, going to some new places, accepting some new challenges and committing to new areas of service.  All of these are not the normal most people are accustomed to.
Right now stop and recall Gods goodness. Check the price tag on His will for your life against what you're already paying, and compare the rewards of both. Then, "launch outand don’t look back!  The rewards are great.

Scripture to Claim
Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants,
And our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace;
Let our garners be full, furnishing every kind of produce,
And our flocks bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
Let our cattle bear without mishap and without loss,
Let there be no outcry in our streets!
How blessed are the people who are so situated;
How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

Psalm 144:12-15

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

God’s Method

This Book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  Joshua 1:8
After escaping Pharaoh and his army, have been wandering in the wilderness, looking for the Promised Land. Moses has been their leader, but he has passed away.  As the book of Joshua opens, Joshua has been appointed the new leader of the Israelites. As a new leader, Joshua had to determine how God wanted him to pick up and lead the Israelites where Moses had left off. Leadership God’s way requires seeking God’s method and vision to pass on His message and direction to others. 

Discovering God's method requires meditation.
To know the will of God is man's highest knowledge. To do the right thing in the wrong way is to do the wrong thing. Satan loves to confuse our message by infiltrating our method.
It is just as important to know God's method as it is God's purpose. God’s message will never change, but God's method is as changeable as time and men. To hold to methods as sacred is to lose our relevance to the world that we are speaking. Many churches have lost their relevance because they have been unwilling to change their method. While they understand the message, it remains clouded to the world around them.
God's method will never contradict His Word. He will never use anyone to help others in a way that is not honoring to Him.  He commands us to meditate upon His word because it is always relevant. Proper meditation is:
·     Upon the Word of God, not the writings of men.
·     Performed day and night, not spasmodically.
Receiving God's blessing requires obedience.
To DO God's will is man's greatest task. We may test the value of our meditation by the obedience that results. God's Word will bear fruit. Prosperity and victory are the results of TOTAL OBEDIENCE. 
The courage of the Christian increases as he finds confidence in God's method as much as God's message. This is the hardest task for the staff of any church, to discern the method of attack that will create confidence in the people. Many a church today has been stilled because they refuse to be courageous in their method.
God’s Vision
The vision of God's desire and direction is voiced to others. v.l0-15
One coward in leadership can destroy a whole army of people.  As he rationalizes his inactivity, he comforts the souls of hundreds of others who are fearful and faithless. One man who is willing to claim God's vision and discern God's direction can lead others to great victory. All Joshua said was, "God said He can do it." He never said that they or he could.
Commitment to God is displayed in confidence in His leaders. v.16-18
The people sensed that Joshua was in God's hand and that their ability to prosper was directly connected to his leadership and their "followship".  God has never done a work without calling a man to leadership and His people to "followship".  They were openly committed to the man, the plan and God.  They were also quick to ask. "Joshua stay close to God like Moses did." It is a fair request to any of God's leaders.

Scripture to Claim:
Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you.  Only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses.  Joshua 1:17

Monday, July 23, 2018

Courageous Leading

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9
A little background story on today’s verse is that the Israelites, after escaping Pharaoh and his army, have been wandering in the wilderness, looking for the Promised Land. Moses has been their leader, but he has passed away.  As the book of Joshua opens, Joshua has been appointed the new leader of the Israelites. The Israelites encouraged Joshua to let him know that they would follow him the same way they did Moses, very good news to someone having to step into the role of another leader, leading the same group of people.  They encouraged Joshua to be strong and courageous, that God would be with him. Truly good words we can apply to our lives again and again. 

As Believers, we know the battle is already won.  But we will still find ourselves in the heat of plenty of battles along the path of life. Through these battles we will experience the victory of God in our lives.  
We have been armed with the sword of the spirit, the word of God, to confront the world around us and to fight with on the battlefields, but we must do so with a Holy boldness that only comes from God.  Fear that we cannot succeed is overcome by understanding God's plan and recognizing His provision for its accomplishment.  
We often feel that victory is our responsibility instead of God's.  Courage on our part is boldness to claim more than it is power to conquer.  God gave the promise of power in Joshua 1:5:  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
Our fear is the result of measuring OUR strength against the task instead of GOD'S POWER.  God has not called us to test our strength, but His. The Christian who clearly understands that He is doing GOD'S WORK in GOD'S POWER has a new source of courage. The man who stands in his own power to do the works of God will find himself consumed with spiritual pride, but the man who does the work of God in the power of God will glorify God.  
The beginning of courage is the deep understanding that we are doing God's work.  Fear may often be the result of not truly discerning whether or not we are doing God's will.  Fear may be of God and not of ourselves in this instance.  We should have a healthy fear of living outside of God’s will but not fear God as we would someone who wants to do us harm.  He loves us and wants us inside His will and grieves over our decisions that are not within His will.  
Don’t let fear overwhelm your courage.  We need courage to get through this life.  God is on our side, standing behind us and will give us the courage we need. Courage is a commandment of God.   Will God allow us to use fear as a reason for failing to witness to others or perform His work?  No, it is only an excuse.  Courage is the product of faith, and God can command us to courage because He commands us to have FAITH in HIM.  Our fear is the product of an inadequate vision of God and nothing less.  When our vision of God is less than what He really is, fear rules.  How far can you trust God in the circumstances and the mission of your life? The same God that can heal the body and give you a job can lead you to evangelism and missions. He gives us Holy boldness to proclaim His love and salvation to a desperately hurting world.
Scripture to Claim: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  II Timothy 1:7

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