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April 21, 2017, 10:23 AM

Put God first!

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” - Exodus 20:3

It really is that simple.  It could not be any more clear.  Yet, we struggle with priorities and what is important in our lives.  

In her book, “My Memories of Ike”, Mamie Eisenhower tells that after she had only been married a month, Ike was given a new assignment and announced to Mamie that he must leave.  She said to him, “Ike, you are not going to leave me this soon after our wedding day are you?”  He put his arms around her and said gently, “Mamie, there is one thing you must understand.  My country comes first and always will; you come second.”

While the may be surprising and sound harsh, the reality is that God must come first too.  He will not share His place with anyone or anything.  “Before me” means in preference to me.  In other words the central theme of this commandment, the first commandment given, is all about priorities.  God wants to be our number one priority.  He demands to be first, and it shouldn't even be a close race as to who/what is our highest priority.

Does God really have first place in your life?  

There are two simple tests to determine if there is any other god that would come before The True God:

1.  The first one is the love test.  We are called to love the Lord our God:

“with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”  Mark 12:30

But if you give your love to someone or something else instead, then you are placing them before God.  What do you spend your time, effort, and energy on?  

Where you place the resources of your life is where your heart and love are.  Is God first?

2.  The second test is the trust test.  Do you trust anything more than God?   When you are in need do you turn to anyone or anything for help before God?  If so you have placed that as a god before the living God.  

Is God first in your life.  Or is there something else in your life that has taken God’s place.  Is it even a race?  The bible says that in perspective of our love and priority on God, everything else should not even compare.  It should seem like we hate our life in comparison to how great our love is for God.  That doesn't mean we should hate others, or hate where God has us in life, simply that there is no comparison to the love and pre-eminence we have for God.  

Nothing is more important than your relationship with God. God demands first place.  Be honest before God.  He knows the truth.  If we turn in honesty to God about where He stands in our lives, He alone can help us get to the place where we need to be and to help us put in Him in the place He aught to be...first place in you life.  

April 18, 2017, 9:26 AM

Go Against the Flow!

I have many memories of growing up on Clover lane in Toledo, Ohio.  Many of my summer time memories revolved around an above ground pool that we had for a few years when I was in my early teens.  

One of my most vivid memories of that pool was making “whirlpool” in our pool by walking as fast as you could through the water around the circumference of the pool.  The more people you had and the faster you walked the faster you could make the current flow in one direction.  We often did this so that we could make it easier to vacuum the pool, (before they had auto-mated pool cleaners, we kids were the pool cleaners) but also just so we could then turn around and fight the current.  Everything in the pool was caught up in the current and would go racing past you.  Dirt, bugs, leaves, pool toys, and even my little brother would come bobbing by in a floatation device.  I remember how difficult it was to stand against the current or to move against the pressure of the water.   If you would try to swim or tread water, you would find yourself being carried quickly backwards.  You would have to brace yourself with all your might and then slowly try to walk forward. Even then my brothers would yell at me to not break the current…just go with the flow. Eventually you could break the current and then we would start all over.  

Life is like that.  The “currents” of this life will pressure you to just go with the flow.  It is not easy to go against popular opinion.  if we try to stem the tide or stand against the flow we are often chastised to stop fighting and just go with the flow and get along.  Everything, seemingly, gets carried away by the currents of life and if you are not careful you can find yourself being carried away by the world’s values

But the Bible warns against just going along with the world and even gives a solution to help you stand against the tide of a lost world’s movement:

“And be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” - Romans 12:2

We are challenged in this passage to conform not to the world, but that will be found difficult if not impossible if we are not transformed to be like Christ by Christ.  The key is letting Christ do the transforming of our lives as opposed to the world doing the conforming to that of it’s ways.  

Conforming happens more or less without much effort.  Much like going with the flow of current.  

Transforming is impossible without God but the transformation takes place through immersing ourselves in God’s Word and in prayer.  It take work and time to immerse ourselves, but God then can do the work of transforming us and protecting us from conforming to the world.   As we stand against the current by heeding God’s Word, He transforms us through our mind so that we can know better what His will is for us.  

Standing against the flow of conforming currents of the world is not easy, it is often not pleasant, and is unpopular, but it is necessary for the Christian and possible by His power, mercy and grace.  

Don’t go along with the world, stand against the flow and Go with God.  It is both His will for you to know it and to do it.  

We are called to be different.  We are called with a different calling.  We are called with a higher calling.  Go against the flow and answer the call of God for your life today.

April 17, 2017, 1:33 PM

God, You Just Don't Understand!

Have you ever encountered a situation in life and thought:  God, why are you allowing this to happen to me?  Or, God why are you wanting me to do it that way?  God, Why do you let this go on.  Or perhaps, God if you would just do it this way…

Sometimes we might  wonder if God even understands our burdens, trials, or path in life.  Let’s just be honest, sometimes we think we might have a better way of doing things than He does.  That is why we often do things our way instead of His way.  

When times like this come and thoughts like these take place, it might do us well to remember Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thought are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

God doesn’t look at things the way we as humans do.  If you haven’t figured that out yet, just look at the cross.  Or, look at the dilemma of the Garden of eden.  Or maybe you could read how God led the Hebrews the long way through the wilderness to the promised land.  Or, perhaps you might just want to read just about anywhere in the Bible. 

There are a lot of things that to us just don’t make much sense. 

But that is a good thing.  

Any god that would make decisions based on how I make decisions is not much of a god that I would want to follow.  

Any god that would think the way I think is going to be flawed in how they think because I am flawed in how I think. 

Our thinking is finite, God’s is infinite.  Our reasoning is limited, God’s is limitless.  Our logic is confined to what we understand.  God is not confined in anyway and is all powerful.  Our vision is shortsighted, but God’s is eternal.  Our view point is biased, but God’s is perfect. 

Always remember that we want a God who’s thinking is far greater than our own.  Whose understanding is far greater than our own.  Whose love is greater than our own.  

Perhaps today you might want to thank God that He does not think, reason, or make decisions as you do.  

When you cannot see God’s plan trust His hand.  

When Jesus had died and was buried, he was concealed in a tomb with a stone over the door.  No one could see what was happening.  But behind that door, according to the plan of God, Jesus was fulfilling the removal of sin and redemption of mankind for all who believe.  

Just because you cannot see or understand what God is doing does not mean it is not far better than what we would do.  

Praise God today for the fact that he does not think like we do!  And trust Him.

April 7, 2017, 2:29 PM

Strength and Weakness

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.” Isaiah 40:29

It isn’t in the nature of most of us to admit our weaknesses.  

Many of us have spent a great deal of our lives and much energy trying to convince ourselves and others that, despite our frequent evidences to the contrary...we are OK

The problem with being OK  is that Jesus did not come to help, heal, and save people that are OK; He came for the weak, helpless, and hopeless.  

Isaiah shares a powerful message.  God gives power to the weary and strength to the weak.  But, in order to receive His strength, we must acknowledge our weakness and lack of power.  Until we are completely broken, and we realize that we are completely hopeless aside from Him, He cannot conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

The very thing that often keeps us from admitting our frailties is what sapping our strength to begin with.  Our own pride keeps us from trusting in God to supply our most intimate needs.  We think that somehow He will use our most embarrassing admissions against us.  That somehow if we admit we need help, that we will be revealed as somehow less than in the eyes of God and others.  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  What we need to understand is that God delights in our weakness because He delights in making us strong.  He delights in lifting us up like eagles with His supernatural strength.  

In the upside down world of the Kingdom of God, weakness attracts strength.  The last shall be first, and the meek shall inherit the blessings of God!

Admitting weakness and need; opening ourselves up to the help we need is some of the first steps in discovering the power of God.  

Remember God knows your needs far greater than you do, but He waits for you to call on Him before He will meet those needs in full force.  

Call on God today!

April 5, 2017, 10:59 AM

Stand Strong!

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that sketch you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” I Peter 3:15

In a world where right is condemned as wrong and wrong is paraded as right, we must know where we stand.    

In a world where everyone screams for tolerance in doing what seems good in their own eyes, we must not just know where we stand but why we stand there.  

It has been famously said in song:  “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

Martin Luther, is known today as the Father of the Reformation.  In the 16th century he began teaching that the Bible taught forgiveness of sin was available through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by the customary religious practices of the day of buying a pardon from the Catholic church.  

In 1517, during a time when few knew how to read and the ones who did were told it was a sin to read the Bible, John Tezel, a representative of Pope Leo X, traveled throughout Germany raising money for a building project of the church by selling certificates of pardon from sin.  Luther could contain his indignation no longer and wrote up his fiery challenge to the church, known as The 95 Theses, and nailed them to the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.  

Luther was later charged by the church with heresy and ordered to recant.  He refused, taking up his position on which to stand based upon the Holy Scriptures.    Luther famously said:

“Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.  God help me.  Amen.”

As Christians, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it.  We must be willing to take hard stands, in the face of opposition, in the defense of our faith.  But, we also better be sure that what we believe and why we believe it is based on the Word of God.  Too often we reserve our strongest opinions and take the strongest stands on things that do not matter in the grand scheme of life.  

We live in a day when most people can read, and it is not considered a sin to read your Bible, but still few actually read it and know what it says.  

We live in a day when scripture is being twisted and perverted to justify sin and promote un-truths unlike any other.  We will get fighting mad over an argument of what sports team is the best, but we have nothing to say about the perversion of scripture to match a lifestyle or activity.  

The day is coming and in fact already is here, when a Biblically based view of living life is going to be challenged and questioned.  Those that do not know where they stand will fall for whatever populist view suits their desires. 

The Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Is it going to be you?  Your children?  Your family?  Your friends?  Your co-workers?

We better know where we stand and why.  And, if we don’t know we had better open up God’s word and find out.  Before it is too late.

Stand strong my friends…On the Word of God!

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