Love Copies

This story occurred while I had been working in the Austin airport as a security screener. I was about a year into the job and I was constantly looking for ways to share the good new of Jesus to my co-workers. Some would be open to hearing he gospel and others would just give me a hard time about being a Christian. I remember my friend (who was also a Christian) and I would tell them that living for God was the best life one could live. God blesses those who live for Him. They would usually respond with a “Sure whatever”. But God would always do things in our lives that we would share that would be a testimony of a blessed life that comes from living for God.

One such event started just like any other day. Lots of work and very little staff. I was supervising and needed to make some copies for the staff so I went to the office to use the copier. I walked up to the copier and started making copies. I don’t remember the exact number but it was around twenty-five. After the copies were done I grabed my copies and turned to leave. In doing so I noticed that the entire office staff was staring at me, several with their mouths open in shock. “What?” I asked curiously. “Um, there is no toner in that machine” one of them replied. “There must have been some in the bottom of the toner cartridge” I suggested “No,” he said standing up and walking to the copier. “We’ve been knocking at it for weeks and it finally ran out today.” He flipped open the front panel of the copier. “And look we removed it completely” I looked down at the copies in my hand. They were perfect and had no sign of a toner shortage. I thanked God and then said to my co-workers. “I’m trying to tell you guys, when you live a life for God, you can’t help but be blessed.” It was amazing that God will even make copies to get our attention to tell us He loves us.

Read more about how you are loved.

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HOPE

Today let’s “chat” a bit about the term HOPE. Most of the time when we use this word it is very ambivalent. On a scale of “nope” to “defiantly” we’ll see hope close to “probably not”. If you mom says, “I hope we have time to get ice cream.” you know the odds are not in your favor. So when we read verses like Romans 11:1 that says “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It paints a picture of passivity. Maybe what God said is true, maybe not. Maybe He’ll show up and help me out maybe not.  But this is not the scriptural use to the word Hope.

Hope

Hope in the Hebrew and greek is an indication of certainty. It creates confident expectation. Like when a child sees their parent pull the top off the cookie jar. They are not wondering if they are getting cookies, they know. They are filled with eager expectation even though they have not yet seen a cookie. Even if there has been no verbal communication. They know that what they hoped for will occur. This is Biblical Hope.

Understanding Hope in this context changes everything. It helps us understand why it’s so important. Why it can save our very lives.  Hope is active. When you have certainty in your Hope it gives birth to faith.  When a farmer who Hopes with certainty that the seeds he has in his barn will produce a crop he moves with purpose to prepare the fields. He tills the ground, gears up the tractors and mobilizes the team. He plans for where the harvest will be stored. Why? Because he Hopes for things he cannot yet see, knowing it will come to pass.

Hebrew 6:19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” What is this Hope? It is Jesus. God made a covenant with us that through Christ paying the price for our sins we could experience eternal life. This is the hope that we have as an anchor of our soul. This Hope, this certainty that we are Christ’s forever.

Hold onto this Hope and share it with others.

 

As always it first begins with knowing Him. Click here to learn how.

Sweet Sixteen

It was my sixteenth birthday and I had high hopes for an awesome sweet sixteen. The only problem was that my family was low on cash and all we could afford was a “Happy Birthday, I love you” and a heartfelt apology for not being able to have a “real” celebration. I prayed and asked God to let there be an awesome surprise. I knew He could do something. He could make money fall out of the sky, have a random person come by and say “Here I made you a cake!” or have my dad’s boss give him a “your daughter is having her sweet sixteen birthday bonus.” Or something, anything! I held out hope until I fell asleep late that night, but not so much as a card came for my birthday. I awoke the next morning determined not to be saddened by yesterday’s lack of events. “Ill read my Bible” I thought to myself “that should keep my focused on God and not on how I feel let down about my birthday.”

I had just started reading when my mom came in and said she had a surprise for me. I told her I’d come as soon as I finished reading. She acknowledged and left the room. My curiosity quickly got the better of me so I put my Bible down and ran into the kitchen. When I arrived my mom was doing the dishes. “You have a surprise for me?” I asked not letting onto how exited I was.

“Here” she said while wiping her soapy hands on her blue jeans. She then reached over and grabbed a plastic license plate cover from the corner of the counter.  “What’s this?” I asked “Is it for my bike?” Knowing that if they couldn’t afford a cake yesterday there is no way this wasn’t more then a hopeful “I wish we could get you this” type of gift.

“Now, I wasn’t suppose to tell you until your dad got home, but I couldn’t wait.” my mom began “your dad was given a car today from his old boss and he’s giving it to you.” My eyes got big and my mouth dropped. “Where is it?” I asked as I quickly glanced out the window at our driveway. “He’s bringing it home tonight.” She replied. My gazed dropped down to the license plate I had looked at with disappointment earlier. I noticed for the first time what it said. “Blessing from God!” WOW! He did move mountains for me! This is much better then some random person bringing a cake. He brought a car! The love of the Lord never ceases. He even cares enough to step into our everyday lives and talk to us in ways we can understand. To express to us His great love.

 

Read about the the day I understood His love

Heart Issues Part 2

As we reviewed in Heart Issues Part 1 we are to “keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. To keep our heart means to guard it.  What does this mean?  So many are familiar with the process of putting walls around our heart after having experience of great hurt. But this is not what we are talking about here. That type of confinement only brings more hurt as it separates us from knowing love and acceptance.  

So then how do we guard our hearts? 

  1. Trust in the Lord. Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Here we see that as we communicate to the Lord our needs and concerns and then rely on Him knowing that He will take care of us His peace guards our hearts and minds. It allows us to be at peace even when it doesn’t make sense to be peaceful.
  2. Watch what we allow ourselves to dwell on. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” What are we allowing to captivate our hearts and minds?  Remember we learned that the heart is where the issues of life flow. We must use the verse above to determine what we allow into the river of our hearts.
  3. Know that we don’t have to fix ourselves. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6 Even King David called to the Lord and asked Him to give him a clean heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10.

As you grow in closeness and proximity to the Lord, we must allow the Him to purify our hearts. To remove the rocks of hurt, bitterness, pride and the like. Out of the heart flows the issues of our lives. As always the first step is giving our hearts to the Lord. Read how in Beginning a Relationship with the Lord.

Sunday Friends

Take a moment and imagine with me a person that represents a friend to you. Now imagine all the great things you’d like to share with with them. What each day may hold as you guys hangout and live life together. Imagine what it would be like to share your joys and pains. To share your families and adventures with. Imagine how full your heart would be with love and joy for them. Take a moment and imagine with me another person that represent a friend. This friend you only connect with on Sunday. Each Sunday you get together and share your life with each other. Imagine all the things you would like to share with your Sunday friend. Imagine what you could fit into a Sunday afternoon chat. Imagine Monday to Saturday with your Sunday friend around. They are there but you don’t speak with them. You don’t respond when they reach out to connect with you, to share their life with you. Almost as if you don’t see them or aren’t aware of them, but yet you are.  Now take a moment to reflect on which friendship increases the fullness of your life.

Ever fall into a Sunday friend routine with the Lord. We live as if we aren’t aware He is there, even when we know He is. Christ came so that we could have life and life to the fullest. Imagine all the great things you would like to share with with Him and the mysteries of the universe He would like to share with you. What each day may hold as you guys hangout and live life together. Imagine what it would be like to share your joys and pains with Him. What it would be like for Him to share His joy and peace with you. To love your family together. Imagine all the adventures you can go on with Him. Imagine how full your heart would be with love and joy as you live life together. So spend your everyday with Him. Say hi, chat, live life with God. Become an everyday friend.

Heart Issues Part 1

Ever feel like you really want to do what’s right, what’s healthy but when you try it seems like you end up with the opposite. Maybe you can relate to the Apostle Paul when he says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15-25) What’s up with this? What keeps getting in the way of being who we desire to be? Who God created us to be? I don’t know about you but hearing one of the founders of the Church communicate that he struggled with this very thing brings some hope to me. (Full story Romans 7). Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23 Heart here is translated the essence of all spiritual and physical life. Where our thoughts, emotions and will live. Some also call it our soul. The connector between our mind and spirit. We see that we are to keep or some translations state guard our heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. In Luke 6:45 we learn “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Next time some asks where you got that mouth of yours you can reply “the treasure of my heart”. But seriously  we are learning a lot about where the issues that we face in our lives are derived from.

Knowing this king David calls out to the Lord “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10 It’s so cool because we were created for good. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We are the workmanship of God and He’s the best builder around. There is hope to end the cycle that Paul described above.

We see in Ezekiel 36:26 that God responds to His children when we call out for a clean heart like king David did.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Yeah! Winner! This is amazing. 

So we’ve learned that out of the heart flows the issues of life and that God can change our hearts. Take time today to call out to the Lord and ask for a clean heart. As always first step is giving God your heart and life read Beginning a Relationship with the Lord post on those details. Then continue the journey increasing your proximity to Christ and let Him give you a new heart.

Next proximity post we will look at what it means to guard your heart.

 

A Changed Life Requires a Life Change

It’s that time of year again. The time of year we are thinking about our lives and what areas we might want to change. For most of us this doesn’t occur just on New Years but throughout our lives. Have you ever noticed in yourself or others that even though a decision to change is made we try to do it without actually making changes? We want the new without letting go of the old.  Like taking a bath with our clothes on this just makes a bigger mess.

We cry out to the Lord and ask Him to fill our lives with love, joy, health or peace. God in His faithfulness responds saying: “Don’t worry about what you will wear, or drink, or eat, I’ll take care of you.” He says “I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts to give you a future and a hope.” He then asks for us to give Him our hearts and lives in order that He might heal them and fill them with Joy.  But when He gives us our new hearts and lives we take them and try to live the same way as before. Then follows us blaming God and expressing our feelings of disappointment in what we perceive as God’s gifts being useless and ineffective. But this is like putting the old flat tire back on the car after the mechanic put on a functioning one.

A changed life requires a life change. If we want the life, the joy and the peace that comes from a life changed by God, we’ve got to allow Him to change our lives.

 

Additional Thoughts on Change

Billy Graham- God Can Change Your Life

 

The Beginning of the End of Separation

This time of year many take time to focus on the birth of Christ and I wanted to take a moment to highlight why this event is so important. First point is this was not just another birth. This was God coming in the form of man. His birth marked the next step in God’s plan for the redemption of man.

In Genesis we learn that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This sin caused us to be separated from God. We learn in Romans that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Meaning eternal separation from Christ. God had created us for relationship with Him. His great love for us compelled Him to create a way for the separation caused by the sinful nature to be removed.  This way was Jesus.

In Luke 1:26 to 2:21 we read about the birth of Jesus. His birth marked the beginning of the end of sins ability to separate us from Christ. This is our road back.  The bible says that during His time on earth He was tempted in every way but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) . Christ birth and life here on earth set Him up for the next steps that sealed the payment for our sins and restored us back to the Father. God coming as man allowed Him to pay the price for our sins once and for all. This is the power and the importance of the birth of Christ. The rest of the story is found in His death and resurrection.

Read more: 
The Cross
The resurrection
Beginning a Relationship with God

Fun Song About the Birth of Christ: Enjoy- Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix

 

 

Two Dollars

One day when I was about fourteen years old my family had just moved back to my hometown in Kansas. It was a non busy summer day and I decided that I really wanted a little hamburger from the local burger joint. I looked around my room and tried to scrimp together the two dollars that I needed. I guess I must have done this same money hunt recently because I didn’t fine a penny. I looked everywhere to include under the furniture, in the couches and the sidewalk in front of the house. I asked my sister and my brother if they had money to spare, but no money!   I even checked the pockets of the cut off blue jeans I was wearing about seven times, still no money. I am not sure why it meant so much to me that I searched so hard to be able to get this hamburger, but it did. I went back to the living room to bug my brother again, I was sure he was holding out. “I just want two dollars!” I pleaded. “Give it up!” he replied, “No, I know God will help me find the two dollars I need.” I replied as I stuck my hand in my back pocket for the eighth time. To my surprise I felt something. I paused with surprise. It must have been evident on my face because my brother asked me “What’s going on?” I pulled out the paper to find two one dollar bills. I shoved it in the air and exclaimed, “Yes! See!” I said as I walked out the backdoor and down to the burger joint to get my hamburger. God showed me He really cares even about my desire for a little hamburger.

 

 

You are loved…

The simple truth is that the God of all creation loves you. Not just a little, not just because and not without a full understanding of who we are. Many people struggle with this conception. Mostly through a good understanding that most of us have many unlovable attributes and most  of us have done unlovable acts. Yet the truth still remains that…

the God of all creation loves you.

Why? Why would He love us?  Why would he love me?  The struggle to understand God’s love for us often comes from our understanding of earthly love which often turns up short. Most of the love we know on this earth is a self serving love. What some have coined “Fish Love“. A self serving love.  If you are good I love you or at least love you more. If you are bad I will love you less. This is not the God kind of love.  The God kind of Love demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) He died for us to remove the barrier of sin between us so that we can be with Him eternally.

Take some time today and really dwell on the fact that you are loved by the creator of the  universe.

Deeper look: The cross and Starting a relationship with the Lord and Fish Love explained