Thirst For God

“As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, ‘Where is your God?’ I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful and thankful shouts. Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:1-5 When I was still in the military, a friend and believer that I respected was fervent for God. One day I found him weeping, deep in depression because of home situations and other things going on around him. I tried to comfort him, and we prayed together, but he remained depressed. Later however, I witnessed him witnessing to another, praising God, even in his depression. I remember that day, that time in my life when I saw the hand of God working on one, who even though going through a depression, was witnessing for the Lord. I was in awe. For many of us, we will witness on the good days, but when something hits us and causes us to become depressed, we tend to shrink back and not want to be in the presence of anyone else. I must admit, and I have had numerous times when I longed to be with the Lord, even to the point of thirsting for His presence, even if it meant leaving this earth to be with Him. I wonder if others who may have seen this wondered where God was?

The above is an excerpt from a devotional I receive daily. Pastor Andy and I are kindred spirits on several levels. This devotional made me think about when I trust God and, to be honest, when I don’t! It has nothing to do with the Lord … but only to do with me! I do not question if God can do something … He can do ALL things! It comes down to if I will let him use me when the opportunities arise! Unfortunately, I have missed many while wallowing in my own muck! I pray that I/we won’t miss another!

Blessings as we head into this July 4th weekend. Remember why we have the freedoms we do … and Who gives us the ultimate freedom!

Oops I Did It Again

There it happened again! A slip of the tongue, something said that cannot be taken back. Have you ever been there? Perhaps this is you even now, but we cannot say we were not warned. We know that the old saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is another lie to get us to say things we regret later. James tells it this way: “If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:26-27 Sometimes it’s so subtle that you do not think you are saying anything wrong, but what you have said, is indeed offensive to another. The world is having a field day with this. It seems like everything said now is offensive to someone, and they are quick to point that out, calling you every kind of name imaginable because of it. Does that mean that we just cannot speak any more? Like that’s going to do a lot of good. But how does one keep from saying things, that as soon as they leave the lips, are remorseful of speaking them to begin with? James goes on to say: “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body. Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things.” James 3:1-5 So I realize that I want and I desire to be a mature man, yet it seems like it is my mouth that keeps getting me into trouble, and I realize that I have to control this loose cannon. How many of us have struggled with this same thing. It seems to come from a period of stressfulness, or anger, or another emotion that seeks to control our actions or thoughts. It’s only when we keep our thoughts on Jesus, especially during those times that we are bombarded by outside influences of a worldly and fleshly nature. I take responsibility for that, as I hope you do also. We will never get to the point of maturity unless we can bridle this freely moving instrument of torture and pain. (Taken from a devotional by Pastor Andy)

Go Find Work!

I was listening to a post by Jocko Willink, a former Navy Seal officer. Willink and one of his Seal partners, Leif Babin, now run a leadership consulting business and have authored a couple of books on leadership (Extreme Ownership and Dichotomy of Leadership). In the post he talked about when he would see one of his Seals standing around not really focusing on anything or engaged in a task … he would tell them to “Go find work!” In other words … be about the task at hand! I started thinking about how easy it is to get distracted or off-track from the Lord. This is especially true when things seem to be going very well. So I just wanted to share some verses that address the issue and offer some encouragement.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:22‬

Proverbs 24:33 – A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

And … even when Jesus was young and was left behind by his parents, when found said, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be (A)about (B)My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

Let us all be about our “Father’s business!” Now … go find some work!

Chose Who You Will Serve

Joshua 24:15: But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

One thing the military taught me was that there are no racial differences. Yes, we can kid with each other, but when you go into a fight, you trust the person on your right and on your left. You do so whether he is white, black, brown, because inside we all bleed red, and we are all the same. We may come from different parts of the country; we may even talk differently, and we may look different. Some of us are short, some are tall, some have a little more weight than others. Some have blond hair, some have black hair, some have brown or red hair, and some have no hair, but it doesn’t change the character of a man, or the character of a woman. We all are united in a cause of protection, for each other and the nation in which we fight for.  The Bible tells us we are to love one another, and we are to not be a respecter of persons. Scripture such as this, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”  Galatians 3:27-29  We have a choice in this world, in this time in history, to become and be part of the problem or part of the solution. The solution is to choose to accept each other. We then also have the choice to reject each other, for whatever reason. To me there is only one race, and that’s the human race, with all its goodness, and all its evil. The one thing every one of us should be against is evil, that which chooses to take from others, to satisfy their own needs. In this world we have always had those who practice evil, and right now, I am seeing evil in its raw form. From the lowest to the highest, evil is present, and it is trying to tear apart the very fabric of what we stand for as Americans. I am proud to be an American, and to be so, I have accepted those who stand with me against a true common enemy, Satan. Some will choose to hate us, but it is not because of the color of our skin. That’s just an excuse that the adversary has tried to instill in our minds. We have been formed by a system of democracy in which all have rights, but some want to take away those rights. To me, that’s not a skin color thing, but a difference in opinion. In this democracy, we have the right to believe, but just because we don’t believe the same way as our neighbor, doesn’t mean that we are bigoted, just different. We vote so that the majority can rule, but what is happening in our country right now is beyond difference. Evil has moved in full force and is trying to divide us. It is trying to persuade us that it’s not about good and evil but about race and bigotry. If we listened to One who is far more intelligent than us, has so much more wisdom than us, we can get through this. The One I am talking about is the One who died for you and me. The One who gave Himself so that we might live, and the life we now live can be by faith, in much greater things than exist here on this planet.  He poured it all out for us, regardless of our status or our skin color or our ethnicity. He looks to the heart of each person, and knows those who are His. Those who are not His, are not because of choice Their choice! Pastor Andy

We Must Look To God

One of these verses was given in our sermon yesterday, and several have used it for their facebook, but I am compelled to continue this because of the violence and rebellion that is happening recently. The Scripture is Luke 21:9-13 “When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. Indeed, these things must take place first, but the end won’t come right away. Then He told them: Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name. It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness.” Certainly we are walking in times that seem like the quickening of birth pains which are getting closer together. But this leads me to say something. The rioting is not because of a black man being killed by a white policeman. It’s not about white on black, black on white, black on black, white on white, or police against all, or all against the police. It’s about evil against good. What makes a person think they have the right to rebel and loot stores, and set fire to buildings, many of which were against the very race they were rebelling to protect. Something is wrong in America, and we can’t blame the president, even though some want to. They can’t blame the state leadership, even though they do. They can’t blame outside interference, although they do. Because you see, the issue is sin sickness. The issue is the same as it has been from the beginning of time. A hate brewing between those who seem to have and those who have not and decide to take it from those who have. It’s about hate, which is why Cain killed his own brother. It’s about anger because of the present state of affairs such as the plagues that have been cast upon us. The answer is not in destroying the very fabric of our lives, but the answer is to seek God and turn to God for His guidance. We have a promise that is written in the Old Testament, and still transcends time, and is still appropriate for today, but can we live it? It is found in 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple of sacrifice. If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. My eyes will now be open and My ears attentive to prayer from this place.” Pastor Andy

Praying for Missionaries

Today I would like to dedicate this Journey to Missionaries. They are like Paul, who are sent out to witness to other lands. Not everyone has the calling to be a Missionary, and not every person has the personality to be one, but thanks be to God, that there continues to be those who answer the calling written on their hearts, many from a very young age, to go to certain groups or places in this world for the purpose of being a witness for Christ. Some are sent to places that seem pretty safe, and others are sent to places that their very lives are threatened, or imprisonment waits for them. But the call of the Lord is stronger than the fear of what could possibly happen to them. You and I have an opportunity to be a part of these Missionaries lives, through either direct giving, or the participation of your church in the tithes you give, that are sent to those who do this work. You also participate with them by the prayers you send to heaven for them and those they minister to. What caught my heart to these this morningwas the start of Philippians, in which Paul, who obviously is a Missionary, and now in prison, writes from this prison to those who help him with their financial help, and with their prayers. Here is what the Missionary thinks toward those who participate: “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.” Philippians 1:3-7 These brave souls, called by God, through Christ our Lord, pray for you also, I have received encouragement many times from the very missionaries we are and should be praying for, saying that they are praying for us, and for me. It would seem to me that they have their hands full with where they are, and what they are doing, but they still have time to pray for us back home, I wonder how often we pray for them? Do you know who your Missionaries are? Do you remember them in prayer? Pastor Andy

Whose We Are

Some people work for masters who are tyrants, and others work for masters who are benevolent. Some never see their masters (bosses), while others work right beside them. Some don’t like who they work for, and some love their jobs, and would never think of working for anyone else. All different, yet the bible tells us that no matter what circumstance we are in regarding our earthly masters, we are to work for them with fear and trembling, and honor them, because it is not really them we should be working for, but the Lord.  Let’s see how it is written: ” Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ. Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.” Ephesians 6:5-9   I have worked for bosses who kept threatening their employees with being fired if they didn’t produce at a certain level. With that kind of attitude, it’s no wonder that some places have trouble keeping workers.  The Lord wants us to work diligently as to Him. If we are an employee, we need to give it our all, with an attitude that we don’t necessarily work for the human master, but we belong to Jesus, and He is the One directing us in our work attitude. If we are an employer, we should treat those we hire as children of God, laying out the framework of what needs to be done, but then giving them coaching. While it is true there are some who will abuse this on both sides of the employment contract, I’m talking to and about Christians. We are not to be like the world. We are to be different. If we are treated unkindly, we respond with kindness. If we are threatened, we are to be humble in heart and trust the Lord that He will provide. If we are treating others unkindly, how can a business survive?  How can employee devotion continue with one that treats their charges unkindly.  I think, too often, we try to separate our worldly work program from our spiritual life. But I need to remind all of us who we are believers, do not take a separate track from living life while here on earth.  While it’s true we live as if we are pilgrims, sojourners, temporary residents, we should never forget WHO we are … or WHOSE we are!

Many Parts, One Body

We have many redundant parts in our body, so that if one part fails, the remaining part will still cause us to function normally, or near normally. We can go through life with one arm or leg, or eye, or ear, or lung, but it certainly gives us comfort to know that if we lose one of these, there is another that will pick up the slack.  It’s no wonder that Paul would use the physical body to describe the church, and the use of different gifts. Here is the Scripture: “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.”  Romans 12: 3-8  There are some very interesting and important things for us to learn in this paragraph. Have you ever envied another because of the gift they had, and the way they used it?  “If only I had such a gift!”  If you have ever thought that, take another look at yourself in the mirror. God has given you a special gift, that He knew would fit you better than other gifts. So the one who you have envied, may very well be envying you for the gift you have, if it is shown, and you are using it to the glory of God. The grace God has measured out to us does not have a hierarchy of gifts that are more important than another, but each has special use, not only in the body of believers, but also in your life as a person in the journey you take. Notice how he says, “And individually members of one another.”  We together are one in Christ, one body, yet this body functions just like our physical bodies. There may even be some redundancy, for God wants the body to be complete, and by the way He gives us redundancy in our physical bodies, He also gives some redundancy in our fellowship of believers. The point to all of this is that God knows how we handle gifts, and it is His grace that allows us to handle the gift He has given us. To Him, they are all important and are necessary for the body to be whole. If you spend your time NOT using your gift, because you think you don’t have that much to offer, you are short-changing the body of believers, for you have been sent to such a place and such a time as this to use your gift. Now, if you don’t use it, God will rise up a redundancy to use the gift that you possess, but fail to use. Because His goal is for the completeness of the fellowship of believers.  Small or large congregations, doesn’t matter, for gifts are given for any and all circumstances in life.  He lists a few of these gifts for us to get the understanding that what we don’t think is our gift, may very well be the gift He has given and desires for us to use.   Teachers may not think they are as good a teacher as so and so, yet do you teach? If so, then you are there for a reason. If you teach, but do not want to use that for the church, you are the one missing the blessing, and those around you are missing the fruits of the gifts you possess.  Will the body function? Of course it will, but not quite as good as if you made yourself useful with your gift.  So brother, so Sister, use the gift God has given you. Know that it is the perfect fit where He has placed you, and for the need for your gift, even if you disagree. Remember you are serving Him, and in doing so, you share that which is entrusted to you on this journey, that of sharing the benefits of the gift or gifts He has placed within you. Pastor Andy

God Is The Word For Good

My wife and I recently made a very  long road trip with our dog who DOES NOT ride well in the car at all! Whether we are going 5 minutes down the road or across the country like our recently trip. She pants and whines and generally makes the trip miserable, so we really questioned going and almost canceled this trip. Now I will say that we did use medication from the vet to assist, but prayed over this dog and the trip and God superseded any expectation I could have conjured up in my mind! With a truck pulling a trailer and starting off in a rain storm, I really thought we had missed His warning, but this trip was amazing! Another thing we noticed, as restrictions begin to be lifted, is the great variation of how people are now feeling about this virus. Some still in full mask and other protective gear while others were completely exposed!

I am not trying to minimize the “goodness of God” or define it by a simple road trip, but during what has been very trying times personally and nationally, it was a simple blessing and one that refreshed my heart, mind and body! A Greek word I love is SOZO (Sod’zo) which is the word used when one is well in spirit, mind and body all at the same time. God gave me a Sozo moment. I started thinking about what word can rally describe God? I searched my mind’s thesaurus and realized, in my limited mental capacity, that I really cannot think of a word in the English (American) language that fully captures the goodness of God!

A pastor friend wrote the following in a devotional recently:

“For those who do not believe, there is no miracle done that can make them believe. For those who believe, there should be no miracle necessary for us to know that our Lord still watches over us. You see our belief is not attached to action, except on our part. Our belief should inspire us to move, as the Spirit within us moves us. That is enough! For those who will only believe if God somehow intervenes in this pandemic, is putting conditions on their belief. We believe because of who He is, not what He does for us. It should always be more of what we can do for Him, instead of what He can do for us.  He has already done enough in allowing us to have an audience with Him through the shed blood of Jesus. That is more than enough for me.  How about you?”

As I sit here this morning and sum up my thoughts about all of this, God answers my questions:

“He says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.'” Psalm 46:10-11

But God!

As we all are, last Sunday we were watching Church online (unrestingly, we now watch multiple services on Sundays) and God began dropping each of these items in bold on me. I am not really sure exactly why, but I fleshed it out a little bit and share it here for you!

You can run from God, but He is faster than you!

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

You can fight God, but He is stronger than you!

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

You can ignore God, but He is more patient than you!

2 Peter 3:15 (NIV) – Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

You can try to hide behind your money, but God owns everything!

Psalms 50:9-10 – ‘I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. ‘

You can Hate God, but He loves you more!

Psalms 103:17 (NIV) – But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children

You can give up on God, but His love never fails! 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.