Let's Give Thursday Some Credit

It's Thursday morning...not Monday and not Friday.  Thursday.  Nobody ever says much about Thursday.  On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most incredible) Thursday is number 4. Why doesn't Thursday get more credit?   You hear people talk a lot about Wednesday.  You know...middle of the week, hump day, and half-way to the weekend.  And almost everyone talks about how terrible Monday is.  But what about Thursday?  I love Thursday.  Thursday is actually the 5th day of the week.  Thursday is the 3rd day from end of the week. Thursday is actually further away from Monday than Saturday (Depending on which Monday you're considering).  Seems to me like it's a pretty good day!

What happens on Thursday?  Thanksgiving happens on Thursday.  That's a big one.  The Lions get beat every year on a Thursday.  (Thanksgiving).  Thursday is the eve of the biggest shopping day of the year.  Not bad.  Thursday is always the eve of Friday.  Can't take that one away.  Personally I think Thursday is a great day.  Help me out.  Help me give Thursday at least a little of the credit that it deserves.  What do you think?

You Can't Do It...But He Can

How many times in a day do you use the word impossible?  Or how many times a day do you think the word impossible?  I'm sure you know what the word "impossible" means, but let me show you what the dictionary says.  Actually let's look at "how" the dictionary says the word "impossible".  Impossible:  not possible; unable to be, exist, happen, etc.  Unable to be done, performed, effected, etc.: an impossible assignmentImpossible:  incapable of being true, as a rumor.  Impossible:  not to be done, endured, etc., with any degree of reason or propriety: an impossible situationUtterly impracticable: an impossible plan.  Impossible:  hopelessly unsuitable, difficult, or objectionable. 

When you say or think of the word impossible you speak or think from a very powerful source.  When you speak or think from a mentality of impossibility you are yielding to a very powerful source.  The truth is many, many things are impossible for you and me.  Sometimes we try things and fail because they are impossible for us to do.  And there are times we don't try things (and don't succeed) because we see the task as impossible.  In both cases impossibility rules us and keeps us from succeeding. 

In spite of all the impossibilities...the Bible says, "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God."  (Luke 18:27)  What we cannot do...He can!  Understand that one situation to us is not the same situation to God.  Understand that the mountain before you is nothing before God.  We cannot be delusional and deny the mountain exists.  We must acknowledge to God the mountain exists, and without Him it won't move.  But we also acknowledge to Him that because nothing is impossible to Him it will move! 

What impossibility are you faced with today?  You can't do it.  You can't fix it.  Why?  Because it is impossible (see definitions above).  However, what you cannot do...He can.  Remember, He is God...and you are not.  The things that are impossible for you are possible for God.  Your situation appears a whole lot differently to God than it does to you.  To God it is very, very, possible!  Therefore with God...you can do it!

How Often Do You Simply Wonder....

How often do you simply wonder what God is doing with your life?  I believe this is something we all encounter!  Do you ever wonder if God really has a plan for your life?  I'll have to be honest and say there are times when I do!  I think most of us...really deep down...know that God has something for us.  But...more often we wonder what it really is!

I love the scripture from Jeremiah 29: 11 that says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  This verse is so encouraging to me and I hope it is too you as well.  There are several facts in this scripture that should encourage you.  Listen.

Fact #1:  God definitely has plans for you.  Think about it, if God knows His plans for you this means He has plans for you!  God couldn't have plans for you and not know it!  You can't plan a vacation and not know it!  So...He has plans for you.  And whatever He has planned for you is the best thing for you...ever!  He has incredible plans for you!

Fact #2:  God wants to prosper you.  God's prosperity always involves some type of increase.  His will for mankind from the beginning is to "Be fruitful and multiply".  God's prosperity is different from the world's prosperity.  The world's prosperity is rooted exclusively in the efforts and abilities of man and accomplished for self.  On the other hand, God's prosperity is rooted in His promises to bless those who serve and obey Him.  And a major part of that blessing is to be given to others!  Trouble comes when we trust God to prosper us, and when He does we take the credit for it and live like the world does, using it only for ourselves.

Fact #3:  God DOES NOT want to harm you!  As a matter of fact, God will not harm you.  When a believer trusts God to prosper and at the same time neglects God's principles (or disobeys His Word), the result is simply what God said would happen.  God is never mad at you and wanting to "get" you for not obeying Him perfectly.  God explicitly tells us how to live for Him and to prosper.  If we do what He says we are blessed.  If we willfully disobey we suffer the consequences that God established before time.  The choice is really ours!  God not only loves you...He likes you!!  The Bible calls it favor.  So God's not mad at you and He's not going to "get" you.  Just follow His principles.

Fact #4:  God's plans are designed to give you hope.  Think about this.  If you know God has plans for you, that He wants to prosper you, and He's not mad at you...this should give you hope!  Hope is big.  But hope can be just that little flicker that says "Maybe it's possible."  Hope says, "If I hang in there just a little longer...".  When hope is lost the opportunity for faith is lost.  Hope is the force that ignites our faith that God can do it!  Don't lose hope, because God truly has plans for you, He wants to prosper you, and He's not mad at you.

Fact #5:  God's plans for you include His plans for you. (Just saying...)  And His plans include His prosperity for you, His favor on you, hope for you, and a future for you!  I have to tell you this last one is the greatest for me!  Not to minimize the other ones but knowing that God has a future for me seals the deal for me.  If God has a future for you, He's got plans for you, He wants to prosper you, and He's not mad at you, but likes you.  This should give you hope, supernatural hope, that there is an incredible future and destiny ahead for you!

You are an awesome creature because you are created anew in Christ!  You're not shabby because His Son who died for you is not shabby.  He was the cream of the crop; the ultimate sacrifice needing to be offered up for your sins just once.  Thank God!  This means you're worth a whole bunch to Him!  Lift up your head because God has awesome plans for you.  These plans will propel you through your incredible future upon the rockets of God's blessings, His favor for you, and your hope in Him!  Hang on!

Is Sacrifice a Quick Fix?

There is a verse from the Old Testament that speaks of the difference between obedience and sacrifice.  Even though this is a short verse, it packs a wealth of truth concerning both obedience and sacrifice.  Let's take a look at the two.  First here's the verse.  It is found in 1st Samuel 15: 22.  "Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."

In this verse Samuel is rebuking Saul for first disobeying God and then offering a sacrifice to make things right between himself and God.  Saul did what he desired (which was against God's plan) and offered up a sacrifice to please God for his disobedience.  It was easier for Saul to do his thing and then offer a sacrifice to cover it over.  Samuel rhetorically asks "Is God blessed more by your sacrifice or by your obedience?"  Then Samuel answers his own question:  "Behold...obedience blesses God more than sacrifice, and to listen blesses God more than the fat of rams."  Samuel makes it clear that to obey God is better than to offer sacrifices in lieu of obedience.  

Let me say that sacrifices were not wrong.  Samuel said that to God obedience is better.  Again, sacrifices in their right usage were not wrong.  Sacrifices had their place in a system established on sacrifices!  This incident was an Old Testament type and shadow of having faith in God's grace and being saved as a result!  It was a billboard pointing man to a time when righteousness would be based totally on faith - not works; a time when One sacrifice would be made for all mankind - forever.  When we do what God says it is because we believe what He says.  When we obey God, it's also because we truly love Him and want to please Him.  When we use sacrifice in lieu of obedience, somewhere in our hearts (if even just a little) we believe that works will please God more.

Many of us feel we need to offer sacrifices when we sin.  You know...fast a little more, pray a little more, stop doing this or that, etc.  If you need to do those things do them.  But remember John says in 1st John 1: 9 "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  To confess our sins to Him and truly ask His forgiveness is simple obedience to His Word.  This is step one of obedience.  Step two is to get up, and continue walking according to His Word and will for your life.  You may need to pray more.  You may need to fast more.  You may need to do some practical things to better position yourself to further obey Him.  But please remember, He has paid the price for your sins already.  No amount of sacrifice will bring you further into His righteousness your already created in!  You are the righteousness of God in Christ!  

Finally let me say...when you stumble, don't offer up a sacrifice.  He's already been offered up and accepted in your behalf.  But take the first simple step of obedience.  Acknowledge to God your sin, ask His forgiveness, move forward, and receive the blessing He faithfully lavishes on those who obey Him!

Your Input Please

As I post this it is Sunday morning.  At this time many people I know (among more I don't know) will head out to church.  Thank God for life-changing churches who welcome God's presence.

I need your input.  Please tell me what significant thing(s) you learned in church today...and how you will apply them in your life this week to change someone else, something, or yourself.  Please place them in the comments section below.  I am really interested in what God is doing around the world.  Thanks so much and have a most blessed Sunday!

The Passions of my Heart

My life is filled with what I like to call Godly passions.  You also have them in your life.  In addition to God's call on your life, passions are those areas of your life with God's touch and call on them.  You could also call them burdens.  Burdens for people, a certain group of people, certain areas of ministry, or simply certain desires He has placed in your heart that result in accomplishing His will in and through you.  

Outside of Jesus Himself and my incredible family (which is growing), my passion/burden is for certain nations of the world.  To be more specific - India and Honduras.  In 1997 I visited India for the first time and it changed my life.  God used this first visit to confirm several things that had already been stirring in my heart.  Some of which were a desire to travel, and a fascination for other cultures of the world.  As it turns out India is about as far as you can go without coming back again!  India's culture is about as opposite from ours as you can get!  It took one trip as the catalyst to set in motion God's calling on my life to reach these nations.  Since then I have made 7 more trips to India.  In 2000 I made my first trip to Guatemala, Central America.  Two more trips followed in 2002 and 2003.  God was establishing my love for Hispanic people.  In 2007 I made 2 trips to Honduras.  2007 was the year God set on fire the burden specifically for the nation of Honduras.

Harvest Celebration Ministries is an organization that was formed back in 1998 to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus.  It was a vision God gave to Connie and me to fulfill the call upon our lives to reach the nations.  For the most part HCM has taken the back seat to the churches we have pastored.  But late last year I resigned the pastoral ministry after serving some incredible churches during a wonderful season of pastoring.  Now our desire is to focus on our calling - India and Honduras.  We don't desire to live on the mission field.  We do desire however, to make a difference.  Our vision is to offer prayer, financial assistance, and any training we can provide through serving the church leaders of these nations.  

Please pray for Harvest Celebration Ministries.  We need your prayers and whatever you can offer in an effort to team up with us to reach these nations.  Please follow the link below to visit our website (still under construction).  Thank you so much and God bless!

HARVEST CELEBRATION MINISTRIES

Feeling the Pain

It's another one of those mornings in which I'm up early even though I worked late and was up late.  Again, bed-time doesn't matter...I always seem to rise at the same time - early.  This morning...very early!  I was enjoying some "soak" time.  Not in the tub...but in the presence of my incredible God.  It was awesome and I really sensed something strongly through a particular song I was "soaking" with.

I was listening to Jonathan Stockstill's "Unfailing Love".  It's an incredible worship song that sings about God's unfailing love.  In the song he sings about how God even turned His eyes away from His bleeding Son (on the cross).  He sings that He "paid the price for me".  It's such an incredible thing to meditate on.  It is life-changing to understand and receive the truth that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and all He endured through the crucifixion process and on the cross itself.  It's not only mind-boggling, but it's extremely overwhelming.  But this particular song mentions something beyond Jesus' sufferings on the cross.  He mentions the price that God the Father paid for you and me.  The price He paid for us was giving up His one and only (unique) Son for you and me.  Yes, Jesus was raised from the dead and returned back to His glory and into the presence of God's glory.  How awesome is that!  Add to that the name above all names given to Him.

But think for a moment about what God the Father gave up.  If you've ever experienced even a glimpse of God's love you know it is awesome.  If you have a relationship with Him you know and understand His love - a love that truly never fails, is overwhelming, and is eternally life-changing.  Think about the atmosphere of heaven.  It is pure love.  Think about the love relationship between God the Father and God the Son.  I can only imagine the depth of this love expressed in a truly pure and holy atmosphere.  Think about God the Father releasing His son to earth to be clothed in an earthly tent (just like ours).  Think about how God the Father required His only Son to take all the sin of the world upon Himself.  Imagine how God felt when He had to turn away from His only Son.  Can you imagine the pain Father God endured even though this was a short period of time.  Imagine one more time (parent) how you would feel if you had to deny your child for the "greater" good.  Somehow this morning I am feeling the anguish of my Father and His pain as He truly gave His only begotten Son for me.  All I can say is it is overwhelming.  He truly paid the price.