Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Striking It Rich

Striking It Rich
Have you ever watched the show, “Let’s Make a Deal!”? I remember watching this show when I was younger and trying to imagine what I would do with the money if I were to strike it rich. There are many people today who dream of “striking it rich.” Can I share with you today that many people are already rich and don’t realize it because they keep watching for their earthly riches to arrive? Stop the fantasizing and let’s look at what God’s Word says about being rich.

If you are a child of God, you’ve already struck it rich. You have been given a treasure that is accessible to you for the rest of your life. All you have to do is learn how to tap into the resources available to you.

In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Richly comes from the Greek word plousios that describes the following: extreme wealth, incredible abundance, great prosperity, and immense riches. Are you getting the picture? Paul is saying that if we get into the Word of God and allow the Word of God to get into us, then it will enrich us spiritually and make us billionaires.

I know you are asking, “How can the Word make us spiritually rich?" Paul continues to tell us what the Word can produce in us if we allow it. He says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

These words describe someone so full of the Word of God that their entire being is affected – hearts are full of joy, minds are flooded with wisdom and understanding, and mouths singing praises. Looks to me like Paul is saying that these people have struck it rich spiritually!

When the Word of God comes into your life with full authority and dwelling in your heart, it enriches you with the wisdom, gifts, and the power you need for today. You are so full of God that He comes spilling out on all who come near. When you are filled with the Word you can’t contain its life-giving flow. By using the word “richly” in this verse, Paul is painting a picture of what the Word of God will produce for you if you allow it to live in your heart and mind.

So if you are feeling spiritually weak and tired, don’t take another step without making the decision to let God’s Word play a major role in your life. If you do, you will instantly become a spiritual billionaire! Then you can be generous with your words and your efforts.

Ponder today how you can give God’s Word the priority it should be in your life.

As I was praying today, I felt the need to give the Word of God a priority in this devotional. I was tempted to write about the filthy Grammy Awards and how Christians struggle on how to live out their faith in an increasingly secular world. One minute we are outraged by a secular society pushing the envelope and then we do nothing about it. TV networks and politicians count on us to postpone our actions after our anger has subsided. They know we will go right back and support another show or buy another product they endorse or vote for them because of other issue. I feel better that I didn’t pull my soap box out. Just live your life according to the Word of God, stand strong in this compromising world, and do all things with Jesus leading the way. Then you will know the Will of God and His Holy ways.

I’m looking forward to a great day on Sunday. Pray the snow will hold off so we can all come and worship as one.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Called To Be Holy

Called To Be Holy

God says, “Be holy because I am holy.” Sounds like a pretty tall order to live a holy life. In 1 Peter 1:1-12, Peter is celebrating the gift of salvation only found in the saving work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He emphasizes the inheritance of believers and focuses on their ever-increasing joy in God. Based on the privilege we have to live in the days when God’s promises are being fulfilled, Peter calls believers to a holy life based on what God has already done. Look at 1 Peter 1:13-21 with me from the Message Paraphrase:

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
You call out to God for help and He helps—He’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, He’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew He was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.

First, God has given us an unshakable hope in Jesus Christ so we are to fix our hope completely on what Christ has done. That means reorienting our thinking and live our lives in full trust of God’s promises and provisions. Second, we are to live different lives as God’s chosen people, conforming our lives to God’s character. Our holiness is not based on how good we are, it is based on how good God is through us. God calls us out but does so under His power. So it is not something that needs to be mustered up by the individual. I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God not only calls us but provides a way out of the darkness. Third, we are to live in fear. Our Father in Heaven is also our judge who will do the right thing at the end of our earthly existence. Good old fashioned fear of the consequences of life is a healthy mindset to live within.

So, roll up your sleeves and trust fully in God for the resources to live a holy life that is pleasing to Him. He has already done the work. All we need to do is empty ourselves out and be filled with the Spirit of God.

May your day be filled with indescribable peace because of your unflinching dedication to follow God’s Word.

Looking forward to a great day on Sunday as we, “Take Hold of Life.”

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What You Should and Should Not Do

What You Should and Should Not Do

Today as I was reading the Bible, I was drawn to Philippians 2. This chapter is rich in focusing our heart and minds on being content with life as it unfolds before us. Each one reading this devotional has an excuse to complain or be taken back by someone. Life happens and sometimes it doesn’t happen very well. Look with me at a few verses that can put a proper attitude in your day today.

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:14
Do everything without grumbling or arguing…

Let me remind you today that someone else is having a harder time, or going through a more difficult situation, or even dealing with life and death struggles. God never promised we would be without challenging situations in life. But let me also remind you that God goes with us through whatever trial you are facing. Be faithful. Do nothing out of selfish ambition and do everything without grumbling or arguing. You will be remembered most by how you approached an obstacle standing in your way. God is always faithful to the very end of all things. I just wish some things would end a little sooner than others.

Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.

What a relief. God does the work in us. All we have to do is obey and respond to God as we seek Him with all of our heart. I can do that – He leads and I follow.

Looking forward to a great day on Sunday as we, “Take Hold of Life.”

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Victory Beyond Our Circumstances

Victory Beyond Our Circumstances

I love the start of a new year. New resolutions, more pounds to shed (if only I would have lost the ones from last year), new habits to form, and many opportunities to bring glory to God’s name. Then all of a sudden an old problem reappears. Yes, it has returned. The roof that took many months to replace on our church has decided to spring a leak. It’s not even Spring yet (I need to joke in order not to cry). This brings back a flood of memories (pun intended) that aren’t so pleasant. I thought these days were gone. Now I sit at my computer just waiting for the ice to melt and find out what the problem is. Thank the Lord for people like Vaughn Newcomer who is able to help. But there is only so much you can do when the weather wreaks havoc on your roof.

Have you ever been there before? When you think you are through a certain issue, it returns? I thank the Lord it isn’t more serious. But it still is an annoying problem. What do you do?

I first turn to the Scripture and see in Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” That’s what I need – rest. I need not fret over this or other issues. I need to rest in the Lord. Shortly after the Israelites crossed through the Sea and the Egyptians had drown, they were complaining of being thirsty (Exodus 17). They had stopped at a place called Rephidim which means, “resting place.”

Rephidim was also the place where the Israelites defeated the Amalekites. It is where  Aaron and Hur kept the hands of Moses lifted up to the Lord as He interceded in prayer. When his hands were up then they were winning the battle. When they were down, they began to lose. It is because of the faithfulness of Moses' intercession and the support of Aaron and Hur that the Israelites were victorious. But there is one other thing we should not fail to remember. It is through the power of our God that we can live and be victorious.

When challenging times come —and they are bound to come — we need to hit it head on with the Spirit, attitude, and presence of the Almighty God. We do that when we rest in Him. I have a list of things that I want to do about this leak but I have to first seek God’s way of handling it. He is the Lord of all things. The enemy will try to get a foothold, but rest assured, he is a defeated foe. I must not re-empower a disempowered devil. I must stand my ground and claim the victory in Christ. I think I will go get a cup and go get a drink of water and show the devil that he is no match for my God.

“The victory is mine,” says the Lord….

As we face another new year, enter it with confidence and know that we are on the winning side. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Rest in Jesus and take your stand against a defeated devil. Drink up…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike