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Jesus Everything
What decisions in your life do you make without Jesus? I was talking to my wife one day, I can not recall whether we had heard this analogy from another person or not but it provided me a lot of perspective. I told my wife; imagine if you were going to a movie with Jesus. When you got to the theater you and Jesus were so excited to see the movie you had picked out together. Jesus had told you that this trip was going to be his treat. He was going to pay for everything and you could order anything from the snack bar.  After buying the tickets and filling your arms with snacks at the expense of Jesus you turn and see another group of friends who do not like Jesus. They tell you that you should join them for the R-rated film they are going to see.  You decide to trade in the ticket Jesus bought for you and go with your friends to see the other movie leaving Jesus surprised that you would depart from him in this manner.

How often does this become the scenario when we make choices without Jesus? Jesus has provided us with the truth and guidance in our life that helps us to make wise choices. When you get home from the movie with your friends will Jesus still be their waiting? Of course he will, Jesus loves you no matter what choice you make. At the end of this life Jesus will still love you, however if you have not made the choice to know him follow him then you will be separated from him for eternity. In addition to eternal separation, the results of our choices in this life without Jesus will result in undesired consequences and a lifetime of missed blessings.

As we think about the choices we will make today in everything we do think about pursuing our actions with Jesus. Think about serving others with Jesus along side us at work. Think about your purchases and whether Jesus would desire to purchase them for you. Think about the entertainment we absorb and hobbies we spend time on; are these the kind of things Jesus desired for you when he paid your cable bill or internet bill? Make Jesus your everything today!

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:8

The Pursuit of Life
At a younger age, finishing high school with anticipation of adulthood I dreamed of a nice car a big house, and a large TV with the big cable package. I imagined the living room water feature and the island vacations. I felt like all these things were tangible and would simply come with time as I increased in the career I chose. With a growing maturity in Christ all this soon changed.

When I came to realize that life was a gift from God and that food on the table and air in my lungs was all I needed my gratitude for my God increased exponentially. I came to understand that all things are given to us by God and that he gives us what we need to sustain life, to do his work, and to bring us into a closer relationship with him. My God knows as I have come to realize that at a certain maturity level I can not be trusted with sustaining a meaningful relationship with God and have a million dollars. My God would not give me a million dollars and risk loosing his connection to me. Perhaps at a distant point in time and at a maturity level God feels comfortable with, he would bless me with wealth and know that I would put it towards his kingdom. Until that day Gods focus is on me and my relationship with him. He wants to grow me. He wants to sustain me. He wants to love me and be loved in return.

Today I choose as I must choose everyday if I will pursue the things of this world that might distract me from the will of God and drive a wedge in our relationship or if I will pursuit God as he ever pursues me. I trust God to give me everything I need and to bless me with only what I can handle, that which will edify and uplift my life and that which is beneficial to my relationship with him. Glory be given to God for his perfect provision for my life.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”
1 Corinthians 2:9

What’s More Important?
I ask the question today, “What’s more important?” This question is an expansion on the theme of these writings that emphasizes the idea that life is but a moment to make a decision about our eternity. People will put off this decision their entire life and end up left with the default decision which is to spend eternity without Jesus just as they spent their moment of life without Jesus.

So I ask again “What’s more important?” What are we doing today that requires more of our focus, more of our time, and provides us with more security? The lord asks that we meditate on his word day and night. This can be accomplished when we know his word and draw upon it with our every thought. An example of this may be when we encounter a person who we do not find pleasant. Immediate thoughts may resort to internal name calling or judgment, however drawing upon Gods word we are reminded that Christ died for all sinners and that we are to view others as greater then ourselves. This perspective can be difficult and a tough habit to employ but it is the right attitude to have. In another example we are given promises that our God is for us and that no one can stand against us. When we are faced with opposition or persecution we know that our God is in control and that he is are rock and our fortress under his wing we can find shelter. Meditating on Gods word is our calling and should take precedence in every situation so that as we make decisions we do not lose focus, so that we spend our time on things of the kingdom of heaven, and so that we find our security in the only true security that is the words and promises of our God.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Joshua 1:8

Compelled to Talk with God
Prayer is something in my Christian walk that I know I struggle with. Through the wise words of respected people I have formulated an approach to prayer that makes me more comfortable with my approach to prayer. Jesus is a father to me and his description of prayer in his word is something that can be relatively easy to understand. Jesus tells us to come boldly before the throne and that he will intercede for us to his father. This idea is so comforting, the fact that our savior desires us to boldly ask him for our prayers. This to me demonstrates the type of relationship Jesus wants to have with us. This idea shows that he is always available and always willing to listen to the point that he advocates on our behalf to our father.

Not only is prayer about our requests which God is already fully aware of, but it is a time that demonstrates a faithful relationship. If you had a best friend who you never talked to, eventually you would lose touch with everything going on in each others life and would not be considered to have a relationship. Christ is our best friend who seeks to be involved in our lives but only if we desire it on our side. One respected speaker described prayer as a simple conversation. At anytime with any thought you can feel free to simply share with Jesus everything that is on your mind. With regard to a daily devotional time another respected teacher described Christ’s desire to meet with us. He suggested that Jesus is waiting for us in his office and all we have to do is go in a sit down. If we miss a few days it is only us who suffer from the loss of contact. Our forgiving lord does not remind us the next time we come to him how long it has been since our last conversation and suggest that he is reluctant to listen. He is our eternally loving father and friend with the power to do all things for those who love him.

Another aspect of prayer that people struggle with is Gods will versus our will. People often are disillusioned about God or angry with him when prayers do not get answered. God always answers prayer, it may simply be that he does not give us the answer we were seeking or the answers we recognize. Prayer should be an acknowledgement of Gods power, of Gods authority, and a submission to his will.  It should be a demonstration of our faith and a strong relationship builder with our savior. Prayer is not a get rich scheme or a buffet of my desires. God is willing, God is capable, and God knows what is best. Take a moment in every moment and allow the lord to be your companion and talk with him.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

Patience is a trait of mine that I was always complimented for when growing up, but now as an adult I find that in certain situations I severely lack patience. I think patience is something we could all use more of or something that we would simply like to stockpile for those situations where you just feel like you are going to lose all emotional control.

In one area of my life that my patience has become exceedingly important is my wait on the lord. I know the day is coming when I get to see him face to face whether it’s my eventual time to leave this world or if its Christ’s soon return occurring in my lifetime. I know this life will end and eternity will begin. Until then I wait on the lord. I wait on the lord’s perfect timing to direct my steps, to answer prayers and to move through this world. God has had his plan in place for all of time and he executes it perfectly in a timing and manner that he knows is perfect.

In another application of patience I stand amazed at Gods patience with me. Not only did he know the steps I would take in life and how my life would unfold, but he was patient to watch my life play out, comfort my sorrows and correct my failures. Like a good father he has watched me grow, develop and mature with a patient love that waits on me to seek him in my every decision. God’s patience with me and this world should be our standard for patience. Christ’s patient love has demonstrated mercy and grace beyond imagination. My awareness of this eternal gift from my creator leaves me with a euphoric love of my God as I wait.

Don't tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead." Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Joel 2:13

My Everyday
I am everyday surprised at the way people live their life reassured of tomorrow. They are reassured that the sun will rise, that they will be able to walk outside and that their money will be accepted in exchange for anything they may need to buy that day. The day to day life people keeps them safe and comfortable. Often as long as basic needs are met people do not see the need to make a change. With this attitude comes a complete disregard for the long term consequences of life.

The reality of this living is that there are long term consequences to the decisions we make. These decisions may result in personal turmoil in the future or may be hurting others now and in the future. My concern is that a personal disregard for future events and a complacent attitude toward the decisions of today prevent even believers in Jesus Christ from enriching the Kingdom of God. Looking at our own situation prevents us from breaking our hearts over the concerns of others. The salvation status of others should be an immediate and pressing issue to believers in Jesus Christ. As believers we understand what is coming, we understand the persecution we face and will increasingly face. We also know we have victory in our everyday and in our eternity. Our focus should be on those who have not embraced an opportunity for victory.

We should be shaking the everyday assurance of tomorrow in the lives of people all around us. We should be stirring up feelings of risk and danger ahead so that people might be warned of impending disturbances. We should be shouting of the victory that is coming and the opportunity to be heirs to the kingdom of heaven. We should be giving our hearts sparingly so that hearts can be won over. We should be planting the love of the father in the soil of lives we touch and influence. Jesus is our victory!

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith.
1 John 5:4

Appreciation for the Cross
How do we show appreciation for the cross? This might be a strange question; we may think that saying thanks is  all we can do to show appreciation. The enormity of the cross situation is incomparable to anything else in history. We think, there is nothing more then saying thank you because nothing could show enough appreciation.

The next step after saying thank you is to obey. Obedience is a demonstration of our gratitude for the cross. The question now arises about what we should obey, the hard stuff? The easy stuff? The stuff we want to obey? I believe that our obedience to Gods word demonstrates our level of appreciation for the cross. A life lived lukewarm doing as we please and not what pleases God shows that we think the cross was no big deal and that it really isn’t that important this far removed from it historically. A life lived in strict accordance with Gods word shows an understanding for what Jesus Christ went through as he hung from the cross for the sins of all mankind.

Reflecting on what happened leading up to and on the cross I am reminded that Jesus Christ was tortured for me. He suffered for me. He died for me. All this not so that I can simply be forgiven which is more then enough to show appreciation for, but also so that we can have a relationship with him and spend eternity with him. The actions I take and decisions I make regularly reflect my attitude on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Do people look at your life and get blinded by your shining appreciation for the cross or do they look upon you and remain completely unaware that anything ever happened on Calvary? Show the world today you appreciate what Jesus did on the cross!

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Why Did God Speak the World into Motion?
I was struck with the question one day of “Why did God start creation?” I thought if God knew what was going to happen, because God knows all things, and he knew he was going to have to send his only son to die, why would he start the whole process? God knew that as soon as Adam and Eve were created that the fall would occur and that sin would enter into his perfect creation. He knew about the years of suffering ahead and the individual pains that would occur for the span of human history. He knew post-human history and the names written in the book of life and those who would reject him and forever be separated from him. He knew all, he knows all and he is confident in all.

The only answer I could find that would possibly explain why he would start all of creation into motion even with all of the consequences of mans choices, was for a chance to spend eternity with me. Gods love for me was so great that he created me, cared for me, and provided for my needs. He provided for my greatest need which was to nail my sins to a cross along with his son. He gave me mercy and grace and love everlasting. He gave me promises and guidance so that before we are united in heaven I can have the most beautiful and fulfilling relationship with him while in this life. God took a chance on creation, he came as a servant to provide for his creation, and all so he could love us. This is a love I will never know but am honored and humbled to enjoy. This is our God!

the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3

The Face of God
I have had that moment when the wrong choice seems like the choice I am going to make because of temptation, desire, and lack of personal restraint. In some of these moments we might even tell ourselves that yes we did wrong but it’s alright because God still forgives. This is a true statement that God sill forgives. Tomorrow it will be the same, when I step out and make a choice according to the desires of the flesh God will be still willing to forgive. The question arises about whether abundant forgiveness is acceptance for our missteps?

In hopes of answering this question I resume some visual imagery I have had about how God looks and his appearance when I choose my way and not his way. To give you an example of visual imagery I have had in my life that has truly strained my heart I recall times when my father was alive but was living four hours away. I was grown up and married but my dad was struggling with the distance from the life we had grown up with and the circumstances of poor choices he made. Regardless of the poor choices he made my relationship with his was good and I looked up to my dad. During some dark days in his life when I believe all he wanted was a friendly voice during late hours in the night I choose to ignore his phone calls because they had become routine and from my perspective were not benefiting our relationship. After my father passed I remembered the calls I ignored during late evenings and it broke my heart. I pictured my dad in a low moment, a moment of need for a friendly loving voice, sitting in a dark room with the TV volume on low and a single lamp on in the room. He is sitting at the end of the couch near the end table with the phone on it. He decides to give me a call just to obtain some reason to go on. He dials my number and listens to it ring. It rings once, hes prepared to talk to me, then twice and he hopes I answer, on and on the phone rings as his face drops, until finally it goes to voice mail. Without leaving a message he simply sets the phone back down and with a tear running down the side of his cheek, he slips into an acceptance of the situation he’s in and the lonely night ahead.

Similar to this imagery of my father, I see God cringing when he sees me do wrong. I see him cheering me in the other direction as I approach a wrong choice and with his head hung, he slowly shakes it side to side knowing the consequences I will face as a result of my poor choice. God knows my heart, and desires me to pursue his will because he knows what is best for me. We may think God just wants us to do as we are told, but when God tells us don’t, he’s telling us don’t hurt ourselves. His commands and will for our life are always and forever from a position of love for us. He knows what works in our lives and has provided us with his word because he knew we would need guidance. When it comes to relationships, children, or entertainment, he knows what will bless us and what choices we will suffer the consequences for. His forgiveness is unending but his face tells us how he feels about our choices.  As we make choices today give thought to the face of God and aim to obtain a smile!

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I’m Loved Anyway
Coming into a relationship with Christ is something that takes willingness on our behalf. It is easy to say we believe all kinds of things but until we experience the personal relationship with Christ we are really at a loss for what this relationship means.

One thing it does mean is that within this relationship there are two people, you and God. No one else is needed in this relationship. People might introduce you to the idea but no one else acts as mediator or interpreter for you. We do not need a special device or special person to help us talk to God; he is available at all times in all places. I do believe that it takes knowing the character of God for us to be fulfilled in this relationship, but you ask “how do we know the character of God?” The character of God is found within his word, this is our linking to knowing who God is. Claiming to have that personal relationship with God but being unaware of his character is contradictory and a tough argument to make. When we dive into his word we discover deep truths about who he is and the relationship he has with us even before we have chosen to have a relationship with him.

The most impressive aspect of our God is his unfailing love for us. Listening to a great worship song reminded me of the truth of his love for me. The song reminded me of how utterly unworthy I am of Gods favor. It reminded me of the way pride can hinder humbleness to Gods will. Most of all it reminded me that with any missteps of my own, God loves me anyway. Take a moment today and think of your choices and which ones God may not favor, then give thankfulness to our Father for loving us anyway.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Approaching Strangers
As I have routinely gone to work, been home with family, and worshiped in church on Sundays I have from time to time thought about evangelism and the way I personally can approach it. I have had struggles with courage as well as doubt. Growing up in a Christian family and now raising a family of my own I have come to realize that the Christian walk is a life long journey. I learned many things about God, the Bible and Jesus Christ from my father growing up, however stepping out into my own relationship with Jesus and beginning to pursue the thoughts that tug at my heart regularly has been an experience like none other.
The courage I have lacked comes from a personal fear of approaching strangers with the word of God. Like many people I have thought “What do I say?”, “What if they get mad?”, and “What if I don’t have an answer to their questions?”. When these types of questions swirl in your head over and over it is easy to simply let fear impede any attempt at approaching a stranger. Still desiring to share the word with others I turned to the idea that I could share it with people I know. Once again the same questions from before arose but with slightly less of a concern for making an acquaintance of mine angry and anticipating understanding if I did not have an answer to a question they were asking.  Even with slightly less fear, the idea of approaching a person I knew was still too daunting to actually pursue. It was at this point that I examined scripture and sparked on the idea that I could simply be the city on the hill, meaning I could simply live righteous and let this be my ministry and evangelical approach, however most who are not interested in God will not inquire about the impact God has on your life and understand righteousness.
So it is with prayer and a greater faith that I step out onto this platform and make an attempt to serve my God with the full support of the Holy Spirit.

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
Matthew 12:18
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