Daily Devotional – God Is Still in Control

God is in Control

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You. – Psalm 84:12

I struggle with my desire to control my destiny sometimes. It’s because I know that I am not in control of my life. As much as I want to be I am just frankly not. I cannot control whether or not I will get cancer or contract some foreign disease that would end my life. I can take preventive measures sure and for things like that it may even be effective but it is not perfect. We flew Ebola patients back to the United States and some folks even contracted that despite the precautions and training they went through. Life is the same way in that we can prevent most day to day threats to our physical selves but we can also prevent the challenges that our spirit may face. Our chances of success in the spirit comes down to how we have prepared ourselves for that challenge. Do we crack and give in? Or do we put it in to greater hands and let God do the work on us and on the challenge we face? Guess which strategy has a better chance of success?

Is God really in control?

He is and as a Christian it is part of why you believe in Him. God is sovereign in our lives which means he has supreme power or authority over all the things. Jesus showed this in his rebuke of the apostles while on the Sea of Galilee. He calmed the storm effortlessly with authority and then reprimanded the apostles for lacking in faith. The apostles had just witnessed prior to this the power of God to command demons from a man in Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-20). It wasn’t the first or the last miracle of Jesus and yet his closest followers doubted him. It is like that with me too, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful woman, two children and a zoo of animals. I have amazing parents and (mostly) loving siblings. My friends are few but important to me. I have good health and the bills are paid. Yes, some of that is my doing I am going to work every day and I am reaching out to those friends but it is all part of the love that God has instilled in me. I don’t have Jesus in the flesh before me showing me miracles of God but I have been at the bottom of the mountain that is depression and through Him I have clawed my way to the peak and beyond. It has no hold on me!

Is God in control all the time?

Absolutely, your proof is in the book you read. The Bible shows the power that God commands over all things. Not just because versus tell us but because of what happened within those pages. The Bible is God’s plans put to paper through those he moved to write the books within it. It’s easy to doubt this and think the enemy has control of us but he never really does. Job a man who was a devout believer of God was tested in ways no one would wish to be tested but God did not give Satan control of Job. Satan was allowed to do some things to Job but God told him there was a limit to what could be done (Job 1:6-22) and Satan had no power to do more than he did. When I think I have control over things and for some unwise reason try to put it before God it is my doubt that causes the problem. I doubt that God can do it better than me. I’m always wrong and when I finally listen to Him, everything works out.

How can you accept that God is in control all the time?

I think that building your relationship with God is the only way you are going to come to this relationship. It’s part of why I do this. I peel off the armor that men put on for the real world and expose my beliefs and failures to believe to the world. When the enemy comes whispering (Matthew 4:1-11) we should combat him just as Jesus did in the wilderness. Pray, pray, and pray some more. Gordon B. Hinckley said it well, “If life gets too hard to stand, kneel.”

Conclusion

God really is in control as hard as it can be to accept but it is far easier to understand the depth of his control if I know Him as well as I can in this life. That requires devotion and a desire to please Him as I know him more. Letting go of control and realizing you are not putting control back in to Gods hands because he has always had it is an extremely humbling experience. Here is this unfathomable being who knows the number of stars in the sky and the count of the hair upon my head and yet I, insignificant in some ways, try to get control from Him. Even so, I am cherished and while God may have control of my life I am also counted among His treasured children.

Daily Devotional – We Are God’s Children

Children of God

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

God is purposeful in all things that he does. Including giving us a purpose for being. We do not know what that is initially because like any good Father, He wants us to grow and become what we should be. He has plans for us but He also allows us free will and sometimes we choose not to follow those plans. We are God’s children whether we are on the path He would like us to be on or if we are lost in the dark forest of our own worldly desires.

Who are God’s Children?

We are all creations of God (Colossians 1:16) but we are not all children of God (Galatians 3:26) we only become His children through faith. It makes sense to me that in order for God to be my father I have to believe He exists. Accepting Jesus as the savior of my life and making conscious changes to put God first is what allows me to be God’s child. One must receive God as their everything (John 1:12) and He will give us the blessing of being His children. I want my father’s blessing, I yearn for it.

What do you think God has planned for you?

I don’t know the answer to that because I don’t know His plans, but I do know I started this site because I felt burdened by the problems I face as a man in Christianity and the problems others have spoken to me about. That burden translated in to me using the talents God has given me like writing and building sites. I don’t know if this will touch any brother in Christ or not but I will continue writing and sharing Jesus in ways I know how to. If for some reason I feel like He wants me moving in another direction I will follow Him because I am his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and as such I will walk in his plans.

What does it mean to be a child of God?

To me it means acknowledgement of His unending grace. It’s also recognizing that we do not have control. That’s probably the hardest thing that I face is balancing that desire to chase God and be without control but I’ve gotten better. I acknowledge I am second or lower on the totem pole when necessary. It doesn’t mean I do it flawlessly though. I don’t profess my faith from an educated position in theology either. I think that knowledge of the Bible gives us a far better understanding of God’s intentions and desires for our lives. So I fear that maybe I am sending the wrong message sometimes so I pray about it, a lot (Philippians 4:6-7). It’s why I will never speak from a soap box I don’t think God wants me, or us as Christians to do that. To be a child of God is to be a soul who believes in Christ and is okay with letting go of control we think that we have and letting God help us (Isaiah 41:13-14) as he promises.

He will ensure we are on the path he intends if we keep our gaze fixed on him. He is a good Father in letting us wander and come back because it allows us to share our testimony and not speak piously of God but humbly about God. There is no Father as good as that and there never will be.

Daily Devotional – God is Omnipresent

Omnipresent

The Lord Almighty is with us. – Psalm 46:7

It is such a simple saying, God is with us or that is to say He is Omnipresent. It is comfort for me and comfort I speak of when someone I know is in doubt. It’s also the cause of my doubt sometimes and the cause of my anger sometimes. I’m not alone in that. Man or woman we find ways of doubting God even when he has shown us his work again and again. He was with Adam and Eve, he was with Moses and Israel, he was with Joseph and Mary. In all of these times, despite Adam and Eves fall God was with them. When Moses disobeyed and command a rock spill forth water or when Israel disobeyed God’s command to not worship idols he was still there. Joseph and Mary guided by his commands went to Jerusalem and there Mary birthed our Savior while God was still there and protecting them from persecution when soldiers came calling. Yet you and I doubt his presence.

Why do we doubt?

Seeing is believing. We are by and far a very visually stimulated culture. With the rise of all things digital we are constantly bombarded with visual stimuli. God promised us that He would be with us from the very beginning until He has fulfilled His promise (Genesis 28:15). Initially that promise was with Israel and He fulfilled that promise. He has given us Jesus and promised us that through our belief in Christ and devotion to Him we will find eternity in Heaven as our reward. He is here, with me now as I write this. He will be with me at the end of my life and then as I pass from this world unto the next I will get to be with Him and all doubt, no matter how small or great will be obliterated as I look upon His face. In this way God not only keeps his promise but proves his omnipresent nature.

Why does God let bad things happen?

God is everywhere and bad things do happen but it is not for his lack of presence. It is because he created man with free will and even told us we have free will (Genesis 2:16-17) but we make poor choices. That does not mean that every bad thing is because of poor choices as there are times when things we do not understand happen. Like a loved one getting cancer or dying suddenly. I do it, I’m sure others do too but I ask God why He allows a child to die of cancer or someone I love dying during that season of my life. What is the purpose of that? Jesus told us we would experience suffering (John 16:33) and that is what we see.

I love animals and feel that they are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. God did not create animals in His image however but He did man. In doing so He gave us the ability to use our free will to love, hate, scorn and more. I think that it is important to understand that our free will is what allows us to love. That same free will is what allows us to experience suffering and pain as emotions. Automatons do not have emotions but we, in His image do. Those emotions are tools that God can use to do great work because let’s face it, we would be lazy if we didn’t have to do the work to get to God. Instead we know that God uses all things for those He calls upon according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

God does not let bad things happen. God let’s us choose to do bad things so that we realize how much better life is with Him in our lives. He does not allow loved ones to suffer without some purpose. Job is a perfect example of extreme suffering used for a purpose. God can use these rough waters to improve someones character or to bring someone else closer to Him.

God Really is Omnipresent

If you try to think about being omnipresent it is mind-blowing. To be everywhere and in everything while keeping track of it all seems inhuman. Well it is of course because we were never meant as a replacement for God . It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the trappings of our single strand of existence whereas God is the harpist with his finger on every string tuning it for His glory. Some of those strings are broken and call out for repair. He, dutifully does so and begins tuning that new string making it perfect for Him.

I really went down an alternate path here compared to my initial thoughts on this devotional. God is omnipresent in our lives like the Father that He is, that I want to be, He allows His children the chance to grow through expression of their own will when His may be the better way. Like the stubborn children we are, we will eventually realize that He has been there beside us waiting patiently to teach us. All we have to do is settle at His feet and lift our eyes to Him and listen. He loves us, He truly loves us

Live like Jesus

Live like Jesus

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:10-12

The most effective and influential leaders are also the best servant’s. Time has proven this again and again not just in a biblical sense but in the world outside of Christianity. As Christians we should live like Jesus lived. As a Muslim you would live like Muhammad. The Pope in Catholicism is the successor of the Apostle Peter whom Christ built his church upon (Matthew 16:18). All of these men, holy in their religions are servant leaders. They have loved and treated people as they would be treated. Christ was persecuted and killed for his beliefs despite his unending love for anyone who came to him in adoration or anger. In his final days he was joyful in the hope of humanity, patient with the afflictions placed upon him by humanity and faithful in prayer to His father, our Father while humanity slew Him. We can and should live like Jesus at work because we touch so many lives while there that it is a missed opportunity if we do not share our testimony.

How would Jesus have acted at your workplace?

He would not have felt compelled to hide his Christianity for the sake of offending others. He would not have thrown it in their faces either. He was a man that walked the walk and talked the talk. He did not need to be flamboyant in explaining his beliefs and his love for man. He would have been kind and patient. I need to be more patient with co-workers, my mind makes all kinds of leaps in a conversation and I get irritated when they do not follow along. Jesus served all because he knew that his service to others was what God wanted of Him. I do try to help anyone, even if the question seems to be rudimentary to me because we all grapple ideas in different manners and great communicators find ways to give answers and messages in a way that everyone can consume them. It’s why the message Jesus gave us is for everyone sinner, saint, boss, co-worker or those you employee beneath you in a hierarchical structure.

How would He have handled the problems you face?

With more grace surely. I think that Ephesians 6:5-8 sums up how he would handle my particular problems which are related to the management directly above me. I feel like I have hit a glass ceiling at work in both development and position. In fact, this specific set of verses is something I remind myself of. I do respect those above me and perform my duties with the highest amount of dedication that I can summon even if I may not like the circumstances at the time. Jesus completed the greatest work of all even though he knew that the process to complete it was painful, scary and ultimately deadly. He completed our road to salvation with servitude and wholeheartedness because he knew the reward, our freedom through his death, was just and worth it.

Conclusion – Live like Jesus

Jesus completed the heaviest of work that was ever assigned to anyone. He suffered during that work and did it anyway because it pleased His Father (1 Peter 2:18-20). We are instructed to complete our work dutifully even if we are treated unjustly because our rewards at the end of this life are far greater than the suffering we may endure on Earth. God does not want us in an unhappy spot for our employment long term because it will wear on our soul and that will trickle in to our families. Work is to me an institution of the Christian faith. By working hard I can provide for my family and can touch people with my testimony. Jesus didn’t shuck his work when he didn’t like it and neither should I. Whether we are top managers or front line employees we should live like Jesus and show the world the love and servant attitude He did (Colossians 3:17).

Daily Devotional – Love The Lord Your God

Daily Devotional Challenge

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

In introducing this challenge I purchased a daily devotional to complete this and spoke about the greatest commandment. I did not expect that the first devotional would be on just that subject. I did not open the book until now to do this. I think that going in with no expectations is the best way to do this because then we can eliminate the bias of the subjects. That being said I want to examine the questions raised in this devotional and answer them. My answers are not guarded and I have no intention of upsetting someone. I am just a man chasing God with my heart, I am not wanting to be right or wrong, just to grow.

How do you see God and how do you view yourself?

God is my father, He is father to us all. That is an undeniable truth because He has created everything and that is but one role a father does, He creates. I am His child, He has created me and formed me in my mother’s womb to be not only who I am but to witness what He has done for me. I did not always feel this way, I was raised in church mostly of my own doing. This is no slight on my parents but I chose to go to church more often than they went with me. I’ve also turned from God and have been the belligerent child. Now, I am His again and forevermore.

Do you see God as loving and available?

Most times. This doubt I know is my own doing and not His because God told us He is always available (Joshua 1:9) we just have to seize that love and wrap ourselves in it. I doubt when I am upset about something or Bethany and I have disagreements about how I parent versus her idea of parenting. I wonder if I am a good father and question myself, not God.

Do you see God as being involved in your life?

I do, I see him in everything. He brought Bethany in to my life as a way to get me in back to church and change my heart from what it was to who I am now. Two years is a long time in our life if we really look at our normal lifespan. It’s more than 2% of our time! He’s given me the courage to step-out of my comfort in ways I did not want to. I was not always a “social butterfly” but now I know no stranger because I want them to see Him in me. Good or bad I know God is there but I also know he isn’t going to do it all for me. What father does? He teaches His children to be self-sufficient in some ways but in others they still remain entirely dependent on Him.

Do you see Him as a loving Father in your life?

I do, good or bad I see Him work on me. When I am in doubt I pray and even if I don’t get an answer I want I get comfort and a father comforts His children. Every day I get time with Him when I drive to and from work I get to pray uninterrupted and sometimes it is the whole drive and other times it may be five minutes but when I’m done I feel like I’m closer than I was before and I feel loved. We don’t need miracles to know He is our father but we do need to feel His love when we are happy or even when we are troubled (Zephaniah 3:17). He is there for me with no questions asked.

How do you see yourself, as a child of God?

Joyous. Blessed. Loved. I see myself as all those things. I also can be petulant or angry or wandering. God is bigger than that though. He is patient with me when I want it my way. He is calming when I am angry because I don’t understand why God let’s things happen. He is the shepherd when I have wandered off and have begun choosing things I probably shouldn’t. How do I see myself as a child of God? I see myself as one of the most cherished children in the world because my Father loves me enough to look past any iniquity (Romans 8:37-39) I have created and still wants me.

Conclusion

Day 1 and I already feel like God is the best Father a child could ask for. I want to be like that with my own kids even if it may be hard it is worth it. God is here with arms wide open ready to share His love, His will and His voice with us. I just need to step forward and listen so that I may hear Him when He speaks. Knowing this means I know I have a relationship with God it must be nurtured on myself because Jesus finished all the work ever needed. It’s time to dig deep, get dirty and come up with the gold my soul requires.

The Importance of Devotionals and a Challenge

Importance of Devotionals

Devotional is a word Christians know well. It is a way for us to pursue God outside of church and the extra activities that most churches may provide. It is something that can be personal or shared. Doing devotionals with your spouse allows you to communicate with your spouse on a God-first basis and gives you a window in to their personal relationship with Jesus. That exercise with your significant other is something I love to do because Bethany is sharing with me and that alone is priceless. In groups you build community and still get that look in to their relationship with our Savior. So devotionals are great but how are they important outside of the obvious reasons I’ve given?

Knowledge

Our knowledge of God’s word is never going to be complete because He is fathomless (Romans 11:33) but if we use devotionals often we store up (Psalms 119:11) this knowledge and it helps us stay on the good path. We know God more by immersing ourselves in His word and devoting our time to pleasing him.

Spiritual Readiness

As Christians we are charged with the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) which is so much easier said than done. This rule is often called the rule of reciprocity and is something you can find in cultures and religions the world over. It is part of the greatest commandment Christ gave us because it is what God was telling us to do before the new covenant (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) & (Leviticus 19:18) but we have a terrible way of not listening to God, don’t we? Daily devotionals help us listen to him and help prepare our spirit to act upon these commandments. The man on the street who is a drunkard. That one buddy who is struggling with thoughts of infidelity be they in pornography or from a woman at work.  Devotionals help prepare you to share your testimony with them to help them!

Spiritual Warfare

It could go without saying but even if we prepare our spirit for the helping of others it does little good if we cannot defend ourselves. How can you protect the family you love if you first cannot protect yourself? We need to be spiritual warriors to defend the family we are commanded to protect. We are told (Ephesians 6:12) quite directly that we are at war and within the same breath we are given the tools (Ephesians 6:13-18) and directions on how to defend ourselves. We can apply this defense to our families but raising them with the same weapons to defend themselves. We can arm brethren and strangers alike but to do so we need to keep those weapons and senses sharp, devotionals help us do that.

Devotionals Challenge

It’s pretty clear that devotionals have benefits that we may not consider normally unless we really look at their purpose. That is why I have a challenge. This challenge is for me because I’m going to do this publicly and if I fail I want anyone who reads this to hold me accountable.

I want to do a public daily devotional.

Every day from today, Easter Sunday until Easter Sunday in 2017 I will post the devotional and my thoughts on it, how it affects me, the things I learn. I want to invite you in to my heart and in to my journey with Jesus.

Will you come along and uplift me when the times turn tough or celebrate with me the times of joy? I hope so.

Cultivating a Living Testimony

Living Testimony

Living Testimony, we hear that all the time. At one point I wondered about the significance of those two words. They seem just two words that define themselves. You are alive and a testimony is a sworn statement. You have all you need for a living testimony. For a Christian is is much more than that because it is our proof of God’s change. It is how we show the world that our God is real, awesome and loves us no matter the circumstance. It is a two worded phrase that has a personal meaning and a public one. Let’s talk about the personal first.

Living

Ephesians 2:1-6 tells us how we have been dead in our sins and made alive in Christ. This is intensely personal because without Jesus we would be dead to our Father. Sure, we have seen someone say “You’re dead to me” in a movie and even cruel people have said it in life but to be permanently separated from your Father? It’s terrifying. It’s something we all live with until we have conviction to change. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in church, are a good person but not religious or even a murderer, when you become convicted there is a movement in you. The Holy Spirit can change the heart of men in an instant but, you have to want it. God provides our salvation, Jesus opened the way with his death and the Holy Spirit guides you to the Father when you are ready to live. Your salvation is secure in Christ once you do believe. But to be living…that is the change that drives you to chase God every day. His warmth, his love, his gloriously blinding face. Living things need light, Jesus is the light of the world but you still have to go to him for that life. Ultimately the term living for a Christian is their life in Christ and not the scientific definition we use to describe something that is living or not. (Romans 6:23)

Testimony

[su_pullquote align=”right”]…your testimony does not stop at your salvation but is the beginning…[/su_pullquote]

Testimony is your witness of God’s movement in your life. I know I fail at being a witness sometimes, it’s okay because I am not perfect, but I should do better. We should ask ourselves if our testimony is the public or outward reflection we want people to think when they think of a Christian. Testimony is not just about how you came back to God but should include your daily work. Our seasons may be joyous or they may be downtrodden but if our testimony is putting everything through Jesus then what have we to fear? Nothing. As Christians we should be helping those less fortunate so that we are a witness for Christ. Helping that homeless man get food is sharing your testimony and a chance to share more. Spending your evening with your significant other doing devotionals together is a great example of how you mutually share your testimony. If Paul can share his testimony in front of a king while facing potential death then we can surely share ours by giving someone a sandwich.

Living Testimony

I won’t ever claim that I am a better person, Christian or otherwise, than anyone else so this is my personal definition of living testimony. Your living testimony is the personal knowledge that Jesus Christ is the son of God who was slain so that we may be brought out of the death (eternal separation from God) that sin guarantees us. It is the public desire that we share our life changing story with others not only in our conviction to change, our return to God-first living but in our daily interactions with every child of God be they Christian or not. If a true change has come over you then it doesn’t matter so much in how you got to where you are but in how God is putting you on to a path to touching people and being a disciple of his grace and unyielding love.

Cultivating a Living Testimony

Defining what we believe is a living testimony is (as G.I. Joe said) only half the battle. How can we cultivate this testimony to be something we do every day? The easiest and also hardest idea when you make this commitment to share your testimony daily is mindfulness. It is so easy to forget and wander. Joseph and Daniel both were dream interpreters but they were also mindful In many instances where they were giving testimony before foreign kings by interpreting dreams (Daniel 2:19-28) and ensuring God was given the glory and not themselves.

I don’t know about you but I want that. I want God to have everything because once we give it all and are no longer encumbered by our own doubts and fears we open ourselves up to be the vessel he intended us to be. I use to and sometimes still do want to control every moving part of a situation and it just isn’t possible. Every day you cultivate a living testimony and there are so many ways you can do that.

I think that if we remember that your testimony doesn’t stop at your salvation but is the beginning and that to grow that testimony we need to chase God and have hunger for his word. Pray constantly and nurture others. Obey God’s truth and be mindful. If we remember those things then we know that we are giving God a great living testimony and that when our light fades and we are taken home then we have assurance that he will tell us that we have made him proud. We have pleased our Father.

My Salvation Is Secondary

Salvation is secondary

Man, that’s deep already.

I’m not going to apologize if that headline offends you. It should. It should also get your attention to the very serious nature of what I want to talk about. It’s been on my heart like an 800-pound Gorilla named Sparky. While talking with a friend we discussed a man’s primary duty as the leader of his home. After we talked I just had this consistent push in my mind telling me that my salvation was secondary but why?

Be the Shepherd

We are charged with leading our homes all over the bible and we struggle with that because we are human. The reason why I say our (as men) salvation is secondary is because we should be concerned with those in our household and where they are in Christ. It is said in Proverbs 22:6 that the way we raise children will determine their behavior in life. This is common sense stuff and does not have to be non-secular. In fact the NYU School of Medicine has a great site about child psychology and years of research behind it. You are the shepherd of the flock that God blesses you with on earth. Shepherds do not let their flock wander from them.

Bear Fruit

I talked about the farmer when I talked about nourishment and it’s consistency but I guess I did not get it across clearly enough because God has put it on my heart to write about it once again. In Deuteronomy 28:1-6 we are promised many a great blessings if we honor God’s commandments but in the same chapter (Deuteronomy 28:47-48) we are warned what happens if we fail. The work you do or the lack thereof is directly proportionate to how much God will bless you. He rewards the believer with salvation. He rewards those who understand they were chosen (John15:16) to bear witness for him

It’s Christ Like

Consider this simple thought that we all know to be truth. God is our father and he gave use Jesus so that we may be redeemed through his death and resurrection. Apply it to what is on my heart friends, God, with no requirement to, gave us his most precious thing. His Son. We are charged too with his most precious of things, his children (our children). Jesus gave his life for our salvation. Why can we not, set our desire to be fed aside and put our work in to how our children are raised? Our futures are secure, theirs are not. We, once saved, make a commitment to become like Him (Ephesians 4:23-24). I want to clarify something when I say put our desire to be fed aside in that we make sacrifices to ensure they are fed first. As grown adults we have the ability to self-feed by chasing God. If our eyes, our goals and our hearts are on him then the rest follows through like water in a channel. Pour ourselves in to Godly work and we are fed naturally. Our children do not have that knowledge or ability yet and even as they grow and become adults we still steward them as much as we can.

If we want to be like Him (1 John 2:5-6) then we should put our salvation to the side when we are secure in it. Not only to help our children but to help others as well. Whether you are making that choice for your children, a homeless man on the street or a lost sibling when we understand that true strength comes from our humility and willingness to sensibly sacrifice things and comforts for the encouragement and service to others we will grow. They will grow. Our salvation is secondary in this world when we take on the cross and bear it for others. God will put that salvation first in the end of our days and we will be greatly rewarded.

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