Showing posts from October, 2010

I can do anything! Philippians 4:13

Day 30/30

"For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." -Philippians 4:13(NLT)

"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." -Philippians 4:13(the Message)

What a great verse to wrap up my 30-day project of blogging 30 of our favorite verses at Oaklawn church of God!  Other than John 3:16, I have heard this verse quoted more than any other. Many times have I come to this passage myself, receiving encouragement and strength that I needed to keep going forward in faith. 

There are a lot of things that I can't do in my human strength - and this passage of Scripture is NOT about faster-than-a-speeding-bullet type stuff.  This is talking about overcoming selfishness... resisting temptation... this verse is about having the power of the Holy Spirit within me so that I don't have to fall for the lie of "well, this is just how I am; I can't change."


Be Glad: Matthew 5:11-12

Day 29/30

"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too." -Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)

Hold up, wait a minute... back the truck up!  Did I just read that right?  Jesus said to be very glad when I'm mocked, persecuted, and lied about because I follow Him?  Very glad - really?  Really?  I've never really been persecuted for following Jesus, but I've certainly been mocked and lied about because I do.  It's not a nice thing to experience.  There is nothing about going through this that makes me feel good or happy or the slightest bit glad.  But Jesus didn't say to FEEL glad did He?  He said to BE glad.  Jesus said to look forward to a great reward that is not of this world - a reward that is out of this world!  And He said to look to the past and be encouraged by the example of the hi…

You say you love God? Joshua 22:5

Day 28/30

"Be vigilant in keeping the Commandment and The Revelation that Moses the servant of God laid on you:  Love God, your God, walk in all His ways, do what He's commanded, embrace Him, serve Him with everything you are and have." -Joshua 22:5 (the Message)

Let's not miss that loving God is expressed as our reality when we walk in ALL His ways, which is to do as He commands.  Loving God means embracing Him and serving Him alone.  If we were to truly worship God with everything we are and have, we could only worship Him alone.  May we stop saying that we love God, and actually, truly love Him!

Love is a Verb: Matthew 7:12

Day 27/30

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:12(NIV)

So in everything... If you're wondering what "everything" means, well - EVERY THING.  In every situation, on every day - when standing in line at the grocery store, when the person in the car in front of you just won't drive, when someone hurts your feelings, when there is tremendous stress on a relationship.  Even when someone doesn't deserve it...

do to others what you would have them do to you... We love to quote where Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," because we like to feel good about ourselves and being able to say, "Oh, I love everybody" does just that.  But love is a verb (love is a... love is a... love is a verb!)!  Here Jesus says the same thing, only the words He chooses show the action that the word "love" intends - DO!  Love that is real is evidenced by your acti…

Best Promise Ever! :John 16:33

Day 26/30

"I've told all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.  In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.  But take heart!  I've conquered the world." -John 16:33(Message)

When Jesus says that He has conquered the world, He's talking about sin, death, oppression, loneliness, and selfishness.  He's not talking about a world where there will be no difficulties and conflict.  Jesus says we will have those things, but when we trust Him we will be unshakable, assured and deeply at peace.

More than a few times, people have said to me, "It seems like nothing really phases you, like you don't have a worry in the world."  Like everyone else, I certainly have my share of challenges and difficult days, but trusting Jesus is more than words for me.  Trusting Jesus is a lifestyle choice.  Forget what you've heard, living a lifestyle that trusts in Jesus instead of self or society, is the …

For Parents: Proverbs 6:20-21

Day 25/30

"My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching.  Keep their words always in your heart.  Tie them around your neck." -Proverbs 6:20-21(NLT)

While it is certainly good advice to listen to your parents, "mind your parents" isn't exactly what this ancient Hebrew Proverb is getting at.  The culture of the Hebrew people was centered around the Torah (God's Word, or The Way of Life) and the family.  Before the Temple and the synagogues, and the rise of the vocation of the Rabbis, the Torah was taught in the home by the parents.  Parents who loved God and loved Torah taught it to their children.  Parents who loved their children taught them about God and Torah.  The commands of the father and the teaching of the mother came straight from God's Word.

I wonder why we stopped doing that?  Seems like it might be a better idea than how many teach their children today.  This Proverb is definitely a good word for …

Bread Dough and Deep Roots: Romans 11:16

Day 24/30

"If the first part of the dough is holy, the lump is also; if the root is holy, the branches are too." -Romans 11:16 (NASB)

I've read about the bread making process in the ancient world.  Every time bread was made, it was baked from a lump of bread dough.  The one making the bread would always hold out a small dough ball, called a "yeast ball," which would be worked into the dough the next time bread was made. Over and over, on and on, a yeast ball was held out of every loaf of bread in order to spread yeast through the next batch.  The yeast would work itself through the dough, eventually influencing the whole "lump."

In a similar way, the roots of the tree influence the rest of the tree.  The nourishment the tree needs comes through the roots, and the roots spread the life-giving nourishment to the rest of the tree... even the highest branches of the tree. 

A holy life happens when we let the "first part of the dough" - the prese…

Broken Bones Dance! :Psalm 51

Day 23/30

Psalm 51 (the Message) - the breakdown

"Generous in love - God give grace!  Huge in mercy - wipe out my bad record!
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.
You're the One I've violated, and You've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil.  You have all the facts before You, whatever You decide about me is fair.
I've been out of step with You for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born." -vv.1-5

This is the Psalm that the great Israeli King, David, wrote after taking another man's wife into his bed, and then having that very man murdered... a man who was a loyal soldier.  The list of sins for the "godly king" gets pretty lengthy in just one episode: lust, fornication, adultery, abuse of power, oppression of the poor, manipulation, lies, murder.  David confesses to God, "You have all the facts before You, whatever You decide about me is fair."  God does not have to be a secret agent spy; there is no co…

The Reason We Raise the Roof: Psalm 32

Day 22/30

"Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky - God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from Him.
When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.
The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out. I said, "Ill make a clean breast of my failures to God."  Suddenly the pressure was gone - my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
These things add up.  Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we'll be on high ground, untouched.
God's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
Let me give you some good advice; I'm looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:
'Don't be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.'
God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affir…

Soar over Fields of Faith: Isaiah 40:31

Day 21/30

"For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." -Isaiah 40:31 (the Message)

As a pastor, I speak with people all the time who just seem so tired spiritually.  No matter what age, or even how long they've been following Christ, some just get tired.  I see even the young ones, strong and vibrant, stumble and fall.  To be honest, it can be quite draining to be the one people come to for strength and answers.  Man, I don't have any.  But the Holy Spirit of God certainly does!  It is beautiful to see God at work for real in someone's life.

This is why I love nights like last night.  FCA Fields of Faith at Lakeside High School was awesome!  I was volunteering at the registration table for almost 3 hours, greeting students, collecting registrations, and handi…

Pray a Scary Prayer: Psalm 139:23-24

Day 20/30

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about.  See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." -Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)

Does this prayer freak anybody else out, or am I the only one?  It's one thing to live in the assumption that God knows everything and just not think about it.  That's what most of us do, right?  "Oh yeah, God certainly knows everything," while we continue to live as if He really doesn't... or else we just don't care... or, maybe even worse, we think God just doesn't care.  Nothing could be further from the Truth!

Not only does God care, but He really REALLY cares whether or not you care!  I guess that's why the words of this prayer in Psalms has such a high freak-out factor.  It's a lot easier to say "God knows all" than it is to live that way.

I stopped looki…

The Wedding

Day 19/30

"Don't ask me to leave you and turn back.  I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live.  Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.  I will die where you die and will be buried there.  May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" - Ruth 1:16-17(NLT)

I've done weddings in backyards before.  Actually, I've done more backyard weddings than church weddings.  So, that didn't really seem out of the ordinary to me.  But when I read the start time of the ceremony to be 3:31 PM, I should have known something was up.  As I welcomed everyone and introduced the bride and groom, the bride's two daughters... adult daughters, mind you... burst into song.  Just as I thought this must be a joke on mom & dad-to-be, mom herself (yes, the bride) joined in.  I thought maybe I had stepped onto the set to Grease III - The Wedding or the Rocky Horror Wedding Show.  Taking my cue as a proper traditional past…

The Fallen Restored: Romans 3:23

Day 18/30

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;" - Romans 3:23 (NASB)

This verse was actually repeated several times when we had folks "write on the door frames" of our auditorium passages of Scripture which really spoke to their hearts.  This is one of those verses that is packed with Truth, but certainly isn't a "get-all-excited-jump-up-and-down" verse.

In studying these words this morning, it seems to me that this often quoted phrase is actually a part of a longer statement that would span verses 21-25 (at least partially).  This being the case, I would encourage you to grab your Bible and spend some time with the whole passage.

Now, this may get touchy.  I happen to differ in belief from the popular theology of the day in this area.  This is what I'm talking about (perhaps this will sound familiar): "We're all sinners and sin every day" and "I'm just a sinner and sin every day like everybody else.&q…

Be Resonsible: Joshua 24:15

Day 17/30

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Responsibility is a pretty big deal to me.  Years ago when I was starting out in this pastoring gig, as a youth minister, I felt like I was responsible for everybody... at least everybody under 21.  Did you know that shouldering the responsibility for an entire generation's spiritual direction and growth is pretty heavy?  Did you also know, as I found out about five and a half years in, that it is also a sin?

I was doing what I felt was right - saving the world, one student at a time.  What I was really doing was working hard (at the detriment of my own family, might I add) to build the "kingdom of Steve."  The "kingdom of Steve" turned out t…

You're asking the wrong question: John 9:1-11

"Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked, 'Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?'  Jesus said, 'You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame.  There is no such cause and effect here.  Look instead at what God can do.  We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.  When night falls, the workday is over.  For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light.  I am the world's Light.'  He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the man's eyes, and said, 'Go, wash at the pool of Siloam' (Siloam means 'sent').  The man went and washed - and saw.  Soon the town was buzzing.  His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, 'Why, isn't this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?&#…

Just BE: Psalm 46:10

Day 15/30

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know I-AM.
Be still and know.
Be still.