Living To Please God

Matthew 16:24-27(NIV): Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Our society is completed infatuated with celebrity and many other entertainment idols. More people will read entertainment magazines or follow celebrities on Twitter, instead of spending daily time in the word, listening for God. They won’t even open up their Bible during the week and they wonder why their life is not what it should be. God can and does speak to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit.  However, God gives us the free will to decide if we will follow His ways or the ways of the world.

Many in our world long for more and more material possessions and yet those things never satisfy for very long. We tend to define ourselves by the material things of life and we measure success by what we have managed to accumulate. God judges success quite differently. God looks inside us, at our heart, and He judges us based on how we follow and obey Him in being the very presence of Christ to a lost and perishing world.  God views us differently than the world does. God doesn’t judge a person based on their appearance or their standing in the world – God looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 

It seems that so many people today are consumed with themselves. We take selfies to bring attention to ourselves and we go to social media to let everyone know our most random thoughts and feelings. Many in our world today have become prideful, instead of being humble, and thinking about serving and putting the needs of others first. The things of this world only seek to pull us away from God and from time spent in listening and praying to Him. And that’s not surprising, because who is the ruler of this world – The spirit of the air? Ephesians 2:1-2: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Begin today by living to please God and seeking Him daily, instead of the material and temporary things of this world. Pay special attention to those around you that God places in your life. Try to be more humble and focus your attention on those around you and less on yourself. Strive to put the needs of others first, instead of yourself. And most importantly, we are to take up our cross daily in order to follow Jesus. Will you live to please God or to please other people? Ask God to open the eyes of your heart so that you may live only to please and bring glory to God.

 

 

Giving Thanks to God

Psalm 100 (NIV)

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

2     Worship the Lord with gladness;

    come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;

    give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This is a very special Psalm to me for several reasons. First of all, Psalm 100 helps me to remember how I should first approach God – by always giving thanks. God is so very worthy of all our praise and we should begin our prayers to God by continually giving thanks for our many blessings. Do you begin your prayer time with God by giving thanks to God or do you immediately ask God for what you think you want or need? If you are like me, you also try to “help” God by telling him how to best accomplish those wants and needs. Remember that God knows what we need before we even ask. Focus on beginning your prayer time with God by simply giving thanks for all that God has done for you and for all that God will do for you.

The Apostle Paul writes, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Paul didn’t list any exclusions or exceptions for giving thanks; rather he said to give thanks in ALL circumstances. That is a difficult concept for many people to grasp but it is one that we should strive to follow, if we truly trust God and believe that “we are his people.” We must remember that “the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” God will take care of those who are faithful, trusting, obedient, and thankful.

Also, this Psalm of grateful praise helps me to remember a very special Christian lady who passed away several years ago. This was her favorite scripture and I was honored to use this text at her funeral service. She taught many of us how to be thankful for what we have and how to begin our prayer time with God, by giving thanks for God’s mighty hand upon our lives. Being thankful to God was her message to everyone she came into contact with. Her deep faith and trust in God was so evident, that it encouraged many others to be more intentional about first approaching God with grateful praise.

I encourage you to make this Thanksgiving Day (and every day) a day of praise and thanks to God. Take the time to slow down and reflect upon the many blessings that God has given you. Even in difficult times, we can be thankful of God’s presence with us and his help in dealing with and overcoming life’s challenging moments. As we approach the Christmas season and the buying frenzy that it has become, take the time to begin each day by first giving thanks to your creator God for your many blessings.

 

Meditating on God’s Word

Joshua 1:7-8 (NASB): Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 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 success.

Ask yourself an honest question: How often do you open up your Bible and read it? Most of us probably pick up our phone, or use our laptop or I-pad, to read or look at something other than the Bible. It’s not our fault, right? There are so many other things that compete for our time and our attention. We live in a fast paced world where we want to do anything other than to be still. You may promise God that “one day when things slow down” or when “I get in a better place,” I will sit down and be still and read my Bible and listen for you God.

Well, time passes and your daily pace of life doesn’t slow down. You find your life becoming increasingly difficult and perplexing, and you wonder why. You continue to wait for that “better place” in your life to listen for God. The truth is – you will never get to that “better place” in your life unless you allow God to lead you to it. And God can lead you there through His Word. You will not find that “better place” until you find and follow and obey God. If you are struggling with life at this very moment, you need to immerse yourself in the Word of God. And how often should you open up your Bible and read it? The book of Joshua tells us that we are to not only read the Bible – but meditate upon it – day and night!

I know what you’re thinking: I just don’t have enough time to spend meditating day and night upon the Bible. If that is your response then I would say this to you. You have 24 hours in a day – you can find plenty of time to meditate on scripture – IF it is important to you in your daily walk with God. The Bible can guide you to many truths that could help you with specific circumstances that you will face in the day or days ahead. God, through the Holy Spirit, can speak to you through daily time in the word and can guide you into making the right decisions that you are confronted with in your daily life. With so much uncertainty in the world today, you simply cannot afford – not to connect with God – on a daily basis, by meditating upon His Word.

 

 

 

God’s Strength or Self-Pity

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV): For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV): So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

My week thus far has been tiring, stressful and has drained almost all of my energy. I feel my physical body getting tired and weak, and I find it takes more time to recover after a long and exhausting day. This week I have been forced to face physical limitations and that is something that I am having difficulty dealing with. So I came home this afternoon, content to wallow in self-pity and complain about my 52 year old body. (This was a week after my yearly checkup which was outstanding).

I began the morning praying to God for strength for the day and receiving it, but I wanted more. I wanted more time in the day, more energy, less physical limitations and more strength like I had 20 years ago. God must have laughed at my silly prayer – asking for more of my own strength. But I am human – and a man – and I should always be strong on my own! Well God said – “Darryl, you are so wrong. I am your strength! You should know that by now.”

So I just had to get still before God, stop complaining, and let God give me an attitude adjustment. I opened my Bible and began to read and search for scripture on God’s mighty strength. And by the way, there’s a lot of scripture on God’s mighty strength, in case you didn’t already know. I also began to listen to inspirational Christian songs that would help me to get in the right place with God, to be still, and to listen to Him.

Through this quiet time with God in the middle of a hard and difficult week, I found just what I needed to continue on. The God that I worship, praise, and serve is at this very moment searching throughout the earth for his people who are seeking him and committing their hearts to him. And he will graciously give us the strength we need for each day, in order that we will continue to rely upon him and look to him daily for renewed strength. I will trust and depend upon God for what is needed for each day –  and so must you!

Close your eyes and get still before God and listen to this beautiful song  from Hillsong United. Draw your daily strength from our mighty, powerful and strong God.

 

 

A Gentle Answer

Proverbs 15:1 (NASB): A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems that you face a barrage of harsh words or comments? And as you endure and are exposed to those comments, what is your response? You go about your day trying to glorify God in all that you do and you are met with so much resistance and with words that often hurt very deeply. Again, what is your response? Instead of responding out of anger, try responding with a gentle answer. A gentle answer will help to cleanse you of any bitterness or vengeance that you may have.

The word “harsh” literally can be defined as “painful.”  We all know how painful certain words can be and we also know the power that hurtful words can have on us – IF we allow them to. We can certainly make the choice to allow those words to hurt us and ruin our day. We can also make the choice to ask God for peace in dealing with those words and for forgiveness for the person who uttered those words. We can either wallow in our misery and vengeance or we can ask God to clear our mind of those negative thoughts and live out our daily life to the fullest.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10 NASB).  God wants us to live a full life that gives complete honor and glory to him and to our Savior, Christ Jesus. The best way to do that is to forgive, and to show love, mercy, and compassion to everyone we encounter. May the peace of Christ and the mercy of God be with you today!

My Trust Is In God

I absolutely love this song from Lauren Daigle entitled, “Trust In You.” I debated whether or not to only post the song because the lyrics about trusting in God are just so perfect. So I decided to only include some scripture from the Book of Psalm, so that you can listen to the song and the lyrics, and then meditate on the scripture. I truly hope this song and the scripture blesses you as much as it did me this morning.

Psalm 9:10 NIV: Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

  • God is faithful to those who love him and trust in him. This doesn’t imply that we will not face difficulties or disappointments in life, because we certainly will. This scripture reminds us that God is always present with us in good times and in difficult times and he will guide us through those trying times if we will only trust him.

Psalm 22:4 NIV: In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

Do you trust God to deliver you from whatever circumstances you find yourself in?

Psalm 25:1 NIV: In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

  • Do you trust God with your very life and allow him to help you navigate the many uncertain decisions and challenging moments that everyday life sends your way? Do you trust God even when there is not an answer to your prayers or the answer is no?

Psalm 49:6 NIV: those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?

  • Do you place your trust in your bank account or material goods or do you trust in God for things that are eternal? The things of this world will pass away but the promises of God are eternal.

Psalm 62:8 NIV: Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

  • Whatever life sends your way – trust in God – and look to him as your safe haven from the worries, fears, and uncertainty of this world. Pray and talk to God and tell him your worries and fears and allow his loving presence and mercy to overwhelm you and wash away your doubts and fears.

 

Doing The Very Next Thing

My son-in-law John sent me a message telling me about this song from Casting Crowns called, “The Very Next Thing,” and he suggested that I do a devotional on this topic. Immediately, I loved this idea of doing the very next thing that God places in front of you. So often we focus on long-term goals and we miss out on so many opportunities that are placed directly in our path. If we would only slow down and pay attention to those many divinely appointed moments that we so often overlook and miss out upon, because our eyes are fixed so far ahead. God often speaks and works through us in the many common moments of life.

In the Great Commission, Jesus emphasized this to his disciples. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). In other words, as you go, make disciples! Jesus didn’t say, “Make disciples from the comfort of your sofa at home or your pew at church, instead, we are commanded to pay attention to the people and the circumstances that God puts in our path and we are to faithfully disciple and show love and compassion to others. As you go and do the very next thing – be faithful to God and by showing the love of Christ, you can lead people to Christ and make disciples.

We have so many opportunities each day to do the very next thing that God places before us. My question to you is will you strive to be mindful of the very next thing placed before you and take advantage of those opportunities? As you go to school, to work, to the gym, to the grocery or drug store, will you look for the very next thing God is asking you to do and be faithful and do it? There are so many people who could benefit from you doing the very next thing that God is calling you to do and you could make such a huge difference in the life of someone who needs to be pointed to the love and compassion of Christ.

One of my favorite parts of scripture is when Jesus ascends back into heaven in the book of Acts. Jesus was speaking to his disciples and suddenly he was “taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). So the disciples are standing there, “looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

The two men (angels) dressed in white were calling the disciples to take their attention away from the sky and turn their attention to the earth where there was plenty of work still to be accomplished. They also had to be reminded of their obedience to doing the very next thing that God would place before them. And that is a great example for us today. We so often look ahead and imagine the great things God would have us to do when God is simply saying – just be faithful and do well the very next thing that I place in your path. More often than not, these divinely appointed experiences will be something that you would not have normally felt compelled to do, in your daily walk with God. So let the Holy Spirit guide you and lead you into doing the very next thing that God asks you to do. If you do, you will be blessed and you will also be a blessing to others – as you do the very next thing.

God The Father

As I think about and pray for our nation, I have been reminded many times today that God is still on his throne and He is still in control of this tumultuous world that we live in. My hope lies not in a political leader or entertainer or sports hero: my only hope is found in God the Father, and I only pray that our nation will repent of our many sins and turn back to God and acknowledge him, as the only hope that we can truly believe in and depend upon.

I read a comment today that said, “God can’t change circumstances in our country, only people can.” And that is sadly what is wrong with our country today. We have become such proud, stubborn people who believe more in our own power than the power of God. All Christians must begin to stand up and proclaim God as the ultimate authority and ruler of our lives. The voices of many believers can be very powerful and we must take seriously our responsibility to God and to our Lord and Savior to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. I urge you to continue to pray for our nation to repent, and to once again, look to God to lead us as a nation.

Matthew 7:9-11(NASB): Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, ]will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!


 

God’s Great Grace

2 Corinthians 12:8-9: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

We must learn to depend completely upon God instead of our own feeble and insufficient power. When we come to terms with our weaknesses and limitations and cry out to God, we receive grace that is sufficient for whatever difficulties we face.

Hebrews 4:16: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Life brings so many frustrating and tiresome challenges and we often feel discouraged and overwhelmed by life’s difficulties. Instead of looking to the things of this world for peace and comfort, we are reminded to turn to God’s throne of grace, where we will receive the mercy and grace we need in our time of need.

1 Peter 5:10:  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Sometimes we feel that God is so far away and is unconcerned about our human condition. We must remember that God’s presence is always with us as we  journey through life on this earth. This passage reminds us that in life we will face times of suffering but those times will not last forever. Our mighty God, who gives us the free gift of salvation and who calls us to eternal glory in Christ, will heal, restore, and strengthen us so we can show others the way to everlasting life.

John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The disciples testified to the “Word” becoming flesh and dwelling among them. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, exemplifies grace and truth. As His disciples, we are also called to demonstrate grace and truth to those we encounter out in the world. Jesus displayed love and compassion to those he came into contact with and he expects us to do the same. This fallen world seems to grow darker with each passing day. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to take the light of Christ and his eternal kingdom out into the world each day as we reflect the grace, mercy, and truth of the Gospel.

May the peace and grace of God be with you today and everyday.

 

 

 

Praying For Our Nation

I began my morning doing something I don’t normally do – listening to the morning news on television. And after my youngest daughter walked into the room, I had to turn the channel because of what was being discussed. As our country descends into a moral abyss, I refuse to let the current issues and sensational “news” stories of the day, control or influence our family life and our dedication to God. I will continue to remind my children, that the God we believe in and serve, is still on his throne and “He rules the world in righteousness” (Psalm 9:8).

Psalm: 9:15-18(NASB):

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made Himself known;
He has executed judgment.
In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared.

17 The wicked will return to Sheol,
Even all the nations who forget God.
18 For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.

As many in our nation move farther away from God’s will for their lives, we must continue to pray for a revival to sweep through our nation and turn our hearts back to God before it is too late. I fear that our once great nation is at a crossroads. It is crucial that we choose the right path, repent of our sinful ways, and seek God’s forgiveness.

2 Peter 3:8-9: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.