Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cooperation

Roberta Ursrey and her family were looking forward to a fun day at the beach on the Florida coast recently.  Little did they know that the day would nearly end in tragedy. Roberta’s sons had ventured too far from the shore and their screams signaled that they were in trouble.  Ursrey and other family members waded out to try and help them but also got caught in the rip current.  Now nine people were stuck in about 15 feet of water.  But thanks to some other quick-thinking individuals, another rescue plan was initiated.  Dozens of onlookers formed a human chain, stretching out hand-to-hand for the length of a football field, to get close to the distressed family.  When the water got too deep for the human chain, a few strong swimmers covered the remaining distance to tow those in danger back to the people in the chain, who then passed them back to safety.    Later, Roberta Ursrey was quoted as saying, “I am so grateful...These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here” (http://www.newsherald.com/news/20170710/human-chain-saves-family- from-drowning).
          In a time when the news cycle is dominated by so much negativity, it’s refreshing to encounter a story like this.  Beyond the obvious blessing of the rescue of this family, I see a couple of lessons to be learned.  First, there were people on the beach that day who were willing to get involved rather than stand back and wait for someone else to do something. Second, it took cooperation to make it work.  No one person or handful of people were going to be successful.  Everyone had to join hands and work together to get the job done.
          Hopefully, the application to work in the kingdom of God is readily apparent.  When each one of us makes it a priority to get involved and when all of us join hands to work together, great things can happen.

God loves you!
Mike


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bad Days

“We do not go through tough times simply because life is rough.  No, because these have powerful significance.  We must not waste a bad day.  What we do is turn that which attempts to shut us down on its head.  We win it into productive submission.  We use it--the hurt, the pain--to help others; just as did Jesus as he perpetually helps us.  And why?  Because all around us are awesome people who've just about had it with injury and obstacle. Even those who behave with intent of hurting us will only serve to strengthen us because we will learn how the others in our circles feel.  It is here that we will be of useful purpose.  Jesus teaches us how to make a difference....just like he did.  This is called ministry. We must not waste a bad day.  Jesus didn't.  He used the agony of the Cross and the numbing death of the Grave to wow the world!” (terryrush.blogspot.com).
I’m guessing that most of us view bad days as a waste of time.  But the Bible teaches that even bad days shouldn’t be wasted.  Bad days can strengthen our faith. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). Bad days equip us to minister to others. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Bad days remind us that this world is not our home. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Be thankful for bad days!

God loves you!
Mike

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

PERSONAL FAVORITISM

           "In a stately church a noticeably untidy man visited the church for the first time. He was met by one of the smartly-dressed ushers who immediately ushered him to a back pew so that his unkempt appearance and foul odor would not upset the decorum of the church.
“Another first time visitor stood in the foyer. He was neatly groomed and made a striking appearance in his dark pinstripe suit. One of the ushers strode proudly down the aisle with him and seated him in the front of the church. Following the service, the president or the congregation invited the man to dinner at his home.
“As they were seated around the table, the food was passed. The visitor helped himself to the delicious looking potatoes placing them on his plate. But then he did a strange thing, he scooped the potatoes into his suit coat pocket. The family watched as he proceeded to do the same with the carrots and the meat. Unable to keep silent any longer the father asked, "Why are you pouring the food into your coat pocket?" The visitor smiled and answered politely, "Judging from where you seated the visitor who came in before me I gather that you invited my suit to lunch so I’m feeding it" (sermoncentral.com).
This story illustrates what James was trying to say in his letter to believers in the New Testament. “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).
Remember -- it is a sin to show this kind of partiality (James 2:9).

God loves you!
Mike


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Trust in the Lord

rocks in heart shape“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5–8).
These verses prompt us to consider an important question in life: “Where will I place my trust?” The temptation is to trust ourselves.holding hands After all, no one knows us better than we know ourselves, right? Perhaps we have been burned by trusting in someone else who let us down in a critical moment of need and we vow never to let that happen again. Such experiences leave us scarred and fearful of opening ourselves up to the possibility of being hurt again.
But trusting in our own heart can be perilous. It’s foolishness to think we can be the standard of wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 28:26). Error messageWe have all made enough mistakes in life to prove that to be true. If we are honest with ourselves, we admit that our failures reveal that we are incapable of successfully making our own way in life (Jeremiah 10:23).
Wise counsel promotes God as the only safe place for our trust. He alone possesses the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding necessary to be a trustworthy guide for life. What is involved in trusting God? It includes trusting Himdirection post completely (“...with all your heart…” and “...in all your ways…”), honoring Him reverently (“...fear the Lord…”), and heeding His call to repent (“...turning away from evil…”).
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My 
stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out ocean rocksyour heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalms 62:5–8).

God loves you!
Mike

Long Live the King

Queen ElizabethEarlier this month,(Sept. 2015), Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom.  She surpassed the previous record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, by reigning for 23,226 days, 16 hours, and approximately 30 minutes (the approximation is due to the fact that the exact moment of her father’s death is unknown).  At the age of 89, the queen is quoted as saying that the record was “...not one to which I have ever aspired,” noting that she was simply the beneficiary of a long life (source: bbc.com/news/uk-34177107).  Regardless of your opinion of the British monarchy, this is an impressive record of continuity in a world where the turnover rate among most national leaders is fairly high.  Perhaps all of those years of UK’ers saying “Long live the queen!” has paid off.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I serve a King with a far more impressive record.  Centuries before the life and ministry of Jesus, Daniel spoke of an indestructible kingdom that would be established in the time of Roman domination (Daniel 2:44).  Jesus would become the King over this kingdom.  His enduring monarchy was declared even before His conception.  The angel Gabriel told His mother Mary:nativity “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:30–33).
The sun will one day set on the British Empire (as it will for any earthly kingdom or nation).  castleBut Jesus is King over a kingdom that will endure forever.  As servants of this King, we are given the privilege of reigning with Him (Revelation 22:3-5).  What an incredible blessing!  Long live the King!
God loves you!
Mike

Drought

cracked groundDrought.  Here in California, we are in the fourth year of a record-breaking dry spell.  In January of this year, the governor declared a state of emergency and imposed strict conservations methods statewide.  Due to modern day advances in food preparation and storage in this country, the word doesn’t strike as much fear in our hearts as it does for those in others countries.  While we endure oppressive heat, cloudless skies, and diminished crop yields, a drought for many others can mean a life-and-death struggle for survival.
But despite the seriousness of a physical drought, there is another “drought” that is slowly extending its grip.  I’m speaking of a spiritual dryness that comes from a lack of respect for God and His word.  When the Israelites of old turned away from God, He warned them through the prophet Amos with these words: Bible“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.  And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it’” (Amos 8:11-12).  The message is that when God’s people find ways to reject the word of God, the time will come when God will take it away.
What is the remedy for a spiritual drought?  A return to God and His word!  We need to plead to God with the Psalmist: “My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word” (Psalm 119:25).  We can trust the promise made by Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:6: fountain“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The Lord also promises that those who believe in Him will become a fountain of living water (John 7:38). Doesn’t that sound refreshing? May we develop a thirst for God that causes us to seek HIm earnestly (Psalm 63:1).
God loves you!
                                                                                      Mike

Wise Living

Father and son“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1–4). The insistent plea of wisdom continues on into chapter three of Proverbs. What important truths are included in this section?
We are reminded of our propensity to forget what we have learned.  ribbon on fingerAt first, we get all excited over a newly-learned facet of godly wisdom.  We may even memorize a verse or two and find a way to apply what we have learned to our lives.  This is very commendable.  But as time wears on, we get distracted.  Urgent matters tend to begin crowding out more important matters.  And, before we know it, we have forgotten what we have learned.  Oh, we may be able to recall the principle, but we have “forgotten” in the sense that we no longer practice the principle.
We are encouraged to find ways to counteract our amnesia.  The key is to make wisdom a matter of the heart and not merely the of the mind.  What’s the difference?  Wisdom that is only mind deep can become just a collection of facts or an academic exercise.  Wisdom that is heart deep is different.  heart beatWisdom written on our hearts takes the facts and embodies them.  It finds ways to practice the principle.  It’s good to know about wisdom but it must go deeper if we are to remember it and enjoy its greatest benefits.
What benefits?  Generally speaking, when we practice godly wisdom, we endeavor to avoid habits or activities that unnecessarily shorten our lives.  We live in ways that promote peace within ourselves and with others.  raindropWe cultivate respect in our relationship with God and with those around us.  Unwise living undermines all of these efforts.  Unwise living endangers life, promotes strife, and breeds disrespect.
God loves you!
Mike