Spreading God’s Love

New Hope Leeward Church in Waipahu, Hawaii, leveraged the power of faith and community to make an enormous difference in the lives of one struggling family.  In the video below, you’ll see how the church and community worked together to improve this family’s living conditions and provide them with a brighter future.  All the renovations to their home were made possible through local aid organizations and countless donations of time, money, and talent.  Painters, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters all came together to provide this wonderful blessing.  This is a grand example of how the love Jesus provides can be shared in meaningful ways in your community.

 

 

 

God is Love

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

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Let this be a time of worship to God.  Pray each prayer and add your own personal message to God.  Read each scripture as though reading it for the first time – listen carefully for the voice of God.  Listen to each song paying close attention to the lyrics provided.  These songs were carefully chosen.  Even if the music is not your favorite style of music, know that the musicians performing are sincerely making music to the Lord.  Try to feel the passion in their words and their musical expression.  Give thought to the message presented and confirm the truth therein by opening your Bible and taking some time to do your own personal study.  May you be greatly blessed.

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Let’s Pray Together

Heavenly Father, we stand in your presence in awe of your awesome power and love.  We seek that which is your will in our lives and look forward to the return of your Son Jesus Christ.  Please Father, wrap your arms around each of us and provide for us all of our needs.  Forgive us Father, for all of our mistakes and failures in our pursuit of righteousness.  Develop in us the ability to also forgive those who disrupt our lives.  Open our eyes Father, to the enemy who is in pursuit of our souls.  Let us see clearly the evil trying to control our lives so that we can avoid destruction.  We offer this prayer in the Holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

God is Love

(Less than 30 minutes total time)

In the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, in the city of Nazareth, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood before the group gathered there to read from the scriptures.  Jesus read from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1), a prophecy that had been written several hundred years previous to this event.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.”  Luke 4:18 (NASB)

After reading this passage from the book of Isaiah, Jesus closed the book and sat down.  The presence of Jesus had a profound impact on the group and they all kept their eyes on him waiting to hear more.  He responded to their gaze with the following:

And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:21 (NASB)

Jesus was telling those gathered in the synagogue that he came to bring salvation.  He came to release those captured by sin by opening their eyes to the truth.  He came to sacrifice himself on the cross as God’s ultimate expression of love for His creation.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

The Same Love – Paul Baloche

You choose the humble and raise them high

You choose the weak and make them strong

You heal our brokenness inside and give us life

The same love that set the captives free

The same love that opened eyes to see

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

The same God that spread the heavens wide

The same God that was crucified

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

You take the faithless one aside

And speak the words “You are mine”

You call the cynic and the proud

Come to me now

The same love that set the captives free

The same love that opened eyes to see

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

The same God that spread the heavens wide

The same God that was crucified

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

Oh, oh, You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

The same love that set the captives free

The same love that opened eyes to see

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

The same God that spread the heavens wide

The same God that was crucified

Is calling us all by name

You are calling us all by name

You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

You’re calling, You’re calling

You’re calling us to the cross

Love has Come

What is love?  In our culture today there are many answers to that question.  Some believe that love is a magical feeling that overcomes a person who is attracted to another.  Others consider love to be a sincere regard for things outside of yourself.  The Bible offers a more detailed answer to this question.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)

The qualities listed in the above scripture are the attributes of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  Human notions of love pale in comparison to the perfect love of God.  Christians are called to depend on God through faith and to focus on God in hope of our future in his kingdom, but our highest calling is to love.

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NASB)

Believers in Jesus Christ become one with God’s love as children of God and are filled with God’s love through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”  1 John 4:15 (NASB)

Love is not an emotion.  Love is the awesome power of Creation.  Love is the essence of our Creator.  Love is the omnipresent spirit of God that surrounds the earth and provides the energy for everything good.  God is love.

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 (NASB)

Love came to rescue us from our sins in the form of Jesus Christ.  When we let go of our selfish desires and seek to follow Jesus, we are filled with the love of God and connected to him forever.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

Love Is Here – Tenth Avenue North

Come to the waters

You who thirst and you’ll thirst no more

Come to the Father

You who work and you’ll work no more

And all you who labor in vain

And to the broken and shamed

Love is here

Love is now

Love is pouring from His hands, from His brow

Love is near it satisfies

Streams of mercy flowing from His side

‘Cause Love is here

Come to the treasure

You who search and you’ll search no more

Come to the lover

You who want and you’ll want no more, no

And all you who labor in vain

And to the broken and shamed, yeah

Love is here

Love is now

Love is pouring from His hands, from His brow

Love is near it satisfies

Streams of mercy flowing from His side, yeah

And to the bruised and fallen

Captives bound and brokenhearted

He is the Lord, He is the Lord, yeah

By His stripes He’s paid our ransom

From His wounds we drink salvation

He is the Lord, He is the Lord

Love is here

Love is now

Love is pouring from His hands, from His brow

Love is near it satisfies

Streams of mercy flowing from His side

Streams of mercy flowing from His side

‘Cause Love is here

Love is here

Life is Difficult

Regardless of our transformation from lost sinner to loved children of God, our lives can continue to be difficult.  There is no guarantee of safe passage through this life for Christians.  In fact, suffering is one of the elements we are to endure as a test of 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 (NASB)

As a believer, no matter what you’re going through, God is with you.  God’s love includes difficult times.  We are traveling on a road to all eternity.  Along the way we will need to be strengthened by life’s challenges.  Like an athlete training for the Olympics the workouts will often be filled with pain.   It is that pain that secures the victory.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  1 Peter 5:10 (NASB)

We know for certain that Jesus is on his way back.  He is returning for all of his children.  In that day there will no longer be any confusion about the deity of Jesus.  The entire world will bow to his presence

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”  Romans 14:11 (NASB)

If you have trusted in Jesus, rest assured that everything in your life has a purpose and God’s love will see you through.  Followers of Jesus are already members of the kingdom of God.  Our reward has been established.  We don’t need to wait for the return of Jesus to celebrate.  On our behalf, his work has already been done.  It is finished.  Love has come for us all.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

Love Has Come – Mark Schultz

Well, I know this life is filled with sorrow

And there are days when the pain just lasts and lasts

But I know there will come a day

When all our tears are washed away with a break in the clouds

His glory coming down and in that moment

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

That God is love and love has come for us all

Every heart set free, every one will see

That God is love and love has come for us all

For anybody who has ever lost a loved one

And you feel like you had to let go too soon

I know it hurts to say goodbye

But don’t you know it’s just a matter of time till the tears are gonna end

You’ll see them once again and in that moment

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

That God is love and love has come for us all

Every heart set free, every one will see

That God is love and love has come for us all

Oh, and on that day we will stand amazed

At our Savior, God and King

Just to see the face of amazing grace

As our hearts rise up and sing

Glory, glory, hallelujah

Thank You for the cross

Singing glory, glory, hallelujah

Christ has paid the cost

Glory, glory, hallelujah

Thank You for the cross

Singing glory, glory

Christ has paid the cost

And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

That God is love and love has come for us all

Every heart set free, every one will see

That God is love and love has come for us all

Love has come for us all

Love has come for us all

And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

God is love and love has come for us all

Every heart set free, every one will see

God is love and love has come for us all

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

God is love and love has come for us all

Every heart set free, every one will see

God is love and love has come for us all

Thank you for spending this time worshiping God.

His door is now open to you.  You are in God’s presence.  Don’t leave without Him.  Keep Him with you throughout your day.

Go in peace.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Jesus Saves

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

________________________________________

Let this be a time of worship to God.  Pray each prayer and add your own personal message to God.  Read each scripture as though reading it for the first time – listen carefully for the voice of God.  Listen to each song paying close attention to the lyrics provided.  These songs were carefully chosen.  Even if the music is not your favorite style of music, know that the musicians performing are sincerely making music to the Lord.  Try to feel the passion in their words and their musical expression.  Give thought to the message presented and confirm the truth therein by opening your Bible and taking some time to do your own personal study.  May you be greatly blessed.

________________________________________

Let’s Pray Together

Heavenly Father, we stand in your presence in awe of your awesome power and love.  We seek that which is your will in our lives and look forward to the return of your Son Jesus Christ.  Please Father, wrap your arms around each of us and provide for us all of our needs.  Forgive us Father, for all of our mistakes and failures in our pursuit of righteousness.  Develop in us the ability to also forgive those who disrupt our lives.  Open our eyes Father, to the enemy who is in pursuit of our souls.  Let us see clearly the evil trying to control our lives so that we can avoid destruction.  We offer this prayer in the Holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

Jesus Saves

(Less than 30 minutes total time)

There’s a great old hymn that closes with this line: “Shout salvation full and free, highest hills and deepest caves, this our song of victory, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.”  We are all helpless sinners.  Precisely why God created us with that sinful nature is not fully known.  Regardless, God sent his Son to save us from our sins.  As sinners we cannot be in God’s eternal presence; however, when we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as payment for our sins, we receive his salvation and gain the gift of eternal life.  Through Jesus Christ we have an open door to the presence of God.

Life in this world is not easy.  Most of us have ongoing struggles.  These difficult times are a training ground for our eternal salvation.  As followers of Jesus, we are children of God on the road to an eternal destiny in the kingdom of God.  The troubles that plague our current lives are a momentary affliction that we will most certainly overcome because we believe – because we have faith in Jesus.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

We Believe – Newsboys

In this time of desperation

When all we know is doubt and fear

There is only one foundation

We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s comin’ back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems

Greater than the songs we sing

And in our weakness and temptations

We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s comin’ back again

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised

In the here and now, let love invade

Let the church live love our God will see

We believe, we believe

And the gates of hell will not prevail

For the power of God, has torn the vail

Now we know Your love will never fail

We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s comin’ back

He’s comin’ back again

He’s comin’ back again

We believe

We believe

Following Jesus

Our decision to follow Jesus is not fully our own.  Anyone who wants to know God can seek him through Jesus Christ.  God acknowledges your sincere heart by calling you to become a follower of Jesus – that calling then becomes your destiny.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NASB)

What an honor to be recognized by God in this way!  In His mercy, God frees us from our sin and points the way forward through the teachings of Jesus.  Our mission is to become more and more like Jesus each day.  Our ultimate goal is to shine the light of truth on the world in such a way that our lives reflect the image of Jesus.

“Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”  1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NASB)

Most people know the story of David and Goliath.  In a battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, it was decided that each army would send out a single champion to fight and determine the outcome of the battle.  The Philistines sent out an enormous man named Goliath who carried an equally large sword.  None of the Israelites had the courage to face Goliath except a young boy named David who knew God was on his side.  David faced Goliath with a rock and a sling and won.  This is the kind of power believers possess.  When God says he is with us, we are assured of the victory.  When we demonstrate our love for God by following Jesus, our victory is assured. God is faithful.  He will deliver on all of his promises.  We are safe in his hands.

“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB)

Believers have been called by God to stand firm in his promises.  Believers are to reflect the image of Jesus on the world.  We are nothing without Jesus.  We are everything in the hands of God.  We need to let the world see Jesus in our lives.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

Nobody – Casting Crowns & Matthew West

Why You ever chose me

Has always been a mystery

All my life, I’ve been told I belong

At the end of a line

With all the other Not-Quites

With all the Never-Get-It-Rights

But it turns out they are the ones You were looking for

All this time

‘Cause I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody

All about Somebody who saved my soul

Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

Moses had stage fright

And David brought a rock to a sword fight

You picked twelve outsiders nobody would’ve chosen

And You changed the world

Well, the moral of the story is

Everybody’s got a purpose

So when I hear that devil start talking to me, saying

“Who do you think you are?” I say

I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody

All about Somebody who saved my soul

Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

So let me go down, down, down in history

As another blood-bought faithful member of the family

And if they all forget my name, well, that’s fine with me

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

So let me go down, down, down in history (Go down in history)

As another blood-bought faithful member of the family

(It’s all I ever wanna be) And if they all forget my name, well, that’s fine with me

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus, yeah

I’m just a nobody (Nobody)

Trying to tell everybody

All about Somebody

Who saved my soul (Oh, saved my, saved my soul)

Ever since You rescued me

You gave my heart a song to sing (You gave me a song to sing)

I’m living for the world to see

Nobody but Jesus (Nobody but You, Lord)

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

God’s Love & Mercy Never Ends

God is willing to set aside all of our misdeeds when we acknowledge his Son and seek to follow his teaching.  Essentially, we are given a new birth with a new identity and character which completely changes our relationship with God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

God’s mercy is only surpassed by his great love.  As believers, we experience God’s love daily through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  There can be no greater demonstration of love than God sending his Son to die on our behalf.

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 (NASB)

God’s love and mercy never end.  As believers, we stand together against the enemy and hold fast to our commitment to love one another as God loves us.  Praise God for sending his Son.  Praise God for the family of believers who share in his great mercy.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  Psalm 136:26 (NASB)

The kingdom of God is in the hearts of all believers traveling on the road to eternity.  There is no better place to be.  Can you say amen to that?

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

All The People Said Amen – Matt Maher

You are not alone if you are lonely

When you feel afraid, you’re not the only

We are all the same in need of mercy

To be forgiven and be free

It’s all you got to lean on

But thank God it’s all you need

And all the people said Amen, whoa oh

And all the people said Amen

Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends

And all the people said Amen

If you’re rich or poor, well it don’t matter

Weak or strong, you know love is what we’re after

We’re all broken but we’re all in this together

God knows we stumble and fall

And He so loved the world He sent His son to save us all

And all the people said Amen, whoa oh

And all the people said Amen

Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends

And all the people said Amen

Blessed are

The poor in spirit who are torn apart

Blessed are

The persecuted and the pure in heart

Blessed are

The people hungry for another start

For this is the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God

And all the people said Amen, whoa oh

And all the people said Amen

Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends

And all the people said Amen (yeah)

And all the people said Amen, whoa oh

And all the people said Amen

Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends

And all the people said Amen

And all the people said Amen

Thank you for spending this time worshiping God.

His door is now open to you.  You are in God’s presence.  Don’t leave without Him.  Keep Him with you throughout your day.

Go in peace.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Worshiping God

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

______________________________________

Let this be a time of worship to God.  Pray each prayer and add your own personal message to God.  Read each scripture as though reading it for the first time – listen carefully for the voice of God.  Listen to each song paying close attention to the lyrics provided.  These songs were carefully chosen.  Even if the music is not your favorite style of music, know that the musicians performing are sincerely making music to the Lord.  Try to feel the passion in their words and their musical expression.  Give thought to the message presented and confirm the truth therein by opening your Bible and taking some time to do your own personal study.  May you be greatly blessed.

________________________________________

Let’s Pray Together

Heavenly Father, we stand in your presence in awe of your awesome power and love.  We seek that which is your will in our lives and look forward to the return of your Son Jesus Christ.  Please Father, wrap your arms around each of us and provide for us all of our needs.  Forgive us Father, for all of our mistakes and failures in our pursuit of righteousness.  Develop in us the ability to also forgive those who disrupt our lives.  Open our eyes Father, to the enemy who is in pursuit of our souls.  Let us see clearly the evil trying to control our lives so that we can avoid destruction.  We offer this prayer in the Holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

Worshiping God

(Less than 30 minutes total time)

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?  If you are, worshiping God is part of who you are.  It is likely something you do all day long.  The mere fact that our heart is beating and our lungs are expanding and contracting is the starting point of our worship each day. Our God is the Creator of all things.  The sun, moon, and stars were set in place by God’s design.  Our eternal salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a gift from our God.

“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.”  Psalm 145:3 (NASB)

Praise God for giving you this moment right now.  Praise God for giving you life.  Praise God for His awesome love.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

Great Are You Lord – All Sons & Daughters

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise

Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

And all the earth will shout Your praise

Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

And all the earth will shout Your praise

Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

To You only

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

To You only

It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise.

This is an undeniable truth, but can we admit that it’s not always easy?  Sometimes life takes a toll on us that pulls us away from God.  Make no mistake about it, that’s by design – and I’m not talking about God’s design – we have an enemy who is working overtime to push us away from the light and into the darkness.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)

That is why the time we are spending right now with God is so important.  When we feel those dark forces pulling us in the wrong direction, our first instinct should be to seek God.  But that’s not always the case, is it?  When we encounter periods of stress in our lives, sometimes the first thing we do to clear time in our schedule is eliminate time spent with God – in worship, in study of the Word, in prayer.  Often, when life is crashing in on us we chase other solutions rather than turning to God.  Let’s be honest – will prayer pay the bills?  Will a deeper study of the book of Romans fix the broken water pump in your car?  What about more time spent in worship?  Will that solve a failing relationship with a spouse?

Did you ever have one of those moments where you were struggling for a long time on a certain task, and then someone with much more experience came along and showed you how to do that task more efficiently, and suddenly everything made sense and that task was no longer an issue?  Riding a bicycle might be one example we can all relate to.  Without a little help, riding a bicycle seems like an almost impossible task; but with a good mentor, you are quickly riding on your own with the wind in your hair.

The absolute best mentor for whatever struggles you are going through in your life is God.  Prayer, Bible study, and more time worshiping will not pay your bills, but those tools will develop in you the ability to cope with and move beyond your struggles.  More importantly, those tools will develop in you the ability to avoid the temptations of the dark forces that are out to destroy your life.  The enemy is real and if you’re not wearing the full armor of God, you will be vulnerable and exposed to those evil schemes.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:10-11 (NASB)

The full armor of God includes truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.  When you move away from those things or eliminate them all together from your life, you increase the power of the enemy and only make your struggles worse.  All day, every day, we need to be reaching out to God and seeking his instruction.

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

Reach – Doe Jones

Teach, my heart to reach, Father

Teach my heart to reach

‘Cause when my soul is weary

Teach my heart to reach

And teach my heart to seek, Father-Father (Father)

Teach my heart to seek

And when my soul (When my soul)

Is weary

‘Cause sometimes we get weary (Weary)

‘Cause sometimes we get tired (Weary)

Mmm, would You teach my heart to reach?

And I’m feeling stretched, but I can tell

That my love has grown

Deeper and realer

Yes, my love has grown

I’m feelin’ stretched, but I can tell

That my love has grown

Deeper, authentic

Yes, my love has grown

I’m feelin’ stretched, but as I press into You, Jesus

Yes, my love has grown

Yeah, deeper and realer

Yes, my love has gro-o-own (Yes, my love has grown)

It’s grown

And my love will grow

And grow, and gro-o-o-ow

As You teach my heart to reach

Father, teach my heart to seek You

‘Cause when my soul is weary

It’s not always to seek You

Sometimes we get (Weary)

It’s not always to wait on You, Jesus

Sometimes we get (Weary)

And if we press through, we’ll get through when we are (Weary)

Sometimes we get weary, we get weary

But would You teach my heart to reach?

Reasons to Worship God

The Bible repeatedly instructs us to worship God.  This instruction is so often repeated we should arrive at the understanding that worshiping God is as important to our survival as drinking water.  In fact, every time we take a drink of water we should be praising God for supplying us with that essential need.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6 (NASB)

As followers of Jesus Christ, our salvation provides us access to God.  That access is set into motion through praise.  Our time spent in worship is the key that opens the gate to God’s heart.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”  Psalm 100:4 (NASB)

Our worship of God begins with his awesome creation that includes every beautiful thing we see in nature and the amazing way in which it all works together in harmony.

“Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness.”  Psalm 150:2 (NASB)

We worship God because he never gives up on us.  Even when we turn our backs on God he patiently waits with open loving arms for our return.

“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.”  Isaiah 30:18 (NASB)

We worship God for providing us with the Bible that directs us to Jesus Christ and our salvation.  Everyone who has read the Bible from cover-to-cover comes away amazed by the extraordinary complexity of its construction.  Sixty-six books composed by 40 different writers over 1,500 years; yet it all fits perfectly together because the true author was God.

“These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  John 20:31 (NASB)

There are so many reasons for us to praise and worship God we could not possibly list them all here.  A great exercise for all of us would be to spend one day writing down every moment that we recognize God’s contribution to our lives.  We are nothing without God.  We are everything when we are safely in his arms.  Praise the Lord!

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.”  Psalm 103:1-2 (NASB)

Allow this song to speak to your heart:

10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul

Oh my soul, worship his holy name

Sing like never before, Oh my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing your song again

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul

Oh my soul, worship his holy name

Sing like never before, Oh my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger

Your name is great and your heart is kind

For all your goodness, I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul

Oh my soul, worship his holy name

Sing like never before, Oh my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing your praise unending

Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Forevermore

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul

Oh my soul, worship his holy name

Sing like never before, Oh my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

Bless the lord, oh my soul

Oh my soul, worship his holy name

Sing like never before, oh my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

Yes I’ll worship your holy name

Lord I’ll worship your holy name

Thank you for spending this time worshiping God.

His door is now open to you.  You are in God’s presence.  Don’t leave without Him.  Keep Him with you throughout your day.

Go in peace.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

It’s All About the Blood

I’ve been thinking about the blood and this is what I believe God placed on my heart to write.  I’m not even going to attempt to gather scripture to back up any of this.  As people like to say these days, “It is what it is.”  Consider this simply the thoughts of some guy from church.  I pray you find some meaning here.

God is spirit and so are we; although we live in these earthly bodies for the time being.  The spirit world that our God inhabits is eternal – it goes on forever.  God is preparing us to take our place in that eternal realm; however, the energy in that environment is pure and undefiled; we cannot occupy that space with a sinful nature.  Every sin disrupts the natural flow of the eternal spirit world of God.

Our current existence is completely dependent on the blood flowing through our bodies.  If the blood flow in our bodies is disrupted, negative things begin to happen.  If not corrected, a disruption to the blood flow in our bodies can lead to death.  Blood is our source of life.

God is the creator of the universe.  God created our source of life in connection with the eternal spirit realm.  The spiritual energy that keeps the eternal realm alive is the same ingredient that powers the blood that keeps us alive.  When the eternal realm is disrupted by sin, it can be patched with shed blood.  For hundreds of years the shed blood of animals was used to repair the damage done by sin.  That system was only temporary.  That system was put in place by God to prepare us for what was to come.

Blood is an extraordinary, almost magical substance.  I don’t believe it’s possible to fully understand how it works to animate our lives.  The eternal spiritual realm is also impossible for us to fully understand, but we know God is there – we know God is omnipresent; within the spirit realm God is able to be all places at all times.  These two mysteries are connected in such a way that one cannot be maintained without the other.

God’s final remedy to make the spirit realm accessible to our less than perfect sinful souls, was to administer a permanent patch.  If you are wondering why God simply did not make us perfect, I would suggest it is because only God can be perfect – there is none like him – therefore we need to be made perfect with his assistance.  God’s final remedy was to shed his own blood as payment for all of our sins now and forever.

In order to shed his own blood, God created a version of himself known as his Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to the earth to teach us that we are totally dependent on God for everything in our lives.  By acknowledging our total dependence on God through our complete devotion and love for him, we become worthy of his remedy for the sins that are preventing us from entering the spirit realm.  We demonstrate our love for God by following the teachings of his Son Jesus.  When we dedicate our lives to avoiding the evil that permeates this world and seek to walk in the light of Jesus, we become children of God.

Even though we will never shed our propensity to sin, all of our sins can be forgiven by placing our faith in Jesus and the blood he shed on our behalf.  It is our faith in the blood of Jesus that holds the spiritual realm together even though we remain imperfect.  The shed blood of Jesus is so powerful it can eliminate the disruption to the spiritual realm that our sin would cause – thus we have been made righteous – without sin – capable of eternal life in the spirit realm with God.

The spiritual realm is all around us.  It is the special connection we have with loved ones, it is the ability to inherently know right from wrong, it is the special feeling we have when we connect with any aspect of God’s creation.  We are strangers in this world and God has created a way to move us out of here and into his world where we can exist forever covered by his love.

Don’t try to understand any of this – we can’t.  But we can feel it.  That’s how we know it’s true.

 

How to Get Rich

The world we live in is essentially dedicated to material wealth.  Most of us are pulled into the trap of constantly striving for a bigger house, newer car, better television, or more money in the bank to go on longer vacations.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy life or be more comfortable as you struggle through what may be a difficult existence.  Material wealth seems to be the solution, but ultimately, as our Lord points out, true wealth is found elsewhere.

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Luke 12:33-34 (NASB)

Selling all your possessions and giving everything to charity may seem a bit extreme; however, I have to believe that is indeed the purest pursuit of real treasure.  Nevertheless, it is also possible to remove your emotional and spirit depriving obsession with your possessions and refocus your priorities on serving others without actually taking a vow of poverty.

The Parable of the Rich Fool told by Jesus is a story about a rich man who had so much wealth he didn’t know what to do with it.  Rather than sharing his wealth with others, he made the decision to find a new way to hoard his wealth.

And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:16-21 (NASB)

Jesus is not teaching us to live a life devoid of material possessions; he is teaching us to be more concerned with others than we are for ourselves.  The problem presented is not wealth – the problem is attitude about wealth.  If we are thinking about our money more than we are thinking about God, we have lost our way.  If we are more concerned with building wealth than we are with serving those around us, we have lost our way.

There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy.  If your trust is in God and not your wealth, if your attitude toward your possessions is detached, if you are constantly looking for ways to share your wealth, you are moving in the right direction.  If you consider it a treasure to give rather than receive, you have found the path to becoming rich toward God.

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Connecting

I wonder if I can connect with you right now.  I wonder if it’s possible for you to connect with me right now.  I’m pouring every bit of my energy into connecting with you right now.  Can you direct your attention to connecting with me right now?  I realize you don’t know me, but these words are mine.  In some way I exist within these words.  I’m purposely attempting to leave a pathway in these words that will allow you to connect with me.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a connection like no other.

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”  Matthew 18:20 (NASB)

Our God is omnipresent.  He is everywhere around the world. He is here with me now.  He is there with you at this moment.  God is our connection.  Can you feel his presence?  I can.  This is our connection.

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, and not a God far off?  “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord.  “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NASB)

Is it possible for us to connect through the Spirit of God?

Expand Your Connection

We can’t help feeling like individuals, because we live individual lives, but God’s intention is for us to connect in spirit so that we can tap into his awesome power.  We are profoundly limited as individuals.  Connected through the Spirit of God, we become stronger with each person joining into that connection.  Would it not be possible for you and I to connect with everyone who reads these words and commits to making this connection?

Empowering the Connection

The Bible has taught me that we are to serve God by serving others.  I’m certain you are doing exactly that in your daily life.  I’m certain you are doing everything possible to help those around you in your family, among your friends, at work, at school, or wherever you find yourself.  I’m also certain there are outside forces that prevent you from doing everything you’d like to do for others.  I don’t want to give the devil too much credit, but I have to believe he is responsible for some of the roadblocks that prevent us from doing more for others.

“So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  2 Corinthians 2:11 (NASB)

Stand with me right now in denouncing the devil and his schemes.  I’m bringing this up now because I want to make certain our enemy is outside of our connection and we are all completely equipped with the armor of God – righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.  We need to acknowledge the evil of this world so that we can prevent its infiltration into our connection.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB)

Our Mission

Are you connecting?  Have you pushed the devil aside?  Please pray with me:

Heavenly Father, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, we worship and adore you.  Thank you for all you have provided.  Thank you for this chance to connect.  Father, link our spirits together in a sincere effort to do your will.  Open our eyes to that which is your will in our lives.  Fill our minds with your wisdom.  Fill our hearts with your love.  Point us all in one direction.  Provide for us the ability to serve you by serving others.  Empower us to do more through this connection.  May all those who commit to this connection be blessed.

We ask these things in the Holy name of Jesus.

Amen

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Imagine This

You’re hiking alone in the wilderness along a narrow trail in the foothills.  Your goal is to get to the top of the hill where you’ll see a beautiful view of the surrounding wilderness.  Up ahead, a small landslide has blocked the trail.  You’ll need to be careful getting around this section and back onto level ground.  As you work your way across the debris field covering the trail, a large rock slips from underneath your foot and you tumble down an embankment onto a small ledge twenty feet below the trail.  Stunned by the fall, you take a moment to look around and discover what looks like a workable route back up to the trail.  When you try to return to your feet, a jolt of pain sends you right back to the ground.  Your right leg is clearly broken.  There is no way for you to save yourself.  You need help.

Every day, all around us, people are falling and landing in a situation from which they cannot save themselves.  Some will linger on the ledge for hours, days, or weeks, waiting for someone to come along and provide assistance.  Some will use extraordinary courage to fight their way back to the trail on their own and somehow stumble back to civilization.  Others will succumb to the elements and die on that ledge just twenty feet below the trail.

Of course, if you came across a stranded hiker you’d do whatever you could to help, or you would somehow contact those who had the means to begin a rescue operation.  However, this is not always the case in our daily lives.  We see too many fallen souls.  We can’t help them all.  We need to protect our own well-being – conserve our resources – save what little we have to support our own family.  Often precisely how to help is not always obvious and we simply don’t have the time to devote to solving all the problems we encounter.  One stranded hiker in isolation is an easy to solve situation.  Providing help to everyone we see who needs help, is a completely impractical scenario.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  James 1:5 (NIV)

What if You Had Wings?

Imagine you built yourself a set of wings that allowed you to fly wherever you wanted to go.  Would you use those wings only to entertain yourself, or would you also use those wings to help others?  Certainly the ability to fly wherever you wanted go would be a useful tool in assisting others.  You could help in search and rescue operations.  You could help find stranded hikers. But why bother?  Why not save your wings for weekend trips and leisurely soaring sessions in your free time?  You might come to the conclusion that if everyone knows you have wings and can fly, you’ll be constantly badgered with request for help of some kind.  Having wings would then become more like a job than a source of joy.

The Truth Is…

The truth is we all have wings of some sort.  We all have talents and resources that can be used to solve other people’s problems.  The truth is most of us would like to help all the stranded hikers we come across.  The truth is there’s another force in this world blocking our path with constant distractions.  We are being told by our enemy that we do not have time; that we do not have enough to share; that we should hold back and protect our own interest.  The problem with the enemy’s attack is some of what he’s telling us is true.  We do need to manage our time and resources in a responsible way.  The secret to circumnavigating the devil is to step out of the darkness into the light and join hands with Holy Spirit empowered followers of Jesus Christ.  When believers stand together, the enemy’s distractions can be easily overcome.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Join Hands

You don’t have to look very far to find faith-based organizations doing God’s work.  The easiest way to put your talents and resources to work is to join in the effort of one of these organizations.  All of our inadequacies melt away when we join a team that is already successfully supporting the needs of others.  We can also join hands with other believers by forming a group at church dedicated to solving some local problem.  Building a food bank for needy families, providing meals for the local homeless population, tutoring kids struggling in school, supporting Foster families in some way, or sponsoring a community cleanup project are just a few of the possibilities a small group of volunteers could tackle.  When help projects are planned in this way, all the constraints on our time can be easily managed.  Working together with other believers will make these tasks light work and a rewarding experience for everyone.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)

Imagine the Possibilities

What would happen if every follower of Jesus Christ planned for one more hour of helping others this week?  What would happen if small groups of believers dedicated to solving specific problems formed at every Christian church?  What if there was a network of Christians dedicated to solving problems?  What if the Internet could be used to connect those in need with those who have the talents and resources to help?  What if we all had wings to fly?  Could we find every stranded hiker and bring them home?  With God, all things are possible.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2 (NIV)

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Wilderness Guide

The dictionary defines wilderness as an uncultivated and inhospitable region.  It doesn’t take much imagination to see the world we live in as a wilderness in regards to Christian thought and in regards to a disciplined Christian way of life. Much of our modern culture is opposed to many of the teachings found in the Bible.  There seems to be an overall culture of promiscuity and a willingness to bend the rules of morality whenever it becomes inconvenient.  If we were to once again ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” we have to reach the conclusion there are many things in our world today that Jesus would absolutely not do.

As a result, the Christian voice becomes like one calling in the wilderness to repent.

“The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.  Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.  The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all people will see God’s salvation.”  Luke 3:2-6 (NIV)

We have an obligation as believers to share the good news and guide those who are lost, to the way of the Lord.  This is not a matter of calling out every objectionable cultural practice.  This is a matter of guidance.  We need to point the way toward a more spiritually profitable way of life by making those paths as enticing as the roads leading them off in the wrong direction.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

As believers, we are following in the footsteps of Jesus and our goal should be to get others to fall in behind us as we lead by example.  When we let the joy of our spirit shine in such a way that others are curious as to how we achieve such a demeanor, we establish a desirable path toward knowing Jesus.

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV)

The role of guide to the lost in the wilderness does not fall solely on the shoulders of the more mature believer.  We all need to be models of what it means to be faithful and set an example for others to follow.  We need to demonstrate the love of God by serving unbelievers in the same manner we serve our Christian brothers and sisters.  When we honestly and willingly serve everyone, the path toward Jesus becomes an obvious choice.  This is especially true for younger believers who interact with a more vulnerable and impressionable community of friends.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

All followers of Jesus Christ are wilderness guides.  We lead by example.  We are always ready to share the details of our faith.  It should be our goal to shine a light into the darkness to expose the corruption that is leading others astray, while at the same time we offer clear direction toward a better way.  This is not a simple task.  We need to work together to come up with the best practices for our wilderness guide duties.  With some creative thought and a willingness to go the extra mile, we can easily overcome this world and establish a clear path to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Give

Our time, our money, our personal possessions, and our emotional support are all resources that God has provided for us to share with others.  We humans have a natural inclination to hoard what is ours as a means of self-preservation.  This greedy dark-side of human nature can be overcome and a blessing will follow when we open up our hearts and share what we have with others.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”  Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

As in all things, the motives for our actions play a central role in our response from God.  If our primary motive is to receive a reward, we have lost our way.  Only a sincere heartfelt effort that seeks no reward will receive God’s generous blessing.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38 (NIV)

God made the ultimate sacrifice of giving his Son for our salvation.  How can we not feel obligated to model such sacrifice in our own lives?

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)

As followers of Jesus Christ, there is no room for arrogance, pride, or an inflated ego.  Our primary focus should be outside of ourselves.  When we spend our day looking for opportunities to serve others we are traveling in the footsteps of Jesus.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

We express our love for God in a practical manner when we actively seek those in need and offer assistance.  When we have been blessed our first inclination should be to share that blessing with others.  This is the true measure of our dedication to Christ.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  1 John 3:17 (NIV)

Love for God and our neighbor is the ultimate adherence to the laws of God.  It is completely impossible to break one of God’s laws when acting out of love for God and love for others.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

The apostle Paul is perhaps the most supreme example of an ordinary man living out his faith in dedicated service to God by serving others.  In the books of Acts, Paul shares the simple statement Jesus shared with him regarding our duty to give.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  Acts 20:35 (NIV)

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.