Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Need A Break

Photo: Julianna's first volleyball match of the year yesterday.

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 4:23 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.

I think we would all prefer life to be "warm and fuzzy" all the time without any pressure or strain. I know I look for times of ease where I can just kick back and not worry about anything, and although those times are great and refreshing pit stops along the way, those times are not the norm especially when you are busy with work, responsibilities and family.

More times than not we find ourselves like Nehemiah and his workers when they were midway through their building project in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that they did not even have time to stop and take off their clothes when they needed to rest, only occasionally for washing. Wow, that's pretty busy. Sometimes that is just the way life is. Sometimes you just have to find the inner reserves to get through the day. Fortunately for followers of Christ, we are promised His strength. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). As a vine abides in a branch for its sustenance, so we must rest in the abundant supply of our Lord.

I love this old poem I found in a biography several years ago:

Be Strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the labor, take it, 'tis God's gift.
Be Strong!

Confess to God today your own weakness and inability. Ask Him to give you the strength to accomplish the tasks of today. Come to him fully aware of your complete reliance on Him, remembering, that He said, "without me, you can do nothing."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fight For Your Family

Photo: My beautiful wife Cheryl and oldest (and beautiful) daughter Julianna.

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 4:13-14 (13) Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after (by) their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. (14) And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

We must never forget that a key component of our service for the Lord is the care and protection of our families. As Nehemiah was reorganizing their defenses against the attack of their enemies, he reminded the people to take care of their families and even rearranged their places of duty so they could be nearer their homes.

I believe this is a great lesson for all of us. Our families need to be given a high place of consideration as we organize and commit our lives to our various responsibilities. Sometimes I have found that it is the overcommitments which my kids make that can put a strain on the family as well. A family is a team and we must all work together for the same goal and in the same direction.

This by no means implies that our families should become an excuse from shunning our legitimate Christian responsibilities, but they should definitely be considered. It has been well said that "Our work for the Lord should begin first in the home, but it should not end there." God never gives us competing responsibilities, we must have wisdom to understand what belongs, what does not, and how to balance these things in our lives.

Take a look at your schedule today; what is there that does not need to be? What is out of order of priority, and what is lacking that should be in place? Ask God for wisdom in adjusting your life to better reflect His priority of family.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coming Together For God's Glory

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 3:1-2 (1) Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. (2) And next to him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.

In this chapter some form of the expression "next to him" is used 28 times. This shows us the importance of unity and cooperation in accomplishing anything of lasting value. Ten gates and two and a half miles of walls were completely restored in just 52 days. These walls and gates had laid waste for nearly one hundred years, but when the people developed a "mind to work" and "strengthened their hands" for this good work God was able to accomplish the impossible through them.

Lessons On Life Building
  • Everyone had a place
  • Everyone's place was important to God
  • Everyone's place was unique
  1. Seek the Savior First (1)
  2. Keep Your Home Central to Your Work (10, 23, 28-30; 12)
  3. Whatever You Do, Do It from Your Heart (20)
  4. Remember, In the End, the Beginning Will Matter (33)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgotten Heroes

Video: This is an incredible look into the sacrifices being made by our military wives and children. Please give it a watch. Brought me to tears.

Thought for the Day
1 Samuel 30:24 For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.

As I watched this video that was put together by the American Legion, it reminded me of this passage of Scripture. The army of Israel was heading into battle, the Lord reminds them that a war cannot be fought without a tremendous amount of support. His conclusion was that those who stayed behind keeping up with "the stuff" (all the details of life, families, etc.) were to be honored on an equal footing with those who "go down to battle".

Our military families sacrifice so much for the sake of our country. We are currently in the longest war in American history with soldiers who have made multiple deployments. Each of these deployments exact great cost from the families that remain behind. I could not imagine my children and wife having to pay such a dear price. Sadly, they are seldom recognized and little appreciated. I for one no longer want to be negligent of recognizing their sacrifice. Our position on the wars is not the issue, our love and gratitude for others sacrifice on our behalf is!

Lord, I repent of my unconcern and ingratitude for our military families. Help me to call attention to their service. Bless them today; meet their needs and use their difficult circumstances to draw them to Yourself.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

True Worship

Thought for the Day
Ephesians 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

It is interesting and very insightful how the Bible contrasts being filled with the Spirit to being drunk with wine. They both are all consuming, affect every part of our being and highly noticeable. Three words that come to my mind as I look at this passage are meditation- "speaking to yourselves", variation- "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs", adoration- "making melody to the Lord", and appreciation- "giving thanks always".

A spirit filled life is deeply personal, fresh and expressive. A true heart is developed and nurtured as we allow Him to have complete control. This can only be accomplished by spending ample time allowing our heart to be captivated by His!

Stop right now and ask the Lord to give you a song. God "inhabits the praises of His people", so as we sing from the heart to Him we can be sure that His presence will show up, but be prepared for Him to take control. He does not come as a mere participator in our worship experience, but as a the facilitator and leader.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Credible Leadership

Photo: Cheryl and our friend Representative Rachel Burgin after her primary win last night. Great to have Christians of this caliber in office.

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 5:14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.

In the middle of Nehemiah's task of leading the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he is faced with the problem of leaders who were taking advantage of the people. His response was decisive and clear. He rebukes the leaders, demands restoration and the work goes on.The thing that particularly jumps out at me is that Nehemiah held himself and those closest to him as examples of the correct behavior. Its been said that "more is 'caught' than is 'taught'." Nehemiah surely exemplified this principle.

With the election season in full swing and so many vying for office for a whole array of motives, it is so refreshing to occasionally see leaders who are willing to set the example not just in word, but in their personal lives. If authenticity and integrity are not restored in public office our current demise into mediocrity will only continue and accelerate.

Pray for godly leaders who will exemplify integrity in their public and private lives. Stand behind those who do and count them as a rare blessing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Sets of Hands

Photo: Cheryl and I enjoyed a meal with several of our widows at the Colonnade last night.

Thought of the Day
Nehemiah 2:18
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

It takes two sets of hands to accomplish anything of significance in the kingdom of God. First we see the good hand of God resting upon Nehemiah. This is the hand of vision, power, and authority. This is what orders and compels us to the task ahead. Then there is the strengthened hands of the people following and supporting Nehemiah. These are the hands of willingness, submission, and faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. In order for the Lord's desires to come to pass in our realm, His people must actively pursue Him in faith.

Where are your hands today? Are they stuck in your pockets with a ho-hum attitude or are they actively engaged in advancing the kingdom of God in this world? Find where God is heading in your local church and strengthen your hands to get the job done.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Singing in the Shadows

Photo:Summer fun with the kids. The kids are starting back to school. Julianna and Annabeth began today. C.J., soon to follow.

Thought for the Day
Psalms 30:4-5
(4) Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
(5) For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Sometimes difficult circumstances and problems can tower over us to the point where we feel as if we are living in their shadows. David had experienced great difficulty in his life, but he understood the secret to getting out of their shadow was to "sing praise", "give thanks" and "remember the Lord" for who He is. "Weeping may endure for a night" - that is, it is a temporary thing for those who know the Lord. But "joy comes in the morning" - Magnify the Lord through praise and the shadows will disappear in the light of His overwhelming presence!

Don't ignore your difficulties; they are real, but make a list of the character qualities of the Lord and allow this truth to be your source of real, abiding joy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

0 + 0 = Everything!

Photo: image from last week's "King of the Jungle" Kids Musical practice. Great job!

Thought for the Day
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
(6) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
(7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

God's mathematics certainly seem strange. Paul says that he is nothing (0) and Apollos is nothing (0) but God is everything. This is an instance where 0+0=everything! So often we are trying to have our way and protect our interests to the point where we make such a mess that in the end there really is nothing. God says when we are willing to be nothing and those with whom we live and work have the same attitude then He can bless us with everything!

Read Philippians 2:5-9 today and "let this mind be in you".

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Be There!

People need to be able to count on us. In a world of instability and selfishness, Christians must be caring, dependable, steady- we must be there!

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 1:3-4
(3) And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. (4) And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

Although Nehemiah is most noted for his leadership skills; he is truly a man of great compassion. Although safe and secure in his position as the kings cup-bearer, he still showed great compassion and concern for his less fortunate countrymen back in the land of Israel. This compassion was the result of...

1. Recognizing the Lordship of God (5,6a)
2. Remembering Where You Came From (6b-7)
3. Rehearsing the Promises of God (8-10)
4. Resting in God's Mercy (11)

Absolutely powerful worship at Fellowship this morning. I was lifted into the heavenlies. Thank you singers, musicians and Nathan for your leadership. I love our church and can hardly wait to see what the Lord has for us in the times to come.

Get up; Go out; Look for someone to bless - This is what you are if you are a Christian - "A Blessing!"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blessed Assurance

Photo: Uncle Al and Aunt Shirley's house in Neptune City, N.J.

Thought for the Day
2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

I am speaking today at my Uncle Al's funeral. He was a bold witness for Christ and very influential in my life. I remember resisting his witness so often as a teen, but those words and lessons were in my heart and in His time God brought me to salvation through many witnesses of the Word.

In this passage, we see the testimony of one who had a firm confidence in His position with God. Paul says, "I know". This a statement of firm assurance. This is the faith my uncle possessed. I believe this kind of firm trust is the result of three things we see in this passage:

1. He was trusting in a Person, not a Pedigree. I know "whom" I have believed...
2. He was trusting in a Relationship, not a Religion. I know whom "I" have believed...
3. He was trusting from the Heart, not the Head. He is able to keep what I have "Committed"...

This is the basis of real faith, a personal real commitment of faith in the person of Jesus Christ! This is the faith my uncle possessed and that the Lord makes available to all who will receive Him.

What are you trusting in today? Is your faith firmly planted in the saving work of Jesus Christ alone? Quit talking about faith in Christ, and started walking your faith in Christ.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

God At Work

Good to be back after vacation. Photo of family at Toccoa Falls, Ga.

Thought for the Day
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Three times in this chapter Paul mentions "confidence". Why is this. What made him so confident even in the midst of hardship and deprivation while in prison? It was because the object of his faith was not himself or his circumstances, but in the Lord. It was the Lord who "began" the good work of salvation in us and it is the Lord who will "perform" or complete it until Jesus comes. This is the confidence of every child of God that our heavenly Father never sleeps or takes a vacation. He is at it 24-7 accomplishing his purposes in us for His glory and our good.

Whatever that difficulty is that is staring you in the face today, remember the Lord is still at work in you and will be faithful to finish it! Give Him praise and reintroduce yourself to His goodness and care for you.