Follow the Star Day 9

Follow the Star Devotional Day 9
The Gift of Love
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change…
James 1:17
The devotional this morning said, “In the midst of a world that is constantly changing and shifting under our feet, in the midst of hurt and distrust created by people in our lives who have broken promises, God offers us the perfect gift of love: the unexpected arrival of a baby who changes our world and our hearts for eternity.”
Have you ever thought about loves abilities and liabilities? Love has abilities and it has liabilities, but those abilities and liabilities lie in the heart of the giver, not the gift. Mature love remains true, it does not change to lust or lies. The immature lover promises hope that he/she cannot give. But God’s love does not change. We see in Jesus, who was the gift of love, a love that only became bigger and better as He lived and died and rose from the dead for us. God loves you and His love is true. Do you see that too?

Follow the Star Day 8

Follow the Star Devotional Day 8
Love, Light and Life
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16
There are many different people offering us many different things in life, for life, as life. How do you know who to believe or trust? God comes, as a baby, offering us love, light and life forever. By the way, it’s a life free of the sorrow and suffering in eternity. But the question is why? I think that is a good question to ask all the time. Why is someone, even God, offering me this life that we are putting our trust in and hoping for. Hope has a motive. I think it’s called “love”. The question “why?” helps us with the answer “what?” Is this question or offer motivated by “love” or “lust”? God’s offer is motivated by “love” and it gives us maybe the three essential things we need to become alive and kind and fulfilled. Love, Light & Life. What do you think?

Follow the Star Day 5

Follow the Star Devotional Day 5
The Anchor of Hope
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19
We have this “hope” that is more than a desperate wish or fleeting fantasy. Hope in Jesus, the Light or the world, is a belief and an awareness of His presence, passion and power in our lives. Jesus is in the boat with us. It’s that awareness that serves as an anchor in our lives. We are not alone. He is here with us and in us. That’s why it’s so important to be born-again. Being born-again is inviting the presence, passion and power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. It’s His presence that is our anchor. So, we place our trust in Him and hold on to His hand through the calm and over the waves of this life. His “light” brings us that “hope” which serves as our anchor.

Follow the Star Day 4

Follow the Star Devotional Day 4
Hope Does Not Disappoint

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

How do we know when we’ve latched onto something that’s true and real? Well for one thing, there may be suffering but there won’t be shame. God’s hope does not disappoint or put to shame. But real hope may involve suffering because we’re willing to walk through what it takes to have the real thing, something worth living for or dying for. Make sense? Shame brings suffering too but it’s suffering with no reward really.

The light of Christmas brought a hope into this world that is worth living for and does not put us to shame. I mean, living this life that Jesus brings us isn’t anything to be ashamed of for anyone who believes. It’s a life of love, light, and liberty in Jesus. There may be suffering because we live in a world that doesn’t understand it or appreciate it but it won’t end in shame. In a nutshell, those who live in the light of Jesus don’t have to live in shame. We won’t come to the end of this day or this life and regret it for ourselves, our family or our friends. That’s how real His light is!

Follow the Star Day 3

Follow the Star Devotional Day 3
Our Only Hope

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord
Psalm 31:24

If you want to know what “hope” looks like, look at Jesus. That little life in the stable would give us a life that works on the streets. And that star was just the beginning of what God was doing and going to do but that night that light was all they had in that dark place. That star was God saying, “I’m coming” or “I’m here”. That star was the fulfillment of His word a 1,000 years earlier.

Jesus came into this world as God in the flesh to take the power the devil had over life away from him and give it to us. Jesus showed us how to live this life and share this life with others. When we do life His way, this life works. His life is our hope for this life and after. Like the devotional said, “He began, redeeming the world to Himself, setting everything right, and turning hope into reality once and for all.

And having redeemed life; He has released us to live this life his way. And we have hope for this life because Jesus had hope for this life. Why not, He was God and He would go on and suffer an imaginable death for this hope that each one of us can have when we confess Him as Lord. Jesus could and can bring this life as we know to an end at any time. If He had done that at the grave, we would have missed out on this great hope.. He was thinking about us way back then before the earth even existed. So, He came and redeemed this life to release this life in us and through us to a world that needs hope

Jesus is the only hope for this world and He has placed this hope in the heart of every person who worships Him as Lord. And because Jesus came once, as God had said He would, we can believe He will come again as He has said He would. We have this hope then that motivates us to live this life the way He did. Why? Because this life is the only real hope this dark world can turn to and it’s the only hope that’s worth living for. So, what would happen if we really lived out this hope we believe in. What does that mean? What would that life be like? What kind of wise man are you?

Follow the Star Day 2

Follow the Star Devotional Day 2
Hope Shines in the Darkness

The people living in darkness have seen a great light
Matthew 4:16

The devotional for today takes us to an uncomfortable place. Darkness can have a bright spot in finding the help and healing we all need. A true change requires a true confess. Again, one of the first things we learn in recovery and healing is that we can no longer live our lives in denial of the darkness. Those who refuse to look at the darkness are never able to recognize the light.

One example the devotional gave us today is the effect the daily headlines have on our lives. We can let the news stir up anger, fear, hopelessness and despair or we can let the news show us just how dark the world has become. People need light. People need a life that works. But if we refuse to honestly go to that dark place we will probable never see our need for a light on life. So, what happens is that we deal with everything but the darkness. It’s like choosing to walk though the kitchen blindly and carefully rather than just turning on the lights.

The darkness can serve a good purpose if we choose to step into that darkness so that we can see the light. We don’t have to live in rebellion to see the light, we just need to be honest about the darkness that is in our lives. From that point we can see that we need help and look for some light on how to live this life.

You know what? Darkness cannot shut out the light. It doesn’t have the power to do so. And you know what else? God’s light shines in the darkest darkness and that light gives us hope of a life that works. That star the wise men followed offered the world the light of hope for a life that works in a world that wasn’t working so well.

God’s light will always bring us hope in a world where darkness seems to rule the day. Darkness cannot hold back the light. And the light of Jesus will always bring us hope of a life that works in a world that doesn’t because it lives in darkness. Follow the star!

Follow the Star Day 1

Follow the Star Devotional Day 1
Hope’s Long Journey
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word, I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
Hope really isn’t a copout; is it? Hope isn’t a moment of instant gratification that makes us forget our misery or hunger. Hope is something more substantial than a pretty ring, new shoes, a few extra bucks or a lucky escape. Hope is a light and a true promise that we build our lives around and we wait for patiently because it offers something that we now only want but need in life.
Those temporary things are nice, don’t get me wrong. They, at times, restore our hope in humanity but I don’t know that hope can be temporary. I lead a recovery and healing group and I know that a little break from the judge isn’t the hope that will change a life. Real “hope” is life-changing, I think. It’s not a wish or a want, it’s a word, a work, a will that can change the life of those who receive it.
Now that’s a pretty big definition of “hope” and you may want to make it a little more accessible than that definition does. But I want a life that works, not a simple excuse for life or temporary escape from life. And I think we will wait for something that substantial. Won’t you?
I don’t like waiting in lines. In fact, I so dislike it that unless my wife tells me that I need to wait, I’m gone. That’s why I like living in rural America. We don’t wait in line to often. But I will wait for something that’s important or worthwhile. Advent is about waiting for something God is doing that is worthwhile. Hope brings light into our lives. It reveals a life that works and will work forever. Jesus is that light. That baby in a manger isn’t just a life in a stable but a life for the streets. Jesus life is a light to all mankind. God is here and is doing something great and for those who wait for Him, there is a promise that will change the lives of any one of us who not only believes that there is light but confesses the light for his/her life. The devotional told us to create space in our hearts to receive the light of the world. That sounds like good advice. What do you think?

#lovethelight

We were in Luke 11 last Sunday picking up on a day in the life of Jesus.  It all began with prayer & devotions with the disciples before moving to an exorcism at the coffee shop (my interpretation) where Jesus was accused of being the devil himself.  At that point Jesus did a little teaching on demons and how they get into your house before this woman yells out “Blessed is the woman who birthed you into this world.”  (That’s my interpretation too.)  So then, before he’s invited to the Pharisee’s house for supper people demand a sign to prove that Jesus is God or at least a man of God.  I’m kind of glad we don’t do that to preachers but then maybe we should.  Jesus then says, it’s an evil generation that demands a sign.  SIGNS ARE A POOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SOMETHING REAL, FOR SOMETHING THAT WORKS.  People who are seeking something real, something that works, don’t want a sign, they want something that works and makes life work. 

Jesus then has this thing that he shares about the eye.  If the eye is good the whole body is healthy and if not, the whole body is dark or sick or unhealthy.  When the eye is good the WHOLE body is full of light.  This isn’t just about feeling sick to your stomach, it’s about being well spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Jesus is talking about “light”.  Isaiah said that Jesus would be the light.  John said Jesus is the light of the world.  Jesus said He was the light of the world and believers who are followers of Jesus know that Jesus will always be the light of the world.  Well, all this happened and then the Pharisees invite Jesus over for supper to talk about, you guessed it, the dark.  Amazing.

Here’s the deal.  I think God is tweeting out to us this message.  #lovethelight.  Why?  Because if we don’t love the light we won’t let the light illuminate our whole body or life.  We don’t turn on lights that we don’t like.  By the way, if you and I don’t love the game, we will quit.  We don’t lay down our lives and take up crosses if we don’t love what we’re living for in this life.  Right?  Believers are people who not only believe that Jesus is the light but they love the light He is for them and for the world.  We need to “love” the light of Jesus.  We have to want a life that works and fall in love with that light.  Why?  Because if you don’t love the game you’ll quit in the 5 inning or 3rd quarter or halfway through the race.  We have got to love the life that Jesus gives us or we will turn off His light in our lives.

So here’s the message, #lovethelight!

Pastor Mike

True Child in the Faith

Week #6
My True Child in the Faith

Probably one of the most difficult things we face in ministry is being able to identify just who gets it, who has and lives by faith. It’s difficult because people say one thing and often live another. I read a quote once that said, “Actions tells us who a person really is. Words tell us who a person wants to be.” Paul recognizes Timothy as his true child in the faith. It has the idea behind it that Paul is the one who lead Timothy to faith in Jesus and the Jesus way. When we get to the second letter we see that Timothy had some help from the faith of his family too.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Heb 11:1-3 And then the Bible tells us in the same chapter that, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6-7 This life that Jesus offers us is lived by faith. In fact, the Christian life is lived from within; from faith, with hope in love. This life is an inside job reverberating from the heart to the head and through the hands. It’s a life that we choose to live with Jesus and for Jesus.

Our mission as ministers is to bring people to this life with Jesus and to bring them up in this life for Jesus. Paul wrote, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,” Rom 1:5-6 Paul also wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:8-10

This life is a life where we decide to trust God and entrust our lives to God. It’s all about Him, not heaven. Oh, heaven is in the picture but our faith is not in heaven, it’s in Him, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God come in the flesh who revealed God to us and the way of God for us. So, we are followers of Jesus. We are people who have put our faith in Jesus and His way of doing life together. I think many people put their faith in heaven, and what I mean by that is that they believe there is heaven for whoever believes there was a Jesus. But our faith is to be in Him, not in heaven. Heaven becomes ours as we become His.

How do we get to the life lived from faith with hope in love according to God’s word and by the power of God’s Spirit? We come to that life from love that gives us hope and inspires our faith. Read Romans 5:1-5 and follow it back. This life that is lived from faith with hope in love that becomes our as we respond to God’s great big love for us that creates a great big hope in us that inspires a great big faith from us. Love motivates and fear dominates us. That’s why we want to invite people to respond to God’s love. It’s true, hell is real but it’s for those who reject God’s love. Love will wind you up but fear will wear you out. Too many Christians are worn out and you probably know why now.

There’s love here in this letter to Timothy. Paul calls Timothy his true son in the faith. That’s close. That’s intimate. There’s a real relationship here. This isn’t about religion, it’s about a relationship. We’re motivated in this life and in the ministry by God’s love for us. We believe in that love God has for us. That love creates hope for here and hereafter. That hope becomes a reality as we live by faith. The Bible tells us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17

There is something I want to say to you. When it comes to this Christian life, we have the word of God lived in the life of Jesus, written in the word of God, the Bible, and breathed into us by the Spirit of God. Our faith will strengthen as our hope grows through the word of God. Hope isn’t a simple fantasy or wish. Hope is the big picture of what God has for us as He reveals that hope through His lived, written and revealed word to us. A true child in the faith will hunt and hunger for the word of God because it’s the secret to living the Jesus life. A true child of the faith will bring about” obedience to the faith” as Paul writes about in Romans 1. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being persistent. God honors faith and a people of faith will pray, live, share and die by faith in God. Where can we start to know this life of faith? Get to know who Jesus is and let Him mold your mind on how this life is to be lived from faith with hope in love according to God’s word and by the power of God’s Spirit.

Until next time, God Bless

Christ Jesus Our Hope

Week #5
Christ Jesus Our Hope
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought much about it but people need hope. We all do! We need to see where we’re headed. We need to have an idea about where we’re going. When ministering to others, realize they need to hear that there’s hope and see that hope in their lives. When we are ministering in a church or another ministry, that organization needs to hear and see hope. Hope is what motivates us. We have hope for a new life, a better life, a changed life.

Hope is what keeps us grounded and on purpose. Hebrews 6:19 say, “We have this sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, hope that enters into the place behind the curtain.” We, as believers in and followers of Christ, have this hope of living in the presence, promises and power of God. That’s amazing. This life is our through Jesus Christ our hope.

What is the hope that we have in Jesus Christ?
(1) We have the hope of being loved.
 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life
Jn 3:16
 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Jn 13:34
 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. Jn 15:9-10
(2) We have the hope of being forgiven.
 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, Luk 1:76-77
 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Eph 1:7
(3) We have the hope of salvation
 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Th 5:9
(4) We have the hope of security
 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Jn 14:18
 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:38-39
(5) We have the hope of answered prayer
 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. Jn 14:13-14
(6) We have the hope of victory
 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Co 15:57
(7) We have the hope of restoration
 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1Pe 5:10
 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Col 1:19-20
(8) We have the hope of God’s power
 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luk 10:19
(9) We have the hope of knowledge
 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Heb 5:14
(10) We have the hope of life
 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Jn 5:24

Here’s the question. How do you communicate “hope” personally and professionally?