How many arrows do you have?

Scripture Reading: Psalm 127

From the Pastor’s Heart

                Are you impacting the world through your children? Part of our own spiritual development and personal discipleship is making disciples of others and sending them out. Psalm 127:3-4 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them…” Children in the hands of their parents are like arrows. The parent invests in them, teaches them, points them in the right direction, then they shoot them out into the world and let them go. Children are a weapon in the hands of godly father and mother that are impacting the world through their children. One of the greatest principles of leadership is multiplying yourself and your influence through others. This same principle applies to the local church. We are to be a disciple making and mission sending church. We impact the world for the Kingdom of God by developing Christian leaders and sending them out to serve. We guide them and take aim, pointing them in the right direction, then we let go and send them out. The man or woman that has many arrows have the most impact on the world. Those arrows do not have to be just your biological children. Those arrows are the people that you invest in and disciple. As you send them out, their successes become your successes. Their fruit is also your fruit. Their reward is your reward. How many arrows do you have? How many people are you pouring yourself into? Are you multiplying yourself and your influence through others? The man or woman who never invests in others is weak and useless. The man or woman that invests in others and has many arrows that he or she is shooting out in various directions is one that is mighty.

What is God saying to me? Multiply yourself in others. Your impact on the world for my Kingdom will be much greater when you are actively investing in others.

What should I do today? Count your ‘arrows’. Look for ways to strengthen and encourage those ‘arrows’. Aim those ‘arrows’ in the right direction and watch how God uses them.

Trust in the Lord

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3

What if we really allowed God to direct our steps? What if we never did anything apart from the leading of the Lord? What if we let all our problems, concerns, and burdens go? What if we never took anything in our own hands? What if we never retaliated or took revenge? What if we never made any plans of our own? What if we could live in the perfect will and plan of God? Such a life seems like a wonderful fantasy. Yet, it is possible. However, living such a life requires one thing that we are not very good at: TRUST. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  We do not have to live life on our own. We do not have to fix everything. We do not have to defend ourselves. We do not have to decide which way we should go. God will direct our paths. He will show us the way. He will fix our problems. He will defend us. However, there are three basic conditions to this promise: Trust in the Lord, don’t trust yourself, and obey the Lord. It sounds simple. Yet, we make it so complicated. We don’t trust in the Lord completely because we think we know what is best. We can’t just ‘let go’ because we are worried what the outcome might be. We can’t turn the other cheek, because after all we have our pride. God knows what is best for us and He has a perfect plan that is wonderful and good. We will never experience His best for us nor know what His perfect plan is unless we learn to let go of ourselves and trust in the Lord completely. May the Lord help us to trust in Him today.

What is God saying to me? I have a perfect plan for you. My way is always the best way. Trust Me.

What should I do today? Avoid trying to fix things. Let go and trust in the Lord and experience His best for you today.

Discernment

Scripture Reading: Genesis 37

                The historical account of the life of Joseph is a fascinating story. There are many spiritual nuggets found in the life of Joseph. We are introduced to Joseph as Jacob’s favorite son in Genesis 37. Joseph is given a special coat described as the coat of many colors. Joseph was young and full of zeal but with very little discernment. He proudly wore his coat in front of his brothers stoking their jealousy. He had dreams that describe is family bowing down to him. Instead of keeping these dreams to himself he shared them with his brothers igniting even more animosity against him. Eventually his brothers had enough and sold Joseph into slavery and lied to their father about Joseph’s fate. We can all remember times in our lives when we had a lot of zeal but very little discernment just like Joseph. Think of all the times you said something or did something or made a decision in haste. The consequences of a lack of discernment can be devasting and life altering. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” When you find yourself on the verge of a rash decision, stop and pray. Ask God to give you wisdom. Consider all possible options and their consequences and move forward in a way that honors the Lord and invites His favor. Learn how to channel your passions and use discernment in all you do.

What is God saying to me? Stay in My Word every day and pray for wisdom and I will give you the discernment that you need.

What should I do today? Before making a decision, stop and pray and ask God for wisdom.

Reconciliation

Scripture Reading: Genesis 32-33

                In Genesis 32-33 we have the account of Jacob and Esau being reconciled. These two brothers were estranged from one another for some time. Many years went by, and they finally made mends and got right with one another. It was a joyous reunion when they saw each other after all those years. Forgiveness and reconciliation are an underlining theme throughout scripture. You and I were dead in our sins and separated from God. However, God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to bridge the gap between God and man. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are then reconciled to God. No longer are we separated from God but now we are part of His family. Reconciliation always involves sacrifice. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be reconciled to God. In order for you to be reconciled with others it may require the sacrifice of admitting you were wrong or even accepting apparent guilt even though you are not guilty. In order to make peace, you may need to let certain things go and refrain from arguing your point or providing an explanation. It’s not about winning an argument, it’s about gaining or regaining a friend. What sacrifices are you willing to make to be reconciled with those that you have been separated from due to some sin or conflict?

What is God saying to me? I sent my only Son to provide a way for you to be reconciled to me. I want you to live at peace with all men. Keep your accounts short and be reconciled with others.

What should I do today? Consider those with whom I may have a conflict with. Take the necessary steps and make the necessary sacrifices to be reconciled.

Pure Religion

Scripture Reading: James 1:27

                James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” It is expected of all believers in Christ to live a life that is unpotted from the world. We are to remove all worldliness from our lives and live in complete obedience to God’s Word. This is not keeping a rigid list of do’s and don’ts. It is living with integrity and purity. It is living an innocent life. Oh, that we could return to the days of our innocent childhood! There are so many things that we are exposed to that is not healthy for us. We need to fill our minds with the Word of God so that we are shielded from the things of this world. This is not to put our heads in the sand and become unaware of the dangers of the world. It is to keep ourselves pure in the midst of an evil world.

                It is also the responsibility of every believer in Christ to care for one another. We are to look after those who are alone and have no one to care for them. This is what the Bible describes as pure and undefiled religion. When we keep our eyes on Jesus and we stay focused on caring for one another and on sharing the Gospel, then we will not have the time to become contaminated by this evil world. What can you do today to keep yourself pure? What tangible task can you do today to care for those in need? Who do you need to check on today? Who can you share the love of Jesus with? Focus on these things and you will live unspotted from the world.

What is God saying to me? I want you to live a simple life. Hide My Word in your heart and keep from sin. Focus on the good things and not on the evil of the world. Do the simple things. Look out for one another. Care for those in need.

What should I do today? Find someone to care for. Meet a need.

Trust in the Lord

Scripture Reading: Genesis 26

                In Genesis 26 we find Isaac following in the footsteps of his father, Abraham. He took up both the positive and the negative traits of his father. On one hand, he loved the Lord deeply and sought to honor and serve Him. On the other hand, he had a selfish streak in him and would take matters into his own hands. Just like his father did, Isaac lied about his wife. He was concerned for his own safety. He thought if it was known that Rebekah was his wife, then someone would try to kill him in order to take Rebekah as their own. Even the greatest of men have weaknesses. For Isaac, his weakness was selfishness and not trusting the Lord with his family. As followers of Christ, we must learn to trust Him completely. It is when we take matters into our own hands that we fail miserably. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” It is hard to surrender. However, in order to follow God’s plan for our lives, we must learn to surrender. We must be careful to not trust ourselves, but to trust in the Lord. His way is always the best way. Seek the Lord today and learn to trust in Him completely.

What is God saying to me: I have wonderful plans for you. If you will just follow me each step of the way; you will experience my best for you.

What should I do today: Think before you act. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Trust in the Lord completely.

Morning Prayer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 5

                Psalm 5:3 says, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”  Even though we can spend time with God at any time of the day, there is something special about getting alone with God at the first part of the day. The Psalmist says that he spends time in prayer in the morning. He starts his day on his knees. We need to start each day by recognizing that Jesus is Lord. Every morning we should submit ourselves and our day to His Lordship. The Psalmist also said that each morning he would ‘look up’. We also should start our day by looking up. We should seek the Lord’s will and plan for our lives on a daily basis. We should ask the Lord every morning what He would have us do and how would He have us live. Every day is a new beginning. Every day is new and different. Therefore, every day we should look up and make a fresh commitment to follow the Lord. Have you spent time with the Lord this morning? Did you start your day in prayer? Have you looked up to see God’s plan for you today? The Christian life is a walk. One day at a time with Jesus. Start your day on the right foot by starting your day in the prayer and in submission to the will of God.

What is God saying to me: I want to spend time with you. Start your day with Me and I will guide your path and pour out a blessing on you.

What should I do today: Make a fresh commitment to start each day with Lord.

What is your motive?

Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 28

In 1 Chronicles 28 we see Solomon chosen to oversee the building of the temple. It is fascinating to read those chapters that describe the building of the temple. There is a lot of valuable truths that we can apply to our lives from this account in history. One of those truths is found in 1 Chronicles 28:9-10. It reads, “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong and do it.” God knows every intention of our heart. He knows our motives. Our rewards in Heaven will be based on this very thing. It is not what we do or even how we do it. Rather, the most important thing is, why do we do what we do. What is our motive? You see, you can do the right thing but for the wrong reason. If you do the right thing for the wrong reason, then that right thing becomes the wrong thing. It’s all about the intentions of our heart. It is good for us to examine our lives regularly and do some soul-searching and ask ourselves why we do what we do.

What is God saying to me? I have great plans for you. I am calling you to a specific task. However, your motives must be pure. If you serve me for any other reason than for my glory and for the furtherance of my kingdom, then I cannot use you.

What should I do today? Examine my life and make sure my motives are pure.

An Unruly Evil

Scripture Reading: James 3:1-10

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is probably one of the worst and false statements known to man. It is actually just the opposite. Words are much more painful than sticks and stones. James 3:1-10 describes the tongue as an unruly evil and a deadly poison. Verse 10 says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” We have all been hurt by the words of others and we have all hurt others by our words. Most often it is not the actually words that we say, but, the manner in which we say them. There is a right and wrong way to express the things that need to be said. We are to speak the truth in love. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Timing is everything. We may say the right thing, but when we say the right thing at the wrong time it will cause much more harm than good. Sometimes it is to whom we speak that creates a problem. God is a God of order. There are appropriate channels through which we should communicate. We also cause more harm than good when we say things to the wrong people even though what we are saying may be right. The Bible talks a lot about gossip, slander, and sowing discord. These things are an abomination to God. When we involve ourselves in such things, we cannot expect God’s favor and His blessing on our lives. Such activity not only hurts those involved, but also, the entire body of Christ. Many churches have lost their influence in the community and have completely fallen apart because of words spoken the wrong way and gossip and slander and discord igniting unnecessary conflict and division. Where does such activity come from? It comes from within. It comes from a heart of pride and selfishness. It comes from a heart that is not in tune with God’s heart. It comes from an immature heart that quickly takes action without careful prayer and planning and consideration of others. Have you been hurt by the words of others? Forgive them. Have you hurt others by your words? Repent and ask God to help you to control your tongue and to speak in love and with wisdom.

What is God saying to me: It is my desire that you live in peace with all men. It is my desire that your words would reflect my goodness. Be an encourager, not a discourager. Be a help, not a hinderance. Provide solutions and not personal attacks.

What should I do today: Examine my life and see if I have hurt someone with my words and seek to make it right. Consider how I have been hurt by the words of others and give them grace and forgiveness.

Keep it Simple

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

There are a lot of things in our world today that are complicated. There are many things that is hard for us to understand. Some things are complicated because we make them that way. When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the preaching of His Word it is important that we do not make it complicated. Some will complicate the Gospel by trying to have all the answers. Some will complicate the Gospel by trying to explain God. Some will complicate the Gospel because it is hard for them to believe in something that is simple. The Gospel is not confusing. It is not complicated. The Gospel is simple. We are sinners. We were born in sin. God is holy and righteous. God cannot have anything to do with sin. Our sin separates us from God. However, there is Good News. Jesus Christ came to this earth and became one of us. He went to a cross and shed His blood to pay the price of sin for us. Three days later He rose again from the grave. He has ascended back into Heaven and is alive forevermore. God has offered us the free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus. All those who believe on the Lord Jesus and place their faith and trust in Him has their sins forgiven and is given an eternal home in Heaven. That is the Gospel. It’s that simple. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just simple truth.

What is God saying to me? The Gospel is not complicated. Stop trying to make it something that it is not. Share the Gospel in all its simplicity with others.

What should I do today? Find someone to share the Gospel with.