Tuesday, December 31, 2013


There are times when following God comes down to a simple action - KEEP GOING!

It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This is also true of following Jesus! Yet if we are to arrive at our destination, it will require subsequent steps to get there!

We may tire along the way. We may start out at one pace and realize we don't have the strength or energy to continue at that pace.

But if we continue - one step at a time - we will eventually arrive at our intended destination!

The important thing is that we KEEP GOING!


Along the path of following Jesus, we also may start out at a certain pace. Filled with joy, wonder, excitement and anticipation, we begin to follow Him. When we begin to tire, we may want to recapture our original level of enthusiasm. When it doesn't come easily, we feel we have failed.

But  the race that we run to follow Christ is not a race of speed. We may think of it as more of a marathon than a sprint but even this does not quite capture its essence. Even in a marathon, there is a time limit. They will wait for many hours for the final slowest runners to finish the race but eventually, they will leave. You can't finish a marathon in a week, a month or a year!

When we follow Christ, however, there is not set time limit. If we fall and get behind, we do not need to quit! If we are injured and have to rest, we can reenter the race!

The important thing is that we KEEP GOING!

A journey has no feelings! If we keep stepping, we will get there! We don't have to recapture some "feeling" we had when we followed Jesus in the past - we just to need to take a step!

When we focus on how far we have to go or how slow our pace seems to be, we will become discouraged. But if we ignore those things and simply keep taking another step, we will get there!

However tired you are, whatever pace you may be traveling, however far you still have to travel...

The important thing is that we KEEP GOING!

In 1982, Petra, A Christian band, captured some of this principle in the words of their song, "The Road to Zion's in Your Heart!"

Sometimes a shadow dark and cold, lays like a mist across the road 
But be encouraged by the sight, where there's a shadow, there's a light 

Sometimes it's good to look back down, we've come so far - we've gained such ground 

But joy is not in where we've been, joy is who's waiting at the end.

There is a road inside of you
Inside of me there is one too 
No stumbling pilgrim in the dark 
The road to Zion's in your heart 
The road to Zion's in your heart

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013


My sons and granddaughter would probably say that I believe in the birth of Christ is because I was an eyewitness, but no, I'm not as old as I look!

I do not believe because I am able to personally examine the archeological or historical evidence of Jesus' birth!

  • There are many "experts" in various fields who spend their lives "disproving" the birth of Jesus Christ and the existence of God.
  • The sad part is that so many accept the assertions of these experts completely by faith!

I do not believe because it was taught to me by my parents - In fact, I am a skeptic by nature!

  • NEWS FLASH: Not all Christians are so week-minded and insecure that they never entertain thoughts that their parents might be wrong!

I do not believe because I need something or someone to lean on!

  • Christians are so often accused of believing in God because they need a crutch to help them through life. 
  • Yet the overwhelming majority of Christians I have met live lives of courage, discipline and integrity. Many throughout history have endured torture and death for the sake of their faith in Jesus Christ - hardly a characteristic of one afraid to leave his comfort zone!

The truth is - I believe because Jesus lives in my heart!

  • Perhaps that is not the most scientific, mathematically correct or persuasive argument. Nevertheless, it is a profound one and one that I share with millions around the world! 
  • I am not alone and I am convinced that if you sincerely ask Jesus to take over your life and heart, you too will believe!
  • Not because you were an eyewitness or an archaeologist. Not because you were taught by your parents or you lean on faith as a crutch, but because Jesus will personally come to live in your heart!

May the Child who was born of a virgin 2,000 years ago come today to live in your heart and enlighten your mind!


Thursday, December 19, 2013


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

During their journey to the promised land, the Lord visited the children of Israel in a cloud.
This was no ordinary cloud. It accompanied the presence of the Lord. When the Lord visited His people, He came in the cloud by day and the fire by night. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud remained, they stayed in that place, always waiting for the cloud to move first, according to the Lord's perfect time.

15 Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire.
16 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
Numbers 9:15-16

The children of Israel moved with the cloud of the Lord!

17 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.
Numbers 9:17

It is important to wait for God's timing and to never get ahead of God inn our lives!

18 At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.
19 Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle, the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not journey.
20 So it was, when the cloud was above the tabernacle a few days: according to the command of the Lord they would remain encamped, and according to the command of the Lord they would journey.
Numbers 9:18-20

It is equally important to not lag behind the Lord!

21 So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey.
Numbers 9:21

The secret is to be so in tune with God that we know when He is moving and when we must wait!

22 Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey.
23 At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
Numbers 9:22-23

It is erroneous to think that God will move in our timing!

Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
John 7:6

Why does God command us to wait for the cloud?

1. It teaches us to allow God to take the lead and go before us!
  • We are not to "go" and then expect the Lord to support our decisions!
  • Jesus said that "The Shepherd goes before the sheep" - not the other way around! (See John 10:1-5)

2. It teaches us not to lean on our own understanding!
  • We are not to develop "formulas" that will give us success every time!
  • Moses brought water from the rock by striking it. When confronted with the same challenge again, God told him to "speak to the rock." Moses disobeyed and struck the rock instead of speaking to it. It seems he leaned on the previous  "formula" which proved so successful for him rather than do it God's way!

3. It teaches us not to depend on our own power!
  • Waiting on God can be very difficult. In fact, it may be the hardest command to obey!
  • We may feel very insecure, vulnerable and powerless when we sit back and do nothing while waiting for God's timing!
  • But that is the very point! God wants us to trust in His way, His power and His timing!

Christians are often criticized for waiting on the Lord to move. We are encouraged to move out, trusting by faith that God will back us up.

Peter gave us a great example of when to step out in faith:

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea...
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Matthew 14:25,28

Peter did briefly walk on the water - but notice his request to Jesus"

“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

We are not to step out unless the Lord has commanded it!

This should not stop us from taking small steps if we are learning to hear God's voice and sense His timing. But we should not take major steps based on the presumption that God is obligated to approve, support or reinforce our own man-made plans!

I do not wish to instill mortal fear in the hearts of the hesitant or those who are engaged in their first attempts at hearing and obeying God. We all make mistakes in any attempt to do something well. God will not strike us down simply because we try our best and fail!

On the other hand, we should not rush into major life decisions and chalk them up as "mistakes."

If we take our time and start with small steps, we can be assured that, just as a child falls and rises up to try again, we will have second chances.

The point is that God wants us to live this way! 

If we grow in accurately knowing who God is, learning His thoughts and His ways, learning His voice and His timing, we will find that where He sends us, He has already gone before us!

And where God sends us, His grace will keep us!

If God is telling you to move, then do so! Don't lag behind!

If He is telling you to wait, whether it be a day, a month, a year or more, WAIT FOR HIS TIMING!

Why? Because...


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Saturday, December 14, 2013


Where do your skills, wisdom and knowledge come from? Did someone else teach you or were you just a "natural?" Certainly we must learn from others. A doctor cannot simply begin practicing medicine or, God forbid, perform surgery. He must attend years of school and then intern under the watchful eye of a an experienced doctor.

It is a huge error to think that ourselves capable to perform complicated tasks without the input of others into our lives!

It is equally erroneous to think that we will become great and successful if we remain in this type of mentoring relationship forever.

You may have had someone drive you to a place several times. Along the way, you talked, enjoyed the conversation and the scenery. Although you have been to that place several times, have you ever noticed that you don't know how to get there on your own?

Why? Because you merely observed! Don't things appear easier when someone else is doing them?

I have watched an artist paint on a canvas. I said to myself, "That looks easy." But when I actually tried to paint myself, let's just say the results were less than stellar!

We may watch surgeons, leaders, athletes, speakers, dancers, musicians and artists utilize their skills and talents many times, but the aged among us know that, so often, it is not as easy as it looks!

To become great requires learning and then putting what we learned into practice!

It is the same way with God!

When we first come to God, we need someone to point us the way, to teach us and to mentor us. It may be in an official mentoring capacity like a sponsor in an addiction program. It may come from a pastor, leader or member of a congregation. Or, it may start from listening to Christian radio, reading Christian books or simply encountering another along the way.

We may have a longer, permanent of even lifetime relationship with some  Christian "mentors." For whatever reasons, they have remained in our lives and still impart wisdom, influence and inspiration to us!

Yet at some point, God wants us to grow beyond the state of knowing him only through another!

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;
1 Corinthians 3:1-2

A "babe" is fed by his parents. No effort to eat is required of him! Yet at some point, he is expected to raise his food with his fork and place it in his mouth. In the beginning, he may still require assistance until he masters the skill, but eventually will be expected to do so without any help!

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who BY REASON OF USE have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14

Notice that both Paul and the writer of Hebrews chastise their readers, not for needing to be fed, but for remaining in that state! At some point, we must grow beyond "second-hand" Christianity.

The writer of Hebrews rebukes his readers in four areas:

1. Needing others to teach them again the first principles of the oracles of God!
   - God will always speak to us through others.
   - But, as we grow, it should become a secondary source of learning rather than the primary one!

2. Partaking only of milk!
   - Ater being a Christian for many years, we should be able to move on from Christianity 101!
   - We should be able to receive some of the deeper, more challenging or even somewhat perplexing
     aspects of God.

3. Being "unskilled in the word of righteousness!"
   - As we grow, we should become skilled in understanding the Bible.
   - Too many are still receiving their knowledge of God from other sources, i.e. daily devotions,    
     books, sermons, etc.
   - There is nothing wrong with these resources, per se, but God wants us to learn to hear from Him
     directly from His word!

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15-17

4. Not exercising their spiritual senses BY REASON OF USE!
   - This lack of development of the spiritual senses results in an inability to discern both good and      
   - If we never use one of our muscle groups, they will atrophy, resulting in weakness and uselessness
     of those muscles!

If we simply agree with God's ways, we will remain weak! I can believe that running, lifting weights, etc will help me get in shape. Until I actually EXERCISE and USE my muscles, I will not grow stronger!

In the same way, I must exercise and practice obedience to God in order to grow. I must be diligent to seek for God's approval and learn to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the Word of God!

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

If we want to be men and women of God, it is clear that we cannot get there through "second-hand Christianity!" Each person must learn to seek God for himself or herself!

We must individually learn to hear from God through His Word and His Spirit. We must also practice doing the Word of God - there can be no growth to maturity without it!

I do not want to discourage new believers from seeking help to learn the things of God. I also do not want to imply that we will one day arrive at such a high spiritual place that we no longer listen to others. God has ordained that He will speak some things to us only through others!

The more understand the Word of God, the more we will be able to discern if what another speaks to us is from God or not. We should always listen with a gracious spirit and never with a prideful attitude!

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea...
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 
Acts 17:10a-11

This is the same path we must all follow to properly judge if the words of a man are scripturally accurate or not:

1. Become skilled in the Word of righteousness (The Bible).

2. Regularly exercise yourself diligently to do what the Bible teaches.

3. Receive the message of others kindly and with all readiness.

4. Search the Scriptures daily "to see if these things are so!"

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Monday, December 9, 2013


In your efforts to seek God, have you ever felt that the way seemed more difficult than it should have been?

When you prayed for more of God, did it seem like things actually got worse, at least for a time? When you prayed for blessings, did trials and battles show up instead?

Don't be alarmed! This is what we like to call the "desert experience!"

This concept seems to have all but faded from church theology today, at least in America. More often we teach that knowledge is the key. If we can just learn to master certain principles, all will go well and we will be happy and prosperous. These principles can be learned simply by listening to sermons, reading books, watching videos or attending conferences.

Don't misunderstand. These can be helpful tools and should be a part of our Christian lives.

But there is another piece to the puzzle - the walk through the desert! If we are to truly take hold of God and experience Him more fully, the path always leads through the desert!

NORMAL GROWTH Initially God will bless us through the prayers of others. New believers, just like newborn babies, are fed by others and blessed by the work of others. But at some point, God will challenge us to grow!

In a normal household, an infant is carried, fed, bathed and clothed. A toddler is asked to pick up his toys. As he grows, he must learn to tie his own shoes. Later he is sent to school. Our goal and expectation for our children is that they will one day grow to become productive members of society. Feeders instead of being fed, problem solvers rather than problem creators and meeting needs instead of being overly dependent on others!

Each step of growth a greater challenge is presented. We cannot grow without a challenge. our muscles cannot grow without exertion. In the beginning, abc's and "stick people" drawings are applauded but eventually more is expected!

THE PATH OF THE GODLY! You are not alone! Great men and women of God became great because they walked through the desert!

Abraham was sent by God to an unknown place in the desert. He obeyed God and it was not until twenty-five years later that the son God promised him was born!

Moses was forty when he expected to be the deliverer of Egypt. (See Acts 7:25) Instead, he was forced to flee from Egypt and travelled through the desert to Midian. He was not actually called by God until he was eighty!

David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to replace Saul as the King of Israel. However, after being anointed and knowing he was to be king, David spent most of his time running for his life in the desert rather than issuing commands from a throne!

Jesus was in the temple at the age of twelve asking questions  and discussing God with the teachers. But it was not until the age of thirty that the Spirit came on Him to minister! Even after that He was first led to the desert where he endured forty days of intense fasting, prayer and temptation before He began the most powerful ministry the world has ever known! 

Great men of God have always become great through trials, testings and tribulations which challenged them to the core!

We must note that it was not the adversities that made them strong!

We can easily observe that problems in life drive many to insanity, discouragement or destruction. Adversity does not automatically result in growth!

What made these men of God strong is that they continued to walk, step by step, toward the promises of God, obeying God's commands and drawing closer to Him. In each decision, they chose to walk by faith and trust in God! At each crossroad, they chose the path that God ordained for them rather than their own path - even if that path was by the way of the wilderness!

If you are honestly, wholeheartedly seeking God today, may I encourage you to keep walking - one step at a time, always choosing God's ways and not your own!

If you look around and seem to see nothing but desert and no hope for change, keep going! The desert is not your final destination. It is merely a passageway to the blessings of God and the promised land in your life!

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