Shine the Light

Well, it’s Monday. I don’t know when you read this. It could be early in the morning before you leave for work or school. You could be reading in the drop off line on your phone. Perhaps from your computer at work. Or maybe even tonight before bed.

I don’t know when you read it. But I know that whenever you do read it, you have some sort of task ahead of ahead of you. Something you have to do; something you have to face.

And sometimes we just need a little extra kick to get over the hump. Well, this morning I was reading in Philippians 2: 14-16. Listen to what it says:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

flat,550x550,075,f.u3Through your actions, through your words, through your faith, you are going to be a light. You are going to shine for all to see. In a world full of darkness, you are going to be a light to someone today.

You are. Really, you are. You are going to be a light today. You are going to shine for Jesus today. You are going to point someone to Jesus today.

Now, you may not be perfect; you may not do it perfect, but you have that chance. And you know what else?

God has confidence in you. He does. That’s He’s sending you out. That’s why He’s putting you where He’s putting you. That’s why you are where you are. Not just for “you” but for “Him.”

You can do it. Really, you can. You can do it. You can shine for Him. You can point to Him. You can be that light in the darkness today.

You can change someone’s world today.

Someone changed your life. Today, you have the shot, through Jesus, to change someone’s life yourself. Today, let Jesus shine through you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Consider Who God Is

Every morning, I have a couple of scriptures that I read through for this devotional. Somedays I just start reading, and one verse leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another.

Today, as I was reading and thinking, I read one of the passages, and something about it just told me stop, listen, and consider. Consider who it is that you are praying to. Consider who it is that you are listening to. Consider who this God is. Listen to what is says in Revelation 5: 11-13:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Jesus-lamb-of-God-5-e1378089981810Sometimes in life, we forget who it is that we pray to. We know that God is awesome. Know know that Jesus is powerful and wonderful. We know all that.

But we forget that He is simple other. We try to cram Him into our lives; we try to make Him make sense for us.

When He doesn’t. He is bigger, larger, and more powerful than anything that we could ever imagine.

Go back and read those verses again. Go and look how all of heaven, all of creation, all of life worships Him. Go look. Go consider.

And then stop. And remember, that He hears our prayers. And remember how big He is. Bigger than our problems. Bigger than our worries. Bigger than our fears.

Remember who is He.

And know that He loves you.

We make ourselves and our problems the main thing in life. When in the end, none of that is as grand and glorious as God.

Consider the vastness of God. Consider His power. His holiness. His strength. When your stuff seems so big, remember that it is just a grain of sand compared to God.

We lose perspective. We forget that He really is God. All-powerful, Almighty, Amazing, God. Remember today.

Consider who He is. And then remember this mighty God desires to know and love you. And forgive you. Today and each day.

In all the stuff of life today, let’s remember these things.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

On Suicide, Depression, and Heaven

WoodnhugSome folks asked me today about suicide and heaven. Does someone who committed suicide forfeit any chance of going to heaven? This was my answer:

I’m a believer in Christ. I am by no means perfect, but I accepted Jesus when I was a senior, I love Him; I believe, and I really do my best to follow every day. I’m a Christian. I fail probably 9 out of 10 times, but I really do try to be faithful.

Let’s say I’m driving down the Gandy Parkway here in Petal. Everyone knows I’m a terrible driver. While driving down the Gandy, I have an accident, and I die.

Let’s say the last words in my mouth on the earth are a string of terrible profanities. Words as a Christian, I shouldn’t think, much less say. Let’s say my last thought on the earth is a terrible thought. And then I die.

What happens? Well, the question I ask is this. Does my sinful last action upon the earth outweigh the faith that I have? Does that sinful last action outweigh my faith, my love of Jesus, and my desire to follow Him? I say no.

See we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are not saved (or condemned) by our actions. By our faith. So, if I have faith, but my last action on the earth is a sin, then what we are saying by saying that would send me to hell is that “that” action would outweigh my faith.

And that simply is not what we believe as Christians. We are saved by grace through faith. We aren’t saved by our good actions, and we aren’t condemned by our sinful actions. We are saved or condemned by our faith in Jesus Christ.

We are not saved or condemned by anything we do. Whether it be now or whether it be our last act. We are saved by grace; we are saved by faith. Not by what we “do.”

So, to suicide, if someone is a believer in Christ. If they are Christian. If they have placed their entire faith in Him, and their last action is a mistake, even a major mistake like suicide, as grave as that is, I do not believe that mistake outweighs their faith.

And I know it doesn’t outweigh God’s grace.

I believe that if they are believer, then that final mistake does not outweigh God’s grace.  They are with Him, and have their reward with Him.  As a believer, they will spend eternity in heaven with God.

We can also talk long and hard about issues of disease like depression. Clinical depression is a disease, not a moral failing. Those with diabetes or high blood pressure, they are not morally weak; they just have a disease. So is it with clinical depression. And just like those diseases, depression can cause great harm (even death) to the person that is sick. And just like diabetes, if left untreated, depression can really harm a person and their relationships.

Let me say it again, clinical depression is not a moral failing. It is a disease that should be treated. We don’t judge those that have high blood pressure. Why should we judge those that have this disease.

But in short, not matter what our final act upon the earth is, I believe that if our whole faith is in Jesus Christ, we will be with Him in paradise.

Just my two cents.

Normal Folks

urlWhen we look at the Bible, and the stories that we read there, especially in light of the characters we read about and meet there, there are a couple of mistakes that we can make there.

The first is what I call making them “bible characters.” What do I mean by that? I mean that we can look at them like we look at Snow White or Cinderella.

They aren’t real. I’m not implying that we don’t think the things in the bible actually happened, but don’t think about what David had to go through before he attacked Goliath. Or we don’t think about the real pressure on Peter and Andrew to leave behind their nets. Or we don’t think about how much it hurt Paul to get stoned in nearly every town he got kicked out of.

We believe that this happened, but we just don’t think about the pain, effort, courage and faith that it took to these things. We can forget that they were all normal, real people, just like us, that God used.

They were normal, real people, just like me and you.

They had amazing faith. And that’s the second mistake we make, we don’t think that there is any way that we can faith, like they did. That’s not something that we simply can have.

Listen to what it says today in 2 Peter 1: 1-2:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Peter, yeah that Peter, says, to those of us that believe, that we have obtained a faith in equal standing as theirs.

Wow. Just think about that for second.

Your faith is equal to Peter’s faith. You are in equal standing to Peter. And Paul. And David. And everyone that you look up to in the Bible. Your faith is equal to theirs.

Wow.

Now, we need to grow, be faithful, learn, love, be obedient. But these folks in the Bible, they weren’t superheroes. They were normal folks, which God used.

Just like He wants to use me and you today.

Today, our faith is the same faith that they each had. Today, may we live in the hope and power that provides!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Why I Love My Church

logoOne of the things I believe so firmly is that no church is “better” than another one. We are all different; we have different callings, different visions, different things that we are supposed to be doing.

Those differences aren’t bad, in fact, they are good. It’s good that churches are different, that way we each do our part for the kingdom. It takes all of us. I never, ever, ever want to be the guy that says, my church is awesome, and your church stinks!

So, all that said, I just love my church. I love how open Asbury is, how we try our very best to love everyone, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from. We try our best to love, and leave the judgement stuff up to God.

I love that we are imperfect. I love that we get it wrong. If you aren’t willing to fail; you’ll never do anything big. We make mistakes, all the time. I make mistakes, all the time. And it’s ok. Because God is bigger than our mistakes.

I love that we care. That’s the thing that I just love the most. I love that we care. That we really do want to be Salt and Light, that we really do want to make a difference. That we really want to live out the grace that we’ve been given and love others in the same way.

I love that we believe relationships trump all.

I love my church. I love how we laugh and love and sweat and cry and succeed and fail. I love that we are authentic; we apologize for our mistakes, we try to do better, and we lean on Jesus.

I love that in the last month, our church has replaced someone’s trailer that should have been condemned with a new one, as a gift. Because it’s what Christians should do.

I love that we have jumped at the chance to serve Petal Upper Elementary School. We took up nearly 60 $25 Walmart gift cards to give to the teachers there, we fed them lunch, and I was able to share with the teachers just how much we love them.

I love my church. And I am thankful to not just serve Asbury as pastor, but I am thankful to be a part of it.

Today We Have a Choice

Every day, life is full of choices. Every day. We make choices to do things or to not do them. Some choices aren’t that important, and some choices are very important; they may change the course of our lives from that point on.

We make choices every day of our lives. About work, play, money, faith, family, everything. There are choices that we make. Sometimes, we don’t realize how important a choice was until after we have even made it.

Jesus, preaching His first public sermon in Matthew, talks about choices. Listen to what He says in Matthew 4: 13-17:

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,  so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Runrun.it-tomar-decisoesThe choice He talks about is at the very end. This is the choice He lays out. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The choice He is talking about is repentance. See, that’s what repentance is. It is a choice. It’s a choice to turn away from our stuff, our sin, our mistakes, and a choice to turn to Jesus.

And here’s the cool thing. Each day is a new day. Each day is a new start. As important as yesterday was, it is now done. It’s over. Don’t worry about it. Today is the day that the Lord has given you.

Yesterday’s mistakes don’t have a bearing on today’s choice. Today, we choose. Will we choose to turn away from the things that will only bring us pain; will we choose to turn to Jesus and find strength, mercy, hope, and life.

We have the choice to make today. We do. We can choose which path to walk down.

Today, Jesus says, repent. Choose to follow me in the big things; choose to follow me in the little things.

Today, may each of us choose to follow Jesus with all that we are.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Not For You to Worry

There are so many questions that we would like for God to answers, wouldn’t we?

We’ve probably got a long list of things we can’t wait to ask Him when we get to heaven, huh? Some of them are probably personal, why did this happen? What were you doing in this? Probably the kind of thing I talked about yesterday.

Some will be about passages of the Bible that we don’t understand or theologically questions. We’ve all got questions that we wonder about.

We aren’t the first The folks that walked daily with Jesus were the same way. Look what happens in Acts 1: 6-8:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

second-coming-cloudsThe disciples are asking a question that so many folks have asked. When is the Lord coming back? When will it be? What is the date? What is the time?

That’s a question that so many of us would like to know.

And look at what Jesus said. I’m going paraphrase. Don’t worry about it.

He says it is not for you to know the times or places. Don’t worry about it.

But you know what you can do? Instead of spending time worrying about this, spend time being busy for the gospel. Spend time taking the good news to the world. Spend time living, loving, preaching, serving.

There are a lot of things that we don’t know and may never know. But we know this. There are folks that need to know Jesus, folks that need grace.

And we can use our time worrying about things that we will never know, or we can spend out time, taking the good news of Jesus to a world that needs to know.

There are things we will never know. But we know this. WE are loved by an amazing God. And we need to take that love with us everywhere that we God.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Not What It Seems

Ever seem to you like God has no idea what He’s doing? I mean, we know that we should have faith, and we know that we should trust, but sometimes we just wonder, man oh man, God what are you doing?

Why are you doing this? Why is this happening? What is the point of all of this?

What are you trying to accomplish?

We’ve all been there. We have all (if we are going to be honest) struggled to understand and hope in God’s plan, when we have no idea what in the world He is up to and trying to accomplish.

It’s ok. We aren’t the first people to ever feel that way. Listen to what the Word says in Matthew 21: 39-43:

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God

on_the_crossAt that moment, it looked like God’s plan wasn’t going to work. From the narrow human perspective, it seems as though Jesus was dying, and it was all over. That was the way that it looked to everyone watching the cross.

It looked like God’s plan wasn’t going to work.

But all was not what it seems.  God had an amazing plan.

We know the rest of the story don’t we? We know what the Old Testament told us that this would happen, and we know what was yet to come, the Resurrection.

God’s plan was more than the people watching the cross could have ever understand. They didn’t see everything.

God did. God does. And He knows what He is doing.

So, when it looks like His plan doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t look like He knows what He is doing; remember. He does.

He knows. He knows what He is doing. Trust. Cling to Him. Believe. Have hope. God knows what He is doing. Belive.

God has a plan. It is a plan that we can trust; no matter what. God knows what He is doing.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Keep Holding On

Sometimes we get tired of walking the walk. Sometimes life is just hard. We know that we are called to be faithful. We know that we are supposed to chase after Jesus, we know that we are supposed to grow, to be faithful, to work for good, all of that.

But man oh man, sometimes it’s just hard to do that. Sometimes we fall, we stumble, we make mistakes.

And we want to quit. We want just to lay down. We want just to quit. To stop. To give in, to give up.

We’ve all been there. We may be there at this exact moment. If that’s where you are right now, or if you’ve ever been there, listen today to what Paul writes in Philippians 3: 12-14:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

holding-onPaul says we are going somewhere. We are chasing after Jesus, we are seeking to be made like Him, we are seeking to grow. And when we want to quit, you know what we do?

We keep walking.

Because of this. Christ Jesus has made us His own.

As tightly as you feel like you are holding on to Jesus, remember this. He is holding on you even more tightly.

Hold on to Him. Because He is going to hold onto you. He is. He has you. You are His. You are.

Keep walking. Keep fighting. Keep straining. Keep being faithful. Even when it’s hard. Keep holding on to Jesus.

Because Jesus is holding on to you. Never forget that.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!