Don’t Admit Defeat!

I’ve heard it said before that there are no coincidences with God. I really believe that. Today is one of those small little moments that make me smile.

At Asbury in my Wednesday night Bible Study, we’ve been walking together through Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It’s been a lot of fun; we take our time; we chase rabbits, we laugh, we enjoy it.

Anyway, we finished chapter 6 last night an I spent a lot of time talking about verse 14. And lo and behold, what is our reading for today, out the Asbury bulletin? Romans 6: 12-14. Pretty cool. Listen to what it says:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

defeat2For sin will have no dominion over you. That’s a powerful phrase. That’s a powerful thought. Sometimes, most times, we feel as through we are helpless against our sin.

We are going to sin, we are going to fall down, we are going to fail. So why fight it? Why push back? Why try? I mean, it’s going to happen.

That’s what we think. We build in excuses for our failure. We are going to blow it. It’s what we do. We are human. It’s going to happen.

And yes, there is truth to that. We do make mistakes. We blow it. We do fail. But.. . . we don’t need to admit defeat before we start.

I had a friend tell me this, and it’s always stuck with me. Yes, sin is powerful. It is. But, is it more powerful than the blood that was shed upon the cross? Is it more powerful than the resurrection and the empty grave?

No. It’s not. As powerful as your sin is, it’s not more powerful than the power of God. It’s simply not.

You don’t have live under the power of sin anymore. Yes, you will make mistakes. But hear this. Sin doesn’t have to control you anymore. It doesn’t. The power of God is great than the power of sin.

As believers, we can live with no more excuses. We can live in the power of God. Not in the power of sin. We will blow it sure. It happens. But have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to resist.

To fight back. To overcome.

Today, you don’t have to be defeated. You don’t. You can live under the power of God. You can.

Today we can be free.

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!

Praying the Psalms

881B038111D14A10A0E5B40875264057As some of you know, I went last year to hear my one of my favorite preachers, Tim Keller, speak in Jackson last week. He has written a new book on prayer that I’m reading now, and I’d encourage you to read as well. It’s a got a simple title – Prayer.

He made several points that I’ve been chewing on the last week or so, but on of the things that he said he has done to improve his prayer life was this.

He read the Psalms. He said that we learn to pray a lot like how people learn to talk. By hearing language spoken. The more words a child hears, the more (and faster) the will speak. He said it’s the same with prayer.

We need to hear prayers to pray better. And that’s why we should read the Psalms. They are the prayer language of the Bible. When we read them, we “read” prayers. We grow our vocabulary. We learn how to pray. We learn what it means to seek God. To seek His face. To desire Him. To know Him.

We learn how to pray.

Reading the Psalms is powerful. And life changing. So today, I just want us to read Psalm 100 together. Just read. Listen. Listen to it. Listen for God in it. What does it make you feel? Think? Experience? How does it draw your heart to God?

How does it make you pray?

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

I’d encourage you to read a Psalm every day. I really believe that it will help us each grow, learn to pray, and learn how to better seek God’s face.

Today, and each day, may we pray.

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!

It’s Going to Be Ok

I saw a cool thing yesterday about perspective. It talked about how vast the universe is and how truly small we are. It shows the earth in comparison to other planets, then the sun; then the sun compared to other stars. Then our galaxy. Then the knives.

It is truly mind-blowing to see how amazingly big the universe is, and yet how small we are in comparison. It really gives you some perspective than things are different that what we may think that they are.

Today in our reading, we kind of see the same thing with James 4: 13-14. Listen to what it says:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

4189047064_67999aecfeThe thing that you are worried about. That thing. That think that is consuming you. That is robbing your joy; robbing your peace; taking over.

Let me ask you. How important is it really? Stop right now, and ask yourself that question. How important is it really?

Will it be as important tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? A year from now?

It’s going to be ok. Really. It is. No matter what. It is. There is a huge, mighty God that made all of this that we see, all that is going on, all that is around us. Made it all.

And He wants to know you.

Today, remember. This life is just a glimpse in eternity. Don’t be consumed by this moment. Don’t be consumed by this problem. Don’t be consumed by this circumstance.

It’s going to be ok. It is. Remember there’s a God that is bigger than us, stronger than us, mightier than us.

And He loves us.

Trust Him today. Trust Him for eternity. It’s going to be ok.

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!

The Little Things

Yesterday at Asbury, we talked about how we can be, and should be, thankful for our mission and purpose. And we talked about some ways that we can better find that purpose: taking things off our schedule to give us time, trying something big, and looking with our own lives and seeing how we can make a difference in our lives in the things we are already doing.

I thought about that when I read today’s reading from Ephesians 4: 25-32:

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

little-things1Sometimes we make the Christian faith something big and unattainable. Something that we will never be able to do, something that is just beyond us. That’s why I just really like practical advice and encouragement.

Listen to the little things that we are told to do today:

Speak the truth. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Don’t steal. Work hard. No corrupting talk. Speak well of each other. No bitterness, wrath, anger, or slander. Be kind. Forgive as God forgave you.

You know what? Those are things that each of us can do today. Seriously. Each of us can do these things today.

It’s not always the big things. Sometimes (most times) it’s the little things. The little words. The little smiles. The little efforts. The little cares. The little things.

You don’t have to do something huge to be faithful today. You don’t. You just have to be faithful today. Work hard. Be kind. Forgive. The little things.

In your work, in your play, in your family, in your lives. The little things make a huge difference.

Today, be faithful in those things.

And see what God does.

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!

So, What Next?

nextOne of the things that I stress a lot, that I talk about a lot, that I really believe is that we are all sinful. We are all broken. All of us.

And when I talk about that, I’m not talking about it in terms of us being the worst people who have ever lived in the history of the world, but all of us, me, you, each of us, we need Jesus. If we aren’t sinful, if we aren’t in need of saving, then why did Jesus come.

Our own experience tells us our need for Jesus and we all fall down. We just know that. We have all experienced that.

Ok, go it. But here’s the thing that I always come to when it comes to talking about our sin, our mistakes. What next? We get it. We are broken. We are messed up. We make mistakes. Ok, got it. But what next?

I want to know what I can do it about it. I don’t want to be just like I am. I don’t want to stay the same.

Listen to what it says today in Romans 6: 12-14:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

There’s that last verse – for sin will have no dominion over you. That’s stuck with me since I’ve read it again recently. As many mistakes as we have made, as much as we mess up every day, as long as we fall down, remember.

As powerful as sin is. God is more powerful. Really. He is. As powerful as temptation is, God is more powerful. As powerful as your faults are, God is more powerful.

You can be more faithful today than you were yesterday.

Today is a new day. Yesterday is past. Done. Gone. Today is new.

Today, let’s be faithful. Let’s not let the mistakes of yesterday, the things that happen, the past, the old, the failings.

Today is a new day. I’m not saying that everything is going to be perfect. I’m not saying that you are going to be perfect. I’m not saying that there won’t be mistakes made.

But what I am saying is that it’s a new day. A today, we can be more faithful than yesterday. We can. We really can. If we are believers, then we have the Holy Spirit within us. We have the very power of God within us, pulling us, pushing us, helping us.

Today, you can do it. Really. You can. Or better said, God can do it through you. He can.

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!

Relax

Today, relax. Just relax. Breathe in deep. Be calm. Relax.

There is a balance that we need in faith. Sometimes, we need faith to be really intense. Really focused. Really looking, seeking, going, just at it hard. That’s a good thing.

Monday, I talked about how Jesus wants to make a choice. Sometimes, we have to just, in that moment and day, make a choice.

But we never need to forget what Psalm 127: 1-2 tells us:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

ss-relax10Unless it is God that is at work, we labor in vain. Unless God builds the house, it is not worth it. Unless God watches the city, the ones that watch it watch in vain.

We rise early; we go to work, we go, we do, we sweat, we toil, we do all these things. We are anxious. We are stressed. We are worried. We are afraid. We are tired.

And we are told God gives His beloved sleep.

We need to remember that. God has it. He is the one that makes it happen. He has it.

The weight of the entire world does not rest upon you. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. Relax today. Breathe today.

God has it. He knows what He is doing. You can trust. You don’t have to do everything, be everything, go everywhere. God has it.

Trust. Relax. It’s ok. It really is. It’s ok. Today, no matter what is happening, what’s going on, what you are doing, know that God has it, He has you, and you can trust.

Relax.

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!

Jesus Demands a Choice

We have made a mistake with Jesus. We have made a major one. I don’t know that it’s on purpose, but I do know that it has happened over time.

It’s a mistake in understanding exactly who He is. We have made someone He is not. We have made Jesus something He is not.

What is this thing we have done? What is this mistake we have made about Jesus? What have we made Jesus, that He isn’t?

We have made Jesus safe.

Jesus is a lot of things. But one of those things is not safe.

We have made Jesus to be a safe little kitty cat, instead of being the roaring lion of Judah. We have made Jesus someone who is primarily concerned with our happiness and our fulfillment, instead of being the very Son of God, God Himself, creator of all.

We have made Him the one thing He is not. Safe.

Listen to what it says today in Luke 12: 49-53:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

page9_picture0_1356569055Jesus basically says this – you have to make a choice. You have to make a choice about me. Follow me, or not. But you have to make a choice. You can follow me as Lord. Or you can walk away from me. But you have to choose.

And we don’t like to think about Jesus like that do we? We like to see Him someone who only wants us to be happy. But that is not who Jesus is. Jesus is not as concerned with our happiness as we are.

He is concerned with our life.

He don’t offers us happiness. He offers us abundant life. He offers something so much more than just simple happiness. He offers us life, today, each day, and for all eternity.

Happiness is fleeting. Life is eternal.

But the only way that we will know that life is we have to make a choice. Jesus wants us to make a choice. Choose to follow. Or not. It’s your choice.

It’s my choice.

It’s our choice.

Jesus demands a choice. What will we choose today?

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!

When We Can’t Feel His Presence

where-is-God-2-300x227One of the things that I believe that truly gives life, that truly changes us and gives us hope, is to be in the presence of God. To know that God is with us, to know that He is there, listening, loving, caring.

In our lives, we have all been there, at some point, knowing that God is with us, God is present, God cares.

Many of us can think of moments, right now, where we felt that way. I can; you can, we all can.

And in just the same way, we can think of moments where we couldn’t feel the presence of God. Where we didn’t know where He was. Where we didn’t think, He was there. Where we felt forsaken. We’ve all been there, too.

So, what do we do? What do we do when we don’t feel God’s presence? Today, in Psalm 105: 4-6 we are offered two suggestions. Listen to what it says.

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

First we are told this. Keep seeking. Keep seeking after God. Keep doing the things where you experience God.

Keep reading His word. Keep praying. Keep serving. Keep looking. Keep listening. Keep seeking. And you will find Him. You will. He is there.

And second, remember what He has done. Remember where He has been faithful. Remember where He has shown Himself. Remember how He has loved you, saved you, called you, been there for you. Remember. Remember.

Never forget. Never forget who He is. Never forget what He has done. Never forget how He loves. Never forget.

He hasn’t left. He hasn’t. Even if you can’t feel Him. He is there. Keep seeking Him. He is there. Keep remembering. He is there.

Even if you can’t feel it, don’t quit. Don’t forget. He is there. Hold tight to 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!

More Than Just an Option

Recently I’ve issued a challenge to my people at Asbury, and I’d like to issue that same challenge all of us here that read this devotional.

Who do we believe that God is? Is the Lord God of Heaven? The Maker of all that is, both seen and unseen? The Alpha and Omega, Beginning and Last? The Triune, Sovereign God?

The God that loves died for us and was raised us. The God that saves us shows us mercy, grace, and love?

That is who Scripture paints Him to be. That is what Christians have believed for thousands of years.

But the question I have for you this morning is this. Is this true? Do you believe that this is true? Do you believe that God is who scripture paints Him to be?

(waiting for you to answer that question. No, really, right now, in your own heart, answer that question)

If God is who He says that He is, doesn’t He deserve to be more than just an option in our lives?

choose-your-pathFor most of us, God is just an option. He’s something we pay attention to when we have time. We don’t plan our days, weeks, months, lives around God. We do what we want, and if we have time, we give God what we can.

We make God an option. He’s just one of the options in our lives.

And doesn’t He deserve more than that? Doesn’t God deserve to be Lord of our lives, not just an option?

My challenge this year is this. Give God a year. Truly, as best you can, don’t let God just be an option for you and your family. Truly let Him be Lord.

And you know what? If you do, if you really do, and God doesn’t honor that, I’ll shut up about it. I won’t bring it up again.

Is God just an option for you. Or is He Lord?

I don’t know what you will do, but we live by the words of Joshua 24:15:

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

For me and my house, God will be more than just an option. I hope that He will be for you and yours as well.

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!

If God So Loves Us . . .

My childhood pastor (Bill Poole) was one of the most gifted pastors and teachers I’ve ever had in my life. Even though I was young when he was my pastor, so many things he said have stuck with me through the years.

One of the things that he said that I always remember is that “if” is the biggest word in the Bible. Anything that comes after “if” is huge. Just huge. “If” is one of those words that holds the Bible. “If” determines so much about life, faith, everything.

Normally “if’ is the word that hold’s God’s truth together with our action.

Listen to what we read today in 1 John 4: 10-11:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

love-each-other2In this passage, we are reminded that God loves us. And then we are told, if God has loved us, then we ought to love one another.

That’s it. That’s what we have to do. That’s what we are called to do.

The first question in this we must ask ourselves is this. Does God love us? The answer to that, without a doubt all throughout Scripture is yes. God loves us. He adores us. He sent His son to die for us and be raised for us.

He loves us. Really. He does. Do you believe that?

That’s the first question you’ve got to answer is do you believe that?

“If” so, then we must love each other. We must. We are not given an out. We are not given a choice. We are not given an excuse. We must love each other.

Love is the language of faith. Love is our hope, our peace, our joy, our purpose. God has loved us. He has. We have to love each other.

It’s hard. Very hard. We don’t want to sometimes. But we must. Because as believers, it’s who we are.

There’s that old hymn “They Will Know We are Christians by our Love” (Jars of Clay did a cool version of it a few years ago that I really like) that really sums this up – that always comes back to that statement – they will know we are Christians by our love.

Today, that’s our calling. Even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t want. Even when you don’t want to. It’s who we are.

It’s who we are.

It’s who we are.

It’s who we are.

If God has loved us, we must love each other. Today, may each of us do that, through the grace and love of our Father.

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!