The Father’s Love

1796522_10153839360110043_622034866_nBeing a dad has been the thing in my life that has truly changed and sharpened my view of God. As a father, that really does love my children; I get, in just some small way, what God’s love is like.

I’m telling you; nothing makes me happier than seeing my children happy. And nothing, nothing, nothing makes me more upset than seeing my children upset.

And I’m not special in that. Every parent feels that way. Every dad, every mom, we all understand that. We all want what is good for our kids. We all want to do what is right for our kids.

We all love seeing our kids smile, don’t we? I mean really, every parent loves seeing their child happy and loves being the cause of that happiness.

Listen to what Jesus tells us today in Luke 11: 9 – 13:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus says, all of you that are parents, when you child asks for a fish, will you them a snake? Of course not. No parent would do that. That’s not what parents do.

So, if you (and me) who are imperfect, if we know how to (and want to) give good things to our children, how much more will our perfect heavenly Father long to give good things to us.

I really love my kids. And I am imperfect.

How much more does our perfect heavenly Father love us. Think about that for a second. Your love for child (as great as it is) is only a smidgen of the love that God has for you.

That blows my mind. I can’t understand it. But it’s true.

As much as we, as imperfect parents, love our kids, our perfect heavenly Father love us more.

You are loved today. You are. No matter what.

Today, live in that love.

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!

Who Is Jesus to You?

Who is Jesus to you? That’s the question that really matters in our lives. Not who is He to our parents or grandparents.

Not who is He to our children or our family or our church.

But who is He to me? Who is He to you? Who is He? Listen to what it says in Mark 8: 27-29:

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

question-markPeter confessed Jesus as Lord. He said, you are the Christ. You are the Messiah. You are the anointed savior of the world.

And that’s what everything comes down to. So, today, starting a new week, that’s my question. It’s not what trials face you.

Or what circumstances stand in your way. Or what worries cloud your mind.

What defeats jog your memories. What successes cloud your eyes.

None of these. Those are not the question. This is the question.

Who is Jesus? Who is Jesus to you?

In this week may He be your friend, your guide, your savior, and your Lord. May He be your entire world.

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!

What is Peace?

Christ-Our-Peace-Postcard-2012What is peace? What do you think of when you think of peace?

For most of us, we think of some vague feeling or concept, something that we “feel” that we may not even be able to explain what it is that we feel or experience. We think of the passage where it says that the peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts.

So, for most of us, we associate peace with that “sort of” feeling.

And that is great, but the only problem with associating everything with feelings is what about when we don’t “feel” it. What happens when we don’t have that feeling? Do we still have peace? Or joy or whatever?

I want to share with you something I read this morning. Listen to what it says in Ephesians 2: 14-19:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers

It says in Ephesians that peace is not a feeling or a concept, but it is a person. Jesus. We are told today that Jesus is our peace. He guards our hearts. He is the one that keeps it all together.

What does this mean for us today? Seek Jesus. If you want peace, don’t seek “peace.” Seek Jesus. Because here’s the thing.

If you seek a feeling, you may or may not get it or feel it. It may not happen. But, if you seek Jesus, if you chase Him, if you are faithful to Him and seek Him, with your whole heart, you will find peace.

You will.

Jesus is our peace.

Peace is not a feeling. Peace is a person. Jesus. He will guard us. He will keep us. He will save us.

Today, don’t chase after that feeling. Chase after that person. Chase after Jesus. And you will find peace. Because He is our peace.

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!

What Are You Thankful For?

illustration_today_i_am_thankful1What are you thankful for today? There are lots that we can be thankful for.

We can be thankful for our family. For the great nation in which we live. For those that protect and take care of us. For the teachers and schools that take care of our children. For our churches. For all the things that we have been given.

But it’s not just the things that we’ve been given, it’s the things that we get to do. We have this day. We have a calling. We have the chance to make a difference.

We have so much to be thankful for.

But listen to what Jesus tells us today in Luke 10: 17-20:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 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. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus tells us; it’s great that you’ve done all these great things. It’s great that you have seen and done this. But be truly thankful in this.

Your names are written in heaven.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. We’ve got so many blessings so many and things to be thankful for.

Even those of us that don’t have much to be thankful for, we are still so blessed to live where we live. For all of us in the west, we are so blessed, and we never need to forget that. We never need to forget our blessings.

But our greatest is this. As believers, our names are written in heaven. And nothing, nothing, nothing is greater than that.

Nothing.

So, today, be thankful. You are His, and He is yours. And everything pales in comparison 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!

A Little Crazy

As a child of the 90s one the songs that always takes me back to Bogue Chitto High School is Crazy by Seal. Some of you may remember it, some of our younger audience may have no idea about the song, or Seal, or even the 90s!

Today as I was reading our text for this morning, that song was running through my head. Listen to what happens to Paul in Acts 26: 24-25:

And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

ARTICLE_CrazyChristiansPaul is preaching, and the King says – Paul, you’re crazy. You’ve lost it. You’re too smart, and it’s made you crazy!

And Paul says, nope. I’m not. I’m in my right mind. I am speaking true and rational words.

He basically goes on to say; I just love Jesus, and He has changed me. And that makes me, in this world, look and act a little crazy.

And so should we. We should look and act a little crazy. We shouldn’t be like the world. We shouldn’t be like the culture. We should be different. We should act different. We should never become so much like the that we aren’t noticed.

Today, as believers, we have to be different. We do. If there is no difference between us and the world, then something is wrong.

And if they think we are crazy, that’s ok. Really. It’s ok. We don’t live for their approval, we live for God’s approval.

They thought Paul was crazy. Nope, he just loved and was changed by Jesus. Today, I hope they think the same thing about each of us.

Let’s act a little crazy 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!

Today. Pray.

prayer-warrior1Today, I want to encourage you to pray. Most days these devotionals are about looking at a passage of scripture, reading it, and then talking about the a greater theme or “takeaway” that we can apply to our lives on that day and hopefully for the days to come.

My man Tim Keller has a book on prayer coming out soon, and I was reading about it this morning, and this is how he describes prayer within in – What is prayer, then, in the fullest sense? Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him ….The power of our prayers, then, lies not primarily in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather in our knowledge of God.

So, in other words, prayer is not about what you say, or how you say it, prayer is a conversation that God has already started with us, and that will result in our knowledge of Him.

Prayer is a conversation that God started, in which He longs to reveal Himself to us, and hear us.

Today, God hears you. He does. He hears you.

Today, though, I just want you to pray. Take a moment right now, and pray. If you are driving, feel free to pray with your eyes open. But just pray.

Pray for those that are sick.

Pray for those that are battling cancer and other diseases.

Pray for those that are grieving lost ones today.

Pray for your family.

Pray for those you love.

Pray for your church, it’s ministries and staff. Pray for your pastor. Pray for their families.

Pray for our nation. Pray for our military folks.

Pray for God to show Himself to you. Pray for awareness to understand when He does.

Pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Pray for the forgiveness of sin.

Pray for yourself.

Pray.

Today, no matter where you are, or what you are doing, take this moment, and just 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!

The People of His Pasture

I love to read the Psalms. They are some of my favorite parts of the Bible. They speak so much to us, they are full of such beauty, such hope, such peace, such life.

I really love the Psalms. I love to read them, I love to meditate upon them, I love their gentle reminder of who God is, and who we are.

Today, one of our readings is from one of the Psalms that I feel like I read the most in my life. Listen to Psalm 95: 3-7:

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

pastureIt starts off talking about who God is, how He is the greatest; there is no one above Him, no one greater than Him.

He is the highest. He is the strongest. He is God. He is. He is bigger than whatever we face, stronger than our doubts, wiser than our foes. He is God. You can trust in Him. That’s a great reminder.

But the part of the Psalm that I really love is the end. I love what it says, we are the people of pasture, the sheep of His hand.

We are God’s. We belong to Him. He has marked us, He has claimed us. We are His. No matter who in the world claims you, know this. God does. He is proud of you. He loves you. He desires you. He takes pride in you.

No matter what. No matter what has happened. No matter what goes on. No matter what lays in your past, your present, or your future.

You are His. You are people of His pasture. You are sheep of His hand.

No matter what. You are His. 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!

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

painThe other night someone text me and asked me, in three sentences, to give my opinion why God allows suffering. Wow, that’s a tough thing to do, especially in just three sentences.

Many folks smarter than I am have written books about suffering and why God allows it. So, what could I possibly have to add to that conversation?

But, I thought about it. Why would God allow suffering? There really aren’t many good or easy answers, because in short, we don’t fully understand the mind of God, we don’t totally understand His power and His control, and the complexity of human free will.

All of these factors come into play on this issue.

I thought it would be interesting to share my answers with you, and do this a little bit different from our normal devotional. What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Do you have a different perspective? A different view? I’d love to hear it, if so comment below, I’d love to hear it.

And I will also say; something I do when thinking through complicated things is do not depart from scripture. I believe that in all things, scripture must be our guide.

Here’s my one bullet point about God’s power and suffering.  I believe this as much as I believe anything in life:

The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening. The power of God is that He can bring good out of anything.

That’s who He is.

Also, remember this.  Through the cross, God, through Jesus suffered as we suffered.  He knows what it is like feel pain and hurt.  Listen to what it says in Hebrews 2:17-18:

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

God knows our pain.  Has suffered as we suffer.  Hurt as we hurt.  Was abandoned as we are abandoned.  We don’t suffer alone.  God is with us (Psalm 23).

So, with that said, here are my three sentence on why God allows suffering, along with a biblical foundation and explanation.

1. He uses all things in life; even those we can’t understand at the time, for our good. (Genesis 50:20) God is at work in ways that we can’t understand, working out all things, even ours and other’s choices, for our good. That passage in Genesis says that what man intended for evil, God intended for God. God uses everything, in time, that is key to remember, for good. We man not know or understand it now. But looking backwards, we will see something good come out of everything.

2. He uses suffering to reveal to us who we really are; he knows us, it is we who sometimes need to know ourselves. (Genesis 22 – Abraham sacrificing Isaac). Abraham was tested, but this test and suffering wasn’t for God’s benefit, but for his. He had made mistakes, and this test shows that he was more faithful than he thought he might be. He was more than his mistakes. Testing from God’s perspective isn’t about us. God knows us, knows what we will do, knows our choices. Testing is for us. It is our chance to see who we are. When we suffer, and we hold on fast to Jesus, we see that we are more faithful than we can ever imagine. It is in times of suffering we find our who we really are. God uses those times to let us know ourselves.

3. He uses all things, in the end, to bring glory to His name. (Romans 8:28). All things, not only work for our good, but most importantly, all things work for God’s glory. God is glorified through our suffering. How? Well, He may do amazing things in our suffering that give us a testimony, and that may impact someone else. He may give us strength to stand that we didn’t know that we had. He may change some life through what we go through. In the end, even terrible, terrible events, God will ring something good out of it. He will.  Perhaps because of what you are going through, you may be able to show grace and mercy to someone that needs it.  You may able to understand their pain, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  You may be able to to change their life.

I hope these are helpful to you in your walk.

What do you think?

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 God Delays

One of the stories that may be most famous for us in scripture is the story of Golden Calf. This is a story of ideology, of the people of Israel making an idol, and worshiping it, instead of God, while God is literally right above them

And it gets bad. And it causes a lot of trouble, almost ending in their destruction. But how did it all start? What happened? Listen to what the word says in Exodus 32: 1-4:

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

generic airport delayed signThe people saw that Moses delayed in coming down. They had a schedule and time for everything to happen, and it didn’t happen on that schedule.

Moses delayed. Things did not go according to play. Things didn’t go according to their schedule.

And they turned away from God. They turn from Him and made idols at that time. Because God delayed.

God was late.

God was not when they wanted. God was not where they wanted. God didn’t do it they way that they wanted it done, when they wanted it done.

So they doubted. They turned aside. They looked away. They did their own thing. Instead of trusting in God, they did their own thing.

What about us? What do we do when God delays? What do we do when God’s schedule is not our schedule? What do we do when God’s time is not our time?

Do we turn to other things? Do we put our faith in something else? Do we turn away from God? Do we get angry and storm off?

God delayed. And they people made terrible mistakes. When God didn’t work on their schedule, they turned away.

What about us? What do we do when God delays?

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!

Our Biggest Battle

Burnning-HeartOur biggest battle in life is not external. Our biggest battle in life is not them. It’s not their sin. It’s not their mistakes. It’s not their faults. It’s not their stuff.

It’s really not.

Our biggest battle is not them. Our biggest battle is us. Our biggest battle is our stuff, our faults, our mistakes, our sin.

I have no control over “them.” Most times, I have very little control over “me.” But here’s the thing. I still have more control over me than I do over them.

I think that’s one of the reasons why Jesus says things like He says in Matthew 6: 16-18:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

He says when you fast (by the way, to my detriment, he doesn’t say “if” you fast. But when. I haven’t, and most churches haven’t taught fasting as we should) don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t walk around looking sad. Don’t act like it’s a big deal in front of others.

Don’t do it for them. Don’t do it for them to see. Do it for you. Do it so you can learn. So you can grow. So you can be more faithful and learn.

Do it to fight the battle within you. It’s not about them. It’s about you.

So is your biggest battle. It’s about you, and your daily battle to be faithful and to grow.

So, when you fast, or do any other act of faithfulness, it’s not about them. It’s about you and your own walk. Do it for that reason.

If you do it for your own pride, or your own recognition, that’s it. That’s all that you will receive from it.

But when you do it for your own soul, God will do amazing things in your life. That’s our biggest battle. Not with them, but with us.

Today, may we fight the good fight. May we look within. And may God do amazing things within us.

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!