Cheerfully giving

Posted: September 27, 2015 in Thoughts on God

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11 ESV)

The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. Our generosity towards others can be expressed in many ways, big and small. Unfortunately, we may also expect reward or recognition for our acts of generosity. Driven by the belief that those who sow generously shall also reap generously, we, at times, lose sight of what God intended for our hearts. Too often we have an unspoken desire for others to know that we’ve performed a good deed or given to a worthy cause.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the real reward for our cheerful giving comes when the beneficiaries of our kindness know nothing about us, instead giving praise and thanksgiving to God for providing for their needs. We should always feel compelled to give as if no one were watching, and to find joy and comfort in the fact that God gets all the glory. The young mother sleeping in a warm, secure shelter due to your financial generosity may never know your name, but you can rejoice knowing that she is giving thanks to God for keeping her family safe from harm.

When you consider that our generosity is only made possible by the grace that God has extended to us, it all seems rather fitting. Our resources, however great or small, are gifts from our loving God. We honor God when we give generously, expecting nothing in return.

What are the ways you can honor God today by sharing your gifts with a person in need?

Just go ahead and admit it. You’re lying to yourself today. Life gets complex, relationships get sticky, loneliness creeps in—and sometimes we just feel the need to bend the truth to make it through the week. We need our lies to keep the pain tucked away where it can’t get to us. That deceitful heart of ours has a way making it easy for us to be okay with these lies (Jeremiah 17:9)—that is, until they’re drawn out by God’s scalpel (Psalm 139:23).

These lies don’t just cover up the pain of life, though. They actually make it harder for us to grow in our faith and in our connection with others. We’ve gotten so numb to them that we don’t necessarily even see the damage they do.

But here’s one time when it’s definitely okay to “name it and claim it.” If we’re to get beyond these lies that we drag around with us, we have to identify them and call them what they are.

Have you seen any of these 5 lies in yourself today?

  1. I’m Okay.

We don’t like to dig around inside and examine what’s going on. Why? Because when we start looking, we often find areas that need some major renovations. That gets messy, and most of us are far too busy to go and look for things to fix.

So, we just tie on the “I’m okay” superhero cape and trudge onward. It’s usually only when some sort of tragedy strikes that we finally realize we aren’t as okay as we thought.

But that’s not the biblical model. In the Bible, the Psalmist continually cries out for God to search him and test him and examine him so that He can keep doing the necessary renovation work (for example, Psalms 11, 17, and 26). The attitude of Scripture is more like this:

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40)

Honestly, admitting daily that we’re not okay and that we need God’s help can be scary. It means owning our weaknesses and doing the hard work of self-examination on a regular basis. But thankfully for us, God specializes in weakness, especially when we aren’t sure where to start:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

We’re weak. He’s strong. And that’s the best truth there is.

  1. No One Will Ever Find Out.

If we’re ever looking for justification to do something dumb, we usually start here: No one will ever know. True, there might be a thousand variations on that theme, but it almost always comes back to anonymity. That’s why private browsing on the Internet and personal devices such as smartphones and tablets can be some of the most dangerous tools known to humanity. (They’re not necessarily bad, but “personal” devices do have drawbacks.)

No one will know if I watch this. No one will know if I go here while I’m on that work trip. No one will know if I post this anonymous and hurtful comment. No one will ever know.

First of all, there’s no such thing as true anonymity in our world. What we do in “private” very often has a way of being found out and exposed. (Just pay attention to all those hacking breaches you see in the news.)

More importantly, though, God has a way of making our “no one knows” sins come out—and He doesn’t miss any:

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” (Psalm 90:8)

Day by day, we let this lie bring us low and keep us from living the life God has planned. You see, God knows—He always knows the dumb things we do.

But He still loves us:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

You can’t hide… and you don’t need to.

  1. No One Will Get Hurt.

This lie really could be 2b, since these two excuses are like twins. If it’s not enough that no one will know, we also like to tell ourselves that no one will get hurt. If it’s behind closed doors, if it only involves two responsible adults, if it only impacts me, then it’s got to be okay.

However, what we usually mean is that no one will get hurt that we can see right now. We often don’t like to follow the chain of problems beyond the moment or the immediate circumstances. But what we don’t always consider are the spiritual ramifications that could pop up or the problems that might not be so obvious.

We also don’t take into account that God Himself is grieved and pained by our bad choices. God felt major pain because of raging sin before the Flood (Genesis 6:6), the rebellious grieved His Holy Spirit in Israel (Isaiah 63:10), and Jesus longed to gather His people to Him when they refused to accept Him (Matthew 23:37).

In other words, our sins always inflict grief and pain. And they do so to the very one we should want to please.

  1. That’s Just the Way I Am.

Often, the easiest way out of dealing with a destructive pattern in our lives is simply to make it an acceptable or unchangeable part of who we are. Whether we see it as a part of our nature or simply as something we “can’t fix,” this lie helps us avoid feeling responsible. We can’t stop it because it’s just too deeply embedded.

But what we don’t like to admit is that God is the one who made us. We were intended to look like, act like, and be like Him (Genesis 1:27; 1 John 3:2). Sure, we all trip up somewhere on the way to that goal, but saying something is “just the way I am” means saying that God messed up or was taken by surprise by our struggles. We’re really just saying that He can’t change us.

Thankfully, we’re wrong. He specializes in making broken things new.

Your struggles are real. Just confess that first. They stink; they hurt; they mess us up. Once you get that out of the way, you can begin the often very long, very painful process of being made like Christ. Just keep this promise in mind:

“… he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Got that? He’s not going to give up halfway through because you mess up or because you’re just a special case. He will complete the work.

We just have to admit that it is a problem before we’ll ask and seek transformation.

  1. I Can Do That Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the time for Bible study, for that new morning prayer routine, for that meeting with our pastor or Christian friend. Tomorrow is when we’ll tell our spouse the truth. Tomorrow is when we’ll get honest with God.

But—and this is the truth—many times that “tomorrow” never comes. Even in the midst of how miserable some of our bad life choices make us, we just don’t like to make changes today. We look for a more opportune time—when it won’t be so hard.

That’s why the Psalmist and the writer of Hebrews make sure that we get focused on today:

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Psalm 95; Hebrews 3)

Telling yourself that you’ll make a change tomorrow certainly makes you feel better about today’s failures, but it rarely ever changes us. We must remember that a lack of commitment to change today comes with a steep price:

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

We don’t even know if we’ll have a tomorrow, but we do know we have a right now. And God is faithful in that right now.

“He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 5:8–9)

Answered Prayers

Posted: September 7, 2015 in Thoughts on God

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice. (Jonah 2:1-2 ESV)

Do you have a “friend” that you dread getting a phone call from? We might even choose to send their call straight to voicemail more times than not. Most of us don’t mind helping people. But, we mind helping people who constantly put themselves in the bad situations they are in and never get any wiser.

Jonah, like all of us, was calling to God in his distress. This was distress that he had caused himself! If he had just done what God had told him to do (Jonah 1:1-3), he would not be stuck in the belly of a large fish. Instead of ignoring Jonah’s cries, God heard his voice and answered him. Aren’t you glad that we can say as Jonah does that God will answer our prayers no matter how bad we have messed up?

It is noteworthy too, that God doesn’t send us straight to prayermail. No matter how bad we have messed up, we do not need to worry about God being too angry to answer our prayer. He always makes time for us. We never catch him at a bad time. He never avoids our communication. He always answers our call. Is it always the answer we want? No. But, it is the best answer we can ever receive. It is an answer that brings us back to God after running from him as Jonah did. Be receptive to His response.

Thank God for His graciousness in answering our prayers?

Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the church today than the issue of women serving as pastors/preachers. As a result, it is very important to not see this issue as men versus women. There are women who believe women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and there are men who believe women can serve as preachers and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not an issue of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.


The Word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11–12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the…

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Have you ever noticed how many times you see the word love throughout the Bible? I honestly don’t think that we take it seriously enough. What does the Bible say about Love? My favorite verse on this subject is:

1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I see so many Christians these days trying their hardest to be pure and Christ-like in their daily walk, that they don’t realize the importance of love. Why is love so important in getting back to the basics of faith?

When you look at the verse above, you’ll notice that love even trumps faith in importance. The reason is this, without a loving heart, faith and hope can’t live. The basis of the Christian faith is the ability to turn a bitter heart into one filled with love. It’s like trying to grow a new lawn, if the ground is hard and dry (without love), then it’s not going to grow. If we water and fertilize the ground (like love), then the grass/faith, will grow abundantly.

If you want to restore your walk with Jesus, then learn to love again. A loving heart is the perfect foundation for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. It releases anger, envy, hate, jealousy, etc. The best thing about cultivating a loving heart is that it makes your walk with Christ a lot easier.

Today we should all pray for a more loving heart. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill our entire body with love for God, family, and friends. I assure you that when we become wrapped up in love, we will feel a lot better.

Yesterday I focused on the at of recommitting ourselves, our lives, to God. How did you do? Today our focus is going to be on something a lot more difficult, self-discipline.


Wouldn’t it be nice if resisting sin, and keeping God’s commandments, were as easy as sin? It seems so easy to fall into the traps that the Bible warns us about? I’ve often prayed that it would be easier to be more disciplined in the ways of the Lord, but it’s always been hard for me. I’m sure it’s the same way for everyone. We see great leaders of the Bible that struggled with it on a regular basis. We see than many lost that battle, but were later used for greatness. So how do we win the battle against what seems gratifying to the flesh? What is it that we can do to win the constant fight? For me, I like to remember this powerful verse.

Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The most important step in self discipline is to catch yourself before you fall. Take a look at the verse above and memorize it. Remember that as you are struggling with temptation that the Word of God tells us that it will be “Painful” to resist, but later, we will receive the fruits of righteousness. I liken this to when you first start working out. The pain the first day is enough to make most people quit, but the ones who do stick it out eventually find that it becomes as easy, and as normal, as breathing. This is how we need to look at self discipline. The first few times it will become hard as working out. It will be painful to wean ourselves off of the ways of the world, but eventually it will become second nature to us. Our Spiritual muscles will grow stronger each day. We will become Spiritual Superstars.

Let’s pray for more discipline today. Let us pray for each other as well as ourselves. Never forget that the pain you endure for Christ today will be rewarded with an eternal life of joy. So much joy that the pain will be forgotten. Be well today, and let me know if you need anything.

Yesterday was one of those days where you look around and realize that it’s time to take a step back to the basics in my relationship with God. There wasn’t anything real dramatic that brought me to this conclusion, but I felt like my book knowledge of the Bible wasn’t giving me the satisfaction that I needed in my relationship with Jesus. My sermons were becoming more of a showcase for my knowledge than helping people to reach a deeper relationship with our Lord. So this morning I start the first in a 30 day series of strengthening our ties with God through becoming like children again (Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.)

This idea was originally going to be a personal experience, but when I posted it on Facebook, I had a number of people ask to join me, so here we go. Please note that we are not going to go especially deep into the verses because I feel that the depth to which you go should be a personal journey led by the Holy Spirit. This will merely be a guide to deepening your roots with the lord. Having said that, let’s begin.

Please feel free to ask others to join in by sharing this post, and also feel free to reply to it and post your thoughts and prayer requests.



Today we are looking at the study of recommitting our lives to Jesus. It’s not that we have become separated from the Lord, it’s more of a focus on getting back on track in our spiritual lives.

Nothing in this world will mess our lives up more than sin and distance from the Lord. We allow one little sin to gain foothold in our lives, and pretty soon Satan is in full control and we start spiraling out of control. Sometimes it’s not that dramatic, Satan lies dormant just waiting to use that sin against us in a moment of weakness. Either way, that sin is there, and we need to root it out, and we’re usually not strong enough to do it on our own. This is where we need to get back in tune with the Lord, and that starts with confessing that we are sinners and need Him to rescue us.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 51. Yip, the entire passage. It reminds me that I am a sinner, but that doesn’t mean that I am without hope. It means that although we hurt God with our transgressions, He loved us enough to give us a second chance by offering His beloved son as an atonement for our sins. Would we be willing to give our children as a sacrifice so that someone else could live? That is the depth to which God loves us. He is bigger than our problems, and His love is more profound than we can ever understand.

I have posted Psalm 51 below, and invite you to meditate on it today. Recite is over and over until it hits home. Take your favorite part of it and let it sink in. the first part of getting back to the basics of our faith is to confess our sins, and allow the blood that Jesus shed on the cross to wash you clean. Holding ourselves captive to the Word of God is the first step in freedom. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

1Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

2Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

4Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

and justified when you judge.

5Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquity.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

so that sinners will turn back to you.

14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

you who are God my Savior,

and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15Open my lips, Lord,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17My sacrifice, O God, isb a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart

you, God, will not despise.

18May it please you to prosper Zion,

to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,

in burnt offerings offered whole;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.