Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Stop Testing God

Over the past few weeks, I have been saddened by pastors and churches ignoring the government recommendations to not gather in large groups and to practice social distancing. Pastors are holding worship services. Pastors are being arrested. All of this is because of the defiance to the government.

There is separation of church and state. There is freedom of religion. There is also free will. God has given us free will. We get to decide if we will listen to the government, if we will obey God’s Word, or even if we want to go a totally different path. We get to decide.

Too often, people cherry pick scripture rather than read all of God’s Word. We select what we like or what fits our agenda. This is a big reason why I always wanted the congregation to have their Bibles open when I preached. It is important for you to know all of God’s Word, not just pieces. It’s very dangerous to blindly follow someone who wants to feed you a piece of God’s Word, but not adhere to scripture found elsewhere. God’s Word is the entire Bible, not portions that favor you. 

Whether you love and fear God, or you disbelieve, read Romans 13:1-7. This is what God says about authority. As a follower of Jesus, we are to follow the government unless it is something that defies something that goes against the law of God. This means that when the government says STAY HOME, that you stay home. You are not defying God to stay home and worship in your home. Please understand that nowhere in the Bible does it tell you that you must go to a building to worship. The church is people. We can worship right from our homes. Plus, we have the added blessing today of technology. We can actually join together online, without anyone having to leave their homes, through Facetime, Zoom, YouTube, etc. It’s all there. God has provided. 

Additionally, claiming that God will keep you safe from the virus so you can defy the government is also wrong. Yes, God says that no one can pluck someone from His hand (see John 10:28). This actually speaks of the soul of a believer being safe; souls don’t get the Coronavirus. However, Jesus also tells us not to test God (see Matthew 4:7). Remember when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to throw Himself down so the angels would catch Him? We should not live life trying to get ourselves into trouble to see if He will rescue us. He has given us wisdom and discernment. He has given us resources. Faith isn’t declaring that He will keep you safe from Coronavirus and entering a large group of people to show everyone God is keeping you safe from the illness. Faith is trusting that even while this great pandemic is taking its toll on the whole world, you are trusting in God’s plan, you are trusting in God’s Word, and you know that He will use everything for His good purpose.


Not staying home, choosing to go out when you are not essential… This is not love. This is pride. This is ignorance. This is wrong. If you are going to the grocery store more than once a week, there is a problem. Plan a little. Be creative with the items you have in your cupboard. God made us in His image and He is the most creative. So you have creativeness in you. Let it flow. If you feel like you are climbing the walls at home, ask yourself why you cannot stand to be home… let God and you work that out. As you find yourself adapting to a life very different from what you once knew, draw near to God and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Repent. Pray. Love. Be a blessing. 

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. – Romans 13:1-7 [NLT]

Melodies of Praise

Things do not always go your way. As a parent, I remember when my kids would be upset because they couldn’t have a snack before dinner. As you get older, you begin to develop a nasty habit—complaining. We complain about things not going our way. We complain about the traffic. We complain because the food isn’t up to par. We complain because the service is poor or because the wait is long. We complain because the neighbor cannot put his trash bins away. 

Words are powerful. The Bible says that words have the power to kill or give life (see Proverbs 18:21). The question to ask yourself daily is what are your words doing? Are your words building up or tearing down? Are your words speaking life or damaging others? Are your words honoring God? Are your words pointing to Jesus?

The Psalmist speaks of “melodies of praise” that “will make Him known.” A picture is painted here. Your words… your praise… it will make Him known. But what if these melodies of praise are instead complaining rants? What if you are using your words to point out another’s shortcomings or to complain about bad customers? What if you are using your social media to put down another, to share the evils of the world, to broadcast the bad? Surely if the melodies of praise are what makes Him known to others, the negative, the complaints… these things are not depicting victory. Check your words today. What words are on your lips? What are you making known?

“But I will proclaim the victory of the God of Jacob. My melodies of praise will make him known.” – Psalm 75:9 [TPT]

Precious to Me

Everyone has something that they deem as precious. Parents see their children as precious. Some people are amazed by different pieces of art and would deem the pieces to be precious. We have precious items behind glass, locked up in a safe, or even placed in museums. Each person has a different opinion as to what is precious. 

When something is precious it means it is valuable, important, worthy of special care. People often make sacrifices to protect and care for what is precious. In today’s verse, the Psalmist declares that he will “worship and praise.” What will he worship and praise? The name of the Lord. Why? Because it is precious. 

There is power in the name of Jesus. In the Bible, we read that we will have what we ask in His name (see John 14:13). We read in healing done in the name of Jesus (see Acts 3:16). For the Psalmist, he recognized that the name of the Lord is precious. He placed God as higher, above, and worthy. In placing God in this position in his life, he was deeming His precious. Not everyone today will bow down at the name of Jesus. We each can decide if we believe He is precious, if we believe He is Lord. Yet one day, everyone will recognize that Jesus is precious. The One who poured out His precious blood that redeems, the One who lived a holy life, a sinless life, worthy to reconcile—He will return, and all will see, and everyone will bow at the name of Jesus. How precious is the name of Jesus!

“Lord, I will offer myself freely, and everything I am I give to you. I will worship and praise your name, O Lord, for it is precious to me. – Psalm 54:6 [TPT]

My Prayer, My Life

Consider how often you pray. Do you pray only when you are in church? Do you pray before meals? Do you pray only when you need something? Maybe you pray every morning or every evening. Consider your prayer life.

The Psalmist speaks of prayer life as just that – his life. For some, this may sound like a strange concept. Though the Bible tells us to pray continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), we typically see prayer as another resort or a good habit rather than a lifestyle or life itself. This is a problem for us as long as we see prayer as words to recite or a legalistic act to fulfill. 

This verse speaks of God’s love for us, a love that God has promised us. His love for us is unfailing and overwhelming and unchanging. His love for us is not impacted by anything that we do or say. When we look at prayer, we need always to remember this love—His love for us—and what a relationship with God means. As a child approaches a father, so it is with us and God. Stop focusing on the words you say in your prayers. Talk to your Father. Engage. Try to keep talking with Him all day as something comes to mind—about the small things and the big things. Be ever mindful of His presence, His love, and His desire to bless you with His goodness. As you continue to recognize your dependence on God and your desire for Him, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Perhaps one day, you will be able to say that your prayer to God has become your life.

“Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.” – Psalm 42:8 [TPT]

Having Heard

Today’s verses discuss the importance of hearing. Note that in Mark 5:27, we read that the reason the woman sought out and touched the clothing of Jesus is because she first heard. Romans 10:14 reminds us that if we do not hear, how can we believe? The woman heard of Jesus first, and this knowing of Him and this hope she had prompted her to seek Him for healing.

Consider today who has heard this week from you about Jesus. Consider who has observed you this week as you were living life and saw Jesus. Consider who heard about the happenings in your life this week in “real life” or on social media and heard of Jesus—meaning when something happened, you glorified God. Who heard?

I am not writing to shame you on the lack of testimony happening in your life, nor to point out that we all fall short in life. Instead, I hope this encourages you to consider the “having heard” moments in life—the opportunities for you to share the goodness of God. One of the best ways to share His goodness is to embrace His goodness and let it overflow in love and grace in your life. It’s not about a program or a rigid list of things to say. Love. Have they heard?

“Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing.” – Mark 5:27 [CSB]

“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14 [CSB]

The Gratitude of Grace

Today’s verse speaks of who truly honors God – “whoever offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (NASB). The Message translation calls this living the “praising life.” The Bible says that we were created to glorify God (see Isaiah 43:7). Psalm 50:23 makes it clear that we are living out our purpose to glorify God when we live “in the gratitude of grace.” The real question is how well are we bringing God glory with our gratitude of grace? 

If we are honest about this question, if we are honest about the thanksgiving we have lived out today, it is likely the thankfulness is not very evident. We spend so much of our time thinking we have earned what we have, that we are entitled to certain things. We overlook our daily blessings because we do not spend time considering life without them. When something good comes our way, our initial response usually isn’t to thank God for provision, for blessings, for protection, etc. Though God is alive and active, and very much moving in the world today, we oftentimes allow God to be boxed up, whereas we only need interact or thank Him when we have a grand request. Everything is separate. Everything else we can handle in our own strength. 

Without our life lived in the gratitude of grace, our testimony of the Gospel is silenced. If we do not spend time praising Him, pointing to Him, honoring Him, etc., what does everyone see? When we aren’t pointing to God, our fingers are always pointing elsewhere—to ourselves, to others, etc. 

How can we truly live in the gratitude of grace? We can devote more time listing reasons we are thankful, spending each day trying to find more reasons God deserves all praise and glory. We can receive the Gospel daily to remind us of the free gift of God’s grace. We can pour out that freshly received grace to others as we go about our day. We can pause to breathe in God’s grace and meditate on His goodness. What are you thankful for today?

“The life that pleases me is a life lived in the gratitude of grace, always choosing to walk with me in what is right. This is the sacrifice I desire from you. If you do this, more of my salvation will unfold for you.” – Psalm 50:23 [TPT]

An Empty Hope

The Psalmist states in today’s verse that trusting in a person is worthless or useless; the Psalmist declares a person cannot rescue another. This thinking is contrary to what the world exclaims. I remember growing up with the hope of being rescued. Remember the stories of a knight on a white horse? Today, our entertainment includes superheroes, and even underdog heroes. Lots of stories about people saving the day, rescuing people, getting the win—and these are the stories we cling to and celebrate. These stories do not simply entertain; the stories invade our thinking. We begin to think a person could help our situation and a person could even rescue us.

Yes, it is true. A person could help you. People help people daily. A person could rescue you. People rescue people every day. But the hope of man—the hope of man—it is in God alone. Here’s where we get caught up, where we all get caught up. When we are around a certain person, we feel happy and we begin to think that the person is the reason for our joy. When we are bailed out by someone from a financial hardship, we begin to think the person will help the next time. When our neighbor rescues us every time we have car trouble, we start to expect it. But people let people down. We are not strong enough to carry another. We can barely carry ourselves. Even though we have moments where we can be used to bless, to help, to rescue—we cannot carry another completely. Most importantly, we cannot offer a person hope. We cannot offer a person salvation.

We can point to hope. We can point to salvation. We can point to Jesus. We can lend a hand. We can speak life. We can be there to listen. We can be the hands and feet of Christ. Remember though, only God saves. Jesus is our only hope. Don’t put everything on another person’s shoulders. You have a Savior who already carried your burden and paid the price a million times over. An empty hope is no hope at all. Thank God for Christ Jesus!

“Give us a father’s help when we face our enemies. For to trust in any man is an empty hope.” – Psalm 60:11 [TPT]

Drink Deeply

These past few months I have been very intentional with my water drinking. Most people do not drink enough water, and even though I love water, it was clear I wasn’t drinking the recommended amount. Typically, we drink other liquids higher in a caloric intake, or we confuse thirst for hunger, and we end up eating and drinking a lot of calories to fill the void. For a healthier lifestyle, I recognized the need to drink deeply. As I have been tracking my intake and noticed a great increase from my daily due diligence, I have also noticed I’m even more thirsty for water. I am able to recognize that my body wants water, not a candy bar. I am seeing positive results from being intentional with my water drinking.

Today’s verse is one of those verses you can close your eyes and envision, especially if you live in Pennsylvania. I have seen deer crossing over to seek water. As it is essential to life, the deer make the journey to the streams that flow, because this is where the deer will have the necessary water to drink deep and be satisfied. Maybe you miss the awesomeness of this verse because you do not need to journey out for your water. When you work harder for something, you appreciate it more. I can imagine the deer are so happy when they get to partake of the water they sought.

What does this mean for us? Does your soul long for God? This is a tricky question. The truth is we are all longing for our Father God. We spend our lives seeking Him out. The problem is we can get sidetracked and replace God to worship something other than God. The truth is your soul is always longing for God—you may not realize it. As you are more intentional with seeking Him, you will find your thirst for Him increases. You will notice you true desire for Him. You will recognize when you are struggling because you lack time with Him. You will want nothing more than to drink deeply with God. Allow His power and His presence to move within you. You will be overwhelmed.

“I long to drink of you, O God, drinking deeply from the streams of pleasure flowing from your presence. My longings overwhelm me for more of you!” – Psalm 42:1 [TPT]

He Stooped Down

I’ve been struggling with a fever for days. Today I found myself on the floor at the foot of my Christmas tree, which happens to be a cross. As I looked up at the well-light, decorated cross tree, I considered the goodness of God. 

Our God, holy and almighty, stooped down to us. Not only did He stoop down, sending His one and only Son to live life in this broken world and die on the cross, but He continues to stoop down again and again, meeting us where we are in this broken world.

This is grace. Reaching down and lifting up to where you are. No one demonstrates grace like our Father. We cannot earn salvation. We don’t deserve it. Yet He gives it freely to all who believe. When we believe, we are called children of God—and co-heirs with Christ. We go from sinner to saint, from dead to alive. 

Every day, we need this reminder of His grace. You may feel down today, but you will not be down forever. You may feel pain today, but you will not feel pain forever. Breathe in some grace today, and then pour it out as well. We all need grace. 


“He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.” – Psalm 40:2 [TPT]

Cling

I remember when I was younger, and I would make shadow puppets in the light of the projector in elementary school. As we know, the “puppets” were not real—it was only my hand forming particular appearances in the light. I also recall trying to jump on my own shadow or change my shadow appearance. Yet these shadows are all temporary because they are dependent on light and a particular blockage of this light. Take away the cause the for shade, or the actual light, and it is clear there is nothing there. 

Today’s verse speaks about us living lives in shadows, actually as a shadow. This is a difficult concept for us. We certainly can say we accept that life is temporary, and we are but a breath; however, we often live otherwise. We cling. “We gather, we hoard, we cling to our things.” We start building a kingdom here. Yet if we refocus, we are reminded that we are just living in the shadows. Whatever we are building up will not stand. Our better investment is to invest in the Kingdom.

Today, as you consider yourself living in the shadows, take time to focus on the Light. Be reminded that in His Light, with His Light, we can see the Good News and the Truth of God. He will reveal all things. Seek Him out in His Word and in prayer. He will reveal to you hidden things. Instead of clinging to things, cling to Him. May all you do and all you say bring glory to Him.

“We live our lives like those living in shadows. All our activities and energies are spent for things that pass away. We gather, we hoard, we cling to our things, only to leave them all behind for who knows who.” – Psalm 39:6 [TPT]