Monday, May 18, 2009

Joy in the Journey! :.>)

Walking with God can sometimes become a puzzling and frustrating journey. There are times when I wonder out loud to God..."what is going on...?" You know, the truth is, even now, when that question comes to my mind, the Spirit quickly pushes my heart to the real question that I 'meant' to ask: "Lord...., what is my purpose in this trial?"

In Romans 8:36 we see that, as Christians and followers of Christ, we are "as sheep to be slaughtered." Now THAT would be a scary thing to be going through, but the next few verses reveal a wonderful truth in ANY trial, no matter how great (or usually comparatively in my case... pretty small). "... I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

I am a child of faith being led into LIFE, not a slaughtered death, no matter how grim a situation might look. Through my "suffering" my faith allows God to make me fruitful even then. In Genesis 41:52, Joseph says, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering..." When I really think about it, if I was able to stand face-to-face with Jesus and ask Him if He LIKED the trials He endured to save my soul... His answer would probably be on the low end of enjoyment... now I am sure that with what He knew the out come would bring, there was a certain level of 'joy' but that is far different from enjoying the process. I am sure that Jesus would rather have been on a journey where everybody loved Him, listened to Him and accepted Him, but the results wouldn't have been the same. Because He endured the adversity that no mere human could have endured, He achieved the amazing end result of my salvation through the payment for my sins so that I could have a personal relationship with Him.

You know, does it really matter that I have adversity from time to time when the end result of any adversity in service to Him will result in eternal life anyway, through faith in my relationship with Jesus? Hmm.... I am not here on earth for the satisfaction of my flesh, but to be of service to God in any way He so desires.. be it difficult or not.

Again, as I learn to understand that, and accept that and endure whatever I must in the will of God, my trials will no longer be trials, but... a walk of faith. Now there is the JOY in the journey! :.>)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Following Legends...

I was listening to WHMI this morning as they interviewed Detroit Tiger legend, Frank Tanana. He is going to be in Howell this weekend at the "Vintage Baseball Game" being played Sunday, around 2pm at Barnard Center in Howell as part of the "Howell History Days" that is scheduled for this weekend. There is excitement in the community at the opportunity to meet this great Tiger legend. Frank is a Hall of Fame, 21 year, veteran of the "Big time" MLB, and there will be many there to get his autograph or snap a picture with this famous star of the game.

Frank was known in his day to pitch many a complete game, with seldom relief needed from the bullpen. But now, the game requires 'mid-relief,' 'relief' and 'late-relief' pitchers to ward off the powerful hitters. Following a sports legend like Frank would be difficult for anyone, but someone always has to.. and I am sure with much fear and intimidation at times.

After Moses passed away, the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him that his time had come to lead. The reality was, though, that he'd be taking over for one of the most renown leaders of all time, Moses! But God didn't just throw Joshua out there with a pat on the back, He gave him His word that He would be with him. Three times God told Joshua to 'be strong and Courageous' and also gave Joshua His promise...

First, God said that Joshua was the man to lead them. Second, He directed Joshua to follow His instructions completely. Third, God said that, no matter what happended, He would be with Joshua and his people. Joshua took comfort in these words.

Following a legend like Frank Tanana would be a challenge for any athlete, but Frank has another legend that I like even more. Frank is a Christian and takes every opportunity to represent his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not in a confrontational way, but as a very loving, helpful, servant. This type of legendary message is worth stepping up to for all of us. What an inspiration!

Maybe you've had to follow a legend at school, work, church or in faith. Trust in the fact that God will be with you as you call on His name. His desire is not to see you fail, but that you would lean on Him for guidance, leadership and truth. Be like Joshua today, be strong and courageous when the Lord asks you to step up for His glory. (see Joshua 1:1-9)

submitted by Pastor Kent Williams

FYI: Frank Daryl Tanana pitched for six teams--California Angels (1973-1980), Boston Red Sox (1981), Texas Rangers (1982-1985), Detroit Tigers (1985-1992), New York Mets (1993), and New York Yankees (1993)--over the course of his 21-year major league career. Since 1900, Tanana ranks 14th in games started (616), 22nd in innings pitched (4188.1), 18th in strikeouts (2733), and 37th in wins (240). Among left-handers, Tanana places 5th in GS, 7th in IP, 4th in K, and 11th in W. He has started more games than any other southpaw in the history of the American League. Mr. and Mrs. Tanana serve on the Pro Athletes Outreach board of Directors and are also involved in the Home Plate and Career Impact ministries.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"Some times a little bad happens before the greater good...!"

This past weekend, someone pulled out in front of my son's truck, the damage probably a total loss.... not having full coverage, and living in the 'no fault state' brought us to the realization that this was going to be costly. After finding out that the repair would cost more than the trucks worth, we began to look for another inexpensive car... The dealer of one of the cars we looked at (after we told him of our loss), instead of selling us the car at his profit, he instead told us of a friend that could fix my son's truck... for more than half of our other estimate.... we were back in business.

Finding the good can be a challenge, but Scripture confirms that God uses bad circumstances for good purposes.

In 2 Kings 5, we find two people who had bad things happen to them. First is a young girl from Israel who was taken captive by the Syrian army. Second is Naaman, the commander of the army, who had leprosy. Even though the girl had good reason to desire bad things for her captors, she offered help instead. "Israel’s prophet Elisha," she said, "could heal" Naaman. Eager to be cured, Naaman went to Israel. However, he was reluctant to follow Elisha’s humiliating directions. When he finally did, he was healed, which caused him to proclaim that Israel’s God is the only God (v.15).

God used two bad things—a kidnapping and a deadly disease—to change Israel’s enemy into a friend. Even when we don’t know why something bad has happened, we know that God has the power to use it for good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Walking with Optimism!"

Just about every day, my wife and I take a walk. We talk and share about all that is going on in our lives. Recently I realized that my walking companion is so optimistic, even in the middle of what I think are justified complaints. I was also brought face to face in my devotion to a passage that I am familiar with, but I never let the words literally sink in.... Colossians 3:15-17 says:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

If you listen to people, being thankful is not a very common attitude. They complain about their classes, their jobs, their practice schedules, their parents, their friends, the weather... on and on. In the world it is easy to complain because everybody does it. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we are called to be thankful... no matter the circumstances. That is often not an easy task, especially when you think you have something to complain about... but you know, that is just the time when God wants us to be thankful, all the more. When things are going great, it is easy to be thankful... but when tough times come, being thankful requires help.. sometimes a reminder from a friend who cares. But really, it occurs to me that if we are truly trusting Christ and the presence of His Spirit in our life, Jesus is walking with us all day long!! What could be a better reminder that we have so much to be optimistic about.

For the "peace of God to rule in your hearts" means that there is no other way that we should feel... at peace..., no matter what decision is ahead for us, or challenge, an injustice or some other 'worthy' complaint.

Thank you God for walking with me. That realization is truly helping me to be more optimistic.

Today, you are entering a world of complainers. It is your opportunity to stand out, to be different. The Lord wants you to have a n attitude of thankfulness. The only way you can do that is to get into His Word and allow it to get into you. Take a walk with Optimism!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Harvest Principle: God Supplies Alone!

In today's devotional that Rick Warren sends out @ that I get, I was particularly moved by his words today. Living in Michigan, many of my friends are losing their jobs, or very concerned about the future of their jobs. Often times, I can relate to their day to day concerns as we may call it, but deep down, it truly just might be worry. Well, God clearly tells us not to worry, but this reminded me again, that when 'concern' creeps in, what a fresh perspective can give. Here are some of the thoughts that Rick offered, and I pass it on to you. If you would like to connect with his daily devotions directly as well, go to the web site above.

"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will aslo supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness" 2 Corinthians 9:10

Looking to God as our only source of supply is often a challenge, but it is the key to this verse. If we are truly going to look to Him alone to provide for our needs, we should not look anywhere else.

We get ourselves in trouble when we confuse the channel with the source. God may use your paycheck from work as the channel to supply your needs, but your employer is just the channel for God's provision- and God can shift to another channel anytime he wants.

When you start to look to something or someone else to meet your needs, when you begin to confuse the channel with the source, there is a clear sign: Worry!

Say you've started looking to your job as the source, instead of the channel. You may start worrying, "What if I lose my job?" You know what? That channel may close, but the source of your every need is still active and providing for you. When God turns off one channel, he can turn on another one.

Once you know what you're lacking, you need to give God the right to choose whatever channel He decides to fulfill the need. It may be a channel different from the one you would choose; in fact, God may allow a totally different channel than you would expect, just so that you will keep looking to Him for all your needs.

For me, I am continually reminded about God's channel of provision, even in times like we are going through today. It truly is exciting to look back and see how God has provided through His channels of blessing.

Don't forget in the dark times, what God has taught you in the Light.
God alone is our source and supply!

submitted by Pastor Kent Williams