Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  NASB

Those of us who have confessed or professed Jesus as our Lord and Savior need to hear this passage in the deep recesses of our spirits!  We dare not waver in our commitment to that confession or profession. The devil would bring doubt, questions, and vain discussions about the Bible’s validity, supposed errors, and interpretations, but Jesus is The Son of God!  If you believe He is, remind the devil there is nothing more to discuss regarding your Confession of Faith. 

We need to seek to stimulate or encourage each other in that commitment and profession or declaration of our faith.  We do so through Love and Good Works.  We do so by becoming a part of a local assembly where we can unite with other believers and use the strength of numbers to help us make it through both good and bad times.  We are part of each other.  None of us are islands to ourselves and need each other.

It is more than just getting together for fellowship and mutual sharing; it is a time when the Master Builders that God has chosen for that Body can fitly frame us into a Spiritual House through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It is a time when we, as living stones, are assembled into a fully functioning army of the Lord to accomplish His purposes.  Does that mean you will agree with everything that the church leadership does?  I doubt it!  I doubt they will agree with everything you think, do, or say.  We all are still human, in case you have forgotten. 

When I find people who cannot or will not submit to legitimate spiritual authority, I find people that are easy targets for the devil in deception and are easily swayed into wrong and even false doctrine. Does any local congregation have it all absolutely right?  No! Is the local assembly needed, and does it serve a ministry?  Yes!  Do I think there is room for improvement in becoming more in harmony with the pattern of the New Testament Church?  Absolutely!  So how do we accomplish that?  We work together, encourage each other, and refuse to allow schisms and divisions among us.

May God be with you as you go through your day in Him!


John 6:33-35 – “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”  34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” NASB

Jesus addressed the crowd and informed them that he was fully aware that they were following Him as a result of the loaves and fish miracle.  He used that moment as a classic teaching opportunity to bring them to the ultimate spiritual truth regarding who He was.  He reviewed their history about the “Manna” from heaven in the wilderness and the miracle He performed in their midst and advised them that the bread from heaven did not come from Moses or any man but from The Father.

That Bread brings life, not just momentary sustenance, and satisfaction.  It gives Eternal Life, and the crowd was so moved that they cried out for Him to provide them with that bread, and Jesus stepped forward saying: “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.”  He brought them to a moment when they had to decide who He was and what He had to offer.  It was like when He asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter’s immortal response is the only acceptable: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

We live in challenging times materially, socially, emotionally, politically, and spiritually, but our concerns and fears about what we will eat, wear, drive, or where we will live pale in comparison to the ultimate question – – WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH JESUS?  Will you receive Him as the Lord and Savior of your life, or will you list Him as a prophet, a good man, or some figure from history?  It is an old cliché but true – – Jesus is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all! 

Today I encourage you to come to Him and receive the Bread of Life, never hunger spiritually, and believe in Him and never thirst.  You will feel complete and total satisfaction when you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.  Make that day of acceptance today!

May God be with you as you go through this day!


Genesis 50:15-21 – “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17’Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”  NKJV

I love the statement of Joseph in verse 19 and have used it to encourage myself on more than one occasion.  God will take what men mean to be evil and order it for good.  I believe that is the basis of what Paul said in Romans 8 “all things work together for good, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Not all things are good, and all things Joseph experienced were anything but good, but the finished product was good. God demonstrated His willingness and ability to take the schemes of evil and produce something of beauty and fulfill the purposes of God. 

In studying the life of Joseph and the history of Jacob (Israel), some things make my heart leap for joy as I see, once again, how God deposits little hints and insights into his purpose and plan.  He does little things that seem coincidental, but nothing is coincidental with God. 

In the New Testament, I find that Jesus began His public ministry at 30.  In Genesis, we find that Joseph was elevated to his position of power at 30. Joseph began his ministry of purpose to preserve the Seed Line of Jesus at the same age that Jesus began His public ministry designed to Redeem mankind.  Joseph, in that sense, is a type of Jesus.  I find that more than a little interesting, and it resonates with me and speaks to my heart that God is so detailed in His plans for us and wants us to be able to glean truth from His Word, so He continually leaves breadcrumbs along the way to get our attention and encourage our hearts.

If you examine the record, you will find that sixty-six souls (people) came with Jacob to Egypt, and if you look at the number of books in the Bible, you see sixty-six.  I do not believe that is coincidental but intentional and validates the Christian Bible as the inspired Word of God, complete and entire. 

Then if you add the sixty-six that came with Jacob to the four that were with Joseph, you have seventy, which is the number of elders that Moses appointed, and the number mentioned in Luke 10 that Jesus sent out.  What does seventy mean?  What is the significance of 70?  The number 7 represents perfection and the number 10 completeness, and if you multiply that by 7, you find Ultimate Perfection and Completion!  Jesus has finished the work and now empowers and sends us out into His harvest.  Israel spent 70 years in Babylonian Captivity before returning to the land.  Jerusalem kept 70 Sabbaths while Judah was in Babylonian captivity, and seventy-sevens are 490 years as prophesied in Daniel.

God is faithful and keeps His word and covenants.  God has a plan, and He leaves us little breadcrumbs throughout scripture to encourage us and open our eyes to His truths.  May the Lord inspire your heart to dig deeper into His word and mine the nuggets of truth He has placed as handfuls on purpose for us.

May the Lord bless your richly and enhance your work, walk, and warfare!


Deuteronomy 11:18-21 – “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.”  NKJV

When Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil, He continually refuted the devil with IT IS WRITTEN!  Our Lord said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  The Bible clarifies that The Word is Jesus and that Truth is the Word of the Father. 

We also know from Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  The Word of God is not just important.  It is Life and Death.  We are told in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Nothing is more vital to Life than God’s Word and Words. 

As the people of God were about to enter the Promised Land, Canaan, God gave them instructions on how to saturate themselves with the word of God.  He informed them that it would be critical to their longevity in the land.  The prescription of God for the success, longevity, prosperity, and permanence of Israel in the land involved their saturating themselves with the Word of God. 

Moses instructed them that every adult was to invest themselves in the Word of God so profoundly that they were saturated.  They were also to instill their children’s hearts and minds in the Word of God.  This was not simply praying over the children and occasionally reading a passage but instructing the children in the home when they got up in the morning before they lay down at night. When they walked, they were to inculcate that word consistently and continually in the hearts and minds of the children.  This is part of training up a child in the way they should go, and they will not depart from it.  This is or should be a massive undertaking with a sense of incredible importance.

America was founded with an understanding of that principle, and one of the Founders and Framers, Benjamin Rush, took the lead in promoting and insisting that the Bible be included in public education.  Rush founded five universities and wrote numerous textbooks based on the importance of the Bible being taught to our children.  He and many, if not most, of our founders believe that God’s Word, Principles, and Precepts were vital for the nation’s longevity and the continuation of that ideal at the heart of the Republic they established for us. 

He gave five reasons for preferring the Bible as a schoolbook over all other compositions.  He contended, and I agree, that Christianity is the only true and perfect religion. In proportion, as mankind adopts its principles and obeys its precepts, they will be wise and happy.  He contended that a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way. 

Additionally, he contended that the Bible contains more knowledge necessary for man in his present state than any other book in the world.  Also, he contended that knowledge is most durable and religious instruction most useful when imparted in early life.  Finally, he believed that the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.  He believed that the earlier we impart the knowledge of the Bible to our children, the more likely they are to not stray from its precepts and thereby preserve the Republic from generation to generation. 

We cannot Know God if we do not know His Word.  We cannot Know God if we do not commune with Him.  We cannot Know God if we abandon His precepts and principles taught in His word.  If we Saturate ourselves in His word, we will find that we have an answer for every man because of the hope in us.  We also find that when the enemy comes in like a flood, we have a shield (God’s Word) that can block that attack.  We can face the deceiver, as Jesus did in the wilderness, and having done all to stand, then stand in the Word and declare IT IS WRITTEN!

I encourage you to invest and immerse yourself in the Word of God and become Saturated with that Word.  For it brings healing, hope, salvation, deliverance, and victory!  

God, bless you richly is my prayer!



Romans 12:1-3 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  NKJV

I have often wondered and discussed with believers the idea of “Living Sacrifices,” and some of the thoughts I have heard amazed me.  I have heard from some well-meaning believers that this means intentional suffering.  They believe that suffering is God’s desire and that, somehow, suffering produces spirituality.  What I hear in those instances is almost the idea of flagellation.  They would never go that far, but they almost prayed for suffering and difficulty.

The Bible speaks of us as bricks or stones in God’s building and calls us living stones. The problem with living stones, as contrasted to natural stones, is that they have a mind, will, and emotion and sometimes don’t stay where they are inserted into the building.  Likewise, living sacrifices do not always stay on the altar and thereby do not remain sacrifices or that which is committed and dedicated to God.  A sacrifice in the natural does not get up and walk away from the altar. It dies there and remains there.

Paul’s plea for the believers to give themselves to God as living sacrifices makes it wonderfully clear that this is not simply an act of the individual’s will or self-discipline. It is by the mercies of God.  It is by God’s enablement, His grace, that we can do this.  It is an act of dedication and commitment but also a supernatural work. 

Paul further calls this a reasonable service, not an extraordinary act of piousness.  It is simply the expected and should be a normal and natural result of our commitment to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  The life that we commit is to be holy or set apart.  He is talking less about the natural body than the entire man but includes the natural body, which is a reason for us to take heed to our physical and spiritual person.

But he does not stop there. He identifies some results of our becoming Living Sacrifices to God that resonate powerfully in my spirit.  If our reasonable service is to be a Living Sacrifice to God and in that condition and position, we can experience and achieve the total objective identified by Paul.  He said, “And….”  That connector immediately shouts, “Here it comes!”  Read it with me, “And do not be conformed to this world….”  

That should be a top priority for every child of God that we come out from among them and separate ourselves unto God.  Not that we become isolationist and isolate and insulate ourselves from the world so that we have no contact and no impact on them.  We are not influenced and shaped by the world and worldview.  “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”  

That identifies the importance of the mind in salvation.  Remember the words of Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior – one who manipulates].”  As the NKJV renders it, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”   We are charged to ‘bring every thought captive to the Lord’ and ‘have the mind of Christ.’  The mind is a powerful and wonderful part of our makeup and is deeply involved in our salvation. As our minds are renewed or reprogrammed, we experience Transformation rather than Conformation. 

The apostle then makes a powerful declaration that this process enables us to discover,  demonstrate and experience the Will of God, which is good, acceptable, and perfect.  I won’t deal with the trifecta that is often taught in that portion of that scripture, only that as a Renewed Mind Transforms us, we can prove or establish then walk in the will of God.  That, in my view, is powerful and desirable. 

Would you not like to be able to prove or establish the Will of God in your life with such clarity and certainty that it is unquestioned?  Would you not want to experience a relationship with God where you are in a continual state of renewal and transformation, moving from glory to glory and revelation to revelation in Him?  How do you get there?  First, allow God’s Holy Spirit and Grace to place you on the altar as a Living Sacrifice and Stay There!  Then, begin renewing and reprograming our mind through the Word and Prayer.  This will Transform you and guard against your being Conformed to the world, and as you enter that state, you will discover the Will of God.

May God bless you as you step out in faith and commitment!


Psalm 91:1 – “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  NKJV

The Secret Place of the Most High is a place of safety, and it is extremely near to Him, for the Psalmist said that if we dwell there, we also abide under the shadow of God. To be the shadow of someone, you have to be near them.  I was teaching from this passage, and the question arose, “What is the Secret Place of God?”  The inquiry was genuine because of the obviousness of the Provision and Protection it affords.  The inquiry was a sincere desire to draw so near to God that they could walk in His shadow.

In Psalm 27:5, we read, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”  Here the Psalmist identifies the Secret Place of God as being in His Presence and as a place of protection in His tabernacle.  This provides an image of one being in the Holy of Holies legitimately, and the one there was covered with the Shekinah Glory of God, and His Presence ministered to and protected them. 

In Psalm 31:20, we read, “You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”  The secret place is the Presence of God, and in that place, there is protection from wagging tongues and those that desire to harm.  Then in Psalm 32:7, we find, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”  The Psalmist identifies God as our Hiding Place; in that place, we have preservation from trouble and enter an attitude and experience of Praise and Worship.

Would you fear the devil if you could always live your life covered with the Shadow of God?  If you knew that you had a place to run and hide if the flood waters of life were overflowing, would you allow anxiety to steal your faith or dreams?  If you knew that you could have permanent residence in the presence of God, would you not seek to change your address to that location? 

That is the place that the Psalmist identifies as being his abode and place of promise in God.  That produced a faith declaration and a life determination you and I need to learn and reach for.  He said as a result of dwelling in the Secret Place of God and abiding under the Shadow of the Almighty, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” That is a place of confidence and commitment.  That is a place of blessing and victory. That is a place of rejoicing and worship. That is the place where Jesus said He came to provide for us on this earth.

The Psalmist, looking out from under the Shadow of God. From his position in God’s Secret Place, expressed confidence that God would deliver him from the devil’s traps.  He expressed confidence that the pestilence and destruction the devil seeks to send upon us would not penetrate our abode.  He identified a place of living that was so close to God that it was literally under the Strong Right Hand of God.  It was a place in Truth and that Truth protected from all enemies regardless of what they were.  No enemy could succeed in bringing destruction, and although there may be casualties in life, you will not be one because of your Place of Residence in the Secret Place of God. 

He declared that because God is our refuge and dwelling place, we are protected from evil and have an angelic guard watching over us and even lifting us in their hands to keep us from bruising our feet on the rocks of the road of life.  We discover that even the ravenous spirits that would devour and destroy are tamed from this position and condition.  Because of our commitment and dwelling in the Secret Place of God, we have the promise of deliverance in all things and at all times.  THAT IS INCREDIBLE and a Promise that too few believe, receive, and seek. 

Look at the last statement, “With long life, I will satisfy him and show him My Salvation.”  No wonder the Psalmist could declare in Psalm 118:17, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”  God has an assignment for us and has given us Promises and Provisions, including Long Life or Time to fulfill His Purposes and complete our mission in this life.

Rejoice in your promise, move into your place of provision, and become what He declared you to be.  God, bless you richly is my prayer!

YOU ARE DEAD – But Not Dead as In Dead…

Romans 6:11 – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  NKJV

Romans 6 is a fun but challenging chapter for most believers.  The apostle Paul spent a great deal of time dealing with the matter of Law vs. Grace and explaining the purpose of the Law and the beauty of Grace. 

He must have had a wonderful sense of humor, although he may have been stoically serious when he wrote and spoke the words of the first two verses of this chapter.  “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”  Everybody I know, who has received Jesus as Savior, has struggled with sin even after salvation.  Some to a greater degree than others, and some wouldn’t admit it if caught red-handed, but everybody I know has experienced struggle.

Paul went through a lengthy and detailed explanation of our position in Christ through Grace, and the focal point is that YOU ARE DEAD!  You have been Crucified!  You are no longer bound by sin but have been liberated and released from the power of darkness.  We died with Jesus in our Old Man.  The thought of death could be morbid, but Paul says, take heart, saints.  “If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him….”  We are Dead but not Dead as in Dead but Dead as in Alive in Freedom from Sin!  Death and Sin no longer have legal authority over you if you are IN CHRIST through Grace.  Jesus died once so that we might live forever!  Hallelujah!

Paul brings us to v.11, reminds us of the Life and Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and says, “Likewise….”  Just like He did it.  “Likewise, you also….”  This is after the work of grace in your heart and your part in the process.  This is not to get you into grace but because you are in grace.  “…you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

If you are trying to get saved every day, you have not reckoned yourself dead to sin.  You are recognizing and giving validity to sin and acknowledging its power in your life.  Jesus paid the price for our salvation, and IF we have repented of our sins, called up His name, and received His Grace, WE ARE SAVED!  That’s what the Bible declares. 

If we are saved, we are “New Creations, Dead to Sin, and Alive to God.”  We have been Born Again, and in that state, we are Dead but Alive!  Dead to Sin, but Alive to God. That is a determination that we must make.  By our faith declaration and commitment of mind, we determine that based on what God’s Word has declared and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are Dead to Sin…  Dead to Unrighteousness.  Dead to the Old Man.  But we are Alive to God and in God.  You cannot be Dead to Sin and give place to it at the same time. 

Sin either has authority over you or no authority over you.  The devil knows that you have been saved; in God’s eyes, you are no longer bound by sin; YOU ARE DEAD!  However, he knows that he can manipulate, influence, and deceive you if you either do not realize it or do not fully believe it.  He loves it when you struggle every day to believe that you HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN! 

He delights in reminding you of every wrong thought, word, or deed and chides you with, “A good Christian would not do that, think that, or be like that.”  Remind him of the Cross. Remind him of the grave. Remind him of the resurrection.  Remind him that he is a defeated foe and no longer has any legal claim on you, for you are Dead to Sin through Jesus Christ and Alive unto God.  You are Dead but not Dead as in Dead but Dead as in Alive!

Stop allowing the devil to intimidate you and Reckon (determine, judge, esteem) yourself to be Dead to Sin and Alive unto God through Jesus Christ.  That’s what God says about you, so why not agree with God for a change instead of agreeing with the devil?

Blessings abundantly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!


Romans 5:1-5 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  NKJV

This is a compelling declaration by the apostle Paul to the Romans, a declaration we all need to hear, learn, adopt, and incorporate into our lives.  He makes a progression that cannot be short-circuited nor bypassed.  He begins at the starting point of Spiritual Life and progresses to the ultimate of experience and overcoming.

The starting point is Justification by Faith.  If we have not received Jesus as our Savior, we most assuredly do not have the next portion, Peace with God.  Our Peace comes through the finished work of Jesus and comes through the door of faith.  We enter into Grace through Faith, not works or pedigrees.  It is not hereditary. It is faith that opens the door to God’s Grace and Salvation.  It is faith that brings us to a state of Justification.  Without faith, we are told it is Impossible to Please God, and I might add, Impossible to Access God. 

Paul speaks of “This Grace” in which we stand and then the result of “Rejoicing in the Hope of the Glory of God.”  Hope is defined as “to trust, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”  In the Old Testament, several words are translated, Hope.  Jeremiah 14:22 declares, “Our hope is in You.” 

In this case, it means Trust, and he identifies God as worthy of trust.  The Israelites were also encouraged to Wait on the Lord.  Psalm 25:21 declares, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.”  Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”  Jeremiah 8:15 identifies the reality that Looking is akin to Hoping, “We looked for peace, but no good cause came; and for a time of health, and there was trouble!”  In the New Testament, Paul speaks of “setting our hope on God.” (1 Timothy 4:10).  Jeremiah proclaimed that God is the Hope of Israel and Paul declares in 1 Timothy 1:1 that “Jesus Christ is our Hope.”

But Paul did not stop with the beauty of Hope in Christ. He addressed the real-life issue of difficulty, tribulation, trials, struggles, and trouble and said, “…we also glory in tribulations….”  What?  Do you remember the words of James, “Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations…”?  Paul explains his assertion by telling us the benefit that comes to the believer after or during testing in trouble.  It helps us to Persevere! 

I think of the disciples’ words when the crowd left Jesus after He delivered a difficult message.  Jesus turned to them and asked, “Will you also go away?”  They said, “Lord, where would we go? You have the word of eternal life.”  There is no hope, name, or source of salvation, so we must Persevere!   Giving up is not an option.  Paul tells us that perseverance produces or builds character. 

I preached this once and had a man tell me, “Preacher, I could stand a little less character.”  No, we cannot.  We need the development of Christlikeness in our lives, and as we endure trials, we develop a determination to Stand. As we Persevere, we find that Character is developed and produces Hope in our hearts.  Hope can be identified as Trust, Confidence, and Expectation.

The next statement of Paul is incredible and explains something that too many seem to miss.  Hope does not disappoint.  Human hope may and often does, but Hope in God does not disappoint Because…   That’s the key!  Hear what he says, “Because the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Hope is anchored in the Love of God, and as God’s Love is poured into our hearts, our Hope, Confidence, Trust, and Assurance are solidified.  If you are struggling with difficulty and it seems that the flood waters of life are too overwhelming, cry out for More Love, not Less Trouble.

May the Lord richly bless you as you enjoy this day in Jesus!


Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, 5 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  3 … A time to break down, And a time to build up; …5 …A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;” 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”  NKJV

Several years ago, I heard the story of the seven-year-old boy who apparently could not talk.  After his mother served him oatmeal three days in a row, he said, “Yuck, I hate oatmeal.”  His mother became hysterical and ran to him, shouting, “You can talk!  You have not said a word for seven years, and today, you spoke.  Why have you never spoken before?”  He looked at her and said, “Up until now, everything’s been okay.”

Sadly, that is how we do things too often.  It is especially true in many churches concerning their pastors. If everything is okay, nothing is said, but let something go wrong, and you hear them.  I know some pastors who are incredibly effective in their efforts for the local body and the kingdom of God but feel like abject failures.  One wise minister explained it this way:  “We are victims of a system that is too high in expectations and too low in rewards.” 

Some people assume that the minister’s self-image is indestructible.  They expect the man of God to be filled with energy and fresh ideas but fail to give affirmation which is the emotional fuel we all need.  This is true with our children, spouses, employees, etc.  Everyone needs to receive personal affirmation from time to time when things are good, not just criticism that is constructive or destructive when things are not.  In saying this, I do not mean to imply that church members are cold and calloused but are sometimes unaware of the needs of the man behind the sacred desk who carries the mantel of a pastor.

I do not know any Omni-competent Pastors, but I know many flawed vessels who ascribe to that high calling and devote their lives to service.  I read a description of “The Perfect Pastor,” and I honestly do not know who originated it, but it goes like this:

What is the perfect pastor?  He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years.  He is tall, short, thin, heavyset, handsome, and homely; he has one brown eye and one blue, hair parted in the middle, the left side dark and straight, and the right side brown and wavy.  He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with older folks.  He always smiles with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him serious at work.  He makes 15 calls daily to church members, spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched, and is never out of the office.”

Some hold a myth regarding the pastor’s labors, and as I had a person say to me once, “It must be nice to have a job where you only work one day per week.”  He had no idea what my week consisted of and how many hours I spent praying, preparing, visiting, planning, meeting, and ministering to the needy, etc. He saw me once per week (that’s all he came to church), and to him, that was the sum of what I did. 

I have a friend who heard similar statements, and he invited the individual to spend the day with him.  On that particular occasion, there were five emergencies that the pastor was called to and then the regular schedule of the day to be addressed, so when they concluded their day at 10:30 PM that evening, the man was stunned.  He said, “I had no idea!”  

I make no defense for a lazy pastor, but I want to sing the praise of those individuals who devote their lives and expend their energies tirelessly for the service of God.  They deserve our affirmation even when nothing is out of the ordinary, and everything is going well.  Let them hear you in good times, not just in times of difficulty.  Translate that to your families and work as well.

God bless you as you go through this day!


2 Kings 5:9-14“Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So, he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”  NKJV

This account of Naaman, the Syrian Commander, is one of several in the Bible that reflects unrealistic unfulfilled expectations and the problem therein.  Naaman had leprosy, which was a virtual sentence of death.  His wife had a slave girl from Israel, and she said to her master’s wife, “If only my master were with the prophet in Samaria!  For he would heal him of his leprosy.”  Naaman’s wife relayed the information to Naaman, and he, in turn to his master.  The story begins with a letter sent to the king of Israel to heal Naaman. 

Imagine, if you will, receiving a directive from a powerful enemy asking you to do something you could not do.  How would you view it?  The King considered it a provocation to war and was distraught.  Elisha heard of the King of Israel’s hysteria and directed him to send Naaman to him.  Naaman followed the king’s directive, and his entourage proceeded to Elisha’s house, and there the problem brought to light a significant problem and revealed the Problem of Human Expectations.

Elisha told the Commander to go to the Jordan and dip himself seven times.  Naaman became furious, for he considered it an insult for someone of his stature to be instructed to do this.  He expected pomp and ceremony with Elisha standing before the great general, waving his hands over the leprosy and healing him in a dramatic fashion that fit what he considered worthy of someone of his stature. 

He left furious, and one of his servants took his life into his own hands and approached Naaman, asking him what his reaction would have been had Elisha had instructed him to do something great, difficult, or monumental. He would have done it, wouldn’t he? As a result, Naaman realized he had nothing to lose and obeyed.  The result was a complete cleansing of leprosy and restoring his flesh.

Had he allowed his unrealistic and unfulfilled expectations to rule, he would have died in Syria a Leper! How often do we fix in our minds how things should be and proceed to reject everything that does not fit that image and fulfill that expectation? Could it be that we fail to receive answers to our prayers because we predetermine how we expect things to be, and when they do not satisfy those expectations, we reject all else? 

Isaiah 55:9 reminds us that God’s ways are higher than ours, and when we attempt to subrogate our ways over God’s, we are doomed to the realm of unfulfilled expectations.  I see it in relationships, businesses, churches, and spiritually that unrealized, unfulfilled, and unreasonable expectations bring disappointment and failure.  We do not have to live at that address, for we can subject our expectations to God’s will and ways and allow the Holy Spirit to birth in us the purposes of God.

Demanding that others meet our expectations can and often is unrealistic and a catalyst to difficulty.  I am human.  You are human. We are flawed vessels and to expect perfection from flawed vessels is unrealistic.  We need to be like the Naaman who went down into the Jordan, not the Naaman that drove off in a huff, wounded because his expectations were not satisfied.  I am learning more daily how Paul could say he was content wherever he found himself.  His expectations were God, not his preconceived ideas of how things should be.

God bless you as you go through this day!