Look for Opportunities to Share Christ

Acts 8:30-31

30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Phillip was on his way back to Jerusalem. He had been out preaching the gospel to many Samaritan villages. Phillip had his own plan on how to get back to Jerusalem. God had another plan though and it was revealed through an angel of the Lord. The angel told Phillip to go down a desert road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Phillip is probably thinking I want to get back home. I have been gone for a while and it will be nice to be home for a little while. Phillip listened though. We go through life with our own plans each day, but God might have a better plan that day. God might be putting someone in your path that needs to hear the gospel. God might be putting someone in your path that is struggling.

As Phillip listened he came across a eunuch from Ethiopia. This eunuch was a court official for the Ethiopian queen. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was seeking God’s word. He was seeking what he was missing in life. Many people we come across everyday are doing the same thing. They are seeking God’s love and grace but do not understand what they are seeking or how to find it. They need someone to explain it to them.

God placed Phillip in the path of this eunuch for a reason. God might be placing someone in your path today that needs to hear the word of God. They might be seeking God and do not understand. The Spirit told Phillip to go join this chariot. When he got there, Phillip heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah. Phillip asked him if he understood. He asked how would I understand unless someone guides me.

We must be ready to help people understand the gospel. When we come across people in our lives that are struggling with the gospel we need to be able to explain it to them in a way that makes since. We lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance. You can also show scripture to that person in order to explain what salvation means.

We see the eunuch start asking questions about what he had read. Phillip is willing to answer the questions. Imagine if Phillip had said I do not have time to do this. Imagine if Phillip had said at least he is reading scripture. Phillip could have easily said I want to get home. I am tired and I do not have time for this. Phillip did not do this. He took the time to explain scripture to the eunuch. When he did this he proclaimed Jesus to a lost soul that was seeking God.

We then see that the eunuch accepted Christ. Phillip baptized the eunuch in a body of water that they came across. Phillip listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and it led him to a person that was seeking God. Through Phillip’s faithfulness an Ethiopian came to know Christ that afternoon.

Take away:

  1. God might be leading you to someone that needs to know Him. If this is the case follow God’s lead.

2.  Be ready to explain the gospel to anyone that is willing to listen and is seeking God.

Suffering Produces Hope

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul is telling us to glory in our sufferings. We should take honor in our sufferings and have a thankful heart. We should be thanking God when we face hard times. This seems so opposite of what we are accustomed to. When we face hard times we do not think about thanking God. Some curse God, but most people at the very least start questioning God. Most people want to know why they are facing hard times and if it will end. Paul is telling us to not do that because our sufferings will bring hope in the end.

Think about the last time you were suffering. You might be facing a situation right now that is causing major suffering and heartache in your life. I would almost bet that your first thought was not praise, but it should be. We as humans have emotions that get in our way. We get angry, sad, upset, distressed, or wounded.

As we face sufferings God is going to be working with us and through us. Our patience is going to be tested. There is a saying that God will not give you more than you can handle. Well that is not always true. God will give you more than you can handle. You are going to be tested to the max. You are going to have times where you are not sure how you will survive. God wants you to fully trust in Him. He is building your patience. When you fully trust in Him you are going to persevere.

This perseverance will help develop your character. When you face a hardship you have two choices. The first choice is to suffer. When you suffer your character will show. You will become irritable, grouchy, stressed, you might withdraw from people. The people closest to you will notice your behavior and actions. Your other option is to rejoice in your hardships. Your character will be completely opposite. People will also take notice to your actions. Many times people know you are struggling and they will be surprised at the way you are behaving. Your character will be wonderful.

When our character is based on rejoicing and trusting in God we will have hope. In the book of Job we see Job mention in 23:10 that when he is tested he will come out refined like gold. When we suffer God is taking us through a process in order to refine us. Knowing that God is there with us all the time is enough to provide hope and encouragement.

We can be assured that this hope will not disappoint us. God does not want us to be ashamed of our suffering or be disappointed. He wants us to have full dependence on Him. We need to be so in tune with God that we know what He is doing. We need to always keep our eyes focused on Him. When we face hard times if we are focused on Him we will be prepared to persevere.

Take away:

  1. Sufferings will come and you have two choices. You can curse God or place your trust in Him and give Him glory.
  2. Our suffering is a refining process that God is putting us through.
  3. Our hope in the good times and bad times comes from trusting in God’s plan.

 

Love Everyone

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbor. We are taught that we should love our neighbor. This includes everyone and not just who we choose to love. The world for thousands of years has perverted this law to fit human thought. We have taken the law and changed it to say what God never intended for it to say. We have added that it is ok to hate your enemy. When God said to love your neighbor, He did not give a conjunction. He did not say love your neighbor if. He did not say love your neighbor but. God was saying that we are to love our neighbor unconditionally.

When you look at the definition of enemy it is a person who is actively opposed to someone. As we look around we can see many people that are opposed to someone else. We have seen many people who are opposed to the current political leaders. We have also seen people who are opposed to those people. By this definition many people have created enemies. There have been hateful things said by many people just because they do not agree with someone. Many people who have said these things that are very critical are people who have God in their hearts.

Jesus is telling us to love our enemy. This is so counterculture as we are so accustomed to hating those that oppose. Most people are going to say they do not hate, but are you really showing love if you are making comments that are glorifying to God? Instead of spending time criticizing others because their views are opposite, we should concentrate on listening to the views of others. It is time we have a serious dialogue on many issues in America. We have several issues that have divided us as a country. These issues have caused division because of opposing views. When we listen to each other and open our hearts we are going to have a better appreciation for our neighbor. When we appreciate people we are going to start loving each other.

God also says to pray for those that persecute you. We see that Jesus prayed for those that persecuted Him. When we pray for those that persecute us we are living out an example of Christ. We must pray that God will forgive them. We also must pray that if we have done something to them that God will reveal it to us so that we can seek forgiveness. We also should pray that peace is restored between the two parties.

We are too strive to love like God did. We are to love everyone. Part of loving your enemy is to forgive people. It is God’s nature to forgive. When we have a wrong done to us we should not seek revenge but forgive. This is hard but we will have peace in our hearts. We also show love by showing hospitality to strangers. We also show love by doing good to ungrateful evildoers. We also show God’s love by not responding negatively online when we see something we do not agree with. God’s love will only be shown when we strive to see everyone through the eyes of God.

MAGA

Remember that as Trump takes office it will not be him that makes America great. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that we are already a great county. We must not forget this. If we forget that we are already great we will loose this. 

Second we as citizens must work to keep our county great. We will more impact on our communities then Trump will. I keep hearing about what Trump will do for the innner cities. Well it will be up to the inner cities to change their communities. 

Communities are changed by the people that reside and work in the communities. They must be willing to bring change for the better. Nothing will change if the people of the community will not change. 

Last America will stay great if we continue to love each other. When we love each other we will support our brothers and sisters. This will help heal the divide in our country. 

America is the greatest country. Let’s work to keep it that way. It is not Trump’s responsibility, it the responsibility of every citizen. 

Inauguration Day

Well in less than 24 hours America officially receives a new president. This is a sad day for some while others are excited. I am just excited that we live in a country where there is a peaceful transition of power. 

Donald Trump is a man and therefore will have his faults. We must remember this because there will be mistakes. Trump just like every president before him will make bad, good, and great decisions. We will not always agree with everything that is done. We must move past our differences if we want to keep America moving forward. 

As Trump takes office we need to make every effort to pray for him and his family. We should pray for those that will be in cabinet level positions. We need to pray for those that oppose his decisions. Opposition is good but should never be done because you do not like the other party. We need to pray for God’s guidance and will to be done. 

We must also continue praying for President Obama and his family. This transition will be a time of change for his family. We need to pray for God’s guidance on his life as well. I wish President Obama and First Lady the best in their future endeavors. 

Instead of complaining about Trump we need to give him a fair chance. We need to allow him the opportunity to do what is right. If we are ever going to rise above the division in this country we must learn to work with both sides of the aisle. We have to learn to work on bipartisan support. We have to work on what’s best for America and not what’s best for the next politician trying to be the next president. 

Running On Empty 

How is your week going? Are you starting this Wednesday ready to go? Or, are you already running on empty? We pack so much into our days that we become overwhelmed and we are constantly running on empty. 

When we are empty we not functioning fully the way God designed us to do. Our bodies need rest. We also need to spend time with God and let Him rejuvenate our souls. In Matthew 11 Jesus tells us if we are burdened to come to Him. He says that if we come to Him we will have rest. 

If you find yourself running low on caffeine and energy this morning spend five minutes with God in prayer. Start by praising Him and thanking Him. Then pray for what is burdening your heart. See if this helps fill your soul this morning. 

Love vs. Hate

“I have decided to stick with love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of MLK day on January 16, 2017 I decided to use a quote from Dr. King to write this devotional. This is a devotional for a men’s prayer group that meets on Tuesday morning. There is so much truth in this quote. This quote speaks volumes about where our heart should be when it comes to how we treat each other.

1 John 4:7-13

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Love comes from God. We are told in many places that we are to love one another. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. Paul tells the church in Thessalonica that he should not have to write them because God himself tells us to love one another. If we know God and are born of God then we should love. We are told that if we truly love then we are born of God.

Likewise we are told that if you do not know God then you are not able to love. God is love and we must know Him in order to truly love. We cannot give away something that we do not have. If we do not have God in us then we cannot love, because we do not have love.

We also see that God loved us that He sent His son to die for us. He gave His only son as a sacrifice for our sins. This was done so that we might live through Jesus. God did not do this because we loved Him. He did this because He loves us that much. He did this even though we were still sinners.

We are told that God is love. He loves us. We are able to live through the sacrifice that was made through Jesus because of God’s love. Therefore we should love one another. It is a cause and effect. The cause is God loves us and the effect is that we love each other. If we love one another then God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.

Hate

1 John 2:9,11

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

When you say that you have God then that means that you have love inside you. This love should be seen by everyone that you meet, but this cannot be so if you hate your brother. If you have hatred in your heart then you do not have room for God. God and hate cannot exist.

When you hate you have taken your eyes off of God. You are no longer focused on what God is doing around you. You are no longer walking in light. You are now walking in darkness without God.

Are you loving as God says?

  1. Love God then love your neighbor.
  2. Do not hate those that have difference of opinions then you do.
  3. Have love and compassion for the oppressed.
  4. Love everyone enough that you are willing to share God with them.

New Year = New Resolve for God 

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy
sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be
conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you
may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans  12:1-2

This year instead of making a new year’s resolution that we will forget in the first week, let’s do
something for God. We should begin this year more focused on God than ever before. We can
never go wrong putting our focus on doing what God says.  

The first thing we are told in this chapter is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. When the
Jews presented sacrifices they chose the best of their flock to be presented to God. This was done
as atonement for their sins. The sacrifices were wholly God’s. We need to present our bodies to
God as being entirely His. We do this by living for God.

When a sacrifice was made to God it was done without blemish so that it was acceptable to Him.
When we present ourselves as a living sacrifice it should be done without blemish. Obviously we
cannot be perfect since we are human, but we should strive to be the best we can. We have to
constantly strive to be like Jesus. When we give our lives to God we are to strive to be the best
that we can.  

God is saying do not be conformed to the world. When we conform to the world we are acting in
accordance to prevailing standards and attitudes of the world. We cannot give into the world, but
we should live for God. When we are living for God we are going to show the world what God
can do for them. Instead of complaining about what is going on in the world lets be a light for
God this year. Instead of complaining about the condition of the world, let’s do something about
it. Jesus was very radical in His thoughts and the way He acted. Instead of being like the world
we should be radical and live like Jesus.  

We also need to start this year out with a renewed mind. We are not who we once were. We
know that old things have passed away and have become new. If we have had things in the past
year that have distracted us from God, we need to give it to God. We might need to seek forgiveness from God. We might need to make amends with someone we have hurt. With a
renewed and fresh mind we can put our focus on what God wants to do in our lives.  

With a renewed mind you are able to prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. We
must seek God’s will for our lives. No matter what we want to do with our life, it will never compare to what God wants to do in our life, unless it matches God’s will. We need to pray that
God has His will in our lives each day because His will is perfect.  

Here is a list of four things that we must resolve to do this year

 1. Live for God and not self.

2. Live like Jesus and do not conform to the things of the world that go against His word.

3. Renew you mind and focus on God.

4. Seek God’s will in your life.

If we do these things we are going become closer to God. We are going to be able to be used by
God in ways that we cannot imagine. If we as a local church do this collectively there is no
telling what God will do. Now imagine if every child of God strives to be better at these four  things. 

Work for the Lord.

This is a short devotion I did for a men’s group this week. Do everything for the Lord and do it with all your heart. 

20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the
LORD his God. 21 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:20-21
(NASB). 

When Hezekiah inherited the kingdom from his dad, Ahaz, the kingdom of Judah was in bad
shape. Ahaz had introduced Assyrian cult matter into the temple and worship of the inhabitants.
The people of Judah were discouraged by the political and religious scene that they now faced  because of king Ahaz. In order for the temple to be restored it was going to take a great deal of  work.  

In chapter 29 we see the start of the reformation that King Hezekiah was going to put into place
at the beginning of his reign. The bible tells us that he did what was right, just like David. The
first thing that Hezekiah did was open the doors to the house of the Lord. Worship in the temples
had been neglected and in some ways it had been abandoned. Hezekiah started encouraging the
Levites to do their duties. He was encouraging the Levites to do what is right and do it unto the
Lord.  

We see the priests then work hard at purifying the temple. They had to clean the dirt and
cobwebs that built up while the temple was closed. The problem is, this is stuff that should have
been done, but the priests had been neglecting this. They were not working for the Lord as they
should have been. Then they removed the altars that had been built to the idols.  

Since they had neglected their work for the Lord, they were now in a position in which they had
to work harder. When we neglect our duties we let things build up and have to work harder to try
to correct what we have neglected. We should never neglect what God is telling us to do.

As soon as the temple was ready Hezekiah went and his heart was set on the work that had to be
done. Burnt offerings and worship were being restored because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness to do
what is right for God. People were acknowledging their sins. Hezekiah also calls on them to
continue their work in the temple and not neglect the worship.  

In chapter 30 we see Hezekiah still working hard for the Lord. The people of Judah wanted to
observe Passover but they had missed the time allowed to celebrate it. However Hezekiah found
a provision in the Law of Moses that allowed anyone that was unclean in the first month the  ability to keep it on the 14th day of the second month. There as a lot of preparation in order for  this Passover to be successful. All of Judah and Israel were invited to the celebration. Hezekiah
was not doing this for his glory but He was doing it because it was right in the eyes of God.  

In chapter 31 we start to see the fruits of this hard work that had been occurring. After the
Passover all of Israel went out and broke the sacred pillars, wooden images, and altars that had been erected and were still standing. Then Hezekiah worked to restore the divisions of the priests
and the Levites. He worked to restore the tithes so that the priests could be paid for their duties.
He developed a system in order to keep the tithes safe until they could be paid to the priests.  

Through Hezekiah’s faithfulness and hard work we see faith restored in Israel and Judah. We see
idolatry removed from the temple worship. We see the priests and Levites back doing the work that they are ordained to do by God. When you neglect what you are supposed to do for God you
might be keeping someone else from receiving a blessing. The priests had neglected their duties
and people were no longer worshipping God until this reformation.  

Take away:

1. Do what is good, right, and true before the Lord.

Hezekiah did what was right. We all know what is right and true. We need to do our best
to follow God’s guidance and not our own. If we do what is right we cannot go wrong.  

2. Do everything unto God.

Do not do anything for your own good. Do not do things for your glory. When you do
something make sure that it is for God. If you are not doing what is good, true, and right  it will not be for God, it will be done for you. 

3. Do it with all your heart.

When you are doing something for God you must fully devote yourself to it. Imagine if
Hezekiah had halfhearted done this work as king? If he had not been focused on doing  the will of God, he could not have been used in such a mighty way. 

Happy Anniversary 

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was on a Saturday fourteen years ago.  I was twenty years old and I was about to make the biggest decision of my life. This decision was a lifelong commitment. 

When I got up that morning I had one goal. That goal was to marry Brandy Melissa Clemons. I was a nervous wreck but I knew I was making the right decision. This was a decision that I had prayed about and felt I was doing the right thing. 

Over the fourteen years we have been married we have had our ups and downs. We have had our disagreements but in the end we still love each other more than we did the day we said I do. 

Marriage is a beautiful gift that takes work to maintain. It takes both of you putting effort into it to make it work. It also takes putting God in the center of the union to have a healthy relationship. 

God has given us some great times in our marriage. When we bought our first house Brandy decided we would rip the carpet up and redo the hardwood floors. Now I did not think this was fun at the time because I did the majority of the work. Looking back on it I really enjoyed it because we did it together. Neither one of had a clue what we were doing but we did it. The floors turned out beautiful. We make a great team. 

Many times we did things like this and I look back and think I am so lucky. I have a beautiful wife that loves to spend time with me and our children. There are two important things I have learned about marriage over the past fourteen years. Put God first. Make time for God. Second make time for each other. Take every opportunity you have to make special memories. It could be as simple as going to the grocery story, but make every moment special.