God's Word is Powerful

God's Word is Powerful

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


When I was in high school I went through some pretty heavy discipline.  Everyday for around 3 hours I would run the stadium steps, lift weights, run wind sprints, do suicides and fourth quarter drills till I was exhausted.  I hated it - and yet I loved being able to play into the 3rd overtime during a game and not be tired.  Our coach was a man who believed in ultimate value of DISCIPLINE - and he was serious about it.  And anyone who was NOT serious about the discipline necessary to play ball for him did not make the team.  As I was reading in Hebrews 12 the thought that God brings His DISCIPLINE into the lives of His children came through clearly. 

Hebrews 12:5-7 (NET) And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s DISCIPLINE or give up when He CORRECTS you. [6]  “For the Lord DISCIPLINES the one he loves and CHASTISES every son he accepts.” [7]  Endure your SUFFERING as DISCIPLINE; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not DISCIPLINE?

I think that in the past I have interpreted these verses through the eyes of a child who has been disobedient and is suffering punishment.  Certainly punishment for wrong doing can be part of God’s discipline the word CORRECT means to rebuke and CHASTISE (vs. 6) means to punish.  But the word DISCIPLINE can also mean to nurture, correct and instruct.  The hard part is that the FORM the Discipline takes many times is the SUFFERING (vs. 7) that we go through. 

Contrasting Parents and God the writer to the Hebrews says...

Hebrews 12:10-11 (NET) ...they DISCIPLINED us for a little while as seemed good to them, but He does so for OUR BENEFIT, that we may share His holiness. [11]  Now ALL DISCIPLINE seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it PRODUCES the fruit of peace and righteousness for those TRAINED by it.

Good parents do their best to discipline their children but God like the perfect parent - OR - the masterful coach brings DISCIPLINE into our lives using it to TRAIN us SO THAT we will have a harvest of godliness.  Once I started seeing the things God brought into my life from that perspective - I was much more willing to see them and embrace them as for MY good.  The discipline my coach force on me trained me so that I could play at full strength all the way to the end of the game.  God TRAINS us through the discipline of hard and painful things SO THAT we will be able to FINISH the race which He has place before us.  (Heb. 12.1-2). 

PRAYER: Lord God please help me to remember that You are doing all things in my life for my benefit and good.  Lord, I long to finish each day well - in a way that really does honor You.  Help me to see the hard things that come along as part of your discipline in MY LIFE to strengthen me and encourage me.  Thank You.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Have you every worried about what some one else might think?  Of course not Christians are not supposed to worry - we are only concerned.  Let's be honest - call it whatever you want - but anytime we think more of what a person may think about us rather than what God thinks about us we are on shaky ground. Let's look at these verse.

Proverbs 29.25 (NET)  The FEAR of people becomes a SNARE, but whoever TRUSTS in the Lord will be set on HIGH. 

Proverbs 9.10 (NET)  The beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD, and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.

"If you fear what people might do or think that controls your life. Fearing people is like being in a TRAP there is no freedom no security.  Being set on high is a military term: it is to find a defensible position a place of safety and security. It is to have the high ground a fortress that cannot be breached." NET Notes 

When we put ALL our Trust and Confidence in God that is what sets us free and gives us safety and security. The choice is ours: will we give in to fear and doubt and allow our confidence in God to drift away? OR will we turn away from the TRAP of seeking the approval of men?  When we put ALL our hope in God - when our Confidence is in Him then we do not have to fear the opinion of men.  When His opinion is what REALLY matters most in our lives then we can be free from the snare of FEARING the opinion of men. 

The Contrast between FEAR of men Pr. 29.25 - and the FEAR of the Lord is huge. A different Hebrew word is used in Pr. 9.10 it means worshipful submission, reverential awe and obedient respect.  If we are scared of men it is a trap.  But if we truly FEAR the Lord that will mean we will NOT be scared of the opinions of men.  We will put our confidence and trust in God alone.  We will submit to Him and Obey His Word.  We will weigh every opinion of man against God’s Word.  And we will stand on God’s Word.  

PRAYER: Lord, help me to turn to You in Confident Trust no matter what I am going through no matter what others may think or say.  Help me to Trust You and to Trust Your Word above all things.  May what you think of me matter more than anything else. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


There I was laying on the table waiting for the technician to try to stuff me head first into that tiny metal tube.  Yep you guessed it I was getting an MRI.  For the most part I am not claustrophobic but there is something about being stuffed into a metal tube and being told not to move that give me all kinds of abnormal feelings.  And as the started to push me in and I had to roll my shoulders in because they would not fit and when I opened my eyes and saw the top only an inch or two above my nose my feelings were screaming at me - this is awful you will never be able to put up with this.  At that point I had a choice - I could lay there and say over and over in my mind I hate this - when is this going to be over?  Why does that awful machine have to be that close to my face?  OR I could change my focus entirely.  Admit to myself that though I would rather NOT being doing this - it had to be done.  So rather than let my feelings rule and make me panicky, fidgety, or even ornery I started to focus my heart and mind on something completely different.  I closed my eyes and started to review verses - then I tried to remember words to praise songs - then I prayed.  I did not do any of those things exceptionally well but I was able to make it through the test.  Don’t get me wrong I am not going to sign up to get this done again anytime soon. But there was a change in me.  The moment I looked to God and sought His help rather to focus on my feelings and the external situation things changed. Let’s look at these verses...

PSALM  13:1-6 (NLT)   O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? [2] How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? [3] Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.  [4] Don't let my enemies gloat, saying, "We have defeated him!" Don't let them rejoice at my downfall. [5] But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. [6] I will sing to the Lord because He has been so good to me.

What we Feel in NOT always the Truth.  Feelings that we experience are not always based on the reality or the truth of a situation. Once when I was visiting an elderly person it became very clear that all they could see in their life at that moment was the bleakness of their surroundings and the hopelessness of their situation.  I tried to give some encouragement but finally I challenged them to stop and honestly evaluate the what was happening in their life.  They needed to honestly look at ALL that was happening around them and then to start a Blessings List.   I wanted to change their focus from circumstances and feelings - to God.  The challenge was to start to remember the TRUTH that God is ALWAYS with us.  In this Psalm David complained for four verses then stopped - and stated the truth in vs. 5.  The Truth is that God is a God of UNFAILING LOVE. Then he goes on and makes two statement of purpose based on that truth.  David says “I trust in” that amazing love of God’s which never fails. “I WILL sing” about the Lord’s GOODNESS to me.  Wow what a contrast.  All because of a shift in his focus. Rather than focus on his feelings - he focus on the Truth of God’s Love and care for him. The old song reminds us to focus on God in this way.

            Count your blessings, name them one by one,
            Count your blessings, see what God has done,
            Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
            And it will surprise you what the Lord Has done.

PRAYER:  Lord God, help me always to remember the TRUTH... You are a GOOD GOD.  Help me to count my MANY BLESSINGS, before I start to count the troubles I am facing.   Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


When I get my hair cut I sit in a chair and allow the barber (Carol) to do what she needs to do.  She does not want my active participation in the process. She wants me to sit still and to do only what she tells me to do turn your head, lift your chin.  She wants me to do what she is telling me to do.  She wants me to be a passive recipient of what she is doing rather than an active contributor to this event.  My dentist says the same thing - sit still and let me do my work.   Being passive is a good thing in a dentist chair - or - the barber chair.  However, being passive is NOT a good thing when it comes to our interaction with our world - our culture.

Romans 12:2 (HCS) Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

What does it mean to be conformed? Conform is defined as: to do what is accepted -OR- to be or become similar in form, nature, or character. When you conform to something it means that you accept what is happening and do not try to stop it or fight against it in anyway.

The word Paul uses here has a passive sense to it.  It is as if  the world it trying to shape us in a direction DIFFERENT than what God wants - and we allow it to happen.  It is being PASSIVE as apposed to being ACTIVE in our pursuit of God.  I love how JB Phillips translates this verse:

Romans 12:2 (JBP)   Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

So as a Christian - one who is seeking to grow in my walk with the Lord - what must I do so that the world DOES not conform me or SQUEEZE me into its own mold?  I must be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of my mind.  HOW?  That takes God’s Word and the Holy Spirit working from the inside out - changing my heat, my mind, my motives, my attitudes.  If I want to change - if I do NOT want to be molded by the world - then I MUST be Transformed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  If I want to walk in a way that is worthy of Jesus and His sacrifice for me - I will NOT be passive - I will NOT let the world squeeze me into the shape it wants.  Instead I will pursue the Lord through His Word by His Spirit with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please keep on using Your Word in my life.  Holy Spirit please keep shaping me through Your leading and Your Word.  Lord, God do not let me become passive in my walk with You.  Please keep on drawing, and prompting me into a deeper walk with You.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Have you ever thought that you did not need the instructions that came with the item you had just purchased?  So you set them aside and started to assemble the item only to discover you had made a mess of it?  I've been there and done that - eventually I had to take it ALL apart and start over. If that is true in general why do we think we can make our lives work apart from God and His Word? I was talking with some one a few years ago and trying to encourage them to start reading their Bible.  They said things were going badly in their life and that they really wanted to change.  I encourage them, challenged them, and offered to meet with them.  But in the end they did not pursue their relationship with God and eventually they drifted away.  Making the extra effort of seeking out instruction - pursuing God through His Word seemed to them - too high a price to pay.  So they did NOT make the investment of time and effort necessary. Or to say it more strongly they DESPISED God's Word and the difference it could have made n their lives. To despise something is to hate it it or dislike it very strongly.  Look at what Proverbs says about instruction.

Proverbs 13.13 (NET) The one who despises instruction will pay the penalty...

Do I REALLY want to GROW? Am I willing to pay the price SO THAT I will grow and mature in my walk with God?  It is impossible to grow in our Faith apart from a willingness to be IN the WORD of God.  By that I mean way more than just daily devotions.  That is the base and the starting point.  But it cannot end there.  I must VALUE God's Word enough to study it - to study it with others - as well as to learn with others as I take in the teaching of God's Word.  Do I take time to THINK about God's Word - MEDITATE on it looking at it from every angle?  Do I make the effort to try and memorize or learn those verses that I want to impact me?  This Proverb reminds me that if I do not seek to learn and grow I am DESPISING instruction and I will pay the price negatively.  So if we are NOT getting into God's Word regularly - if we REFUSE to listen to instruction from God's Word and godly people who want to pour into our lives then we WILL pay the PRICE in our lives. 

PRAYER: O Lord, please keep me close help me to be IN YOUR WORD - help me to receive instruction from those who are seeking to impact other with YOU WORD. Please Lord God help me NEVER to despise instruction.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The burglary of our building last Sunday took me completely by surprise. I was very troubled as I pulled up to church and saw a small group waiting outside for the Police to clear the building.  I became even MORE troubled as I walked with the Police officers into every room trying to see what had been stolen or damaged.  We had planned a very unique service for that day - special baptism, ordination service, Mexico team testimonies and yet this had changed everything.  OR had it?  The question was did it catch God by surprise?  The answer of course is NO.  So as I sat their Sunday morning and we were getting ready to start the service... I was trying desperately to stop asking questions and simply WORSHIP God.  After all NOTHING had changed.  God was STILL God - God would still KEEP His Promises.  As I have been privileged to be at the Moody Bible Instituted Pastors Conference this week I have had the chance to Re- Focus.  Yes I have been on the phone with Janet at the office and the insurance company - but my heart, and soul, and mind have been challenged to FOCUS on God who is never caught by Surprise.  Here are some thoughts that may encourage you as they did me in light of last Sunday’s events.

1 Samuel 17:8, 10-11 (NLT) Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. ...I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.

Goliath an enemy of YAHWEH the promise making and promise keeping God of Israel was taunting the Israelites.  Challenging them to fight and disrespecting their God.  The response of King Saul and Israelites - of course they focused on God and sought His strength and help.  WRONG - they were terrified and did NOTHING.  For forty days the taunting and disrespecting of the God and Israel went on and neither the king nor any of his men called out to God.

David arrives with a NEW perspective - he was NOT seeing the giant he was seeing the POWER of Yahweh.  God had protected him in the past and David expected God to protect him in the FUTURE.

1 Samuel 17:37 (NLT) The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!...

David heads out to FACE Goliath TRUSTING in God’s Power...

1 Samuel 17:41-47 (NLT) Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt...  Am I a dog, he roared at David, that you come at me with a stick?  And he cursed David by the names of his gods.  ...David replied to the Philistine, You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies - the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you... and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Goliath with all his power, strength, and sneering contempt was no match for David, a stone, and the God of Israel.  Saul and his soldiers saw a giant - David saw God.  Saul and the armies of Israel had been paralyzed by FEAR of men - David was full of the FEAR of the Lord and as such could go and face Goliath and be victorious.  WHY?   The battle was the Lord’s - He was in control of every part of it including the trajectory of one stone slung by a shepherd.  What an amazing awe inspiring God we have.  He is Worthy of ALL of our worship, adoration, praise and thanksgiving. Even in midst of troubled times - Our God is KING - He is Sovereign over all things and we can REST completely and totally in HIS promises.

PRAYER: Lord God thank You that NOTHING - is beyond Your comprehension - nothing is beyond Your control.  Thank You that not one thing, not one word, not a single action or attitude ever catches you by surprise.  Lord I want to submit to You - Your plan and I long to see things around me always with Your Promises in view. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Have you ever felt like quitting?  Have you ever been so tired or discouraged that you just did NOT want to continue?  If we are honest we have all been through something at one time or another that made us wonder if it would not be smarter to just walk away. I usually went through that the first week of two a day practices for the basketball season.  When I was sore and tired and had blisters on my feet there were times I briefly consider quitting.  But I knew that in a few of weeks I would be in great shape and I would enjoy playing in the games so I kept on going.  In my walk with the Lord Jesus there are times I feel tired - discouraged - hopeless.  There are times when I wonder if I can keep going or sometimes even if I want to keep going.  In those dark times I go back to passages like this.  I go back to verses that remind me the Christian life is NOT a sprint - it is NOT quick and easy - it is a marathon.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) ...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. [2] We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. [3] Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Hebrews 12:3 (HCS) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.
These verses are some of the most comforting and challenging all at the same time.  We are reminded that we are ALL running the race - the race which is the Christian life.  We are reminded we are NOT alone and that many others have run before us.  Then we are give very, very practical advice so that we can RUN WELL.  Take OFF everything that hinders: Put aside anything that gets in the way of running the race.  Take off anything that can slow us down, or trip us up.  “Our race is NOT for sprinters. It is for faithful PLODDERS who fast or slow strong or week keep on PERSEVERING.”  RUN with Perseverance: Run with endurance refusing to give up or quit. “Perseverance has nothing to do with GIFTEDNESS, but everything to do with your heart and determination.”  Run the RACE God chooses for you: Each of us must run the race. I cannot run the race for you and you cannot run my race for me. “We can finish well if we choose to RELY on Jesus who is our Strength and our guide.”  We can keep on going enduring and running by putting our FOCUS on Jesus: He saw the end goal of providing forgiveness of sins and being seated once again at His Father’s right hand so He went to the Cross for us.  REMEMBER Jesus endured Hostility for us: We must think about the price that He paid on the cross for us SO THAT we will not get discouraged and give up.  When we FEEL like quitting when we think we cannot go on we MUST go back to Hebrews 12 and refocus our hearts and minds on Jesus SO THAT we can hang on.  Persevering grit possesses a terrible beauty, but it is eternally beautiful when devoted to the real-life spiritual race that is marked out for us.  The sense of biblical perseverance is patient fortitude, patiently gutting it out. Perseverance that refuses to be deflected, overcomes obstacles and delays, and is NOT stopped by discouragement within nor opposition without.”  

PRAYER:  Lord God, thank you that I do NOT have to run this race alone.  Thank You that I can look to You for encouragement and strength. Please Lord Jesus, help me to hang on tight and keep on plodding no matter what.  Please Lord don’t let me quit.  Keep me going.  Amen.

 All quotes from R. Kent Hughes. Disciplines of a Godly Man

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I really enjoy seeing how beautiful the snow makes everything look.  I do not even mind driving in it.  But moving it from point A to point B - well that is another matter. A snow drift can look pretty until you have try to move it out of the way.  Who would have believe that those tiny fluffy flakes could join together into such a heavy shovel full. Yet there I was moving snow from my driveway to the yard. I was OK with it - but not really excited or joyful - OR enthusiastic about the process. I was thankful my little electric snow blower was working and could handle the job.  I was very thankful to be done and then a neighbor plowed the street several times with his plow and he filled the end of my driveway with deep snow - again ... not one single happy thought crossed my mind at that moment.  It wasn't until later that I was able to get my attitude right. 

Part of what we all face in life are tasks or work which needs to be done.  How we do that work (no matter what that work may be) matters to God.   Martin Luther writing about the God's view of work said this: "Your work is a sacred matter - God delights in it - and through it He wants to bestow His blessings on you." Let's look at these verses together.

Colossians 3:23-24 (HCS)  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

In this context Paul is giving instructions to slaves who are Christians. So he is not referring to someone who is well compensated for doing a job they love. He is talking about doing their jobs in such a way that the Lord would be proud of them for their efforts and their attitudes.  Paul reminds them that they are not only serving their owners they are serving the LORD Christ. No matter what the task may be,  or what work I must do, I can have it as my goal to “do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord.”  After all whether shoveling snow or vacuuming the floor - whether changing a diaper or going to my job - I must remember it is the LORD Christ I am serving.

PRAYER: Lord God I do not always enjoy the jobs or tasks that I have to do.  But I do want to respond to whatever situation I face by doing it for YOU.  Help me to be able to remember that I can honor you with my attitude and my Effort no matter what the task may be.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. That may be true on a very basic level especially if you have a really thick skin and if the person saying harsh things to you is not important to you.  That being said the words spoken to us by people who matter to us, by people whose opinion we value, can have a huge impact in our lives. They can encourage us and give us hope -or- they can crush us and wound us deeply.  James warns us about the POWER of our words.

James 3:5-8 (NET) Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze.  And the tongue is a fire! ...no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image.  ...These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. 

Commenting on these verses Hughes says this: Those who misuse their words are guilty of spiritual arson. ...The uncontrolled tongue has direct pipeline from hell.   So what hope is there? If no human can control the tongue then why even try?  I Love the fact that the Lord Jesus tells us how we can make sure there is a change in the words that come out of our mouths. 

Luke 6:45 (NAS) The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

What am I storing up in my heart - those things which lead to godliness - or things which lead to worldliness? What am I treasuring in MY heart?

Luke 6:45 (NLT)  ...What you say flows from what is in your heart.

If I want to change the way that I speak.  If I want my words to have an impact on others for good.  Then I must fill my heart and mind with GOOD things.  I must saturate my heart and mind with God’s Word as well as anything else that is godly and uplifting.  If we watch, read, or listen to anything that is full of bad language even if we NEVER use bad language ourselves it is in our minds and at moments of stress it will pop to the surface.  So I must guard what I put into my heart and mind.  Garbage in - Garbage out is true of programming and using computers.  It is even more true of the things that we put into our hearts and minds.

PRAYER: Lord God please give me YOUR words to speak.  Keep me from spewing nonsense or sinful words when I am upset, depresses, angry, or stressed out.  Please Lord Jesus help me to fill my mind with those things which are good and wholesome and pure.  Lord please take control of my mind and my mouth.  May I honor YOU with my thoughts and my words.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I am married to am amazing woman.  Carol has been, and continues to be, the one who encourages me, believes in me, and challenges me, to pursue God.  She challenges me to be REAL and to LIVE OUT my love for God in practical ways.  I love the fact that after 35 years of marriage there are times that I do not even bother to ask Carol about something because I know what she will say. There are also many things that regularly take my by surprise.  So each day is a new adventure, she is always changing and growing, and always fresh and new.  And I love that.  Looking at Romans 12:1 is little like that.  There is so much there that I already get and understand - and yet it is new and fresh each time I look at it.  Let’s look at it together:

Romans 12:1 (NET)  ...I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice - alive, holy, and pleasing to God - which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 (HCS) ...by the mercies of God, I urge you  to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,  holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

God's amazing Mercy is the basis of this command.  Jesus died paying the price for ALL my wickedness from my sinful thoughts, to my twisted motives, my harmful words, to ALL my sin-filled actions. Though I have earned condemnation I was offered Forgiveness.  My response should be to GIVE myself to God each and every day.  If I do it can be one of the ways I worship God.  MacDonald said it this way: “...as believer-priests, we do not come to God with the bodies of slain animals but with the spiritual sacrifice of yielded, SURRENDERED lives." Watts expressed it this way: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my ALL.”

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your extravagant, lavish Mercy.  You have forgiven the unforgivable in me, thank You.  Please Lord God I offer myself to You today as a sacrifice that is ALIVE, a sacrifice that is on-going.  May I be pleasing to You today.  Please accept my offering of myself as an act of worship.