Glorify God • Magnify Him in this World!

According to…

Scripture
So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38 NET

Observation
Mary received a word from the angel that she was going to become pregnant with the Son of God. This took more faith than many realize.

In those days, a young girl showing up pregnant, was a serious offense. It doesn’t matter that she told everyone that she was pregnant by the “Holy Spirit.” Who would believe that?

No, something like this would cause the village to turn on her, take her out of the city and stone her to death!

She knew this! But still she wanted whatever the Lord wanted for her life, whatever that was going to mean for her, easy or not! She was the Lord’s servant.

Application
We might not get a visit from an angel, but the Lord still calls us for a purpose and to live according to His ways.

Do we respond like Mary, a young teenage girl, who said, “I am Your servant?” Or do we argue, deal and complain to God?

The path that the Lord asks You to walk will require faith. He will stretch you. There are times when you won’t like it. But He knows what He is doing.

He has a plan for your life. That plan will require you to have faith. He gives you opportunities to build on your faith, to prepare you for His plan.

Later, Mary had to have faith to see her Son crucified and trust that God would raise Him from the dead.

As you look back on your life in the Lord, can you identify what He’s been doing to help you grow in your faith? And, what is He doing in your life right now that is requiring faith?

Prayer
Lord, I know I can’t always see ahead to what You have for me. Help me to trust and believe in faith. I know that no matter what the circumstances may look like, You are in control.

Peace
Todd

He’s Your Strength

Scripture
You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you! For God is my refuge, the God who loves me.
Psalms 59:17 NET

Observation
We go through times when this world can really weigh on us. Our responsibilities, but also things that should bring us joy and refreshing can suck the life out of us.

But the Psalmist understood that our strength relies on God, not anything else!

When we finally come to that realization, we will praise Him! We know that IN HIM, we find safety and peace. He is our refuge.

Application
If you don’t plug an appliance into the electrical socket, it doesn’t matter how many times you hit the power button, it won’t work.

So many Christians want God to move in their lives, but don’t plug into the source!

This is not a difficult subject to understand. Get close to God, and He will come close to you.

The problem is when we don’t give the Lord His proper place in our lives, but then become dissolutioned because He isn’t answering our prayers.

He loves you! Get close to Him and let him be Your strength and refuge.

Prayer
Lord, thank You that I can count on You. I thank You that when all else is failing, that You are my strength and refuge. Help me to put my trust in You alone.

Peace
Todd

In the Midst of the Storm

Scripture
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and a violent storm continued to batter us, we finally abandoned all hope of being saved.
Acts 27:20 NET

Observation
When you’re in the middle of the storm, it is so hard to see the other side. Rain, thunder, lightening, flooding, all smacks you right in the face. And when you encounter this scene for many days, it can be overwhelming.

And the feelings one feels when they are in the middle of a storm are real. Depression, hopelessness, no sense of direction…they are all very real because they come from our senses, what we know, see, hear…

The middle of the storm isn’t fun and sometimes, if you let it, it can be deadly.

When you’re in the middle of the storm, you really want to get to the other side. That is your real destination!

On the other side, it is clear, you can see, hope is restored. And eventually, the raging storm is forgotten.

In fact, on the other side, there is purpose waiting for you. In the next chapter of Acts, Paul ministers to the whole island. Many people come to the Lord there!

Hold fast through the storm. It will pass. Look towards what God has for you on the other side. There is purpose on the other side! The storm might take you there, but God will use you.

Application
If you’re in the midst of a storm right now, or the next time you find yourself there, and you will, make sure you buckle down and get closer to God.

It might look bad, but that is the time you press into Him more!

Read your Bible more! Pray more! Listen to online messages, fill your spirit with worship music.

Encourage yourself in the Lord so when you get to the other side, you are ready to move forward and tackle what the Lord has for you.

Don’t let the storm batter and break you! You belong to God. He won’t fail you!

Prayer
Lord, even the storms, let me praise You. Help me to rely on You. You give hope and peace and safety.

Peace
Todd

Awaken the Dawn

Scripture
I am determined, O God! I am determined! I will sing and praise you! Awake, my soul! Awake, O stringed instrument and harp! I will wake up at dawn!
Psalms 57:7-8 NET

Observation
Everyday brings new challenges and concerns. This is true today and this has been true throughout history.

But no matter what the day brings, no matter where we are in history, the Christian’s response should be to turn to God and worship Him as Almighty God.

This isn’t done on Sunday mornings! This is done every morning. David says here that he wakes up in the morning, determined and confident to seek God. Not only that, he does it with music and praise. He stirs himself up! Awake! Awake!

It’s time to wake up and put God first. Everything else… EVERYTHING else…for the believer, is second.

Application
Don’t let the things of this world, the material things and the things that come up in your mind, take your time away from the Lord.

Get up and seek Him! Arrange your time to meet with Him daily! Go to bed earlier, turn off the TV, turn off your cellphone. Do whatever it takes to seek Him!

Don’t let your relationship with God be one that only gets attention when the going gets tough. That is not really the heart of someone who loves God. No, that is the case of someone who is selfish and only want things their way.

Instead, spend time with Him daily. Make an appointment, invest in your relationship, be a lover of God.

He is always there waiting for you!

Prayer
Lord, thank You that I have the privilege to come close and worship You. I desire to always put You first. Help me to be released from the hold of this world and seek You with all my might.

Peace
Todd

Things Above

Scripture
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth,
Colossians 3:1-2 NET

Observation
Our thoughts are so power. Where we allow our minds to go and dwell can have a big impact on how we see the world around us.

If you choose to dwell on the evil around you, people behaving badly, sin that is rampant, etc… without coming from a perspective that it breaks the heart of God, it will take you down a path that will keep you negative and looking at the world.

Instead, Paul says to think about the things that are above. We should be thinking about heavenly, spiritual things.

When we think about things above, it reminds us that this world is temporary and fading away. It reminds us that we have a hope and a future with Jesus in eternity. It reminds us that people need to hear the Gospel and that we should be a part of that.

Where are your thoughts today? Everyday?

Application
It is easy to get caught up in all the junk this world has to offer. We are supposed to live in this world, but not be of it.

Don’t allow this world to have a hold on you. The secret, like Paul said above, is to focus on God, on spiritual things.

This means that you need to be purposeful in how you think and respond. Are you spending enough time with God? Are you reading the Bible? Praying? Going to church?

You can add to the above (but not substitute) by listening to online sermons, listening to Christian music and by NOT filling your heart and mind with other junk.

Ultimately, you want to be lead by the Holy Spirit so that you can help others seek the things above too!

It’s rare in this day and age to be sold out for God. But that is exactly what He wants. And it should be what you truly want too!

Prayer
Lord, help me to desire nothing more but You. Help me to see this world as passing away. Help me to see others as needing to get right with You. And give me the words and grace to share Your love and Good News with them.

Peace
Todd

Making Sense of It

Scripture
I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.
Colossians 2:4 NET

Observation
God sometimes doesn’t make sense! Like really, God needed to send His Son to Earth, to die on a cross and then be resurrected so He could forgive our sins? That doesn’t make sense to people.

We could go further. God put His Spirit inside of us? Really? God took His Spirit and put it inside of us? We now have the Holy Spirit to guide us and leads us here on Earth? That doesn’t make sense.

But who are you to tell God how He should do things? Who are we to question how the Spirit works? Just because we can’t get our feeble brains around it all doesn’t mean that it is not real or the way God works in this world.

He has a reason for doing things His way. He knows best…He is God. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t matter. You don’t limit God’s power in this world by your unbelief. You limit God’s power in your own life by your unbelief!

What would happen if you started trusting the Lord? Would happen if you started to live by faith instead of what you see in front of you?

It’s not easy. You can’t do it on will power alone. You need God’s strength, wisdom and grace.

God does make sense. He does have a reason for doing it His way. Just trust.

Application
We like things wrapped in nice packages that we can open and understand.

God is not always like that. His purpose is to have you grow into the person He desires to see.

We don’t grow without stretching and even without some pain. We need to learn dependence on Him. We need to turn our eyes towards Him.

We don’t always naturally do these things. And when we are in the midst of a storm, we don’t like it.

But remember that you are His and that this world isn’t all there is and that the greatest thing is to know Him more. At this, every argument, discussion, reasonable plan, earthly desire melts away, because it cannot compare to Him.

Prayer
Lord, help me to trust You more, even more than the things I see, hear and think about. Help me to focus on Your plans and desires.

Peace
Todd

Moving Towards God

Scripture
Then some people said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah! There will still be priests to instruct us, wise men to give us advice, and prophets to declare God’s word. Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him! Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”
Jeremiah 18:18 NET

Observation
It is important to remember that the people who are speaking in the above text are religious people!

They rationalized getting rid of Jeremiah, who shared the true Word of God, because there were other priests who could “instruct.”

They were happy to listen to the other priests because they told them what they wanted to hear!

It is the very same today! People will gravitate to someone that tells them what they want to hear.

It must be remembered, the true Word of God, the move of the Holy Spirit, will convict and cause you to make a decision in the way you are living.

You will move closer to God, or you’ll move away from God.

How do you respond to conviction?

Application
Just like in Jeremiah’s time, there are many options and opinions of the way to live the spiritual life. In fact, there might be more today than ever.

If you don’t like what one church is saying, just go down to the next one down the street. You can church hop till you find the one that makes you feel “comfortable.”

In today’s standards, the early church must have had it all wrong. They were run out of town, beaten and killed for their faith.

They were convicted, moved towards God to live holy lives and persevered to the end.

What would happen if Christians moved towards God today? What if they were convicted and then made the change to live holy? What a difference that would make!

Choose to move towards God. Let Him show you what you need to change, then adjust your life towards Him.

Prayer
Lord, my mind and flesh easily want to move towards a life of comfort and ease. My heart and my spirit want to do what You want. Sometimes that is hard. Give me the strength and perseverance to stand strong for what You want for me.

Peace
Todd

Looking Down, Looking Up

Scripture
God looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.
Psalms 53:2 NET

Observation
God takes an active role in what is happening here on Earth. He is looking for those who are wise. But this isn’t a wisdom that many would consider like in academia.

The wisdom that God is looking for and the wisdom He considers are those that seek after Him.

And He does this so that He can use those who seek Him.

So understand that your prayers and petitions to God and your life, the way you live it, are seen by God.

Application
What does God see when He looks at your life from Heaven?

Does He see someone sold out for Him? Does He see compromise? Does He see someone that He can trust and use?

The things of God are eternal. Make sure that you are not replacing the eternal, things that matter, for something very temporary.

What does He see in you?

Prayer
Lord, help me to live my life boldly for You. Help me to prioritize and always put you first. Help me to value eternal things and what matters to You.

Peace
Todd

Is God Mean?

Scripture
“Moreover I, the Lord, tell you: ‘Do not go into a house where they are having a funeral meal. Do not go there to mourn and express your sorrow for them. For I have stopped showing them my good favor, my love, and my compassion. I, the Lord, so affirm it!
Jeremiah 16:5 NET

Observation
Why is God so mean here?

We tend to think of God as a grandfatherly type who will put you on His knee, tells you He loves you and overly smiles. He is all that, but that’s not all.

He told Moses in the giving of the 10 Commandments that He was a jealous God. He will not share His glory with anyone.

When God spoke to the Prophet Jeremiah and related what we read in this verse, God was done with His people. He was rejecting them! Why?

He says in verses 11-12 why.

“11 Then tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. 12 And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me.”

Make no mistake, God loves you and He always will. But He will not share you with any other thing that you put first before Him.

If you do, He will cause you to experience the removal of His “good favor, love and compassion.”

Don’t get to that place. Check your relationship with Him!

Application
The Father wants to bless you and give you good things. But He also wants you to put Him first.

And why wouldn’t you do that? He has given you life, eternal life.

You must see beyond this life! As you live here on this Earth, you must remember that your citizenship is in Heaven. This world and ALL that is in it is temporary. And one day, it will all disappear!

Don’t let this world have a hold on you.

Prayer
Lord, help me to evaluate my walk with You. Help me to remove anything that does not bring You glory. Help me to live my life here on this Earth as a citizen of Heaven.

Peace
Todd

Yeah, We Don’t Talk About This

Scripture
But the evil spirit replied to them, “I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?”
Acts 19:15 NET

Observation
Well this is one Scripture you don’t usually hear preached about in our modern day churches! Why?

Because it freaks people out?

Here, the seven sons of Sceva, Jewish exorcists, tried to use the name of Jesus to cast out a demon. The demon responded… I know Jesus and I’m aware of Paul…but who are you?

Two things…

One, why don’t we hear about demons today? Because we are so much more enlightened? Because those people back then we’re backwards, uneducated, and thought everything that you couldn’t explain was demon possession?

Now we have Science and all that…

But Jesus, the Son of God, cast out demons. Where did they all go?

Two, did you get that the demons could recognize your relationship to Jesus? They definitely knew who Jesus was. And they knew who the Apostle Paul was. Jesus and Paul were known in the demonic world.

But these guys? They were just trying to capitalize on Jesus’ name. What happened? The demon beat them up!

The question you need to wrestle with is… Is there a spiritual world where demons operate and as a result, impact the world we live in?

This is “out there” for many Christians, but what does the Bible say?

Application
Paul wrote that we wrestle not against flesh and blood… Eph.6:12.

There is a war raging in the spiritual world. Churches don’t talk about it because it seems so out there. But it is true. If you believe in Jesus, angels, Heaven and Hell, then there is a devil and his demons too.

We have to realize that sometimes our problems are not coming from the flesh or physical world. Sometimes there is oppression that comes from the spiritual world.

This is even more so the minute you desire to get closer to the Lord. The devil and his demons don’t like that. So a red alert goes out to make sure you get your eyes off of Jesus and onto your situation and circumstances.

But remember, Jesus has already beat the devil and all his demons. And one day, they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

You just need to keep close to Jesus.

Prayer
Lord, thank You for Your protection and provision. Thank You that You are Lord in the spiritual and physical. Help me to stay close to You. You are everything.

Peace
Todd