Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to make good decisions

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

John paced the room like a caged animal looking at the lists he had made and pinned to the walls of his living room. For every good thing on the list, he saw a bad. Everyone told him that this job was the opportunity of a lifetime, but he was scared from head to toe that he was going to make a mistake. He found the promotion hung around his neck like a ball and chain weighing him down. He was losing sleep over it all because he felt his future and the future of his family could hinge on this decision. He wondered how he could make a good decision when his life seems to depend on it.

In such times there is

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Story: David - The Man Who Had God's Heart

Focus: 1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 7

When we consider who to hire as our doctor or mechanic, we often consider their skill and knowledge. We want a doctor who has done this procedure dozens of times and was at the top of their class. We want a mechanic who has worked on this model car with years of experience. They need to get it right. When God looks at a person, he is not impressed with their skill or knowledge. He can give both to any fool. What he cares about is the heart. Is this a person who will be honest and have values? Is this a person who will follow God and believe in God? What stood out with David was his heart. He was a man of character who loved the Lord more than anything else. His early life was dedicated to the Lord.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Overcoming Problems: Planning - It Takes Time

Focus passage: Nehemiah 2:1-10

Our family motto for vacations is “We plan to be spontaneous”. It is our way of saying that we plan out the details of a vacation so that we can be impulsive if we see something that we really want to do or make changes if the weather doesn’t cooperate. We like to have reservations for our campsites and a plan of what we might do at each place we plan to stop at on any vacation. Prayer can be a great time to plan how you are going to tackle a problem or make the most of an opportunity. If you ask questions of the Lord, He will help you see details you might have missed or have everything ready if you get the right break occurs. The planning that Nehemiah prepared him to take a once in a lifetime opportunity. He needed three things if he was going to rebuild the walls.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Story: Samuel and Saul - Be weird!

Focus: 1 Samuel 1-15

A weird lesson from Dave Ramsey - Dave Ramsey has made me weird. I am not in debt and have a budget so that my wife and I manage our money instead of it controlling us. God’s people are weird, too. They aim to be married for life, are willing to make sacrifices for others, and have a set of values that make them the friend you always wanted to have. That makes them weird in an age where people justify bad behavior by saying that “everyone else is doing it”. The story of Samuel and Saul is about a time when everyone wanted to live just like the people around them and God’s battle to make them different. God wanted them to be a moral and godly people who would lead others to a better life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Overcoming Problems: Planning - Active Expectation

Focus passage: Nehemiah 2:1-10

For the want of a burger and fries, Ted missed his plane. 

He was, after all hungry, and so he decided to grab a fast lunch when the woman at the gate said that their flight would be delayed because of a minor mechanical problem. He returned 15 minutes later to see his plane pulling away from the gate. Sometimes, you have to act like you expect a solution any minute. Nehemiah believed that the Lord would rescue the Jewish people. He prayed with confidence and was ready when the opportunity for a solution presented itself.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Overcoming Problems: Compassion - Attitude

Focus passage: Nehemiah 1

With God, attitude is everything. 

I think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18. One man came before the Lord boasting about his stature before God, the other man came with head bowed to humbly seek his Lord. I have watched people in trouble shake their fist and pray to the Lord as if He owed them answers. I have seen people come meekly before the Lord knowing that they don’t deserve His help, but that this loving God will come to their aid. Nehemiah is a man who has stood near the glory of God. He comes humbly to God, but also is confident that God’s character and promises will drive the Lord to help His people. He shows the right attitude for overcoming problems.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Story: Ruth - When You Feel Like God Gave Up On You

Focus: Book of Ruth

We have all met people like Tina. 

In her freshman year of college, she was free of her parents and free to make a lot of bad decisions. There were the parties filled with alcohol and there was the wild boyfriend. She was having the time of her life. Then suddenly she was pregnant and the boyfriend dropped her. All the promise of a great life seemed gone. Seeing no place to go but home, she packed her things and hoped they would accept her. Her parents cried, but they embraced her and welcomed her home. Life could be rebuilt with their love. Ruth is the story of a heavenly Father who embraces a lost family and gives them a future. It shows that our loving Father is always ready to help repair and renew lives.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Overcoming Problems: Compassion - Approaching God

Focus passage: Nehemiah 1

One of the most compassionate things that you can do is to pray for others. 

The question for many people is “what do I pray?” I remember talking to a member of my congregation whose best friend was in the hospital. She desperately wanted the Lord’s help for her friend, but she didn’t know where to begin. Nehemiah gives us some direction on compassionate prayer. Overwhelmed by the problems that the people of Judea were facing, he turned to the Lord. He makes the problems of the Jews his own and reaches out to a God who he knows well. His prayer gives us a pattern for turning to the Lord when problems occur.