Monday, July 31, 2006

1 Corinthians 10:13

“Everyone does it, and they haven’t had any problems…”

“Well, what was I supposed to do? It’s sitting right there in front of me…”

“I couldn’t help myself…”

“Well, God made it; so that makes it okay, right?”

“The devil made me do it.”

Temptation.

It comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and voices. It is something that is all around us and permeates our daily life. We have all kinds of excuses like those listed above, and a thousand others. We use smokescreens and slight of hand trying to justify our own desires and wants.

But in the end, it’s all just smoke and mirrors. God said that we would be tempted. He said that times would come that would test our mettle; test our devotion to Him and His word.

1 Corinthians 10:13- “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

What does that mean to you? To me, it means that sometimes, God removes the hedge. Sometimes, God allows us to be tempted; and it is not our right to question why. (Read Job to see that.)

We need to just have faith and trust in Him and His word. We need to remember that He loves us deeply and would never, ever, EVER do anything to hurt us. He is perfect, and He seeks our perfection.

Temptation comes along, and instead of confronting it with the Word (as Jesus did in the desert), we want to fight it tooth and nail. We want to make war with it and wrestle it to the ground. There’s an old saying, “If you wrestle with a pig, both of you will get dirty and the pig likes it.”

When we wrestle our temptations, the enemy likes it. I think it’s because it takes our eyes off the prize. We forget our purpose and Whose child we really are.

What are you wrestling with today? I’m wrestling with my job. I’m wrestling with my wife’s illness. I need to step back and glorify Him and what He has done in my life to make me stronger, instead of whining and crying and complaining.

What about you? What temptation have you not spoken words of life to today? What in your life has taken the focus off of God? Put your life in perspective, and re-align your priorities. Put Him back into the center. Come back to heart of worship; remember your first love.

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Monday, July 24, 2006

James 1:2-4

Do you ever feel like you are all alone with what you are going through? Like no one else is going to understand and empathize with you? As Christians, we can feel like that quite a bit.
This verse is going to hit some of us right where it hurts, because we are taught by the world not to look for this at all. You'll know when you read it.


James 1:2-4- "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."


What are we taught NOT to do by the world? We are told to NOT pray for patience. We don't want to do anything that causes us to go through trials. Trials suck.


We just want everything to be hunky-dory. We want God to teach us how to live; we just don't want it to hurt. We don't want to go through pain. Nope, just bypass that kind of stuff, God.
How many of you, as a child, learned the hard about not sticking a penny in a light socket? How about not sticking your tongue to something metal in the dead of winter? How many times have you rolled the dice about not getting caught speeding?


Patience is defined as "tolerance of delay or incompetence." Sometimes we have to be tolerant of others incompetence. Other times, we require others to be tolerant of our own. I think we fall in the second category more than we care to admit.


Patience is not taught; it's learned. It's a resource you never really learn to use until you are put in situations that require it. And God is exceedingly efficient at helping us to learn patience. Why? Why does God want us to learn to exercise patience?


Honestly, I don't know. We'll know when we see Him in the hereafter. But I think it's to help us get along with each other down here. See, if I realize that EVERYONE may be going through a trial of some sort, I'll be a bit more understanding of them and their situation. I'll be able to look beyond my petty feelings, and see the pain they may be going through. I'll see them through the eyes of God.


And maybe, just maybe, they'll see my example, and learn from it. They'll say, "Wow, if God can do that for him/her, I know He can help me." And if I see it, then I'll know that God has not left me alone with all my troubles.


It's kind of flippant, but God loves us. And sometimes, He loves us enough to allow things to come our way which seem terrible and horrible for a time, but bring us out the other side as better people.


What can we, your brothers and sisters in Christ, help you through today?


Be blessed in the Lord,
Bo J.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Isaiah 65:24

So, it’s like this today with the memory verse. I know you people are tired of hearing me voice how God is moving in this. I know you are tired of the constant, “I had this in mind, but God had this other plan, and it is so cool! He went completely another way….”

You know what? I don’t care how tired you are of hearing it. I love it when God takes something I do, and uses it in a way that I think is just neat.
As I was describing earlier, I had another Bible verse in mind. But, horror of horrors, I had already done that verse. I mean, I had the whole thing written out in my mind. I had the epic start, the build-up to the verse, and then the colossal finish.

Great, just great; now what do I do?

As some of you may know, I have verses written out on index cards in preparation for memorizing them by repetition. I had the card for the verse I was going to use today, and another verse that I just heard the word, “Wait.”

The first one was the verse I was already planning on using. (I'm NOT going to tell you the verse.) I then read the second card and it made me laugh.

Isaiah 65:24-“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

I don’t get it, Bo? What’s so neat about that?

Before I had realized that I had already used that verse, God had given me another. And He had a plan about how to use it.

How are your plans progressing? How are you faring in this thing called life? Do you know that God already has an answer, even before you speak the problem?

You’ll notice that in the verse, God says, “…before they call...” and “…while they are still speaking…” That doesn’t mean God knows what we need before we need it (which He does) and He will just give it to us. It means that God still wants us to verbalize (prayer) and glorify (speak), even when we don’t think it will work.

It means to be patient and devoted in prayer, knowing that God will answer it because of Who He is, and how He feels about us.

Trust in Him to do the right thing, at the right time.

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

1 John 1:9

What is the first thing you think of when you see/hear the word “sin”? Most of us will immediately begin seeing things in our own lives, and rationalizing those things out as NOT sin. We will begin to grade our lives and compare ourselves to those around us. It’s then that we begin to look down on others, and be like the Pharisee who entered the temple and looked down on the tax collector.

I realize that this is going to be somewhat controversial, but here it goes; we ALL sin.

We can rationalize it; we can minimize it; we can explain it away however we want. But the bottom line is we all sin. (Look at 1 John 1:8). I believe that we all sin, but after salvation, I don’t live in the sin LIFESTYLE which I did before I was saved.

You see, we sometimes get caught up in the trap of using our own value and judgment system for sin. We “grade” sin, and say that we are okay because we are not doing this or that.

God never said that there was a system in place like the one we use. He stated that there is sin, and there is righteousness, period. No gray line, no ambiguity. Sin is sin is sin.

So what do we do then, if we all occasionally sin, as the Bible says we are wont to do? What do I do when I find myself having done something which I know is wrong? REPENT.

Yes, it’s just that simple. Repent, and turn away from it. Realize that you are human (still), and still learning this thing called walking with Christ.

1 John 1:9- “IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In verse 8, you are told that it is foolish to think that you do not sin. In verse 9, we are told to confess our sins. Not to make excuses for them.

Don’t get caught up with looking at those around you. Don’t compare yourself with them, and think, “I wish I could be as righteous as him/her.” It’s a trap; a lie of the enemy. Everyone has their own thing to deal with; the enemy just wants you to BELIEVE you are alone in it.

Don’t embrace a sinning lifestyle, either. Don’t think that salvation gives you free will to just do whatever you want with impunity. Consider your actions; and if/when, you do sin, repent. Don’t wallow in it, just give it over to God, and be done with it. And the next time a similar situation comes, you can stand strong.

I say this to encourage you in your walk. Have faith in God, He will see you through. I am no better than anyone reading this letter; but I am saved, and I have hope. It’s better than having none at all.

Be blessed in the Lord,
Bo J.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hebrews 10:23

I don’t know what to tell you.
I have no idea what to say to you today.
I know that there is a lot going on in your life right now. I know you have absolutely no idea how you are going to make it until tomorrow.

I know that.

I know that life seems like a dream, and you are begging, crying, screaming, and pleading to wake up. You just want it to be over; you just want the pain to go away.

I look in your eyes, and I can see it. You have no idea where the winds of life are taking you. You have no idea why you are directionless. You have no idea why you can’t get focused and it scares you.

It scares me, too. It scares all of us at one time or another. But you’re not alone. No matter what the voices or your circumstances tell you, you’re not alone.

But I can’t make you believe. I can’t make you pick up your Bible or drop down on your knees and pray. I can’t even make myself. But I can tell you one thing. God does love you.

He loves us all.

But, as I said before, I can’t make you believe it.

This is not for everyone today. I know that. I know there are some who are on top of the world today, and they know and believe in their Savior and are sure of their foundation.

This is not for you.

This is for the one who is not sure today, because they are still catching their breath from yesterday…from this morning….from two minutes ago.

God gave you a promise when you reached out to Him for salvation. He promised that you would be one of His children forever. He promised that one day you would be with Him in heaven and live with Him forever.

Has anything changed? Nope. Not one of iota of God’s Word has changed. But I can’t make you believe that; you have to come to that on your own.

Hebrews 10:23- “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised us is faithful.”

You knew that, though, didn’t you? You know it to the marrow of your bones. Being here on this ball of dirt is not just about learning Who God is, or what He has done for you.

Sometimes it’s just about holding fast. Sometimes it’s just about holding on when you can’t any longer.

Sometimes you’re going to be holding on all by yourself. It’s just going to be you and God. No one around, no one to save you, no one to give you pretty passages of Scripture, or quote you words of wisdom.

Sometimes, it’s just going to be you and the darkness. And your candle is going to seem so insignificant against the blackness that surrounds you. And you are going to feel so alone.

It’s then, in that moment, that you will realize that your candle is not alone anymore. There is another candle present, that will stand with yours and shine into the darkness. It may not shine any brighter than yours, and that’s okay.

It’s just there to let you know that your candle is not standing alone.

And He will grab your hand in the darkness, and lead you in a direction you don’t know. And He will hold you close to Him, and say, “It’s okay. I know exactly where I’m going. You’ve got some friends at the other end.”

It’s okay. We’ll wait for you.

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.