Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Check Your Chain

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Not long ago, I watched something that fascinated me and I want to share it with you. Perhaps you have heard of this before: “The Butterfly Effect”.

The Butterfly Effect is a term used in chaos theory to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing or condition (also known as an initial condition) can affect large, complex systems.  The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks earlier. WOW! CAN YOU IMAGINE!

Similarly, in human behavior, it is possible for one small action, taken by one person, to result in changing the lives of millions if not billions of people.  In other words, your life makes a difference and God can use your life to change the world one small action at a time.

Let me share with you an example of the Butterfly Effect taken from Greg Laurie’s book, A Passion for God. Although Greg Laurie does not use the term “The Butterfly Effect”, you will see how the faithfulness of one person’s action can, as Greg Laurie says, “Cause God’s Divine Domino Effect”.

“It all began when Edward Kimble felt the tugging of the Spirit to share his faith with a young shoe salesman he knew. At first Kimble vacillated, unsure if he should talk to the man. But he finally mustered his courage and went into the shoe store. There Kimble found the salesman in the back room stocking shoes, and he began to share his faith with him. As a result, the young shoe salesman prayed and received Jesus Christ that day. That shoe salesman’s name was Dwight L. Moody, and he became the greatest evangelist of his generation.

But the story doesn’t end there. Several years later a pastor and well-known author by the named of Frederick B. Meyer heard Moody preach. Meyer was so deeply stirred by Moody’s preaching that he himself embarked on a far-reaching evangelistic ministry. Once when Meyer was preaching a college student named Wilbur Chapman accepted Christ as a result of his presentation of the gospel. Chapman later employed a baseball player to help him prepare to conduct an evangelistic crusade. That ballplayer, who later became a powerful evangelist himself, was Billy Sunday.

Years later, a group of businessmen invited Billy Sunday to hold a evangelistic campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, which resulted in many people coming to Christ. The businessmen were so touched by Sunday’s preaching that they brought in another evangelist, Mordecai Ham, to hold another crusade. Ham’s crusade went well, even though it did not have many converts. On one of the last nights of the meetings, however, one tall, lanky young man walked up the aisle to receive Christ. That man’s name was Billy Graham.

Talk about a chain of events! And it all started with an ordinary Christian named Edward Kimble, who reached D.L. Moody, who reached Wilbur Chapman, who reached Billy Sunday, who reached Mordecai Ham, who reached Billy Graham. Look at what God has done over these many years because of the faithfulness of one person.”

How are we impacting our chain? Imagine what God is doing through your faithfulness! Everything we do – sets off a chain of events that God uses to accomplish His purposes.

Nothing you do is insignificant – nothing! If the flutter of a butterfly wing can somehow change the molecules in the air that can be felt in another state, can you imagine what your faithfulness to your Lord, to your family, to your friends, to your employer will do in the life’s of others?!

Every action you take, every word of encouragement, every prayer you prayed, every smile you gave, every person you forgave, every test you took, every assignment you took on, every day you purposed to work, every time you spent your “time” mentoring others or caring for others or helping others or providing for others, set off a chain of events, whether intentional or unintentional, that can have long reaching effects.

The beautiful part of following God is knowing the promise He gives to His children in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Never forget how valuable your life is! Your life makes a difference! What you are doing today, may change the world tomorrow! 

 "You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it." Psalm 139:5-6

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The “Most High”

The other day I was shopping with my daughter and I was hungry. My daughter showed me a supersized, creamy, milk chocolate, almond candy bar. I am sure all of us have eaten empty calories in order to try and meet an immediate hunger need.  However, I am sure you have also noticed that it meets the immediate need but it is not long lasting.

Have you noticed where supermarkets place their candy bars and such? They intentionally place them right next to the check out stand. The store knows that human’s temptation of an immediate fix is high and that there is a high probability that we will succumb to our temptation and buy the candy – especially when we are hungry.

Do you also notice that most stores do not place produce like oranges, apples, and bananas next to the check out stand? THOSE you have to go and seek after in another part of the store, usually in the corner of the store - far away from any convenience.

I see a similarity when I have a choice to either spend time in God’s Word or choose to reach for the T.V. remote control and watch a reality television program that has no value. It seems that humans reach for whatever is most convenient to them and I have done both.

When I have reached for the remote control, more times than I would like to admit to, it may meet my immediate need for entertainment, but just like a candy bar, the experience is for the moment and of little value whatsoever. The “candy high” leaves me on a low.

However, whenever I pick up God’s Word and read it and meditate on it without any distractions, it lifts up my spirit, feeds my soul and gives me the hope and the strength not only for today but also for the future.

May I encourage you to place God’s Word in a convenient location? Don’t place it tucked away in a far corner of the room or on a distant shelf or left in your car or left in your bag after you have returned from church or Bible study. Instead place God’s Word in a place that is easily found when you are  “checking out” from the daily routine.

When we find ourselves hungry, a little tired and ready to be refilled from all that the day has taken from us, may God’s Word be one of the options that we can conveniently reach for. Whenever we are in that “check out” mode – let’s choose the Bible first and get the spiritual nutrients that our soul is craving for.  If we choose to dwell with Him, we will experience the “Most High”!

“You who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Like Father

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:32-36

I love the part of this scripture that talks about how kind and merciful God is! God is kind to the unthankful, the unkind, the unappreciative and the unloving!

God never asks us to do something that He Himself has not already done. In Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus loved us when we were helpless, ungodly enemies of His gospel message. In the scripture above, God challenges us to take it one step further in our relationships here on earth and not just love the easy going, lovable, kind and adorable, but to love those who are our enemies.

I enjoy seeing the similarities between children and their parents. I see it in my children as they reflect their father's traits. I see it in myself, as I reflect my mother's traits. I see in my friends as their children reflect their parent's traits. It warms my heart to see the positive imprint that is transferred from generation to generation.

God tells us that if we love our enemies, do good and lend to others, hoping nothing in return, that we too will be sons and daughters of the Most High! What a great honor it is to desire to be just like our Heavenly Father who has a heart that is full of mercy!

Is there someone in your life that you consider an enemy? Love them as God has loved you for your reward will be great as you will be a true reflection of your Father in heaven!

FATHER, thank you that you sent Jesus Christ to die for us, not because we were good enough, but because You loved us. Please Empower us with Your Holy Spirit so that we can reflect your heart of mercy. In Jesus Name - Amen.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Into The Deep

“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also where James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

So when they had brought their boats to land they forsook all and followed Him.” Luke 5:1-11

“Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely.” Oswald Chambers

Peter, a professional fisherman had been conditioned to think that he knew the best time to fish – he was a professional after all.  Jesus’ order was contrary to all he had experienced in his fishing career – it didn’t make sense to him. Nonetheless, Peter obeyed Jesus’ word and did as He requested, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” As a result, to Peter’s surprise, he caught the most amount of fish in his career at one given time.

Jesus had the authority to orchestrate the school of fish to come near the boat at a time of the day when they normally would not be there.  All Peter needed to do was to obey and then take the requested action.

Jesus orchestrates ALL things, not just schools of fish.  Are you worried that you are not doing well economically? Jesus can orchestrate your economy, not only to meet your needs but also to exceed them and fill your nets according to His plan for you life. Are you worried about your health? Jesus, at His will, can orchestrate your physical and spiritual well being according to His plan for your life. Are you worried about your relationships?  There is nothing impossible for Him – He commands everything!  

This was not about Peter throwing the net over so he could have a good fishing day, it was about Peter obeying Jesus and trusting Jesus and learning who He was.

The same is true for us, it is not about our wealth, our health or our relationships, although they matter to God, first and foremost -  it is about us knowing who He truly is and following Him – even when it does not make sense! When Peter and his companions brought their boats to land they forsook all and followed Him!

This was not going to be the last time that Peter and Jesus' disciples were going to be amazed of who Jesus was. At His will and in His timing, with your obedience, you too will continue to be amazed and see Him for who He truly is just like Peter and many others have. 

Has Jesus called you to "launch out into the deep" with complete trust and obedience to Him? Don't be afraid, God is doing much more than just filling you "nets", He is calling you towards a higher purpose!

“Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 

FATHER, Help us to trust you to the point that we will obey you. Help us to not rely on our own understanding but rather in ALL our ways acknowledge You. Help us to "launch out into the deep" because we have studied your Word and know the voice of our Lord through Your Holy Spirit. Help us to obey and trust your Word, even when it is easier to play it safe and stay tied to the shore. In Jesus' Name - Amen

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Seal Of A Hero

One of the most inspirational things that my husband and I enjoy doing together is watching programs on military training – specifically – the training related to the Navy SEAL.

This weekend, we saw a movie that showed the training that the Navy SEAL must endure in order to be named a SEAL. What inspire us are not only the physical ability the soldiers must endure but also the mental toughness that is required to be able to get through the program. The military leadership has developed a program with nothing but the highest standards in order to identify those individuals that are not only willing but are also able to endure the harshest conditions – mentally and physically. For many are willing but only a few are able to meet these high standards.

Every time my husband and I have the privilege of watching what these men must endure, we are both humbled and so grateful that they are willing to lay down their lives for us - without complaint.  This gratitude raises an emotion within both of us that is hard to describe.

We realize, as regular citizens, that we will never fully understand what these Navy SEALS have to endure or what any soldier in the military must endure.

After watching this movie this weekend and reflecting on the commitment each soldier must have, I began to see a love story of people who are willing to accept a commitment to serve someone other than themselves.  It reminded me of the commitment that husbands and wives make on their wedding days:

“To have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

My husband is not a Navy SEAL and he has never served in the military but in my eyes, he carries the seal of a hero.  Every morning without complaint and without regret and with total willingness, he reports to duty to serve his employer so that his family can be provided for and protected. I have never had to worry nor my daughters had to worry whether their dad had forgotten his commitment to love his family by providing and protecting us! Though the trials and the challenges have been many for him in his career, by God's grace his commitment to his family to provide and protect has been steadfast.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you have a loved one - a mother, a father, a wife, a husband, a child or a friend who has the seal of a hero, make sure you tell them.

Finally, the GREATEST hero of all is Jesus Christ. He is the Only One able to say to us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) 

It is because of Jesus' love, sacrifice and His commitment to you and to me that we can have hope and life more abundantly! He is the Provider, the Healer, the Redeemer, the Creator and the Savior of the world!

Unlike the Navy SEALS, whom I highly regard, Jesus accepts us just the way we are because He has met the highest of standards for us! If you are willing, He is able!

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seeing Red

As we all know, when we hear someone say, “I’m seeing red!” it usually means they are very angry and ready to blow their top! But may I suggest for us to see a different red?

In some Bibles, whenever you see the print change from black to red, it represents that Jesus is speaking. When we focus upon Christ’s words with an open heart, Jesus changes our emotions, He changes our hearts, and He changes the direction of our path that can change the direction of our life! 

But God’s Word is not only limited to the print in red, all Scripture is God-breathed! “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

“The Word of God is not simply a collection of words from God, a vehicle for communicating ideas; it is living, life-changing, and dynamic as it works in us. With the incisiveness of a surgeon’s knife, God’s Word reveals who we are and what we are not. It penetrates the core of our moral and spiritual life. It discerns what is within us, both good and evil. The demands of God’s Word require decisions. We must not only listen to the Word; we must also let it shape our lives.” Bible Commentary

The Bible is composed of 66 books, by about 40 different writers of various backgrounds, yet they present one message. Such a miracle can only be explained by there being one divine Author, who was in control of all these human writers.

“The Bible is not a human book. Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed His person and plan to certain believers, who wrote down His message for His people (2 Peter 1:20, 21). This process is known as inspiration. The writers wrote from their own personal, historical and cultural contexts. Although they used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Scripture is completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing. Its words are entirely authoritative for our faith and lives. The Bible is “God-breathed.” Read it, and use its teachings to guide your conduct.” Bible Commentary

I have regretted a lot of things that I have done in my life, but I have never regretted the times that I have sat down and opened the Holy Bible!

When I have been weary, God’s Word has encouraged me.

When I have been afraid, God’s Word has strengthened me.

When I have been anxious, God’s Word has calmed my anxious heart.

When I have been prideful, God’s Word has humbled me.

When I needed wisdom to know what to do, God pointed me to just the right scripture to shed light upon my path and give me peace.

When I needed to be reminded how much God loves me, God’s Word comforted me and melted my heart with His tender thoughts towards me.

Whenever I want to draw close to my Savior, My Father and my Redeemer, I open up His Word, and delight in His presence!

“Seeing Red” is a good thing if it is God’s Words! 

Let’s not wait until we have time to open up and read the Bible because the time will never be found. Let’s make it our priority to spend time with God in His Word!  

Let God speak to us directly and watch how He will shape our life and give us purpose and peace!

“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