April 28, 2017

“Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” Proverbs 10:4 NLT

I remember the day I decided I wanted to get my first job. My sister had a boyfriend who was in high school who had his own car. I thought it was so amazing that he could drive himself anywhere he wanted and didn’t have to ask to borrow the car. He would simply grab his keys and start the engine and go. I was envious of that freedom and I wanted to be able to experience that same freedom as well. I could picture that being me and I really liked what I saw. So I made the decision to get my first job and make that vision a reality. There was only one problem with my plan, I was only thirteen. The only place in town that would give me a job was the local newspaper. I could get a paper route, but the competition was pretty stiff and they were not hiring. So I had to wait until I was fourteen, then I could get a job as a bag boy at Publix. So I waited and continued to develop my plan.

The day I turned fourteen I had my dad drive me to Publix and I filled out the application. Very quickly, I heard back that I had been hired. I did it! I had my first job. I was so excited and I remember thinking I was one step closer to buying my first car. I worked hard and as much as they would schedule me. I worked for almost two years, received a couple of promotions, and earned as much money as I could. In June of 1981, right before my 16th birthday, I had enough money to buy my first car. It wasn’t anything pretty to be certain, but it was all mine. The day I turned 16 I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles well before they opened and was the first in line to get my license. The dream was a reality and I was free. Free to drive anywhere I wanted. My vision had come to fruition and all my hard work had paid off. I was a car owner.

Proverbs chapter 10 verse four made me think of this example from my life. I certainly wasn’t lazy in working toward buying my first car. I worked very hard over a period of time. I cannot honestly say I got rich, but I earned enough to buy a car. This example from my own life reveals a couple of biblical principles about how we approach money. First, we see that earning money is the result of hard work. If I had been a poor worker, Publix would have let me go. I had to work hard and earn the money. Along the way they liked my work enough to promote me to junior stockman and then stockman. I was the youngest stockman in the store. I worked hard and, as a result, earned the money I received. Second, there is nothing wrong with earning money. The money I earned went toward a car, but it also went toward all sorts of other things. I was able to learn how to be more self-sufficient and responsible. Working hard and earning money taught me the value of hard work and that having money could allow you to do good things.

You may have heard the phrase “money is the root of all evil.” This is not an accurate quote. The quote is actually comes from 1 Timothy 6:10 which reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” If we are working hard and earning money for the right reasons, there is nothing wrong. If we are working hard and earning money because we love money, there is something wrong. The power of my learning experience as a teenager was working hard with a purpose in mind. My purpose was to buy a car, to have more freedom, and to be more independent. When we work hard and earn money in our life it should be for a purpose. That purpose should not be just to have more money. What is the purpose for which you work hard and earn money?

This Sunday we will continue the message series Money Rules. I will be discussing Money Rule #2 and how important it is to earn all you can. I look forward to sharing this with you Sunday. It’s exciting to see what happens when we follow God’s Money Rules for our finances. I can’t wait to see you in church!

April 21, 2017

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more 

profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.” 

Proverbs 3:13-14 (NLT)

What do you think of when you hear the word joyful? Maybe you picture Santa Claus, jolly ole Saint Nick. Perhaps you think of a circus clown, not the creepy ones from the movies. It could be that a particular person in your life came to mind. Maybe a moment or special occasion popped into your head. Whatever the thought was, when you considered the word joyful, I'm willing to bet there was one thing it was not. 

I am willing to go out on a limb here and say that the thought that came into your mind was not finances. Very few people I know believe that handling their personal finances bring them great joy. Granted, I know that there are people for whom that would be the case. However, for the majority of people in the world, that is not a source of joy. As a matter of fact, finances can be very scary and the source of a lot of stress. When couples list the reasons why they break up or divorce, money issues are always in the top five, often in the top three. How we handle our finances (our money) is a big deal. Unfortunately, it is often the source of our disappointment and not our joy.

What if I told you it doesn't need to be that way? What if I told you that handling your money can be a source of joy in your life? There are some simple money rules that will help everyone to handle their money in such a way that it can bring great joy. These money rules will help everyone look at their finances from a different perspective. These money rules can turn handling your finances into a source of joy and freedom in your life.  It's guaranteed. 

Over the next four weeks we will be looking at the money rules found in both Scripture and John Wesley's teaching. I will be using the book "Earn, Save, Give," by Rev. Dr. James Harnish as our guide. I would encourage everyone to get a copy of the book to read as a companion to the message series. For some this will be a good refresher and reminder. For others this could be a very transforming time in how you handle your finances and faith. It is my prayer that this series will bring a greater sense of joyfulness to everyone.

This Sunday we start with the first step in experiencing greater joy. I am excited to share this message with you. The first Money Rule is the key to everything else. I hope you will be able to make it to church to hear this message. As always, I can't wait to see you in church.

April 16, 2017

Scripture: He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. [Matthew 28:6 NLT]
One of my favorite journeys so far in my life was an eleven day adventure with my uncle. We flew from Charlotte, North Carolina to Little Rock, Arkansas. There we picked up an RV that belonged to the parents of one of my uncle’s friends. The parents needed the RV to be driven from Little Rock to their house in San Francisco. The trip took us eleven days in total and was truly an adventure. We even adopted a theme song, "The Great Adventure," by Steven Curtis Chapman. We didn’t have a lot of notice or time to plan out the trip, which meant we were planning it as we went. Some of the highlights of that trip were Meteor Crater, the parking lot of the Petrified Forest (long story), the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the Superstition Mountains, El Cajon, Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco. It was a journey I will never forget and one that was full of excitement. The most exciting parts of the journey were the moments when we reached a destination. We could shout out we are here!
We have been journeying together for the past forty days (excluding Sundays) through Lent. We have experienced the birth, life, ministry, suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We have looked at how Jesus the Son is the second part of the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have considered all the mighty acts that God has done through Jesus Christ. During Holy Week we have remembered Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper with his disciples, his arrest and torture, his crucifixion and the grave. It has been a roller coaster of emotions as we relive all that Christ experienced here on earth. If we ended with Good Friday the journey would not reach its destination. We would not arrive where God was leading us.
But do not fear because today we have reached our destination. Today is the day we shout with loud voices, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” We celebrate because today is the day that the angel proclaimed to Mary, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” Mary looked in and Jesus was not there. It was moments later that Mary encountered her risen Lord, Jesus. Mary went and told the others immediately that He is risen! What a glorious day! We can only imagine the excitement and wonder at knowing that Jesus, who had been crucified and buried three days earlier, was alive. This is what we celebrate today! Jesus is alive! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Today give thanks and praise to anyone who will listen! Put aside the chocolate bunnies for a moment and make sure to remember why we celebrate. Make sure your kids know why we celebrate! Make sure your family knows why we celebrate! Make sure anyone who will listen knows why we celebrate! Today live out the mystery of faith … Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Live in the power and presence of the risen Christ! Celebrate today for He is risen! Alleluia!
Prayer: God Almighty, you alone had the power to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus did not consider being God as something to hold onto. Because he was willing to humble himself and be obedient unto death, I can celebrate new life. Empower me through the gift of your Holy Spirit to live in this new life. May I live today to let others know that He is risen. All honor, glory, and praise is yours, Almighty God. In the name of Jesus Christ my risen Savior. Amen.

April 15, 2017

Scripture: 50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.  [Luke 23:50-56 NLT]
It seemed like it took forever. We had known for months it was coming and yet it seemed like the day would never arrive. There were plans that had been made. We took extra measures to tell people about the day and even invite them to be a part of the excitement. The days seemed to move way too slowly, almost agonizingly at times. There was a sense of anticipation and excitement that was building. As the day grew closer and closer the plans were coming together and the excitement was growing. Then, finally, the day arrived. All of the guests were arriving and the plans were being carried out. You may have already guessed that I am talking about our wedding day. I remember time moving so slowly as Debbie and I anticipated our wedding day. Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it was over. It was wonderful, but the wait was not always easy.
This seems to be our human nature. Some people are more patient than others, but most people don’t like to have to wait. It doesn’t matter if the wait is for our favorite movie to be released, our food to come to our table, or our wedding day. We don’t like to wait. What makes this reality of human nature even harder is the fact that most things in life do not happen instantaneously. We have to wait. The old saying tells us that “good things come to those who wait.” Jesus even told the disciples concerning the Holy Spirit to “wait for the gift my Father promised.” We don’t like to wait.
That is what is remarkable about today’s Scripture passage. Joseph of Arimathea, who was a member of the leadership charged with deciding about Jesus, did not agree with the way the council had decided to treat Jesus. From what we read we can see that Joseph had a reason he did not agree. Luke tells us that Joseph “was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Joseph was focused on something different than the other leaders. The other leaders seemed to be very concerned about the here and now. The other leaders were worried about how Jesus was challenging their power and position. Joseph was different.
Joseph was waiting for the kingdom of God to come and he obviously thought that Jesus had something to do with that happening. Joseph was waiting, but he also was acting. He was waiting and he realized that Jesus was a part of God’s kingdom coming. That is why he asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. That is why Joseph took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in the tomb. Joseph was waiting for the kingdom of God to come and little did he know that Jesus had already brought that kingdom to reality. Three days later Jesus would break the reality wide open through the resurrection.
Today is Holy Saturday. It is a day where we are to wait. We wait in eager anticipation of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Spend time today waiting. As you wait, honor Jesus bringing the kingdom of God near through prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, journaling your thoughts, and meditating on the significance of Jesus’ death. Tomorrow we will all celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus. Today wait!
Prayer: Holy and loving God, today I wait. I wait for your kingdom to come and your will to be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for your Son’s death and sacrifice on the cross. Empower me to wait and not to celebrate too soon. Even though it is difficult to wait until tomorrow, I want to understand what it means to wait in you. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

April 14, 2017

Scripture: 37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” 40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. [Mark 15:37-40 NLT]
There are some people in life that are special. There is something different about the way they live their life, who they are. They seem to radiate something from deep within that makes them unique and different. You cannot be in their presence without noticing it. In my journey of faith I have been privileged to know a lot of people, but only a very few that fit this category. I am not sure why this is true. It just is. This week I learned that one of these people I have known in my life went to be with Jesus. He was a former president of the college I graduated from and a former professor at the seminary from which I earned my Master of Divinity degree. I met him and his wife through a mutual friend. We only were together a handful of times, but that was enough to know there was something about him. Even though I had not seen him in many years, the lasting impact his life had on mine has certainly outlived his life on earth. I look forward to seeing him in heaven one day.
I am sure that you have known someone like this. Someone whose light seems to shine a little brighter and in whom the Holy Spirit seems to overflow. It is these people in our lives that help us to know that our journey is one of divine purpose. God longs to be so evident in all of our lives. God desires for the Holy Spirit to ooze out of every part of our life. This is not just so we will know the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, but so that others might see that there is something about those who choose to follow the Holy Spirit with all of their life. Complete and total surrender to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what will bring about this reality in our life. We know this because we have had the greatest example of this the world has ever known in Jesus Christ.
In our Scripture for today we see this very clearly. Jesus has gone through his entire life doing the will of the Father, he has performed miracles and taught thousands, he has been arrested and beaten, he has been tortured and hung on a cross to die. Through all of this Jesus claimed he did nothing from his own will but only from the will of God the Father. Jesus surrendered everything totally. In his final hours on this earth Jesus shows everyone who is willing to see what it means to sacrifice everything out of love. Those gathered around while he is being beaten would have seen love in his blood stained eyes. Those watching as he carried the cross to Golgotha would have seen mercy and compassion on his wearied face. Those watching as he was crucified would have seen the love of the One willing to give his life for the forgiveness of sins.
This is what the centurion who was charged with guarding him saw. He saw Jesus have mercy on the thief next to him. He saw Jesus make sure that John would take care of his mother. The centurion saw the love and compassion Jesus had on all of humanity as he hung there dying a horrific death. This is what moved the centurion to say, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” There was something about this man that even someone who had sworn allegiance to Caesar could see. There was something about this man, indeed.
How has Jesus affected you? Has the reality of the cross transformed you? Have you come to the conclusion that there is something about this man? Something worthy of surrendering your life to Jesus Christ as Lord. Something compelling enough to have you give every moment of your life to follow Jesus. Something empowering enough to motivate you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life through your relationship with Jesus. Today is the day! There is no better time to confess that Jesus is the Son of God and live boldly in the name of Jesus. Live today in such a way that the world will know there is something about this man.

Prayer: Holy and gracious God, you alone are worthy of all my praise. To you alone I surrender my life today and every day. Thank you for creating me just the way I am and for your purpose. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to save me and be the Lord of my life. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit sustaining me through every moment of my life. May I live every moment today for you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

April 13, 2017

Scripture: 30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 33 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

[Matthew 26:30-35 NLT]
Some people have a hard time with finality. One of the greatest examples of this was basketball great Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, or “His Airness” as he became known, decided to retire in 1994 after he and the Chicago Bulls had won three championships in a row. Michael told everyone that he was done playing professional basketball. In other words, Michael said he would never play again. Of course, Michael Jordan did play again. Michael and the Chicago Bulls went on to win another three straight championships before he retired again in 1999. This time it would be different and Jordan would never play again. But wait … there’s more. Michael Jordan came out of retirement again and played the 2002-2003 season with the Washington Wizards. He did finally retire for good at age 40 following that one season with the Wizards.
Michael Jordan is not the only one who has issues with the word never. You have probably had someone tell you, “I would never do that!” Then one day you learn that, in fact, they did do that. Before Debbie and I had children we would use the word never more liberally. We said things like, “Our child will never crawl under the table,” or “We will never let our kids stay up that late,” or “We will never let our kids cry uncontrollably like that.” Well, when the kids came along the word never seemed to change its meaning. For all of these reasons, and many more, we need to be careful of how we use the word never. We need to be very careful, indeed.
Peter was quick to use the word never. In our Scripture for today Peter used this word with Jesus. Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that they would all desert him. Peter’s instantaneous reply is, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Yes! Peter is that guy. In front of all of his fellow disciples he tells Jesus that the others probably will desert you, but not me. Peter uses the word never. Jesus quickly brings Peter back to reality. “The truth is, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times,” Jesus replied. Never is not a word Peter should have used. I would need to offer Peter a line from one of my favorite movies, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
How often do we use that word? We may think we would never deny Christ, but do we? The answer is yes, we do. Every follower of Jesus Christ has denied him at some point. The truth is we all deny Jesus multiple times a day. We do so when we don’t listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We deny Christ when we choose the advice of the world over the advice of the Bible. We desert Jesus when we lean on our own understanding instead of acknowledging the Lordship of Christ. When following Jesus we should avoid using the word "never." Instead, follow Jesus always and expect the unexpectable.
Prayer: God, today I lean on you. Lead me where you want me to go. Give me your understanding and allow me to see through your eyes. Through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit I will avoid the word never and ever look for your will for me. I am yours and my life is yours. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

April 12, 2017

Scripture: 14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.

16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

[Matthew 26:14-16 NLT]

Making plans with a group of friends can be challenging. Everyone has their ideas about what the group should do or where they should go. It can even be frustrating when everyone has their favorite place to go and no one is willing to compromise. Usually, after some back and forth the group ends up making a decision that everyone agrees upon. The process is the challenging part, but once the decision is made everyone has a good time because you are all together. However, occasionally there is a friend who agrees to the plan but is really just waiting for a better offer to come along. You know the type, right? They agree because they don’t want to create too much of a fuss and in the back of their mind they believe a better option will come. My advice, for what it’s worth, is don’t be that person. To that person the decision really is based on the question, “How much is in it for me?”

In our Scripture today Judas is that person. Judas is one of Jesus’ twelve closest disciples and friends. He has been there every step of the way with Jesus and witnessed the teaching, healing, and miracles firsthand. But Judas is that guy … the one who asks, “What’s in it for me?” Literally, that is the question Judas asks the leading priests, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” Judas was a follower of Jesus who had given up everything he knew in order to follow the teacher. Even with all of the amazing experiences with Jesus, he found himself falling into the “what’s in it for me” mentality. Christianity judges Judas harshly and rightfully so. Yet, are we that different?

Please tell me you have never, at least subconsciously, had that thought about following Jesus. If you have never once considered the cost of following Jesus you are rare. Jesus actually urged His followers to consider the cost of following. In Luke 14:28 we read, “But, don’t begin until you count the cost.” Jesus wants us to count the cost. Jesus wants for us to consider what we are being asked to give up in order to follow Him. Jesus does this because He knows it is human nature to consider what we are going to get in return. That is why Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 14:33, “So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.”  Jesus calls us to radical discipleship specifically because Jesus knows we want to know what we are receiving in return.

So the question for us today remains, “Have we given up everything?” Because it is more likely that we are still wondering how much is in it for us. At the very least we are still considering how much we will have to give up. In our cultural reality it might be better to consider what we will put before Jesus. Will we put career advancement before Jesus? Will we put a bigger house before Jesus? Will we put relationship, toys, trips, our 401k, or anything else before Jesus? So, have you given Jesus everything in your life? There is a reason Jesus asks His followers to give up everything. Jesus wants those who follow Him to “have life and have it abundantly.” Today ask, “How much will I give Jesus?”

Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for ALL you gave for me, especially Jesus. Remove any selfish desires from me. I desire to give everything to you. I desire nothing for me. I long only for you to be glorified through me. Empower me to live for you today and let your Holy Spirit shine through. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

April 11, 2017

Scripture: 6 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. 7 While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. 8 The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. 9 “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?

11 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. 12 She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” 

[Matthew 26:6-13 NLT]

The practice of anointing was very prominent in the Jewish culture of the Old Testament and New Testament times. Oil would be used to anoint people for several reasons. Anointing was used to show respect to a host or to the guests in a home. Anointing was used as a rite of inauguration as a prophet, priest, or king. Those who were in need of healing would also receive anointing with oil. All of these practices were used to show respect and for a specific purpose. The individual who was anointed received a special blessing and in some cases set apart for a special role. Anointing in every case had a purpose.

This is why the woman pouring expensive perfume over the head of Jesus is so important. It is not a random act. The woman comes in and pours the perfume over Jesus’ head because she wants Jesus to know how important he is to her. This anointing with perfume is her way of telling Jesus that she loves and respects him. So much so that she was willing to anoint him with something far greater than ordinary oil. She uses expensive perfume in a beautiful jar. Something that she would have treasured. It is quite obvious that this is a little out of the ordinary because the disciples object immediately, calling her actions a waste. They didn’t know her intentions and she didn’t know just how important her anointing of Jesus would be.

We see the heart of Jesus in the response to her anointing. Jesus asks his disciples, “Why do you berate her for doing such a good thing to me?” Indeed, why do they berate her at all? It is her perfume, her beautiful jar and she can do with it what she wants. Jesus tells his disciples that she has done this for a reason that they don’t yet understand. Not only that, what she has done will be talked about throughout the world in her memory. The words of Jesus to Martha can almost be heard in this response as well, “Mary has chosen what is better.” The woman who anoints Jesus doesn’t fully realize the example she has set and the lives that her anointing will affect.

This is where we come into play. There are several ways that we can connect this story to our lives. The question it raises for me is this, “How have I anointed Jesus today?” Have I taken the most valuable things in my life and poured them over the head of Jesus? Have I given Jesus the anointing as my Prophet, Priest, and King today? Today anoint Jesus as Lord of your life with the most valuable parts of your life. Give your family, your faith, your love, your marriage, your finances, your kids, and your everything to Jesus today. Anoint Jesus as Messiah of your life.

Prayer: Holy God, thank you for the example of the woman who anointed Jesus. I desire to give everything that is valuable to your care today. I desire to anoint Jesus as the Lord of every moment of my life. Empower me through the anointing of your Holy Spirit to live today as one who anoints others today. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

April 10, 2017

Scripture: 26 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, 4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.” [Matthew 26:1-5 NLT]

I have seen firsthand the results of a betrayal. Two people built a company together and spent years building a dream. Clients put their trust in the company because of what both people brought to the table. Employees invested hours and hours into the company following two people they respected and in whom they believed. The company was very successful and both people were responsible for the success. Then something happened. One person began to believe they had a better way of doing things. They believed that they worked harder than the other person. They believed that they deserved more than they were getting. So that person began to plot secretly to leave, build his own company, and take clients and business with him. The other partner did not know, until one day the other person was gone along with clients, business, and employees. Betrayal wreaked havoc on the person left behind.

Betrayal leaves the betrayed person to pick up the pieces. There is hurt and hard feelings as well. It is not a good situation. No one longs to go through betrayal and most do everything they can do avoid being betrayed. We spend time building relationships of trust, mutual respect and love. The hope is that these strong relationships will help us to avoid betrayal. Our hope is that we will have relationships in our life that encourage us, strengthen us, and make us better. We invest in relationships with the hope of the relationship being mutually beneficial. Yet, betrayal still occurs occasionally. We have probably all experienced some level of betrayal in our life.

Be at peace! As we enter Holy Week know that you are not alone. At the very outset of Jesus’ last week of life people are plotting to betray him. In our Scripture for today we read about Jesus telling his disciples that in two days He would be betrayed and crucified. One of Jesus’ closest friends, one of his twelve disciples, would sell him for a few pieces of silver. Jesus knew the sting of betrayal. At the same time he was telling his disciples about his impending betrayal, the religious leaders are meeting secretly to plot how to get rid of Him. They want to capture him and kill him because he is a threat to them. Jesus knows about betrayal. Jesus also knows what his betrayal would mean for all of humanity. Jesus knew that his betrayal would set into motion his sacrifice for our sins. Jesus knew that from his betrayal something amazing would happen for all of humanity.

Today you may be reeling from the sting of betrayal. You may have been betrayed yesterday or 20 years ago, but the sting of betrayal is real. If you have experienced betrayal in your life, ask God to reveal how God is going to use that betrayal. God never wastes a hurt. God can and will use the hurt you have experienced to bless others. Just as Jesus blessed all of humanity through his betrayal, you can bless the people in your life through yours. Allow God to show you how he plans to heal you, use you, and bless others through your experience. With God you can turn betrayal into blessing … today.

Prayer: Holy God, you alone can take my hurt and make me whole. I give you my hurt from being betrayed and trust that you will turn it into blessing. Use me today to help others overcome the hurt of their betrayal. Through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

April 8, 2017

Scripture: 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. [Galatians 5:22-26 NLT]

It’s a pretty popular item in our culture today. I know several people in our church who have purchased them. They range anywhere from $50 for a small one to over $3,000 for a top of the line model. Most people use them for enjoyment, but others use them for photography and videography. There is even a league where people are very serious about racing these items and competing against other racers. The item to which I am referring is a drone. The most common drones are called quadcopters. They have four separate propeller mounts and come in all different sizes and styles. My daughter bought one and it has been both fun and frustrating. It turns out that it takes a little bit of time and a lot of practice to learn how to control them. After many hours of practice she was able to fly it and control it pretty well.

Have you ever had this type of experience? Maybe you have never tried to control a flying drone, but I am certain there are things in life you have tried to control. We all have tried to control our reaction to certain things in life. We have also tried to control our finances, our weight, our tongue, our schedule, and the list goes on. Some things we may have been able to control with relative ease. I was talking with someone this last week who said their weight has never fluctuated more than 8 pounds their entire adult life. It has been easy for them to control and I don’t like them very much, of course I am kidding. Other things may have been difficult for us to try and control. Some people find handling their finances a very difficult thing to control. Whatever it may be we have things in our life we try to control.

Our Scripture passage for today flips this idea of control on its head. The passage starts out with the statement, “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us…” Did you catch that? We cannot control the Holy Spirit! We shouldn’t even try to control the Holy Spirit. Living life in the Holy Spirit is about yielding control. We give up control and allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives. The result is fruit, fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul goes on to say that the way we yield control to the Holy Spirit is to follow. Paul writes, “If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” The key to yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit is following the Holy Spirit’s lead. In order for this to be an effective reality in our lives we must yield every part of our life to the Spirit.

Today don’t try to control things, rather yield. Yield every area of your life and let the Holy Spirit lead you. Let go of your selfish human passions and desires and let the Holy Spirit lead and control. As the Holy Spirit controls your life today you will find yourself experiencing more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s all about who’s in control.

Prayer: Holy God, I yield my life to your Holy Spirit today. Lead me where you want me to go. Put me to whatever you want me to do. Inspire me to say the words you would have me say. I am yours and I am not in control. May you receive all the honor, glory, and praise through my life today. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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