Accountability Wins!

Judas Isacariot had the best Pastor, the best Leader, the best Advisor, the best Counselor and yet he stilled failed!

Why did he fail? Well, for starters although Judas was chosen to be one of the Twelve (John 6:64), all scriptural evidence points to the fact that he never believed Jesus to be God. He even may not have been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah (as Judas understood it). Unlike the other disciples that called Jesus “Lord,” Judas never used this title for Jesus and instead called him “Rabbi,” which acknowledged Jesus as nothing more than a teacher.

Secondly, Judas not only lacked faith in Christ, it appears that he also had little or no personal relationship with Jesus. The only documented dialogue between Jesus and Judas involves Judas being rebuked by Jesus after his greed-motivated remark to Mary (John 12:1-8), Judas’ denial of his betrayal (Matthew 26:25), and the betrayal itself (Luke 22:48)

Lastly, Judas was consumed with greed to the point of betraying the trust of not only Jesus, but also his fellow disciples, as we see in John 12:5-6.

I often ponder what would have happened if Judas truly repented, but as we examine the text we find that he did not repent. The Bible clearly indicates that Judas was not saved. Jesus Himself said of Judas, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).

Beloved of God, this message is all about living a life of selfless-accountability, rather than selfish-blame shifting. Fact is, some people simply can’t admit to perceived failures or mistakes, so they blame others so as to dodge responsibility. With this in mind, blaming others is really a defense mechanism in order to maintain our own sense of self-esteem (a/k/a pride).

For example, Pilate attempted to absolve his guilt in the matter of the crucifixion of Christ: “‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” (Matthew 27:24). Ultimately, attempts to pass the buck are futile. “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Each one of us has the personal responsibility to “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15) and then to glorify the Lord with good works (Ephesians 2:10). Let’s be clear, if your attitude or character doesn’t change and your heart doesn’t transform you will always blame the pastor, leader, advisor, and counselor for your shortcomings. Look at it this way, nothing will ever change until something changes, so don’t rebuke accountability—rebuke pride and watch the best life you desire to live manifest right before your eyes!

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LIVING HOPE!

Where there is pain, there is living hope! I Peter 5:8-9 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

‘Watch’ and ‘stand’ are common terms used back in ancient times because they didn’t have the technology we have today. Peeps back then didn’t have cameras nor video recording door bells. They had to use there eyes and their feet (old school) to keep watch of their surroundings. Paul was equally familiar with these two terms and in I Corinthians 16:13-14 he said, “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love.”

If you noticed in each passage of text ‘be strong’ is a motif and Ephesians 6:10 adds, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

When we are overwhelmed by stressed it’s easy to call it quits! You might even think you are alone, but on the contrary! We have been grafted into the family of God with full access to the throne of grace to receive help and mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Our present condition is not our conclusion. Despite the incessant deadly blows the world throws at us, we don’t have to live in pain because we serve a Savior who delivers, restores, and heals! In times of difficulties we should always turn to God in prayer as it’s our only conduit to supernatural strength and peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Beloved, we can find living hope in pain because living hope is found only in Christ Jesus! I Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (CSB). The Greek term for “hope” in this passage means “an eager, confident expectation.” This hope of the believer is not only “living” but “lively.” The CEV translates the phrase as “a hope that lives on.” Unlike the empty, dead hope of this world, this “living hope” is energizing, alive, and active in the soul of the believer. “We live with great expectation,” as the NLT puts it. Our living hope originates from a living, resurrected Savior.

That being said, it’s imperative for us to remember that we don’t ‘watch’ nor ‘stand’ in vain. Our living hope is solid and secure! Hebrews 6:19-20 confirms that, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because he has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”(CSB).

Never forget, Jesus Christ is our Savior, our salvation, our Living Hope!

#Watch #Stand #BeStrong

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I Have Hidden God’s Word In My Heart!

If you didn’t know, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible and it contains 2,445 words! In verse 11 we find one of the greatest principles to embrace and foster in our daily lives and it reads, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Why should we hide God’s word in our hearts? Well, in short God knows that we are sinners and unfortunately it’s our nature to sin against Him.

Our hearts are the center of our being. The part that cannot be seen. Our mind, intellect, emotion, will. God is saying to keep these hidden but not forgotten.

Another reason God is telling us to hide His word away in our hearts is because every word that comes for His breath is precious, each word possess limitless value, and should be considered great treasures to be hidden away… in our hearts!

Look at this way, the ancients had no security systems or safety deposit boxes to stow their treasures away. They hid them! In today’s world most people typically store their valuables in a secure and not so easily accessible temperature controlled-dust free space, so that it’s protected and preserved from damage, theft, and any kind of contamination!!

The text says something in verse 11 that is not evident in the translation and goes like this: “I have hidden your word in my heart [to the end] that I might not sin against you.”

There is a reason the psalmist is hiding God’s word in his heart to the end. And it is easily seen in the text. He knows that he is a sinner and having the treasure of God’s word hidden in a safe yet accessible place will help him fight against sin. We are all in a battle against sin.

God tells us again when talking about wearing our spiritual armor we must put on daily for this epic spiritual battle that wages war on us from the second of our birth till our last breath (read Ephesians 6).

When we know, preserve, and protect God’s word within us [hide] we can draw it out like a double-edged sword from it’s sheath and use it to fight evil in our lives.

And according to the Bible, the word of God is the only offensive weapon we have against evil.

God, through the psalmist, is telling us to hide His word in our hearts so that when sin comes along we will know how to handle it and be strengthened not to sin against Him. 

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GOD LOVES YOU!❤️

The world measures “success” in terms of fame and fortune, but God measures true riches in terms of love and relationships. Money is temporary, but God’s love lasts for eternity’s eternity (and God loves YOU).

Some of you may question and/or even doubt that God loves you. Circumstances, and challenges be it self-inflicted or not will never change how much God deeply loves and cares for all of us!

The Bible teaches us in 1 John 3:1: How much God lavishes His love on us, it tells us we should called God’s children and that is who we are! Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38 that nothing, not death, life, nor circumstances, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus’.

Let’s be honest, we all desire to connect with the idea of feeling known, accepted, and ultimately, loved, and are searching for it, but perhaps maybe in all the wrong places as the old adage says. I will be the first to testify; when we respond to Jesus’ call, our quest for true love comes to a screeching stop because at that point we are able to see the reflection of Perfection who traded His life for ours—(HALLELUJAH AND THANK YOU JESUS).

In the blink of an eye our world is forever changed by the power of the cross and we are instantaneously invited into God’s Holy presence and into His gripping—inescapable love!!!

Brothers and Sisters, God’s love calls us by name and lifts us up in spirit! It gives us a rich mercy and grace which is fresh every day. It allows us to live from a place of love and acceptance, not a place of striving or earning. We are simply free to respond to the love of God with our lives.

There are a lot of “good” loves, but only one heavenly Great Love. Only the love of God in Christ Jesus will satisfy continually the innermost depths of our hearts, minds, and souls, to the brim and overflowing both now and for eternity’s eternity!

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We Will Overwhelmingly Conquer…No Matter What or Who!

You exist for God. You are His special creation. He formed you, and He made you because He loves you. The reason you are to get up each and every morning is to fulfill the purpose that God has for your life. And it is a great purpose—a wonderful purpose.

In fact, God tells you in Jeremiah 29:11, that He has a “good plan” for you when you seek Him and His will for your life. The God who created you for Himself has never made any mistakes. There have been no failures or flaws in His plan for you. Yes, there are trials that you may have to endure. But the negative realities that you may be facing, or have faced, will work together for good if you love God, draw near to God and experience God.

He promises. God’s Word tells us that, “in all these things (trials, struggles, emptiness, pain) we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Do you know something? The most important word in that verse is often overlooked. I must have preached on that verse a hundred times in the last 40 years, but I never saw it until recently.

I was studying this passage in relation to my own life, and it was as if God took a yellow highlighter and made this word come alive. You might be thinking that I am going to say “conquer” or “overwhelmingly” is the most important word. Actually, no. The most important word is “in.” Because we are often tempted to believe that God has promised to keep us “from” the trials, tests and pains of life, and then, when He doesn’t, we feel let down, discouraged or defeated. But God never promised to deliver us from all things.

He has promised that “in all these things” we will overwhelmingly conquer. We will experience Him. We will receive the benefits and blessings that come only through our deep and meaningful experience of Him. Friend, this powerful principle has warmed my heart, and I want it to warm yours, too. Life is too important and too short to miss out on all that God has for you. 

For His kingdom and service!
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WHEN YOU VIEW YOUR WORK AS MISERY, YOU MISS OUT ON MINISTRY!

Do you see your job/workplace as misery or ministry? Let’s be honest, no job is perfect and it doesn’t matter if you are the chief executive officer or the maintenance engineer. Quiet as it’s kept, both jobs although very different are equally important to the health and vitality of any organization.

Tweet this; ‘WHEN YOU VIEW YOUR WORK AS MISERY, YOU MISS OUT ON MINISTRY’.

Colossians 3:23-25 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Another translation says to “work heartily” (ESV). Yet another says to “work willingly” (NLT). The Amplified Bible adds “from the soul.” Ephesians 6:7-8 shares a similar concept: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” In essence, this is the Christian work ethic. We are commanded to put forth our best efforts, to work from our heart and soul at whatever we do. We are accountable to God and stewards of the gifts He has given us. Our work flows out of our gratefulness to Him.

Look at it this way, God didn’t curse man, He cursed the land! At the very beginning of creation and prior to the fall, God integrated work into creation! Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” It was after the fall from grace, work became toil (Genesis 3:17-19), but work itself was instituted in the “very good” part of creation (Genesis 1:31).

Proverbs 6:6-11 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”

Let’s be clear, it’s our responsibility to ensure whatever we do brings glory to God, but scripture doesn’t condone nor encourage workaholism. We do not work merely to amass worldly wealth (in fact, Matthew 6:19-34 warns about this). As I mentioned, we work to bring glory to God. We also do not work ourselves into the ground or to the extent that our health is damaged or our families suffer—hence the incorporation of the Sabbath day’s rest.

God has raised a standard in all Christians, so it really doesn’t matter if your ‘workplace’ is in an office, on a construction site, in a retail center, in a fast food chain, on an oil-rig, on an offshore boat, in a political office, in a classroom, in a fire station, in a police station, in a hospital, in a church, or in a home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of your family—we are born to serve and called to glorify God with our work!

As Christians we are called to have a strong work ethic and to work diligently at all that we do. We are called by God to our work cheerfully and without complaint because we are working for the Lord who loves us and has redeemed us. Quiet as it’s kept, a solid work ethic witness to others (Matthew 5:16) without ever saying a word because the world takes notice of inspiring efforts and wonders why we do what we do.

In closing and in response to the question above, God can take your misery and make it your ministry!

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What’s Your Handicap?

The golfer’s handicap was introduced about 100 years ago and it is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential that is used to enable players of varying abilities to compete against one another.

A handicap is essentially how many strokes over (or under) par golfers are able to play and the lower a golfer’s handicap, the better golfer he/she is considered.

If you know me, than you know I am no golfer, but I am a formidable competitor at putt-putt! Whilst amateur and professional golfers focus on improving their handicap index, the Apostle Paul chose to focus on the gift of his handicap rather than the handicap itself.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 of the Message paraphrase Peterson said, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

There have been many theories as to what exactly this thorn [handicap] was—so many theories in fact, that it is literally impossible to diagnose Paul’s situation with complete assurance. Some have suggested that Paul’s thorn came as result of spiritual pride, while others propose that he wrestled with carnal temptation and/or depression.

A physical ailment, however, seems more likely, though the lack of details forbid a proper diagnosis.

In my research, I found that Paul took advantage of various amanuenses to do the actual writing of at least some of his epistles. A mentioned amanuensis of Paul is Tertius who wrote down the book of Romans and added his own greeting to the church in Rome (Rom 16:22).

To be honest, the ambiguity of the thorn in the flesh [handicap] is actually a positive thing. If Paul would have specifically stated the identity of his thorn [handicap] believers from following generations may have discarded his experience if they were not afflicted with the same affliction.

Each of us have a handicap(s), but thankfully God uses our handicap(s) to demonstrate the power of His grace. Even when our flesh and heart fail us, He is the strength of our heart (Psalm 73:26). In order for Christ’s power to work in us we must be in total submission to Him, despite our handicap(s). Like Paul, when we choose to focus on the gift and not the handicap(s) we allow ourselves to humbly depend on God to extend grace upon grace in our time of need (John 1:16).

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Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!

If you want to just put it out there, we can always find a reason to complain or belly ache about something. But, what do we really gain or benefit from complaining? In his podcast entitled, ‘Grumble, Grumble—Not’, Pastor Steven J. Cole wrote, “Complaining is probably one of the sins most tolerated by Christians. We tolerate it and perhaps don’t even think of it as sin because we’re all so prone to do it.”

Complaining is a like a double edged sword. Most of us need to vent out frustrations from time to time. We need to talk to loved ones about feelings, both positive and negative. We need to seek the opinions of those we trust when facing difficult choices or situations. And this can be positive, but it can also often involve sharing stories about problems. However, like Cole said above, sometimes that slips into excessive complaining or gossip—which leads to sin.

The literal meaning of the translated Greek word for “complainer” is “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” When we complain, we are saying that what the Lord has given us is simply not enough. Quiet as it’s kept, grumbling, mumbling and complaining comes from a root of bitterness and if not timely uprooted it will consume you like a forest fire and there is no escaping its engulfing flames!

In the spirit of transparency, in my line of work, I hear my share of complaints. Some are legitimate but most of them are infinitesimal in nature. So, it’s in my best interest to remain objective and brainstorm to find solutions as opposed to complaining about the situation which only increases the flames in the forest fire!

One way to break cycle of complaining is to shift from rumination to reflection. Although these two terms are similar, by definition there is a definitive distinction. Through reflection you can learn about yourself and what change you would wish to see from the situation. While rumination focuses on the problem, reflection finds the solutions.

I have heard it said, “If you can do something about it, why worry? If you can’t do anything about it, why complain?” Proverbs 21:9 says, “Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife” and I will be the first to admit this scripture interchangeably and undoubtedly applies to a nagging husband (#Facts)!!

Since it’s our own thoughts that perpetuate the cycle of negativity, we can also choose to break the cycle by changing the way we think. So, make the shift in perspective and choose to reflect instead of ruminate. Philippians 2:14-15 put it this way, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

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PRISONERS OF HOPE!

When God says He’ll give you back better than what you lost, believe Him!! Consider Job in the Old Testament. After God rebukes Job’s three friends, Job responded to God in faith, and “the Lord gave to Job twice [double] as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

When David lost the child he had with Bathsheba, he stopped pleading and started worshiping God because he trusted in the mercies of God. Later, God blessed David and Bathsheba with another son named Solomon, who became the wisest and richest king the world has ever known.

We have all lost something during these pandemics, but God promises to restore double for our trouble. The Lord promised in Zechariah 9:12, “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.“ Beloved of God never forget, if God declared it, God will do it! It’s literally impossible for us not to have hope that things will be even better than before. That is why in the same verse, He calls us “prisoners of hope.”

Hope in the biblical sense irrefutably means to have confident expectation of good things happening in your life and we should all be prisoners of that! When we truly foster this concept we can’t help but wake up feeling hopeful and we can’t help but to expect good things to happen in our lives!

The Message paraphrase of Psalm 103:13 is spot on: “God makes everything come out right; He puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. GOD is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, He’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, GOD feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. GOD ’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear Him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow His covenant ways and remember to do whatever He said.”

Lastly, as we continue to find our way back to medical normalcy and social stability it’s imperative that we do not succumb to the lure of worry, doubt, frustration, anxiety, or anger! Instead, let us worship and praise God like David! The troubles we’ve already endured have opened doors for God to bless us with more than what we originally had. And because God has declared it’s our responsibility to be confident that we will receive it—double for our obedience, faithfulness, worship, and praise!

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#Facts

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