Home Word for Wednesday

Word for Wednesday

Magnification of Emotions

 

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (NIV) 

I made an interesting discovery during an earlier Holiday season of my life. One of those “defining moments” in life. Have you noticed during the Christmas Season how the lonely are lonelier, the hurting hurt more, the down and out, more down, the poor are poorer, and even the joyful, seem more joyous? 

Our emotions are magnified by the season. For me it’s the busyness and crowed Highways and Stores. It’s a stressful crunch time as another year ends. It’s three holidays jammed in together in a space of two months. It’s the struggle to balance good memories of past traditions with gratitude for new ones, although they look and feel different. 

What are we as Christ followers to do? 

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV) 

I challenge each of you in the next few weeks to take being a Christ Follower to another level. Take HIS words from your head, move them to your heart, and then to your feet. Let’s do something. Let’s show the world what being a Christ follower is all about. Jesus’ command to us is very simple. All He is saying is just love one another, just love. That’s it. 

Let’s visit that person that is alone, lets feed the hungry, lets share with the poor, lets help the sick, let’s just love one another. Smile at that person sitting alone on the bench; sit down and visit with them for a minute. Let that car or person go in front of you. I know I man that recently bought some flowers and went to a nursing home and gave them to a stranger who was all alone. He really touched that that person with the love of Christ. Just love one another. 

Matt 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV) 

What an awesome thought … “Whatever I do for others … I do for Christ” 

Dear Father, help us move Your word from our head to our heart and on to our feet. Keep us mindful of others during this season and all year-round, Father. Help us understand the magnification of emotions that goes on during this season. Lord, we thank You for your Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given! We are so grateful, yet we fail to show our gratitude. Use us this season; we are willing. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David

Belief Versus Faith

Faith is a word we sometimes throw around loosely. It’s one of those words that we use so much, that the meaning becomes worn and unclear.

People say, “just have faith” or “keep being faithful.” At times, people will say to me, “I have faith in your work, David.” I will always reply, “just have confidence and belief in my work, not faith.”

 Webster’s defines belief as “trust or confidence.” 

Think about it a minute: How would you define faith? Just what is the real meaning of faith? The writer of Hebrews defines faith for us.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith is much stronger than belief. Faith is an active word; belief is passive. 

Belief in something is when you are stranded on the top of a burning building, and down below are First Responders with a large net. In your mind, you believe you will be able to jump just the right distance; the net will hold you and you will be safe. You can believe all you want, but belief alone will not rescue you. Faith is when you jump. Faith removes you from the pending disaster. Faith is acting on your belief.

We often build buildings not out of brick and mortar, but rather out of images in our minds. We build buildings of guilt, worry, resentment, jealousy, anger, despair and so on. We stand on top of these buildings and look out over the edge, and we have a choice. We can choose to stay on top of our burning buildings and simmer, or we can act and have faith in God and His Word. We have a choice: Simmer and build the building higher in our minds or take a leap of faith into God’s waiting net. 

Some of us just need to get off the “I believe in God” bandwagon and onto the “I have an active, alive faith in God” wagon. We need to move from simply watching, to doing. 

James says it best:

James 1:22 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Father help us to move from merely listening and believing Your word, to having a more complete and active faith in You. Forgive us for falling short of the mark. Give us Your wisdom and strength to carry on. In Christ’s name, Amen.

David Massey

Hearing God’s Callings – Part Six

Deuteronomy 1:6-7 (NLT)When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. 

When temperatures plummet during the spring, I drape sheets over the trees and ornamental plants that have budded out, to protect them from the sudden change in weather. When God has a calling in our lives, He places a hedge around us to protect us and guide us along the way. Unlike my plants, we can still make our own decisions, which may be contrary to God’s plan for us. However, whether we do it our way or God’s way, He remains faithful to us. 

Do you go around seeking change in your life? Do you like change? I have found that most of us do not enjoy it. Change brings stress, uncertainty and fear into our lives. But God also uses change in our lives to propel us toward His callings. 

Change is the fifth characteristic of a calling from God in your life. Think about this for a moment. When we seek to earnestly follow God and He intercepts our paths, change is evidence of this interception. Sometimes we are moving in one direction toward a goal that is ours and not God’s. Then God, through whatever means, redirects us along the way toward His plan for our lives. 

Sometimes change involves God redirecting us within a calling. He wants us in a particular situation awhile until it’s time for Him to move us again. I call these “seasons of preparation.” God is simply preparing us for the next phase of our calling. The direction we were going in was within God’s will, but now He is moving us farther along to another place in the calling. 

The big question remains: How do I know if it is God calling me to change my direction, or if it is just my own desire? If you still have this question, review the first five devotionals in this series. 

Below is a summary: 

1. All callings from God are direct one-on-one callings in the first person. You will never hear God’s callings unless you are presently where God has already called you. 

2. All callings from God have clear direction. If we are moving in the direction that God has called us, He will continue to move us in that direction. Where God guides, God provides. 

3. All callings from God are in the form of Authoritative Commands. God is NOT a God of ambiguity or confusion. 

4. All callings from God have a great promise attached. This promise gives us hope, hope gives us faith and faith give us belief in the calling. 

5. All callings involve change. If you are moving in a direction contrary to God’s plan for your life, He will intercept your direction and move you toward His plan. God will never move you in a direction that is contrary to His word. 

The prophet Jeremiah prays a great prayer, a model prayer for all of us today. Constantly pour your hearts out to God, asking for His guidance. 

Jeremiah 10:23-24 (NLT) I know, LORD, that a person’s life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course. 24 So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die. 

My prayer for you is that this series has blessed and will continue to bless each of you. 

David

Hearing God’s Callings – Part Five

A Great Promise 

Genesis 15:5 (NLT) “Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, ‘Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that-too many to count!'” 

When my Mom and Dad celebrated both their 70th birthdays and their 50th wedding anniversary years ago, they bought books, visited travel agents, and talked with friends who have been and were like little children waiting for school to end for the summer. They had great expectations and great promises that the trip will be all they hope for and more. It was interesting to me to see them transformed and renewed with energy over this trip. They seem alive again and full of enthusiasm for life itself. I didn’t know if their expectations would be met, but I did know that God will always honor His promises. 

When God call us, there is always a great promise made along with the calling. In Genesis 12 when God calls Abram to leave his country and go to the land, He will show him, God also makes a promise to Abram. He promises Abram that he will be the father of a great nation. As we read through Genesis and follow Abram on his journey, we can see that his faith, hope and life all center on God’s promise. This promise is the motivating factor in all of Abram’s decisions. Think about it: God is not going to call you to do something just for the fun of it. God has a plan for your life. All of God’s callings in your life have a promise along with the calling. His promise is to be a loving Father and to provide for all our needs, wherever He leads us. 

I often struggle with the “promise” part of a calling. I believe most people do. Think about it for a moment. Try to visualize a calling God has in your life. What is keeping you from acting on that call? Is it the promise from God? Are you saying, “yeah God, I hear Your call, but I just don’t know if I can do that.” Let’s take the most basic call in all our lives, the call for obedience to God. God is such a loving God, that He wants to give us an “abundant life.” We often think, “but I have to give up so much to be obedient.” We do not focus on what we are gaining. It’s like the alcoholic that just cannot imagine life without that next drink. He clings to his destructive behavior because he doesn’t believe that there is much to gain by giving up, letting go and seeking the help he needs to end his self-destructive ways. 

Have you heard the promise that goes along with your calling? More importantly are you listening to the promise? Even more importantly, do you trust the promise? Do 

you trust God? Do your really trust Him with your life? God’s tests in our lives are simply God asking, “Do you trust Me?” 

The promise gives us hope and hope gives us faith and belief in the calling. Lose sight of the promise, you lose hope and then you lose faith in God. 

In today’s Scripture God is answering Abram’s question to God about God’s promise to him. God is reassuring Abram about the promise. It is okay to question God, folks. It is okay to ask specific questions of God. It is okay to shout out to God that you don’t understand, you don’t hear, you don’t listen, or that you don’t want to do something. It’s okay to be very specific in your crying out to God about your calling. Even Jesus, before He was crucified, prayed to the Father, “take this cup from Me.” Jesus was questioning the call, but submitted to His Father’s will in the end, not his own. How about you? 

Dear Father, we hear Your callings, but help us to listen to Your promise and help us to trust Your promise. Forgive us for clinging to our own ways, for thinking we can do life better without You. Give us Your wisdom to focus on the promise. In Christ’s name, Amen. 

David

Hearing God’s Callings – Part Four

Genesis 35:1 (NCV) God said to Jacob, “Go to the city of Bethel and live there. 

When our three kids were 13, 11 and 6. Here is one lesson that I continued to learn as a parent, particularly with our teenager: Kids need clear directions and boundaries. Deep down they like authoritative commands and well-defined expectations. The more specific I am in dealing with my kids, the more they respond in a positive manner. For example, if I say, “after dinner tonight I would really like for you to do your homework, take a shower, if you have time clean your room and then you can play some,” thirty minutes later I am repeating myself over and over again for them to do what I have asked. Finally, when I specifically state my command to them, “you will do your homework now, then take a shower, and be in bed at 9:00 sharp,” then they hop to it. 

When my commands are unclear, they are unsure of what to do. But when they are very clear and spoken with authority, they understand and follow directions. (Most of the time.) 

Throughout the Bible we read about God’s callings for His people. His command to Jacob is very clear: He says “go.” God does not say, “hey Jacob, if you feel like it, if you think you can, if you don’t mind, if you have the time, how about going to Bethel and live there?” God says “go!” 

Feeling unclear and uncertain about a decision in your life? Do you think God is calling you to make a change or improve what you are currently doing and continue as you are? Ask yourself, “am I receiving an authoritative command from God? Is it clear?” If not, then continue praying about your situation. Ask God for a clear command. If what you think is a calling is unclear and murky, then I would seriously question where the “calling” is coming from. 

True callings from God are authoritative commands. Our God is not a God of ambiguity or confusion; He is a powerful, loving and authoritative God. 

1 Corinthians 14:33 (NCV) God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. 

Lord, You are the Father and we are the sons and daughters, and help us to listen and hear your clear commands in our lives. Give us the strength, wisdom and courage to follow Your commands. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David

Hearing God’s Callings – Part Three

I am often asked what the hardest part of my job as a Real Estate Appraiser is. With my tongue in cheek, but speaking from actual experience, I will respond, “finding the house.” 

I am well-prepared to find houses. In fact, there were so many maps in my car, that it became a fire hazard! (I’m now thankful for GPS.) Even with all my maps and GPS systems sometimes I still cannot find the house without calling the owner from my car and saying, ” I am here. How do I get to where you are?” Most of the time, the problem is that there is no number on the mailbox. 

True callings from God give us clear directions to follow. God is not going to call us toward what He wants for us, only to leave the “number off the mailbox.” The frustration for us comes when God decides to dole out only a portion of the directions. God will say, “you are here; I want you there. When you get there, I will tell you where to go next.” Notice how God calls Moses to bring His people out of Egypt. 

Exodus 3:10 So now I am sending you to the king of Egypt. Go! Bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt! (NCV) 

Our problem is that like Moses, we want all the directions and details at once. If the complete set of directions is not lain out before us, sometimes we give up hope and lose faith in God. We wonder why God abandoned us, when in fact we have abandoned Him. I would never find some of the houses to appraise if I did not simply call the owner for more directions. When we are feeling lost along the way in our lives, we have a direct line to God, through prayer. Don’t forget that God always wants what is best for us. He always wants us to ask Him for directions. I fear arriving in Heaven and hearing God saying, “David, I was waiting to give you the last part of the directions, but you never asked.” 

So, how do we apply this to our lives? How do we know if our direction is from God or from our own desires? Test the call. Get your toes wet. I have had people tell me, “I think God is calling me out of the secular marketplace and into a job with a Christian organization.” I will always say, “great, test the waters by doing a little volunteer work in the field. Send out some résumés and seek counsel from others that work in that arena.” 

If you are moving in the direction that God has called you, He will continue to move you in that direction. Where God guides, God will provide. 

Do you have a call to make today? 

Father, You are God. You are in control and in command, no matter what comes our way. You, and You only, have clear directions for our lives. Help us to be sensitive to those directions. Forgive us for doubting Your wisdom and Your guidance. Show us the way, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David

Hearing God’s Callings (Part 2 of 6)

Suddenly during the sermon, the church felt empty of everyone except the pastor and me. The lights seemed dim and low. It was as if God were speaking one-on-one with me through the pastor. 

Driving down the road listening to a preacher on the radio, something clicked inside of me. I was crying and felt overwhelmed as I realized that what was being said on the radio was God speaking to me through someone. I knew at that moment, that I had to pull over and listen. 

In another instance, as I was reading the Bible, my eyes raced faster and faster across the words, because what I was reading was speaking directly to me about a current situation. I read it over and over, thinking to myself, “yes Lord, that is what I have been going through, and yes Lord, I know You can handle this situation; Your Word tells me so.” 

Ever have experiences like these? They are callings to us, directly from God. These are always one-on-one, person-to-person, direct-from-God callings. This is the first of five characteristics of God’s Callings. 

When people say to me, “I think I have been called into foreign missions,” the first question out of my mouth is, “Tell me about the calling.” They may respond, “Well, so and so said they were thinking about me and thought I would be good in foreign missions — why, they even tracked me down in the parking lot at church to tell me!” If they say that, of course the next question I ask is, “But what did God say to you when He called you?” “Huh?” 

See the difference? The first three examples are in the first person; they are one-on-one, direct callings from God. The foreign mission example is in the second person. This is not, in my opinion, a good quality calling, although I admit it may be the beginning of a call. 

Genesis 17:3 (NLT) Abram fell face down, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 

Throughout the Bible, we read about God speaking directly to people, or speaking through what is referred to as “an angel of the Lord.” Can God do this today? 

Certainly! It is my belief that God today has chosen to speak to us in the first person in three ways. First, God speaks through His Word, the Bible. Secondly, God speaks through His people — in other words, through fellow Christians. Thirdly, God speaks through an inner prompting of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in everyone who has accepted Christ as his or her Savior. 

Ok, great — the first characteristic of God’s calling is that they are person-to-person. “So David,” you ask, “what’s the application of this principle?” Glad you asked. 

You will never hear God’s calling unless you are where God calls. 

If you read the Bible regularly, God can use the Bible to speak to you. If you go to church, a Bible Study, or seek counsel from other Christians, then you will hear God speaking to you through others. If you pray, slow down, stop and listen to the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, then you will hear God’s callings. But if you continue to fill your life with busyness, noise, static, and avoidance of God’s methods of speaking, then you cannot hear the person-to-person callings. 

Lord, help us apply this first principle of hearing Your callings. Forgive us for not taking time for You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David Massey

Hearing God’s Callings (Part 1 of 6)

One of the top questions I was asked when teaching Bible studies is, “How can I know God’s calling for my life?” I am sure you have often wondered about the same question, so over the next few weeks, follow me through some steps to test decisions that you are faced with in your life, against some relevant Biblical principles that I have learned and relearned over the years. Walk with me as I lay out these principles to discern between our will and God’s call. 

Often when we think about God’s calling, we think of professional ministers. We harbor this misconception that God “calls” only ministers. The other common mistake we make is waiting for that “lightning bolt” experience that will show us God’s calling for our lives as clearly as a new, crisply unfolded roadmap. Often, God gives us only a small piece of the map at a time. For example, look at God’s calling to Abraham in Genesis. 

Genesis 12:1 (NLT) Then the LORD told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.” 

Notice the call is “leave your country,” and observe that the yet-to-be-seen calling is “the land I will show you.” God does not say to Abraham “leave your country and come to Canaan, where I will make you the father of a great nation.” God simply says, “leave, then I will show you.” My paraphrase of this verse is, “Abraham, first trust Me, then I will show you where your calling is leading you.” 

I personally believe God uses many different callings throughout our lives to guide us along our journeys. I agree there is usually an overall “big picture” calling for people, but God still uses prompting and other callings along the way to help us stay the course. In other words, the “big picture” calling may be for you to be a schoolteacher, and the other callings are used to guide you along the way to fully develop you into the schoolteacher God has planned for you to be. 

When did God first begin dealing with you? He started before the beginning of time. Look at the following verse: 

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. 

None of the Biblical principles and truths that I am going to lay out over the next few weeks will work unless you have answered God’s foundational calling. His first and foremost calling is for you to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. This is the main calling that I can say without a doubt or hesitation, that God has in your life. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT) God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 

John 3:16 (NKJ) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

The five characteristics of God’s callings (there may be more) are: 

1. In the First Person 

2. Have Clear Direction 

3. Authoritative Commands 

4. Great Promise 

5. Create Change 

Next week, we will begin to look at the first of five characteristics of God’s callings, “In the First Person.” My prayer is for this series to help you stop, think and listen for God’s callings in your life. I look forward to our journey together. 

Dear Lord, guide us and direct us to be all that You have designed us to be. Help us to distinguish between our will and Your calling. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David Massey

Light

Geoff LaLone

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”
Psalm 119:105


Last summer, on account of a ridiculously busy schedule, I occasionally found myself cutting the lawn in the dark. It wasn’t something I set out to do; it just happened. There would be plenty of light when I started, but by the time I was through, it was nearly impossible to tell where I had mowed and where I hadn’t. To lessen my chances of missing a spot here and there, I would tie a flash light to the front of my mower, or try to hold it between my knees. It helped, but was a less-than-perfect solution.

Wanting to avoid a similar situation this summer, in early spring I purchased and installed a 5-Light LED fixture on my mower’s front bumper, then ran a wire to a switch I had mounted on the panel where my ignition and throttle were located. I immediately began looking forward to my first opportunity to try it out, but no such opportunity came. All spring and into summer, much to my disappointment, I somehow avoided putting myself in a situation where the light would be required. I began to feel like installing the light was nothing more than a big waste of time and money. Then finally, this past Monday, I got my chance. One of the belts on my mower broke while I was in the middle of the job and by the time I picked up a new one and put it on, it was nearly 9:00. Knowing I now had a light on my mower, it didn’t bother me one bit. By 9:45 I was done, and the yard has never looked better. My light worked perfectly!

In Psalm 119, the psalmist refers to God’s word as “a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.” Walking through this world of darkness without stumbling and making a major mess out of our lives, is impossible without the light of God’s word. Even more so than trying to cut your lawn in the dark without the assistance of any kind of light to guide you. Unfortunately, we don’t always realize how much we need the light of God’s word until the darkness envelops us.

Not all of our walking through this world is in total darkness. Much of the time we may find it easy to see the things that can trip us up or cause us pain, so we can avoid them on our own. This leads us to think the light of God’s word isn’t necessary and we begin to feel we are wasting our time by reading it. But nothing could be further from the truth. We never know when life circumstances can plunge us into greater levels of darkness than we have ever known. When that happens, we will want to be prepared. We will want to have the light of God’s word to guide us. So make reading God’s word a daily activity, even when walking seems easy, so that when you find yourself in darkness, you’ll be ready.

Loving the Unlovable

Geoff LaLone

“Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little”
Luke 7:47


This past Sunday the sermon focused on the “new commandment” Jesus gave his disciples in John 13:34, that we love one another as he has loved us. We acknowledged that when it comes to people with whom we have much in common and enjoy spending time with, it’s a fairly easy commandment to follow. But it becomes rather difficult when it comes to those people that we find unlovable. Maybe they have very different opinions than we do, or they have hurt us in some way, or they simply get on our nerves. Whatever the reason, we find it very hard to love them.
Loving all people as Jesus loves us is not simply a matter of the will. It is a supernatural feat, and therefore requires a supernatural power, a power only God can provide, which he makes available to us through his Holy Spirit. But this power must be accompanied by a realization and admission on our part, that we are not so lovable ourselves.

In his gospel, Luke tells the story of a sinful woman who come to visit Jesus while he dined at the home of a Pharisee. As far as we can tell, no words were shared between the woman and Jesus…only actions. First, the woman bathed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Then, she kissed his feet and anointed them with costly perfume. As far as Jesus was concerned, it was an act of great devotion and sacrifice, and an expression of great love. The Pharisee, on the other hand, thought it was scandalous, given this woman’s reputation.

To justify the woman’s actions to his host, Jesus presented him with a scenario in which two individuals had their debts canceled by their debtor, but the debt of one was ten times greater than the other. When Jesus asked the Pharisee which individual would have appreciated the forgiveness more, the answer was obvious, the one with the greater debt. This woman, who was keenly aware of how great a debt she had been forgiven, was responding by demonstrating great love toward the one who had forgiven her. The Pharisee, in contrast, had shown hardly any love to Jesus. This could be explained by the fact that he felt he had very little for which he needed to be forgiven.

In telling this story Jesus was not suggesting that the Pharisee had a lesser debt to God. No matter what we have done, we all stand in need of forgiveness. His point was that because this woman had a more accurate view of the depth of her sin, she likewise had a more accurate understanding of the depths of God’s love and grace. Loving Jesus in such an extravagant way was the most natural way for her to respond to this realization. The same is true for us. The more we come to realize how much God loves us, the greater our loving response to him will be. When we truly love Jesus, we will find it easier to love the people he has created, all of them, not only our favorites. We will understand none of us is without faults, that God’s love and forgiveness extends to all of us, and that to love the creature is to love the creator.