So you had a bad day…

So you had a bad day…

 

Are you having a bad day? As I read the Christmas story, I realize that Mary and Joseph were definitely having what we would call a bad day. There’s a census and they’ve got to travel while she’s ready to pop.

 

“Really God? Right now? We’ve just worked out all of this stuff in our relationship and now You’re gonna send us all the way to Bethlehem? I mean you’ve spoken to us and we know you’re in the big middle of our situation, but now, though we know we’re blessed, we’ve got to travel like this.”

 

Not in a nice comfortable CAR, but on a donkey…an uncomfortable ride, especially for a pregnant woman who’s about to bust. Away from their primary physician and away from work, to travel. This costs money and time. They get there and you know they’re ready to lay down because this trip has no doubt worn them out…. and just when they think they’re gonna lay down their heads, they’re told there’s not a room available!

 

We’re sold out!
It’s a bad day!

Then they find the only thing offered to them is a stable. I doubt they walked in and were like, “HEY, this is nice”. No, they were like… “HAY, this place is filled with hay.”

 

Sometimes when things aren’t what we expected, it seems like a bad day.
But we can’t forget that God placed them in this stable. Look at the things God used here:

He used circumstance, He used the government (which issued this census), He used people who not only came and took all the good rooms, but He also used someone to offer what he had even though it wasn’t much (a stable). All things were working together. Even though it wasn’t pretty, it was the most beautiful thing taking place on Earth and in Heaven at the same time.
It wasn’t easy to travel to Bethlehem in their condition, yet God’s working out a detail that’s of the utmost importance. You see, in Micah, God told the people that a ruler would be born in this little town of Bethlehem.

 

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

Micah 5:2

 

Many times God is working through struggles to get you to a place where He’s destined a miracle. God used this couple to do something huge for His kingdom, and it wasn’t how or where they expected. God knew exactly what He was doing with Mary and Joseph just as He knows exactly what He’s doing with you.
Just like Mary was carrying Jesus, so are we. And many times God leads us to a place where we deliver Him into the darkness. A place where despite any struggle and discomfort, there’s a greater detail in His plan that is being made compete. So today, know that He knows. Know that He sees when things don’t go as we planned. Know that He sees when we face rejection. Know that He sees when we end up in a place that makes us wonder or question even though we’re doing what we’ve been asked to do. God knows the details. Trust in Him, even if it seems like nothing is working out. There’s no telling what He’s planning to birth out of your bad day.

99 years probation

A man from the rehab I work at came back from a court hearing today with some news… He got 5 years probation. At first I wondered why he was so excited. FIVE YEARS! That just seemed like such a long time for probation.
Then he informed me that he was looking at 99 YEARS in prison. All the sudden, my perspective changed and I began to celebrate the mercy and grace of God!
 
Sometimes life can seem rough, but stop to realize that the sentence we were looking at was worst than 99 years… we were looking at the death penalty. We had the sentence of death in us. All the sudden this life becomes more precious because we’ve been shown more mercy and grace than we can comprehend.
 
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

The Journey

The Journey

By Chris Taylor

 

Psalm 106:13-14

But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test.

 

Wait a minute… God just did something amazing in the lives of his people! He brought them out of Egypt where they were slaves living in oppression. He delivered them! Then he parted the sea and gave them a clear and dry path to take. He made a way when there was no way! Then he destroyed the army that was chasing after them right before their very eyes. But now they find themselves in-between the previous miracle and the next promise.

 

God didn’t deliver them to leave them in the desert. The desert was part of the journey. Journeys can be tough. I’m not a road trip kinda guy and I have no desire to be in a car for 8 hours, yet I love to travel. But what I’ve discovered is this; the further the destination is, the longer the journey. With this in mind, I’m thankful for the journey in my life! The journey is not the destination, but it’s a place to be thankful and it’s a place of expectancy. He brought them out to bring them through! But what happens when we lose that gratitude and expectancy? What happens when we forget what God has done and what He’s doing? What happens when we forget that He’s taking us somewhere that is going to be more than what we imagined? The answer is simple. We become dissatisfied.

 

The journey isn’t always easy. It can seem very dry at times and we can become hungry. They were hungry, yet they were on their way to a place that had grapes larger than they could carry on their own! They were complaining about their stomachs while God was taking them to the land of milk and honey. They not only forgot what God had done, but they forgot that He’s got a destination ready that will more than supply their needs and satisfy their hunger.

 

We too get hungry on the journey. It’s easy to get our eyes off of the Lord and His blessings. How quickly we too forget. But we must be quick to remember that God has a plan and that He satisfies. The destination will be a place that has the “grapes”. Hold out for the promise of God! Don’t fill yourself with temporary pleasures that don’t truly satisfy because God’s got something in store for you that is more than enough. Remember the journey is temporary, and if it seems long, be thankful that it’s far from where you started.

 

I remember when my parents were taking me out to a really nice celebration dinner. I had just completed all my courses and received my minister’s license. We had planned it in advance and made reservations because this place was super nice! That day, my parents urged me to just eat a few snacks because they were so excited about the upcoming feast. Knowing that we were going to have this several course dinner gave me the ability to wait and to resist the temptation of that devilish drive-through window. When we arrived at our destination, I was so glad that I waited. It was worth it and I was able to enjoy to the fullest what was awaiting me.

 

Cravings are real! If you’re in the desert, remember that God is bringing you through. You haven’t reached the destination and you don’t want to make the desert you’re destination either! Bring your heart and mind back to a place of remembrance and thanksgiving. Through time with the Lord, let Him renew the vision in your life and then trust God enough to bring you through the desert and to the destination! There are blessings just waiting your arrival!

The Alarm

The Alarm

by Chris Taylor

2 Chronicles

20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites[a] came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom,[b] from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

 

Back when I was in school (which seems like ages ago), we would have fire and tornado drills. Do you remember those? So it works like this… an alarm will sound, which prompts us to execute the plan in place. The alarm’s purpose is to bring us to a state of alarm. Now without the plan in place, the alarm will just ensue chaos!

 

We have all sorts of alarms with plans attached. We have the morning alarm with the plan of getting up and getting ready (or hitting snooze five times). There’s the house alarm with the plan of alerting the authorities and checking on the property. We have the Amber Alert that calls us to immediately assist in the search for the missing child.

 

Notice in this chapter of 2 chronicles how the King Jehoshaphat responded when he became alarmed. The Bible says that he resolved to inquire of the Lord and called a fast. (Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.)

 

Not only that, but he also had a plan in place. The previous generations had already decided what to do in the state of emergency.

 

‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ (emphasis added)

 

What a plan! He later states that the enemy coming is too strong for them, and that they don’t know what to do; however their eyes are on the Lord.

 

There are some important keys to victory in this passage.

  1. Have a plan in place- Things will happen in this life that will alarm us. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” We face battles that seem far too big for us. Storms of life head our way and we know they have the potential to tear things apart. Sometimes it seems like the fire is too close to home and it’s all around. Without a plan, becoming alarmed only leads to chaos. This is why we can adopt this plan from verse 9. We stand in the presence of God and we cry out to Him knowing that He hears us and will save us.
  2. Keep our eyes on the Lord- Like Jehoshaphat, we may realize the battle we’re facing is overwhelming and seems unbeatable. We know we can’t defeat it in our own strength, which is actually a good thing to realize. Our hope isn’t found in ourselves. It’s found in our Savior. He confesses that he doesn’t know exactly what do, BUT his eyes were on the Lord. The battle would love to have all your attention and focus. The enemy would love for you to be filled with fear and utterly defeated. Yet, there’s something amazing that takes place when we take our focus off of the problem and onto the solution! Does this mean ignoring the issue at hand? No. Does it mean pretending nothing is happening? No. But it does mean that we know the source of our help and that we trust He will provide the victory.

 

The response of the people brought a response from God! He pretty much said, “I GOT THIS”. The battle is not yours, it’s God’s. He told them they wouldn’t even have to fight it. WOW! He told them to still get ready and to show up to face the enemy so they could see the deliverance of the Lord.

 

16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

 

Have you ever heard the saying “Pick and choose your battles”? If your married, I’m sure you’ve discovered this concept, and it’s a good one to know. We can definitely do this in a lot of situations. We may let little Susie wear that Cinderella dress to school because we aren’t choosing that battle. We may hold our tongue a few times a day to avoid a conflict a home that isn’t worth the fight. But when it comes to spiritual battles, the luxury of picking and choosing doesn’t seem as available. Still, there are times we fight battles we were never intended to fight. Things come our way that we would never choose and that we could never win without our great God. Yet many times we find ourselves worn out and defeated because our eyes are on the battle and we haven’t taken it to the Lord in fasting and prayer. Inner chaos becomes outer chaos when we are unprepared and try to attack in our own abilities. We’re no match on our own! But God hears the cry of his children and He is the ever-present help in the time of trouble. Yes there are battles we must fight in which He provides the power, but there are also battles He fights for us where we’re reminded that He is the Almighty Deliverer.

 

I was recently in a church service when a woman gave me a word that we never really want to hear. She told me I was about to be in a battle. I thought to myself, I live in a battle lady! But in my spirit I was immediately quickened to fast and to pray. Over the next several days, there was a firestorm all around me and yet it never touched me. It was as if God was putting the fires out before they ever reached my door. He was fighting for me.

 

Know today that God is the God of victory and that He cares for you. An attack on you is an attack on His child, which makes the battle His battle. I encourage you to make a plan. What are you going to do when the alarm sounds in your life? Practice it! Practice focusing on the Lord in the little things, and commit to fasting and prayer on a more regular basis. Remember one day there’s another “alarm” that’s gonna blast from a heavenly trumpet, and God’s got a plan for that one too!

 

 

The Appraisal

Phillipians 3:7-11

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

There are many things we deem valuable in our lives. We value our families, our jobs, our friends, our homes, our stuff, and our reputations (to name a few). Surely the apostle Paul had these things as well, yet he describes a huge transition after encountering the Living God. There’s an appraisal of the heart, and something new that surpasses everything he’s ever counted as valuable. All the things, all the stuff, all the treasures he held so dear are suddenly eclipsed by this precious gift of knowing Jesus as Lord. It wasn’t a toss up, or a close race… the value of knowing the Lord in everyway possible was so much greater that the other things were considered rubbish.

My parents recently sold the house I grew up in. I love that house because it was more than just a house, it was a home. Over the 32 years they lived there, they remodeled, added on, and updated the inside and the outside. And as most of us do, they also accumulated a lot of stuff. The house was filled with “things”. When the time came to sell the home, the “stuff” didn’t sell it or even add value to the appraisal. It was the home itself and the upkeep that made it so valuable. If they hadn’t remodeled the bathrooms, it wouldn’t matter how many nice things they decorated it with, because they weren’t permanent fixtures.

Knowing Jesus and allowing him to completely change our lives is not a temporary thing, it’s an eternal thing. He’s a permanent fixture in our lives, and the one who truly gives us life. Oh the value of knowing HIM! When we realize this value, we realize it’s not the stuff that really adds to our lives, because knowing Him becomes so much greater than anything else.

I want to know HIM more. I can relate to Paul when he wrote that he hadn’t “arrived” yet. He hadn’t obtained all there was to obtain, but he was running in that direction. Running toward the most valuable thing in all existence.

I challenge you today to do an appraisal of your life. What is it that you hold most dear to your heart? Does the value of knowing Jesus as Lord surpass the rest? Are you running toward him or are there “things” that are holding you back?

 

 

delight

Finding delight during times of trouble

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.

Psalm 119:143

 

Have you ever wondered where to find delight during the hard times? We all face troubles. The word is very clear on that. John 16:33 informs us that in this world we will have trouble. David was surely no stranger to this, but during the difficulty he found pleasure in the commands of God. Why is that so? Because His commands are the answer. Following the Lord’s instruction is life. It’s joy. It’s peace. It’s safety. It’s a light unto the path that is darkened by tribulations.

During your troubles, be obedient. David doesn’t say he delights in God’s suggestions. He doesn’t say he delights in His opinions. David says he delights in the commands of the Lord. These are the clear given instructions. In other words, I have peace because I don’t have to wonder what to do during these moments. I’m going to do what I know to do… and that’s to obey the Lord’s commands.

Dive into the word. Seek out His instructions for your life and as you do, take delight in His commands.

Tailor made Righteousness

His Righteousness

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (nasb)

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

 

Isaiah 64:6 (nlt)

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

 

 

Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

 

 

We as believers should desire righteousness. The question is, what is it that makes you righteous? Many wear costumes of deceit that are good looking on the outside, but never reveal the filth on the inside. Some wear mask of self-made righteousness to make others think everything is ok. They smile on the outside or have lofty eyes, but it’s all a front. Others just attempt to be righteous by working diligently at things they believe are good causes. But the truth is, even our best attempts at self-righteousness is filthy in the eyes of God. But here’s the good news, He provided a way for us to have true righteous that is pure in His eyes. Jesus became sin, even though he knew no sin, so that we could become the righteousness of God! But this righteousness doesn’t fit over our self-righteousness. It doesn’t fit over our costumes and masks. You see, it’s tailor made to fit perfectly over our unrighteousness. It’s when we confess our condition to God, impurities, mistakes, and all our sin, that He covers us with something we could never obtain on our own. Righteousness in the truest form.

Be honest today. Don’t think you’ve got to have it all together for God to clothe you in His garment. Confess the weaknesses he already knows and allow him to clothe your nakedness with His Holiness.

Fighting Fear

Fighting Fear

by Chris Taylor

 

Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 

Nothing comes more natural to our human nature than fear. From being a child who is afraid of the dark, to being an adult who is afraid of failure, fear is very real. Our culture is constantly fueling the fires of this emotion by the popularity of scary movies and even the nightly news. We have mass shootings and terrorist attacks at public events and in schools. It seems that no one is safe.

 

Beyond the fear of these things happening in the world, we have our own personal fears. Fears regarding our success or finances. Fears regarding our parenting or even the lack of ability to become a parent. We fear the distant future. We fear what tomorrow may bring. We fear what others may think of us. There are so many things we fear, but this is not from God! (2 Timothy 1:7) In fact, His word is very clear on this issue. Do not fear!

 

That’s easier said than done. We can read this and know the LORD is commanding us not to fear, but our focus on the problems and what may happen has become so big that the command can seem impossible. I remember as a child, I didn’t only want to hear what I could or couldn’t do, but I also wanted to know why. “I don’t need to do this? Well why?” “I need to do that? Why?” I know this may seem childish; however, the explanation gives us understanding. That’s why we read on…. FOR I AM WITH YOU! Wait now… hold up… this almighty, all-powerful God is with me? That’s why I don’t have to be afraid!

 

If we just grasp the reality of His great love for us, and understand this truth that He is an ever-present help and will never leave us or forsake us…then, this prefect love will cast out our fears and we can rest in His divine peace. (Hebrews 13:5, 1 John 4:18)

 

If you’re struggling with fear today, shift your focus from the problem to the promise. Fight the fear with truth knowing that He is with you. You can trust Him!

GOLD

Gold

Job 23:10

He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

 

 

Are you seeing this God? Why am I going though this trial? What’s up with this temptation? Why does everything seem to be falling apart?

 

These are questions you may be asking yourself. Sometimes the heat of life seems to be on high and we struggle to hold tight to what we know. Pressure builds up, weaknesses are revealed, our total reliance on God is all we have, and yet we wonder if He’s even seeing this. Why would He even allow these things to happen? Darkness may be overwhelming like a sky covered with storm clouds. David understood that feeling…In Psalm 139, the Psalmist wrote,

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

 

God still sees. Your endurance is important to Him, and these trials and the testing of your faith produce the endurance you need for this race of life. We as believers are meant to shine like Gold. We are meant to show His reflection and to walk in purity. But pure gold comes through a process.

 

It takes 150 degrees to make Tin

It takes 500 degrees to make brass

It takes 1130 degrees to make silver

It takes 1400 degrees to make Gold

 

The decision has to be made. Do you want to be a tin Christian, or do you want to be a gold Christian? If you want to be a gold Christian, you have to know that God’s going to turn up the heat until everything that is impure rises to the top so that He can remove it. So if you’re in the middle of the test, know today that God sees every choice you make. Know that the suffering of this present time cannot compare to the glory that will be revealed in you. Dark clouds cannot hide you from their maker. He’s watching. He’s with you. Have a made up mind powered by the Holy Spirit. Live you’re life in such a way, that you’ll be able to declare the words of Job…

 

“He knows the way that I take, and when He has tested me I will come forth as GOLD”.

 

 

 

He Knows Me

Psalm 139

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

      2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

      3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

      4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

 

 

Part of my reading today was one of my favorite chapters in the Bible…Psalm 139. Verse 3 says He’s intimately acquainted with all my ways.

He knows me. Everything about me. All of my ways… my moods, my likes, my dislikes, my fears, my struggles, my efforts, my thoughts, my tendencies, my desires, the way I like my coffee, the movies I enjoy the most, the type of music I find most beautiful. He knows I love his word. He knows I enjoy making things look good and that I observe every space that I enter. He knows how I pick up paper towels off the bathroom floor whenever I go into a public restroom…He knows everything! And all of those things He has worked into His design for my life.

Because He knows me, He knows what I need. He knows what I don’t need. He’s faithful despite the the ways that are not pleasing to Him and He gently (and sometimes not so gently) corrects me and instructs me so that my ways become more like His.

We serve a God who is intimately involved in our lives. He doesn’t rescue us and then throw us out to make it on our own. He’s a part of every step, ordering them, and guiding us. Know today that He knows where you are. He knows how you got there. He knows where you’re going. We do nothing that surprises Him! If you know you’re headed in the wrong direction, He knows how to reach you. Listen, obey, and be blessed.