Rutsville

We do the same things day after day, we get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, and start the routine. It’s the same thing day after day. It’s the same old routine all week long.

What would it take to change the routine? Do you want to change it? Are you happy with it? Where does Jesus fit into your schedule? Does the Lord have a place? Would you allow Him a place in your tight-knit plan, or is He allowed to interrupt? What if He was first and your day started with the Lord. Would this be a radical thought? How can this happen?

First, it starts with a desire, a desire to put God first (Matthew 6:33). So how can that take place? One suggestion is to start earlier. I have tried every time of the day to spend time with God. Nothing seemed to work or to last. There was always something that interfered.

So, what worked for me? Finally, getting up and starting with God was my answer. The time begins with a prayer followed by reading the Bible. It took some effort to make this pattern part of my day. Before long, however, it became the most significant part of my day. Starting with God makes your day better. Somewhere along the way, you will notice your entire day is better. It is then you realize that God watches over you all the time. He guides you and your days are more productive.

The fresh start begins to change your outlook and your expectations. Then you start to think about what God can do through you. The only way to find out is to begin.

Start and stick with the plan. It is one thing to start something. It is quite another to work the plan. For any undertaking to work, there must be follow-through. Lots of people start. It takes dedication and determination to be consistent in the follow-up. It is the implementation that gets you to the destination. Enjoy the journey and experience the ventures that God has in store for you.

As Christians, we look forward to our arrival in heaven. Everything will be perfect there. But what about life here and now? Is it just an endurance to get to your heavenly home? I hope not.

The Christian life, in a sense, is what you make it. Each day is another step towards eternity. Make it an adventure.

Remember your final destination. If you do, living here will not be Rutsville.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Puzzles are puzzling. You dump the box on the table and see it in a thousand pieces. They are all over your workspace. Where do you start? I begin by turning all of them right side up so I can see their faces. Next chore for me is to find all the edges. From there, I start to build the frame of the puzzle by looking at the picture on the box. That’s my beginning.

But how would you build this puzzle if there was no picture? That’s how life is. We can’t see the big picture. We do not know what belongs where. As for the picture, we start with the boundaries. The same principle applies to our Christian life. The boundaries that we know we start to apply to our personal lives. Our conscience reveals those initial boundaries. And if we are wise, we will watch certain people that we respect and do what they do. If we are smarter, we will start to learn our Bible (New Testament), God’s ultimate instruction book. This is the assembly book to a productive Christian life. As we progress, the picture becomes clearer and clearer. As we begin to see how it’s done, then we want to try it. The “how to’s” are right there. The Holy Spirit opens things for us to see. He will guide His children each step of the way if they are willing to listen. Much to our amazement, we realize the Bible is not just a book of knowledge. It is also an instruction book on how to live for Christ. Who would have thought that God planned all this an eternity ago.

You Are the One

The power of one never underestimates its strength. One can make a difference in almost anything.

You and God make a majority. You’ve heard that before. Often, we forget it. When a person agrees with God, that is all it takes for Him to work. Whether it is spiritual history or secular history, it takes just one to make the deciding difference.

Abraham decided to obey God and leave the Ur of the Chaldees. So, the nation of Israel began.

Moses in self-exile obeyed God and led Israel from the persecution of Egypt. Israel was then able to occupy the land that God had promised Abraham. That is the land that they possess today.

God honored Hannah’s prayer for a child. That child, Samuel, was one of the most significant spiritual influences in Israel’s history.

One stone killed the giant Goliath and freed Israel from being conquered by the Philistines.

One woman, Ruth a Moabite, honored her mother-in-law and went to a foreign land, Israel.  She became part of Jesus genealogy.

In the New Testament, one young virgin who trusted God gave birth to the Savior. Her husband to be was the one man willing to pray and followed the Lord’s leadership to mentor the human side of our Savior.

Peter was the one willing to stand up and preach on the day of Pentecost.

John, the Apostle, was the one who when exiled to the Isle of Patmos wrote the book of Revelation

Jesus was the only one, the Begotten Son of God, who could pay the price for our sins. And He did.

Today, God is still using one person at a time to do His work in your community. All it takes is one to listen to God and then obey His instruction. The next time you say to yourself, I can’t do it. I don’t know how? Who am I? Surely God is not talking to me — they are just excuses. If God challenges your heart, then you are the one, the one who can make a difference for all eternity for someone.

It’s Not the Talk, But the Walk

Conversations abound. Have you ever counted the number of chit-chats that you have in a day?  They can be verbal or texting.  The number may amaze you.  What were the results of these?  How many of them would be pleasing to the Lord?  Would ten percent of them even mention the Lord?

There was a Centurion, a Roman officer, who oversaw a hundred soldiers.  He had a servant who was close to death.  So, he sent word to Jesus, asking for help for this servant.  Jesus was almost there when He received a message from the officer.  The message said I am not worthy of You coming to my house.  Just say the word and my dear servant friend will be healed.  The Lord was surprised at the message!  It was a shock that a Gentile man of such authority would not want the Lord to be insulted by coming to his house. The officer knew that one of authority like Jesus could send someone else to do the healing instead of Himself.  The Messiah commented, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel” (Matthew 8:10 NKJV).

There is another example of faith that deserves our attention.  It is found in Mark 7:24-30.  This scripture presents a Gentile woman asking Jesus for help regarding her demon-possessed daughter.  The mother’s request was ignored by the Lord two times.  The Messiah suggested it was not right for Him to heal a non-Jew.  He was sent to bring Israel to repentance.  Her reply was Lord, that is true, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall under the Jewish dinner table.  This mother was asking for a healing crumb. The Lord’s response was “great is your faith, let it be to you as you desire” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV). 

The above two illustrations show the great faith of two people who were not in the established religious crowd.  Yet they believed Jesus could and would work in their lives.  Both requests were not for themselves, but someone else.

Think about this for a moment.  How many of our requests are for ourselves versus our requests for others.  What makes their requests an example for Christians today?  It was their faith.  The kind of faith that trusts in the power of God.  

Do we believe that God still performs miracles? Do we have the faith to believe in miracles or is that just idle talk?  Maybe the question should be, is our Christian walk filled with answered prayers?  If God isn’t answering our prayers, could it be that we need to get alone with Him and find out why?  Our fellowship with God should be so real that it is noticeable to others.

The God of Rain

The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of the God.   Psalm 68:8 NKJV

It rained and rained and rained after Noah entered the ark. It had never rained before. Noah didn’t know what to expect. He knew that God was about to do something that he had never seen. The Lord was sparing eight people who had worked decades in building a boat on dry land. What was God going to do? There wasn’t a lake, river or ocean nearby. Not even a mud puddle. God was granting only eight people an extended life. The rest of the earth’s entire population was going to perish because of their great wickedness.

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Today, God sends rain for many purposes. It replenishes our drinking water, waters our crops, purifies the air. Water is necessary for life. We can’t live without it.

According to the scripture above, rain is indicative of the presence of God. Have you ever stood on your front porch and watched it rain? If you have, then you enjoyed the fresh smell of the sweet clean air at the conclusion of the rain? There’s something special about the spring rain.

After the rain, there may be a rainbow. When you see one, think for a moment. There’s the promise of God. God said the rainbow was a reminder that He would not destroy the earth again by water (Genesis 9:11).

Rain should help us realize the nearness of God. Complaining about the rain is saying to God that we would rather He stay away for a while so we can have our fun. God knows best. So, He brought the rain. Pause for a moment and look for the presence of God in your life. Do you see it? Can you see it in the life of those around you? Take the time and observe the presence of God. He is there. What does He want you to see, realize, enjoy, and appreciate about His divine presence?

Our God  is there in the rain. In every drop. Let the blessings of God fall on you so that you may be a blessing to others.

Enjoy the presence of God. Thank God for the rain and how it replenishes the earth. More important, appreciate the presence of the Almighty in your life.

Maybe for the first time, recognize that rain is an indication that God is near. Take the time to talk with Him. Listen to His words of instructive encouragement. He is in the rain to bring showers of blessing on you.

The presence of rain reminds us that God is nearer than we think. May each one of us soak in the blessings of being in His presence.

Maybe you’ll look at rain differently from now on — God is near you. Soak Him in.

Don’t Forget the Nobodies

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Samuel came looking. He was on a mission. A divine mission.

King Saul was going to be replaced. God needed a new king in Israel. 

“Samuel, here’s your mission, Go anoint the next king of Israel for Me.” Godly missions will always bring fear to your bones. They will make your insides shake when you think about it. “The God of all creation picked you to do His work.”

“Don’t think about it, just purpose in your heart to do it. You probably do not know how nor do you know the words to say.”

Moses didn’t when God spoke to him out of the burning bush. Moses, following God’s instructions, did lead a nation out of captivity. He didn’t have an army or a gun. He had a shepherd’s staff. What’s that? It is a long stick. But that stick would become a snake and then a stick again. It would be there to divide the Red Sea. Insignificant things to man can be used by God.

Back to Samuel. He was sent to the house of Jesse. David, Jesse’s youngest son at that time, was a shepherd boy. His resumé included the slingshot academy. A what? His self-taught learning experience prepared him to defeat the giant Goliath. Those lonely days with the sheep prepared  David for the spotlight of royalty. All that thinking in the fields brought about the noble actions of a king. The days of isolation with the sheep prepared him to rehearse how to do different things in various circumstances. To be able to keep the flock calm while he killed the bear and the lion. The sheep followed him in safety. That was practice in leading a nation in time of war. The people had confidence in David’s ability to lead them to victory. They recognized that God was with their leader. That assurance gave them the brave confidence to follow David wherever God would lead him. 

When the God of Heaven is first in one’s life, He will always take care of them in unexplainable ways. Ways of confidence, comfort, strength, and provision but most importantly, His Devine presence.

Remember David was a nobody, a shepherd boy, once. He became somebody, a king, to God. David had to go through a course of obstacles to reach that destination of somebody. It was a journey of life, and God was always there. The Lord was present even when David didn’t recognize His quiet presence. God never deserts His children.

Turn around. Be still. Look. You can sense the divine presence of the Almighty in your life.

God Whispers

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We can’t hear Him because we have the volume of the world turned up so loud that it drowns out the voice of God. That appears like a simple statement, yet it seems profoundly true. When was the last time you heard a regular church attender say God spoke to me last night? Or when did that person say I’m to busy, I need to slow down and listen for God? It doesn’t happen too much in our modern high-tech environment.

The lad, Samuel, was awakened from his sleep by God. He arose and went to the priest, Eli, and asked, “What do you want?” Eli responded, “I didn’t call you, go back to bed.” Then it happened again. Samuel once again returned to Eli and asked, “What do you want?” Eli replied “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” When it occurred again, Eli said, “If this takes place again reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'” (I Samuel 3:10 CSB) The next time that Samuel was awakened that night, Samuel answered the Lord.

Samuel didn’t have music or technology blaring in his ears. He was sleeping. He didn’t say, God help me to turn down the volume of the world so I can hear your whispering voice. He was ready to listen and respond to the God of heaven and earth.

How does God get your attention? Can He whisper and you will hear? Does he yell to you? Does He place you in some situation where you will finally look to Him for guidance? That is an uncomfortable spot.

Hindsight, and experience will teach His children to listen to that whisper. Wouldn’t it be easier to listen the first time? Samuel learned to listen to God as a young man. His life shows that he learned this lesson well.

Have You Ever Just Stopped And . . .

Have you ever just stopped and looked at God’s creation? Really looked at the sky, the sun (for a moment) or even yourself. Look at your hand! It moves, it holds things -some things very tightly. How can we ever doubt that we are fearfully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139:14) We serve a great God who loves us. If you ever doubt His love, just look up. Psalm 19:1 states, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Have you ever just stopped and thought how to bring glory to God? The answer is simply by doing the things that God would do. Being kind and helping others are just the beginning of an endless list. Letting God direct our thoughts and actions gets us on the right path.

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Would God want me to do this?” Really think about it for a moment, then proceed based on His answer to you. The answer will always bring glory to Him. When you decide that your actions and speech are pleasing to Him, you are on the right track. God has called you, “so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thessalonians 2:14 CSB)

As a Christian you must believe that God made you to bring glory to Him because He loves you. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36 CSB)

So lets just stop and…

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