Monthly Archives: December 2015

Christmas.

Christmas is upon us! Trees are up and decorated, lights are on houses and gifts are wrapped and placed under the tree. Well, except for ours; they are hidden. Boys like to peek. Homes smell like Christmas, the smell of a Christmas tree and cookies lingers in the air. Snow is here. Ok, maybe not here in South Texas; we have sand, dirt and dead grass. But Christmas is here, Santa just wears Hawaiian shorts and a short sleeve Santa Jacket.
Today I want to talk about the real reason for the season. Jesus and His birth, our gift from God. He was born to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ” “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born, will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Luke 1:27-28, 30-31, 34-35, 38 NLT

I know Mary had to have been freaking out in the beginning, but she went from fear to, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Mary knew who she was and who she belonged to. That gave her Godfidence that all this would be true and would take place. After that, she said, “May everything you have said come true.” Think about just that one verse. She knew she was gonna be talked about, persecuted and what was Joseph gonna say or do! But she remembered who she was and who she belonged to that gave her the Godfidence to say may all you have said come true. She knew God was gonna make a way plus she knew she knew she was handpicked by God to carry His gift, our Savior to the world. Wow! God has also handpicked you to do something great for His kingdom. Let’s get to it. Keep saying, “Let everything God has said about me come true!” Remember like Mary did, whose you are in Christ and who you belong to.

Joseph, Mary’s future husband, was handpicked by God to raise the Savior of the world. First off, Joseph had to have told Mary, “You’re what? Pregnant and still a virgin, yeah right! God got you pregnant! Mary, what you been smoking chick! You really expect me to believe that God’s Spirit did this?!” Scripture says he planned on divorcing her. So God had to intervene on this one. Us men can be stubborn. Especially after news like that! 

Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man. He did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:19-21 NLT

Joseph said OK, I believe now! Can you imagine God coming to you and saying, “Victor I am trusting you to raise my Son, He is going to be the Savior of the world?” God trusts us with His Son now! Scripture says He gave His one and only Son to us!   

Back to Joseph. It had to be pretty tough for him but he had that same Godfidence Mary had. I don’t think Mary quite trusted fully yet, but her choices were few, so she went with him. God really didn’t have to intervene much there. I believe their hearts were right with God so everything else fell into place. 

Now to my favorite part of the story. Joseph and Mary are headed to Bethlehem and when they get there, she goes into labor. Joseph frantically goes knocking on doors trying to get a room, but there are no rooms available. Jesus was coming, in a room or outside. Before we continue let me ask you a question. Is there room for Jesus in your heart? Or are you going to leave Him outside knocking? 

Joseph finally finds a place that is covered. It’s a barn! Our Savior, Jesus, is born in a stinky, animal-filled barn! Mary finally gives birth and the Savior of the world is born. Mary wraps Him in strips of cloth and places Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough for animals! This just tells me that no matter where or what you’re born into, God can still use you! Jesus, a king, wasn’t born in a palace or to a priest. He was born to a carpenter. Scripture describes Joseph as a good man. Mary, as a good woman and both had great hearts and were obedient to God. 

God knew exactly what He was doing. God put this plan in motion a very long time ago. He sent His one and only son to die for you and me. Jesus is the reason for the season! 

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

Fishing.

Living here on the Gulf Coast, fishing can be a way of life or just a great way to relax and enjoy God’s beautiful work. The act of fishing requires the use of a rod and reel, some hooks, and bait or lures. Now, there are many different species of fish here on the Gulf Coast. There is fresh water and saltwater fishing which includes bay fishing or offshore fishing and thus, the type of fishing you choose determines your bait or lure selection.

You know the devil’s an expert angler. A temptation can be his rod and reel and his bait can be food, drugs, alcohol or maybe even porn. Whatever it is, he knows your weakness and he will continue to cast that bait until he gets you to bite. But, there is good news…

Men, if you get hooked you can spit the hook and keep swimming.

Satan is an expert angler and he has bait out everywhere. I keep thinking about when he went for the trophy catch in Jesus, but Jesus didn’t take the bait. He was on a 40 day fast and was tempted with food, kingdoms and wealth. The devil knowing scripture used the Word as bait. He took Jesus up to the highest point in Jerusalem and told Jesus to jump cause God’s word said He would send angels to protect Him. Jesus wasn’t having it. In every scenario, Jesus fought back with God’s Word. He used the same bait satan used against Him to win the battle. Like I said, satan is an expert angler, he has been doing this for millennia, but Jesus is an even better one! The one thing I want you guys to know is that you can win these battles too.  Just remember what scripture says about you.

“If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.”
Deuteronomy 28:13 NLT

You are victorious over temptation.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Romans 8:11 NLT

Think about the power that is living in you. It’s the same power that rose Jesus from the grave. We can overcome temptation! We have the victory! You are overcomers! Don’t take the bait.

A Reminder For Those Who Don’t Feel They Have Enough

Mike Foster

by Mike Foster

’Tis the season of giving. But while we assume we need to be rushing off to purchase perfect presents, we can actually do something great with what we’ve got.

Photo Credit: Flood G., Creative Commons

Take this woman and her boots for example.

She was on the subway in New York. Another lady entered her car barefoot and evidently chilly by the way she was wiggling her pink toes. The boot-wearing woman took off her shoes and zipped them up over the pink toes.

At the warmth, the woman cried.

The now socks-wearing lady looked down at the thin layer that protected her own feet for her long trek home. A man noticed her disgruntled look and a chain reaction started. He whipped out a pair of thick gym socks and handed them to her. She could make it home.

Hearing about the gift, a store contacted the woman who gave away her boots and sent her on a shopping spree. What did she do? Buy a new pair of boots? Enjoy the repayment for her random act of kindness?

Not exactly.

Instead, she continued the chain of giving by donating every purchase to a women’s shelter.

After hearing this story, I realized that giving is about something deeper than the gift and my heart started growing like the Grinch in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

What if Christmas,” he says, “doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!

There is a “little bit more” to this whole season than purchasing presents, isn’t there? Gifts are awesome but there are times where we can’t wrap the thing we need to give away.

Here’s why:

This whole Christmas thing started because Jesus was born to give a grace that could and can never be contained in a box. Because of him, and people like the boot-wearing lady, there is a chain reaction of goodness and kindness that has been freely gifted to us.  So pause.

What great thing can we do with what we’ve got?

Source: A Reminder For Those Who Don’t Feel They Have Enough

Distraction.

What are distractions? The dictionary defines it as the ability to prevent someone from giving full attention to something else. Wow! All of us get distracted from time to time. Some distractions are good some are bad. Here lately I’ve been struggling a lot with distractions to the point I feel like I might have ADHD to the 10th power! I start on something and something else gets in the way. Most of my distraction start in my head. I start to think about things I want to do and then things I need to do and then the things I had just started doing then I forget about the other things. Now let’s think about God scripture tells us to,

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT”

God wants our full attention and He doesn’t ask us to seek Him, He tells us to. He even says He will provide for us. Why do you think that is? One of the things that most of us are distracted by is the question on how are we going to take care of our families. “How can I provide for them, how can I pay the bills?” Now with CHRISTmas coming it’s, “How can I get my the kids presents they would like?” Other things worry me too. One thing for me is my 4-month-old son. I find myself getting up in the middle of the night just to check on him. Another thing is safety, last night I was driving home from church and I started thinking what if someone carjacked us and shot me and left with my son. Then I stopped and realized I was not pointing my eyes in the right direction, they weren’t pointed towards Jesus. All of those thoughts kept me from focusing on God. Look at Peter for instance. He was in a boat in the middle of a huge storm and saw Jesus walking on water. Peter called out to Jesus and Jesus told him to come out of the boat and Peter got out and started walking on water then all of a sudden he got distracted by the storms and waves and started to sink, he panicked, but then Jesus came over and reached out to him and pulled him to safety.

I don’t know what storms or what good things are distracting you from keeping your eyes on Jesus. Maybe it’s time to take inventory of things that pull you away from God. In the book of Hebrews, we are told,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1 NLT

The writer of Hebrews tells us to get rid of the good and the bad because it will keep us from finishing the race. All distractions do is slow us down, send us in the wrong direction to keep us from the One that loves us and that’s Jesus. I am not saying divorce your wife or get rid of your kids or quit your job. What I am saying is put God first, make Him the center of your marriage, give God control and watch all those distractions fade away.

God has great plans for you and you can’t receive those great things by getting distracted from Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
Jeremiah 29:11, 13 NLT

Exile.

For some time now, I’ve been in exile. I’ve had to sit a few opportunities out because either the timing was wrong or God has simply said, “No, you have to wait.”  I’ve come to learn something. There is a certain strength that is built in a man when in exile. Brian Hardin founder of dailyaudiobible.com and a mentor of mine put some perspective on this for me earlier this year.

Arguably the most quoted bible verse over the last few years has been Jeremiah 29:11, it reads:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

It’s a great scripture, no doubt. But like so many scriptures it is at times used and understood out of context. You see, in the context of this scripture, the Hebrew people found themselves in exile. It was a harsh enslavement in a foreign land under the authority of a demented king. Jerusalem was all but a faded memory. They weren’t going home soon, and when they did, it wasn’t going to be the same. That’s a hard place to be.

For men, circumstances of exile are often the times that define our story. Sometimes God has to exile us in order to  show us who we really are. It’s like, in order to give us His identity, we have to be stripped of what we have become by the terms of life and the world.

The challenge is, are we willing to be exiled?

The Hebrew people had to learn that in their exile, life had to go on. They had to plant fields, they had to teach their children, they had to work with what they had, where they were. It was in these times in the monotony of mere existence that God began to remind the Israelites of who they were. They were a people set apart as His own, a people meant to usher His son into the world.  In the same way, God uses exile in us to build the capacity He needs in order to take us where He’s going.  Therefore, in much the same way as He used the Israelites, God uses believers today as emissaries of His son Jesus in the world. As Christians we are the light of the world, it should be through our existence that Jesus is known. Exile gets us ready to move in truth and in authority. So I ask, what are you doing in your exile, are you letting God build capacity?