He Changed Everything

Grace AND TruthI was a young kid when I was baptized. I remember that it was winter time and the creek was too cold so we went to town (Columbia Christian Church) on a Sunday afternoon because our little country church didn’t have a baptistery. I look back on how little I knew about the Lord at that time. I knew He loved me and He wanted me to live for Him. I also felt love for Him and decided I would follow Him. I’ve learned over the years that deciding to follow Jesus is a minute by minute/hourly/daily decision. The Lord wants my heart committed to Him. There is no part of my life that doesn’t fall under His jurisdiction. Check this out…

22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus25 God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26 CSB)

There is no one who doesn’t need Jesus. I’m so thankful that He made a way for me to be forgiven. I look at the law and realize that I could never measure up. I couldn’t even measure up to the rules of my parents or the speed limits imposed by our government. I would be lost without Jesus. He changes how I love my wife and children. He changes how I approach my work. He changes how I worship. He changes how I look at people with whom I disagree. He changes how I respond when someone tries to hurt me. I am nothing without Him, but with Him I have EVERYTHING! When He enters my heart, everything looks incredibly different. I see people differently through His eyes. I welcome to take over my heart every day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

One NAME Alone

JesusJesus man of joyHe is RisenI remember accepting the Lord when I was in third grade. I wanted to follow Him. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord and I decided to do the same. I worked on my behavior and attitude and most days I performed well. When I went off to Bible college, it was to enter ministry. It was there I had a personal encounter with God. My faith became my own. I had been living off the faith of my family, but now I believed for me. I decided that even if my family ditched their faith, I believed in God. Even since that night of deep commitment, I’ve had to remember the simple call of the Lord.  He is not asking for my money, possessions or even my behavior – He’s after my heart. When my heart is committed to Him EVERYTHING else follows. Now, many years removed from my third-grade commitment to my profound belief in college –my heart is still after His heart.  I was so reminded this morning of my journey but just how significant it is to praise the NAME of the Lord. His NAME is above all creation and above every name in the heavens and the earth. The Psalmist pens a cool verse after naming the elements of heaven and earth (including animals and humans) and how the NAME of the Lord stands above them all. Check this out…

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. (Psalm 148:13 NIV)

The Old Testament and the New Testament all point to Jesus. I heard a profound truth last Friday that is still speaking to me. “The Cross on which Jesus died is the hinge on which the doorway of worship swings.” (Louie Giglio) My worship of God is born of my understanding of what I’d be like without Him. I am humbled by the fact the Lord has saved me. I’m not better than anyone else, but He is better than anyone. I want to pursue His heart all my days. A new song that is in my heart is called: Worthy of Your Name by Passion Band.

Rumors of the Son of Man
Stories of a Savior
Holiness with human hands
Treasure for the traitor

No ear had heard, no eye had seen
The Image of the Father
Until heaven came to live with me
A rescue like no other

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Yes You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You did not speak, You made no sound
You died for Your accusers
As Your blood fell to the ground
You redefined my future
 

On the day when You arose
The darkness ran for cover
For the King of kings has claimed His throne
Now until forever

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You’re my author, my maker
My ransom, my Savior
My refuge, my hiding place

You’re my helper, my healer
My blessed redeemer
My answer, my saving grace

You’re my hope, in the shadows
My strength, in the battle
My anchor, for all my days

And You stand, by my side
And You stood, in my place
Jesus, no other name
No, only Jesus, no other name

______________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Delivered

delivery guy knockingI love getting packages from my online orders. I am an Amazon Prime member and it’s made Christmas shopping fun, easy and even economical. There is even cool technology that lets me track the shipments while they are on their way. I usually have my orders delivered to my office because our office staff is there during the day to receive deliveries. If I’m out showing houses and away from the office, I get a text when the packages are delivered. It’s fun to even open the packages and get them ready to wrap for a Christmas gift for someone else.

Job is still suffering from the loss of his family, his possessions and his health. He has been debating three of his “friends” and now a young man named Elihu speaks to Job. I have to commend this young man because he has such a respectful tone as he begins to speak. Check this out…

2 I am about to open my mouth;

    my words are on the tip of my tongue.

3 My words come from an upright heart;

    my lips sincerely speak what I know.

4 The Spirit of God has made me;

    the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:2-4 NIV)

He then tells Job that the Lord may very well send a mediator to console and comfort him. He may send an angel or messenger to speak on His behalf. I actually like the tone of this young man’s words. He seems humble and kind. Check this out…

26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,

    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;

    he will restore them to full well-being.

27 And they will go to others and say,

    “I have sinned, and I have perverted what is right,

    but I did not get what I deserved.

28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit,

    and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.”

29 ‘God does all these things to a person –

    twice, even three times –

30 to turn them back from the pit,

    that the light of life may shine on them. (Job 33:26-30 NIV)

While this young man was speaking to Job, he really didn’t understand Job’s relationship with God. I do think what he’s describing though is much how I relate to the Lord. I do have a Mediator Who speaks to God on my behalf. He is Jesus. He intercedes on my behalf and he provided freedom from my sin because of His sacrifice. I can’t quite comprehend that kind of love – but I’m so thankful. Through Jesus, I’m delivered from sin forever. I’m thankful to have the Light of the Lord shining upon my life. It’s as if I’ve received a text saying that I’ve been delivered from death to life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Seek & Surrender

 

Businessman seek the solutionI grew up following the rules. I was taught the difference between right and wrong. I definitely “pushed the envelope” and made bad choices at times. I look back now and I have regrets with some of my choices. I heard a great truth last week – “Disobedience is simply unbelief”. (Thanks Shannon Lovelady.)  I was warned and instructed as a kid about touching the hot stove, but I guess I didn’t “believe” my parents and touched in anyway. I was warned and instructed about a lot of things, that I ended up disobeying and trying anyway, only to find out that I was told the truth to begin with. When I look back on this behavior in my past, and even today in my present, it reinforces that my pride leads me to disobedience and erodes my faith.

The people of Judah & Benjamin (aka The Southern Kingdom) started to do things a bit differently under the leadership of King Asa. They went all in. Check this out…

1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. (2 Chronicles 15:1-4 NIV)

I also read that people from the other tribes were coming to Judah because they saw what God was doing and they wanted to be in on it.

I think that there is a really simple truth in this passage. God is not far away and elusive. He is nearby and accessible. There have been times in my life when the Lord has seemed miles away, but it was times I was “hell bent” on doing things my way instead of His way.

When Jesus came, He ushered in grace. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gives us immediate access to God. During the time of Asa, they could seek God, but it was through the high priest and through sacrifices of animals. Jesus was the final sacrifice needed for sin. He took my sin to the cross and I can now seek the Lord as a cleaned up person. I can go directly to the Lord with anything and everything. I don’t have to wait until I can get to the temple, because the Lord dwells inside me – my heart is a temple of God.

I don’t ever want to get so busy that I don’t take time to surrender my plans and my activities to the Lord. I want to make sure that my actions and my plans are connected with His call upon my life. I don’t want to get so caught up in work that I don’t seek Him first. I don’t want to get so busy and successful that I don’t have time to sit at His feet and seek His heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Among Us

Campfire on LakeI recently heard a story of a celebrity singer songwriter who loves to take his family camping so he bought an old airstream camper that really looked bad and dressed down and took his family camping among regular folks. I’m pretty confident with the success of this guy that he could pretty well purchase any campground, but he wants to give his family a normal experience and be among regular people. I’ve often thought of the incredible price some people pay for their fame and fortune. They can’t simply go shopping without being noticed and pestered by people or the photographers for the super market tabloids. They simply can’t live a normal life among regular people.

The Lord gives Moses some specific instructions how to ordain Aaron and his sons as the high priests. They are to consecrate themselves and the tent of meeting so that the people can draw near to the Living God. This was the instructions so that The Lord would live among the people. Check this out…

42 ‘For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; 43 there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory.

44 ‘So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. (Exodus 29:42-46 NIV)

The Lord God is bigger than any celebrity or powerful position holding person on this planet and He wants to dwell in me and around me. I don’t want to live a “normal” life if it means He doesn’t dwell inside me. I want His Presence to be in me, and all around me. With His Presence in me – I’m never alone. One of my favorite songs right now is “Holy Spirit” by ‪Francesca Battistelli – He is welcome inside me and all around me. I want His Presence to fill the atmosphere. I’m thankful that Jesus made a way for the Lord not to dwell in a building made with hands, but inside my heart and the hearts of those who seek Him. He is among us. He is inside us.

As I write this, I’m beside a lake with the calm, serene presence and I can so feel His Presence in the quietness of the morning. I can also feel Him in the loudness of life. I can also feel His Presence in the chaos of change. He is forever inside me because of Jesus. His Presence doesn’t make me full of pride – it’s humbling that God wants to dwell inside me. I’m humbled that He is among people like me. I’m not famous or among famous people here on earth, but “The Famous One” is here with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope Has A Name

hope erase fearThere are some days that I just need hope. I mean I need a sliver of hope. I can get so discouraged and beat down that I can’t seem to get my head up. I really hate getting so down and so discouraged, but sometimes my circumstances scream louder at me than the hope deep inside. I’ve learned over the years to “go with what I know until my feelings catch up”. I believe that the Lord has me in the middle of my darkest night. I don’t always “feel” Him close, but I “know” He’s here. Jeremiah was speaking of this type of discouragement and despair in Lamentations. Check this out….

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,

    the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,

    and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind

    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

    for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;

    therefore I will wait for him.’

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

    to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly

    for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV)

 

In my life, I’ve been through some really dark valleys and it takes me a minute for my eyes to adjust to where I find myself. I find it hard to make decisions without knowing where I am. I have to lean on the professional guidance of others when I’m in such a fogged over place. I know the Lord is present – He promised He’d be here and He’s never left me or forsaken me. Sometimes my struggle is so consuming my thoughts that I can’t see Him at work, but He is working.

I know a few things about the Lord. I know that Jesus came to earth as a baby, grew up in a carpenter shop and then ministered to hundreds and thousands of people as He walked this earth. He died a sacrificial death that I might have forgiveness and hope. I know that to the logical/linear mind this may not make any sense. But I know that Hope has a Name – Jesus. He has seen me through some dark, dark times. He never leaves just because things are tough, in fact that’s when He does some of His most memorable work in me. My Hope is in Jesus. Through the struggles of this season – my hope is in Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne