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Reducing To One Website!

Hello Everyone,

I hope and pray all is well with you. First, I wanted to say thank you for following this blog. Second, I wanted to share with you that Lord willing I will be consolidating to one website. My other website. which also has many blogs pertaining to faith is https://benjaminlee.blog/

I will be working solely on that website moving forward. I will begin to direct traffic from this website to my benjaminlee.blog page. I hope you will continue to study along with me.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Take care!

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TODAY

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus

Matthew 6:34

Wakie Wakie Eggs and Bakie!

Today is Today. Tomorrow is not promised. Lord willing, we will see it. But for now, let’s just focus on today! What can you do today? There’s so much to do.

  1. You can read your Bible.
  2. You can pray your fears.
  3. You can call, text, Face-time someone to encourage them.
  4. You can take a nap and relax for a little bit.
  5. You can work really hard at your job. Be thankful you have one!
  6. You can be a good steward of your body and get some physical activity.

Focus on Today!

Your Heavenly Father knows what you need. He will provide!

TODAY

T: The TIME is right now

O: This is the ONLY OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE. USE IT WISELY

D: DON’T allow worry to DOMINATE these precious hours

A: Keep your ATTITUDE positive

Y: know how much YOU need YOUR Father in heaven. Trust in Him.

TODAY! Get after it.

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OUR EYES ARE ON YOU

I have a friend who is a financial advisor. His life, no doubt, has been extremely busy and shaken with what has been taking place with the stock market. His wife posted on Facebook recently a conversation they had. She had mentioned to him one day how the stock market had gone up. She asked him if that made him happy. His response was, “I can’t put my happiness in the stock market.” I really loved his response. He’s right. We can’t put our happiness, peace, or confidence in the stock market. Rather, our source of confidence, peace, joy is to be found in our great God! During this time of uncertainty, our eyes need to be on our heavenly Father! That is to say, God is to be the source of our strength, protection, joy, and comfort.

I want to share an Old Testament story where God’s people said, “Our Eyes Are On You.” This story is found in 2 Chronicles 20. It’s a story I believe will help remind us of the great power of our God. It will remind us He is with His people. Therefore, we need to trust in Him. Too many times we allow our eyes (focus) to be on everyone and everything else but God! Let’s turn and remain with Him. What caused God’s people to say, “Our Eyes Are On You”?

THE KING

Jehoshaphat was the son of King Asa, 2 Chronicles 16:13. He began to rule at the age of 35. He was king in the Southern Kingdom. He reigned for 25 years. The LORD was with him, 2 Chronicles 17:3-4. He sought after God and not the Baals. He took great pride in the ways of the LORD, 2 Chronicles 17:6.

In the third year of his reign, he sent men out to teach God’s people the law of the LORD, 2 Chronicles 17:7-9. None of the kingdoms made war with him because the dread of the LORD was on them, 2 Chronicles 17:10. Even the Philistines blessed Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 17:11.

This didn’t mean he always made the right decisions. He went out to battle with Ahab, the king of Israel, 2 Chronicles 18. He shouldn’t have, 2 Chronicles 19:1-2. Thankfully, God rescued him from his poor choice, 2 Chronicles 18:27-32. There was good in him, 2 Chronicles 19:3. He would bring the people back to the LORD, 2 Chronicles 19:4. This background information takes us to 2 Chronicles 20.

THE PROBLEM

Here we find the king and the people turning their eyes to God! But why? A great multitude of people were coming up against him, 2 Chronicles 20:3. So, what did the king do? He was fearful. But thankfully he turned his attention to God, verse 3. In fact, all of God’s people sought the LORD and fasted, verse 4. They prayed, verse 5-9. Notice what he said about God.

  1. You are the God of heavens, verse 6. No one else is like you.
  2. You have all power and might, verse 6.
  3. None can stand against you. God had done great things in times past, verse 7. The king knew how God had provided for His people in the past. There was confidence in the king’s words, verse 9.
  4. As a result, they cried out to Him for deliverance. The king told God what was happening, Verses 10-12. The king said he and the people were powerless. They could only rely upon God. They didn’t know what to do. But thankfully, they did the one thing they could do: they prayed to God. Their eyes were on Him!

THE ANSWER

God answered! They were not to be fearful, 2 Chronicles 20:14-15. The battle was His. They were to trust in Him. They would see His words come to pass, verse 17. As a result of these words, the king and the people worshipped God, verse 18-23. As they did, God delivered them. Their enemies were destroyed! They were blessed, verses 24-25.

THEIR RESPONSE

They continued to bless God in the valley of Beracah (worship).

THE LESSON FOR US

The eyes of the king and the people were upon God. They turned to Him in days of trouble. In the days we’re in, let us turn our eyes to the God of heaven. We’re living in fearful times. We’re experiencing new challenges. Job losses are at a record pace.  There’s great uncertainty. What’s happened with the Coronavirus feels like a great multitude has overtaken us! All measures are being used. Even a $2.2 Trillion dollar Coronavirus stimulus package! How will we respond during these days? Let us turn our eyes to the God of heaven! What Jehoshaphat said about God is still true today. He is the God of the heavens!

He is ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are still in His hands. What the people did is what we need to do! Petition God! Trust God! Put our eyes on Him. Even in the midst of great fear, the king and Judah worshiped God! Let us do the same. Worship is not confined to a building. Paul and Silas worshiped in times of distress, Acts 16:25. Let us do the same!  We will see God provide for us! Let us continue to bless Him!

As we travel this valley, let us remember to take the necessary action to ensure our eyes are on God. Let us remember what God has already done in times past. The king knew the history of God and how He provided for His people, 2 Chronicles 20:7. Let us remember what God has done in times past! Remembering what He’s already done for us will help us to know that He is able to provide now. Let us pray like the king and the people. They poured their hearts out to God. Are we? We’re at home and while work is taking place, we have more time! What are we doing with this time? Let’s take our eyes off our phones and more on God in prayer. Let’s take our eyes off of entertainment and more on God in prayer. Let’s take our eyes off of all of the numbers that scroll across the television screen and put them on God! Let us all be able to say that our eyes are on Him!

May God Bless You.

Be sure to check out my Podcast “I Can Do with Benjamin Lee.” Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and more. http://icd.buzzsprout.com/

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Everything Can Be Done Faster

I just went to a news website. I saw that the Senate passed the coronavirus stimulus package. Here is a quote from the article:

 “We packed weeks or perhaps months of the legislative process into five days.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y

That statement caught me attention. There were other things that caught my attention (like how some of the money is going to be used), but that’s not my focus of this blog. My focus is how quickly things were done. Five days instead of months! I know, I know, it’s not always a good thing when bills are passed quickly. There can certainly be long-term consequences in the future.

But something I’m seeing through this pandemic is how quickly things are being done. That’s a good thing. A crisis should cause people to move with a sense of urgency. I think about the movie Apollos-13 and how NASA had to come up with a solution fast for its astranuats who were in trouble.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I also think about the Israelites in the Old Testament. In particular, I think about the book of Nehemiah. There was a major problem. The wall of Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt.

“They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.'”

Nehemiah 1:3

There should have been a sense of urgency. It should have been done FAST! But it wasn’t! It took a man like Nehemiah to get God’s people moving.

“I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So they put their hands to the good work.”

Nehemiah 2:18

As Christians, it’s time to Arise and Build! Yes, we’re experiencing a pandemic. But the work doesn’t stop. Now, more than ever, people need the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Now is the time for ACTION. And FAST. It’s time to talk to people about Jesus. Right now! The world has stopped. People have more time to consider life. There are people who need direction. We have the truth. Let’s share it with them. Now is the time to TALK. ACT. NOW.

“And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid any longer; but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.'”

Acts 18:9-10

Paul needed to be reminded of a few things. So do we.

  1. Don’t be afraid any longer. Christians often fear sharing their faith. Let us walk by faith with our shield of faith.
  2. Go on speaking and do not be silent. Paul needed to keep on speaking in Corinth. We need to keep on speaking wherever we may be. Speak of God in your conversations with others. Pray with others. Tell people you’re praying for them. Ask people to study the scriptures with you. Follow up with visitors on the phone from your home. Keep teaching your children the scriptures. Go on speaking and do not be silent!
  3. I have many people in this city. Paul was able to convert many in the city of Corinth. Where are you reading this? Wherever you may be, there are many people in your city who are in need of the gospel.

Let’s move with a sense of urgency! Nehemiah and the people rebuilt the wall in 52 Days! That was fast. They knew God was with them. They had a mind to work. Great things were accomplished. Let’s have the mindset. It’s time to arise and build! It’s time to shine! It’s time to share! It’s time to turn the world upside down with the gospel.

Let’s be SOWERS and REAPERS. And let’s remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”

Our Great God is with us!

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Meditate On His Word

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen – 1 Peter 5: 10-11

God is good! Let us continue to trust in Him.

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Everything Is Not Okay

“Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.'” Nehemiah 2:17

I love the book of Nehemiah. If you’ve read my blogs or listened to any of my sermons, then you’ve heard me say that in the past. Nehemiah was a great man! He was a great leader. He was a man of prayer (see his prayer in Nehemiah 1).

He was a man of action (read Nehemiah 2). He went to Jerusalem to help his people who were in great need. He didn’t sugar coat the issue. He assessed the situation in Nehemiah 2:11-16. He was honest with the people about the situation in Nehemiah 2:17.

But, he was also confident. Consider the following statements from Nehemiah.

“And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.” (Nehemiah 2:8)

“I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So they put their hands to the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:18).

“So I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:20).

Don’t you just love Nehemiah? Wouldn’t you be encouraged if you were there when he showed up to assist? I know I would.

As I think about the current situation in America and the world, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

  1. Everything is not okay. And that’s okay to say that. Or as Nehemiah would say, “You see the bad situation we are in…”
  2. While everything is not okay, we can still trust in God. The God of heaven still reigns. He is still with His people.
  3. It’s time to arise and build. But build what, some may ask? Everything is closing. People can’t build anything right now, RIGHT? WRONG!
    1. It’s time to arise and build our faith up even more.
    2. It’s time to arise and build even more when it comes to evangelism. Now is a great opportunity to talk to people about your faith in Jesus. When difficult times come, people tend to be more receptive.
    3. It’s time to arise and build even more in our love for the brethren and our neighbors. That may mean a simple phone call, text, going out or dropping off groceries, or even giving away some TOILET PAPER :).
    4. It’s time to arise and build when it comes to our prayers. Turn the television and social media off and go to God in prayer. He is where our strength comes from. He is our shield and protector. Turn to Him. Pray! Pray Big! Pray Often! Then pray some more.
    5. It’s time to arise and build when it comes to our family. Many complain about not having enough time with family. This current distress has allowed more people time with their family. Don’t waste it. Don’t be upset because your children are at home! Be thankful you have children. Be thankful your children are healthy. Be thankful you can give your children a hug. Plant seeds of faith in them. It’s okay if they know that everything is not okay. Then remind them about their great God. He always provides! He’s always trustworthy. ALWAYS.

No, everything is not okay. And that’s okay.

But during difficult times our faith must stand for something. So, stand firm. Stay focused on your Creator. Know He is with you. And because of that, everything will be okay!

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Distance Yourself From Social Media

It’s been documented in studies. It’s been documented from personal conversations. Social Media is good. However, social media also creates a big problem!

Depression…

Anxiety…

Yet, if I’m honest, I’ve been on social media quite a bit as of late. What we’re experiencing at the moment (COVID-19) is a big event in American History. I was talking to my wife earlier about some of the historical events I’ve seen in my young life.

  1. The attack on 9/11 in 2001
  2. The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986
  3. Hurricane Harvey in 2017
  4. There was a major ice storm in Illinois when I was growing up. I can’t remember the exact year.
  5. Now we have COVID-19. Lord willing, this will pass.

Last night, I had a great sense of calm. I felt relaxed. I didn’t spend a lot of time on social media.

I’m going to continue that trend today and moving forward. Yes, I am going to post this blog on social media. But I will not be spending a lot of time on it. A brother in Christ named Shane had a great quote (oddly, I saw it on social media). He said, “Never waste a moment of adversity.” Hopefully, I quoted him correctly. In life, there will be moments of adversity. In fact, there were will be a lot of them. The question is, how will we respond to them?

One of the biggest things we’re being told is to have distance between other people. We’re trying our best to follow the guidelines. But what if we also created some social media guidelines. What if, during this moment of crisis we really sat back and consider some things? I often think of Haggai as he spoke to the Israelites and told them to “Consider your ways.” When difficult times come for whatever reason, it’s good for one to consider their ways.

So, below are some thoughts when it comes to distancing yourself from social media. Following these simple tips will greatly reduce your anxiety, improve your productivity (yes, we can still be productive), and allow you to truly connect with loved ones and others (via phone calls).

  1. Never begin or end your day with social media. Rather, begin and end with something more productive. Prayer. Hugging family. Exercise. Journaling.
  2. Delete all social media apps from your phone. You can still go on them, but it will be much more difficult.
  3. Only post positive thoughts on social media. I wish sermons would be shared more. I wish bulletins would be shared more. I wish study videos would be shared more. These will help and uplift others. Positive thoughts and the word of God will help people to stay focused.
  4. Block a certain amount of time for social media. I love using the countdown part of my clock on my iPhone. When you get on social media, time yourself and when that time is up, get off of it.
  5. Consider your ways! What Haggai said to the Israelites is something important for us to consider. How much time are we spending on social media? How much time are we praying? Let’s pray more, and post less.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. One day Lord willing, the virus will be behind us. But will anything change? Will our faith have grown from it? Will our relationships with family be any stronger? Will we have improved in our self-control? The fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

Let us look up to God and pray to Him!

Let us look around at our families and brethren and support them.

Let us distance ourselves from social media and draw closer to God.

God is good and He will provide.

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Redeem The Time

The apostle said in Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Earlier in the chapter, Paul reminded the saints how they were to walk.

  1. They were to be imitators of God.
  2. They were to walk in love, as Christ also had loved them.
  3. They were to avoid wicked behavior.
  4. They were to walk circumspectly.

Their focus was to be on God! As Christians, our focus should be in the same place as well.

Let us shine our lights everyday! Let us be people of influence.

Let us redeem the time!

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Addicted To Attention?

My family and I have been enjoying Disney Plus! We’ve watched tons of Marvel movies. Before we ever had Disney plus, we were watching tons of Marvel movies!

photo of castle during daytime
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

As a result, we’ve been experimenting with different shows and series. We’ve been pondering about whether or not we’re going to get a dog. We’ve had cats in the past. Recently, we turned to a particular series where a guy works with dogs that have a lot of issues. It was fascinating to see how he was really able to rehabilitate these precious animals.

photo of black short coated dog
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

One of the lines which stood out to me was how dogs can sometimes be addicted to attention! WHAT! They can be so addicted to attention that it becomes a problem. They will act in a certain manner (sometimes bad) just for the sake of attention.


“Addicted To Attention.” After hearing this phrase I immediately turned to my wife and said, “This is how a lot of people act.” Would you agree? I’m certainly not saying we’re on the same levels as dogs. Nor am I calling anyone a dog.

My point is this: We live in an age where at times it can appear that it’s all about who can get the most attention. Social media is really about drawing attention to ourselves. Think about the photos we post. We want them to look good. I’m wondering if we’ve gone too far? People are willing to do crazy acts for the purpose of being seen!


Now the big question is do I act this way? I think we all want attention from others. Many are working on a platform of some sort as well. There’s nothing wrong seeking promotion and getting one’s name out there. I along with others will just have to be cautious and truthful to ourselves about why we’re doing what we’re doing. It can be so easy to constantly seek the spotlight. My son recently asked me if I was famous. I said No! I don’t want to be famous. Some people do.


While it can be easy to seek after the attention of others, I began to think about God! God wants us to seek Him. God wants our attention! God wants our time. It’s not because He needs our attention or time to survive. Rather, we need Him to survive and thrive. He desires a relationship with us! That’s pretty powerful when you really consider who He is. Let’s put the spotlight on Him. Let’s give Him more of our attention. I guarantee our lives will improve.

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A YEAR OF REFLECTION

Sitting at the kitchen table last night after arriving home from Bible class, my wife said something to me that’s prompted this blog post.

I was furiously typing away on my iMac about the year of cancellation (you can find that post https://thebible.blog/2020/03/12/the-year-of-cancellation/

My son began to get anxious as we discussed what’s going on with COVID-19 Coronavirus. I have to do better not talking about it in front of him. I spoke to my wife about how many things have been cancelled. She then said to me, “This is the year of reflection.”

HMMMMMMM….

I love that. It’s true. And maybe it’s a little scary for me and for others. But why would reflecting, slowing down, cancelling be a scary thing? It’s because we can often busy ourselves to ignore the bigger problems. It can be scary to face reality, our thoughts, and big things which really need to be addressed.

But 2020 may force us to do this like never before. I love to speak. I’m a preacher. But, the meetings I have in Washington State, Texas, and Alabama may be cancelled. I will just have to wait and see. I’m scheduled to go to California later in the year and also Illinois. But who knows what the future holds. Only God does.

The way 2020 is shaping up reminds me of a couple of Bible verses.


Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this and that.’” James 4:13-15


How true are those words, especially now? As I seek to educate myself about what’s taking place, I’m seeing what I think is the handwriting on the wall. There will be a huge shutdown in the United States. It’s already begun. We’re actually somewhat behind! It’s hard to type that and to consider what it may look like. But looking at China, when things were shut down, new cases began to decline.

But what about the money we may lose?

What about the missed opportunities?

Maybe, we’re looking at all wrong. Maybe we need to consider the lives that will be saved. Maybe we need to consider how slowing down for a short amount of time, will help us long term! I know, I know, that’s a hard thing to do. I’m guilty of not practicing what I preach at times when it comes to that. I can have a hard time shutting down in the evening. I can have a  hard time slowly done during the weekend. Can you relate?

Why are we in such a rush? Why do so many have to be forced to use their vacation time? Why do we fill our schedules with so much we don’t have time to think?

It’s time to slow down! It’s okay to say “NO.” It’s okay to Cancel! It’s okay. Lord willing, it will only be for a limited time. Maybe the challenge is that many are seeing they are not in control as much as they like to think. GUILTY!


Yes, my wife is right. It’s a year of reflection. What if…

  1. We reflected more on God?  Seeking Him takes time and effort. He is pleased when we do. Consider these words in Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE (emphasis mine) to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Do you want to be rewarded? Don’t seek after more followers, likes, shares, etc. Those are good but temporary and wont give you what you really need. Rather, seek after God. 
  2. We reflected more on our Families? Marriages are falling apart like never before. What if we spent more time building up our marriages instead of our portfolios, steps we take each that our Fitbit records, and frequent travel miles? Again, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with exercise, travel, and money. You get my point right? We will be forced to slow down. Maybe it’s good to reflect more on our marriages. Focus on what attracted us to our spouse. How we can demonstrate love and care to them. How we can please them even more. Imagine if both people did this! WOW.
  3. We reflected on the projects we really want to do? Eventually, we will run out of time! But that’s hard for us to consider. Each day is a day of opportunity. Capitalize on it. Now is the time.
  4. We reflected more on our children? They need our attention. Time. Energy. Love. Hugs. Smiles. Scrolling on Facebook and Instagram is a waste of time. Do that later. Reflect more on the time we spend with our children.

Yes, my wife is right. This is going to be a year of reflection. 2020 is not going to be a wasted year as some have said. We can’t get a do over as some desire and want. We’re in it. We’re here. What can we learn? What do we need to do differently? How might we need to think differently? It could make all the difference!

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THE YEAR OF CANCELLATION

Walmart In Lewisville

That’s what I’ve been referring to this year too. Let me explain.

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

At the end of January, I was scheduled to travel to SouthEast Texas.

road in between green tree under white clouds and blue sky
Photo by Bruno Ticianelli on Pexels.com

Then my wife got bronchitis.

Then I got Flu-A. Plans canceled.

woman in blue sweater lying on bed
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

A week before all of that happened my plans to visit Tampa Florida were canceled for February.

I was going to visit a college but one of the students had measles.

People don’t often think about measles, but it spreads way faster than the flu or COVID-19 coronavirus. Now, I see what’s taking place around the world and even now just hearing about the NBA suspending their season, I’m reminded that this is the year of cancellation.

I have a variety of thoughts when it comes to the COVID-19 Coronavirus and what’s taking place.

  1. I’m taking it pretty seriously. We all should. I know what a lot of people are saying that we should worry about it, but it is wise for us to truly take the time to consider what’s happening. There are good sources to consider.
  2. People are being forced to slow down. I recently told my wife the impact this year will have upon many. I feel really bad for those who have or may lose loved ones from it. But I’m also thinking about how so many people talk about being busy and wanting to slow down. This will now force people to truly slow down. I’m curious how certain social media platforms will respond with so many companies telling their employees to work from home.
  3. Sports are not as important at least right now. With the NBA just suspending the rest of the season, the NCAA tournaments being played with no crowd, and more sporting events going this direction, I think this will cause some to truly reflect where sports stand in their lives. I was sad to hear about the NBA in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I want the best for the players and the fans. I was just anticipating the playoffs and watching to see what would happen between the Clippers and the Lakers. We may never find out.

I don’t know if I have an earth-shattering point with this blog post. It’s just me really typing and sharing what’s in my mind.

Let’s do all we can do and be wise.

I went to Walmart today because we only had 1 roll of toilet paper left. Thankfully they still had wipes. They had some paper for .60 cents for a pack of 4! That can’t be good toilet paper. Probably why it was all that remained.

toiletpaperphoto

Big Lots had some toilet paper!

Stay safe and be wise.

And most importantly, trust in God. In challenging times, it can be easy to lose focus. Remember Him! Remember His promises! God is good!

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He Appeared

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

He Appeared

1 John 3:1-8.

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Stay Calm

A few years ago I was in Boston. I had a doctor’s appointment there. While I was there, I was able to attend a Bible study with some brethren. It was great! It was great because…

  1. Wherever I go I am able to meet with others who have the same faith as I do in Jesus Christ.
  2. I saw familiar faces from people I know from Texas and Missouri…WOW.
  3. We were able to study the word of God. I heard something that I needed to hear.

The saints were studying from the book of Psalms. There was one chapter that stuck with me. I sent it and my thoughts to my wife. It’s a short Psalms, yet it’s powerful.

PSALMS 131

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.”

During Bible class we talked about our relationship with the Lord. We discussed the challenges that sometimes get in the way. We talked about simple things we can do to draw closer to God. Then we read this text.

What can we learn from this passage?

As the people of God, we need to say calm. Do you agree? We need to trust in the Lord. Yet remaining calm seems more and more challenging. There’s so much that we do on a daily basis. There are so many apps, devices, and to do lists that strip us of being able to remain calm. There’s the daily pressure of relationships, work, finances, and the future.

Yet, we are to stay CALM.

  1. As we mature in our walk with God, this should become more and more natural.
  2. Our soul should become more quieted as we grow in our faith in God.

Stay calm! Be calm! Trust in the ONE who created the heavens and the earth. Draw closer to God on a daily basis. Like Jesus wake up early and pray to God. Slip away and find some for prayer. Trust in the ONE that can truly give you peace!

I CAN DO…SO CAN YOU

P.S. Be sure to check out my podcast “I CAN DO…SO CAN YOU.” Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more! http://ICD.Buzzsprout.com

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GIVE THANKS

Every day is a blessing. Every day is another reason to say “Thank You, Father!”

Thanksgiving should spring forth from our souls because of all our Savior has done for us. Just like little children, let us take time to count our many blessings.

Let us name them one by one. Let us be reminded of God’s great power!

He is Good! All the time.

We all will have challenges along the way. That’s a part of life. But we can find reason and opportunity to give thanks to God!

Ready, Set, Count Your Blessings.

Father In Heaven,

Thank you for another day of Life. Thank you for the beautiful weather you provide (both the rain and the sun). Thank you for your precious promises which are more than we truly deserve. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for our sins! You are good to us heavenly Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Dealing With Racism And Prejudice

Dealing with Racism and Prejudice

“Why do we even have to talk about racism? Wouldn’t it better if we just didn’t say anything?” I know some think this way because a brother in Christ said those words to me a few years ago. I was teaching a class on this subject. I appreciate him sharing with me how he felt. What do you think? Should we talk about the problem of racism anymore?

Racism is a problem that continues to exist. We hear about it in the news. There are discussions on it on social media. In 2018, I held a meeting in Tennessee. It was on navigating cultural storms. One of the topics I discussed was racism. I learned one of the members who is black was attending the University of Memphis. She lived in a dorm on campus. Someone wrote some racist words on her dorm door.

When I was conducting a meeting in College Station, I spoke to one of the students. She shared with me how some of the Christian college students still share racist jokes with one another. Racism is still a problem. There are plenty of people who are talking about racism. But not enough of them are going to the source where one can find the solution: God’s word. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). If anyone should be talking about this subject, it should be God’s people!

I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the issue of racism. It is a topic we can not shy away from. We will have to be bold and courageous. We will have to trust in God and His word. Racism has been used by Satan to distort our perception of reality too long. We must use God’s word and the lens of faith to see this as God has instructed.

As we seek to learn from the scriptures, I would like to begin our thoughts by sharing a story. It is from a brother in Christ who I love very much. We are friends, and he has assisted me throughout the years. He gave me permission to share his story of overcoming racism. I shared his story while doing a weekend meeting on racism at the Twin Cities Church of Christ in College Station. I have also had the opportunity to share it in different meetings in Lewisville, Texas and in Bartlett, Tennessee. As you read about his journey, I want you to see what we can learn about racism from him and how we can overcome it. What you are about to read are the comments my brother in Christ shared with me.

“My mother grew up in deep southern Louisiana, where most blacks were former slaves. Blacks were considered less than human. I grew up in a small East Texas town, and my mother taught me to be racist. Blacks stepped off the sidewalk when they passed a white person. They had their own schools and lived in designated areas of town called ‘quarters.’ A drive-in burger place would have a service window marked ‘white’ and one marked ‘black.’ No black restrooms were provided. Blacks could only go to the back door of a restaurant to eat. If a black came to your house, he had to come to the back door. I was taught a black was unclean, and you had to wash if you touched one and could never drink after one. This was the normal way of life in the 1940s.

When I went off to Texas A&M in 1955 (class of 59), there we no blacks at the school. The student assistant at one time sent former students a letter telling them if they sold a used car to a black to remove the A&M stickers off. This was so people would not think that blacks attended school. Life was the same during my college days. 

When I went into the Army as a 2nd lieutenant, my commander was a black captain to my shock. He seemed like a fine fellow to my surprise. I endured this as best I could. This was one of the few black officers in the old segregated army making a slow race change.

When we moved to Beaumont Texas, race was at a troubling point, and blacks would go as a group to church services to show they had the right. The old Pine Crest congregation had a business meeting about how it would handle the situation if faced with it. Some wanted to close services, some to ask them to leave, etc. Shortly after this, the schools were integrated, and all manner of problems existed. It was very unfortunate that the black teachers that were now teaching the students were unqualified. This was the result of the equal but separate failure created by the whites and little education for black teachers or students. The high schools had police walking the halls and doors were locked. This started the white flight out of Beaumont in all directions.

After this period, I was working with over 100 black men, and I started to have an understanding about their lives and problems. I found them always interested in studying the Bible, but almost no sound black churches existed in the area. I brought a black to one of our meetings, and one member was so offended that he quit coming to church. He would later repent. 

During this time, I became a company commander in the reserves and found the 100 plus men under me were my responsibility wherever we went. I was responsible (for blacks and whites) for their care, food, health, clothes, pay, and discipline. Later as a battalion commander, I had a greater responsibility for over 500 men black and white.

You learn from the scriptures and in the world; you must treat all men equally. Many years of studying dealing with the issue of race teach us that all men are equal. When serving as an elder, this is something in God’s word you must master and apply correctly. I sometimes think that after going to Africa and helping those brethren in eight trips and 20 years maybe my penance for my attitude about race in my early life.”

Question: What stood out to you in this story? Write your thoughts below.

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What can we learn with respect to racism and overcoming it as we seek to do the will of God? Let’s consider a few thoughts.

What is the problem?

Understanding racism is the first step to ensure that we avoid it in our lives.

How would you define racism? Write your answer below.

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Racism can be defined according to dictionary.com as:

  • “A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”
  • Another definition is “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a brother in Christ, Craig Roberts. He shed some insight about this subject. I respect Craig very much. He is a big reason as to why I am preaching the gospel today. What you are about to read are his thoughts he shared with me.

“We all stereotype based on ethnic groups, sexes, races, or other groupings. When those statements are based on skin color, are derogatory, and extreme, it could be called ‘racism.’ When not extreme, I would call it ‘implicit bias.’ There is white-black bias, black-Hispanic bias, urban-rural bias, male-female bias, northern-southern bias.

         Implicit bias affects our actions, words, and feelings, though we are often unaware of it. When I see race-based implicit bias acted out, I see it among my white colleagues. It usually involves white people assuming less of black people. In these cases, whites might see blacks as prone to crime and teenage pregnancy, poorly educated, and athletic instead of academic. This bias, completely unintentional, is in our brotherhood at various degrees. It is caused by historical events and statistical data. From my experience, biases are less frequent in the congregation than in the world, assuming the congregation is strong. What is a concern to me is the lack of understanding of life for the black person versus the white person. Even lack of interest. Whites in the brotherhood do not know how to sympathize with their black brethren. They believe the mistreatment of blacks is similar to the mistreatment of whites. They deny the concepts of white privilege and microaggressions. Instead of investigating these concepts, many white Christians become angry at their mention and consider such concepts as part of the liberal agenda. In my experience, the lack of understanding, listening, and sympathy is commonplace among whites in the church. Even among elders. Very common and heartbreaking. When blacks protest, whites believe they are overreacting (unless the KKK is involved or a Rodney King type of video is provided).”

Craig’s comments have helped me understand this issue more. Also, I have had the opportunity to sit in a lecture at the University of Missouri that discussed the topic of microaggression (a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype) to help me to have a better understanding of this topic. While not everyone is racist, many can struggle with implicit-bias and microaggression.

How familiar are you with the idea of implicit bias? What about microaggression? Think about if you have ever struggled with biases toward certain people. Think about if you’ve seen microaggression in action. Write your thoughts below.

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Understanding and working through these terms and thoughts is an important task to do. It reminds us that the issue of racism is a heart problem. It is learned behavior. Remember the story I shared earlier from our brother in Christ? He said he was taught to be racist. Young children don’t have this problem. Just watch how they all play together after worship services. They are not concerned about who is black or white. They just want to play. Racism is a terrible heart condition. One could take away guns, social media, the government, and flags, and racism would still exist. It’s a potential problem for everyone. Racism is sinful! Why?

Reading the following passages will help answer this question. Read them and then write out what you can learn from them.

Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

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Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”

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Luke 10:27-29: And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

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Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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Matthew 7:12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

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Racism is wrong. It is sinful. Let’s avoid it at all costs.

What is the solution?

The solution to this terrible heart condition is Jesus Christ. God has always loved all men. The book of Jonah provides us with an excellent example of this thought. This book also helps us to see how one’s view of people (even spiritual individuals like a prophet) don’t always line up with how God wants us to view people.

Read the book of Jonah. How did Jonah’s view of the people in Nineveh differ from how God viewed them? Write your thoughts below.

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God loves all men. Jesus loves all men. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

When we understand Jesus died to deliver us from our sins, it should change the way we view everyone. God the Father loved the world so much He sent His Son to die. Jesus is the one that can change the hearts of men. Mark 7:21-23 teaches, For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

He is the solution. Jesus was the solution that brought both Jews and Gentiles into one body. Ephesians 2:11-18 explains, “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”

If He was the solution in the first century, then He is the solution in the 21st century. While Jesus is the solution, it took a lot of time for Jews and Gentiles to come together. It didn’t mean they didn’t have challenges and even setbacks. They did. It took time for their hearts to change. One of the best examples of this was with the apostle Peter. Acts 10:28 records, And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.”

Further, Acts 11:1-3 continues, “Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” It took a lot for Peter to go to the house of Cornelius. Even when he got to his house, it was uncomfortable for him. But in the process of time, he would learn that “God is not one to show partiality.”

Peter and others in the first century help us to see it is possible for hearts to change. Acts 11:18 records: When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.’” If they were able to change, people can change today.


How should we respond?

We know all of the right things to say. We know racism is sinful and that Jesus is the solution. Yet, if not careful, racism or implicit bias can still get the best of us. There are some things we all need to consider and do. They are not always easy but should still be done. Here are some suggestions.

Examine your heart. Acts 10:34 teaches, Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.’” As Christians, we should always be doing this. We need to take some time and really consider if we have some blind spots that have been causing us to treat or view our brethren and people in the world the wrong way. Think about the following:

  • How we talk about other people: Are we using inappropriate speech in our homes as we speak about others of different races? If so, why? We should repent if so.
  • When someone brings up an issue about, am I truly listening, or am I preparing what I am going to say as they speak?
  • Am I “lefting” or “righting” the issue (MSNBC vs. Fox News) when it comes to race? Or am I really trying to look at it and understand what others are going through with the proper vision?
  • When I hear or see others acting or speaking in a sinful way, am I too afraid to say anything?
  • Have I allowed past experiences to get in the way of me being sympathetic towards others now?
  • If you see a black man with a white woman or a white man with a black woman, does that make you feel uncomfortable? If so, ask yourself why? It may help uncover some things you have not considered.

Have any of these been a challenge for you? If so, what action can you take to change? ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Be a pioneer. Acts 9:26-27 reads, When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.”

I love the phrase, “Be a pioneer.” When I was a part of a race forum a few years ago, one of the speakers used this language. It has stuck with me. Be like Barnabas. Remember what he did? When the saints were afraid of Paul, it was Barnabas who helped bridge the gap. It is a good thing he did! He was bold and courageous. This is the mindset we must have. Be a person that unites people. Be a person that fixes a situation. When it comes to race, there are so many things we can do.

One could start a study in their home discussing this very issue. I think one of the best things to do is to open our homes more. Acts 10:48 illustrates, And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”

Remember when Peter and the other Jews stayed at the house of Cornelius? Can you imagine all of them sitting down for breakfast the next day? I wish we had some details about those conversations. Have some genuine conversations about race with others. Talk about what terms may be appropriate or not appropriate to use. Truly seek to understand the struggles and challenges others have been through.

A few years ago, during a meeting, I went to one of the shepherd’s house for lunch. He shared with me that it was the first time a black person has been to his house. I appreciated his honesty, and we were able to have a great conversation about race.

Learn about different experiences those in your congregation may have experienced in the past and in the present. I believe too many brethren will vent and try to have a conversation on Facebook about this topic. I do not believe that will work. It often creates more problems. Disconnect and then connect. Less talking via social media and more face to face conversations are needed. This will require courage, time, and effort. Make it a priority. The more we talk about it and focus on Jesus, the more things will improve. Teach a class on this subject. Preach a sermon on it. Be bold!

Decide where you will worship and place your membership-based upon what is being taught, and not whether the church is primarily black, white, or Hispanic. Years ago, there was a black sister who visited where I was formerly preaching at the Dowlen Road Church of Christ in Beaumont, Texas. The congregation there is about 50/50 with respect to blacks and whites. She looked us up on the internet and saw my picture. She assumed it was a primarily black church and decided to visit. She was shocked when she walked in saw so many blacks and whites. She eventually shared this story to my wife. She should have been more concerned with what was being taught.

While I was teaching a class on racism at Dowlen Road, one sister shared a story of a white couple who moved to a new city. There was a congregation that was made up mostly of blacks. They did not feel comfortable attending. They wondered how they might be welcomed. Instead, they drove about 45 minutes to a more mixed congregation. In the process of time, the price of gas became too much. They decided to attend the other congregation. They were no issues. They were welcomed and loved! Don’t assume! Be a pioneer. While there is not necessarily anything wrong with a congregation made up primarily of whites or blacks, this should not be the standard when it comes to us deciding where we will worship.

How might you be able to be a pioneer? List some ways below.

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Don’t be a sellout. Ephesians 2:14-18 reads, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”

What I mean by don’t be a sellout is this: Don’t sell out your faith in Jesus or your fellowship with brethren because of your families, your race, or your political views. We are in Christ. That’s a really big deal! Do not take it lightly.

Share the gospel. Acts 8:1-4 reads, Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

As one preacher has said, “Our congregations should look like our communities.” The best way to do this is by sharing the good news of Jesus. Talk to everyone. This is what the saints did in the first century.

When I invite others to visit, I will often let them know where I worship is not a black church or a white church but rather a group of Christians striving to make it to heaven. I got this line from another brother in Christ. I will sometimes emphasize this because as a black man, there will be people who may assume I attend an all-black church, and they may not feel comfortable visiting. The reality is most churches are made up of one particular race. So, I use that phrase to help them know they are welcome, and it does not matter what their skin color may be.

Some people may say, “I don’t see color. I’m color blind.” I see color. I don’t know how one cannot see color. I recognize people have good intentions when they say, “I’m color blind.” But let us enjoy the diversity God has made and also be aware that others see color. Let others know it does not matter what color their skin may be; they are welcomed at your congregation.

I remember one Sunday after services in Beaumont Texas, a couple (the woman was white, and the man was black) shared with me how welcomed they felt. They had visited other congregations (I do not know where), and they were not welcomed because they were a mixed couple. That is really sad. I hope that is never the case where you worship.

Do you ever find yourself hesitating inviting someone to services or to a Bible study who may not look like you? If so, why do you think that is? What can you do to overcome it?

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Be patient and forgive. Colossians 3:12-13 teaches, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

While the apostle Peter experienced so much when he went to the house of Cornelius, he still had room to grow. He was a hypocrite at times. Galatians 2:11-15 records, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

The brethren needed to be patient with him. It did not mean they tolerated his sinful behavior. What we see is that Paul corrected Peter. The same will have to happen to us and others.

We are all on a journey. We all have different pasts. I know a brother in Christ who saw black men lynched in the South growing up. That obviously had a deep impact on him. He has had to overcome a lot of things with respect to race. He and I are at different places when it comes to challenges to overcome. I have never experienced anything like that. Brethren will need to be patient with him and seek to understand what he has experienced.

There will be times when someone may say or act in a manner that is not Christ-like. During those moments, we will have to have some difficult conversations and be willing to forgive.

I often think about the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau was ready to kill his brother Jacob because of missing out on his birthright and blessing from his father Isaac, But, in the process of time, Esau came to forgive his brother. What’s interesting about all of this is the descendants of Esau did not respond in the same manner. They were filled with bitterness toward Israel. I think this can and still does happen. Yet, when one becomes an emotional hoarder and is not willing to forgive, it will not end well for them.

Has someone in the past hurt you? Has someone treated you in an ungodly way because of your race? How did you handle that situation?

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Pray for all men. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 teaches, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We do not hate those who are racist, but rather we pray for their souls. They too were created in the image of God. We seek to pray, teach, and provide a godly example for them.

Who might you be able to pray for who may be struggling with this issue? Who might you be able to pray for who has been hurt by someone else who was racist?

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Remember, vengeance belongs to God. Romans 12:17 instructs, Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

God is the righteous judge. We do not repay evil with evil. This can be difficult. Instead, we seek to be the lights in this world.

Respond with love. John 3:16 teaches, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” 1 Peter 2:17 commands, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

Let us view people the proper way. Let us love them just as Christ has loved us. As we approach this subject, let us do it with truth, compassion, and love. As we view our brethren, let us think the best of them. God required the most of Himself, and He demonstrated agape love. He loved us when we were unlovable. We must do the same.

As the people of God, let us shine our lights. Let us show people what God the Father and His Son have done not just for us but for the entire world. We have the gospel. Let us share it with as many people as possible. When we do, hearts will be changed for the better, and the devil will be defeated!

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Focus On Today

Today is Wednesday January 8th, 2020.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Thanks! Tell us something we don’t know.”

Today is today.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.

Therefore, focus on Today! This is the day we do have.

This is so easy to type and read, but often hard to do.

Are you pondering what you’re going to do Friday night?

Are you planning for the football games this weekend?

Are you trying to figure out how to get the kids to all of the activities with one car?

Good! Nothing wrong with planning.

Now get back to TODAY, Wednesday January 8th, 2020.

Have you enjoyed the sun?

Have you complimented someone or encouraged someone?

Have you hugged your loved ones?

What about your workout?

Or prayer to God?

Our lives are super busy right? But not too busy for today!

Enjoy today. It’s all we got.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34

I CAN DO…SO CAN YOU

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Work Where You Are

In Acts 28, we find the apostle Paul at the end of a long journey. He made it through a number of storms. He has survived the attacks from the Jews who wished to harm him. He’s endured a lot for the sake of the Lord.

When one really considers all that Paul experienced, I think it would be easy for many to say, “It’s time for me to stop. I’ve done enough.” But that wasn’t the case for Paul.

In Acts 28:23-24 Luke says, “When the had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.”

In Acts 28:30-32 Luke says, “And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”

Despite Paul’s situation, he continued to work. He continued to teach Jesus Christ crucified. Paul worked where he was. He wasn’t in the best situation. But he made the best of it.

In Acts 16, Paul worshiped God in prison. He also shared the gospel to the Philippian jailer.

In Acts 24, Paul shared the good news of Jesus to Felix and Drusilla.

In the midst of storms in Acts 27, Paul shared his faith to the souls on the ship.

Wherever he was, he worked. He shared his faith.

As you think about 2019 and moving into 2020, let’s follow Paul’s example. Let’s work where we are. We may not always find ourselves in the best possible situation. In fact, like Paul, we will face many difficult days. We will suffer. But no matter what we may be experiencing, there’s an opportunity to work.

There are opportunities in both the good and the bad days to talk about our faith in Jesus. There are opportunities in both the good and bad days to teach others the word of God. In 2020, let’s look for even more opportunities to share the good news of Jesus.

-Benjamin Lee

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STEADY IN THE STORMS


Introduction:

  1. There are certain chapters in the book of Acts which stand out. For example, Acts 7, we have the powerful story of Stephen and the introduction to Paul. In Acts 17, we’re introduced to the brethren in Thessalonica and Paul’s trip to Athens. But what about Acts 27?
  2. After Paul laid out his defense before King Agrippa, we find Paul would leave with some other prisoners and set sail from Caesarea to Rome. We know Luke the physician is with Paul at this time based on the word “WE” used throughout the chapter. It was Luke who penned, Acts 16:9-16, Acts 20:5, Acts 21:17. We aren’t given details about exactly when Luke joined up again with Paul.
  3. Consider the details given to us in this chapter. It’s been said, “Luke’s account of Paul’s voyage has been minutely investigated by an experienced Scottish seaman (commodore James Smith, of Jordanhill), and established the remarkable fact that Luke, though not a professional seaman, was a close and accurate observer of the winds and storms, and the management and movements of a ship. He furnishes more information of ancient navigation (Chapters 27 and 28) than any single document of antiquity.” There are books written about what Luke has recorded in this chapter! What Luke recorded for us here and in the rest of the book is accurate and true!
  4. As we read about Paul’s voyage, we will also see storms that would come. Yet, what we find is Paul was steady in the storms. The physical storms Paul endured I believe provide us with some reminders concerning the spiritual storms we will face. All of us are on a voyage. We have a destination we’re headed to: heaven. But storms will come. We will have to be steady in the midst of storms. Paul’s physical voyage will help us as we navigate in our spiritual voyage.

The Lesson:

Storms will come

As we find Paul traveling, we see in Acts 27:9-10, that it was the dangerous season. They had already face tough winds, Acts 27:4, 7. Paul could see traveling at that time would be a bad idea. But they did anyway. In life, we need to be recognize and know storms will come our way. We will face difficult days. We will face challenges, Matthew 5:10-12. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in a storm. Expect them! I’m not saying we live with a sense of dread, but we will find ourselves in storms.

Storms may last a long-time

Luke shares with us exact details of what they faced, Acts 27:10-20. In my Bible, I have words like “next day” “third day” and “many days” marked in red Then in verse 21 “a long time…” That’s what Paul and the 276 men experienced. They were in a storm. It wasn’t going away for a long-time! The storm began to wear on them. That’s what storms do. They cause people to lose hope, Acts 27:20.

Isn’t it often the same in our lives? We find ourselves in a storm. We have wishful thinking. This will pass. But the next day becomes three days and then many days, and then a long-time! I think about Job. He was in a storm in Job 1-2. He was in the long-time category because of Satan. I think about Israel. They were in a storm. It was due to their SIN! It was a long-time storm (70 years of captivity). I think about Paul. He had been in numerous storms after becoming a Christian, Acts 9:18. His life is being sought after. It’s one storm after the next for Paul. Why? Because he was proclaiming the truth. Storms are going to come. Hopefully, our storms aren’t because we’ve been evil doers, 1 Peter 4:13-16. We don’t always know how long storms will last.

Storms will require us to have courage

In the midst of the storm, Paul, a prisoner took the lead, Acts 27:21-26. I love what Paul said: “You should have listened to me!” He encouraged the men. Take courage. Note as you read the word courage or encouraged found in verses 22,25,33,34. Paul encouraged because he had been encouraged by God through an angel, Acts 27:21-24. This is the third time in the book where Paul has been reminded not to be afraid, Acts 18:8-10, 23:11.

In the midst of storms, we will have to be courageous. Paul believed God, Acts 27:25. He believed it would work out exactly as the angel said! We know it did! That’s the faith we need in storms. Storms come in a variety of ways and sizes. In the midst of storms, we all need to hear from God. Not through an angel, but through His word. Before storms, we need to be hearing from God. We need to believe what He says. Believe what Jesus said, Matthew 6:33-34. Believe the promises of God. Storms have a way of causing Christians to doubt. However, we must remember God is always bigger than our storms. Paul would stand before Caesar. No storm could stop that from happening. No plots from wicked men could stop God’s will. Paul would witness in Rome, Acts 23:11. Which is why in the midst of storms, we must remain with Jesus.

In Storms, we must remain with Jesus.

Paul told the crew they were to remain in the ship, Acts 27:31. They would be saved if they did. He continued to encourage them to eat, Acts 27:31-34. If they remained in the ship, all would be well. While fear would creep in, they would all make it safely to shore, Acts 27:44.

When storms come it can be easy to want to jump SHIP! But don’t!

    1. What the devil would love for us to do is to leave the place where salvation is found: Jesus Christ. In the midst of storms, remain with Him.
    2. You may not always know what’s happening, why things are happening (like Job), but remain with Him. Don’t bail on Him.
    3. Maybe you’ve brought your storms upon yourself. Paul warned these back in verse 10 that danger lied ahead. Maybe brethren, your spouse, your friend, your Shepherds have warned you of danger that lies ahead. But you decided to go on that voyage. Don’t be foolish and leave Jesus. Remain with Him. Repent and sin no more.
    4. Maybe you feel like your life consists of nothing but bailing water and you’re just trying not to drown. Remain with Jesus. Let Him be your anchor.

Conclusion:

  1. In the midst of storms, consider Acts 27. Be like Paul. Listen to God and not to others. People in the world will lead you astray. Let Paul, give thanks to God. I know we see Paul gave thanks when it came to eating food, Acts 27:35. Give thanks to God for everything in the midst of storms. It will be a reminder of how He provides.
  2. Even though you may not recognize how things will work out, Acts 27:39, remain with Him. God is in control. We are not! He is with us. Remain with Him. He will provide in ways we may have never thought, Acts 27:42-44. He provided safety for Paul through the centurion in the midst of his storm. God is with us as well. Remain with Him. Be steady in your faith, in your hope, in your hearing from God and know all will be well.