Day 20 – December 22 – Saturday

Day 20, December 22, 2018 – Saturday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides Deliverance

Ezra 1:1-4

World War II was a terrible time of displacement in our world. Germany’s military machine started in Czechoslovakia and then marched to Poland, Austria, and throughout the rest of Europe. Families were bombed out of their homes, forced to flee for their very lives, and to live in conditions that would be considered deplorable by our standards. When the war was over, massive efforts were poured into war-torn Europe to rebuild and restore it to its former beauty and familiarity.

The book of Ezra opens with a declaration that Cyrus, King of Persia, has commanded that the temple of the Lord God be rebuilt. He is appealing (no, notifying!) God’s people that he has been given the directive that they provide him with silver, gold, goods, livestock, and freewill offerings. At first glance one could construe this to be the equivalent to a letter from the I.R.S. telling you that you are short in your tax responsibility. Pay Up!! Yet, there is a sense of grace that extends to the people of that. Ezra appears to be written in the seventh year of captivity. It would have been very easy for the people of Israel to be left in Persia for a much longer period of time. Yet, it is the grace of God that, time after time, brings us back again and delivers us home and hopes, (even demands!!) obedience and conformity.

Esther was a deliverer of deliverance to her people. But even she had to face a personal “war” as she faced the potential demise of her people as well as herself. But God, through her uncle Mordecai, reminded her that it was for such a time as this that she was put into such a position of prominence.

Our lives are much like Europe during the war days of the 40’s. Sin comes in and destroys everything in sight and has value. Yet, God in his faithfulness is always there to deliver whatever our needs may be. It is up to us to trust in his power in order to see him work!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 19 – December 21 – Friday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides Wisdom

1 Kings 3:9

My family lived some distance from the elementary I attended in the first grade. My mom would usually drive me to school each morning. I remember it raining one morning, and the water was gushing down the streets toward the drains. Getting out of the car, I stepped into the ankle-deep water and got my shoes and socks drenched. Tears quickly filled my eyes because I didn’t want to go to school with wet shoes and socks. My mother motioned for me to get back into the car, and we went home so I could change. I learned something valuable that day…there are right places and wrong places to step!

Throughout life, don’t we all learn that there are right and wrong places to step? In knowing God’s will for our lives, we learn discernment from God’s perspective. The Bible has proven to be the “medicine” that many have needed to cure sin sickness. God knows what is best for His people. The challenge is whether we accept God at His Word or venture out on our own and go against God’s plan for our lives. Wisdom is realizing God way is the best for us, then changing our behavior and acting upon that wisdom.

James 1:5 says: “If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Whenever you face a tough decision in life, ask God for the wisdom to make the right choices. He might answer by causing you to remember a helpful Bible verse, or by allowing you to recall a previous positive experience, or by using a wise person to coach you along the process. If we seek wisdom, the truth is that God will provide it!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 18 – December 20 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides 5 Smooth Stones

1 Samuel 17:40

<5>King Saul and the Israelites were faced with no imaginary giant. Goliath, the fierce champion of the Philistines, stood over nine feet tall. For forty days, Goliath had come forward and challenged Saul and the Israelite army.

For forty days, the reaction of the Israelites and the king they had begged God for was the same. Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. This fear betrayed a loss of faith in the covenant promises of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 20:1-4)

David’s response to the challenge or Goliath revealed his heart, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine.” David’s confidence did not rest in his own prowess but in the power of the living God.

David did not choose to listen to the discouraging words of his brother, who called him conceited and wicked for taking up the challenge. He did not choose to wear the heavy armor of the king of Israel.. He did not follow the advice of that worldly frightened king. He did not give in to peer pressure.

Instead, “he (David) took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in hand approached the Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:40) Goliath despised David and insulted him. David replied, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel…for the battle is the Lord’s…”
(1 Samuel 17:45-47)

Giants often come into our lives today. Sometimes we think the giant is just too big to be conquered, so we tremble in fear and do not move forward. Sometimes we look for worldly solutions to defeat the giant. When we do, we find ourselves dismayed and terrified, rooted in one spot, too afraid to move forward. This response reveals a heart that does not trust God.

We need to remember David’s response to Goliath as he stood before him with a sling and five smooth stones. As we hand God any giant in our life, we need to shout in triumph and belief, “This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world (especially the Southport area) will know that there is a God…for the battle is the Lord’s… “ Remember that a little stone with a big faith can conquer a big giant with a little god.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 17 – December 19 – Wednesday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Rewards Great Faith

Joshua 3:7-8

Life is filled with problems, challenges, and disappointments. School my not be going well for one our or children. Out team finished the season last despite our best coaching efforts. The job presentation did not receive glowing reviews in spite of all our hard work. The report from the doctor was worse than we expected.

When we are discouraged, our faith is often put to the test. Perhaps it’s time for us to reassess our goals and reevaluate our responses. Many believers are discouraged by life’s problems and have a lack of confidence that they can deal effectively with life’s toughest challenges.

These thoughts can help:
1. Pray — lining up our lives and our prayers with wise and certain promises for God’s word is critical.
2. Ride out the storm — Everything my not change before next week. Prepare for the long haul and decide not to give up.
3. Focus on Jesus — It helps to envision what He can do for us and what we can do for Him. No life is meaningless if Jesus is in it.
4. Remember that we are special — We are uniquely gifted to minister to people no one else will ever meet or touch.
5. Focus on behavior — Do what is right, no matter how you feel. Determine this ahead of time instead of being rolled over by your emotions.

An antidote to discouragement is getting our focus off our limited resources and ourselves and focusing on the unlimited power of God. He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 16 – December 18 – Tuesday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides Guidelines

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments…God’s guidelines. We are saved by grace, right? What can the Ten Commandments, which are a part of the Law, have to do with us? Well, for one thing, all ten of them are incorporated in principle in the New Testament teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we observe “The Lord’s Day”, which is the first day of the week. God still has His special Day. there is good reason to pay attention to God’s Law even while living under “grace”.

The Ten Commandments have been scoffed at, nearly universally ignored, explained away, and in general abused and battered ever since they arrived on the human scene. But they can’t be destroyed. They won’t go away. They continue to sit in judgment on generation after erring generation. They remain the great moral touchstone for the nations. We don’t obey them, but we can’t do without them.

Cal Thomas commented sometime ago on the fact that surveys have shown that “Christians are divorcing at the same rate as non-Christians. So much for family values. People who say they are Christians are getting abortions at a rate as high, or higher, as those who profess a different faith or no faith at all. Many preachers tolerate ‘sin in the camp’ because they fear preaching the uncompromising and uncomfortable message contained in the Gospel.” I believe that we have been guilty of comparing our house with our neighbor’s and wishing that his was ours. Too often we have vacated our neighbor’s wife and homes have been destroyed. The moral compass has been lost, and we need to renew again the guidelines that God has given us.

The Ten Commandments pierce to the expense of today’s ethical debates. They speak to out times, and they need to be applied to our culture and everyday living. Southport Heights Christian Church is moving forward because we stand for what is right, holy, and true. We desire to influence as many people was we possible can with the good news of the Gospel of Christ. our future is bright, and our vision is extensive. Our continue growth will enable hundreds of people to be influence by the guidelines that God has given us in His Word. Pray that we continue to see lives changed by the stand that we take for morality and truth.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 15 – December 17 – Monday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides Leaders

Exodus 2:1-10; 3:1-10

Read these scriptures for today…As you read the following words consider Moses’ childhood: fine child, hidden, protected, noticed, loved, nurtured, adopted, and named.

In the very face of tragedy at the time Moses grew, God protected and provided a leader who would emerge years later for a very special mission and purpose. As a child, this leader called Moses certainly did not have the typical upbringing. While every other young boy in his day was drowned in the river, Moses was spared by the hand of God working through people just like you and me.Consider the events that happened to Moses later in life: Prince of Egypt (with all the worldly glory); murderer; fugitive; shepherd (low on the occupation scale); desert (great place to work!?); God in a flaming bush that does not burn; God calls fro the bush; Moses takes off his shoes on the Holy Ground; Moses hides; God provides the mission for Moses; God calls a leader to carry out the mission — Moses!!!

What a sequence of events! What a journey of life Moses experienced in order to be groomed, trained, and prepared for the great task God call him to accomplish. God is very creative and unique in the way he chooses to prepare us for greatness.

Consider the quote, “Success is not a destination, but a journey”. What journey are you on? What grooming, training, and preparation is God doing in your life in order to use you as a leader? Have you been feeling the “tug” of God on your heart? Are you submitting to His will or are you resisting? I believe God has a leadership role for each of us in some way, either large or small. Don’t resist His calling. Pray for His strength, His guidance, and His protection as you submit to His will for your life.

I love the words God used after he explained to Moses the mission to be accomplished, “So now, go, I am sending you…”

IMAGINE…a church where Christians can discover, develop, and deploy their God-given gifts in significant ministries that meet needs and make a difference in the lives of individuals, where Christians are not just being content to go to church, but who earnestly desire to be the church!!!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 14 – December 16 – Sunday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Cared For Joseph

Genesis 37-50

But the Lord was with Joseph. Joseph became a model slave, who was betrayed by his master’s wife. He then became a model prisoner, who was betrayed by the King’s cupbearer. But the Lord was with Joseph.

Joseph used his gift of interpretation of dreams to explain the meaning of Pharaoh’s nightmares, revealing a grim and threatening future and at the same time proposing a plan to save the nation of Egypt. The king was impressed with Joseph and put him in charge of the whole land. And the Lord was with Joseph.

Ultimately Joseph’s brothers appear before him seeking food for their starving households, and Joseph devises a brilliant plan to lead his brothers to repent and to reconcile with his family. No where in history is there a story more compelling than Joseph’s. It reads like an epic novel filled with intrigue, tension, temptation, and torrential emotions.

But the best summary sentence of Joseph’s life is simply: the Lord was with Joseph. God is faithful to his promises. He will work al things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Just ask Joseph.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 13 – December 15 – Saturday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides A Sacrifice

Hebrews 11:17-19

The relationship between a father and a son is special bond that is hard to put into words. In 1986 God gave Joan and I the gift of our second child, Ryan. I looked forward to being able to teach him to play baseball, football, basketball, and to watch him grow to love the Lord. I coached his teams at times, and pushed him harder than I did the other boys, and was so happy to see his accomplishments, but I agonized greatly over his disappointments. I never wanted to see any harm come to him.

Imagine the anguish that Abraham had when God told him to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering on a mountain in the area of Moriah. Imagine the depth of torment when Isaac said, “Dad, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the offering?”

Abraham’s answer, “God himself will provide the lamb”, not only shows Abraham’s total faith in God, but also God’s faithfulness to us. God did indeed provide the lamb. Even as Isaac, Abraham’s son, allowed himself to be bound for the sacrifice, so did Jesus follow His Father’s will. Abraham’s faith in God was such that Hebrews 11:17-19 says that Abraham believe God could arise the dead.

What a mighty God we serve! Not only can he raise the dead…He did! Many believe that mount where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son is the same Golgotha where Jesus gave up his life as our sacrifice. God’s love for us, his children, is such that He carried through on the sacrifice He asked of Abraham, because as 1Peter 3:9 says, “He is not willing that anyone should perish, but that you should come to repentance.”

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 12 – December 14 – Friday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Keeps His Promises

Romans 4:19-20

Promises! Promises! Promises!

Today many people make promises but few actually keep them faithfully. We have learned not to trust people who make frequent promises because we just assume that they will be broken. Therefore, we make our hearts callous, so that we are not hurt by broken promises.

But there is one who makes promises today, and you can be assured that He will keep His promises. Many of the most improbable promises that have ever been made have been kept…because God ALWAYS keeps His promises. Looking at our passage for today, we see one of the most ridiculous promises ever made…and KEPT.

God promises Abraham and Sarah that they would have son even though they both were well beyond child-bearing years. After all, Abraham was almost 100 and Sarah nearly 90. They were even too old to be first-time grandparents. But yet God kept that promise, and Isaac was born.

God has made many promises in scripture for you and me that sound improbable or even ridiculous. Yet, His track record shows that He will keep those promises. Claim the promises that God has made to you!!

As you sit as a family and reflect, name some of the promises that God has made to you. List some that you have seen him keep and list some that you have not yet claimed. Then pray that God will give you the courage to claim those that might change your life in significant ways.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 11 – December 13 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides A Mission

Genesis 12:1-3

Can you imagine being placed in a situation such as Abraham? To leave all that you have ever known and to go to a place you know absolutely nothing about! Another way God could have communicated to Abraham is: TRUST in me, TRUST in my mission for you, and I will bless you amazingly.
Are you on a mission so valuable, so compelling, so urgent, that is worth giving up all you have…even your comfort zone?
Have you discovered your mission in life?
Are you willing to step back from your own situation long enough to really focus in on who you are, to discover your purpose in life?
Jesus certainly left his comfort zone in order to meet our needs for salvation! IMAGINE…being God’s only son, living in Heaven will all the splendor and glory deserved him, leaving his Heavenly body to descend to earth and live in human for with dust, dirt, temptation, sinful people and thing all around. IMAGINE…being born to a virgin, ridiculed, persecuted, shouted at, scoffed at, spit upon, falsely accused, beaten, tortured, crucified. Surely there was a mission involved…and there was. Jesus said, “I have come the they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I am so glad to be part of Southport Heights Christian Church because she has a mission! Are you familiar with the entire mission statement? You should be very familiar with the shortened version…Love God, Love People, Make Disciples…but the whole statement is: Southport Heights Christian Church honors God by loving Jesus, loving others, and inviting all into the adventure of serving Him”
How do you fit into this mission? Are you a part of it? Are you willing to “are you willing to leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” as Abraham did?
IMAGINE…a church whose mission is clear, whose members mature, ministry and multiply in order to magnify God’s name.
I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…