Sunday, November 2, 2008

Your Target Ministry Market

Your Target Ministry Market
Oct 27, 2008
Matthew 15:24 "...I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel"

There is a saying, "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." To put it another way, if you go through life without something to do, you won't do anything. Our life is full of time and effort and yet if we don't put the two together, we will accomplish nothing. The best way to accomplish something is by first knowing what it is you are trying to accomplish.

All successful businesses know this full well. They know exactly what they are trying to do and they set all their goals and activities to hit that target. But in order for them to do that, they must have customers. Businesses spend countless billions of dollars in an effort to define who their customer is and how to reach that specific customer. For instance, the famous and successful department store, Macy's, labels its target market as "working women, ages 25-54." All of their efforts are in an attempt to attract and appeal to this specific market. This market of working women, ages 25-54, is their specific customer target.

The principle of a target market is not new, however, and even Jesus used it in His ministry here on earth. Jesus said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." His ministry was specific to only Jews in Israel and He kept His work and travel to about a 25 mile radius. He had a market and He stayed focused on those efforts only. It didn't mean that other segments of the world were not important and it didn't mean that no one else should try in a different direction. It meant that His target was set to reach only one specific market. He knew that in order to accomplish what He was sent to do, He had to be specific and focused.

This translates well into our lives. Many of us do not know what we are doing and have rarely defined who it is we are trying to impact. You have been given specific skills and abilities and have been placed in a specific time in this world. All the things in your life have come together for what you are to do. Take the time to figure out who it is you should be impacting and then set a course to do just that. You are more likely to hit something if you are aiming at it. Don't be afraid to figure out who it is the Lord would like you to reach. Ask Him; I'm confident He has a specific person or persons in mind.

Only you can reach the people on your campus at your specific school. Only you can reach the employees that are directly under your management. Only you can reach your close family members. If we all had a target, maybe we would hit it more often. I have a target market, do you?

1. Have you ever identified who it is the Lord would have you impact?
2. Take the time to write it down and ask Him how to reach them.
3. What course of action should you take in reaching them?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Matt 10:6, 1Cor 9:26, 1 Cor 16:9

Devotional Byte's target market is busy Christians who have easy access to electronic media. Devotional Byte's mission statement is: To encourage, challenge, and convict Christians in their personal walk with the Lord.

Are You Good Enough

Are You Good Enough
Oct 20, 2008
Romans 8:30 "...those he called, he also justified..."

When asked the question, "Are you good enough?" your mind quickly summarizes all the bad things you've ever done in your life and flashes all your failures in front of you. You know the answer to the question will be "No," but you still justify your answer and make excuses in order to get rid of that guilty feeling. So confident now in your answer, after making yourself feel better with deceit, you hope you will never be called forward or be challenged for excellence. You slouch back down in your chair and hide from being called out, knowing that you're not good enough so you don't have to try. Your past has dictated your future, and there is no longer hope of you changing the world. This thought pattern is ingrained into our lives of insecurities and laziness.

There was a man of God who committed more atrocities than you could imagine. He failed in life more than you could ever imagine. He certainly wasn't good enough; he was the scum of the earth. But that did not preclude him from being called forward, challenged for excellence, or asked to get over the insecurities of his failures. He was the apostle, Paul. Recall that he lived at the exact same time as Jesus and that he was determined to stop Jesus' ministry here on earth. Paul persecuted Christians and was responsible for more murders than anyone on death row here in America today. Paul's murders were probably the worst sins any Bible hero ever committed, as they were in direct rebellion against Christ. Paul was even the one given credit for stoning Stephen, a great man of God from the early church.

But all those sins and failures did not stop God from changing Paul's life and using Him in a mighty way to impact the entire world. Paul allowed the Lord to take his failures and wipe them away, enabling Paul to become the most effective Christian and missionary the world has ever seen. Despite Paul's failures and the atrocities of his past, the Lord was able to use him; Paul is given credit for more contributions to our Bible than any other human being. In God's eyes, the more you've failed in your past, the more God can use you in your future.

So, if you've decided that a life of failure precludes you from doing anything great in this world, think again. The Lord doesn't care how many "D's" you got on your report card, or how many STD's you have, or how many DUI's you have. He cares about using you and your future. So the next time you're asked the question, "Are you good enough?" you can re-write the question. The question now becomes, "Do I have what it takes to move forward, beyond my failures?" The question now becomes, "Am I willing to move past my past and change the world?"

You may, at times, begin to feel inadequate again, but that is OK. You'll feel like a wild mustang among thoroughbred horses. But you'll need to remember, it's not about your past or lineage, it's about how fast you can run. And if you don't have a past full of failures and you haven't made an effort to impact the world, then Christ would say to you that you are no better than those Pharisees, whom He called white washed sepulchres. Look it up.

1. Do you remind yourself of your failures and forget about doing great things?
2. What part of your past do you need to get over in order to do those things?
3. Ask God to show you the great things He needs for you to do.

Additional Scriptures for Study: Matt 23, Rom 3:24-28, Rom 5:1, James 2:18-26

Not Made in God's Image

Not Made in God's Image
Oct 13, 2008

Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness....""

I look at my own sons and daughters and wonder how to fully shape their lives and character. They are all so young and impressionable; I fear they may learn things I do not want them to learn. I see things in them that I wish I could change about my own character and wonder if I was the one who put it tin them. Will they turn out all right? If they are made in God's image, shouldn't they turn out just fine? If I am made in God's image, doesn't that mean I'm OK, too?

Not necessarily so. The Bible says that when God created Adam and Eve, He created them in His own image. They were created perfect and, like God, had no sin. Adam and Eve were "born" Godlike. Then Adam and Eve met Satan and decided to bring sin into their lives. After Adam and Eve had sinned, they had their first child (130 years after God created them). Genesis 5:3 says that Adam "had a son in his own likeness, his own image" [italics mine]. Remember, this was after he had sinned. Adam had a new image and it was not the original one he started with. The first child born of man was made in man's image, not God's. Man's image was sinful. Therefore, you and I are born, not in the wonderful image of God but in the horrible image of sin.

But there is hope. The ENTIRE Bible is a story of God's redemptive plan to get us back to our original image; the image of God. Fast forward 2000 years and you find Jesus Christ, the role model of a human being who actually achieved the living status of a human made in the true image of God. But of course He achieved it, He was God. This is impossible for us. But because of Jesus' work on the cross, we can be new creations. Once we become Christians, we are actually born again and are now made into the image of Christ, the original image we were intended to have.

This leaves something for all of us to do. We must be transformed into the image of God through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. After we are saved, we must allow Christ to permeate every area of our lives in an effort to become more like Him. Don't stand in the mirror and try to see the facets of Christ in you; a mirror simply mocks what is there. Rather place a picture of Jesus in your mind and look at yourself in an overlay of that picture. You'll be able to identify the areas of your life that are not Christ-like. Trust me, there are plenty of them. And as you are conforming yourself in the image of Christ, it is your job to help others do the same, especially the people in your immediate life. In doing this, you will not only look like Christ, you will reflect God's own glory.

1. Are you being conformed to the image of Christ on a daily basis?
2. Identify three people in your immediate life that you can be an example for?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Gen 1, Gen 5, Rom 8:29, Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:12-18, Col 1:15

The Battle is the Lord's

The Battle is the Lord's
Oct 6, 2008

Isaiah 41:11 "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish."

Ever realize that you have days or weeks where everything is in conflict with you? Nothing seems to go well and you're not actually doing anything wrong. Nothing seems to be smooth. You try hard to overcome the conflict, maybe even confront a person or two with whom things aren't going well. But the harder you try, the more difficult everything becomes. You begin to wonder "What's wrong with me?" You become a little insecure or even paranoid that everyone and everything is out to get you. I have news for you. Everyone IS out to get you, but it is not whom you think.

Your spouse isn't the problem. Your job isn't the problem. Your kids are not the problem. The problem is the war over us and everything in our lives. It is not a war that is being fought in our realm or world, though. It is being fought in the spiritual realm. Whether you want to admit it or not, Satan and his demons exist and they are very, very active in your life. They are real; they don't live inside of you, but they do have access to your house, your co-workers, and even your mind. They are attacking you from every corner and every angle. Satan and his men are out to get you and they will stop at nothing to steal, kill, rob, and destroy. They will not rest until you are no longer serving the Lord or you are dead.

But there is good news. This is a war that you do not have to fight. You don't even have to engage in battle. All you have to do is step aside and let God step in. That's it. It is so simple. Throw down your human hands and ask the Lord to take over. He wants to fight for you if you will let Him. But He can only help you if you will simply step aside and stop trying to figure it out on your own or work out your own problems. Your efforts will not work in the spiritual realm. Since God lives there, He is the only one who can do battle there. Your efforts are useless. Stop trying and let the Lord fight for you. Don't use human wisdom to figure it out; don't use human efforts to confront the conflict. In fact, when you get involved, it only gets worse. Step aside and let the Lord walk forward in all your conflicts and battles. Put the Lord first and pray that He intercedes for you. He will fight.

You'll be amazed at the results. When God steps in, the enemy is defeated and your problems seem to disappear. The verses before and after Isaiah 41:11 are amazing. Listen to what God says:
"I will uphold you with my righteous right hand...Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. "

1. Have you been having "one of those days" where nothing goes right?
2. Are you letting God fight your battles for you?

Additional Scriptures for Study: 2 Chron 20:15, 1 Sam 17:14, Psalm 97:5, Rom 8:26, Eph 6:12

Waiting on the Lord, Part 2

Waiting on the Lord, Part 2
Sept 29, 2008

"In the Waiting Room of God"

Isaiah 40:31 "but those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

For some reason, the Lord doesn't seem to answer all of our prayers instantly. We are a demanding society, where we want everything yesterday. When we pray, we are programmed to think the answer to the prayer will happen just as a genie in a bottle would grant a wish (instantly, and with sparkle dust). But the Lord does not suffer to work in our time frame. His ways are not our ways and His timing is not our timing. When the Lord is in charge there might be a wait involved. This puts us in a "waiting room," a place where there is nothing to do but "wait upon the Lord."

This is exactly where God wants us, in His waiting room. But there is something actually going on while we wait. God does not put us in the waiting room to punish us or to show us who's boss. He puts us in waiting for a reason; it is for our benefit. The verse, "those who wait upon the Lord," does not actually mean to sit and just wait for His timing. The word "wait" is translated in the Bible from the word "qavah," which has two facets to its meaning. It means to wait, as in anticipation, but it also means to tie or bind together (like a cord or rope being woven together from several strands ready for future use). The rope gets its strength from the multiple stands drawing upon each other. In the verse, "Those who wait upon the Lord..." can be understood as "those who are patient and bound together with the Lord can anticipate a renewing of their strength."

This gives you something to do while you are in God's waiting room; allow Him to weave Himself into every fabric of your life. Instead of just reading those magazines in the waiting room, try binding yourself together with the Lord for future use. Not only might He answer the prayer that you've been waiting for, He might also strengthen you for a future use beyond any of your own personal capabilities. The reason we are waiting for His answer is so that He may also work on us in the mean time.

He figures He's got our attention since we are in prayer to Him, so why not use our attention span for some work? His desire is to make us into the men and women of God that He needs us to be. And if the only way He can do that is by making us wait, then so be it. Allow this time for yourself to be bound together with Him, you'll be amazed at the things you and the Lord can do together. Your new "cord" will have four strands, The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit, and you. Oh the strength that your cord will have. The reason you'll have renewed strength is because you'll need it up ahead.

After you've renewed your strength it will be time to use it. But don't worry, you'll be transformed and be able "mount up on eagles wings;" you will be able to "run and not get tired..."

1. Are you waiting on the Lord for something?
2. Are you allowing yourself to be bound to Him while you wait?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 27:14, Ecc 4:12, Lamentation 3:26

Waiting on the Lord, Part 1

Waiting on the Lord, Part 1
Sept 22, 2008

"God's Timing is Perfect"

Psalm 145:15 "The eyes of all look to You, You give them their food at the proper time."

If you were to question my wife or kids, they would tell you I'm a stickler for being on time. Getting a family of six out the door takes considerable time management skills, especially considering our four children are all very young. To me, being on time is being a few minutes early. I allow cushion time for human error and the unexpected, to make certain we get there on time. If we're early, its because we've risked out of all the time wasting activities. My wife, on the other hand, calls her personal time clock "African Time." She once attended a church service in Africa where the service was scheduled from 10-12pm, but the pastor didn't stroll in until after 1pm and they didn't finish until 5 or 6pm. Needless to say, my wife is seldom on time for anything, per Americans' standards.

God, on the other hand, is perfect in His timing. There is no need for Him to factor in any cushion time for error or the unexpected. You've often heard that He is never late and rarely early. We would all like Him to show up early; we don't like close calls. We're not good at watching for those near misses, those times when danger is getting too close and we're snatched away by a savior just in time to avoid certain death. Those times when danger gets close cause us to fret and fumble as we nervously prepare for the inevitable, those times when we're certain God is not going to show up. We sit and tell ourselves that God is not near and He will never show up. We deceive ourselves by convincing our minds that this time is different and God will be too late. If we can believe this lie, then we are allowed to act in an effort to save ourselves or intervene because God isn't doing His job.

This is exactly the position where Satan wants us. Satan wants us to doubt that God won't show up on time, or at all, and that if we don't take matters into our own hands, our problems will never be solved. If Satan can convince us of this, then our faith is diminished and we slowly become lord of our own lives. When you don't wait for the perfect timing of God you can take matters into your own hands and really screw things up. Saul was an amazing leader and man of God, but there came a time when he didn't wait on the Lord. Because Saul didn't wait on the Lord, God removed Saul from his leadership position; some argue that Saul lost his home in Heaven as well. Read about it in 1 Samuel 15.

Whether you're waiting for God to give you a spouse, an answer to prayer, or show you your ministry in this world, it is important to wait for His perfect timing. Throughout the Bible, the Lord's own voice is recorded and appears over 500 times saying, "at the appointed time," "in due time," "at the proper time." God is actually interested in time. He set a time and place for everything. He even set a time for the issue you're dealing with right now as you read these words. Timing is so important to God that He is arranging your circumstances at this very moment, orchestrating everything in your life for a very important reveal. But that reveal will be missed if you take matters into your own hands and decide it is no longer prudent to wait for the perfectness of God. So, if you're getting antsy about something, be patience just a little longer. God has it under control and knows the perfect time to bring it about. His timing is perfect, just as He is.

1. For what two things have you been waiting on God's timing?
2. Are you tempted to take matters into your own hands or are you being patient?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Ecc 3, Ecc 7:14, Matt 21:41, Matt 24:30, Matt 24:48, Mark 13:33, Luke 12:45, Acts 1:7, Acts 17:26, Rom 5:26, Gal 4:4, Gal 6:9

I Like Sin

I Like Sin
Sept 15, 2008

Psalm 36:2 "For in his own eyes [the wicked] flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin."

I do not like lima beans. I would pick them out of any foods that my mother used to make. She could hide them in a dish, but I would find them. My palate knows. For me to eat a whole plate full of lima beans would be out of the question. I would sooner gag on a spoon than eat lima beans. Some people like lima beans; I am not one of them. You will not find a secret stash of lima beans in my desk drawer and you won't find me hiding in a closet scarfing them down. Since I do not care for lima beans, you will certainly never see me eat a whole bushel full of them.

Many people say they hate sin. But I know better. If they hated sin as much as I disliked lima beans, they would never sin. I cannot say that I hate sin. If I did, I would not "eat" a whole bushel full at times. You might say that you hate sin, but then you wouldn't "eat" a whole bushel full either. What you hate is the guilty feeling after you sin. What you hate is dealing with the consequences of sin when it's over. What you hate is the effects of sin on your relationships, but you like the sin part. Sin makes you feel good, for a time. If there were no pleasure in sin, none of us would ever "eat" a whole bushel full. But sin is enticing, it gives us a rush.

The key to finding the right perspective on sin is to figure out what you like more than sin. For the Christian, it should be that we love the Lord and our relationship with Him more than we like the short-term effects of sin. Every time we sin, we drive ourselves away from a right relationship with Him. God truly hates sin, which is why He is able to withstand "eating" a whole bushel full of it. He does not want sin in His presence. When we decide to "eat a plate of sin," we drive the Lord and His presence from us.

Most of the time, when we sin, we are doing so with the full knowledge of what we are doing. We are all old enough and mature enough to know what is going on. We are aware that it is sin, but we do it anyway. It's time to call it what it is and admit that we all like the short-term effects of sin. But it is also time to put your right relationship with the Lord above any amount of sin you might "eat" on a daily basis and make the decision to live your life better. Identify the "lima beans" in your life, the areas where you say you hate the sin but you keep doing it anyway. Now call it sin and determine to love the Lord and your relationship with Him more than the sin. Decided right now that you are going to be in His presence and make honest efforts to allow Him to help you rid your diet of those lima beans you claim to hate.

1. As you read this devotional, what two sins in your life immediately come to mind?
2. Are you willing to put your relationship with the Lord above those sins?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Matthew 6:24, Romans 12:9, James 4:4, 3 John 1:11

God Chooses Your Name

God Chooses Your Name
Sept 8, 2008

Proverbs 22:1 "A good name is more desirable than great riches..."

In our house, we have several "pet" names for our children and each other. They are familiar, affectionate names that we all answer to. Only the most intimate insider knows these names. No one outside our immediate nucleus knows, but we use them on a daily basis. When we use these names, they create a sense of love in the atmosphere and all sorts of warm feelings about the loved one. It draws us close and makes us feel dear to each other.

The Bible says that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. It is talking about, of course, a good reputation. That reputation is what others think of you when they hear your name. The reputation can be respectable or one of ill repute, but nonetheless, every time someone mentions your name, it creates feelings inside those who know you. Your name conjures up feelings in others based on your actions and interactions with them. It is good to have a great reputation with others but it is more important to have a good reputation with God. Every time He hears your name, it conjures up feelings inside Him about you and your behaviors, how you have acted and interacted with Him. Based on your activities over the span of your life, you have created a reputation in the Lord's eyes.

From that reputation, He has given you a name. It may be an affectionate "pet" name or it may be a word that makes Him want to spit. Whether you know it or not, He does not refer to you by the name on your birth certificate; He refers to you by how you are seen in His eyes. In the Bible, there was a man named Solomon; at least that is the name his parents gave him. But God said that He called Him Jedidiah, which means "loved by the Lord." Jedidiah was an affectionate name God had given to Solomon because of Solomon's reputation with God.

The name He has for you might be honorable or you might be ashamed by it. It might be a badge based on your actions or a disgrace. Either way, I would consider how the Lord thinks of you. In the Bible, God changed many people's names. Jacob was called a deceiver, but God changed his name to Israel, meaning an overcomer. David was a murderer and adulterer but God referred to him as a man after God's own heart. Whatever the earthly stigma your name might have, it is truly possible for the Lord to change your name. He wants to refer to you with an affectionate name that gives Him warm feelings inside every time your name is mentioned in His presence. And it is the name He will call you when you get to Heaven.

1. Have a name or reputation you'd like to change?
2. What is the name the Lord calls you?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Gen 32:28, I Sam 13:14, II Sam 12, Proverbs 3, Acts 13:22

Labor in Vain

Labor in Vain
September 2, 2008

Haggai 1:9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? declares the Lord Almighty. Because of my house, which remains in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house."

The Lord appeared to the prophet Haggai and told him why the children of Israel were not enjoying the fruit of their labors. Evidently, the children of Israel were hard at work, trying to produce a profitable lifestyle. They were working hard at their jobs and businesses, trying to get ahead in life. They wanted their standard of living to improve and so they did like Americans do today, worked several jobs in order to have more, more, more. But they did not have more. It seemed the harder they worked, the less and less physical evidence they had of their labors. Their businesses did not succeed and they never got the promotions they wanted. They didn't have more, and it was the Lord's doing. God appeared and told them that He had personally withheld all the fruit of their labors. He cut short their prosperity.

He did it for an important reason. He was upset that the temple, the house of God, was lying in shambles, in ruins. It seems the children of Israel were more interested in the pursuit of their physical desires and did not care what God wanted. All God wanted was for them to put Him first and take care of the house of God. He was willing to give them the prosperity they sought if they would have just put Him first and rebuilt the temple. This is a great story from thousands of years ago, but what does this have to do with us today? Well, fast forward to Jesus and His death on the cross. He did away with the physical temple as a building and created a new dwelling place for God--inside our hearts. The Bible says that we are the temple in which He lives. It goes further to say that if we seek Him first, then He will give us all these things that we so hotly pursue.

What backwards thinking God is proposing. He says that if we work less and focus more on Him, then we will have more. If you've been lacking in the physical sense, but working really hard, maybe the Lord has been withholding your fruit. Maybe if you worked hard at taking care of His temple (your own personal Christian walk), then He would give you the physical things you've been working for. God is more interested that you have a personal relationship with Him and work hard to be formed into the likeness of Him. Then and only then, is He willing to add the fruit of your other labors. If you've been wondering why He has been withholding your prosperity in this world, then consider He has some work for you to do for Him. Do that work first and then watch and see what happens. Who knows, maybe you'll drive that nice car and have that nice house AFTER your engage in a little ministry effort for Him.

1. Does it seem the Lord is withholding the fruits of your labor?
2. Have you considered that your relationship with Him is not first and foremost in your life?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 127:1, Psalm 128, Haggai 1, Matt 6:33, I Cor 6:19

Climbing the Mountain of God

Climbing the Mountain of God
August 25, 2008

Psalm 91:10 "then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent."

The other night I had a dream that I was mountain climbing. It was the same mountain where God had passed in front of Moses in Exodus 34. The mountain was high and dangerous, a sought after mountain by many of the greatest climbers. There were many others climbing the mountain too, all of us on our own, in great efforts to reach the pinnacle. As I approached the top of the mountain the clouds began to roll in and the winds brought a quick covering of looming darkness. Many of the climbers were as close to the top as I was and we all just had to reach it. But when the others saw the storm clouds beginning to form, they quickly started back down the mountain. I had to go on; nothing was going to keep me from reaching the top.

For some reason I was not afraid of the storm, as it was more important that I reach the top of the Mountain of God. I knew I'd have to camp that night in the rain, but was prepared to endure it, knowing I had the satisfaction of reaching the top. I was the only one who made it to the top and just as I reached that point, nightfall came with the rains. I hurriedly began to find the best place to stay the night through the cold, dark, and wet storm. The thought of actually falling asleep was wishful thinking, as it seemed it was going be a long night without a tent. But then I looked up and saw something strange.

I peered over at a grouping of trees and noticed something that I had not seen initially. It was a shelter. It was not simply a cover from the rain, but a solid-structured cement building with a warm bed inviting me to come in out of the stormy weather. I did just that. I went into the dry shelter and climbed into the warm bed while the heavy winds blew all around me. That night I slept soundly, listening to the rain bounce off the rooftop. I was safe and protected from the storm, all the while enjoying a wonderful night's sleep.

I awoke from the dream and realized something about God's character. Climbing the mountain of God is like our Christian walk, a steep climb that can seem dangerous, where only a few will make it to the top. And just because you make it to the top of the Mountain of God doesn't mean a storm will never arise. It does mean that He will shelter you from the storm, though. The Bible is very clear that if we put our trust and hope in Him and continue in our Christian walk, He will protect us and allow an amazing sleep through the most difficult storms in life. He wants to know how important it is to reach the top, how important your Christian walk is to you. Don't worry about the storms in life, keep climbing, keep pressing onward, no matter what the weather around you looks like. Let Him worry about the wind and the rains. Just focus on your Christian walk.

1. Do you see dark clouds on the horizon of your Christian walk?
2. Is it more important that you reach the top of the Mountain of God?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 91, Acts 20:24, I Cor 9:24, II Tim 4:7

God Called You Out

God Called You Out
August 19, 2008

John 21:3 "I'm going out to fish, Peter told them... but that night [he] caught nothing."

Before meeting Jesus, Peter was a fisherman by trade. Fishing was his profession, and that was all he knew. Enter Jesus. Jesus called Peter away from fishing and told him he would no longer fish but now be a fisher of men. Jesus called him out of his vocation as a fisherman and put him into ministry. For the next several years, Peter was a disciple of Jesus and in full time ministry spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus had so many plans for Peter; He said that Peter was going to be a rock upon which He would build His church. Forget fishing, Jesus had other plans for Peter.

But after Peter denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion, Peter forgot the new plans that Jesus had for him. Peter, somehow, decided that it would be better to return to fishing, even though God had called him out. (This is the exact same position Peter was in when Jesus called him out the first time.) You'll read in scripture that after Jesus rose from the dead, He went to look for His old friend, Peter. And you know where He found Peter? Back at his old profession, in a boat, trying to catch fish. Peter didn't catch any fish this time either. He had spent the whole night fishing but to no avail. He couldn't fish anymore. He had forgotten that God had called him away from fishing, and fishing was no longer what God wanted him to do. Peter's efforts were futile because that was not what he was supposed to be doing. God's call on Peter's life still stood firm, and fishing was not it.

God has called each of us out of something and into a marvelous light. That light is the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior and with it comes a new life. You cannot go back to your old life; God has called you out from it. You'll find that it is unfulfilling, empty, and futile. No matter whom you were or what you did, that is no longer you. You are a new creation. You have a new identity and with it something you are supposed to do. I don't know what that is for you, but you do. You know, as you read these words, what the Lord has for you and are well aware of the old life to which you so easily return. Recognize that your old way of life is unfulfilling. Continue walking in what the Lord has for you. Even if you failed the Lord, like Peter did, you don't have to return to the old life. God still wants you to follow Him.

Jesus found Peter fishing again and had to call him back. "[Peter]...follow me" John 21:19

1. Are you aware of the life that you left when you decided to follow the Lord?
2. Are you continuing to walk in that new life on a daily basis or have you returned?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Deut 7:6, Isaiah 43:10, Matt 4:18-19, I Peter 1:2, I Peter 2:9

God Let it Past

God Let it Past
August 11, 2008

Psalm 103:12 "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our [sins] from us."

There is an old phrase that says, "let bygones, be bygones." Another way of saying it might be, "let the past stay in the past." Some might suggest the phrase is, "like water under a bridge." Any way you want to say it, the point is the same. Yes, we can learn from the past, but once it is gone, it should stay gone. We cannot live in the past, nor can we dwell on what has happened in our lives. There has to be a point of moving farther, beyond that of our previous failures, mistakes, and sins.

Imagine you are to embark on a new era in your life--school, marriage, job, birth. And every time you started the new journey, you carried with you a large black suitcase or piece of luggage that could only be moved on wheels. Now imagine how silly it would be to lug that black suitcase down the aisle with you before you said your vows, or how crazy it would be to sit in the interview office, anticipating a great new career, peering over the suitcase on your lap. It is ridiculous to picture, but that is what each of us does when we don't leave the past in the past. If we don't let it stay in the past, then we will be forced to drag it with us wherever we go.

The Bible says if we will confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive them. If God has forgiven you, then why would you keep bringing up the past? God doesn't bring up the past, not if He has already forgotten it. You might say to God, "remember the time when....." His response will be the same every time, "what are you talking about?" This is one thing God can't do, remember the past. The Bible is very clear that His character does not keep a record of your wrong doings. He is quick to severe your past from your present but for some reason we keep hanging on to it.

If you have unconfessed sin in your life or there are mistakes you'd like to erase, make sure you are honest with yourself regarding them and take them before God. Ask Him to forgive you AND give you the ability to forgive yourself. Once He has forgiven you and forgotten about it, then I suggest you do the same. Learn from the past and vow to never repeat it, but don't carry it with you wherever you go. Don't start the next journey with your luggage; you look silly with that big, ugly suitcase in your lap.

1. Have something in your past that you'd like to get rid of?
2. Have you asked God for forgiveness and forgiven yourself?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 32:5, Matthew 9, John 8:36, I John 1:9, I Cor 13:5.