Do you belong?

Description: Know that the LORD is God—he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.

Verse: But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) Romans 8:9 -NLT

I remember the first military uniform I put on in the United States Air Force at the Basic Training location Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in 1974. I had finally became a member of the largest family that goes back to the first war, and will continue until there is no more wars. I was recognized after serving in the military as a proud member of the Veteran family.

It didn’t require me to be in any one specific branch of the military (Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy or Coast Guard) we all were part of one large family. The veteran family can be funny at times by the amount of time you serve or specifically what unit you belonged to or served with while in the military. I did not go to war, but I would have if required. I did have the opportunity to prepare men and women who ultimately did serve our country proudly and serve in the conflict with the Middle East.

No matter how you served or where you were stationed in the military all of us have claimed you as veteran family members. And even when we take our uniform off, and served our obligation that we agreed to serve, we still silently are members of those branches of service, military organization, and battalion and companies that we too walked and proudly carried the colors of our organizations.

Mottos and familiar sayings, “Whoa!” Will be remembered for a lifetime. Many times during war conflict we saw many that wanted to return back to another family. Chaplains had their hands full listening and praying all the time, and making baptismal devices to help each service member be welcomed back to the family of God. Often when this life looks bleak, we tend to remember our creator and want to make things right, as the prodigal son did, after he had fun living in the world.

The Prodigal Son after he spent all his wealth was forced to a quick lesson of reality, and thought one day as he was serving the pigs (only job he could find) that he would go back home to his father and be a servant, so he could have food to eat and a place to live. God does allow us to separate from the family, because He loves us and he is not a manipulative or controlling Father. He stays in tune to our lives, even when we make choices to live horrible lives–He still loves us and wants us to come back home.

We have the choice to belong to many families today through affiliations, associations, or organizations, but belonging to the family of God is a family where no separation exists. It is a eternal family that will last for eternity. Our earthly family will die as life tells us the bitter news, that we must return back to the soil in which we were created. But, if you are a member of the family of God, your earthly body will die, but your soul will be placed in a new heavenly body that will live forever.

You do not have to walk alone in this earthly journey. We all were destined to be sons and daughters of the King. The price to belong to this family is a debt that has been paid by God’s Son, Jesus on a cross for all humanity. Let me tell you know, their is plenty of room for more members in this family. This earthly life is just for a moment compared to eternity.

Many times, and I will confess I did to, believe that I was not good enough to belong to the family of God, but this is a lie of the devil who knows the benefits of belonging to this family. DO NOT ALLOW the devil to keep you from belonging to this family. It will require us to separate ourselves from some of the relationships we have had, but in the end you will have relationships that are pleasing and have some great rewards in the future.

Jesus came to earth that “all” be granted the ability to belong to the family. I was tired after several years trying to appease my own flesh, that only lasted for a moment, and returning back, made me see that living a life that was pleasing to God, was more important than living a life for me. I have heard the saying, “I come from a home that was dysfunctional.” But no matter what your past has been, God wants you to BELONG to His family today.

Prayer: Lord I am glad I belong to the family of God. Please help me each day learn and understand my identity with you. I also pray that others reading this will want to be in the family of God. Help them as they read this how much you love them, and you want them to come back. Amen

Outskirts Press, Inc. has published Rescued: Getting Help Before You Go All The Way Under by David Michael Ellington, which is the author’s most recent book to date. It is available worldwide on book retailer websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a suggested retail price ofnn $11.95. For additional information you can go to author’s webpage at http://www.outskirtspress.com/rescued

Jesus is in the rescuing business

Description: Faced with all the common difficulties we face in life daily, we have assurance with God’s help we can do anything.

Verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I confess that I’m one of the millions of Christians who regularly recites Philippians 4:13. How can you not love this uplifting, soul-stirring, take-on-the-world promise?

I can do all things, the word says all, or clearly stated anything, everything!

But there’s actually more encouragement in this verse than you might think at first. You see, Paul wrote these words while facing some of the worst trials of his life. Despite the threat of pain and death, he realized that God gives us strength in ways that go beyond the good times and the everything-is-okay moments. The strength of Christ reaches right down into our turmoil and pain.

Through the trials and tribulations of life, we think of victory, we often envision champions with trophies or medals. We think of spotlights and TV coverage and fame. We think of parades and celebrations. But true victory often happens far away from the crowd. In Christ, we will certainly see joyful times, just as anyone does. But what truly sets us apart as followers of Jesus is that we can find victory in the most difficult trials. James knew that type of struggle very well, and yet he could honestly say:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4)

The verse before asks us if we are content with the life we live? Are we only content when things are great in our life? And are we bitter when things are not going so well? After all, this world tells us that we “deserve to be happy,” and it’s easy to buy into that mindset. But in Christ, we move our eyes off the things we don’t have, the frustrations that surround us, and we put them where they need to be. Paul’s words from prison show this spiritual truth in action:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)

Somedays can make us feel totally hopeless. After all, our hope isn’t in what we have or don’t have here on earth. Our hope is in Christ:“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:6–7) Jesus gives us the strength to see beyond our present circumstances and to trust in Him to provide everything we truly need.

Our greatest victory, however, isn’t really ours at all. We can face any situation and be content no matter what happens because of one important fact:“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

To enjoy this victory has no price tag for us, other than our surrendering to our priorities and making God #1 in our lives. Jesus died in our place and came back to life as a true Conqueror, and all He accomplished gets credited to our account. We didn’t earn a single bit of it, but we’re guaranteed so much. Peace: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) You see that makes this a free gift from God, because He loves you.

Sixteen years ago, I surrendered the life I was living. I knew that when I confessed my sins, I would loose some worldly things, but would gain more eternally. I recently wrote my first book “Rescued.” It bears the story of my life to reveal to others that anyone can be bound up and need rescued. Today there are many that are traveling aimlessly each day, but no one will help them, or possibly they are afraid of what the world will say about them. Jesus’s  primary purpose was to come to this world to offer life back to all of us in a better way.

The choice is ours–I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me, and I can make better choices for tomorrow . Possibly you, like I was needing help. Well you have come to the right place. Jesus will come to your rescue by simply asking Him to come into your heart. I also encourage you to get a copy of my book and get back to me with your testimony.

Prayer: Jesus you made it possible for all of us to be free from sin, and live everyday in a better way. I know that I cannot do it completely on my own, and that you make everyday worth the living. Lord please help all that you bring to this story read the miracle of how you rescued me and that you can rescue them too. Amen

Outskirts Press, Inc. has published Rescued: Getting Help Before You Go All The Way Under by David Michael Ellington, which is the author’s most recent book to date. It is available worldwide on book retailer websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a suggested retail price of $11.95. For additional information you can go to author’s webpage at http://www.outskirtspress.com/rescued

What do you invest in today

Description: God’s kingdom work gets done when we give generously of the time, love, and resources He has provided us.

Verse: Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

The call to share with those in need is still one of the ways we can impact our world. In showing love, concern, and generosity to those in need, it may provide an opportunity for sharing the message of the cross. I love to go to other countries on missionary trips, but I can tell you with my intent to bless others, I always seem to get more blessings than I think I leave in each trip.

I am amazed and humbled that the smallest gift is taken with a heart of gratitude and felt like I had given them a large gift. But on my last trip to Africa, I was challenged with what I was doing in my neighborhood. The Pastor of a local area asked me what I was doing to share Christ’s love in my own hometown. And even greater what was I doing to make an impact in my own street sharing the love of Christ.

Many of us tend to believe that we can not make an impact to anyone unless we have riches. To many, what we have is riches, and we tend to keep these blessings for ourselves instead of sharing the blessings with others. Our verse today reminds us that the blessings that God shares with us is not just for us, but for us to share with others.

Taking over a covered dish or fresh baked apple pie, gives us the opportunity to do many things. People today do not see simple acts of kindness, and when received really don’t understand why we do this for them. This gives us the opportunity to show compassion in a world that typically cares only about themselves.
Reflect on the last time someone showed you an act of kindness. How did it make you feel?

Possibly today you could do something really simple, a cup of coffee, some fresh flowers, a package of cookies, or a pot of fresh made soup. It really doesn’t matter when your heart is in it for the right reasons. Don’t do it for attention, but do it to show the love of God in your heart. Maybe you could even ask them if there was something you could pray about. Trust me your act of passion will be noticed, not only by the participants, but God said, “You are doing unto them, you are doing unto me.”

Everyone needs encouragement and acts of kindness. You know how good it makes you feel, but I love it when I hear others say, “I get more blessed in giving, than I do in receiving.” Simple acts of kindness show the world who doesn’t know about God, who God really is –in us. Remember–Giving isn’t just for the wealthy; it’s for all of us.

Prayer: God help me today to look for opportunities to love on others. You have blessed my life and I want to share with others about your love and promises to bless them not only in this life but in heaven when you come back. God please extend my territories and boundaries to extend your love to my neighbors and others. Lord please bless me so I can be a blessing to others for your kingdom. Amen

I Love Him

Description: You were always on my mind, was a song that described a love that would never die, never leave and always be there.

Verse: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Willie Nelson sang the song, “You were always on my mind.” How often are we pulled with our emotions that reveal a different story than what we believed about someone? Why is it that they say the marriages will last only fifty percent of the time? Why is it that more people remarry looking for love multiple times, but seemingly the same results occur–this person was not for me.

It seems we are overwhelmed today with social media connections that want to persuade us that they can find the perfect mate for us–but what if our perfect mate never signs up for the site? How can they guarantee I will find my sole mate if he or she never signs up?

What about the way mom and dad found each other? And I love the story how grandma met my papaw, I still get emotional and I never have quit laughing when I remember watching them show their emotions to us grandkids. I hear today there is many kids see the opposite of love in their child rearing days, and it makes sense I guess, you give what you get in life based on your experiences.

This brings me to our verse today, about expecting not only a perfect love without flaws but also other provisions that will promise you good in life, by just loving Him. When I first experienced God, I was a teenager, and I believe my relationship was based on not going to hell, and wanting to live a good life before God. When I chose my first mate, I thought it would be forever, but our eyes and passion were on ourselves and not each other.

If my love would have been focused on God, I am certain that I would have not hurried into a relationship that ended sooner than I would have thought. We can only assume that a promise to love forever is for real. I am glad God’s feelings for me never have to be questioned. And I should be talking with Him daily so I know how much he cares for me. When I do this today, never has there been a time, when I never heard Him say to me, “Son I love you.”

Today your life may be filled with sorrow because of broken promises, or a relationship that is shaky, one thing for sure is, He loves you more than you will ever know. Take a second today to quiet everything around you, and ask God to show you how much He loves you. Wait in that moment so you will fill a genuine love, perhaps something you have not felt for sometime. God wants to let you know that He loves you and has good plans for your life.

I hope this moment will be the start of greater moments for you. Ask God to bring people into your life that will be encouraging and people you can trust. God does have good plans for your life, and allow Him to be the best thing that ever happened to you today. People’s feeling can never be certain today, but God’s feelings for you will always be the same, and He always has you on His mind.

Prayer: Lord I am certain I have questioned your love for me, not because something you did, but for the messed up life I was responsible. I am sorry I take your love for granted and never seem to be appreciative that you always have the best outlook for my life. Forgive me for carelessly treating you like the world has treated me. I can always look back and see where you had my back when others left me. Help me to love the way you do, that will show others the kind of love that has meaning in this life. Amen

Do you believe it’s possible

Description: “The word impossible is not in my dictionary.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Verse: Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Mark 9:23

Growing up one of my quotes I used, “Can’t means won’t.” To many times people accepted defeat before they even got out of the gate. This is clearly understood when we measure our output by our own capabilities. The verse that I always repeated, “I can do all things, through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

I don’t know if I really grasped the full meaning of this verse, but I used it as my basis to not admit defeat on any tasks assigned. Jesus told his disciples that the things they saw Him do, that they would have the ability to not only do those things but they would be able to do ‘greater things.’

Just imagine, Jesus said we would have the ability to pray, and expect — did you hear what I said? HE said WE would be able to not only do the things HE did, and greater things, would be within our ability to press in and see results.

Sometimes I allow my human eyes to admit defeat in my faith. I pray, pray and pray and sometimes I do not see the results that I had hoped for in my prayers. But the things that we forget is that we are not praying in our names — but the name of Jesus. This is the name that has the power and should boost my confidence that I am not doing anything in my power, but the same power that raised the dead, that healed the leaper, that opened blinded eyes, that caused the man to get up and walk, and fed the 3,000 and the 5,000 with just a few loaves of bread and fish.

He is the same God, today, tomorrow and forever more. I need to realize their is no “ifs” with God and our prayers, but only to press into the presence of heaven, and stay there continuously . The miracle that you are looking for could be just around the corner, and we should never feel we have failed when we talk to God about the needs of others.

The same way that someone prayed for our salvation, we really don’t know how long our parents, grandparents or a friend pressed into the presence of God for us to accept the gift of salvation. My friend do not ever be discouraged with your conversations with Jesus. The evidence of our miracles is not dependent on our faith to God, and the timing is all His. We just need to know and believe that He hears our prayers.

Have the faith for the impossible, because this is what He said was possible. Do you remember the story about faith of a mustard sea? The size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. Don’t let the results quench the desire in your heart. Don’t let your faith waive your desire to ask Him to do something for someone else.

The importance is we never give up — ever. Lastly the choice to continue praying no matter what we see with our eyes. This a knowing in our decision and we will only know we have been faithful to the task, when we see His glory come through.

So the challenge is to pray, pray, and continue to pray for everyone and everything that you sense the Holy Spirit asking you to pray to God for anything. Jesus told all of us to “GO,” and reach to the uttermost of the world. There is someone everyday that needs us to press in to the kingdom for them, and its all about a relationship we have with God.

Remember we are not justified with anything that we have , but because we know the person we can trust on their behalf and ours. The enemy will lie to you when you are pressing through to Jesus, it’s not about me it’s all about Him, the one who did it all for us. Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matthew 19:26

Prayer: Lord forgive me when I tried to get credit for what you and you can bring to any situation on this planet. Help me be the light in this darkened world, and bring the name of Jesus to all desperate situations. Lord forgive me when I quit praying because I was not able to press into heaven. Jesus help me to bring your name in my walk everyday to heal someone everyday. I will know that I have left the manner in the best hands every time I bring it to you. Amen

Forgive or not forgive

Description: If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

Verse:But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15

We all have one time or another faced the situation of forgiving someone. Typical situations–parents who failed, lovers who left, friends who deceived, and often the hardest of all our own actions. Today social networks evolve with multiple examples of where people are either upset because of actions taken against them or individuals attempting to gain forgiveness for actions they done against others.

This type of behavior is toxic; the reflexive reaction to being hurt is hatred, outrage, and the desire for revenge. Everyone deals with forgiveness in different manners and the severity of the act of betrayal can last for years or in some instances –no ability to forgive at all. Social and medical professionals would state that sometimes it best to allow the offense or the person who betrayed us to have to ponder their act before showing mercy to the friend, or family member.

Many times families have been destroyed and segregated forever because of an act of betrayal. As mentioned earlier, everyone heals differently and reacts differently in the matters. I know personally I have failed my family members, and acknowledged that they would never forgive me, but always prayed that some day peace would be accepted for my errors of wrongful doing.

Forgiveness is in the hands of the one hurt, betrayed or lied to, and this cannot be compromised or manipulated to easily fix. Time and space shows the courtesy required and passion to the person we have hurt. Today our society is flushed with situations where acts of brutality, abuse, betrayal, denial and defiance to one another, and sometimes when neither party can stand totally in the good in a relationship.

The bottom line the decision is ours to forgive or not forgive, but today I am not trying to justify any wrongful act that has occurred to you, but we all have betrayed someone, sometime in our live, and we had to wait for the final decision of our fate. How did we feel when we received the forgiveness and reconciliation back into someone’s life? It felt great, and we vowed to them and ourselves that we would never hurt them ever again.

Here is a promise, If you forgive, your heavenly Father will also forgive. We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven. Those who desire to find mercy with God, must show mercy to others. Jesus was the answer for peace and reconciliation with our heavenly Father, and to share the same peace with one another.

Prayer: Lord help me forgive someone who has hurt me, it is hard to do this on my own abilities. But I know you forgive me the many times I have erred in life, and with your help I can forgive others. Amen

Harmony with Others

Description: The key to harmonious relationships is to put self to death and to regard others more highly than myself for Jesus’ sake. Steven Cole
Verse: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:2

Today’s thoughts are sometimes misunderstood, because what I think others think or reflect about me is not always true. When I think about who I used to be, I realize I was selfish and not thinking about anyone but ME! After I gave my heart back to God, I had to put other people’s feelings over mine.
I had to place my desires in reserve over the desires of something else. Love requires us to be more open to others, and we may not always agree, but if I show the love of God in my attitude towards others, then I am allowing God to be in the issues that I have difficulty with, sad but true, I find that my perceptions are wrong, and I tend to ask God for more forgiveness.

Jesus was the best role model in living in harmony with a world that refused to accept Him. The ones that wanted Him, were the ones that the rest of the world refused them. Jesus accepted them for being who they were. Think about the leaper, He didn’t yell at them, “You unclean stay away from me!” He embraced the moment and showed love and passion.

Think about the woman caught in adultery, the custom was to be stoned to death, and he again showed passion, and said, “Where are your accusers?” The woman still scared said, “they are gone.” Jesus had a choice, but who would have thought his response would be, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

The mistakes and poor choices that all we have made have consequences, and we cannot expect that everyone will open their hearts back to us after we get our lives back on the right path. But we can demonstrate that we understand and allow time to heal everyone in our circle of life.

I had to learn to put my needs many times to reflect the same love and passion that Jesus did for others and most importantly how he loved me. That same spirit requires us to do something we cannot do on our own, but only with the help of the Holy Spirit. Trust me those that you are keeping a distant from you, will know that your desire is not to love on them, but when we do they get to experience the harmonious agape love that we are not capable of doing without God’s help.

Jesus always pushed into situations respectfully knowing there was an opportunity to reveal the same love his dad wanted for them, but what the world had done to them caused them to feel unacceptable and not worthy. Living in harmony will bring peace to any difficult situation. I don’t have to agree with everything, but I don’t need to place my wants over the wants others. This requires action on my part, I have to be considerate of others first, and when we put others in front of our wants, we then show passion and concern. This is the first steps of living in harmony with one another.

So if there is struggle in your life, evaluate what is the problem? Am I open to others? Am I willing to let my priorities be silenced to listen to others that may not have been able to share their feelings because all I cared about was me? Harmony is not a doormat for others to walk all over us, but the ability to listen and respect one another.

Jesus left Heaven that worshipped Him, and came to a world where He had to place his wants to the desires of others. Even the religious people who should have known Him, rejected Him. The ones that accepted Him, were the ones that got his story. And their lives were changed forever. Conflict will not allow harmony, because it is selfish and only concerned about their needs–their wants–and their agenda.

Harmony means no one is better than the other. Harmony allows the rules to have some give and take, and many opportunities to forgive and start over. I choose to allow more harmony in my life. I will have to be honest with some things, but allow God to smooth out the bumps without my thoughts. They will never make sense, because it’s not natural for us to give up our needs over others.

But when we choose to live the life God wants us to live to reflect Him and not ME, we win big. Harmony how is it working in your life? Is there situations in your life that have rough sandpaper and there needs to be softer and willingness to give into God’s plan versus ours? Surrender is not mean your going in, it only means your open to ways to move the friction in your life to manageable opportunities.

Prayer: Lord thanks for reminding me that being right all the time is not living in harmony with others. Forgive me when I place my needs over your desires. Help me to reflect your love in real ways that will keep me in harmony with the world. Amen