Every Good and Perfect Gift

James 1:17 says:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

Yesterday, as Kassi and I were walking out of the grocery store, I said “Thank You Jesus” for something (I can’t remember for the life of me what it was, I think it had something to do with the new Australian candy bar I was eating – haha), and she gave me a look that said, “You didn’t ask God for that.” And I responded by trying to remember this verse in the bible. I butchered it by saying something like “Every good thing comes from the Father” and telling her that I thought it was biblical.

It’s quite the coincidence that I ran across this bible verse this morning, since I just tried to quote it yesterday. But it is very relevant to my life today. I have so much to be thankful for in the last 9 days. God has provided me with a job and an awesome little “Granny Flat” that we will be living in for the next 6 months. We were both worried about not being able to find either, and God really came through for us. We prayed Luke 12:22-32 over our lives while we were gearing up for Australia. It says that we should not worry about our lives. And sure enough, God provided us with exactly what we needed.

God also pointed us to a great church for us to attend. I felt the holy spirit during worship and the message was VERY good. The pastor talked about how the fire was already started in countries all around the world and that he thinks there is going to be a massive amount of people saved before Jesus comes back for his church. It felt like he was calling me to give more of myself to this movement. Kassi and I went down for prayer afterward and one of the leaders prayed something over us that really resonated with me. She said that God has his hands deep in our soil. It confirmed a lot of things about this trip for me. It felt awesome.

God,

Thank you for all that you have provided for us. You are faithful and true to your Word and we thank you for that. We believe that you have powerful things in store for us while we are here in Australia. I hope that you open our hearts, our minds, and our eyes to be directed by your Holy Spirit in the way that we should go. I pray that we continue to sow your word deeply into our hearts. In Jesus name.

Amen.

God’s Testing My Faith

When you’re vulnerable, you trust God more. When you have no one else to lean on, you press into God and you pray like crazy. Right now, my wife is on the clear opposite side of the world and I haven’t heard from her. That gets me feeling vulnerable and it makes me look to the only one with control over the situation. It makes me pray biblical verses over her like Psalm 91:11-12, which reads:

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

And like we just read in Philippians 4:6-7, I shouldn’t “be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Last night Kassi and I made it to the airport in San Francisco with perfect timing; everything was going according to plan. Until I rolled up to the ticketing counter to check on the stand by list. Side note: I’ve been on the stand by list all this year riding as an “enlisted passrider” with United Airlines. My best friend is a flight attendant for them so I was able to receive VERY cheap flights this year by being enrolled. The catch is that I have to fly on the standby list – which means that you are never guaranteed a seat until the last person boards the plane. Then they will give away the remaining seats to the stand by passengers starting with the most senior employees (or relative to the most senior employee).

Kassi had a purchased seat so she was able to board with no problem. Me on the other hand, I had to wait until the last minute to see if I even had a seat. It was looking very optimistic in my opinion, since I’ve flown nearly a hundred times on the standby list, so I was feeling confident as I walked up to the gate. But what I didn’t foresee were the “weight restrictions” on this flight. This means that they have “cargo” in the bottom of the plane in lieu of additional passengers. This significantly decreases the chances of getting on the plane for all of the stand by passengers because the airline will not open up those available seats in order to get on the flight.

I’ve learned a lot about these weight restrictions in the last 24 hours. Before this, I had no idea that these even existed. I had heard about it before, but I never put the two and two together.

As I had to say good bye to my wife without knowing if I was going to get on the flight or not, I started a fury of prayers. And the still small voice (Holy Spirit) said to me, “I’m testing your faith.” So I even told Kassi that God was testing our faith. So, I rallied my family to start praying and I began believe that God would get me on that flight, no matter how depressed all of the other standby passengers were feeling, I still had to keep the faith. But you know what? I didn’t get on. And that left me feeling pretty confused, asking God this morning what I did wrong.

I was led to the book of James. I have no idea what led me there, I just opened up the bible and it fell right on the book of James. I just finished the book of Philippians and I’m looking for a new book to study and write about.

James 1:2-4 says: “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.”

Talk about a powerful verse. Let’s dissect it.

First of all, testing your faith is not a very fun exercise to go through with God. We are naturally anxious humans, at least most of us are. So when God tells us one thing, we often start to doubt his words after not too long. Just like Eve in the garden of eden. The devil used this doubt to his advantage, and he will continue to use this doubt with every word we receive from God.

God says that we should consider it pure joy to go through trials and have our faith be tested. But why? Because it brings perseverance. God wants to make us stronger. But most of us don’t like the process of getting stronger because it makes us sore and uncomfortable. But God wants to continually build us up so that we can make more of an impact on the world; the stronger we are, the more that God can use us.

Perseverance means: “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. DELAY! HA!! God has a funny sense of humor. God wants me to trust in him more. He’s building me up. And maybe that’s what this entire trip is about. God wants to build me up over the next 8 months so that I can be used in a more powerful way.

God,

Although it isn’t very comfortable right now, I know you’re growing me into the man you have planned me to be. I’m going to lean into you more instead of letting my mind drift off into an abyss of worry and anxiety. I know you have my wife in the palms of your hand and that you have commanded your angels concerning her. Please wrap her in your peace that transcends all understanding, for I know you care for her.

And give me supernatural favor to get on this next flight to Sydney in the name of Jesus!

Amen.

Let The Lord Direct Your Steps

Proverbs 16:9 is probably one of my favorite verses of all time, for now. Because it is such a solid verse to stand on when I’m making some of life’s biggest choices. One of them being today – our departure day. The verse says:

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

We leave for Australia today, and we’ve been planning and making steps towards this direction for about 6 months now – maybe even longer than that! This morning, before God, Kassi and I committed our plans to the Lord. He brought this verse to me today while I was replying back to a YouTube comment. It is Proverbs 16:3, and it says:

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

We want to do the will of God for our lives, and nothing else (Matthew 7:21). That’s why we must commit our plans to the Lord and he will grant us success, because doing the will of God for your life will give you more joy and fulfillment than you could ever ask for. We also must be ready for any changes in our course. It says in verse 9 that God will determine our steps.

We need to have willing hearts as God changes the course of our direction. Because if we aren’t, we will be thrown off balance. This morning I am ready; which it might be the coffee talking, but I am ready for anything that God throws my way. He has instilled in me a readiness to take on whatever he throws my way.

God,

Let our trip to Australia be a trip centered around growth. Let me and Kassi grow our marriage, let us grow our relationship with you, and let us grow our finances! Let us live lives over there worthy of stories that we will tell for the rest of our lives. I pray this in Jesus name!

Amen.

How To Deal With Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Anxiety is a serious problem in today’s society. People get worked up about so many different things! I see it all the time on Youtube, especially with a lot of the YouTubers that I follow. In the last year there has been a big movement towards exposing your “demons”, like panic attacks, anxiety, and struggles with OCD. In these “exposure” videos they talk about what started these episodes and how they deal with it – either through medication or other means.

Reading this verse in Philippians 4 made me think about how many people struggle with anxiety. Even back when the book of Philippians was written (A.D. 60) people were struggling with anxiety. Paul encouraged them that nothing should give them anxiety. They are children of the living God. All they need to do is present their requests to God with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving and he will bestow a peace unto their hearts that will transcend all understanding.

People that don’t know Christ look to the world to solve their problems, but what they really need to do is give their problems to God and trust in him. This takes a lot of practice, and the more that we surrender to God the easier it gets. God doesn’t want any of his children crippled by anxiety. In Philippians 4:4 it says:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Is will say it again: Rejoice!”

That’s what we should be doing: rejoicing! God has us in the palm of his hand. It says in Luke 12:22-34 that we shouldn’t worry about a thing!

12:22 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

12:25 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

So be encouraged to not worry and to not have anxiety about ANYTHING. God instructs us to give it up to him, permanently. Let God direct you on how you should act. It says earlier in Luke 11:9-10:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

God is calling all of us to relinquish more control of our lives. We just need to trust in him that he will provide what we need exactly when we need it. Start small and work your way into trusting God with your entire life. That’s what Kassi and I will be doing. We are trusting that God will provide us somewhere to lay our heads at night, jobs, and a lifestyle that will give hime glory while we live in Sydney. We will be actively knocking, turning in job applications everywhere, we will then be seeking housing, trusting that God will provide both; and we will be asking that God place godly people into our lives to encourage our walks.

We pray this in Jesus’ name!

Amen.

God Washes Away Your Past

This morning, as I was reading in Philippians 3, a few things really stuck out to me. The first came from this passage:

Philippians 3:7,8 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

Before this passage, Paul was touting his accomplishments as a follower of the law, even referring to his walk as “faultless” (verse 6). But Paul explains how none of that matters now. Nothing about his own selfish ambition or his accomplishments in the past mean anything for him now, because God doesn’t care about any of that.

As Americans, we often are pressured to make as much money as possible so that we can buy more material goods and show them off to all our friends on Facebook. The “American Dream” has nothing to with Jesus, and everything to do with worldly goods and comfort. God is calling us to pursue Him, and that certainly takes us out of our comfort zones and most certainly doesn’t revolve around worldly treasures.

When God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ he washes away our past. We become born again, right? So that means that all of our sins are washed away, but doesn’t that also mean that all of our accomplishments are washed away too? If we are new creations in Christ, doesn’t that mean that we are able to pursue God’s will with abandon? Yes is the answer I was hoping you were thinking of. God only cares about who you are in Christ and how you are fulfilling his will for your life as of TODAY – as of this very moment. ┬áHe doesn’t care about how much money you make or what G.P.A. you got in high school or college. God cares about who you are today and what you’re doing today to strengthen your relationship with him. He cares about nothing else.

Jesus,

Help me to continue to pursue you diligently. Soften my heart and let me be receptive to everything you are trying to teach me. Strengthen your Holy Spirit within me and let my eyes and ears be receptive to its directions. Let me forsake my past and pursue you only. Bring me and my wife along this journey to fulfilling your will for our lives. Bring us closer together and strengthen our relationship with you and with each other. God, speak into our lives and direct us in the ways you wish to lead us. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen.

Don’t Trust Your Flesh

Philippians 3:3 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh…”

This is basically saying that we, as Christians, are expected to put not confidence in our flesh – for we know better. And I DO know better! I can’t tell you how many times that my flesh and my sinful mind have worked together to justify sin. COUNTLESS. As a man in my 20s, I can attest to how targeted our flesh has become. Men are easy prey. We are filled with testosterone, something that God uses to make us into the men He intended us to be, but it’s also something that the devil misuses for lust, anger, and selfish ambition.

In Proverbs 25:28 it says: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

I was reminded of this verse because controlling the flesh and self control go hand-in-hand. It takes a lot of walls to guard our hearts in today’s world. It takes a sharp mind that is not easily fooled, a willing heart to obey God’s Word, and a trained body ready to adhere to the principles set forth by a mind centered in Christ. It is a constant battle for me, as well as all Christians today, to be in the world but not of the world. I like what it says about the flesh in Romans 8:5-8.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Sprit ┬áhave their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

We can’t trust our flesh because all our flesh wants to do is fail us. The flesh has nothing in common with the holy spirit that lives inside of it. We must isolate and control our flesh, and on top of that, we must be keen enough to know how it works.

God,

Help to strengthen my Spirit to ALWAYS overcome my flesh. Give a special sensitivity to my Spirit and my mind to know when my flesh is up to no good. Lord, I pray that as I seek you and grow a connection with you through your Word, that you would strengthen me and remind me every moment that my flesh is in jeopardy of sinning. Help me overcome just as you have overcome the world.

Amen.

Selflessness in Philippians 2:3-5

Being selfish is something that I have struggled with a lot. The further I got away from God and the bible, the more selfish I became. For me, this was very prevalent while I was in college. Gearing up for marriage and being married has taught me a lot about being selfless, about having humility, and about putting someone else above your own wants and desires. I’m sure if you ask my wife, I still have a long way to go with this, but I have certainly improved over the years.

Reading through the first half of Philippians 2 can be pretty difficult for selfish people. It calls us to:

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.”

I can think of more than a few people in my past that I have demanded apologies from. They were wrong, right? Am I really supposed to turn the other cheek? (Matthew 5:39) Wouldn’t that put my stamp of approval on their actions?

Was Jesus really putting his stamp of approval on the actions of everyone that gave false testimonies against him that eventually led to him being sent to the cross? No, he embodied the demeanor and actions of a servant and let them take his life. Why would God do that?

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around what God is calling us to do. I found myself reading these verses over and over again, trying to make sense of the verses and apply them to my life. And what it has come down to (for me), is acting like a servant. And if anyone knows me, they know I struggle with taking direction. I’ve got to be behind the idea, I normally have to make sense of it in my head before I get on board with helping out. But that’s the last thing I want when I’m leading the charge. I want people who trust me and are committed to supporting me and the decisions that I make. I want people who will give 110% of themselves to make the operation a success.

So, why would I refrain from doing the same for someone else’s objective? Because I’m selfish: plain and simple. I want some credit for everything I invest and all of the effort I put in. Why would I do it for anything else? And the answer that I should be thinking is: because God calls us to embody the very nature of a servant – just like Jesus did his entire life. It says this later on in Philippians 2.

Philippians 2: 6-8 “Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

Even though Jesus was the biggest “deal” that this earth would ever see, he acted like he was nothing. He acted like everyone was better than he was. There was no one unworthy of his presence, his love, or his talent. He willingly gave up everything.

God,

Help me to be more selfless and more servant-like. Help me to think less of myself and to be more humble. God, give me the attitude, demeanor, and mind of a servant. Help me to be more like-minded with the Spirit. Help me to give of myself more frequently and to hold back nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit when people ask me for help. Refill me with a supernatural energy and attitude that makes me the best servant, follower, and helper. Remind me through your holy Spirit of these verses continually. Refresh and renew my mind to think on these things. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen.