Just Look Away

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the past few weeks, in our Sunday Morning Worship Service, We’ve been delving in to the thought “Running With God’s Purpose.”

Our primary text throughout the course of this sermon series has been Hebrews 12:1-2.

It’s been an interesting and encouraging journey.

This morning I found myself again meditating on a portion of this very context. I was contemplating The part where God says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. The amplified puts it, “[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus…. “

As I thought on this portion of scripture, I realized that, in this life, there will always be challenges and difficulties of various sorts that will seem to come along in our lives that will push to distract us and throw us off the course that God has set before us.

That can pretty much be expected. Even the Lord Himself said, “In this world you ‘shall’ have tribulation (and distress), but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

 Living beyond distraction, stress, and anxiety takes having a perspective that extends beyond what we can naturally see before us; and it takes faith as well.

In my morning notes I penned it like this, “When we truly look to the Lord, we embrace a level of focus that is absolutely beyond this world.”

“Looking unto Jesus”… As long as Peter had his gaze on Jesus, he was walking on the water. But as soon as he took his gaze from the One who gave him permission to step out in the midst of what was contrary to him, he began to sink.

The wind was contrary, and the storm was present, before he ever stepped out of the boat. Yet, he was able to walk on water because of the word of The Lord (come), and because of where his sight (faith) was set.

Is it hard and difficult already in this new year? Does it seem to you like this year will only be filled with a lot of the same challenges as last year? Has fear continued to rear it’s ugly head up against you?

If any of the above is the sentiment of your heart, I encourage you to simply “Look Away”.

You’ll be amazed at what good comes to the soul when we apply the exhortation to “Look” To Him….

The challenges may still yet exist, but I honestly believe that we’ll be all the more fit to walk through them when we have the perspective of the Divine working in our hearts and minds. Father, we believe that there is absolute Good and benefit in every instruction that you’ve so kindly given to us. Help us heed and apply the charge to Look To you, and away from all that will distract. We pray that not only for today, but throughout the course of this year; keep our eyes continually Looking to You.
In The Father’s Love and Care,
Pastor Lowe

Choosing What Can’t Be Taken Away

But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; (42) but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” – (Luke 10:41-42 AMP)

One of the most valuable lessons that I learned last year was the importance of managing the time I have with greater responsibility.

That’s not say that I mastered it.

But, I did learn #1, How important time is and, #2 that time is actually a gift that has been entrusted to us; and as such, we have the obligation to steward it wisely.

Personally, I realized that, when I maximize the time that I have, wisely, life functions a lot more efficiently, and so do I. 🙂

Of course, out of all of the practices that I’ve done to make the most of the time granted, I have discovered in an even greater capacity, that there is absolutely no better investment of time than time spent in God’s presence.

The story of Martha and Mary has always been a good reference for myself (as with many of us) to reflect upon when I have found myself getting too busy and caught up with the cares of this life. I’ve reflected upon it quite often, and even more so as we have embarked upon this New Year.

Of all of the things that I could think of doing differently, or better, in this New Year, spending quality time in The Lord’s presence tops them all.

Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen that “good” part that will not be taken away; in fact, he said that it was the only thing that was needful, and that’s true.

I can resolve to lose weight, look better, spend less, and a number of other things, in this new year. But, when this life is over and this old tent is laid down, none of those things will matter anymore. The only thing that will remain are the benefits of the “good part” of sitting at Jesus’ feet and hearing His word. That’s something that can’t ever be taken away; not in this life, or in the next.

It has both short term and long term benefits.

I don’t know about anyone else; but this year, my desire for the entire year will be to “daily” Choose What Can’t Be Taken Away.

Father, thank you for the gift of Life and time. Today we simply pray what the Psalmist prayed when he asked, “Teach us to number Our Days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” And Lord, help us to daily choose the part that can never be taken away.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name.

I pray your year is Bountiful, Prosperous, and Rich with God’s presence through and through.

By His Grace,

Pastor Lowe

Prayer Truly Does Work

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Just recently our daughter turned 2 years old. 
Leading up to the time of her second birthday, on many occasions, when we would make mention of her turning 2, people would make the statement “Oh no, the terrible twos”. I really didn’t know what that specifically meant. But someone explained to me that children become more challenging and difficult at that age (I believe that’s the case for ANY age child… Ha ha).
My wife and I chose not to make that declaration about our daughter.
Yet, even though we agreed not to make such a declaration concerning her, one of her teachers mentioned to my wife that she had in fact been a little more defiant and rebellious in her attitude at school; and she said that it had been 2 weeks since she noticed the shift. When I did the math, that was right around the time of her 2nd birthday.

More than coincidence, I believe that her actions were merely the fruits of “Human Nature”. 
Every night before putting her to sleep, we pray with her (either my wife or myself, or both).Most of the time the prayers are general. Nothing specific. 
Last night, they were different. 
Considering the reports of the teacher, and our daughter’s actions at school and at home, we made a request of God for just what we needed and desired to see in her actions and attitude; and we requested of God’s help, and thanked Him in the process, basing our hope and expectation in Him and Him alone.
This is the report that my wife sent to me the morning following, verbatim…. “Baby was pleasantly good this morning. She let me change her, didn’t run from me, asked for her book and didn’t cry; ate her breakfast. It was a nice change.”
My heart leaped within me when I read the report!!, and I was encouraged to learn, once more, that prayer Truly Does Work!And, being specific in what we ask doesn’t hurt either.
God is just as concerned about the things that effect our lives as we are, and even more so (see Psalms 138:8).
But so often we go about our daily lives and do the best we can, in our own wisdom and strength, and only include God in the so-called “big stuff” or things that seem to get beyond our ability to handle. 
In reality, dependency and trust should be components of the fiber of our hearts on a daily basis, no matter how big or small.
If it’s significant enough for me to “worry” about, then it’s certainly significant enough for me to “pray” about. In fact, Prayer is the alternative that we’ve been given; and prayer is the only alternative that Truly Works.
Father, we are so grateful to have the assurance of your word and promises to us. Help us to believe you and apply your truths to every facet of our lives.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Lowe

Thank God For Closed Doors

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that Hath The Key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” (Revelation 3:7)
Recently I was thinking about all of the reasons that I personally have to give God thanks. During the course of those thoughts a number of things came up, but they were the usual things that most of us often think about being grateful for. And if you’re like me (human), I’m sure most of those things were “good” things.Things like: the pay raise, the new house or car, healing in the body, food, clothes, and shelter, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely  nothing wrong with being thankful for these things, because they too come to us from the gracious hand of God.
But, hindsight can be a good revealer; and as I thought back about God’s blessings and goodness over our lives, I couldn’t help but think about what things could’ve possibly been like if God had opened doors for me that I had honestly hoped and prayed He would open. 
Have you ever thought like that?
Well, I have. 
I remember several years back, I had gotten home from an “extended vacation” (the church knows what I’m referring to… :-)), and I was exhausting myself trying to seek and search out some kind of gainful employment, and nothing was opening up for me. I must’ve gone to a dozen places; and although most of them gave me the promise of calling me back, none of those promises were ever fulfilled. They were all “Closed Doors”.
Finally, a door opened, by the Grace of God. It wasn’t quite the opportunity that I was looking for, but it was something; and looking back, I can now see how God used it to allow me the liberty I needed to get around, and establish a level of trust and flexibility, in spite of the restrictions I had placed upon me. It was the perfect opportunity. 
After that door opened, another door opened!! God blessed me with not one, but TWO jobs!! Then, as a result of the second job, I was able to be equipped with the skill-set needed to eventually start my very own business!!!… It just kept getting better and better; and it’s STILL getting better today!! Praise God!
But here’s the point that I want to emphasize: Many doors were closed to me; but had it not been for the “closed doors”, who knows if I would’ve ever been blessed to walk through the “open doors”??
Many times we get discouraged over supposedly “missed opportunities”, or “lost chances”; it’s a natural thing to feel this way. But have you ever considered that, sometimes, what we miss out on could very well be The Sovereign and loving hand of God “protecting us” from something that may somehow be a detriment to our lives?
I’ve often wanted so many things to Be “My will” that was not necessarily “God’s will” for my life. I’ve gotten bent out of shape more than once over not getting to have “my way”, and I’ve found myself being disappointed about what I naturally do not understand nor see the end of. 
Yet I’ve come to realize and learn (still an ongoing growth process) that God is Faithful, above all else; and whatever Doors He chooses to Keep Closed in my life is a direct extension of His Faithfulness towards me.
So, today, along with everything else that I have to be Thankful for, I am just as Grateful for The “Closed Doors” in my Life.

Lord, we don’t see as you do; therefore, we oftentimes fall short in trusting you when things don’t seem to go our way. Help us to know and understand that, no matter what happens in our lives, good or bad, You are working it all out together for our good because You are faithful. We thank you for what you protect us from, and we thank you for what you bring.
In Christ’s Love, 
Pastor Lowe

“Just Because”

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”-( Isaiah 65:24 KJ21)

A couple of weeks ago my wife wrote a small post on Social media, to me personally, that tremendously blessed my heart.

She had no specific, or particular, reason for writing what she wrote, other than the fact that she simply wanted to convey her love for me.

She titled it: “Just Because”; and, in that snippet she simply wanted to remind me of her love and appreciation for me.

Fast Forward to now:

As I prayed this morning, I recall asking The Father for certain things; things that I try to make a habit of requesting if I am conscious of them.

But, as I made each request, I started realizing that The Lord had already granted that…. and that… and that… and the other thing… Before I had even asked.

That realization prompted me to think about the jesture that my wife had written and expressed towards me, earlier this month, and see it from The Divine perspective.

Everyday The Father “loadeth us with benefits” (see Psalms 68:19) that we probably never ‘think’ to ask Him for; and He constantly moves on our behalf, for our good, in ways that we could hardly grasp or comprehend.

We are ever and always recipients of His Love and Kindness, whether we realize it or not.

His love for us is without limit or boundary, and there is nothing in all of creation that can separate any of us from that Love…

So, when I perceive that God has done things for me that I never asked for; and I wonder why He would do anything for someone who is as undeserving as I am; what comes to mind is: He does it “Just Because”.

Just Because He Loves me…. Just Because He considers me the apple of His eye…. Just Because I am His most prized possession…. and Just because He gave His everything to ransom me… Just because, it’s in His Heart.

Lord, today I simply want to thank you for your unsolicited acts of affection toward me each day. I ask that you will grant me eyes to see what Graciously comes from your hand, and give me a heart that is filled with gratitude for Who you are and all you’ve done.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Lowe

Be Thankful For The Small Things

“Who with reason despises the day of small things (beginnings)? For these seven [eyes] shall rejoice when they see the plumbline in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord which roam throughout the earth.”  (Zechariah 4:10… Amp)

This morning, before getting out of bed, I was thinking and meditating on all of the many things that God has done in our lives over the past 5 years. (Thinking on His past deeds for us does wonders for our faith). During the course of my thoughts, I recalled a time when I was just trying to get my business up and going. I can’t truly say that I had any particular goal or ambition for what I was doing then; I was just using the best means that I knew of to provide for my family and put beans on the table. 
I remember renting astriping/painting machine (to paint lines on the parking lots) from a friend of mine. I would load that machine up in an old small SUV that was given to me by an elderly lady at a Senior living center. She just GAVE it to me! And I took it.. Lol
Anyway, I got a call one day from a friend that said he knew someone that needed just 9 lines done for him. That’s it. The person that called me about that particular job, to see if I was interested, had already called several other contractors, better equipped than I was, to see if they were interested in doing such a small job, and none of them were.
I ended up doing the job, and afterwards, the man was grateful for my willingness to come out and do such a small job, and he promised that there would be more. Most people say that at the beginning, but he said it “after” I completed the work.
He kept his word, and I’ve done several jobs for him since that initial beginning, and they’ve all gotten bigger and bigger, with the biggest job I’ve ever done just over the horizon.
This all came from a small, seemingly insignificant, job that no one wanted to bother with. But I was honestly grateful for the opportunity that came my way, in spite of how small it was.
Having said that, I honestly believe that it blesses God’s heart when we are thankful for the Small things in life.Though we can’t earn anything from His hand, nor do we deserve anything, we could potentially open ourselves up to have so much more poured into our lives if we would learn to have gratitude for what we have, and where we may be, now.
God knows how to make that Little A lot, if He so wills to do so. 
But even if He doesn’t, we’ll experience a world of joy and peace if we’re thankful…. “even for the small things”.
Father, we give you thanks for everything that you provide for us in this life, from the smallest to the biggest things, taking nothing for granted. Help us to always be thankful; and please grant that our eyes be enabled to “see” your goodness all around us from day to day. Most of all, we thank you for Eternal Salvation which you have given us through your Son.
By the Grace of God,
Pastor Lowe

Strengthen The Inner Man

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], – (Ephesians 3:16 Amp)

A common illustration, that I like to use when teaching, is one in which a man goes around fighting his two dogs, and how he always seems to pick the dog who wins.
As the illustration goes, when he’s questioned about how he knows which dog will win, his response is “the dog I feed the most.”

This morning, while reading Psalms 51, that very illustration came to mind.

In Psalms 51:5 David wrote, “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
In other words, in writing this, he was acknowledging that he was born with a sin nature, and a depravity, that every human born into the world possesses.

It is this sin nature that influences us to sin and is the source of lust, evil and wicked thoughts, and the inability to perceive and understand spiritual things (1st Cor. 2:14).

Although it (the old man) was judged when Christ died (Rom.6:6,7), we will have to grapple with this sin nature until Christ returns, or until we die, because it will continue to operate within us.

We can’t eradicate it, do away with it, ignore it, or pretend that it doesn’t exist.

But, what we CAN do is allow the Holy Spirit to govern and control our lives to the degree that we don’t succumb to the dictates and desires of the sinful nature (old man).

Paul prayed it best when he prayed that God would strengthen and spiritually energize the believers with power (and might) by His Spirit in their innermost being.

If our inner man Is Strengthened by God, with God’s power, which Dog do you suppose will win when it comes down to it?

Today, and everyday, may Paul’s prayer be ‘our’ prayer.

Lord, today we pray that you, indeed, will strengthen us with might by your Spirit in our innermost being, and help us to seek you in formulating the habits in our lives that will be conducive to us being recipients of your strength.

In The Love of God,

Pastor Lowe

God Truly Takes Care of His Own

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19)

The other day, while heading to a jobsite that we’d been working on for a couple of weeks, I was sharing with the young man working with me of how rewarding this work had been for me, and how much of a blessing it had proven to be for my family and myself. 
I didn’t neglect to share the many challenges that we faced along the way, as well as the lessons learned through failings and faithlessness; and that, in spite of such, how God had continually been faithful to us.
While sharing the testimonies with him, there were two things that came to mind that I had thought of before, but had been oblivious to during the course of the time that I’d been working and conducting the business that the Lord has blessed us with.
The first thing that I realized is that, God has been good to us, “in spite” of us. In the world that we live in it’s common to think that those who “do good” earn the privilege of being blessed and enjoying “good”; but that’s not the case in God’s economy.The scripture says that the Lord “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth the rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45).. He’s been Gracious; but it wouldn’t be Grace if I could earn it, or boast that I deserve it.
(I’m just grateful that my actions and attitude, at times hadn’t disqualified me from being the recipient of His blessings!!) 

The second thing that I realized was that, God has been the one to supply all of the work that my wife and I have done.
We know that advertising is a very necessary component to making any business move forward and prosper; but, if my memory serves me correctly, advertising is not something that either of us have done much of. In fact, those times that I can recall trying to advertise, I don’t remember ever getting those jobs  :-).But the calls come, and the opportunities always seem to be there “right” when we need them; and I believe that’s because God Truly Takes Care of His Own.
The Lord has proven time and time again to be Faithful to us in this manner, and He is not partial in His faithfulness to supply. What Paul wrote to the Philippian church is a promise for believers everywhere to believe and stand on, because we all Have the same source of Supply in our Heavenly Father.
I believe it blesses the Heart of Our Father to trust Him, and Him alone, as our source and provider.

Lord God, we want to Thank You for your constant provision into our lives. We trust no other source for what we need. Help us to rest in your promises and care for us.
In The Love of Christ,
Pastor Lowe

Casting Your Care Upon Him

“Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” 1st Peter 5:7
This morning, when I awoke, this particular verse was on my mind. It has long been one of my favorite verses of scripture; and I believe it’s been one of my favorite because of the simplicity of the charge (casting all our care), and the certainty of the truth (He careth for you).
Though the charge is a simple one, it’s not always so easy for us to cast everything upon The Lord, as He encourages us to do; and the amplified rendering makes the task all the more challenging. It says, “once and for all”. That means, when we give it to God, don’t take it back. Be done with it, and trust that He will do more good with what’s been handed to Him than we could ever imagine.
I think this verse was on my mind this morning as a small reminder, that, though there is much that we have in this hour to be concerned about, and much to be tempted to worry about, There is one Who is far more capable of seeing to the affairs that govern my life than I am; and all He asks is that I trust Him enough to give it all (and the last I checked, “all” means “all”, “all” the time) to Him.
It’s a challenge, as I said before. But, when I consider the truth about His care for me, it becomes a lot less difficult to give Him everything.
The remainder of the verse says, ” He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]”; and to me that says, that, His love for me is so intimate and deep that He “wants” to be fully acquainted with every detail that concerns my life. God wants to be involved with everything that we’re concerned about; He wants to help us in everything we’re going through; and He wants to hold our hand every step of the way.
That’s what that verse says to me.
If you’re going through anything difficult, as we all oftentimes do, I pray that you take comfort in knowing that God will be with you every step of the way, helping you to get through whatever the challenge may be. 
We have His promise…. In Isaiah, He says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2)
You and I have the greatest support system in this world with the Father holding our hand.
Lord, today we simply want to say Thank You for your never ending Love and Care for us, and your promise to be with us. 
In Christ,
Pastor Lowe

Divine Intervention

“So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church.” – Acts 12:5 (Amp)

Last week in bible study we were going thru chapter 12 in the book of Acts.
The chapter began with the record of Herod raising his hand against certain of the church through persecution. In fact, scripture says that he killed James with the sword, and he was aiming to get Peter also.

Yet, he wasn’t able to fully carry out his plan to execute Peter; and the reason why he wasn’t able to do so is because God intervened.

There was a reason (actually several) that I believe brought about that Divine intervention. The bible tells us that prayer was being made unto God for Peter.

Yet this wasn’t any ole type of prayer. The amplified says that ‘fervent and persistent’ prayer was being made to God by the church for him, and as a result, God Intervened.

I hadn’t stopped thinking about that text since we studied it, because it speaks volumes about the benefit of fervent and persistent prayer.

James said it like this, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

In other words, if I ‘really’ pray, God will intervene (according to His will of course… John 5:14-15).

In our day and time, we are so desperately in need of Divine Intervention; and I truly believe that The Lord desires to intervene and move things on our behalf, just like he did for the early church.

But, what if His intervention is contingent upon my willingness to really pray?

Just something to think about.

Father, direct our hearts toward heaven and make us a people who will give you no rest until we have witnessed your intervention.

The Lord Bless and keep You,

Pastor Lowe