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Devotionals

Devotionals

Submitted by and used with permission of the Team Members of Covenant Heating and Cooling.

Keep scrolling to see each of our Devotionals.

Ability

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" John 15:5.

Covenant Heating and Cooling's mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through; our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company's core values are as follows: "Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivate us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

This week's core value is ability. The word ability simply means, "competence in doing something" or "acquired proficiency." I have not been in the HVAC business long, even though Tony considers me an expert on in-line float switches (inside joke...HA HA!), but I have learned it takes skill. In other words, you just don't become an HVAC technician. As part of the communication team, we hear, almost daily, from new customers who call us because they have been taken advantage of by some other HVAC company with a missed/incorrect diagnosis, or they were sold something they did not need, or a job was started but it was never finished. The reality is this; there are HVAC companies and technicians who lack both the competency and proficiency to get the job done, as in any profession.

You, though, a Covenant Team Member, on the other hand, would not be reading this devotional e-mail if you did not possess some competency and expertise in our field. Covenant does constantly seek to hire the most competent and proficient employees who believe in the company's mission, vision, and values by being a productive team member. Therefore, I believe the scariest thing any of us can do is to take our God-given ability for granted. Every team member here at Covenant Heating and Cooling brings their own uniqueness to the entire team and should use their ability wisely, thoroughly, and daily.

However, understanding where any of our ability derives from is the key to success. Jesus reminded his disciples that apart from him, their abilities were useless. In other words, what gives our work meaning is finding our ability in Jesus Christ. A relationship with Jesus Christ will not only give your job meaning, more than that, it gives your life meaning. This is the reason why you don't have to dread Monday's anymore. Because Jesus is alive! He is the God of Monday, as well as Fridays. Our abilities were given to us as an expression of God's grace. We do not deserve our abilities, yet God in His grace has given us the mental aptitude, desire, and physical abilities to perform our jobs daily.  Therefore, we should use our God-given ability to glorify God, to serve each other, and to give our customers "The Covenant Experience." I will close with the Apostle Paul's understanding of our ability, " I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20)

Audaciously Available

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me" Isaiah 6:8

Covenant Heating and Cooling’s mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through: our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company’s core values are as follows: "Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivate us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

This week’s core value is availability. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word availability means "the quality of being able to be used or obtained." When I think of the word availability, I think of time or being useful to someone else. As human beings, God has created us in such a way that we desire to be useful. I mean, who doesn’t want to be useful? We should want to be useful to our family, friends, co–workers, and those in our circle of influence. We should want to make a difference for the good in the lives of others.

As an employee of Covenant Heating and Cooling, we should strive to make a difference by being available to our customers. I know this may sound difficult, especially when they think we are omnipresent (everywhere all the time) and omniscient (all–knowing). However, we can choose to be available for our customers when we are serving them by allowing them to ask questions concerning our services. Maybe we could be available to them, instead of rushing through a phone call, we could to lend an ear as they talk about their family or health crisis. We should strive to give our customers "The Covenant Experience" by being audaciously available.

In the above posted verse, Isaiah was moved to make himself available to the Lord after seeing the Lord and experiencing His grace in forgiveness (Isaiah 6:1–7). After one experiences the grace of God in the forgiveness of their own sin through faith in Jesus Christ, it is then and only then they can truly be used. This should be each of our desires as followers of Jesus. We should strive to make ourselves available in serving and honoring Him with our lives daily. The apostle Paul said it like this, " I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).

Deliberately Dedicated

" Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," Colossians 3:23.

Covenant Heating and Cooling’s mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through; our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company’s core values are as follows: "Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivate us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

This week’s core value is dedication. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word dedication means, "the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task with purpose." The Apostle Paul wrote reminding the church at Colossae, which was made up of Jews and Gentiles, as well as, masters and slaves to be dedicated to their work. The master and slave relationship was not like the American pre–Civil War days. Rather, it was more like an employer and employee relationship today. Paul reminded both masters and slaves regardless of their current situation, they were to serve the Lord by being deliberately dedicated to their work.

Unfortunately, we live in a time and day where it is harder and harder to find people who are deliberately dedicated or committed to their work. According to The Balance Careerwebsite, the average American will have 12 to 18 jobs between the ages of 18 to 48. The average tenure of these jobs is around 4.2 years. There is definitely a lack of dedication and commitment in the American workforce today, as we seem to always look for the next best thing.  Why is this? In my opinion (which doesn’t mean much), it has to do with the lack of understanding of not why we work, but Who we work for?

If you are a follower of Christ your boss is Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to serve the Lord with gladness of heart as we labor. The reason why Christ saved you was for you to bring Him glory in everything you do, whether you eat, drink, answer phones, change out units, perform maintenances, deliver parts, or put together payroll. Dedication is working with a purpose and that purpose is to glorify God in all we do. This goes back to Covenant’s mission statement in the first sentence of this post.

Therefore, we should be dedicated to our work by doing it heartily as to the Lord, which brings Him glory! How can we be dedicated to working? First, I believe we must be dedicated to the Lord and His will for our lives. This means we must be seeking to follow after Him in His Word and in our deeds.  Second, I believe we must enjoy God in the midst of our work. There is nothing more miserable than doing a job where you are miserable. You will never be dedicated if you do not enjoy what you do. This doesn’t mean you will not have difficult days, but overall you enjoy the work you do. Third, I believe we must be dedicated to serving our customer by giving them "The Covenant Experience" in every aspect. Fourth, I believe we should be dedicated to each other as a team. We should strive at building each other up through encouragement and other edifying thoughts. We all have difficult and hard days, yet the Lord promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. I believe He often works through us in order to be a blessing to other team members who may be struggling that day. 

I will close with a quote from one of my favorite preachers, John Piper, which I used today at the conclusion of my sermon; "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

Compassion

"Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).

Covenant Heating and Cooling’s mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through; our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company’s core values are as follows:

"Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivates us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

This week’s core value is compassion. According to Webster’s dictionary compassion is "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering." The definition of compassion is a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around you and me. Yet, there is the reality we must slow down long enough to recognize those who are hurting and try to alleviate their pain.

This reminds me of this past November when Covenant Heating and Cooling participated in "Soldiers Child." Our company was able to donate money and time by shopping, wrapping, and loading Christmas presents for children who lost their parents in the military. On the same day, we were able to host a birthday party for a young girl who had lost her father. I remember having a "lump in my throat" as they read her story of her dad and seeing her cry. All of those who were involved in this project were expressing compassion by having deep sympathy, while being moved into action. True biblical compassion always leads to action.

In the same manner, I was reminded yesterday of the need for true biblical compassion, as I was preaching on trusting God in all things, a father and mother sat weeping as they had just buried their 18–year–old son one month ago in our church’s cemetery. Another family sat broken and concerned as their daughter’s marriage is on the verge of divorce. The fact is we live in a fallen and broken world where sin abounds, and the evil one is seeking to destroy people’s lives. If there was ever a time for compassion it is now!

So, I close with this; will you and I look for ways to show compassion toward others this week? Will we slow down long enough to see there are hurting people all around us who may need you to encourage, pray, or just listen to them? Remember, as followers of Christ the world does not revolve around us. It revolves around Christ and His will. Therefore, may we have compassion for others, as we seek to honor Him.

Simply Serve

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). 

 Covenant Heating and Cooling’s mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through; our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company’s core values are as follows: "Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivates us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

 This week’s core value is servanthood. What exactly is servanthood? The meaning of servanthood is simply someone who serves others. This is who we are and what we do. We are in the business of serving our customers and employees of Covenant Heating and Cooling. Without the service to our customers, none of us would have a job and Covenant Heating and Cooling would cease to exist. Therefore, service to our customers must take precedence over everything else.

 It was only a couple of months ago we all received new company name badges. If you notice each name badge has your picture with your job title. You may have also noticed each name badge has "customer service" on them, even Jonathan’s.   I didn’t understand it at first, but as I contemplated on this a little more it makes sense; every employee’s job at Covenant Heating and Cooling is to serve our customer. And this job should not be taken lightly.  

 Therefore, we should strive to give each customer the best service possible. We should go above and beyond in making sure our customers are completely satisfied. By the way, this is known as "The Covenant Experience." I understand at times this can be a challenge, especially when you have been in the heat for multiple hours and it seems the calls never end. It is when we feel stressed, tired, and overwhelmed we must take a moment to breath and remember why we do what we do. Yes, we are here to make money and a living for our families, but there is something far greater than just making money. Think about it; We here to simply serve and help our customers who cannot help themselves.

 As we seek to help our customers, it reminds me that is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to help those who could not help themselves by serving them. The Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, died as a substitute for sinners upon the cross, and rose again the third day. He came not to be served, but to serve others by being the all–sufficient Savior. As we go about our week, may we all be reminded we are here not only make a living but to serve our customers who cannot help themselves. By doing this, we will exhibit the character trait of Jesus Christ,  as he came to simply serve.Intentional Integrity

Covenant Heating and Cooling’s mission is to "glorify God by running a profitable, trusted service business. We will do this through; our core values, premiere service, and opportunities for success for all our team members and their families." The company’s core values are as follows: "Family, integrity, servanthood, compassion, dedication, availability, ability, and commitment." These two statements are what motivates us to be more than just a heating and cooling company. With that thought in mind, I would like to focus on each one of our core values for the next several weeks.

This week’s core value is integrity. What exactly is integrity? According to Webster’s dictionary, integrity is "the adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty; the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished." I like the more concise definition of integrity, which is "who you are when no one else is watching." In other words, doing, acting, saying the right thing, even if no one will ever find out. 

Integrity plays a vital role in the success of a nation, company, family, or an individual. One aspect of integrity is being honest in one’s dealings with others. I was told growing up if a person will lie to you, he will steal from you and most people will not trust a thief or a liar. I didn’t really believe this until I got caught shoplifting as an 8–year–old boy. My family lived outside of Chicago, IL in apartments next to the Dollar Store. It was there I saw the newest and coolest Matchbox car that had come out. It had the zip cord, you placed in the middle of the car, pulled the cord out, and it made the back wheels spin really fast. At that point, you placed the car on the floor and zoom it was gone. It was pretty cool back in 1983 and I wanted it really bad. However, my mother who was single worked two jobs and didn’t have the money to purchase it for me. So, I decided to walk over one day and slip the car out of the store thinking no one would ever find out. Boy! I was wrong.

I forgot to add one small detail; my mother was the store manager. She knew I wanted the car and I wanted it badly. After getting the car home, I hid the car under my mattress from my mother, until one day she washes my sheets while I was at school. And guess what? She found the car. So, when I got home she asked me where I got the car. I did what any red–blooded 8–year–old boy who was a thief would do; I lied. I told her a friend gave it to me thinking she wouldn’t ask him, but she did. As you can imagine, things did not work out very well for me. After receiving a whipping, I had to take the car back to the store and apologize to all of the employees. I remember how embarrassed I was, but now as a parent myself, I can only imagine the embarrassment I caused my mother.

Why do I share this story? Because we need to be reminded of what we say, do, and promise not only affects us but it affects others. Solomon reminds us "that it is better not to make a vow than make one and break it" (Ecc.5:5). As employees of Covenant Heating and Cooling, integrity should be a key component to servicing our customers. We should strive to keep our word. We should be careful not to over promise and under deliver but strive to under promise and over deliver. The integrity of Covenant’s employees is part of "The Covenant Experience" our customer receives on a daily basis from you and me.

Our integrity really does matter. We should strive to be intentional in our integrity with our customers, each other, but most of all with God. The juxtaposition is we can never be perfect in our integrity because we are sinners. However, there is a person who was, Jesus Christ. Christ was fully God and fully man who understands our temptation to compromise our integrity. Yet, he never gave in to it.

Here is the biblical definition of integrity: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, when we fail in our integrity, we must flee to our Savior who stands ready to "forgive and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

I’ll close with this quote from a wise man who once told me, "It’s never wrong to do the right thing."

The Meanings of Love

Romans 5:8: "…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

The word love has largely lost its meaning in our English vocabulary these days. The word is often used to refer in how one feels about animals, favorite sporting teams, foods, and significant things. The word love is used so flippantly today it has lost much of its power when used. People say, "I love my dog." "I love Alabama football." "I love banana pudding." "I love my wife." You can see the issue. Right? 

The New Testament was written in the Greek language and uses four different Greek words to express certain types of love. There are four main words: agape (sacrificial love), philia (brotherly love), eros (sensual love), and storge (family love). The word love used in Romans 5:8 is agape. This type of love is used to reveal God’s love for sinners. It is an active love, not passive. Agape love seeks the good for those who do not deserve it or earn it. We learn God’s love is an action verb, not a noun. The love of God does something. It redeems. It forgives. It heals. It reconciles. It saves. 

If you are like me, I fail to realize the magnitude of God’s love for me, as one who misses the mark daily. Think about and meditate on how God loves you today. 

First, "God shows his love…" It is always God who takes the initiative. God acted first on our behalf. If God did not get the gospel to us, convict, draw, and convert us we would still be headlong in our sins. But God does something; He shows, demonstrates, or proves His love.

Secondly, "…while we were still sinners…" Jesus did not say, "Clean up your act, go to church, join the church, get baptized, and then I will save you." No. The Bible says, "while we were still sinners." While you and I were still running from God, blaspheming God, hating and rebelling against God Jesus died for you. This is the reason why a person cannot be saved until he or she realizes they are a sinner who is need of a Savior.

Thirdly, "…Christ died for us." Oh, what beautiful words. It reminds us that we could not and cannot save ourselves. The only way for the sinner to be saved is through a substitutionary sacrifice. God’s law demanded a life for a life. And the only life that would satisfy God’s holy justice would have to be a perfect life. And that perfect life is not found in  YOU or ME, but in person and work of Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, I want to challenge you to meditate on the goodness of the gospel of Christ towards us. But, also to think about how it should be lived out practically in our lives day–to–day. Think about how undeserving you are of salvation and yet God has extended much mercy and grace toward you, even to the point of reading this post. Perhaps you don’t know the love of God. My prayer is you would seek Him, while He may be found, and you would come to know the greatest love ever known to mankind through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. This world does not know what love is apart from the agape love of Jesus Christ on the cross.

I leave you with the words to the hymn entitled, "If That Isn’t Love."

He left the splendor of heaven
Knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha
There to lay down His life for me

If that isn’t love
The ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky
And the sparrow can’t fly

If that isn’t love
Then heaven’s a myth
There’s no feeling like this
If that isn’t love

The thief hanging by His side

There He spoke with love and compassion
Then He took him to paradise

If that isn’t love
The ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky
And the sparrow can’t fly

If that isn’t love
Then heaven’s a myth
There’s no feeling like this
If that isn’t love

Let Your Light Shine

And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. – Matthew 26:75

Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times before morning would arrive. Peter was full of pride and arrogance when he swore he would never deny Christ. Well, the moment of truth had arrived. Jesus was on trial and things in Jerusalem were intense. The disciples were scattered, watching, and listening from a distance. It is in the middle of this intense situation Peter was confronted three times by bystanders and all three times he denied Jesus without a moment’s hesitation.

This makes me wonder; how many times a day do you and I deny Christ without a moment’s hesitation? We may not come out and say, "we deny Christ," but we can deny him in our deeds, as well as our words. We deny Christ when we fail to keep our word or when we speak with an ill intent toward others. As followers of Christ, we must be very careful in the use our words. Do your words build up and edify others? Or do they tear down and belittle? This is not Christ–like, nor does it bring glory to our Heavenly Father. 

Perhaps, there will be an opportunity for you and me to encourage, build up, or speak well to someone today. What will we do? I remember my grandmother use to tell us, grandchildren, "if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all." Maybe there will be an opportunity today to listen to someone’s concern and give them biblical counsel from God’s Word. May we seek ways to build up, rather than tear down. 

Remember these words from Christ to his disciples, "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Look for ways to let your light (Christ that is in you) shine today by building up someone up in the Lord!Influential Biblical Leadership

"And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way, he said to them, See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day." Matthew 20:17–19

Jesus’s time had come and now he prepared to drink the cup of his Father’s wrath; so, where could Jesus be found? Jesus takes his disciples aside privately to teach them. I find this amazing. Jesus was not worried about his imminent death. He doesn’t have anxiety. He isn’t fretting over the fact he was about to betrayed by one of his disciples and bear the sins of the world upon himself. No! He continues to pour himself into his disciples. 

A few thoughts concerning Jesus’s servant leadership example:

  1. Jesus was not overly concerned about his own well–being. One of the most impressive attributes concerning Jesus’s style of leadership was the fact he was more concerned about others than himself. In order to be an effective leader, one must make insurmountable sacrifices for the good of others, while not focusing on themselves.
  2. Jesus took his disciples aside privately to instruct them. An effective leader must be willing to spend time alone instructing, sharpening, encouraging, and learning from others. Often the greatest cost from private instruction is our time. One person said it correctly when they said, "nothing says, I care about you or I love you than T.I.M.E."
  3. Jesus taught his disciples while they "were going." Leaders who are the most effective will teach others in every aspect of their life, not just alone or in public. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter who said elders of the church are to "lead by examples." As we go about daily lives, we ought to share with others what we are learning and what we have learned. Effective leaders look find teachable moments in almost every aspect of life.
  4. Jesus stayed focused on his mission. Instead of focusing on what may have seemed like a problem, the cross, he focused on the mission. He knew for the gospel to go forward after he was gone, he had to empower others. The mark of an effective leader is the empowerment of others to carry on the work. 

The reality is this; we are all leaders in some way, shape, or form. We may be in a leadership position in our careers, families, school, or sports teams, or etc. Leadership is simply having an influence on others. The question is; are we effective or ineffective leaders?  

I challenge you to examine your own life after reading this. Take some time to reflect and meditate on the way you seek to serve and lead others. Do you seek to be a servant leader like Jesus?

Being Moved to Action

He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people. They responded, "We will do and obey all that the Lord has commanded." Exodus 24:7

When the people of God, Israel, heard the Word of God they were moved. They were moved into action. They were moved to confession. They were moved to obedience. The reading and hearing of God’s Word should always move God’s people closer to Him. The key to faithfully following God is hearing His instructions and then following them accordingly. 

I am reminded when my wife and I purchased a trampoline for my three boys for Christmas about 15 years ago. Since I was the man of the house, I was in charge of putting together the trampoline. I worked several hours putting it together two days before Christmas. I had put it all together without even reading all the instructions. As I was about to boast in my accomplishment, I begin to notice a few other poles I had forgotten to attach to the trampoline that held the safety net, so the boys would not fall off. I did what any red–blooded man would do; I threw the extra poles and net into the box and put it up in the storage shed. Needless to say, it did not go over well with my wife and the trampoline had to be taken apart and net placed on the trampoline. If only I had taken the time to read and follow all of the instructions. 

There is a valuable lesson here to be learned; it’s never fun redoing a job a second time. Therefore, we must strive for excellence as we serve God while serving our customers at Covenant. Sometimes we can get in the rut of doing our jobs day after day and they become mundane. However, if you are repairing a unit or entering an invoice there is always room for learning, growing, and improving.  And in order to learn, grow, and improve, at times, we may have to heed the instructions of others. These instructions will only enable us all to better followers of Christ, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and lastly team members at Covenant.

Are You Settling For Less?

"When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ’Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." – Exodus 14:10–14

God led Israel out of Egypt. Egypt was a wicked and horrible place, but it was where Israel chose to stay, even though it was not the land they were promised. They had settled for serving the Egyptians, rather than serving God. However, God in His infinite mercy and grace would not allow His children to settle for anything better than what He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, known as Canaan.

Let me ask you; Have you settled for less than God’s best for you in Christ? Are you content but complacent? There is an aspect all believers are called to find their contentment in Christ and Him alone. You can never improve on this truth. However, we must not grow complacent or stagnant. This reminds me when I was growing up, there was a little pond that had some really good fish in it at one time. The problem was the owner wouldn’t allow anyone to fish in it (we used to sneak in at night :) and this led to algae and moss to grow on top of the pond. The algae and moss took over to the point you couldn’t even get your hook and bait to sink to catch a fish. The pond was useless. 

When we cease to grow and change in our spiritual, physical, or professional lives we can become stagnant like a pond. Have you settled for less than what God has promised you in Christ, like Israel?  Whether you are a CEO, school teacher, nurse, technician, or office worker; God desires you never to be complacent. This may mean you have to step out of your comfort zone and be challenged. It may be taking a 15–minute walk each day to get in physical shape. It may mean you stop eating sweets or cutting back on sodas to lose weight. It may mean getting up 30 minutes earlier each day to read your Bible and pray. This will look different for all us, but we know there are things in all of our lives that we can improve on for the glory of God, rather than staying the same.

So, where do you need to be challenged in your life to be a better you? 

Is it physical? Spiritual? Professional?  What will you do? It is your choice.

Rejoice in All of Life’s Circumstances

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." – Philippians 4:4–7

On April 15th, I was told by my CPA that after paying quarterly taxes all year my wife and I still owed the IRS more money. Two days later, my oldest son’s windshield was busted by a rock that fell off a dump truck and would need to be replaced. And then the next day, my youngest son came down with some type of sinus infection and had to go to the doctor. When it rains, it seems to pour. Yes, even for a pastor. Can you resonate with my life? Do you ever find it hard to rejoice in life’s circumstances? Does life seem to throw more at you than you can handle? Well, there is good news for the one who has given their lives to follow Christ. The good news is your joy is not found in your circumstances, but in a person and his name is Jesus Christ. 

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church at Philippi that we have in our New Testament called the Book of Philippians. He wrote it from Roman prison cell under severe circumstances. He did not have the luxury most in prison today experience with "3 hots and a cot." He was chained to a guard 24/7. He was totally dependent upon other Christians to minister to his needs in order to survive. Yet, we found Paul exhorting these believers in Philippi to not only rejoice but to rejoice in the Lord! It should have been the other way around.  

Christ followers can live with holy carelessness when all our cares are cast upon Jesus. The believer in Christ can have joy and rejoice in God’s providential care of them. Anxiety, fear, and doubt are no longer a concern for those in Christ since we can lay them all at His feet. We fail to rejoice in life’s circumstances when we fail to understand who God is and are overtaken by these emotions. For the believer, the Lord is near. He is at hand. In other words, He is working all things out for our good and His glory. He is right in the middle of your situation since He is the One who has brought it to you (Romans 8:28). Be encouraged. The Lord has not forgotten you. 

Therefore, we are commanded to joy and rejoice. We are commanded don’t worry but pray about everything with thanksgiving. Think about how much of our daily lives would be filled with graciousness when it came to our circumstances and others if we practiced verse six. The fact of the matter is if we are giving thanks while praying about everything, we will not be worried or anxious, which in return will bring us joy that will lead us to truly rejoice knowing that the Lord is near.

What are you tempted to worry about today? What is it you need to pray about rather than worry about today? What is it you need to give thanks to God for today knowing He is near? When you begin to look at your circumstances through what Christ has done for you by taking your place on the cross to give your eternal life, then you will be able to rejoice in all of life’s circumstances.

May the Lord bless you, as you seek to honor Him.

Handling Conflicts – Attitudes and Conduct

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

Last week it was mentioned that the author of the book "If you bite and devour one another" suggested that there are 6 steps to handling conflict. The first of which was – Prayer.

The next step in handling conflict is – Check Attitudes and Conduct.

The challenge in times of disagreement, especially with other Christians is not allowing emotions to influence our actions, words, and even thoughts. Our emotions are the shallow most part of who we are, so hopefully we would all agree that emotions are terrible influencers in conflict. The question is how do we keep emotions out of conflict?

The answer is in the verse above – humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. So, when humility influences us during conflict in lieu of emotions an incredible thing happens – you count others more significant than yourself. How many conflicts would instantly be resolved if just one person counted the other(s) more significant than themselves? Most conflicts aren’t resolved because no one’s willing to budge. Humility requires budging to a posture of servanthood instead of defiance and stubbornness. You might be thinking, but if I do that, I will be treated unfairly, I won’t get my way, I am right and they are wrong. Guess what, you might be right.

Here is where checking attitude and conduct comes in. There are times when conflict can’t be resolved. Jesus did not always resolve conflicts (see a number of examples of interaction with the Pharisees). When the conflict was a matter of the will of God, Jesus was not willing to budge regardless of what conflict may or may not have arisen. If we are honest, most conflicts we deal with have a lot less to do with God’s will and lot more to do with attitude and conduct.

To bring this all together, whatever conflict we deal with, the best way to ensure we have the right attitude and conduct, as well as humility influencing us is to ask ourselves are we being like Jesus at this moment. If not, the conflict is probably not going to be resolved in an everybody–wins way.

Be Blessed!

Handling Conflicts – Prayer

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16

Last week it was mentioned that the author of the book "If you bite and devour one another" suggested that there are 6 steps to handling conflict. The first of which was – Prayer.

Prayer is such a wonderful gift from God. Too bad it is evidently often an unopened gift for many Christians. It seems as though it is the last resort. You know after you have tried everything else. Prayer for many is like the clumsy kid left behind when picking teams for dodge ball. You only pick him when there is no one left. Maybe that is not the case for you, but for me, I am in many ways a normal guy. If it is broke, I fix it. I will try to put the furniture together when it quits making sense then I will read the instructions. Prayer is even more vital than reading instructions. I am not sure it is possible to walk in the Spirit without prayer, so as it pertains to handling conflict, prayer is paramount. One might ask why and that would be because prayer is not for us to align God’s will with ours, it is just the opposite. Prayer is to align our will with Gods.

I believe there are myriad reasons for conflict. One that may be often overlooked is so that we can have the privilege to glorify God in a situation. There may not be a way to reconcile the conflict, especially if the other person/party is not willing to reconcile, but what is always possible is to glorify God by walking in His Spirit during the conflict. I have talked with multiple people about this recently and that is most of life is not what happens to us, rather how we respond to it. How you and I chose to respond to conflict is more important than resolving the conflict. If by faith, we stay faithful to God regardless of someone else’s actions, I am convinced that God is more than capable of working out the conflict. This doesn’t absolve us of action, we may and very likely will be moved to action. Regardless, our response to conflict is the key to resolving conflict.

Our first response should be to pray. Pray that God’s will is done, not ours.

There are a lot of great books on prayer. Two that I often recommend are: "With Christ in the School of Prayer" by Andrew Murray and "Power Through Prayer" by E.M. Bounds. If you have not studied prayer I would strongly recommend taking a lesson or two from these saints.

Be Blessed!

Handling Conflicts – A Skill We Can All Improve Upon.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:25–26

As mentioned last week, for the time being I am going to share some thoughts from a Bible study we are going through with our church family from the book, "If You Bite and Devour One Another". The book is about Biblical principles for handling conflict.

No matter your life persuasions, handling conflict is a skill we all could improve on. As a Christian, there are eternal consequences of how we handle conflict, therefore it is imperative.

The easy answer to improving our skills for handling conflict is to walk (daily live) in the Spirit and not in our flesh. Easy enough, right? For most of us, no it’s not. It’s much easier to allow emotions to rule rather than God’s Spirit. No matter how challenging it is, handling conflict in a Christ honoring, solid way is only possible through the super–natural power of God the Holy Spirit.

In the book, the author suggest there are 6 steps to handling conflict as a Spirit–controlled Christian:

  1. Pray – prayer is essential to walking by (and through) the Spirit
  2. Check attitudes and conduct – during conflict, everyone involved needs to wait until emotions subside and minds clear so that issues can be addressed with Spirit–directed wisdom, patience, gentleness, reasonableness, and self–control
  3. Act in love – Putting the welfare of others first is what it means to walk in love
  4. Seek the counsel of Spirit–filled believers – in the counsel of many there is wisdom, just make sure you’re not the most reasonable one in the group
  5. Treat others with kindness and gentleness – enough said, other than to say if you can’t treat others with kindness and gentleness there is a problem with your relationship with God, because both are characteristics of the fruit (proof) of God’s Spirit in your life
  6. Be humble – In other words, be like Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Christian, right?

Be Blessed!

Out Amazing God

"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;" Psalm 103:1–4

It seems as though it is good for us to stop and consider that how amazing God is. It is not only that He still works miracles according to His will, but also that He made a way for us to be forgiven.

I would like to encourage to watch this video and spend a little time praising God today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO65GXSxKCA

Be Blessed!

Be the Light in A Dark World

"Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Romans 13:10–14

One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr. – "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." The only time I have experienced absolute darkness is in Mammoth Cave. I am not sure if they still do this, but years ago, the tour guides would stop at a certain place and turn the lights out. Darkness is very disturbing. It lends to confusion, uncertainty, and fear. Hate grows out of darkness. When the tour guides turned out the lights, I began to be confused about where other people were, I was uncertain if there were any nefarious people in the group, and I must admit there was for a moment the slight feeling of fear: what if the lights didn’t come back on?

This world we live in is full of darkness and the only remedy is the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. We are surrounded by people that are confused, uncertain, and afraid. They don’t need more darkness, they need light.

Be light and be blessed!

Goals for an Abundant Life

"And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child (Jesus, the Messiah) grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him." Luke 2:39–40

Happy New Year!!!

In case you didn’t know, I look forward to the opportunity to record the past in the annals of my memory and prepare for fresh opportunities in life. Somewhere in my mind, I realize that January 1, 2018 is just another day on the calendar, however every race needs a starting line and I see New Year’s Day as that starting line. I am not a fan of resolutions. Primarily because I, like most of humanity rarely see them through, however I am a fan of goals and planning. I hope you are setting both personal and professional goals for 2018.

Here are some points I have learned about goals:

  1. Goals are incremental finishing lines in the race of life. The scriptures exhort us to: "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doeth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us"
  2. For us to have finishing lines we must have starting lines. We have to know where we are to get where we are going!
  3. Goals without plans are just dreams.
  4. Goals need to be achievable, but barely.
  5. Larger goals are much more achievable when broken down in to smaller goals.
  6. Goals should be connected to priorities and purpose.
  7. We cannot manage time. Time marches on regardless of how we try to influence it. We can, however manage priorities.

So, what does all that have to do with our devotional verses? What do you think Joseph and Mary’s goals were the year after Jesus was born? Here is a little synopsis of what we know happened:

  1. They had to deal with a very cumbersome census from one government official
  2. They had another government official who was trying to kill their new born son
  3. While all this was going on, people from different walks of life; shepherds, devoted followers of God, possibly wealthy scholars from another country (all though we are not sure exactly when these "wise men" came), and many others were visiting to see the new born Messiah
  4. They were observing the bibles commands of what to do after a Jewish boy was born
  5. Angels were visiting them giving them encouragement and direction
  6. They were on the move a lot

All of this and possibly more was going on, while Mary, a teenage virgin, poor, unheard of mother was just trying to figure life out. According to Luke 2:19 she was trying to reason with what this new life of hers was going to be like alone as she "pondered them in her heart". Life is hard, isn’t it?

I am not certain, but it seems as though goals were the last things on Joseph and Mary’s minds, if even in their vocabulary. I am leaning more toward they were just trying to survive.

There are seasons of life, when surviving is all we can manage. Surviving should be a camp site, not our home. Jesus said that He came to give us an abundant life, not to just merely exist. Don’t beat yourself up if all you can manage is surviving. Just don’t plan to stay there. Joseph and Mary moved on past that season of their life and returned to what was important to them. Do the same.

Wherever you at in life, I ask you to join me in setting some personal and professional goals that matter. Even if they only have a small impact.

Continual Learning

"He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread:" Proverbs 12:11(a)

One of my (many) favorite quotes is supposedly from Thomas Edison. The quote reads "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Whoever said it, it is very, very true! I would like to take the liberty to revise the quote to address wisdom. "Wisdom is missed by most people because it is dressed in simplicity and looks like an elementary thought."

Such is the case with this verse. You would think it would go without saying. Keep in mind that most of scripture was written to people who understood agricultural dynamics such as tilling. Most people would have known that you have to break the ground up that you are going to sew seed in if you expect the seed to take root and grow. So why would Solomon make such an obvious (well duh) statement? Of course the easy answer is: these are proverbs. There is more than just instruction, there is the application of wisdom for life found in an obvious example.

In agriculture there is: a time to prepare, a time to plant, a time to protect, and a time to produce. Then the cycle starts all over again.

The same is true in our business: a time to prepare (training, marketing, hiring, procedures, financial responsibility), a time to plant (provide service), a time to protect (quality control), and a time to produce (serve the customer in a way that they not only call us back, but refer us to friends and family).  Then, guess what the cycle starts all over again.

The reality is no matter what capacity you and I serve at Covenant you and I are constantly growing. I often say (to also remind myself), that I am not looking to be the biggest, I am looking to be the best. I trust you are too. Therefore, we must invest what is needed to produce fruit. We can’t circumvent any part of this cycle. All of us must be in a constant state of growth and tilling the ground is just as necessary as planting, protecting, and producing.

My family and I had the wonderful opportunity to witness one of our very own Team Members graduate from seminary last week. This is a tremendous accomplishment for him and for his family. If you have not had the chance you should congratulate him for his commitment and dedication to follow through with what God has called him to do. There was something that was said by someone who was officiating the ceremony that I can’t get passed. It was the explanation of where the degrees of Master, Doctorate, and PHD came from. What I can’t get passed is that these degrees represent the highest levels of a particular discipline or study, but none of them have an end in mind. Even the PHD (Doctorate of Philosophy) which is a terminal degree, doesn’t have an end in mind. At least according to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The PHD carries with it the responsibility and the continuation of the cycle before mentioned to teach others.

You may not know this, but you are a part of a very honorable trade. If it were not for modern refrigeration, practically all of our technologies wouldn’t exist. Especially advancements in medicine. We help people stay comfortable, we help businesses stay open, we help factories continue on with production, and all the while we help people stay safe. Don’t think for one minute that this is just another "job". We keep life as we know it moving forward! You may not a degree to hang on the wall, but you can be the best this industry has ever seen!

With such a tremendous honor, how can we not pursue a continual improvement/learning process? Stay teachable and constantly pursue the zenith of your career. When you get there, the journey won’t be over. Then you will have the blessing of teaching others.

Do you want to be the best? Be willing to Learn, Grow, and Serve, then your best will be just around the corner!

Be Blessed!

Bloom Where You Are Planted

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life:.." Proverbs 11:30(a)

I really like most fruit. I love Halo’s. They are so easy to peel, smell great, and taste great. I am sure they are very genetically modified, but I don’t care. I love every second of that mutated fruit! Most people like some type of fruit and if you don’t then you must be a communist (I’m just kidding).

It occurred to me one day how much fruit glorifies God in creation. His detail in creation is nothing less than supernatural. If you think about it, fruit is kind of a burial shroud for the seed of the plant it came from. Not because the seed might die, but because the seed must die. If the seed doesn’t die, the tree can’t continue to spread. When the seed dies, it produces fruit multiplied. Death brings life.

The fruit not only allows for the burial of the seed, but is a blessing in many other ways. It is a blessing to people, animals, and even other plants.

Christians are like fruit. By Divine design, we are planted in life to be a blessing to others and produce more fruit. Jesus said as recorded in John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you." Fruit can never "remain" unless the seed it carries is planted. When trees and other fruit bearing plants produce fruit, I am not 100% sure, but fairly confident that the fruit doesn’t get all stressed out about where it is planted. It just waits for its purpose, to be a part of planting the seed. You know where I am going with this don’t you? Why expend so much energy on worrying about where you are planted and not trust that God knows what He is doing. Wouldn’t it be more faithful to blossom where you and I are planted?

Paul begs us in Romans 12:1 to be a "living sacrifice". I heard a preacher say one time that the problem with living sacrifices is they are always crawling off of the alter. Until we are faithful enough to be still and know that He is God, we will have a hard time being what God has created us to be, a tree of life.

Be Blessed!

A Great Joy

"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh." Proverbs 11:17

Since most of us, if not all want a good life, an appropriate question might be: What does it mean to be merciful? If you attend church at all, you have probably heard it said that Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve and Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. Some of the synonyms for merciful are: forgiving, compassionate, clement, pitying, humane, kind, sympathetic. In this context the best answer seems to be: compassionate. Not just in the sense of feeling sorry for someone in need, but actually relating so much with others pain that it moves you to help them in their time of need.

There is a very familiar account of an encounter between Jesus and a supposed expert of God’s law. I think rather than paraphrasing it, I’ll just let you read it: Luke 10:25–37 "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."

Hmm, He that was merciful to the man in need, was obeying the second greatest command and Jesus said in essence: Go and do the same. I fully believe that a Christian will never experience true joy until he or she serves others that are in need. It’s in our spiritual DNA to do so, if the Spirit of Christ is in us. Who are you serving?

This coming Saturday, the Covenant team has the honor and privilege to serve others in need. In a very small way we will be doing the work of the Samaritan in Jesus example as we serve the families that have experienced the tragedy of a death of a mom or dad that served in our military. I hope you will be there Saturday, even if just for a few hours to be merciful to hurting people. If you do, you will not only doing good for them, but you will also be doing good for yourself.

Be Blessed!

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