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WHAT MATTERS MOST? Special Good Friday Devotion

I read someone’s post the other day; a well-known and highly respected pastor in our country. He was commenting on the recent legislation that was passed in Washington and the gist of his comments where the words “It doesn’t matter.” “Because God is sovereign.” He invited everyone to go ahead and disagree with his position but not to send an email because “It doesn’t matter.”

I began to think about what does matter and what doesn’t matter.

Some things matter and some things don’t. Whether or not Tiger Woods wins another Masters really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Who cares who wins Dancing With the Stars, other than my mom of course. If someone cuts you off in traffic, as annoying as it may be, it really doesn’t matter in the larger scope of things.

If you get in the wrong line at the grocery store thinking it was moving faster only to discover the person in front of you is paying with a check and waited until the very end of the transaction to pull out their check book, it really doesn’t matter.

But then there are some things that really do matter.

Random acts of kindness performed on behalf of those we love really matters. Praying for others in their hour need really does matter. Lending a helping hand to someone who is down and out matters as well.

On this Good Friday what really matters most?

Paul tells us.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (TEV) 1 “And now I want to remind you, my friends, of the Good News which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm. 2 That is the gospel, the message that I preached to you. You are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it—unless it was for nothing that you believed. 3 I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; 4 that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; 5 that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles.”

Paul takes us to the cross (Jesus died), the cemetery (Jesus was buried), the calendar (raised to life on day three), and the crowd (Peter then over 5000 witnesses to his resurrection).

On this Good Friday, as we approach Easter, let’s focus on the things that really matter. Let’s not major on the minors or as Jesus said, “You strain out the nat and swallow the camel.”

Just a thought,
Carl

 

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Fill It!

No one likes empty! No one likes an empty wallet or bank account. No one likes to go home to an empty house. That’s why 62 percent of American households include at least one pet. American’s own 164 million pets in this nation. No one likes empty things. You wake up craving cereal in the morning you pour your favorite cereal in your favorite bowl then you go to the refrigerator and the milk is empty.

We hate the empty feeling we get when we make a wrong choice, or the empty feeling single people feel when they go through a breakup.

EMPTY: containing nothing; not filled or occupied.

Many years ago, Billy Graham stood on the campus of one of our great universities and he asked the Dean of that University, “What is the greatest problem on your campus?” He replied in one word: “Emptiness.”

The human heart craves for meaning, and yet a time of spiritual emptiness haunts millions. We have never had more possessions, more entertainment, more so-called friends, or more technology… and yet we are so empty!

Thousands of years ago King David addressed the problem of emptiness when he wrote, “The Lord in my shepherd; I shall not want.” He was not talking just about physical want, but spiritual want and emotional want.

Maybe today you are feeling empty as you read this blog. Maybe your life is empty. That isn’t necessarily bad. It can mean there is room for something new that can fill it.

God is an expert at filling empty things. In 2 Kings 4 there is a story of a widow in desperate need. Her husband had died and creditors were coming to take away her two sons to pay off the debt. In desperation,

she tracks down Elisha and gives him the run down. Elisha asked the widow what she had in her house the widow said, “Nothing but a little oil.”

It is amazing that most of us are good at seeing “NOTHING”. Most people look at their life and see “nothing”. They look at their opportunities and see “nothing”. They look at their future and see “nothing.” They look at their jobs and see “nothing.”

GOD IS THE MASTER OF TAKING ‘NOTHING’ AND MAKING ‘SOMETHING’ OUT OF IT.

If nothing is all you see, then nothing is all you will ever have! When lack and deficiency is all you see then lack and deficiency will be all you’ll ever have. Sometimes nothing can lead to something.

God creates out of nothing; and therefore,
until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. –Martin Luther

This widow had something: she had “a little oil.” She was soon to realize that God specializes in “little.” Jesus used a mustard seed as an illustration of faith and God’s Kingdom. The mustard seed is 1 or 2mm in diameter, yet according to Jesus it can grow into a large garden plant.

Miracles like a mustered seed start small. That is why Scripture reminds us, “Don’t despise the days of small beginnings.” Jesus took a little boy’s lunch and fed thousands. Never underestimate the power little.

LITTLE WITH GOD IS MUCH!

This woman’s miracle began with one empty jar. You have to start somewhere. She went and borrowed as many jugs, jars and flasks as she possible could, and as long as she had an empty vessel, the oil from her single jar kept flowing.

This single mom started out with just a little oil. But that “little oil” grew into massive amounts of oil. The vessels ran out before the oil ran out!

LITTLE BECOMES MUCH WHEN GOD IS IN IT!! If all you have is a little song start singing it.
If all you have is a little joy start sharing it.
If all you have is a little love start giving it.

If all you have is a little wisdom start using it. If all you have is a little money start giving it. If all you have is a little gift start exercising it.

LITTLE BECOMES MUCH WHEN GOD IS IN IT!!

The oil was the channel, but God was the source. Your job is a channel of God’s blessing, but not your source. Your investments are a channel of God’s blessing, but not the source. Your talents, skills and abilities are a channel of God’s blessing, but they are not the source.

MIRACLES START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, NOT WITH WHAT YOU NEED!!!

Just a Thought, Carl

See message here: http://www.carltoti.com/2015/02/fill-it-unleash/

Dig It!

 

What’s the hardest job you’ve done?

For me, one of the hardest jobs I’ve worked would include pouring concrete with my brother-in-law. It was back breaking work for low wages.

When I was 16 I worked for a short time at a car wash – 8 hours straight with no break. But my toughest job was unloading 45 foot trailers for UPS.

Compared to air workers, military servicemen and women, frst responders and law enforcement, along with a host of other occupations, I’ve had it pretty easy.

As a kid, there was a particular job I feared. At the young age of 5 I can remember looking out the window of my mom’s car as I observed men working on the side of the road digging ditches. I can remember thinking to myself, “I hope I don’t ever have to have a job like that.” As I grew older, I came to realize that all of life can be compared to digging ditches.

…and he said, ‘Yahweh says this, “Dig in this valley ditch after ditch,” 2 Kings 3:13-20 (NJB)

In 2 Kings the prophet Elisha told the king of Israel, who desperately needed a miraculous supply of water, to dig some ditches. There is a life lesson in this story for you. The king didn’t need ditches, he needed water! But in order for God to send His supernatural provision of water, the king was going to have to dig a ditch.

The king didn’t need ditches. He needed water; plenty of water. But frst, he would have to dig a ditch.

What ditch is God commanding you to dig before He sends His provision?

IF YOU DIG IT, GOD WILL FILL IT!

Digging a ditch is how we exercise our faith. If we will do the possible, God will do the impossible. James reminds us in his letter, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

We say, “God show me your handiwork!” And God says, “Ok, show me your hand!” Then He places a shovel in it and says, “Start digging!”

God can send the provision but we must frst act in faith and dig a ditch. We are to dig a ditch for the family, dig a ditch for the preservation of marriage, dig a ditch to develop godly character.

If you want a better marriage, then dig some ditches!
- Dig a ditch of kinder communication.
- Dig a ditch of preferring one another.
- Dig a ditch of regular date nights – at least twice a month. – Dig a ditch of practicing a healthy sex life.

IF YOU DIG IT, GOD WILL FILL IT!

If you’re single and desire to get married, then dig a ditch! Faith without works is dead.

- Dig a ditch of godly character.
- Dig a ditch refning your personality.
- Dig a ditch of cultivating your soul.
- Dig a ditch of good personal hygiene.
- Guys: dig a ditch of gainful employment.
- Dig a ditch of getting involved in your church and meeting other single people.

IF YOU DIG IT, GOD WILL FILL IT!

Digging ditches is about moving dirt. We need to move dirt to strike gold. For that one ounce of gold, miners dig up and haul away 30 tons of rock.

Do you want fnancial freedom? If you desire to make more, then spend less, save more and give more: DIG A DITCH!

- Dig a ditch of getting a budget.
- Dig a ditch of getting out of debt.
- Dig a ditch of honoring God with the tithe.

IF YOU DIG IT, GOD WILL FILL IT!

Want a closer walk with God? Dig some ditches.
- Dig the ditch of reading God’s Word daily.
- Dig the ditch of praying more often.
- Dig the ditch of listening to more encouraging uplifting worship music than secular music.
- Dig the ditch of attending church regularly, serving and getting connected in a life group.

IF YOU DIG IT, GOD WILL FILL IT!

Just a Thought, Carl

Crossing Barriers

Are you standing on the banks of your own Jordan River?

In Scripture the Jordan River represents a barrier that needs to be crossed. Joshua led God’s people through the Jordan in route to the Promise Land. Elisha had to take the fallen mantle of Elijah and strike the Jordan River so he could cross over on dry land. Similarly, we all have Jordan River moments where we have to cross a barrier in order to transition to a new place.

What is your Jordan River that you need to cross?

What barrier is keeping you from God’s best in your life?

There are barriers of fear, regret, procrastination, lack of initiative. You can also have barriers of pain, disappointment, and sin. But barriers are there for a reason. They exist to help us identify how bad we really want something. Barriers prevent others who don’t want it as badly as you do. A barrier exists to reveal God’s power in and through you! Never allow a barrier to stop you from crossing over into God’s best for your life. People who retreat in view of a barrier are focusing on the barrier instead of what the barrier is keeping them from.

Get up now, and go on your journey, crossing over the valley…
go forward to make it yours…” Deuteronomy 2:24

Crossing barriers requires strategy to get through, over, under or around. Crossing barriers requires courage to leave behind what is familiar in order to forge ahead to what is unknown. Finally, crossing barriers requires patience because not everything will be neat and tidy once you get to the other side.

Cross your Jordan today!

To hear Pastor Carl’s entire message, click the link:
http://www.carltoti.com/2015/01/strike-it-unleash/

 

Just a Thought,
Carl

Unleashed…Burn It!

 

 We recently started a new sermon series here at Trinity called “Unleash.” Webster defines it like this: to allow or cause something very powerful to happen suddenly.

I love that definition. I believe that God desires to unleash his blessing and favor over your life in this New Year.

Equally true, I believe there is no better time than now for you to unleash your dreams, goals and hopes. An unleashing principle that we studied from the life of Elisha is a willingness to “burn the plow” in order to move to a new place in God. The story is found in 1 Kings 19:21 after Elijah the prophet called Elisha to be his successor.

Elisha took the oxen he was plowing with and made an altar upon which he sacrificed it. This act was symbolic of Elisha dying to the old life in recognition of the new life that he was entering into.

It reminds me of an incident that occurred back in 1519. The Spanish Conquistador, Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan. He had only one objective: seize the great treasures known to be there, hoarded by the Aztecs.

Cortez was going to win in this endeavor or die trying. There was no turning back. When they landed, he gave the order to his men, “burn the ships.” Total abandonment to one objective and mission is a powerful and attractive concept. When we commit our life to Christ, we burn the ship back to the old life. When someone gets married, they burn the ship back to the single life.

Some of you who are reading this blog may need to burn the past; the good, bad and ugly past. For many people, the past is like an anchor that holds them back. The past cannot be altered. What’s done is done. There is no going back, but your future is a different story. Your future has yet to be determined by the choices you make and the actions you take.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,
but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and
looking forward to what lies ahead, Phil. 3:13 (NLT)

My challenge to you today is to BURN THE SHIP AND COMPLETE THE MISSION!
CARPE DIEM!

To hear Pastor Carl’s entire message, click the link:

http://www.carltoti.com/2015/01/burn-it-unleash/

Just a thought,
Carl Continue reading