When cell phones were first introduced they were used exclusively to make and receive calls when we are away from home. Today, our cell phones are supercomputers. In fact, they are no longer really called cell phones. They are smart phones. We use them for navigation, music, banking, texting, video and photography, getting answers to random questions, watching our favorite shows, checking the weather, making to do lists, email, social media, booking travel, and much more. When we actually receive a call, we send it to voicemail and text the person who had the audacity to call us on our cell phone. Many people place this tool of convenience right up there with food, clothing, and shelter as a necessity of life. As cell phones become more ubiquitous, the starting age of those who have cell phones is getting younger and younger. It is common for kids to get their first smart phone while they are in elementary or middle school.
Parents are concerned about their child’s safety and well-being. Parents pray for safety at school, and may even rehearse what to do in an emergency. They teach their young children about “stranger danger” and tell them not to get in the car of someone they don’t know. No sane parent would knowingly allow a pedophile to babysit his or her child. No godly parent would take their kids to an adult film or strip club. However, many parents do not monitor what their children are doing on their phones. Unfiltered and unmonitored access to technology brings the strangers, pedophiles, adult films, and more to children. Through technology many of our children are being exposed to people, language, images, and ideas that are destroying their lives.
Parents must be as concerned about their child’s cyber safety as they are about their child’s physical safety. Many parents take the attitude that they do not want to invade their child’s privacy. But God did not call parents to respect their child’s privacy; God called parents to protect their child’s heart. God has given parents the responsibility of leading their children in the way of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:1-3; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). The parental assignment from God is to disciple our children for Christ. Don’t allow your children to be victims of Satanic cyber-attacks. Consider the following:
You have likely experienced a situation where your resources were not sufficient for the need. Whether it was not having enough money to pay a bill, running out of ketchup with three fries left, or not having enough copies of a handout for the audience, you know what it means to come up short. Well what happens when you don’t have enough resources for the task at hand?
In Mark 6:30-44 the disciples have returned from a successful mission of preaching and healing. Jesus invites them to take a break from ministry. They were going to leave where they had been working to go to a place of retreat. However, the demand for ministry was so great that people figured out where they were going and beat Jesus and the disciples to the destination. Jesus feels compassion for the crowd and teaches them. As evening approaches, the disciples petition Jesus to send the crowd away so that everyone can go buy food. Jesus tells the disciples to give the people something to eat.
In response to the instruction of Jesus, the disciples highlight their deficiency. They focus on the fact that they do not have enough money. There is not enough food. And in John’s account, we see that they do not have enough faith (John 6:9).
Sometimes we find ourselves in a deserted place. The place where we are doesn’t have what we need to sustain us. God has given us a task, but the task given is greater than the resources available to us. We feel ill-equipped. We don’t see how what we have is going to get the job done. Often the one who sees the need is the one God has called to meet the need. But we often want to outsource the tasks God has given us to do. When God gives you an opportunity to glorify Him, don’t pass it off to someone else.
While the disciples are focusing on their deficiency, Jesus is in tune to God’s sufficiency. Jesus has the disciples to get the people to sit down so they can eat. In our culture, you don’t call people to the table until the food is ready. But Jesus tells the disciples to organize the people before the food is multiplied. God is getting ready to do something, but before He does it, He wants you to be prepared for what He is about to do. You need to get into a position of expectancy. Get your heart ready. Get your mind right. Jesus presents what little He has to God so that God can bless Him with abundance.
Give God your deficiency in your finances, parenting, as a spouse, as a single, employee, supervisor, member of the body of Christ, leader. Present your deficiency to God and watch God bless your deficiency with His sufficiency. Jesus prayed a prayer for God to do the impossible, knowing that with God, all things are possible. When God finishes touching your deficiency with His sufficiency, the result will be abundance. God’s abundance is not about blessing you for the sake of blessing you. It is about blessing you so that your abundance can be a blessing to others.
Every candidate for public office wants to be endorsed by those who have influence with the voters. In 2 Chronicles 14, King Asa receives the most coveted endorsement of all. Early in his political career, Asa sought and received the endorsement of God. Whether we are leading a nation, leading a corporation, leading a congregation, leading a family or leading ourselves, we should all be seeking God’s stamp of approval upon our efforts.
2 Chronicles 16:9 reveals a divine secret that once understood and embraced, will transform our lives. Baasha, the king of Israel is in essence moving the southern border between Israel and Judah five miles closer to Judah than the traditional line between Israel and Judah. King Baasha starts fortifying the city of Ramah in order to attack Asa. Asa cuts a deal with the king of Aram to cut off his support of Israel and help Judah. When the king of Israel hears that King Asa cut a deal with king Ben-hadad, he stops fortifying Ramah.
It is at this point that Hanani the seer or prophet comes to king Asa with a message. The essence of the message was this: King Asa, you sought the wrong endorsement. You depended on the king of Aram instead of depending on God. Therefore, you will never defeat the king of Aram. The Lord was going to give you the victory, but now there will be no victory.
Why? It is because “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." What powerful imagery. We know that God can see everything at once. The imagery of the eyes of the Lord searching the earth speaks of involvement, intensity, and intimacy. There is a sense of urgency. The Lord quickly comes to the aid of those who are committed to Him. He wants to support us. He wants to be strong for us.
Having God’s endorsement can be compared to the endorsement that a politician receives. He supports us with His resources. He campaigns on our behalf. He won’t work against us or help the enemy defeat us. He fights for those whose heart is committed to Him. If you want God’s endorsement, give Him your heart. As the primary season heats up, regardless of your party affiliation, make sure that you are endorsed by God.
Americans are expected to spend $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot of cards, candy, roses, stuffed animals and steak dinners. It is estimated that the average person will spend just over $143. Men will spend more on Valentine’s Day than women, but the average married man will spend less than his single counterpart. The gap between what a person dating will spend this week vs. what a married person will spend is the result of a variety of factors. However, perhaps the most dangerous reason for the difference in spending is complacency among married couples. Time brings about familiarity. And with this familiarity comes a tendency to put the relationship on auto-pilot.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses the multi-faceted dimensions of singleness and marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 we discover that there is an expectation that husband and wife pay attention to each other. Jeffrey Osborne put this idea into music when he sang, “The secret lies within our minds. The love we share and the time that binds helps me concentrate on you.” The Bible teaches that husband and wife should concentrate on each other. They should demonstrate the proper affection in the proper direction.
If Christians are going to be good husbands and wives, we must be concerned about pleasing our spouse. We should attend to and have an earnest thoughtfulness for one another. Additionally, we should actively adapt to our spouse. Husband and wife should have hearts that are softened toward one another. We should be accommodating in meeting the needs of our spouse.
This sacrifice of self-interest is directed toward your spouse. Husband and wife cannot seek to please themselves. When you actively adapt to your spouse, your behavior towards your spouse changes based upon his or her changing needs. It starts with understanding those needs and then prioritizing those needs. Asking questions like, “What do I do that lets you know I love you?” or “What do you wish I did more often?” can help you identify your spouse’s need.
Prayer:“Father, help me to have the right affection towards my spouse. Instead of focusing on what I am not getting from my spouse, open my eyes that I may shift my attention to what I am not giving to my spouse. Empower me to love my spouse with Your love, for Your love covers a multitude of flaws, faults, and failures. Let the me that I am be lost in the me that you want me to be. Amen.”
Before there were missile defense systems and fighter jets that could be scrambled to prevent an enemy from attacking a nation, state or city, there were walls. Walls were built around a city so that the city would not be so vulnerable to attacks from an enemy. On those walls, there would be places where they would build towers. The towers were strategically located along the wall, say on a corner or near the gates into the city.
The towers provided a look out point so that a soldier could tell when danger was approaching the city. The tower would also be a place where the soldier on duty could get out of the extreme heat on a summer day Israel, yet still do his job. In some cases the temperature could reach about 110. So being in the tower provided protection from the elements. Thirdly the tower was a line of defense. From these elevated positions, defenders could shoot arrows or throw stones at enemy forces before they breached the walls or gates of the city.
Proverbs 18:10 states, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (NKJV). God is so powerful, that His name, YHWH, represents all the fullness of His being and the essence of His nature. To know His name is really to come to understand His character. The name of the Lord isn’t just a tower, but it is a strong tower. The quality of the materials and the quality of the craftsmanship let you rest easy. It is built to be able to withstand the attacks of an enemy, providing maximum security for those who are in the strong tower.
When we stumble and fall, it is often because we have forgotten where our strong tower is located. It is not in man or money, but in the Master. There is something special about the name of the Lord. Righteous run to it and are safe. Those who seek to do the will of the Lord and have been declared righteous by the blood of Jesus run to the strong tower. “Safe” means set high out of the way of danger. They are both elevated and sheltered. God has you high enough so that the arrows of the enemy can’t harm you.
God is our strong tower. God sits high and looks low. He sits high enough to see the future. He doesn’t just see what is coming at you in the next few moments. He sees what is heading your way in the next few months, years, even decades. God protects and shields from the elements of life that seek to harm us. He is our defense and our shield. We can run to Him for safety.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.