Train Them Thursday – Focused On Faith!

Date January 17, 2019

And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36–38, NASB95)

 

She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. Being a disciple is about being focused on the One who loved us even while we were still sinners (See Romans 5:8). And that focus flows into our daily choices and activities.

Much like the sports enthusiast who buys the gear, watches the games, talks about the plays and knows the statistics, so, too, the disciple of Jesus is immersed in the life of God in similar ways.

So when Anna comes on the scene of Simeon’s praise and blessing of Jesus, as one who has been enthralled with the Lord God Almighty her entire adult life, it comes as no wonder that Luke, the Gospel writer, speaks of her dedication in terms of her activities.

Anna never left the Temple. She was devoted to God and to serving the servants of God. Her life was His life. Her activity was His ministry. That’s what the trained do … they focus on the dynamics of serving God and His people just as much – perhaps more so – than any sports lover does. We can easily see how Anna’s life was the people of God and the God of her people just as fans love their team and their other fans as well.

How she served reveals two key elements of an effective disciple: fastings and prayers. God answers our prayers of faith. And when we are so entwined in Him or overwhelmed in difficulty, getting more serious about being alone with God is natural. Seeking His face, grabbing His attention, calling on His heart to move for us is what Anna demonstrated through her persistent actions.

Are you focused on God? Have you set aside the distractions, including food, to get alone and unburden your soul to Him?

 

Train Them Thursdays seeks to wed the Great Commission directive of Jesus with the practice He employed while on Earth. Each nugget is meant to encourage the reader with a “can-do” spirit to realize that discipleship is something each person is both capable of and empowered to accomplish. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each thought and they flow out of decades of his tried and true field-testing in multiple settings from rural to inner city. He welcomes your comments below.

 

 

Faith Filled Friday – When God Tests Us to Our Limit!

Date January 17, 2019

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” (Genesis 22:1–3, ESV) 

After these things God tested Abraham. One of the things we learn at some point in our lives with our Master, King Jesus, is that He test our loyalty from time to time. Perhaps a bit more often than we would desire, for sure, but it’s always with our best in mind. 

Whether the tests of God are for our personal strengthening, or to promote us once we succeed, it is sure that no one really likes them! God seems to desire to reveal – both to us and to the world – the stuff we are made of. And in discovering that “stuff” we also seem to grow stronger and bolder after the process. 

Yet, some tests are just too much. Consider this one. God called Abraham to, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”Yes, you read that right. 

Now, on this side of the test, we know God had a ram in the bush and everything worked out fine. God wanted to see if Abraham could trust God enough with his last son, his only son now that Ishmael was gone into the wilderness. 

Later, to the people of Abraham, God would explain such a test in these words, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5–6, ESV) 

You too will endure tests of your faith. God wants us to demonstrate our loyalty to Him and Him alone – even above our precious children. The question today is simple, Will we choose God’s will and way over our most precious loves?If the answer is, “Yes!”then God’s blessing lies just around the corner, as Abraham discovered. 

Faith Filled Fridays hope to boost your trust in God and accelerate your daring and courage in everyday life. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each encouragement out of a heart that has known both great joy and great loss – his wife of 38 years, 5 months and 2 days was promoted to Heaven on November 11, 2017. Through every experience, God has proven Himself more than faithful and trustworthy. He welcomes your comments below.

Willing Worker Wednesday – Servant Leaders Are Sold Our Leaders!

Date January 16, 2019

 

Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, HCSB)

 

Falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts. It is so easy to tell when a person is truly God’s leader … they are fully sold out to Jesus! What do I mean by that?

Just look for a couple traits. They are so easy to spot. The first trait is the easiest to see: They are surrendered. Did you see what the wise men did first when they found Jesus? They fell to their knees.

Surrender is such a difficult concept in our 21stCentury world. Everyone wants to be a victor, a winner. No one wants to be the conquered, the loser. And so, in our “me-only” society, we shun the concept of bowing before anyone. Ego is too great to allow us the possibility that this is the place of refuge, provision, and happiness.

For the wise men– I hope you didn’t miss their title, wise men – surrender is the most important character trait for blessing and honor. In their yielding to Jesus as King, there is a faith that He will be their Protector. This is the tradeoff. Either we are able to defend ourselves from all attackers or we trust another King, more powerful, to do so. For the Magi, Jesus was the King who was worthy of that role.

Worship, the second trait, is foreign today among the people of God because most associate it with singing. And, while singing is a small part of worship, the core of this concept is to declare that another is worthy of all of our praise and adoration. It is a very me-emptying event.

And how does one show they have emptied themselves of themselves? The easiest way is to sacrifice what they value most to the One they believe is worthy of their worship. For the wise men, they brought expensive gifts, treasures. It cost them greatly as they worshiped Him briefly!

What are you willing to do to show that you are a sold-out servant of the King of kings? How does that reflect the sacrifice of your heart?

 

Willing Worker Wednesdays are dedicated to explaining the core realities of servant leadership – the Biblical principles and methods used by God’s faithful people throughout time. They further reflect the lifestyle of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords as He walked on this earth announcing the Kingdom of God had arrived. These brief lessons are written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and come from his extensive ministry within the local church, in higher education, in church consulting and as a Biblical author and leader. He welcomes your comments below.

 

Turn-Around Tuesday – Trust God in the Big Problems!

Date January 15, 2019

But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.” (Genesis 12:17–20, ESV)

 

Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go. When our failures are exposed, embarrassment is often the least of the prices we have to pay! Abram’s lies to the King of Egypt about Sarai being his sister – which was a half-truth since she was his half-sister – came back to injure him in the long run in several ways. So do ours!

Abram was climbing the social ladder quickly because Pharaoh had opened the doors of power for him. People liked Abram because Pharaoh liked Abram. That swinging door came back to hit Abram when the King discovered his new bride was an old bride already!

When we choose to lie, God gets involved. Troubles multiply supernaturally when we claim to have Christ and yet act like the devil. Abram’s host felt the judgment of God for adultery as severe plagues fell upon the Egyptians and the King found Abram to be at fault.

As his story unraveled, Abram’s host turned against him and trashed his reputation quickly. As word spread throughout the inner circles of power, there was nowhere to go to receive help. Pharaoh’s displeasure was enough to end Abram’s connections … thus jeopardizing his newfound wealth bought at the price of the sanctity of his marriage bed. (Imagine how Sarai felt about all of this!)

Then the King went one step further. He kicked Abram and all he had out of Egypt, sending them back into the famine-ridden Promised Land. And, in reading ahead in this story, we discover God could and would protect him there, as He would have in the first place, had Abram simply trusted God enough in the first place.

Today, we can avert a whole pile of problems by simply trusting God, especially in the difficult times! God hasn’t forsaken you. He won’t leave you. If He has led you, He will make sure you’re fed!

 

Turn-Around Tuesdays are designed to bring hope and help, insight and encouragement to those of us who are simply overwhelmed by the flood of problems life throws at us. No one is immune to trials and troubles, but God has a way of lifting us from life’s torrents. Each short thought is written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and comes from his life-journey with the God who never leaves us or forsakes us. He welcomes your comments below.

Magnificent Marriage Monday – Dealing With The Consequences of Selfishness!

Date January 14, 2019

He treated Abram well because of her, and Abram acquired flocks and herds, male and female donkeys, male and female slaves, and camels. But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Abram’s wife Sarai.” (Genesis 12:16–17, CSB)

 

But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Abram’s wife Sarai. No matter how well things go with our schemes men, there is a God in Heaven who balances the scales and brings justice to our wives when we mistreat them.

Abram’s little scheme goes so well in the beginning. Pharaoh is so excited with Sarai as his new wife that he not only showers Abram with gifts but opens the financial and social doors of Egypt to him.

Soon, Abram is rolling in wealth. He’s becoming a “who’s who” in the political and social world there. Things seem to be going well and even God seems to be blessing his little secret. And then it happened. God stepped in and made a judgment … a severe judgment!

And this is the way God protects our wives. He will allow our selfish little schemes to run for a little while, but hear me men: There is a day of reckoning coming. God doesn’t tolerate selfishness in the man who is supposed to imitate His Son, Jesus, and His love! (See Ephesians 5:25)

While Sarai did what Abram asked of her, we can be sure she wasn’t pleased with it or him. Did she cry out in prayer or did she just cry before the God who sees every tear and hears every sob?

Abram’s short-term gain cost him in long-term pain. First, God struck his host (Pharaoh and Egypt) with severe plagues. Second, Abram’s reputation was trashed all over Egypt – no one would believe Him because he had lied about something so sacred. And finally, the king himself, Pharaoh, expelled Abram from Egypt as persona non grata. His livelihood and his reputation were in ruins.

Today is a good day to stop and ask yourself if the way you are dealing with your wife sets well at God’s Throne in Heaven. Is He pleased with the way you treat her, His beloved gift to you? Anything less than a whole-hearted, “Yes!” will require some life changes.

 

Magnificent Marriage Mondays are helpful hints, clues, ideas, and solutions for the child of God who is looking for a spouse, in a relationship with someone, or are already married. Each post seeks to bring help, hope, and honesty to your life and make the rest of your life, the best of your life. They are written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and come from his 38 years, 5 months and 2 days experience with his wife, Melodee, who was promoted to Heaven on November 11, 2017. He is currently seeking God’s will for his new life partner. He welcomes your comments below.

Hope For Today – Stepping Into The Future By Faith!

Date January 13, 2019

I’m Dr. Matthew Lee Smith and I want to share some Hope For Today about Stepping Into The Future By Faith!

 

Check it out at the link below. Click the link below to listen. Hope For Today is a part of the ministry of Eagles In Leadership. If you would like to know more about the hope God gives and His abundant life through Jesus Christ, I would invite you to check out our website: EaglesInLeadership.org.

Just push the media button below to hear this encouraging message!

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Faith Filled Friday – When God Asks What Displeases Us!

Date January 11, 2019


God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (Genesis 21:12–14, ESV) 

Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. We have to be careful when we listen to people tell us that God always does what’s best for us. While that is true, all too often we interpret that to mean that our lives will onlybe filled with pleasant things. Pain will be banished and our lives will be filled with joy at all times … at least that’s how the myth goes. 

Reality steps into our confused mindset almost immediately once we come to faith in Jesus. In fact, as we come to faith in Jesus we realize that it took the crucifixion of Jesusto bring about our redemption. God often leads us along the path of suffering to bring us to the place of blessing. 

For Abraham, his first-born son had stolen his father’s heart. How could his wife ask him to send the boy and his mother away? What kind of woman would ask such a thing? Surely this was just his wife’s spite. In time it would blow over and things would be ok, right? 

Wrong. Sometime that night, when Abraham couldn’t sleep, God came to speak. Isn’t that the way it often happens? And there, in the quiet of the starry darkness God said, “Be not displeased.” Swallow the bitter pill. Ishmael is the result of your unbelief.Now, the harvest is in and faith has burst forth on the scene in the form of Isaac. Its time to walk in faith and remove the unbelief from your life because, “through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

Perhaps as you were reading this you heard the voice of the Spirit speak to you about something or someone you need to send packing. Your unbelief led you into sin and now you have to end this. It will be painful, but it is the right thing to do. God wants to bless you. He waits for us to let go and step out in total obedience. Will you do it today? 

Faith Filled Fridays hope to boost your trust in God and accelerate your daring and courage in everyday life. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each encouragement out of a heart that has known both great joy and great loss – his wife of 38 years, 5 months and 2 days was promoted to Heaven on November 11, 2017. Through every experience, God has proven Himself more than faithful and trustworthy. He welcomes your comments below.

Train Them Thursday – Amazed At Jesus!

Date January 10, 2019

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”” (Luke 2:33–35, NASB95)

 

Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed. When Jesus enters all excuses flee. Standing in His presence is like being absolutely naked in a crowd. Every failure comes to light.

And yet, in that moment, for those who choose to accept His friendship, there is another reality, a kinder hope. In the surrender that must come to each of us when we accept the King of kings and Lord of lords as friend, there is peace. Such peace flows from a place of our repentance and His forgiveness.

To those of us who choose Jesus as King of our lives, there are the expected benefits, along with His enemies, of course. Once He has vanquished the last enemy – death – we will enjoy the rewards of our loyalty and faithfulness. Until then, we choose to spread the mission and message of our king to those who are yet lost to His love and leadership. We do so, no matter the cost because He first loved us.

And for those who choose to reject the gracious leadership of the Son of God, there can only be one reality. As an enemy of the King, defeat at His hands is certain. As Simeon said it, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.”

Opposition isn’t new to Jesus or to His Father. The sad reality is that so many believe there is more to life than what God offers. However, such a life lived for self ends in pain and emptiness. We cannot support or sustain ourselves from our own resources. As much as we proclaim our abilities, the darkness each night reminds us that we are but dust, a speck in a vast universe created by His hands.

Today, as you bow your knee afresh before our Risen Lord, tell Him again, “I am still surrendered to your love and leadership.” Then rise, knowing that the day will be filled with His watch care and love.

 

Train Them Thursdays seeks to wed the Great Commission directive of Jesus with the practice He employed while on Earth. Each nugget is meant to encourage the reader with a “can-do” spirit to realize that discipleship is something each person is both capable of and empowered to accomplish. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each thought and they flow out of decades of his tried and true field-testing in multiple settings from rural to inner city. He welcomes your comments below.

Willing Worker Wednesday – Nothing Stops Us From Completing God’s Mission!

Date January 9, 2019

After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.” (Matthew 2:9–10, HCSB)

 

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Servant leaders rejoice in the leading of God. They listen and observe, they watch and expect God to speak. When we are willing to work and serve Jesus, we know He intervenes, intercedes, and intertwines His life with ours.

What a wonderful life it is following Jesus. While many deride the idea of an invisible God, we serve at the pleasure of the One who is not silent, who is not invisible! Our King and Master works on our behalf. Where He sends us He provides for us.

We find that God gives us direction just as the wise men discovered. He gives success because it’s His mission just as the wise men saw the star they had seen in the East. As the leading of the star brought them to the baby Jesus, God will bring us to succeed as well.

No effort commanded by God will fall into failure if we serve Him faithfully and trust Him wholly. Life is filled with twists and turns, as the wise men discovered when they lost track of the star and stopped at King Herod’s to get directions. We often lose our way as well, wondering what to do or where to go next.

Then, as we step forward again, determined to find our way, to continue on God’s path, He steps in honoring our faith. Commitment to God’s mission for our lives is the evidence of a life of faith. For the wise men their mission was to discover the new King of Israel, Jesus the Messiah. Nothing would stop or hinder them in their quest. And, despite the long weeks and the terrors of the trip, they arrived in Bethlehem with their gifts of worship and adoration.

Today you have a mission to complete. It has to do with making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). It also has to do with that unique design God has prefabricated in you. How will you weld these together with the guidance of the indwelling Spirit and the words of His revelation? That’s your mission! Don’t let anything stop you!

 

Willing Worker Wednesdays are dedicated to explaining the core realities of servant leadership – the Biblical principles and methods used by God’s faithful people throughout time. They further reflect the lifestyle of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords as He walked on this earth announcing the Kingdom of God had arrived. These brief lessons are written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and come from his extensive ministry within the local church, in higher education, in church consulting and as a Biblical author and leader. He welcomes your comments below.

Turn-Around Tuesday – Problems Reveal the Problem!

Date January 8, 2019

 

Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”” (Genesis 12:10–13, ESV)

 

Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake. Problems are not the problem. Problems reveal the problem. When things go wrong the real us comes out!

Abram is a classic example of what happens when a husband is stuck in a tough situation … and makes the wrong decision. Let’s back up into the story. Famine comes to the Promised Land, the land that God Himself told Abram to go to in order to fulfill God’s vision.

A famine … in the place of blessing! Abram makes a set of crucial decisions that reveal who he was at this point in his life. First, he left the place of promise and headed to Egypt. Perhaps the famine was God’s motivation to move him to Egypt, but nonetheless, it was not the place God sent him. Note the words carefully: Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there.”

Abram’s choice to travel to Egypt set him up for a second, more disappointing choice: He sold out his wife to the King of Egypt so he could live! His choice revealed his priorities and his problem. He didn’t trust God enough to believe God would protect Him – even though Abram was in the Promised Land because God had sent him there in the first place!

When God sends problems our way, we have serious choices to make. Our first choice is to trust God. Should Abram have stayed in the Promised Land? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Should he have chosen to allow his wife to become the wife of another man? Definitely not.

Often we choose the easy route that requires less faith and encourages us to make worse decisions. Out troubles won’t turn around without faith in God’s love, protection, and watch care.

Turn-Around Tuesdays are designed to bring hope and help, insight and encouragement to those of us who are simply overwhelmed by the flood of problems life throws at us. No one is immune to trials and troubles, but God has a way of lifting us from life’s torrents. Each short thought is written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and comes from his life-journey with the God who never leaves us or forsakes us. He welcomes your comments below.

 


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