Thursday, August 08, 2019

We End Up With What We Stir Up

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Don’t stir up trouble.

You’ve heard that before.  It usually comes right before you say something you shouldn’t, and your mom says, “Don’t stir up trouble.”

That applies to so many areas of life.  We end up with what we stir up.

Take fear, anxiety and stress.  You watch scary movies, crime programs, doom and gloom news, shows that are negative and divisive, and you wonder why you’re fearful, anxious and stressed?  That’s what you’re stirring up!  Turn it off.  And listen, don’t worry about missing the news.  The State Department is not on the verge of calling you to ask for your advice.

If you’ve watched so many zombie and vampire and alien shows that you’re thinking, “It could happen...”  It can’t happen!  You just keep stirring it up in your brain.

What about the unfairness of life?  Don’t ever stir up that line of thinking.  Don’t think about it for one second.  Are you pouting because you didn’t win the genetic lottery?  Someone is prettier than you?  More handsome than you?  Faster than you?  Taller than you?  Stronger than you?  Don’t stir up those thoughts!  Instead, enter into His gates with thanksgiving.  Be thankful unto Him and give Him praise.  Find out what God has given you and work it.  Maximize it.  Grow it.  Look at what you DO have, and turn that raw material into something great!

We end up with what we stir up, so be careful what you stir up.

Let’s say you like to steal.  You’re a kleptomaniac.  You get a thrill out of shoplifting.  How can you stop?  Don’t stir it up.  Those desires will die if you don’t give them oxygen.  Let him who stole steal no longer.  How?  Don’t stir it up!

What if you love food.  You love to eat.  You’re a problem eater.  How can you stop?  Proverbs 23:2 says put a knife to your throat.  Not literally.  It’s figurative.  It means cut off those desires.  It means “Don’t think about it.”  Don’t allow yourself to stir up those thoughts about food all time.

Thinking about it.  Dwelling on it.  Tossing it around in your mind.  That is how you stir it up, and we end up with what we stir up.

What about old offenses, what those people did to you?  For goodness’ sake, don’t ever stir up that wicked mess.  Let it go!  Don’t think about it.  If you’re going to stir up anything, stir up forgiveness! 

Our brains can get stuck in a loop, in a cycle, but we can break the cycle by not stirring up the wrong things, the wrong thoughts.

Don’t stir up worry.  That’s a dead end.  Stir up faith instead, and hope and trust in God.  Meditate on God’s word and just watch how that stirs up all the right things in your life.

What about adultery, or lust?  That is something that never gets anywhere unless you just keep stirring it up.  It’s evil and has no life of its own unless you keep stirring it up and try to fake some life into it, and still it's going to drag you into the dead pool in the end.  So please, don’t be the next idiot that destroys your family over a cheap momentary low grade B-movie thrill. 

We end up with what we stir up, so let’s stir up good things!  Like Philippians 4:8, “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy...” think on these things.

The things we think on are the things we stir up, and the things we stir up shape our life.

So beware what you stir up in your mind, knowing that we end up with what we stir up.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Start With the Box

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Start with the box.

That’s what I heard a famous composer say.

He was writing music for a new movie, and he said you start with the box.

You have to set up a framework, the boundaries you are going to work within in the creative process.  Otherwise you get sloppy, there is no consistency, and you end up with a mess.

So start with the box, then unleash your creativity within the box.

Believe it or not, creativity actually thrives within the boundaries of a box.

Yes, some people say, “I want to be free!  I want to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.  I want to be completely free to follow whatever whim hits me with no limits."

Yes, and that’s a good formula for ending up with a sloppy mess.

Studies show that kids thrive in a home with appropriate boundaries.  Children who are left to themselves, free to do whatever they please, end up in a sloppy mess.

Marriages with appropriate boundaries thrive.  Marriages without boundaries end up in a sloppy mess.

In a way, God gave us a box to live in, and we are free to wildly express our creativity within the box.  Our lives will thrive when they are lived within God’s boundaries, His rules, His statues and precepts, His righteousness. 

But something within us rejects the idea of living within a box, of living within boundaries.  Something tells us that it’s awful, it is terrible, it is restricting.  We can almost feel the noose.  We want no boundaries!

The problem is, if we don’t live within God’s boundaries, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit our physical intimacy to the boundaries of God’s marriage covenant, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit our speech to God’s boundaries of truth and love and grace, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit what we put into our mouths, WE end up a sloppy mess!

I remember playing a type of basketball game on the playground where there was no out-of-bounds.  I don’t know what kid made that up, but with no out-of-bounds you could run behind the goal or out onto the grass or behind the whole school.  It was dumb, and yet some kid thought it was a good idea.

Our world is full of dumb things, and yet someone thinks they are a good idea.  The problem is, if it is outside God’s boundaries, it will leave you in a sloppy mess.

That’s how people end up on these reality TV shows, arguing and bickering and even fist fighting, right there on the set.  It always comes down to someone who is trying to live outside of God’s boundaries and thinks it’s okay.

It’s not okay.  That’s how your life turns into a big dumpster fire.

So whatever feeling it is that makes you think God’s boundaries are stifling, that feeling is a deception.

Start with the box.  Live within God’s box, His boundaries of good and righteous and holy, for it’s within that box where we are truly free to live our life to it’s very highest and most exciting potential.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Divine Ignition

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Here is something I pray for.

I pray for ignition.

I pray for God’s divine ignition.

Ignition is to ignite, to start the fire, to set the blaze.

We usually know what we OUGHT to do.  We know what we SHOULD do, so why don’t we do it?

We’re lacking ignition.

I want God to reach inside me and turn the key that fires the spark that sets the blaze.  I want to be on fire from the inside out, fully motivated, fully alive, fully woke.

Awake, o sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will give you light!*

I want my heart to burn within me like the men who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

I want to say like Jeremiah, “God, Your Word burns like a fire, like a fire in my bones, and I cannot keep silent.”

We pray for wisdom, and that’s great.  We need to pray for wisdom.

And then we get it.

And then what?

And then we’ve got to put it into practice, and that takes motivation.  It’s takes ignition.

Toby Mac has a song called ‘Til the Day I Die and listen to the message.

Do it for the King?  What do you know about that?
Say you goin' harder?  Mmm I doubt that.
You say you’re doing work but you're asking where’s the couch at.
How you doing work when you’re asking where’s the couch at?

And then it says, “I don't understand that life...'cause I'm all in...’til the day I die.”

Are you all in?  Are you all in for Jesus?

Just say, “God, I’m in.  I’m all in!  I want to do what You want me to do, say what You want me to say, go where You want me to go, be who You want me be.”

And if He’s already told you and you haven’t done it yet, then pray for this.

Pray for Divine Ignition.

May God bless you...with His divine ignition today!

I’m Doug Apple.

* Ephesians 5:14
** Jeremiah 20:9

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Time and a Place

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I’m a firm believer that you should have a time and a place to pray.

A time...and a place.

Does God seem distant?  Does your relationship with Him seem shallow, or wispy, or vague?

Well let me ask you.  Do you have a set time and a set place to draw near to God in prayer?

James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

If it doesn’t seem like God is drawing near, are you drawing near to Him, consistently, with a set time and a set place?

Let’s open up our Bibles to the famous Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 6:6, Jesus begins by saying, “when.”  WHEN you pray. 

So let me ask you.  When do you pray?  Do you have an appointed time to pray? 

Or listen, are you just tossing up “Jesus Take the Wheel” prayers, catch as catch can?

If you want to keep your relationship with God at lukewarm, that’ll do it.

But if you want to set it on fire, set yourself a time and a place to pray, to draw near to God in prayer, and worship, and thanksgiving.

Jesus said, “...when you pray, go into your room...”  That’s a set place.  You gotta have a place to pray. 

He said, “...go into your room, and when you have shut your door...”

He’s telling us to get alone with God.  That’s what Jesus Himself did, and He WAS GOD.  But the Bible says He often withdrew to be alone with the Father.  He went up on a mountain by Himself.  Maybe He went into a garden.  Maybe He went into the wilderness.

The point is, be like Jesus.  Get alone with the Father, and a great way to get your privacy is to go into a room, shut the door...and then what?

Jesus said, “...go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place...”

That is the time and place to go pour out your heart to Almighty God.  Cast your cares upon Him.  Intercede for your family and friends, your church and your country, for “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What are you going to do with your life?  How are you going to fulfill your part in the body of Christ?  How can you possibly be the best child, the best parent, the best sibling, the best aunt or uncle or niece or nephew, the best student, the best worker, the best church member that you can possibly be?

You can’t!  You can’t do alone.  You can only do it in the power of God. 

We must have God’s Spirit fully alive within us.

So how can we do that? 

We must draw near to God in prayer, and I firmly believe that the best way to do that is by having a set time and set place to pray.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

His Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

How does God speak to us?

Does God even speak to people these days, or was that just for people in the Bible?

Some debate that, but here is one verse that most people agree on:  Romans 8:16.

It says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

That’s one way that you can know that you are a saved, born again child of God.  He will let you know.  His Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.

That is one way that God speaks to people today, His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. 

I like how it is Spirit to spirit communication, the Holy Spirit inside of the believer communicating to the spirit of the believer.  His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit.

I have heard from thousands of Christians and the testimonies are overwhelming.  So many of them talk about the ways that God has led them, or spoken to them, or communicated to them.  And I’ll say, “Give us the nuts and bolts of exactly how that happened in the real world.” 

And they say things like, “I was reading the Bible, and suddenly a verse leaped off the page.”  Or, “I was in worship, and suddenly a powerful phrase jumped into my mind, and I just knew it was God.”  Or even, “I was walking down the street, minding my own business, and I heard a voice telling me what to do.  I’m pretty sure it was God.”

I realize that some people say they heard from God when they didn’t, but today let’s focus on how God speaks to us, and I think many of these things happened in this way:  His Spirit bore witness with their spirit.  The Holy Spirit passed a message along directly to that person’s spirit.  It wasn’t verbal.  It wasn’t mental.  It was Spirit to spirit communication.

I like how The Passion Translation words Romans 8:16, “...He whispers into our innermost being...”

At our church we’re going through The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and he refers to what he calls “Spirit-whispers.”  I love that!

I think that is when His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.  The Holy Spirit communicates directly to our spirit, our inner man if you will, in Spirit-whispers.

In John 14:26, Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit and He would be a teacher.

In Luke 12:12 Jesus again refers to the Holy Spirit as a teacher.

First Corinthians 2:10 talks about God revealing things to people through His Spirit.

When God teaches and reveals things through His Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit of God, communicating the things of God to the people of God, and what is one way He does it?

In Spirit-whispers.

It is Spirit to spirit communication.

It is His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit.

Of course you should always make sure this balances with Scripture, and you should bounce it off other mature believers, but watch for it.  Listen for it, not with your physical eyes and ears, but with your spirit.  Jesus said, “He has ears to hear, let him hear.”  That means spiritual hearing.

It is our spirit tuning in and listening closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He teaches and convicts and reveals and inspires us to draw near to God and become the on-fire Kingdom people He is calling us to be, as we listen and are taught and mentored and led by the Holy Spirit of God.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, May 13, 2019

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I guess you’ve heard of FOMO:  the Fear Of Missing Out.

Sometimes it motivates teenagers to do stupid things.  And adults.

When you hear people spout this trendy phrase “no regrets,” it’s often coming from the same source.  They say things like, “My only regrets would be the things I didn’t do.”

See it?  It’s the fear of missing out.  And some people have the attitude, “I would rather sin and live with the consequences than risk missing out on something.”

Wow.  That’s almost crazy.  It’s probably a thought from the pits of hell, one of the wiles of the devil, a deception to blind the eyes and get people to do things that God says are wrong.

But look closely.  It plays right into a true human fear – the fear of missing out on something good, on something great, on the opportunity of a lifetime.  Truly, none of us wants to miss out on something so good.

So could there be a positive side to this fear of missing out?

I think so, and it’s rooted in this phrase found so often in the Bible:  the fear of the Lord.

One way I fear the Lord is that I fear missing out on what He has for me, His plans, His desires, His goals.  I don’t want to miss out by not following His ways, His rules, His precepts and statutes, His laws and commandments.

Yes, I’m saved by grace, and yes I live in His grace, but I also want to walk in His Spirit, not in the flesh.  I want to build on rock and not on sand.  I must not grieve or quench His Holy Spirit, or I risk missing out on what God has for me today and everyday.

So when it comes to FOMO, the fear of missing out, that is what I fear missing out on.  I fear missing God and His good, pleasing and perfect will.  I fear missing His leading as my Good Shepherd.  I fear missing His voice, His direction, His, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”  I fear sinning and putting myself in a place apart from the dead center bullseye of His will. 

I fear that, because I know that His ways are good.  His ways are awesome.  His ways are the best, both for eternity and for now.

So FOMO?  Yes, it steers my life each and every day.  I must live and walk by the Holy Spirit of God, because I truly have the fear of missing out:  the fear of missing out on all that God has for me.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Are You Reading the Bible by Rote?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Are you reading the Bible by rote?

I just heard someone say that, that they were just reading the Bible by rote.

In other words, they were just being mechanical, doing it because they knew they should, sticking to their schedule...through the Bible in a year, baby!

Of course scheduled Bible reading is a beautiful thing, unless you aren’t getting anything out of it.

Maybe you are reading the Bible because you know you should, but it’s rote, it’s mechanical, it’s lifeless.  The Spirit’s not in it, and by that I mean the Holy Spirit.

So what can you do?

Here is a sure fire Bible reading plan:  read until your heart burns within you. 

That’s what happens when God opens the Scriptures to you.  His Holy Spirit will suddenly leap inside you, basically saying, “There it is!  Look at that.  Focus on it.  Ponder it.  Meditate on it.  Learn it and let it sink into your heart.”

 It’s His Spirit testifying with your spirit about God’s truth.

That’s what happened to the men on the road to Emmaus.  They were walking along, and suddenly a stranger joined them.  The stranger began to open up the Scriptures to them with power and authority.  Finally their eyes were opened to see that it was actually the newly resurrected Jesus...and then Jesus disappeared.

And what was their exclamation?  What excited them so?  Here is what they said in Luke 24:32, “Did not our heart burn within us...while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

And I think God does the same thing today.  We read the Bible, and suddenly our heart burns within us, suddenly His Holy Spirit leaps within us as certain words jump out at us, or as the men on the road to Emmaus put it, He opens the Scriptures to us.

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and guide us into all truth.

How does He do that?  One way is by opening the Scriptures to us by making certain verses at certain times spring to life!

So watch for it.  Try reading the Bible, not until you meet your quota, or not until you finish the chapter, but simply read until God opens the Scripture to you, making your heart burn within you.

May God bless you read His Word today!

I’m Doug Apple.