Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 111-115 of 283
August 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who are you currently struggling to love?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8


As I’m sitting in a hospital ER exam room at 2am, I can’t help but notice a little sign hanging behind the nurse’s station.  It’s 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve heard it recited in some form or fashion. You’d except to see its words inside a Hallmark card or on a poster with adorable kittens. We tend to get lost in its flowery language. But, love isn’t all roses and daisies. Love is required in those moments when we find ourselves in the weeds dealing with a strained relationship. Love is a challenge when someone is being a thorn in our side. If the other person doesn’t act the way we want them to, we get irritated, frustrated, aggravated, and a host of other descriptions.


During this moment, do you know what is needed? Quite simply, LOVE.  There is a tenacity that is required to love others. Relationships are messy. Relationships are difficult. Sometimes there are disagreements. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes relationships hang in the balance.  When we are at our wits end with others, we get to love. When we are tempted to be jealous of this person, we get to love. When all they are doing is pushing our buttons, we get to love. When everything in us desires to dredge up the past, we get to love. But this is easier said than done.


Our ability to love others lies in our willingness to embrace Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We don’t have the strength to do it on our own. We must lean on Christ.  We tend to think we’re loving when things go our way, but we get to love when they don’t. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and endures. Love is defined by the way it finishes: love never fails. Who are you currently struggling to love? What is driving your attitude towards this person?  What would love have you do in this relationship?


This my Prayer: Father God, help me to love.  Lord right now I need to recognize I am loved by You in order to have any hope of loving those around me. Jesus help me to realign my view of love with Your definition. I confess my shallow view of thinking that love is all about my ways and me when it is all about Yours! In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22


We often treat seeking a church like a shopping event. As we enter the doors, we drag in our shopping cart. We’ve got a game plan and a long laundry list: engaging worship in a musical style the suits us, a practical sermon message, warm coffee, comfortable seats, a safe environment that keeps our children entertained and friendly (but not too friendly) people, just to name a few. Each box must be checked off or we are on to our next stop.   Consumerism intrudes and skews our understanding of God’s purpose for the church in our everyday lives. The church can quickly become something we consume and easily dispose of when it fails to meet our long list of needs. We want the church to meet our needs, but at an acceptable cost.


This mindset is not something new to our “me first” culture. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the Apostle Paul counters several faulty assumptions, temptations, and applications that come from a consumerist approach to church shopping. Paul understood a slippery slope begins when one will only stay connected to a church as long as it meets a particular need at an acceptable cost. With this framework, the church is reduced to measurable economic and emotional exchange units. Slowly but surely, God’s purpose for the church is never enjoyed and the meaning of church becomes displaced. Falling short of engaging in the mission and ministry of a local church is falling into a dangerous consumerist exchange between us and the church we are attending.


Our ownership to the life of the church flows out of our understanding of His church. Finding a local church to attend is not the final destination, but instead, only the starting point in God’s plan for our lives. Paul uses three images to clarify our understanding of the church: (1) household of God (2) a gathering of the living God and (3) a pillar of the truth.   In a household resides a family. The local church becomes a new and better family for all who are a part of it. Paul is creating a new focus on the family that extends far beyond one’s nuclear relative. The church is God’s intentional intersection where we learn that our family is made up others who are not like us. Even though we are all different, unity is indeed possible and it centers on a faith relationship with Christ. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11) and is drawing all types of people into a relationship with Him, which means every local expression will be filled with a wide variety of likes, dislikes, experiences, and personalities.


The local church is God’s way of providing for us a new laboratory for learning to love in a new way. Simply put, learning to live life together with others that are not like us, helps kill the sin in our everyday lives and helps us live out love to a world that is hurting and yearning for answers.   Christians must come together as a local expression of the church and offer a radically different alternative to the hatred and violence. One thing that should be undeniable is that Christ’s church should be known by their love. The early church realized that when Jew & Gentile, slave & free, men & women, and every ethnic group come together under Christ, it was very radical. It can be just as radical today. When you are part of a church, there is no “US” and “THEM,” only “US.”


Yet, it is not just enough for a group of diverse people to simply gather in a room or building together. Paul’s repetitive use of the term “household” (1 Timothy 3:4,5,12 and Ephesians 2:9) points us to the expectation that every person has a part to play in a household or a family. So when Paul is using the saying we are members of God’s household, he is saying, “God has a specific place for you to be investing in the life of your local church.” Each one of us gets to serve His church in some unique way. At the core of every person is an inner thirst for his or her life to matter. We all want to contribute to something that outlasts us; something that changes the trajectory of someone’s life. God has given the local church as a place that will satisfy this longing.


Of course, this just doesn’t happen by itself. Instead, we have to actively move from a spectator to an investor. We can’t just be a renter; we must be an owner. Owners are in it for the long haul and think about the future often. How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church? Are you a serial church shopper that has resulted in you just being part of the audience or an owner of a new and better family known as the local church?  How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?


This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than be a consumer, I desire to be a contributor. Lord I want my life to glorify You. Jesus I want to love those around me in such a way that it points them towards the hope that is only found in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

What tends to be the excuses you use to explain your fears or justify your inactivity?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

By seeing how God has wired us, we can begin to shift our lens towards our strengths. Yet, this is easier said than done. Our natural inclination is to focus on our weaknesses, be overcome by our insecurities or enable fear to halt us in our tracks. Comparison not only kills our relationships, but our faith as well. Instead of getting in the game, we sit on the sidelines as a bench warmer looking at everyone else living out their faith. We are so terrified of making a mistake or misinterpreting God’s will for our lives, that we do nothing. What we fail to realize is that by doing nothing we are already making a huge mistake. Many of us err on the side of safety, comfort, and convenience instead of erring on the side of action.


We feel ill-equipped to make an impact, but this picture of ourselves goes against what Scripture says. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 We’ve been given everything we need to go out and be a light in this world. We just have to be willing to do something. There’s no point in having convictions if we do nothing about them. God is encouraging us to lay down our insecurities and fears of failure, and instead, work out what is already inside of us. We have become overachievers at over-complicating the call that God has for us. We worry so much about creating the right times, the right places, and the right purposes to engage our gifts in ministry. And God is saying, just do something with what you have right where you are by being observant, keeping your lens in front of you and engaging when you see a need.


The power of the Gospel message is that through God’s grace, Christ now meets us exactly where we are. Then in-turn, if we get past all of the excuses, all of the fears, we can meet others where they are. God is capable of doing things beyond our capabilities. We just need to learn to let go and start working outside of our boxes so that the world can see the hope and freedom that is found in Christ. What tends to be the excuses you use to explain your fears or justify your inactivity? What truth needs to replace these fears?


This is my Prayer:  Father God, give me the courage to face my fears and insecurities. Lord rather than getting bogged down with my weaknesses, may I begin to see life and my role in it, through the lens of my strengths. Jesus You’ve given me everything I need to make an impact in the lives of others. There are needs all around me. Today, I want to be bold and stand in the gap. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

When it comes to your relationships, how are you dying to yourself?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17


Author Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in our society.” Clothes are important. They not only cover us, but also in many ways are used to identify us. Maybe you were a prep, goth, grunge, jock, hippie, skater, tomboy, nerd, jock, or even a wannabe. Growing up, you were placed in different social circles depending on what you wore. People labeled you based on your labels. In today’s passage, Paul speaks of a different type of clothing and how wearing it shapes the way others perceive us. According to Paul, clothes make the relationships.


Paul isn’t referring to physical clothes like jeans, a sweater, or a hoodie. Rather, he is encouraging his readers to clothe themselves with Christ’s character. In essence, Paul is saying if we want to invest in the lives of others we better come dressed for the job.  This isn’t about becoming perfect, achieving some level of moral superiority or getting all our ducks in a row before we can speak words of wisdom to others. Putting on Christ has more to do with our actions and attitude towards the person who we are trying to help. How were our words delivered? Were they clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and above else, love? Take it a step further, if those words weren’t received well by the other person, how did we react? How compassionate were we as they talked more openly about their struggles? Did we respond in love? Were we patient when they pushed back on us?


Sometimes we can answer those questions with a resounding yes. We served as Christ’s ambassador. We died to ourselves. We picked up our cross. We reflected His heart in that moment. However, if you’re like me, there are times when we drop the ball and fail. We respond in anger. We lose our patience. We speak harshly. We pursued our own agenda. Please understand those moments aren’t a lost cause. Believe it or not, they serve as another opportunity to minister to that person. It all depends on how we respond. Will we have enough humility to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness from God and the individual? Rather than hide our shortcomings, what if we were transparent about needing God’s grace and being a work in progress? How do you think the other person would respond?


Our lives should serve as evidence of God’s power to transform the human heart. Without evidence of transformation, our words will fall on deaf ears. God uses not only our words, but also the way we live to speak His truth to others. We’re not just called to speak the truth in love, we are charged with living it out as well. So, today as you go about your business building relationships, clothe yourself with Christ’s heart. When it comes to your relationships, how are you dying to yourself?


This is my Prayer: Father God, may I clothe myself with compassion and kindness.  Lord allow me to exhibit humility in my relationships. When I’m reaching out to others, let kindness, gentles and self-control define my effort. I pray that I am quick to forgive and seek forgiveness when need be. Jesus, above else, may Your amazing love serve as the foundation of my words and actions. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 30, 2017, 5:00 AM

What parameters do you place on what you are willing to give up for Christ?

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”  JOHN 21:17-23


Did you catch the bombshell Jesus just dropped in the lap of Peter? Do you understand the magnitude of what Peter is finding out? Jesus is telling Peter how he is going to die. Right after confessing his love for Christ, Peter gets the startling news that there is a cross awaiting him in the future.  In essence, Jesus is saying, “Peter, if you truly love me, I want you to be aware of something. It’s going to cost you greatly. Life isn’t going to be easy. In fact, you are going to give up your life to obey me.”  Peter’s reaction to this news is priceless. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to see the human side of Peter. Probably in a daze, Peter looks around and sees John following after them. You can almost feel his mind working. After hearing those hard words, Peter plays the comparison game.


So, he speaks up and asks, “Alright Jesus, I get it…I’m going to be crucified. But, what about him? You know…the one you love. Does he get the same deal? Or did I get the short end of the stick? If I am going to get crucified, it’s only fair that he joins me.” And just like a parent, Jesus responds, “Don’t concern yourself with John. I’ll deal with him. It’s none of your business anyway. If I want him to live forever, WHAT IS THAT TO YOU? Right now, I am asking if you will follow me?”


You can’t blame the way Peter reacts. It’s not the greatest news to hear that your faith can at times be painful. Wouldn’t you halt in your tracks if you got the same news? Wait a minute Jesus; no one told me sacrifice was part of this Christian deal. Isn’t the purpose of my faith just about making my life easier, to give me better self-esteem and so all of my plans go exactly the way I want? Be honest for a moment: How do you respond when you hear Jesus say in Luke 9:23 that “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me?”


What parameters do you place on what you are willing to give up for Christ? The reality is we often place parameters on what we are willing to give up for Christ. We desire faith on our terms. But, what is just as devastating to our faith is the comparison game. We constantly look to see how we stack up against everyone else. And while we are busy comparing, God is trying to get our attention and remind us that he has given each one of us a task to do. He’s given you a job tailored specifically for you. The question you must ask yourself is are you willing to trust Him and do the job He has given to you, regardless of the cost?  Why are you reluctant to give up control in this area?


This is my Prayer: Father God, enable me to see that the cost of living for You pales in comparison to the grace and love You’ve poured out for me.  Lord allow me to be strong when You ask me to step out in faith. Jesus give me the courage to be bold in response to the personal call You have given me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 111-115 of 283