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 116-120 of 283
July 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

What in your life bears witness to God and the gift of grace in Jesus?

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” 2 Kings 5:15-19


Today’s scripture passage tells the story of Naaman, the Syrian general and his encounter with the prophet Elisha in the land of Israel.  Naaman was a ‘great man’ in ‘high favor’ in his home country of Syria where he served the King.  He was also a leper.  Naaman learns from one of his wive’s servants that he might find healing in Israel from a prophet.  So Naaman gets permission from his king, loads up a convoy full of gifts, and heads to Israel seeking the prophet and his healing.  The King of Israel admits that he is unable to heal Naaman and instead, points him to Elisha who instructs him to dip into the Jordan river seven times to ‘wash, and be clean’.  Naaman, after some grumbling, eventually obeys and behold, he is cured of his leprosy and made clean!


But what happens next is interesting.  Now clean, cured from his awful plague, Naaman has a decision to make.  Acknowledging that the God of Israel, the one true God, is real, all powerful, and capable of healing, he can choose to stay in Israel and worship or return to Syria and be forced to pray in the temple of Rimmon where his king bows down.  Naaman can remove himself from society and the life he had with high position and favor, or he can return with his healing and privately acknowledge the God of Israel.  Yet, there is a third way!  Perplexing as it seems to us, Naaman loads up with ‘two mule loads of earth’ and vows no longer to worship false gods or pray to Syrian idols, and then he heads home.


So, what’s with the dirt?  Scripture doesn’t spell out exactly how Naaman intends to use the dirt from Israel.  Some commentators speculate that he will spread it before he bows down as a symbol of the God in Israel to whom he has pledged his faith.  Or maybe he intends to always keep some nearby as testament to his new life with God, but however the expression, it is radically unique to Naaman and his experience with God.   We offer our gifts, we lift up our positions, we humbly posture ourselves to be instruments of His grace in this place where God has put us.  Doing so requires a deep connection to our Father in prayer and a spirit that is willing to obey, no matter how ‘outside the box’ the expression may look.  We take our direction from our loving Lord and trust that He will use us in His great plan to reach others for Christ. We just have to be willing to listen to Him, to look outside the box, and to step in faith into our world.


The expression of Jesus in us and through us is unique to all of us.  So, what’s your dirt? How does your faith express itself?  What in your life bears witness to God and the gift of grace in Jesus?


This my Prayer: Father God, help me to be public in my faith.  Lord help me to integrate my private life, full of Your joy and truth, into the world where You have placed me.  Jesus give me ears for Your voice, eyes for unique opportunities, and the willingness to take them, so that more people would come to know You.  In your name Jesus, Amen.

July 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you seeking the welfare of your city?

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:7,10-11

How are you seeking the welfare of your city? You cannot seek the welfare of the city from a distance. It requires personal investment where you are allowing walls to be broken and individuals to be known and loved. Rather than pushing inward, a Christ-centered community reaches out. The imagery of true community is an extended hand. The object of our mission is people.  The fuel to love others and seek the welfare of the city comes from knowing we have been trusted with the integrity of His image and influence of His love. This takes place when we see our personal life change as a part of the bigger picture. Having felt the amazing love of Christ firsthand, we desire for others to experience the one thing that has transformed our lives.


As God molds our individual heart, He invites us to bring His message of hope to the places where we have been planted. The love we have experienced demands the response of making room in our lives to come alongside others who are hurting, lost and without hope.  Reflecting a personal God requires entering people’s worlds. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul speaks of this relational aspect of change when he says, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our very own selves.”


Each part of the body participating in this effort is critical in reflecting His image. If one part is not fully engaged it lessens the overall influence and impact of the body. He has drawn you to Himself and placed you in this body to participate in reaching those you know and helping them walk with God. This makes reaching and helping people in the places where you have been planted all the more important. For you, this might mean raising children in a way that honors God, being a light in the secular workplace, or caring for a friend who is wrestling with some difficult issues. God has placed you where you are for a purpose. It is our job to pray for eyes to see where we have influence and impact in the lives of others. In what ways are you impacted those around you?


Like Christ, we must be willing to move into relationships with those that are in the places where you are planted. Yet, a surprise twist comes at the end of our efforts to impact others and affect change in their lives. God uses our obedience in moving into other people’s lives to produce change in our own and breathe life into our small group communities. This is where He stretches you and molds you into His image. Through our attempts to love others, God stretches us, teaches us and reveals more of His character. The depth we crave in our walk with Him develop as our heart slowly becomes His own. This takes place all by following a simple command: seek the welfare of the city.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to see the needs of those around me. Lord give me the eyes to notice where I can be used. Jesus teach me put my faith in to action. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

What does it mean that you are God’s workmanship and that you’ve been created to do good works? 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10


What does it mean that you are God’s workmanship and that you’ve been created to do good works?  It means that God’s major objective for our life is to be conformed to the image of His Son, our lives should be a reflection of what Christ was all about, serving others.  The reason for living a life of service is not to help God; He would manage perfectly fine without us. We serve to reflect His love.  We have been given a great responsibility and it is important we steward this influence well by becoming servants.  Someone who is active in service has a shared sense of success and failure. The thrills are to be celebrated, but the obstacles are to be faced head on. Someone who is active in service has a mindset that they are ready to roll up their sleeves and become part of the solution. They look for ways to give and not get.


God stretches us, teaches us and reveals more of His character when we serve. The depth many crave in their walk with Him develops, as their heart slowly becomes His own in the midst of service. This takes place by following a simple command: love God and love others.  Don’t let excuses and fear prevent you from jumping in.  Don’t wait till you feel like serving to serve.  Taking those first tentative steps towards service is one way you exercise your faith. You might be unsure and wonder how God will use your part to make a difference in the life of another. Yet, through that act of faith, you are placing yourself in an environment where God can stretch you and develop your character.  You don’t gain an understanding of what faith is without acting upon it.


Acting on your faith is what builds your faith. Your single, simple step of faith becomes a part of the river of God’s work that brings about God’s kingdom here on Earth. When Jesus prays for more workers  in Matthew 9:35-38, in essence, He is praying that people would respond to the invitation to “jump in.” Why? Because the fields are ripe for harvest.  Look around at the people who are in your sphere of influence: family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends from the gym, etc. They are waiting for someone to walk beside them and introduce them to the amazing love of a Savior.  This is the field you are in charge of cultivating.


These people are desperately searching to find significance and meaning for their lives. They are waiting for someone to walk beside them and introduce them to the amazing love of a Savior. God has given each person all the equipment they need gifts, talents, passions for the leap of a lifetime.


This is my Prayer: Father God, may I lay the excuses aside and not let fear, inconvenience or doubt get the better of me. Lord instead, may I take those tentative first steps into service.  Jesus help me to trust that my faith will be stretched as a result of that step. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.  

July 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you letting comfort, convenience and routine win in your faith journey?

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

We have become a culture of people dependent on speed, comfort, convenience, and routine. We live in a world of big box stores and one-stop shopping. In some ways, this can be a good thing, but having this mindset can negatively influence our faith and the relationships we have with others. Inside the big box of Sunday, we worship, pray, study God’s Word, and connect with others who are seeking to know God better. But if we live life with a consumer mindset, chances are, we’ll also view church as just another big box store, a place to shop for the fulfillment of our consumer-oriented, spiritual desires. The more streamlined our lives become and the more we settle into the comfort of the routine, the greater the chances that what happens inside this box of church on Sundays will stay there.


This is far from the original intent of the church. Throughout the book of Acts, we see the early church living their faith “outside the box.” Their actions and words were so counter-cultural that it caused others to take notice. People marveled at what God was doing through them. God was doing things that were beyond human ingenuity, that were miraculous. They were not acting as consumers; they were generously involved with others. They got outside of themselves. They worked beyond the walls of their lives. Church wasn’t just the places where they gathered, but more about a lifestyle they lived out in the world around them. These followers went beyond the comfort of their community and continued to share the message of the Gospel to all who would listen.


By watching and learning from Jesus, the church was meant to think outside the box. The church was birthed, in part, to be active in the world around us. Beyond our walls is a world in need and the needs are great, and the needs are many. God sent His Holy Spirit to equip us to do things in this world that are needed to be done that are beyond our human capabilities alone.  God is currently on a mission. His mission is to redeem the earth. God has written each one of us into that same mission to use our relationship with Him for that purpose. He gave us the Spirit and His power so that we can tell His story through our own. With the acquisition of His Spirit, we acquired gifts and abilities that are to be used as tools for this cause. And the call that God has for us, is to use them to be a light to this world.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16


The first step in getting outside our box is understanding what’s in it. We must be aware of the gifts and talents God has equipped us with and begin to explore ways we can use them to serve others. In order to be ourselves, we must know ourselves. Knowing ourselves begins with knowing the One who created us.  Where are you letting comfort, convenience and routine win in your faith journey? Why are these qualities prevailing in your life?  Where have you felt an urge to step out of your comfort zone and serve others?


This my Prayer: Father God, help me to break free from the grip of routine and comfort. Lord for far too long, I’ve spent my days inside my comfortable box. I desire to be stretched and used. My purpose and meaning are found outside of myself, in You. Jesus help me to trust my life is only found when I’m willing to give it away. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who needs some cheer in your life?

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Most people will tell you, I’m a talker, and I guess it’s true.  I can always find the next thing to chat about.  Although recently I had a friend who was going through some really tough stuff, I found it hard to just find what to say to them.  When our friends are hurting, it’s so natural to ask things like How can I help? How can I pray for you? Tell me how you’re feeling. But sometimes we forget that they are still a person with a life to live. Sometimes, when the whole world is treating them like delicate china, what they need is the same old conversation you’d normally have with them. When the whole world is hugging them and reminding them to pray and trust God, sometimes they need to hear Hey! I haven’t seen you all week! So good to see you!


So how do we help those who are hurting, without reminding them that they’re hurting? John 16:33 reminds us that even when there’s tough stuff, we can be cheerful, knowing that He has overcome the world. Some days, we need someone to sit and cry with us, and listen, and pray with us and for us. But sometimes we need a break from our grief, a breath of fresh air, and a reminder that God is still good! Even the strongest of believers can find themselves doubting, or simply unable to see His light in their own situations. It’s easy to say that God is good all the time, when everything really is good. But man is it hard to remember that, when your road is so rough that you can’t even stand up straight. When you can’t even get a grip on your surroundings, when everything has been ripped out from under you, it is so hard to stand up and proclaim His greatness. But that’s why we aren’t meant to walk alone.


God is going to bring our friends through this deep patch. They may not know how, or what the other side will look like. But, in the depths of prayer and all the meals we can deliver and coffee we can share, we have a unique opportunity to breathe some fresh air into them. We can lift them up and help them find peace, even while they are hurting. While we pray for those in need, remember that it’s also ok to greet them with cheer. There is a joy to be had in the name of Jesus, and you can bring that joy to those who can’t find it. Who needs some cheer in your life? Do they know you are praying for them? How can you bring them some of His joy?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I know that You are taking care of us in the all times. Especially in the hard times.  Lord I know that You will see us through to the other side. Jesus help us to find Your joy in the meantime! 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 116-120 of 283