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 136-140 of 283
July 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

We must learn to surrender to the Truth in order to be shaped by God. 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5


In moments of weakness, we’ve all wondered if change is indeed possible. Can something awkward ever become a normal reaction? Instead of displaying anger, can we exhibit patience? Rather than thinking judgmental thoughts, will we respond with compassion? Can forgiveness conquer where bitterness reigned?  The prospects of change can be both exhilarating and frightening, sometimes simultaneously. If we allow God to form us into His image, we will be tested, challenged, and pushed to extremes. Numerous twists and turns will greet us along the way. Sometimes the view from the top of the hill where transformation resides will appear too steep and daunting.


It’s in those moments, we need to keep pushing, embrace the transformation process and enjoy the ride. Transformation is the process by which our lives become an increasingly accurate expression of our true identity in Christ. God shaping and forming us is an expression of His love. We are being shaped into His image. This goes deeper than behavior modification. God isn’t interested in mindless obedience. He is after our heart. It’s not about changing our behavior. It’s about capturing and changing our heart, stepping into our new identity and growing deeper in our faith with Him.  The reality is we can obey all the rules and still miss the point.


Discipline helps us to know what to do until we understand why we do it. Transformation requires submission to the truth over time. We are changed by what we believe. Many of us spend our days clueless about what we believe and allow unchecked desires to run wild. If we want to be transformed, it starts with our mind and engaging in the process of awareness and alignment. It begins by examining what we believe, why we believe it and how those beliefs are impacting our actions and worldview. Then we take those beliefs and compare them to what God’s Word says.  We must learn to surrender to the Truth in order to be shaped by God.  Allowing what we experience to sink deeper begins by positioning ourselves to focus and depend on God’s work in our heart and life.


This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than growing restless when change doesn’t come easily, help me to stay engaged in the process. May I exhibit perseverance while trusting You with every step that I take. Give me the courage to walk in faith, knowing what Your ultimate goal is – my heart reflecting Your own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are the excuses you use to justify not stepping in to your calling of being the church?

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts:4:13

If you were to assemble a group of people who could change the world and provide your message with credibility, whom would you choose? If you had to entrust a handful of individuals with starting a movement and carrying it on long after you were gone, where would you look to fill your roster? You would pinpoint the best of the best: the titans of industry, the brightest minds, spiritual gurus, celebrities, innovators and scholars. You’d try to get your hands on the biggest names available. Instead of reaching out to the ordinary, you’d shoot to assemble the extraordinary.


But, like always, Jesus does the exact opposite when He’s in the same situation. He assembles a crazy crew of ordinary no names and undesirables. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon was an unsuccessful revolutionary. The rest of the disciple’s professions were largely unknown, but were probably tradesman of some sort. Rather than calling the wise, Jesus sought the unwise. Instead of the strong, He intentionally chose the weak. The disciples having “ordinary” jobs was a telling sign. It meant they couldn’t cut it in religious circles. All the other rabbis overlooked them. They weren’t religious scholars, scribes or Pharisees. Yet, these individuals helped spur on a movement that has impacted this world like nothing else.


And, let’s take it a step further. Not only did Jesus call ordinary guys to be part of His inner circle, He had compassion for the broken, outcast, overlooked and marginalized. They were the people He called his friends.  That same calling applies to you. God invites you to be part of His Church. Not only does God invite you, but also He sees you as a critical piece of the puzzle of making His name known. Often, our justifications for sitting on the sidelines are because “I don’t know enough”, “I’m not talented enough”, or “I don’t have it all together.” My response to those excuses is, “welcome to the club”. None of us have it all together. Each one of us stumbles and fails. God didn’t choose you because you are perfect, but because you are willing to serve and be used. So, today embrace being an individual who is ordinary, but one who carries the message of the extraordinary love of Christ. What are the excuses you use to justify not stepping in to your calling of being the church?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for choosing me to serve You. Lord I know that in the midst of my weakness, You are strong. Jesus help me to be willing to humbly serve You. I might be ordinary, but Your love is extraordinary. Let that love be what guides my steps. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

What is God’s will for my life?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3


What is God’s will for my life? No other question has the power to shut someone down quicker than this one.  Trying to figure out God’s prompting can be unnerving. We don’t want to make a mistake or go down the wrong path. We wonder if we are just making things up in our head or if we hear the Holy Spirit nudging us in a direction. Anytime we face an uncertain or uncomfortable situation, our natural inclination is to grasp for control. We begin to formulate God’s call for our life based on our limited understanding. We look within ourselves or to the world for truth. We reason we can solve our issues and find the answers to our problems on our own. However, the Bible insists that our best thoughts don’t hold a candle to those of God.


So, how do we figure out what is next without letting the ‘oughts’ and ‘ifs’ to cause us to remain idle? It begins by understanding that insight is a process. Often times there is no burning bush or audible voice of God letting us know for certain exactly what we should be doing. Finding God’s will is a process of faith and a process of the heart. God promises us a lamp to guide our feet, not a floodlight to illuminate our way.  This can either leave us frustrated or it can spur on our curiosity and lead us into a deeper sense of faith.  But in order for the process to work, we must stay engaged. This involves reading scripture, praying, worshipping with other believers, and having conversations with others in your community. If we want to understand His intent for our lives, we have to spend time with Him. We have to live in His presence. God’s presence provides us with perspective.


When it comes to His will, many times we just want to skip ahead to knowing what He wants us to do. We desire to fast forward past all of the mess that comes in between. But, it is only in practicing His presence where trust and clarity are found. This gets us out of our own head and internalizing our relationship with God based on our circumstances, wants and desires.   God’s will always involves impacting others. He is calling us to be a people of action based on the relationship He has with us. We can’t become so hung up on trying to find God’s purpose for us that we miss what is going on right in front of us. What God wants from us is to be continually on mission and stop being so concerned about the future and the details. He is leading each one of us to start doing something with the here and now. The most powerful tool God has given us for His mission is our story. Our story exists to make disciples.


Our mission starts in our surroundings. Right where we are. Right now. We have daily opportunities to advance the mission of God through interactions in every sphere of our lives but our relationship with God and our understanding of His mission has to be our lens to find our part in it. Our next step is right in front of us. Do we have the courage to take it? How do you tend to process how God is moving in your life and what He is asking you to do? Where do you currently find yourself wrestling with the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs’?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I know Your will for me is very simple. It is to love You with all my heart, mind and soul and for that love to influence the way I interact with those around me. Lord, I selfishly desire all the details for my future but, You call me to be obedient today.  Jesus teach me be observant of where You are calling me to respond. Help me to not let the uncertainty of my future prevent me from making a difference with the time I’m given today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who in your life needs to be encouraged today?

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:7-13


Don’t confuse a lack of correction as a sign that the church in Philadelphia was perfect. They made their fair share of mistakes. Sometimes their actions didn’t line up with their words. They fell short in certain areas. There were arguments and disagreements that broke out. There were moments when they got discouraged and lost sight of the mission before them.  You might be wondering how I could possibly know this if Jesus never mentions any of their shortcomings. It’s simple. There’s no such thing as a perfect church.


If you are looking for that type of community, you will be thoroughly disappointed. Every church is made up of imperfect people who are reaching out to other imperfect individuals and inviting them to follow after Christ who brings order to their chaos. So, why didn’t Jesus shine a spotlight on all the places in Philadelphia where believers were messing up? After all, they needed to be addressed and fixed.


When I worked in the business world, every year I’d sit down with my boss and have my annual review. He would go through my performance highlighting my strengths and also “areas for improvements.”  Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired, but it didn’t matter if my boss spoke of 10 solid traits I possessed and only brought up one “area for improvement,” I’d leave the meeting only remembering my weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures. The attention to my weakness would overshadow any words of encouragement.


In the church world, sometimes we pay so much attention to our sins and struggles that we lose sight of the growth that has occurred in our character. Rather than being encouraged by God’s faithfulness in our transformation process, we harp on all the places where we fail. This mindset can very easily lead us to define ourselves by our sin instead of our identity in Christ. We wonder if we truly are a new creation when the “old us” makes an appearance more often than we like. We quickly become our own worst critic, as well as the judge who punishes ourselves for our failings.


Now, please hear what I am saying. Should we take eradicating our sin seriously? Yes. Is it important for God and our close friends to bring up some negative tendencies they see in our lives? Without a doubt. But, don’t underestimate the power of an encouraging word. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that our tongues have the power to speak life and death. As believers, we should speak life with our words. We need to build up others by encouraging, strengthening and inspiring them to believe all that God says about them.  Who in your life needs to be encouraged today?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for the grace and mercy You show me. You love me in the midst of my imperfections. Lord help me not to become trapped by focusing on my sin.  Help me to trust that Your sacrifice has covered them all. Jesus teach me to encourage those You put in my path and see them as You see them, valuable. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Today take the time to discover more about the people around you.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

To answer before listening – that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13

A common cultural phenomenon is the “how are you?” drive-by. This takes place when one person out of habit asks another “how are you?”  The question serves no purpose because the asker walks past without even waiting to hear a response. The words no longer serve as a question, but have become the replacement for the regular greeting of “hello.” If someone actually bothers to stop and listen then an unspoken rule comes into play. Regardless of how you might actually be feeling, when posed this question you are required to follow common protocol in your response by saying “good,” “fine,” or “can’t complain.”


This exchange of formalities happens numerous times throughout the day. Chances are good that the overwhelming majority of them were ordinary and routine. You tried not to step on any toes while you both did the dance of self-protection.  Now imagine if you crossed the line and told someone how you were doing when they asked. Do you have a picture of what their response might be if you expressed that you were struggling with something in your life? Some would express their sympathy and then continue on their way while others might continue on having presumably heard the expected response of “good…and you?” A select few may actually stop in their tracks, drop what they are doing and take the time to listen.


Our culture has programmed us to keep people at arm’s length. Having perfected the art of image management, we struggle to develop deep relationships that go beyond the casual. The majority of our relationships, along with the conversations we participate in, remain at this basic level while we try to survive in self-preservation mode.  We center our sights on general issues while the important details of our life go largely ignored.  Time goes on, surface conversations continue and casual relationships get built on a false premise. Since we gain bits and pieces of information along the way, we confuse knowing about a person for truly understanding their whole story. Holding this mindset allows one to be lazy with asking good questions that drive to the heart. When it comes to our relationships, we often don’t honor the value of discovery.


All of us would say there are people in our lives we know really well. It could be a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker. What chapters of his or her story are you missing? Where do they doubt God’s faithfulness? What big life questions keep them up at night? How much do you know about the family they were raised in and the effects it had on shaping them into the husband or wife standing before you? Are they content in their marriage, career, and purpose in life? If they are a parent, do they feel hopeless when it comes to raising their kids? Are there areas in their life where their integrity is compromised? What past mistakes are they struggling to learn from? Who or what do they struggle to forgive?


Today take the time to discover more about the people around you. Dig deeper by asking good questions and listening. There’s probably a lot more happening below the surface than you can see.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to listen first and speak second. Lord help me pursue understanding in my relationships. There are people all around me who have questions, scars, and doubts. They are just waiting for someone to listen. Jesus show me how to be that person today. 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 136-140 of 283