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 166-170 of 283
June 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you settling for convenience over calling? 

Where are you settling for convenience over calling?  Jesus performed the most inconvenient act of human history.  He died on a cross to give us hope and life.  Yet, Jesus didn’t offer up His life in order for us to settle for a convenient life.  We are called to reflect Christ in everything we do, including having a willingness to lay down our life, our agenda, our comfort and our convenience for the benefit of others. We are charged with being His hands and feet to the world. Nothing destroys the control comfort has on our life like serving and loving others. Our faith strengthens when we see God working through us to make an impact.


God has made a way for us to be complete, both satisfied and secure, but the path requires us to humble ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. Our life in Him begins when we stop living for ourselves. The cross doesn’t become convenient, it becomes personal.  The antidote to pride, selfish ambition, and vain conceit is the act of humility and sacrifice. Humility takes root in our heart when we lay down our need for comfort and convenience and submit our ways before Him. In God’s economy, humility is the very path to greatness. When we realize God loves us, we are compelled to die to ourselves and regard others instead. We are free to live the life we have been given.

“Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8


By giving ourselves away, we gain so much more. This is where God stretches us and molds us into His image. It is odd to think that these interactions with others are just as much about God forming us than it is about giving hope to others or addressing the issues the world faces. The active sharing of our life, our faith, and our mission is precisely how we gain a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. “I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ.” Philemon 1:6


If we delight in the Lord, Scripture promises God will give us the desires of our heart. By understanding these desires, we can more confidently determine God’s plan for our life. God fills us with the knowledge of His will so we might live the life God has laid out for us. We begin to see the call “to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God” not as a one­time decision, but a purposeful intent that sets our gaze and directs our path. Clarity in regards to God’s will increases with every obedient step we take.  What situations are you facing where you need to display courage and faith?


This is my Prayer:  Father God, help me to extend mercy and to speak up when I see injustices. Lord let the foundation of my faith fuel the way I respond to the world around me.  Jesus rather than pursuing my agenda, I desire to make a difference in this world for Your glory. God give me the strength to not settle for a convenient life, but actively pursue one built on courage and faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

June 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

There is a reason why people see things differently than you.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:5-9


The world we live in is a dangerous place. Not only are we faced with challenging issues, but getting everyone to agree on how to fix the brokenness seems impossible. We often respond to the issues fueled by our emotions rather than deeply held convictions. Why can’t everyone see things from our perspective? We reason that if everyone just thought like us than the world would be a much better place. Yet, we’re surrounded by people who look, think, live and act differently than us. These deep differences push us towards isolation.


We retreat to our safe spaces to protect us from controversial issues and opposing viewpoints. By setting up our different camps that don’t interact, we are hoping to find a place free from bias, conflict and criticism as well as threatening ideas and conversations. Fear drives us to our safe spaces.  These encampments never lead to unity but rather keep us dug in to our differences. Conversations don’t take place. Instead of seeking understanding, we get lazy and indifferent by labeling others. Throwing a label on the person we disagree with which fools us into believing we truly understand them.


Labels take something unbelievably complex and attempt to dumb it down into something more manageable. Just like a label on a can of soup, on the front it may say chicken noodle by a quick look at the ingredients proves there is more than chicken and noodles in that can.  Our misguided labels attempt to tell us very quickly what lies on the inside of the individual and the problem with labels is they are often very wrong.  Labels allow us to keep our hands clean from engaging in the messiness of this world. They are intended to keep us divided and segregated. While we remain in our safe spaces, the world continues to spiral out of control.


As believers in Christ, we must move first and get our hands dirty. We reflect Christ’s heart the most when we’re willing to enter the mess of someone else’s life. We surrender to Christ while moving towards each other. On the side of every issue is a human being. There is a reason why people see things differently than us. Rather than guess, a curiosity is needed to gain a true picture of their “why.” The best way to understand an issue is by understanding someone on the other side of the issue. The safe space we are looking for is a relationship that rests in love.


This is my Prayer: Father God, may I never let my passion for an issue be more important the people that issue affects. Lord instead of thinking I have everything figured out; I pray that I would remain humble and curious. Jesus give me boldness to pursue loving relationships that uplift others, include those on the other side of the issue. May I reflect Your heart in the way I respond to those around me. God help me to seek understanding and peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

May 31, 2017, 5:00 AM

What does it look like to guard your heart?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

We all experience moments when our actions and words don’t line up with what we say we believe or who we say we are. Moments like losing your temper, telling a lie to save face or avoid an ugly truth, and speaking harshly to your kids.  Maybe you’ve given in to peer pressure, fudge some numbers on a business report, or judged someone unjustly. These inconsistencies between our perceived belief and actual behavior leave us in shock, scratching our head, and saying things like, “I can’t believe I did that. I don’t know where that came from. That’s not like me.”


How do we tend to respond to these moments? Our natural default is to tackle our behavior because we can quickly and tangibly deal with our problem and, most importantly, see results. Impulse control and self-discipline are important, but should never be our ultimate goal. If all we do is address our behavior, we ignore the bigger issue, our heart.  What we need is a changed heart. During those moments when we look at the devastation our words, actions or thoughts caused, we are witnessing our heart expressing itself. The true state of our heart is making its appearance. The way in which we express ourselves flows from the condition of our heart. What is on the inside always gets expressed on the outside.


Total transformation of the heart means that we submit ourselves to God’s Truth. If we want our lives to be an authentic expression of God then we must allow God the access He needs to shape and mold us into His image by shaping and molding our heart. To be able to exhibit God’s nature comes from a total transformation of heart. Expression is the authentic alignment between God’s Truth and our behavior, which comes from a changed heart. When God’s Truth is governing and influencing an individual’s life, every facet of who they are becomes an expression.


The formation process starts by examining our heart. This requires transparency and honesty. If we want to align ourselves with God’s heart, we must possess the courage to ask God to search us and make us aware of the areas of our lives that are not expressions of His nature.  When those areas of disobedience are brought to light, we commit our heart to the life long process of transformation and exposing ourselves to God’s Word. Our perspective, our hearts, our lives will all begin to authentically reveal God in response.  


Without evidence of this transformation, our words of a kind and compassionate God will fall on deaf ears. God uses not only our words, but also the way we live our lives to speak His truth to others. Our expression serves as someone else’s encounter. We’re not just called to speak the truth in love, we are charged with living it out as well. When has the true state of your heart made an appearance and expressed itself? How did you respond in these moments?  What does it look like to guard your heart?


This my Prayer: Father God, I desire for my life to serve as an expression of Your love. Lord teach me to give You my whole heart.  Jesus help me to realize that everything I do, both my words and my actions, serve as a reflection of my heart and of You. God open my eyes to see what is taking place on the inside. In Jesus name, Amen.

May 30, 2017, 5:00 AM

Which trait found in The Beatitudes is the most challenging for you to display?

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12


The words of Christ found in The Sermon on the Mount were a revolutionary rallying cry that confronted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. Jesus’ message set the tone for all that would come afterwards. He came to not only fulfill the law, forgive our sins and restore our relationship, but to turn our world upside down.  With each word He spoke, Jesus contrasted the way of God with that of the world. He challenged the status quo of the religious establishment. Obedience of the heart meant more than mindless legalism. The last would be first. Love would replace hate and indifference. Forgiveness would win over judgment and vengeance.


Jesus didn’t sugar coat His message or lower the bar of His expectations in hopes of watching His numbers grow. In some regards, Jesus was giving people every reason not to follow Him. Jesus knew the road that lay before Him and what it would ultimately cost those who committed to leave life as they knew it behind.  They were committing to a cause much bigger than themselves, which meant an end to their comfort, convenience, safety and security. Rather than fight for position, authority and recognition, Jesus was looking for individuals willing to lay their agenda down. He desired people who were authentic, people who didn’t fit the typical mold. Jesus wasn’t drawn to power hungry individuals, but to those who made much of other people and brought value to their lives.


Every single trait listed in the Beatitudes conflicted with the worldly values of the times.  Nothing has changed over the years; the same agenda pushed by culture in the days of Jesus is present today.  Jesus let them know they were looking for life in all the wrong places and so are we.  Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 Life is found when you make the decision to pick up your cross on a daily basis.  In essence, Jesus is saying the only way to truly find your purpose and passion is through the act of dying to yourself. By sacrificially giving yourself away, you are actually receiving much more in return. Which trait found in The Beatitudes is the most challenging for you to display?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I confess I wrestle with the act of self-denial.  Lord I know I look like everyone else who fights for their own agenda and demands their needs are met first. Jesus help me to lay down my wants and demands, and pick up Your cross.  Lord teach me live out the traits demonstrated in the beatitudes.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Pride and religion can be a dangerous mix when confronting the challenging issues the world faces.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.  Ephesians 2:14


Pride and religion can be a dangerous mix when confronting the challenging issues the world faces. The greater our passion towards an issue the higher the stakes we feel. When this is our mindset, conversations quickly turn into debates we want to win at all costs. Trying to get God “on our side” often brings out the worst in us. Why? Because pride yields superiority.  Rather than looking for commonalities, we cling to our differences.  It’s us vs. them and right vs. wrong.


If we allow the person on the other side of the issue to get a word in edge wise, we quickly scoff and wonder, “How could they think like that?” But that’s as far as we go in searching out answers to that question. When pride dictates our perspective, we see no value in being curious about their story, their side, or their thoughts. It’s much easier to craft a story in our mind that fills in the blanks. Crossing the aisle only occurs when we attempt to drag others to our side. In our mind, the only way for this insane world to become sane is for everyone to see things from our perspective. They have to think, act and believe exactly the way we do.


Only when people rally around the issues we are most passionate about will true peace, unity and freedom be felt. Yet, for a moment lets imagine this scenario actually comes true. Everyone sees eye-to-eye on a specific issue – no arguments, only agreement. Instead of getting utopia, we’d be falling for a trap. We’d be settling for second best and living short sighted.  If the enemy can’t keep us divided, he will settle for us unifying around anything other than Christ, including our issues.  Without us even realizing it, unity around the issues becomes idolatry and the thing we truly worship.


I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:23 When Jesus prays in John 17 that the church would be one He is speaking of a different type of unity. It’s a unity centered on the person of Christ, not a robotic agreement of every single issue. As we grow more into the image of Christ individually, we become one collectively.  We can all agree the system we’re currently using isn’t going to solve the issues in our country. A different way of thinking about the world around us and our role within it is required. We need to bring our issues to Christ rather than Christ to our issues.


The more passionate we are about an issue, the more submissive we need to be. We must look within ourselves and be honest about what drives our behavior and our response to others. What fuels our passion? Am I influenced by pride? Have I taken Truth and made it all about myself? Am I twisting Scripture to fit my agenda or to make His name known?


This is my Prayer: Father God, let me lay the issues that stir something within me at Your feet. Lord help me to respond to the needs and issues around me with humility and grace. Jesus let me love others on the other side of the aisle, the way You love them.   Lord teach me to let understanding and compassion define my actions. In Jesus’ name, 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 166-170 of 283