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 186-190 of 283
May 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

Stories are huge when it comes to our faith.

Stories are huge when it comes to our faith. They have a way of capturing our attention. Think about it, everyone loves a good story – they inspire, they give hope, they speak of redemption. Every story is a good story if the Gospel is a part of it. This includes your story.


Sadly, some of you doubt that last statement is true. In your eyes, your story is too mundane and run of the mill. Nothing exciting happened. You’ve always “been a Christian,” grew up in the church and had no moments of rebellion. And because of this you think God can’t use your story. Or, perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum. There are numerous parts of your story that include things you are embarrassed about. Just thinking about sharing your story with others makes you cringe. The shame you feel overwhelms any desire you have to let God use your story to impact others.


Regardless of where you find yourself, you shy away from telling your story. So, I’ll say it again: your story is a good story if the Gospel is a part of it. If you don’t believe your story is a good story, then you won’t tell it, and it’s so important that we share our stories. As you understand your story within God’s story, when you share your life you share God’s story.


Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

Now, stop for a second and ponder: what would it look like to appreciate the story God is telling through your life? God is in control and He’s preparing you for something. He’s using your circumstances and experiences to make His name known. If you think your story is mundane, learn to appreciate what God has protected you from. Maybe your story includes a difficult and chaotic past. Wrestle through your past with God, allow Him to heal you and get to a place where you can appreciate what you’ve learned as a way to walk with others through similar things.


We’re called to share our story, not deliver a sales pitch. Talking about the Gospel isn’t laying out a marketing scheme aimed to get individuals to sign their name on the dotted line. People aren’t projects so we can’t treat them as one. The relationships we have with others shouldn’t have an agenda. Our responsibility is to help and love others, not fix them.  We are to plant the seeds and trust God with the work. Our responsibility is to love God and love people. The kind of love that we encountered is a love that transforms. The same unconditional love that has transformed our lives we have to pass on to those around us. Impact is about our life connecting with someone else’s.


This begins by expressing what He has done in our own lives and pointing to the hope that we have found in Christ. People should look at our lives and wonder why we are hopeful. True change causes people to take notice of God working in our life. The message that speaks volumes to family and friends is our life impacted by God’s love. When we share our story, people can relate to us, our story, and the God we serve.  Who needs to hear your story? Who are you investing in? Why does this person come to mind?  Trust God and share your story.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to see the story You are telling with my life as important.  Jesus my hope is that when people see me, they see You in my words and actions. Lord help me to invest, care and love those around me without condition.  Let me love them regardless of their response. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

How tuned in do you feel to God’s voice?

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13


How tuned in do you feel to God’s voice? Sometimes silence can be deafening. While everything and everyone around you is quiet, content and fast asleep, you sometimes toss and turn at night wondering why God seems distant. You struggle to remember the last time you heard His voice. You wrestle with the distance while at the same time yearn for that missing connection. Numerous questions roll through your mind, but the one you can’t seem to answer is what God is doing by remaining silent.


If you’re not careful, you can easily mistake silence with inactivity. This would be a mistake. Even in the midst of those quiet moments, God is still at work. When there is noise all around us, it can be difficult to hear the quiet voice of God. We’ve got mixed messages coming at us in all different directions while the message that truly matters gets lost in all the commotion.  However, other times the silence can be self-imposed.  Riddled with guilt we avoid God at all costs. Similar to the next-door neighbor whose tool we borrowed and never gave back, we attempt to stay out of God’s way. We know we’ve been slack in spending time with God, through prayer or reading His word, so we use that as an excuse to allow the distance to continue.


We feel like we should do more before we ask Him to reconnect with us. We’ve got to earn our forgiveness and we come up with a religious checklist that we need to mark off in order to even the score and be “right” with Him.  Then there are those sin patterns we refuse to give up. Having a quiet time with God feels awkward because the elephant in the room (our sin) isn’t being addressed. If not dealt with, sin breaks our connection with God. Sin always pushes us into hiding and causes us to avoid exposure to light. On the other hand, maybe you keep apologizing for your sin and telling Him you’re sorry and fail to hear Him saying you’ve been forgiven.


If sin isn’t causing the silence then it might be a disobedience issue. We remember vividly the last thing God asked us to do, but we blatantly refused to obey. Until we act in obedience, silence will remain. From God’s perspective, there is nothing left to be said. If you want to know God’s will it’s to do the last thing He asked you to do. The problem is we tend to filibuster God by talking too much. We go on and on with our requests, pleading and bargaining. Once that is done we go about our normal business. Our prayers are 99.9% talking and about 0.1% listening. Conversations aren’t conversations when they are only one sided. The time has come for us to be silent and reflect.


Don’t panic if you can’t hear God’s voice. Panic causes us to rush right through reflection. God’s silence is not arbitrary, but rather designed to awaken us to Him. In the midst of our sin, God is calling us to repent and receive His forgiveness. In the midst of our suffering, God is calling us to trust and lean on Him. In the midst of our success, God is calling us to praise Him. When God seems silent to you, it is time for you to be silent before Him. Faith requires both expectancy and contentment. Don’t be surprised when God breaks His silence for the sake of His purposes. God is always working to form us into His image and shape us in holiness.


This is my Prayer: Father God, I pray that I wouldn’t panic in the midst of those moments of silence. Lord help me to trust that You are still active when I might not be able to hear Your voice. Jesus help me to examine my heart and seek Your face.  God tune my ears to Your voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has social media made an impact on your life?

Lately my son has been asking about setting up an Instagram account because, you know, everyone else in eighth grade has been on Instagram since third grade, and he’s the only one (I highly doubt it) that isn’t connected. This issue weighs heavy on my heart. On the one hand, I know it will happen eventually because that’s just the world we live in. On the other hand, I worry about the pressure of keeping up, fitting in, or being “Liked” to fall on my son so soon.


We all do this, don’t we? Post a picture and feel better about ourselves with every “Like” we receive. Maybe not, but if we didn’t care even the slightest bit, would we have posted the picture at all?  I’m not trying to bash social media or say that sharing our lives online with friends and family is a bad thing. However, when we receive our worth from the opinions of others that is a sure sign that something isn’t right. After all, who is it we are really trying to please?


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10


We try so hard to be that picture of perfection, don’t we? Rarely do we share an unglued moment on social media. Typically we post our children’s accomplishments rather than their failures; that awesome vacation opposed to the time we could barely make the mortgage; or a happily married couple instead of two broken people.


Healing from the brokenness of this mad world doesn’t come through our social status. There will never be enough “likes” to right all the wrong. Neither will it come by trying to convince others that we have it all together.  The lives we watch through social media aren’t perfect; neither is our own. Though there is a Perfecter who says we can come just as we are, in all our imperfections. We don’t have to hide behind pretend smiles. He already knows our pain.


The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:17-18


In my own brokenness, I choose to trust God because He chose to break the body of His own son so that I could be made right with Him. It is in God’s righteousness that I learn to live a whole life and find sanity in this mad world.  How has social media made an impact on your life? Do you find your worth in the opinions of others?  Do you feel pressured to keep up?  If our desire for approval (to be “liked”) was found in God alone, where do you believe freedom would be found?


This is my Prayer: Father God, You are the only One trustworthy enough to supply the healing this broken world truly needs. Lord help me to trust that, though the road may be narrow, Your way leads to life everlasting.  Jesus I believe that freedom awaits when I let go of my own standards, ideas, and practices and submit to You completely.  In Your name, Amen.

May 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

Salvation is a free gift, but forgiveness is costly!

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12-14


Salvation is a free gift, but forgiveness is costly. We all have stories of wounds that are still open even after years have passed. The sting hurts more knowing someone close to us caused the pain. Due to their status of being a loved one, we find ourselves in a strange paradox. The desire to forgive is just as strong as the push to withhold our forgiveness.


It could be an affair, divorce, abuse, gossip, dishonesty, or hurtful words. Your story might be distinctive, but the struggle to forgive others or to ask for forgiveness on your behalf is not unique.  One would assume that as children of God forgiveness would be a natural action. The reality is that uttering words of forgiveness like “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” and “Yes, I forgive you” are few and far between. What does forgiveness cost the person doing the forgiving?  What does it cost the person who receives the forgiveness?


If we do not saturate ourselves in Him, God quickly becomes compartmentalized and over time the influence of His grace on our life is a thing of the past. The way we handle the things life throws our way, including the hurt caused by others, is eerily similar to our pre-Christian days. We live in the flesh by drawing on sheer willpower to muster the strength to forgive others for their wrongdoings. Our lives are no longer centered on grace and living for God, but living under the law and imposing the weight of it on others. What price do we pay when we fail to forgive someone?


If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Psalm 34:18


God is the sole provider for the strength needed to truly forgive others and ask for forgiveness when we have caused pain in a person’s life.  One of the many gifts God gives us is the Holy Spirit, which enables us to express that grace and forgiveness to others. It searches the dark places of our heart and exposes areas where unforgiveness exist.  Accepting the grace behind the cross allows us to recognize the help offered through the Holy Spirit like that of preparing the way for restoration. The only way to overcome the difficulties and cost of forgiveness is by clinging to the compassion God has shown you.


This is my Prayer: Father God, there are parts of my story that make me cringe and recoil. Lord I keep telling myself that I’m justified to remain bitter, angry, and resentful as I punish my offender. Jesus help me to realize that by clinging to unforgiveness the only person I am keeping in chains is myself. Lord teach me that forgiveness is the only way to the freedom and restoration I desire.   God help me remain centered on Your grace and mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

Every day we struggle after one goal, to make ourselves comfortable.

Every day we struggle after one goal, to make ourselves  comfortable. We all pursue being comfortable to some degree. Whether we realize it or not, this desire for comfort can very easily creep into our relationships and the way we engage with others.  We can become so wrapped up in our own world that we do not see the people around us.  But there is an inescapable truth found in Scripture. Jesus lays the gauntlet down in passages like Luke 10:30-35, better known as The Parable of the Good Samaritan.


In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  j 


In this passage, Jesus challenges us and defines a purpose for us. We must step out of our comfort zones and engage a broken world. We cannot be bystanders or spectators. We cannot step back and hope someone else will step in. We cannot turn the other direction when we see people in need.  In order to bring hope, we must be willing to cross the street like the Good Samaritan. Instead of seeing relationships with others as an inconvenience, we must see each one as an opportunity to make Christ’s love known through our action and words. Our hearts must break for this lost and hurting world. Our comfortable walk won’t produce this type of burden. Neither will a self-centered life focused solely on our needs. We have a responsibility to impact those around us.


This impact requires action on our part. We have to cross the street and redefine close proximity.  If not me, and not you, then who will cross the road to bring the only message of hope to those who are hurting?  Where do you need to cross the street?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I confess that for far too long I’ve been on a quest to protect my comfort zone. Lord I’ve been so wrapped up in thoughts of my own tiny world that I’ve missed out on the brokenness taking place all around me.   Jesus help me to be willing to cross the street, and go to the people You are leading me to.  Lord use me for the glory of Your kingdom. 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 186-190 of 283