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May 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are there areas of your life where you do not live out God freely?

Have you ever had this experience where your individual struggle collides with something eternal, and it feels like crashing face first into God?  Last week a popular Christian devotional that I follow posted this quote, “You can do hard things, but only after you’ve totally freaked out about them.  Once you’ve done that you should be fine.”   The tag line of the post followed up by saying, “Got your back, friend. You can do this! Even if you freak out first, get it all out, have a big sleep, and then get back on your feet.  Love ya.”  It was one of those moments where I felt like the author was speaking directly to me.


Are there areas of your life where you do not live out God freely? I’m constantly pursuing opportunities to do things I’m passionate about.  I want to step up and step into something I feel God calling me to walk forward in.  Usually what happens when I find those opportunities, I become terrified and a bit overwhelmed by doubt that I don’t have what it takes or that my own insecurities will be my downfall. This is what doubt does; its two competing forces vying for our attention. One says you’re not smart enough, people will think you’re a fraud if they really know you, and no one will trust you with this.  A second draws me into something bigger, bolder, and powerful. The intersection between these two forces is where I encounter integrity.


Most of the time my mind looks at thing from a business perspective.  So often I equate integrity with sheer grit, meaning “Doing the right thing when no one is watching.”   It’s almost like a high standard that is set, where we demand honesty and good decision making.  In this line of thinking, integrity is not something to walk in, but rather something to lose.  But biblically, integrity is simply wholeness; living in such a way that our whole being is brought into the light and permeates or encompasses every component of our lives. There is no longer a church self vs. work self vs. home self vs. gym self.  It’s all in all the time; wholly living out God’s working in and through you.


“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live Him. You’re deeply rooted in Him. You’re well-constructed upon Him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 MSG


Paul is talking about this kind of life. He’s writing to encourage and extort the people of the church at Colossae.   People just like us, deeply rooted in Christ, who already has the head knowledge.  Now it’s time to start walking in it and living it out.  No more one way church, one way at work, one way at home, or one way with friends.  It’s time to be all in, all the time letting our living spill over into thanksgiving.   This quest for wholeness is scary. I totally get it, and I’m right there with you.


I know that living boldly for God, living with real integrity for who God is asking you to be, fully exposed in that place is possibly one of the hardest things ever to do. We have to remember that integrity isn’t about perfection; it’s about identity, and living in a way that others are drawn into the work that God is doing because they can see Him doing that work in us. You aren’t required to do it perfectly; you’re just required to let God shine through you. In my own situation, I know I’ve got to simply walk it out bravely and boldly, quit worrying about what other people think.  I know God is asking something of me, and I’ve got to start trusting that He will work out the details.  As people of integrity, we must learn to take ourselves with all of our mess and say, “Ok, God, here I am; use me to your fullest.”


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to become the kind of person who lives with deep integrity, who walks wholly trusting You with the entirety of my life.  Jesus please guide me when it’s really hard, when I’m afraid, and when I feel alone.  Lord mold me into the kind of person who give so freely and so fully that I can be used for big change.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

How do you deal with your imperfections?

How do you deal with your imperfections? I am an over achiever, one who needs to strive for perfection to feel as though I am measuring up to my full potential. My own standards and pressures usually lead me to failure and leave me feeling imperfect.  I become very aware of my shortcomings and I feel awful; as though I am not measuring up to others.   Sometime I just can’t seem to get it together.  I need to remind myself very often that it’s okay to not be perfect.


How do you think God views your imperfections? I need to remember that I shouldn’t try so hard to be perfect, that’s not why God designed me.  I wasn’t designed to achieve my way into God’s favor; He already loves exactly who I am.  The imperfections I see are part of the perfect person He designed.  God made me and knew of my life even before my parents.” For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 God wanted me, took great care in my creation.  He formed every organ, bone and hair to be placed on my head.  How can I not thank God for my creation? David continues Psalm 139 in praise, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139 14-16


When I read that all the days of my life are ordained by God, it stops me in my tracks.  God has allotted things that are going to get done and things that aren’t.  As I begin to get frustrated with myself for not accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish or not get it done to the standard I require of myself, a question comes to mind, “Did God know I would make that mistake and end up here?”  When I realize the answer to that is yes, I realize I am imperfect and I am okay with that, because I am perfect in God’s eyes.  My success or lack thereof does not define me.  I am part of God’s perfect creation, made in His image to do His works for His kingdom.  Being a child of God is the one truth that should define me; it’s about time I start living like it.


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating me and taking such care to define who I would be. Jesus I am so grateful to know You and to be part of Your plan for the world.  Lord help me to live like a child of Your creation realizing that I am perfect in You just as I am, no other effort required.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 2, 2017, 6:00 AM

How do you look at challenging relationships?

How do you look at challenging relationships?  God uses the relationships we have with one another to shape us into the image of Christ. That sounds great, right? Sure it does, when considering that the relationship is a good one. But what about the ones that are not so good? What about that person, as hard as you’ve tried, you simply can’t seem to get along with? What is God doing in the midst of such adversity?  If only God would change their heart, then all would be right. That is typically how we think when faced with a challenging relationship. But what if God’s desire is to change something in us? It is often in the more difficult situations that the most growth can occur. We don’t always like to hear that. The good news is that even though we may be “pressed” God will not allow us to be “crushed.”


The question is are we willing to lay down our pride and trust that God is at work? Oswald Chambers said this, “If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on having your own way, and always certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, then there are whole areas of your nature that have never been transformed by His grace.” What I’ve learned through relationships is that whether I believe I’m right or know I’m wrong, I’m a sinner in need of grace and forgiveness. The grace that God extends doesn’t end with us. It is a gift that we must offer to others. When we do, something amazing happens: Christ is seen. How has the grace of God transformed your life? Do you believe the grace you offer to another can help in their transformation?


Our Lord Jesus is the only one who ever had a real right to stand against the forces that sought to bring Him down. Yet, humbly, He denied that right to Himself to have a relationship with us. The cross has an endless source of power. It’s the first place I go in times of conflict, the times when I desire justice more than anything else. There I’m reminded that Jesus is my justifier, He is for me. And because I trust Him, I can better see the other person. I’m able to rise above the situation and endure anything that might bring this person into a closer relationship with Christ. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said,” To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23


This is my Prayer: Father God, forgive me when I find it difficult to forgive others. Jesus help me love as You have loved me and trust that in my doing so, Your glory will be displayed. Lord let the pride I carry be laid down at the foot of the cross to the point of complete abandonment, and fill me with Your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some ways you play it safe in your relationship with God?

What are some ways you play it safe in your relationship with God?  Ever play a friendly game of poker?  Though I’m not much of a card player, I find it less intimidating when the stakes are low, like when we’re using things match sticks rather than cold, hard cash.  As a result, I tend to play recklessly.  I usually go all in, run up the bet, and tend to beat the more cautious players.  I like to push them to fold quickly if their hand doesn’t seem promising.  You see I know that even though it’s not real money, most will try to hold on to what they have for fear of being out of the game.  They will never the big winner, little by little; I will take their match sticks. Then I’m the big winner! 


Not always, but typically it is the person who takes big risks and goes for it that comes out on top.  Sometimes it pays to play it safe, but oftentimes you just have to go for it.  This is especially true in our walk with God, though we may want to play it safe; God has called us to go all in. There was a time in my life when I would give God only so much of myself.  I wanted God, but I didn’t want to give up all the things I knew and was comfortable with. I was clinging to my life out of fear of what might change.  I had to decide to obey God, fully surrender, and leave all the consequences to Him.  Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I know God loves me, is for me and has my best interest in mind, so I am willing to trust and obey believing He can handle what comes from my obedience. 


When David brought the ark out of the house of Obed-edom and into the city the scripture says, “David was dancing with all his might before the Lord wearing a Linen ephod. He and the whole house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of the ram’s horn.” 2 Samuel 6:14-15 David was unconcerned with what people might think about his behavior or what consequence would result from his action, He just had to worshiped God with all he had, he was all in. “David replied to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord who chose me over your father and his whole family to appoint me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel. I will celebrate before the Lord, and I will humble myself even more and humiliate myself.”    2 Samuel 6:21-22 He fully understood what God had done in choosing him and he celebrated in that, holding nothing back. God has chosen us, too.  In taking our place on the cross, Jesus has chosen for us to live freely and completely in His grace. 


I think back to those piles of match sticks. Yes it was just a game, but most weren’t really playing they were simply getting trying not to lose.  I was reminded of this just this weekend, if you are playing to not lose, you’ve already lost.  To live the full life God wants you to have you can’t hold back, you have to go all in. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39


This is my Prayer:  Father God, thank you for the cross and the proof of Your love.  Lord I know I can trust the plans You have for my life. Jesus teach me how to use that trust to guide me into obedience of Your will.  Remind me Lord that it is only in my obedience to You that I am truly made free.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

April 30, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you view yourself as a work in progress or do you desire instant change? 

Do you view yourself as a work in progress or do you desire instant change?  I loved Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid. Thundercats, He-Man, and Snorks, man they just don’t make them like they used to.   There was one show I really loved.  Do you remember the show Transformers? For those of us who grew up in the eighties Transformers was “part of a complete breakfast.”  


I can remember sitting with my T.V. tray in front of our giant console T.V., watching this incredible, action-packed program. As I crunched down on some Mr. T cereal, as Optimus Prime shifted from a robot to a cab over truck then back to a robot. There were no glitches, no mistakes, just fluid and instantaneous transformation.  Don’t you just love the idea of immediate change? I can think of many areas in my own life where this would be more than welcomed.  I definitely would appreciate a complete change in my diet and physical activity happening overnight.  But in reality, it’s a process that will take time, discipline, and a whole lot of grace.  The same is true in our walk with God.

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18


The transformation of who we are now, to who God longs for us to be in Christ is a process. I can thankfully say today, though I’m not fully where I need to be, I’m not where I was. I’ve learned I need daily quiet times with God. I need to have a diligent prayer life both where I talk and listen to God.  My time spent with God comes more naturally now, though it didn’t always. I thought that if I followed Christ it would make everything easy.  Boy was I wrong; I had some deep struggles that were difficult to overcome. I tried and tried and tried to make them go away on my own, and nothing worked. By trying to change instantaneously on my own, I was leaving God out of the equation. It’s like I was saying, “thanks for that whole salvation thing, but I got it from here.”


After exhausting myself to the point of giving up, I came back to the Lord and accepted His grace. It was no longer something I believed I had to work for. I accepted it fully and freely and finally understood I was a work in progress. His grace allowed me to remain in His presence so that His love could seep into my heart, and that is when the real change began. The more time I spend with God, the more aware I become of not only His presence with me but His presence in me.  And though I still have a long way to go, I’m thankful for what He’s done so far.  How do you receive God’s grace? Is it something you believe you have to work for or do you receive it freely?


This is my Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of Your grace that is given so freely. Lord help me receive it so I no longer feel the need to work for Your acceptance. Jesus You love me just as I am, and by the power of that same love, I am conformed more and more into Your image. God help me understand that this is a process. It is not something that happens overnight, yet a continuation until the day You call me home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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