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 121-125 of 285
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

July 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How much stress and angst do you feel (or have felt) about finding “your thing”?

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


At one point or another, we’ve wrestled with the questions of “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?.” We all want our life to count. We all desire to make a difference and leave our mark on this world. Yet, the pressure to find “our thing” can overwhelm us. Rather than launching us into action, we hesitate and collapse under the weight of our calling. Terrified of not measuring up or, even worse, going down the wrong path, we remain inactive and paralyzed. We reason that it is better to do nothing than expend energy doing the wrong thing. With this mindset, curiosity is not allowed. In fact, it can be viewed as very dangerous. But, God calls us to freedom.


This freedom isn’t just experienced through the forgiveness of our sins, but also a freedom to serve and for our lives to stand as a reflection of His love. God is far less concerned about the specifics of our activity than He is about our authenticity, availability and access. He desires to uses us in unique and different ways. This statement shouldn’t create more pressure, but lessen the burden to have everything figured out. All God is asking from us is to start somewhere and lean in.  How much stress and angst do you feel (or have felt) about finding “your thing”? Where does this pressure come from? Where have you grown curious and decided to “lean in” to the issues you see all around you?


We are hardwired to serve others and look outside ourselves. This is true for everyone, believer or skeptic, follower of Christ or individual who wants nothing to do with God. During those moments where we give ourselves away, we are living out how we were made. They point to something deep within us that wants nothing more than to express God’s heart. Although as people who have encountered the love of Christ personally, we get the opportunity to be His ambassadors in this world. God is reconciling the world to Himself and He is using us to do it. Our life should be an expression, not a power grab. We should be looking for ways to give rather than take.


The challenge is to turn our attention off ourselves and fix our eyes on the needs of others.  It involves looking at the things that make our hearts come alive and devoting our time and energy towards these ventures. It requires taking the time to notice what our gifts, talents, interests and passions are and figuring out ways they can be used to advance His Kingdom rather than our agenda. It entails looking around us and recognizing places where we’ve been given influence and a platform and leveraging them to make His name known and not our own. It is understanding how “our thing” contributes to the overall impact of the church we call home. And, it is trusting that the depth we crave in our walk with God is found when we are willing to step into opportunities to serve others.


This my Prayer: Father God, I know You don’t want me to wait until I understand. Instead Lord, You want me to jump into Your work with open arms. You welcome my curiosity. You invite me to explore my gifts, talents and passions. You encourage me to lean in to the problems of the world. You call me to love boldly and forgive generously. Jesus give me the courage to do so. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are you doing with the authority you’ve been given?

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:1-2


If we are hoping to see good in the world, we’ll catch glimpses of joy, beauty and forgiveness. On the flip side, if view the world through a lens of cynicism and negativity, our eyes won’t be disappointed. We always find what we’re looking for. This principle holds true even in our handling of the Bible. When we look to God’s Word just to find God’s laws, we will often find loopholes.  Approaching Scripture with an agenda alters our perspective. Instead of searching for wisdom and guidance, our sole focus is looking for Scriptures that fit our agenda and justify our behavior. Our red pen is at our disposal to scratch out verses that are inconvenient, uncomfortable or require more than we are willing to give. We edit out the words we don’t like to soften up the commitment level. Rather than a sword we hold to battle the enemy, we can sometimes be guilty of using the Bible as a hammer to beat down anyone who disagrees with our point of view.


This internal focus on submitting to God’s authority has greater implications to those around us than we even realize. What we focus on gets our attention and what gets our attention impacts our heart. The condition of our heart doesn’t remain hidden; it will eventually get expressed. What is happening on the inside shows on the outside. If all our energy is spent on deciding what is best for our needs, our agenda and our comfort, others lose out and are hurt as a result. We were never meant to live for ourselves. Scripture speaks to how the body of Christ is meant to build each other up. The only way we will be transformed into Christ’s likeness is by relying on each other. The authority we’ve been given shouldn’t be used to grab power and oppress. Authority wasn’t handed over to us so we could make much of ourselves or to prop ourselves us.


We’ve been given authority to empower others and point them towards freedom. By trusting God’s authority, we are able to steward the authority we’ve been trusted with well. God’s love should be the driving force in our lives because this is what God uses to bring His Kingdom to bear in this world. What are you doing with the authority you’ve been given?


This is my Prayer: Father God, all too often I make decisions based on my needs, my desires and what I feel is in my best interest.  Lord help me to understand how my willingness to submit to Your authority impacts others. Jesus teach me to live under Your authority, trusting that by doing so You will transform my heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would it look like for you to “go and live”?

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:1-11


Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to the woman caught in adultery. We don’t know if this encounter with Jesus changed her infidelity to devotion, her lust to true love and her sin to a sincere desire to know the one who said, “I do not judge you.” But, you have to believe this encounter shook her to her core. She had been caught in an act that was punishable by death. She had been drug across town into the temple courts and cast before a group of people to be judged. Punishment was inevitable. She knew it and the crowd knew it as well. But, then she encounters Jesus and she is now free.


Jesus enters in this situation and upsets the normal course of events by accepting the woman without approving of the sin. Jesus doesn’t bring up the act and start talking about adultery or the other sinful things she has done. His focus is on the future. It’s a picture of love and forgiveness where the charge is “I’ve forgiven you. Now go walk in it.”  This is a message we all need to hear. Many of us struggle to understand the concept of grace, especially when it comes to past shortcomings and failures in our relationships. Sometimes forgiveness seems almost unobtainable.


 There are those who operate every single day from a place of constant condemnation, whether it is from themselves or others. They carry the baggage of past relationships with them into the future. They also hold onto their guilt and shame while at the same time try to walk with God. The problem with this is that when one lives under this constant condemnation they cannot have life. They are incapable of living freely. Why? When the junk that we have created in the past frames our lives, we are imprisoned to live a life shaped by fear, guilt, and shame. What does this story mean for YOU? Where do you see yourself in her story? If you were to remove the particular circumstance of her position, and enter yours, aren’t you in the same position as she was? We are all in need of that same Savior. Jesus entered the picture so that we don’t have to live like this anymore.


When Jesus said, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” He wasn’t saying “Go and earn back your life,” He was saying you have been given life, now go and do something with it. Take what you have encountered through me, allow it to shape who you are, and live it out. Let it spill out into every area of your life. This doesn’t mean from this point forward that we aren’t going to face fear, or feel pain when we see those who have carried the stones in the past. What it does mean is that we are no longer defined by it. We are to live freely under the authority of God and His grace. The demands of the law are replaced by grace. This is what should now define us. God is saying to us all: now go and live. What would it look like for you to “go and live”?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to go and live. Lord allow me to walk and trust in Your freedom. Jesus teach me to view myself through my new identity in You. 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 121-125 of 285
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