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 191-195 of 285
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.

May 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

Why did John use the word love in his warning to us about the world?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Have you ever asked yourself why John used the word love in his warning to us about the world?  John could’ve used any number of other words or expressions, like “chase after” or “lust for.”  The thing is John was talking about a relationship, and the currency of a loving relationship is trust. Before I knew the Lord, I didn’t have anything to put my trust in except myself and worldly thoughts and ideas.  Here was one of my trust paths, going backward from goal to tactics:

I trusted that if I could capture the attention of people around me, I would feel valued and loved.

I trusted that if I were the fun going party guy, I would capture the attention of the people around me.

I trusted that if I drink enough and did things to the extreme, I would be the fun going party guy.

I wound up “in love” with drinking, and this took me down a path of being an alcoholic. In a way, I was “love sick,” in that the thing I focused my affection and attention on is what made me physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill.  God deliver me from that but I know I have to be very careful not to flirt with drinking when things don’t go my way.  I know that if I don’t turn to God, I’ll turn to something lesser to take His place. How about you, in what areas are you “love sick” and misdirecting your affection?


So what should we be drawn to when the world confounds us? Where should we get our sufficiency? What or whom should we love? The answer is Jesus Christ, and here’s why. Material things will decay. Circumstances will disappoint. Achievements will leave us empty. And people will let us down.  Only Christ has promised to sustain us until the time comes to join Him in paradise.  Meanwhile, we can read His Word, which is a love story written directly to us. We can choose to not just be hearers of what it says, but doers. Only then can we make a dent in our love problems with this world.  What step do you need to take this week to draw closer to Christ?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating a perfect world in the beginning. Jesus when we messed it up with sin, You rushed in with a rescue plan.  Lord help me to always turn to You, no matter what going on in my life.  God teach me to listen to Your voice, and respond to people and situations with grace, always remembering that You are in control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments? 

Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments?   Usually empty spaces scare us.  We will run from them and we try to give explanations.  Not necessarily a true explanation, but we think that any explanation is better than the scary empty space of a conversation.   We can’t stand to have that awkward silence.   We’re really good at filling the uncomfortable silence with noise, aren’t we? In this millennial age it’s easier to look down, to type into a screen, to retweet someone else’s soundbite then it is to just be. We puff ourselves up by reading the headlines, anything to make those around us believe we’re well informed, invested, and engaged.  Face to face with a colleague or friend, our discomfort turns to idol explanations.


Empty space is the place where all significant transformation happens. This place is where we as Christians absolutely hate being, but this is where God is always leading us. You see it is only when we are empty that He can fill us.  The empty space is a threshold place, a no man’s land so to speak and who’s comfortable being there after all?  But why are we so afraid of silence? Why do we turn away when the moment feels uncomfortable?


“When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Job 2:12-13 Job’s friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word. Now that’s uncomfortable. But they knew that Job’s deep suffering required deep empty space. In order for God to fill the emptiness, there needed to be an awkward silence. There needed to be time to simply wait and entrust. I can only imagine that in their quiet existed a deep sense of togetherness.


I think this is what most of us are missing.  When we look down at our phones in order to fill an empty free moment. When we make idol conversation or fill time with fluff.  We break our chance to enter together into no-man’s land, into the uncomfortable void where God works. We miss our chance at real togetherness, and in turn we fail each other. Instead of really hearing each other we exchange headlines and quickly speculated opinions. We respond to our friends or our coworkers or even our kids without matching their expression. We respond but don’t really hear. We exchange words without really connecting.


God fills our empty spaces of discomfort when we look up rather than down. When we’re so fixed on our own vantage point, staring at our feet or turning away, we miss the opportunity to have an impact. Imagine if we all did this, if we looked up and actually talked to each other.  If we took the time necessary to understand our differences rather than just simply disagree. If we really stood together in the gap of pain and suffering, maybe real connections would begin to grow in our empty spaces. Maybe, God would be able to use us in even bigger ways.  I think we have to be brave and give it a shot. This life we have is messy and uncomfortable.  Let’s be in it together. Put down your cell phone and keep your eyes up next time you’re sitting with someone.  What you will notice might surprise you!


This is my Prayer: Father God, please help me bridge the gap between my discomfort and offering Your heart in a situation.  Jesus be with me in a way that gives me courage to engage in togetherness, in silence, in waiting.  Lord surround me with others who are willing to do the same so that together we might enter into a deeper understanding of friendship and love.  God thank you for giving me the gift of Your love, help me to be a steward of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being?  

Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being?  Authenticity has achieved buzzword status in our culture. Everywhere we look people are clamoring for relationships, businesses, and organizations that are the “real deal.” This push for authenticity has even become a trendy part of church as well. We search for churches that allow us to “come as we are.”  Time and time again we distort and misuse the true meaning of authenticity.   When that happens, I have to resist the urge to do my best Inigo Montoya impression from Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”


In moments of “just keeping it real” or “being an open book,” most of us think we are being authentic. We might be transparent, but we are far from authentic. We use authenticity as an escape clause for a bad attitude, sin patterns, and areas of our heart that we don’t want to address.  If we behave this way we are settling for a cheap substitute of authenticity. Authenticity never excuses sin.

“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:7-10


The real work of authenticity isn’t just knowing ourselves, but understanding the image we are reflecting.  Authenticity requires a standard for truth. It always pushes us to ruthlessly pursue truth, not only about ourselves, but our creator. Authenticity requires being true to who’s you are, not who we are.  As believers, who’s we are, is defined by Christ. We are a new creation, His masterpiece, the salt, and light.  We are Christ’s ambassadors and this is the image we are called to reflect.


Our only hope of accurately reflecting God in everything we do is to understand that our life is found in Him. If we want to pursue truth, it begins by pursuing Jesus. The value of authenticity reminds us that all our pursuits and efforts must ultimately be about reflecting Christ’s heart to those around us. The pressure we feel about having to reflect the love of Christ in everything we do can push us towards inauthenticity, a “fake it till you make it” trap.  Pursuing true authenticity is critical in all our relationships, both with God as well as those around us.


Valuing authenticity is always others focused. Living authentically in community allows us to share each other’s burdens as well as help each other walk with God. Authentic people are willing to expose their innermost being to God’s Word and let His truth shape their heart. Authenticity doesn’t dwell on the past or remain stuck in the present. Instead it is focused on the person we are becoming and being an individual who lives out their values.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to reflect Your heart in everything I do.  Jesus help me stay true to Your values. Lord allow me to see that authenticity involves a process. God open my eyes to the places where I am using authenticity as an excuse to remain the same and not look closely at my behavior and words. 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 191-195 of 285
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