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 81-85 of 285
September 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has your image of God as your Heavenly Father been shaped over the years?

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:9-11


God is our loving father. Are you unsure what to do with it? Does it make you uneasy? Do you hesitate to believe it is true? Is it hard for you to associate the act of love with your picture of a father? The picture you hold of God as your Heavenly Father has been shaped by many different influences. However, the greatest influence is the relationship you had (or didn’t have) with your father.


Maybe your dad was cold and distant. This makes you feel as though you were an inconvenience to him. Perhaps your dad was never in the picture so you are going off assumptions you’ve developed regarding the role of a father. Your picture of a father may be one who is either indifferent or walks away when things get difficult. Maybe your dad was physically present but emotionally distant. This caused you to rebel or pushed you to perform in order to achieve his attention or affection.  On the other hand, maybe your dad was your best friend, biggest supporter, and your greatest encourager. His door was always open and his ear was always available. He wasn’t perfect but owned up to his mistakes.


As a child, you watched how your dad treated your mom, how he responded to life and how he interacted with you. Many boys want to be just like their dad while some want to be the complete opposite of him. The same holds true for the girls. They either want to marry a man who exhibits the qualities of their dad or find someone drastically different with whom to spend the rest of their life. Our picture of God is greatly shaped by the example of our earthly fathers, either for good or for bad. This should come as no surprise. But, we must pause and consider the image we hold of God being our Heavenly Father. Is it one shaped by our earthly examples or one grounded in the truths found in Scripture? Scripture is clear we are image bearers. This sounds good, but you might be wondering what that even means.


Here is one way to think of it. Has anyone ever said that you look like your father? Maybe they pointed out a physical resemblance like your hair, eyes, or smile. There is no escaping it. You share the same DNA. As you grew older, the similarities between your father and you might have come out through your personality, interests, or temperament. “Like father, like son” is how the old saying goes.  God created us to imitate and reflect His character. Our job is to reflect this image in every aspect of our lives. It should influence the way we view work, lead our families, and pursue our relationships. It must redefine our perception of success, influence, and purpose. It should rearrange our priorities and pursuits.


Being an image bearer should alter the things that make us angry, the things that capture our attention, and the things we devote our time and energy toward. If you never met your biological father, it would be impossible to know how to reflect his image. The same holds true with our responsibility as an image bearer of God. To reflect God’s heart you must know God’s heart. Everything hinges on our understanding of the character of God as well as our new identity in Christ. We have to know Him in order to know the image we should be bearing.


As an individual pursues God, he begins to live out who he’s supposed to be, namely an image bearer. The changes that take place in our character are not a matter of pure self-will, but rather a by-product of walking with God.  How has your image of God as your Heavenly Father been shaped over the years?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for being my loving father. Lord may I look to You as my example of how I should love others.  Jesus help me to take the responsibility of being an image bearer seriously. Let my words and my actions reflect Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

September 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

A taste of God makes us want another taste of God and another taste, until our sin becomes less and less appetizing.  

Wake up from your drunken stupor and do what is right and do not go on sinning. 1 Corinthians 15:34

I once had a man tell me he was mad at God. Mad because he thought God had promised him healing from an alcohol addiction and since God had promised healing, surely that meant he could drink a beer. Or two. Heck, why not three? This man was entitled. He thought freedom in Christ meant he could indulge in his favorite sin, and there would be no  consequences. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. He fell back into his addiction. So, he felt that God lies or was the lie. I responded: Jesus healed the blind man. But that didn’t mean the blind man could go around poking shards of glass in his eyes, thinking his sight was going to stay okey dokey. Also, while Jesus didn’t condemn the adulterous woman, neither did He mince words when He told her, “Go and sin no more.”


Jesus heals, no doubt. We are saved by grace. We are free. But the freedom that Christ gives us through His death and resurrection isn’t an allowance to sin. If we feel this way, we need to examine our hearts. Followers of Christ should have disgust for their sin. Simply put, if we love God, our sin should become more and more unpalatable. Because our sin is like, well, vomit. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit, is a fool who repeats his folly.”  Our sin and our desire for God are incompatible. We will gravitate towards one or the other. As soon as there’s a temptation to sin, we need to go to God and consciously choose Him. We must choose to surrender. To go and sin no more is a purposeful act.


We surrender to God when we pray, read Scripture, seek community, serve others, love others, and honor our God-given priorities and responsibilities. We choose God when we love Him in these tangible ways instead of indulging in sin. But when sin becomes a controlling desire, we are like the dog in Proverbs. We succumb to a sin pattern. In other words, we return to our vomit. And once we’re done, there’s regret and shame. And then there are consequences, because there are always consequences. But there’s hope and grace too, because we can go to God with our mess. Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness leads to our repentance. Not our regret, our shame, or our consequences, but ultimately, it’s His kindness that draws us to Him. We are His. His work on the cross rinses the bad taste from our mouths. And once our mouths are clean and minty fresh, we crave more of this refreshing taste of God.


I think of it like this. Right after I brush my teeth, or have a cleaning at the dentist, the last thing I want to do is chow down on a bag of chips and onion dip. I don’t want anything to interfere with the work that had just been completed. If anything, I want to keep up the good work, like go floss or rinse with mouthwash. It’s the wonderful power of the gospel. A taste of God makes us want another taste of God and another taste, until our sin becomes less and less appetizing.   We come to know and live the truth that satisfaction is found only in Christ. This is freedom. 


This is my Prayer:  Father God, thank You for the grace and freedom You give me. Lord I know I can never do anything to earn it, ever. It is mine because I belong to You. Jesus help me to become more and more satisfied in You. I want to live my life for You, truly free and wholly content. Help me to love You, Your word, and Your ways. Help me to express Your love to others. In Your name, Jesus.  Amen.

September 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

In what ways can you fight with love and the spiritual weapons God has given you?

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12


We see throughout the Bible that Jesus is not simply calling us to be a church that believes.  He is calling us to be a church who loves.  But let’s be real, sometimes loving others feels more like stepping into a wrestling match than a holy discipline.  In our quests to love others, we may often have good intentions but when things get hard, we find it easier to walk away. The Bible is clear about the struggles in our lives and relationships there is no struggle with flesh and blood, our struggle is with the enemy.  It is the enemy that tries to wreck havoc in our relationships and havoc in the world around us.  It is the enemy who wants us to fixate on other people as if they are the problem. 


The Bible says that the devil is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short.  The enemy came to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came to teach us to walk in the way of love. When love and forgiveness feels more like a wrestling match, let us ask God to see our true enemy.  Believe it or not, 100% of the time our true enemy is never the person standing in front of us!  It is futile to spend our time fighting people.  Understanding that our struggle is not with flesh and blood frees us to love others the way Christ has called us to. We are called to wage war differently than the rest of the world.  Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6:10-20 the kind of war we are to wage and how to take our stand against the devil’s schemes.  Christ does not call us to wage war against others with sharp words, clever comebacks and cunning tactics. 


Instead, Christ calls us to wage war with love (patience, kindness, and hopeful endurance) and to fix our minds on His Truth, His Gospel, His Spirit and God’s Word. So today, instead of fighting people, let us talk to God.  Let us wage war in love and prayer against our true enemy, appealing to the only One who holds the divine power to transform hearts and lives. Think about a situation in which you have found it difficult to love.  Ask God to give you spiritual eyes to see the spiritual battle that is happening.  In what ways can you fight with love and the spiritual weapons God has given you? Christ calls us to follow in His footsteps and walk in the way of love.  Ask Christ to show you the next step you need to take to love someone today.


This is my Prayer: Father God, forgive me for the many times I have seen my enemy as flesh and blood and not the true enemy that You describe in the Bible.  Lord help me to wage a war of love and not one filled with the ways of the world.  Jesus help me to value unity as much as You do and thank you for leading me in the way of love and peace.  Please grant me the courage to walk in it. In Your name, Jesus.  Amen. 

September 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

What different seeds do you need to start planting?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10


The light and the dark. It’s the epic struggle we’ve seen depicted in our stories since the beginning of time. The hero of light struggles against the villain of darkness. We love these stories because they seem to reflect our world. They reflect our own desire that the light will win out over the darkness. But what if the tension between light and dark isn’t just a struggle happening out there? What if it’s one that’s going on in our own hearts? God says that it is. Even crazier He says that we have a role to play in the battle. We get to choose which side we’re going to sow into our lives. As we’re going to discover, Jesus is inviting us to sow the light, and our decision to do so just might make the difference between living life to the fullest and missing out on it.


In order to live the full life, we must confront the dark side. Darkness needs isolation in order to thrive. We separate ourselves from not only the life and love of God, but the people He has placed around us as well. Sin loves the darkness. It requires an element of isolation to pursue the lusts that we desire. The reason for this is very simple.  Darkness requires one to forsake wisdom. Instead, we take on a posture of hiding, isolation, indifference and even hostility towards the truth. Choosing the dark side pushes us to be defensive and use deceit to justify our behavior. It clouds our judgment and makes us believe we are entitled to the desires we are trying to fulfill. Don’t be deceived. Everyone is vulnerable to the allure of darkness. No one is immune to the dark side. Falling away from God and losing sight of the full life He promises happens through a series of bad choices.


Today matters, right now matters and your next decision matters. What we plant is what we harvest. What we sow today, we reap tomorrow. We have a responsibility for what we plant and this is why we need to consider what we are planting. It is impossible to live life to the fullest when we are making dark side decisions. We mock God by doing one thing and expecting different results. We are foolish if we believe we can plant dark seeds and expect to get light in return. When we are tempted and are struggling, we should press into the truth and pursue wisdom. It’s not enough to simply be available, we must fight for freedom. Rather than hiding, we must lean on our community of friends who are helping us in our walk.  Sharing the struggle lightens the load. It is in isolation that our unchecked desires run free. 


Wisdom brings the necessary boundaries to ensure that the freedom of our souls remains protected. It also provides perspective. One doesn’t get into a mess overnight which means one doesn’t get out of it overnight. There comes a point when we must stop hiding and pretending.  “Receiving Christ” is not some compartmentalized decision.  It requires coming to the light.  It involves being exposed and vulnerable. This can only occur if we are willing to break the silence and be honest about our sin. The invitation is to bring it to Christ to be exposed and forgiven.  Why? So our lives will serve as an expression of God. Where are you planting the wrong seeds? What different seeds do you need to start planting?


This is my Prayer: Father God, let me not lose sight of the battle taking place inside me. Lord help me to realize that with every decision I make I can choose to stand freely in the light or isolate myself in the darkness. Jesus I desire to make choices that bring You glory. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

September 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

What unfinished business do you need to work out with God?

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19


After watching his friend and teacher die on a cross, Peter didn’t know where to turn. So, he returned to his old life and the only thing he ever knew: fishing. Peter was hoping the blowing winds of the sea would silence the guilt, regret, and worthlessness he felt inside. He reasoned his days of being a fisher of men were a thing of the past after denying Jesus three times. Then, Jesus appeared on the scene in a familiar way, to deal with some unfinished business.  As Peter reached the shore, there was probably a mixture of anticipation and awkwardness. None of the disciples, including Peter, knew how to start the conversation or break the ice. After all, it’s not every day that your teacher and friend conquers death.


This probably left them overwhelmed, especially Peter who couldn’t erase the memory of those denials and the sting of hearing that rooster crow. Peter probably reasoned “how could I, a coward, ever be a leader?” This was the unfinished business Jesus came to address. It’s the crucial conversation that needed to take place. Jesus wanted to confront the regret, restore his friend and assure Peter that he is loved. Jesus didn’t shy away from the issue, but created a clear path for the conversation and restoration to take place. This is not only good news for Peter, but it is good news to us. Why? Each one of us has at one time or another turned away. We’ve looked to lesser things to fill our heart. We’ve given our affection to someone else. We’ve sinned. We’ve failed to step out in faith. We’ve been ashamed of our beliefs. We’ve put our light under a bowl. We’ve loved the darkness. We’ve turned our backs. We’ve doubted we matter to God. We’ve given up on the life God has for us.


Jesus doesn’t brush aside Peter’s sin. Instead, he makes Peter confront it. But, Jesus does so in order to bring true repentance. Jesus challenges Peter in a loving way. Romans 2:4 says that it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance. Only when someone is broken over his or her sin can God begin the process of restoration. This is a pivotal moment in Peter’s life. Confronting his regret through the lens of Christ’s love transformed Peter. Doing the same can have a profound impact on your life as well. Just like the song How He Loves says we don’t have the time to maintain our regrets when we think about the way He loves us. What would it look like for God’s love to erase your regrets? What unfinished business do you need to work out with God? What crucial conversations need to take place?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for loving me in spite of myself. Thank You for loving me during those times I run, deny, doubt and sin. Lord remind me of this love when I find myself maintaining my regrets. Jesus allow me to confront my regrets through the lens of Your love and may that transform my character and heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

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