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 58   Entries 11-15 of 286
December 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

How have you wrestled with accepting the love and forgiveness of Christ?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:1-5


You can diagram and chart what Jesus did, but the one thing you can’t do is explain why. Why did Jesus do all of this for us? “What” can be explained, but “why” cannot. This is why the facts aren’t enough.  Facts try to convince you with logic and reason. The love of God is radically different than the way we think of love. Love is the motivation behind God sending Jesus. Love is not logical. We aren’t agreeing with a concept, but rather relating to a person.


Jesus came and entered our world by walking, talking, living and breathing. He endured the years of His life in many ways like you and me: laughing, crying, thinking, and interacting. But, Jesus not only entered in our world in a way that can be verified historically, but He came into your world in a way that can only be perceived personally.  This leaves you with two options in responding to the illogical love of Jesus Christ. You can embrace His impact and invite Him into your mess or you can resist His impact and keep Him at arm’s distance. You can stand in awe and worship or continue on moving with your life. Your natural response will be to resist.


After all, everything you’ve been taught is that nothing comes free. You need to prove your worth. So, you reason, “If I perform well enough He’ll truly accept me.” But, His love undoes all that crazy talk. Christ’s sacrifice took care of all that performance-based mindset.  Christ isn’t intimidated that you blew it and He isn’t impressed with our efforts to be “good” enough. Instead, Jesus calls us to draw near and reminds us that we’ve been adopted as sons and daughters. We understand this as a concept but wrestle with living our lives based on this security being a reality.


The way we relate to God is to trust and obey. Obedience is an act of faith. The illogical love of Christ frees us to obey as a response. How have you wrestled with accepting the love and forgiveness of Christ? How does Christ’s love go against the grain of how we define love?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I stand in awe of Your love. It is impossible for me to fathom. Lord instead of asking “why,” may I just trust that it is true. Jesus You love me in ways I can’t imagine and in that love I am secure. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

November 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where have you lost your sense of wonder and what have you replaced it with?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10


Efficiency and productivity have become the highest values in our culture. We are always on the go. We are engrained from very young to work faster and harder. Our schedules are jam-packed as we go from one activity to the next. If productivity becomes the marker of success and success is our ultimate goal, then the quicker we produce, the more success we enjoy. But, the reality is that many of us are enjoying very little of our days. Not only is joy in short supply, wonder is nowhere to be found. Being still and standing in awe of something doesn’t pay the bills, get things accomplished, or move our agenda forward.


As we grow from a child into an adult, we outgrow our wonder without realizing how detrimental this is to experiencing a full life. We are so conditioned to find our flaws and fix them that we often forget to wonder. As a result, our heart remains restless as it continues to search for something worthy of its attention, affection, and worship. There is a big difference between that which catches the attention of our eyes and that which captures the affection of our hearts. The heart can’t help but express itself. What is formed on the inside gets expressed on the outside. Our circumstances can make us desperate, but our hearts can make us curious. Caring for our heart begins with being still.


Gratitude arises from stillness. Our refusal to wonder opens the door for entitlement to creep into our hearts. Gratitude awakens wonder while entitlement drives us to prove our worth. Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God. During the holiday season, the pressure to speed up only intensifies. This is why we have to be intentional about developing a curious heart. We have to remind ourselves that because God is never in a hurry, neither should we be. Hurry is the enemy of spiritual formation. Our sense of wonder is influenced by what we allow ourselves to see.


Wonder is never awoken by looking inward. It involves marveling at something much bigger than ourselves. By slowing down, we are training our eyes to see God’s power, creativity, and influence in our lives as well as the world around us. Where have you lost your sense of wonder and what have you replaced it with?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to slow down today. Lord quiet my mind, focus my eyes, and awaken my heart. Rather than rush, let me be still. Jesus in the midst of my busy schedule, teach me to make it a priority to stand in awe of who You are and how You love me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

November 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

In what areas does the picture of our old self remain at the forefront of your attention?

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14


What you see determines where you are headed. Direction is driven by perspective. If your focus is on your past, it is impossible to see the future God has for you. Vision is simply what you see. Clarity and direction are needed for growth to occur. Focusing on our circumstances and the regrets from our past place our pursuit in neutral and can even shift things into reverse. When we live this way we not only see our past but also live our life running from it. Without realizing it, we are walking into the future backward.


Why does this picture of our old self remain at the forefront of our attention? The reasons vary across the board. Every time you pay for the mistakes of the past it serves as a reminder of the person you once were. Those labels of being worthless and a bad seed are challenging to remove from your heart and head. When you’ve been told your entire life you are unlovable you begin to believe the lie and let that define you. Old habits die hard and fight to remain in control. What is your excuse for remaining in neutral by setting your eyes on the failures of the past? Where are your eyes set? Instead of spending your time trying not to be the kind of person you once were, place your gaze on the person you are becoming. In what areas does the picture of our old self remain at the forefront of your attention?


This is my Prayer: Father God, my eyes are often looking backwards towards the failures of my past. Lord help me to break this cycle of focusing on the person I once was. These labels no longer define me. When I focus too much on my past, I cannot see the future You have for me. Jesus may my focus be devoted to the person You want me to be. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

November 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you describe the reason for your confidence about forever?

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6


To help us understand what King David meant when he said, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” we need to consider the story of his life. He was living with an end in mind. In David’s day, the official place of worship was still the old tabernacle, dating from the time of Moses. When David set up his capital in Jerusalem, he was bothered about living in a house of cedar while “the ark of God dwells in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:1). He decided to build a temple for the Lord, but this was not God's plan. His response to the king was, in essence, No, you won't.


David meant to honor God with his building. However, the Lord made it clear that it wasn’t David’s idea He was rejecting—it was the circumstances. David’s role as a warrior made him unsuitable for the role of Temple builder (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). In God’s plan, David’s son Solomon would build the house for His glory. With that backdrop, consider what David was saying at the end of Psalm 23: This life is so short. Ultimately, I shall dwell in house of the Lord forever. I might not get to build the temporary Temple on earth, but I’m moving into the permanent one in heaven someday. When they start singing my songs, I’ll be in the front row.


Look at David's confidence as he declares, “I shall dwell.” He understood this was not a temporary visit, but that he would be at home “in the house of the Lord.” He knew he was moving into what Jesus called, “my Father’s house” (John 14:2). The Bible gives us many clues about heaven, and they all add up to this great idea: We’re going home! We will finally be where we were designed to spend eternity. Heaven was made for God's children, and we were made for it. What Revelation 21:1 calls "a new heaven and a new earth," isn’t some alternative plan God worked out when humans fell into sin. Heaven was the plan and destination for believers all along.


This last word is the best word in the whole psalm: “Forever.” Life on earth is short, and the deadline is coming fast. Eternity is racing upon us. Soon the clock will stop, and time shall be no more. As John Newton's old hymn Amazing Grace says so beautifully, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . . we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we'd first begun.” If you have received Jesus' forgiveness and embraced Him by faith, you too can declare like David, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There is no better end to have on your mind as you walk through this day. When you think about heaven, what are you anticipating the most? Why? How would you describe the reason for your confidence about forever?


This is my Prayer: Father God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, just as David’s dream about the Temple was, though it wasn’t Your plan for him to build it. Lord direct my thoughts to what You may be leading me to do. Jesus help me be willing to pursue Your call wherever it leads, right up to the moment I go to dwell in Your house forever! In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

How is the answer to our loneliness found in our willingness to lean into the pain?

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Psalm 25:16-21


There are many roads that lead us down the path towards loneliness, the loss of a loved one, living with convictions, relocating to a new town or school, secret sin patterns ,or being introverted in social settings, just to name a few. It doesn’t matter if you are in the midst of a sea of people or all by yourself behind closed doors, loneliness knows no bounds. The pain of loneliness is part of the human experience. We’ve all encountered the pain of separation at one time or another. When those feelings of loneliness begin to make an appearance, we do everything in our power to protect ourselves. We surround ourselves with noise and keep busy to avoid slowing down long enough to listen to the silence. We hide behind our work, we get lost in media and technology, and we medicate by indulging in anything that will numb the pain.


We often exchange connection with distraction and community with consumption. In our quest to find wholeness, everyone becomes a commodity. If we don’t understand the deep cause of our loneliness, we will continue to use others. This creates unbelievable pressure and heartbreak in the connections we are trying to make.  When people disappoint or hurt us, we retreat into loneliness. We reason the agony of loneliness is better than the pressure of people so we disengage from others by either becoming self-absorbed or playing the victim card and blaming others for our pain. We do everything in our power to protect ourselves from the pain loneliness brings.


Many of us don’t like being alone because we don’t know what to do with ourselves. The last thing we want to experience is coming face-to-face with our brokenness, loneliness, and insecurities. But, rather than running away from loneliness, we should lean into the pain, because if we do, this is where comfort resides. The way we learn to deal with crushing loneliness is found when we give up trying to escape, force, amuse or distract it away. Everyone struggles with loneliness; how we view and deal with it determines the quality of our lives and our relationships. When have you experienced loneliness? How did you react in these moments? What did you turn to in hopes of distracting yourself or dealing with these feelings of loneliness? Why did you look to these things to bring you comfort? How is the answer to our loneliness found in our willingness to lean into the pain?


This is my Prayer:  Father God, in the midst of my loneliness, may I trust that I am never truly alone. Lord You are always with me. All too often I want to avoid and run away from the pain. Jesus instead, give me the courage to embrace it so you can mend my heart. 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 58   Entries 11-15 of 286