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 121-125 of 286
July 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

What does it mean that you are God’s workmanship and that you’ve been created to do good works? 

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


What does it mean that you are God’s workmanship and that you’ve been created to do good works?  It means that God’s major objective for our life is to be conformed to the image of His Son, our lives should be a reflection of what Christ was all about, serving others.  The reason for living a life of service is not to help God; He would manage perfectly fine without us. We serve to reflect His love.  We have been given a great responsibility and it is important we steward this influence well by becoming servants.  Someone who is active in service has a shared sense of success and failure. The thrills are to be celebrated, but the obstacles are to be faced head on. Someone who is active in service has a mindset that they are ready to roll up their sleeves and become part of the solution. They look for ways to give and not get.


God stretches us, teaches us and reveals more of His character when we serve. The depth many crave in their walk with Him develops, as their heart slowly becomes His own in the midst of service. This takes place by following a simple command: love God and love others.  Don’t let excuses and fear prevent you from jumping in.  Don’t wait till you feel like serving to serve.  Taking those first tentative steps towards service is one way you exercise your faith. You might be unsure and wonder how God will use your part to make a difference in the life of another. Yet, through that act of faith, you are placing yourself in an environment where God can stretch you and develop your character.  You don’t gain an understanding of what faith is without acting upon it.


Acting on your faith is what builds your faith. Your single, simple step of faith becomes a part of the river of God’s work that brings about God’s kingdom here on Earth. When Jesus prays for more workers  in Matthew 9:35-38, in essence, He is praying that people would respond to the invitation to “jump in.” Why? Because the fields are ripe for harvest.  Look around at the people who are in your sphere of influence: family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends from the gym, etc. They are waiting for someone to walk beside them and introduce them to the amazing love of a Savior.  This is the field you are in charge of cultivating.


These people are desperately searching to find significance and meaning for their lives. They are waiting for someone to walk beside them and introduce them to the amazing love of a Savior. God has given each person all the equipment they need gifts, talents, passions for the leap of a lifetime.


This is my Prayer: Father God, may I lay the excuses aside and not let fear, inconvenience or doubt get the better of me. Lord instead, may I take those tentative first steps into service.  Jesus help me to trust that my faith will be stretched as a result of that step. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.  

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.

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 121-125 of 286