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 136-140 of 286
July 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there a person you are walking on eggshells around?

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2


It doesn’t matter if someone shares 99 encouragements, it’s the one criticism that occupies our minds. There is something about the negativity that resonates deeply within us. When we are stuck in our insecurities, we resist love. This puts us on the defensive in any conversation where our weaknesses are exposed.  We long for approval and anything that doesn’t validate us is seen as disapproval or the lack of acceptance. This serves as a crushing blow to our relationships and why remembering our identity in Christ is so important. We are able to see that we are more than our mistakes, shortcomings, and blemishes.


Yet, our insecurities and inadequacies cannot be excuses for bad behavior. Tiptoeing around each other’s eggshells will never lead to growth and transformation. If we remain silent, we play a part in causing others to remain stuck. Our silence speaks volumes about our love for one another. If we are unwilling to speak into each other’s lives, it says that the other person isn’t worth our effort. When we truly love another person, we are looking out for their good. We are searching for ways that God is working in their life. This goes much deeper than criticizing a behavior. Criticism focuses on cleaning up the current issue at hand so that we can get back to business as usual. On the other hand, a rebuke is more concerned with the person’s heart, not only the behavior.


Before this can take place, a common purpose must be found. This comes only through the act of listening. When we listen first, we enable God’s love to fill our hearts and for our mouths to become fountains of life. When we pause and listen, we allow the other person to be heard. This also gives an opportunity to hear God speaking to us.  We must work toward understanding. Without it, communication is impossible. If the person on the other side of the table doesn’t think you understand, your words will fall on deaf ears. They will feel judged and condemned causing their emotions to dictate their behavior. Some will shut down while others may lash out. Emotions will begin to dictate the conversation or lack there of.


In the midst of these crucial conversations, we have to understand that we are in it together. We must trust that the other person has our best interest at heart. The goal of correction is restoration. First and foremost, restoration is relational.  When we see the other person in the way God sees them, it changes our approach to the conversation. We desire what’s best for that individual. They matter to Him so they matter to us. We want nothing more than to see God working in their lives and for their full formation to be unhindered. This is the common purpose that should define all of our relationships. It is only when we define the common purpose that we can address the issues at hand and start dealing with the eggshells all around us. Is there a person you are walking on eggshells around?  What would it look like for you to want the best for them? How would having this mindset alter your approach to them?


This is my Prayer: Father God, let me see people through Your eyes. Lord allow this grace-filled vision to direct and guide my conversations, and remind me to listen first and seek to understand. Jesus may the words I speak be grounded in love to the point where they gently nudge people in Your direction, where love, mercy, and true change is found. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you need God’s help to lead you away from a temptation?

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15


If the enemy can get someone to believe their struggles with temptation are unique, he knows they will continue to hide and fight their battle all alone. When an individual’s struggle remains in the dark, they rely on pure self-will to fend off temptation. This improves the devil’s chances of overpowering the individual and making them feel helpless. They wave the white flag in surrender believing their only option is to give in to the temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 Paul disagrees with this belief as he says God will “ show you a way you can endure.” Other translations say God provides “a way out.” We are not victims, but people who make bad choices and doubt that God truly knows best when it comes to our needs and desires.


Yet, the reality is God knows us intimately, even the things which pull at our heart strings and tempt us. The individual who has knowledge of the typical traps set by the enemy is the one who avoids stumbling blocks. So, how do we respond when we are tempted? We seek strength in community by being transparent about our struggle. We pray for God to provide us with eyes to see the escape route He provides us when facing a test or temptation. Most importantly we follow the wisdom found in Psalm 119:11 by “hiding your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”


We must learn to seek His face and respond to His voice in our lives. We do this by finding what our next right step is when it comes to our personal struggle.  The first step for all of us is evaluating where we are most susceptible to fall for temptation and avoid these areas. Turning away is difficult, yet very necessary if we are to experience victory, pursue purity and take a stand against temptation. Where do you need God’s help to lead you away from a temptation? Where and when do you find yourself most vulnerable to fall to this temptation? Think about this personal struggle again.  Has part of you grown comfortable in this sin?


This is my Prayer: Father God, purify my desires. Lord open my eyes to the place where I have turned away and looked towards lesser things to fulfill me. Jesus help me not feel hopeless when temptation arises, but walk securely in the strength You provide. Remind me that I am not obligated to sin and You have freed me from sin’s clutches through the cross. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would it look like to completely take Jesus into all you are?

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

The Bible is filled with hard truths and commands that go against our natural tendencies. We are told to forgive our enemies, not worry about tomorrow, and control our tongue. We desire security and stability yet, in Scripture we are commanded to walk by faith. Scriptures can be very black and white but we would rather live in the gray.  We’re urged to pick up our cross and follow Him daily.  Yet, we often want to compartmentalize our faith when it is convenient for us.  God doesn’t want part of your heart; He wants the whole thing.


Unfortunately, we tend to hesitate when it comes to this level of commitment. For some, this command is too much and instead they walk away. This reaction is nothing new. In John 6, a crowd gathered around Jesus demanding a sign showing His power.  They desired to see a miracle similar to that of their ancestors that ate manna in the wilderness. Their hope was that their daily physical needs would be met, but as always Jesus’ response catches them off-guard. He saw the deeper need at hand, so He utters the words, “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you have no life in you.”


A statement like that has the ability to halt you in your tracks. Imagine being in the crowd at that very moment. This saying seems to come out of nowhere. What is one suppose to do with this? Jesus wanted the crowd to realize the depths of what it looks like to accept Him. The charge to embrace the reality of who Christ remains the same for us here and now, it is about taking Him completely into all we are.  The manna in the desert or the fishes needed to feed the 5,000 was enough to meet a person’s physical hunger. But, it is only a matter of time, before that physical hunger returns. The deeper need God is concerned about is our spiritual hunger. He is the one and only provision that can meet our need, the only place where life can be found.


So, just like the crowd, we are left with a decision and both choices are a challenge. It’s hard either way: walking away from Him or walking with Him. There were those in the crowd that day who counted the cost and reasoned that level of commitment was just too much to bear. They decided to go back to their old life and no longer followed Him. But, then there were those like Peter who realized there was nowhere else to turn in order to find the life they desired. Yes, it came with a cost, like laying down their pride, going the extra mile, and carrying that cross. Yet, it paled in comparison to what they were gaining. What would it look like to completely take Jesus into all you are?


This is my Prayer: Father God I know that the cost to following You is great, but it is worth it. Lord I desire for my life to be found in You. Jesus You, and You only, are my provision.  Help me to believe and trust in this truth. Show me how to completely take You into all that I am. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

We must learn to surrender to the Truth in order to be shaped by God. 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5


In moments of weakness, we’ve all wondered if change is indeed possible. Can something awkward ever become a normal reaction? Instead of displaying anger, can we exhibit patience? Rather than thinking judgmental thoughts, will we respond with compassion? Can forgiveness conquer where bitterness reigned?  The prospects of change can be both exhilarating and frightening, sometimes simultaneously. If we allow God to form us into His image, we will be tested, challenged, and pushed to extremes. Numerous twists and turns will greet us along the way. Sometimes the view from the top of the hill where transformation resides will appear too steep and daunting.


It’s in those moments, we need to keep pushing, embrace the transformation process and enjoy the ride. Transformation is the process by which our lives become an increasingly accurate expression of our true identity in Christ. God shaping and forming us is an expression of His love. We are being shaped into His image. This goes deeper than behavior modification. God isn’t interested in mindless obedience. He is after our heart. It’s not about changing our behavior. It’s about capturing and changing our heart, stepping into our new identity and growing deeper in our faith with Him.  The reality is we can obey all the rules and still miss the point.


Discipline helps us to know what to do until we understand why we do it. Transformation requires submission to the truth over time. We are changed by what we believe. Many of us spend our days clueless about what we believe and allow unchecked desires to run wild. If we want to be transformed, it starts with our mind and engaging in the process of awareness and alignment. It begins by examining what we believe, why we believe it and how those beliefs are impacting our actions and worldview. Then we take those beliefs and compare them to what God’s Word says.  We must learn to surrender to the Truth in order to be shaped by God.  Allowing what we experience to sink deeper begins by positioning ourselves to focus and depend on God’s work in our heart and life.


This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than growing restless when change doesn’t come easily, help me to stay engaged in the process. May I exhibit perseverance while trusting You with every step that I take. Give me the courage to walk in faith, knowing what Your ultimate goal is – my heart reflecting Your own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

July 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are the excuses you use to justify not stepping in to your calling of being the church?

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts:4:13

If you were to assemble a group of people who could change the world and provide your message with credibility, whom would you choose? If you had to entrust a handful of individuals with starting a movement and carrying it on long after you were gone, where would you look to fill your roster? You would pinpoint the best of the best: the titans of industry, the brightest minds, spiritual gurus, celebrities, innovators and scholars. You’d try to get your hands on the biggest names available. Instead of reaching out to the ordinary, you’d shoot to assemble the extraordinary.


But, like always, Jesus does the exact opposite when He’s in the same situation. He assembles a crazy crew of ordinary no names and undesirables. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon was an unsuccessful revolutionary. The rest of the disciple’s professions were largely unknown, but were probably tradesman of some sort. Rather than calling the wise, Jesus sought the unwise. Instead of the strong, He intentionally chose the weak. The disciples having “ordinary” jobs was a telling sign. It meant they couldn’t cut it in religious circles. All the other rabbis overlooked them. They weren’t religious scholars, scribes or Pharisees. Yet, these individuals helped spur on a movement that has impacted this world like nothing else.


And, let’s take it a step further. Not only did Jesus call ordinary guys to be part of His inner circle, He had compassion for the broken, outcast, overlooked and marginalized. They were the people He called his friends.  That same calling applies to you. God invites you to be part of His Church. Not only does God invite you, but also He sees you as a critical piece of the puzzle of making His name known. Often, our justifications for sitting on the sidelines are because “I don’t know enough”, “I’m not talented enough”, or “I don’t have it all together.” My response to those excuses is, “welcome to the club”. None of us have it all together. Each one of us stumbles and fails. God didn’t choose you because you are perfect, but because you are willing to serve and be used. So, today embrace being an individual who is ordinary, but one who carries the message of the extraordinary love of Christ. What are the excuses you use to justify not stepping in to your calling of being the church?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for choosing me to serve You. Lord I know that in the midst of my weakness, You are strong. Jesus help me to be willing to humbly serve You. I might be ordinary, but Your love is extraordinary. Let that love be what guides my steps. 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 136-140 of 286