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 156-160 of 286
June 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

How is Christ’s love compelling you to love others?

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.  2 CORINTHIANS 10:13-18


Our character is the most powerful currency we have to influence others. The fuel to love the difficult people in our lives comes from knowing we have been trusted with the integrity of His image and influence of His love. Having felt the amazing love of Christ firsthand, we desire for others to experience the one thing that has transformed our lives. Forgiven people are to be forgiving people. Our relationships must be expressive. The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all have died.” In other parts of Scripture, Paul’s prayer for people within his care is that they would know how “wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-19).


He takes this personal investment a step further in Galatians 4:19 using the imagery of childbirth to describe the anguish he feels when others are hurting and do not know the love of Christ. Paul understood the only true source of hope for this lost world. Instead of pointing people to himself, he always directed others to the life of Christ.  Without Christ’s love serving as the fuel that drives us to respond, we find ourselves resorting to manipulation in our interactions with others. This leads us to attempt to be the conduit for change. The wrong source produces the wrong image. The difference between manipulation and influence is the motive.


We must learn to love in such a way that people respond to Him and not us. Jesus’ commission to make disciples was to proclaim a message of redemption and hope. This hope for lasting change rests solely in the hands of the Great Redeemer. Humans were never wired to walk through this world in search of hope, rescue, and forgiveness alone. God has placed the responsibility of being His hands and heart to this world solely on the Body of Christ. This mission to reach people and help them walk with God is a personal call He has made to each one of us. How is Christ’s love compelling you to love others? How are your relationships expressing Christ’s love?


This is my Prayer: Father God Lord I want to love other in such a way that they respond to You.  Lord help me to test my motives on a continual basis.  Jesus may I be filled with Your love so I don’t resort to manipulating others to fill that need to be loved.  Lord allow me to care with integrity.  Jesus I want the care I provide others to be pure and centered on the hope You provide. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

How can you be a party starter today?

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’  So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:8-10


As believers, the way we live our lives should be contagious to others. Culture should take notice of how we live free and be curious as to what drives this freedom. Unfortunately, many of us live as if following Jesus excludes us from having any fun. Rather than inviting everyone to the party, we act like bouncers, checking the credentials of anyone who dares to enter our space. We live as if there is some exclusive VIP section where only special individuals are allowed behind the velvet rope.  If we’re honest with ourselves, Christians are more often known for being party poppers rather than party starters.


The closer we get to walking with Jesus, the easier it is to have smaller tables and bigger walls. If we’re not careful, our tables can shrink all in the name of godliness and holiness. When we respond this way, we break God’s heart and show a lack of understanding in the power the Gospel message holds. We act like everyone is not invited to the party, but they are. Everyone has received an invitation. Jesus doesn’t segregate. He integrates. Instead of building a wall, Jesus is calling us to build a bigger table. Loving God affects how we love others. Loving others affects how we love God. Being a party starter is part of our DNA as Christ followers. Having experienced the love of Christ firsthand, we have been set free and that is reason to celebrate. 


Jesus went to parties. Jesus told stories about parties. Jesus compared God’s Kingdom to a party. Jesus loved parties because he loved people. He understood that there is something that happens at a party that can’t happen anywhere else.  Sometimes it takes a party to change how we see each other. Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party. Sometimes it takes a party to confirm we can always be forgiven. Sometimes it takes a party to prove that people matter more than opinions. Sometimes it takes a party to remind us that everyone is invited to the party.


A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value to life. Our interactions with others should leave a positive impact. Our faith is meant to be lived. Every single time we gather people together is an act of worship because we are demonstrate how God cares and loves. Every table is an altar. There has never been a more important time in history than right now to start acting like we believe everyone is invited to the party. If we don’t learn to love and serve, the power of the church diminishes. But, what if we started acting like everyone is invited to the party? How can you be a party starter today?


This is my Prayer: Father God, let me celebrate the fact that I’ve been set free. Lord, in the midst of this celebration, help me remember that You are asking me to share and express to others the same hope I’ve given.  Jesus teach me to invite everyone to the table so I can pursue understanding, hear their stories, and share Your love with them. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does God come to you when you are in your place of loneliness and despair?

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  1 Kings 19:11-13


How does God come to you when you are in your place of loneliness and despair? Throughout the Bible, we see individuals who are alone. Terrified, worried and confused, these individuals are in hiding. The stories of how they came to their hiding places vary, but they all have a common ending, God appears. He shows up on the scene not to belittle, judge, or condemn them.  He comes to ask personal questions that confront their brokenness and heal their hearts. When turmoil and confusion reigned, God continued to pursue and love them with compassion and grace.


The same is true with us. God meets us in our loneliness and He asks us the same question. What are you doing here?  If we don’t take the time necessary to search our hearts, answer this deep question and lean on the security God provides, our emotions and feelings will cause us to stumble during the storm loneliness brings. This is a scary venture for sure, but we don’t have to do it alone. Even in the midst of our pain, we are never truly alone. God promises His presence.  He promises that He will never leave or forsake us.


The feeling of loneliness does not equal the absence of God. Neither does it equate to a failure of faith on our part. In fact, embracing loneliness by answering the question “What are you doing here?” can be a way towards deeper faith and deeper dependency. God has already overcome what we are most afraid of.  He’s made a way for us to walk through it, but not avoid it. When we allow God to search us and speak to our deepest needs, wants and desires, we come to realize God can not only redeem our loneliness, but it can become something God uses to build our trust, dependency and faith in Him.


This is my Prayer: Father God, in the midst of loneliness and despair, help me to see that You are by my side and I am never alone.  Jesus I know You come to me, not to condemn, but to help me realize my utter dependence for You. Lord teach me to have the courage to find Your truth in all circumstances. In Jesus name, Amen.

June 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

Why are you holding on to the old you?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

You never know what you will come across when you read the “In Other News” section found near the back pages of most newspapers. This is the place where tidbits of strange happenings make their home. They often tell of random events that don’t seem to fit anywhere else, but in place labeled ‘other.’ If you ever find yourself in a bad mood, I’d suggest picking up your daily paper and reading this section. You are always guaranteed to find one story that makes you at the very least chuckle or, at the very most, question what is wrong with humanity.


One of my all time favorite “In Other News” stories is the one about the fiasco that took place a few years back during Halloween in White Plains, NY. A guy named Oscar was taking his daughter trick-or-treating in a local neighborhood. Both dad and daughter were dressed up in costumes going door to door. You might be wondering what is noteworthy about a little girl who dresses up like a princess or Disney character getting candy. We haven’t got to what Oscar was wearing; his old orange prisoner’s jumpsuit.


Just by chance, or because God has a great sense of humor, a county correction officer was out trick-or-treating with her child and spotted the familiar jumpsuit. Fearing he was an escape convict, it sent the local jail into lockdown until they could establish no inmates were missing. Meanwhile, cops found Oscar and confiscated the genuine jumpsuit. Oscar was arrested and charged with petty larceny and possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors. You see prisoners are not permitted to take their jumpsuits home when they are released.


The 6th chapter in Romans speaks in great detail about how we were once slaves or prisoners to sin, but since we have accepted what Christ did on the cross, we have been set free. The chains have been taken off and we are able to live life freely. The door to our jail cell has been opened, we’ve been released and all we need to do is hand in our prisoner’s jumpsuit on the way out. We have been set free.  Very few words in the English language evoke more emotion than the word freedom. Something inside us feels liberated and joyful whenever it is spoken or experienced firsthand. We picture chains being broken and the weight of the world taken off our shoulders. It is only natural for us to yearn to be free.


Yet, how many of us still have the orange jumpsuit tucked away somewhere deep in our closet or take it out and wear it from time to time? We don’t know what it is, but there is something keeping us from getting rid of it. We are so accustomed to how the prisoner’s jumpsuit feels that we struggle to part with it. The longer we keep this jumpsuit in our possession the greater the pull we will feel to go back to our old lifestyle. In essence, we are helping put back on the very chains that Christ went to the cross to break for good. The reason we find ourselves dealing with the same old struggles time and time again is because we are suffering from a case of mistaken identity.


This piece of clothing symbolizes our old condition, not our new identity in Christ. Our sin nature might always be a part of us, but we are no longer obligated to sin. Our freedom is found in God’s truth. Rather than living under the constant pressure of trying to reach an unattainable standard (the law), we are instead covered by God’s grace, which looks so much better than an old tattered orange jumpsuit. Why do you keep the orange prisoner’s jumpsuit that symbolizes your old identity still around? What security do you think it provides you? What makes you doubt that you can ever let it go?


This is my Prayer: Father God, today I want to walk in Your freedom. Lord help me see myself the way You see me.  Jesus teach me to trust that the old is gone and the new has come. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are there some warning signs alerting you that you are at or over your Red Line?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I drive a 99 Nissan Sentra so I don’t much pay attention to the tachometer. That gauge is pretty much irrelevant. When I turn on the ignition, I’m more concerned my car starts than the RPM it is producing.  70 is about as fast as it goes and that’s when it is going downhill. Anything over that speed it begins to rattle and letting me know not to push my luck. If I get anywhere close to the Red Line, there is a good chance the car might combust. Over the years, I’ve learned the limits of the Sentra, it gets great gas mileage and it’s a great “in town” car. 


The tachometer on a worn out Nissan Sentra might be irrelevant, but the gauges that exist in our heart, mind, and soul should be of utter importance. There is a Red Line that exists for each one of us. Unfortunately, we tend to consider our tachometers irrelevant also.  Therefore we have nothing to govern us, and we push our lives to the limit. We are driven, but don’t know where we are headed.


Perfection pulls us while fear pushes us. Deep down inside we also have this fear we are going to miss out. We are driven by our fears more than our pursuits. We’ve become rotten with perfection. We have this mindset that “If I can just get this, or if I can just achieve that then my life will be perfect….I’ll finally experience this FULL life.” We are chasing perfection with this destination thinking and it is driving us insane. We push and push and push hoping that once we achieve what we are chasing, then we can slow down, enjoy and be satisfied. But, perfection and satisfaction never come. The full life is nowhere to be found.


When is enough, enough? Where is your Red Line? What is God calling you to do? These are questions that often remain unanswered. Why? Because we never stop long enough to ask the questions in the first place. Knowing ourselves requires us to know our own Red Line. Without knowing ourselves, we will try to drive in a million different directions at lightning speed.  We just remain in park racing our engines. Our RPM’s rev, but our lives remain still and we are unmoved.  It’s hard to walk with God when we are running so fast after everything else.


We are chasing perfection as if it was a destination. But, when we look at how the Bible speaks of perfection, we get a completely different picture. Perfection is more about satisfaction than it is excellence. We need to develop a deep sense of satisfaction that centers on the process of our growth. God is more concerned about what we are becoming than what we are doing, but what we do is very important.  When we know ourselves, we never have to prove ourselves to anybody else. God doesn’t want us to be someone else, He desires for us to exactly who he made each of us to be. He has placed a call on each of our lives.


Knowing that calling requires the eyes of our hearts to be opened. Our call is simply what God has asked us to do and what He’s entrusted to our care.  We must know God in order to know ourselves. God will never do something with us without doing something in us first.  We can’t bypass the process.  What if we took the time to get to know ourselves: learning our strengths, weakness and pace? In order to be yourself, you must know yourself.  Are there some warning signs alerting you that you are at or over your Red Line?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to pause long enough to reflect on the pace of my life. Lord expose the reasons why I push so hard. Jesus I desire for my motives to be pure and honor You. Help me to learning my strengths, weakness, and the pace You have set for my life.  I desire for my life serve as an offering to You. 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 156-160 of 286