Monthly Archives: June, 2014

Every Opportunity

You can tell people about Jesus till you are blue in the face, but your greatest testimony shared with others is your example. Paul wrote to those in Colossae to “Live wisely among those who are not believers… to let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (NLT, NIV).

I have four words written down that I read daily. Equip. Encourage. Empower. Embrace. Each day I remind myself of the importance of living this out with those who God brings in my path. It is not always easy to do; however, we are to be salty, we are to be full of grace.

It is so easy to show people something that is a misrepresentation of Christ. There a many opportunities to share love but instead we show judgment. We could speak life but instead we act in anger. We could encourage but instead we lash out and bring down. Each day you are given an opportunity. Make the most of every one. Live wisely among those who are not believers.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” – Colossians 4:5 [NLT]

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You Have No Idea

It says in today’s passage, “You have no idea how God works.” This statement was made by Jesus to Peter. Like many Jews at that time, Peter had a very different understanding of the Messiah. But this message can be said of us many times as well.

Too often we try to put things in God’s mouth, we try to say how God thinks, and yet we have no idea how He works apart from His Word and what He shows us through the Spirit. When you encounter something that is not clearly spelled out in the Bible, there is no way to say, “God says…,” just as there is no way to predict how God will move in a situation. There are many He might perhaps possibilities, but are you for certain?

Let us agree that we serve an amazing indescribable God. Let us remind ourselves today that we do not always know what God is doing or how He is works, but we can always trust in Him.

 

“But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. ‘Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.'” – Mark 8:32-33 [MSG]

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Out in the Cold

This last winter was horrible. I remember being stuck out in the cold many days having to shovel and shovel some more. I remember once my kids locked me out too. I did not have my keys with me because I wasn’t leaving. I was simply shoveling the inches of snow that had once again come our way. But I couldn’t get inside. I was cold. I knocked. They didn’t answer. Thankfully they came to my aide a bit later. It was no fun being outside in the cold.

The Bible says that there will be people who “will find themselves out in the cold.” It is sad but it is true. When you read the verse, something has to stick out—THOSE WHO GREW UP ‘IN THE FAITH.’ Wow. They will be in the cold?!? But they grew up in the faith. The second part says BUT HAD NO FAITH. It’s much clearer then. You see you cannot save your family members. You cannot grow up in a church and say you are a Christian because you were raised Christian. What even is that? YOU, yes YOU PERSONALLY, need to repent of your sins and give your life to Jesus. You need to say, “Not my will, but Yours.”

Growing up in a church won’t save you. I cannot save my own children. I try to follow God’s Word to parents. I take them to church. I lead by example. But they ultimately have to make the decision on their own. If you have been going to church all your life but you have never fully accepted Jesus, never repented of your sins and given your will for His, pray about it today. I don’t want any of you outside in the cold. I know God doesn’t want you outside either. He wants each of you saved. He wants each of you with Him.

“Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.”

-Matthew 8:12 [MSG]

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Good Appetite for God

Ever since I can remember, I had a great appetite. I like food. I like to try new recipes. I like to watch cooking shows. And to my downfall, if there’s food to eat I will rarely say, “I’m not hungry.” Thankfully I usually practice healthy eating habits.

Matthew 5:6 says, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.” Other translations say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or thirst for justice. The best meal you’ll ever eat. These people, they will be filled, satisfied. Wow!

Do you have that appetite today? Are you hungry for God? Do you thirst for more righteousness? If not, take a small bite. Then take another. As you continue to eat the Word, as you continue to seek Him, as you continue to pray, your appetite will be more for Him and less for the world. You’ll find yourself developing a great hunger for righteousness, a great hunger for God. As He promises, you will be filled—you will have the best meal you will ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

-Matthew 5:6 [MSG]

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Fear Freeze

I was walking Max the other morning. He is quite the rabbit chaser. The second he notices a rabbit, he wants to go hunt it down. However this morning was different. The rabbit stood still. The rabbit never had to run for cover. There was a big dog in the yard ahead that caught Max’s attention. He became fearful and that fear caused him to focus on the fear and miss out on his “fun.”

Fear can cause us to not take chances. Fear can cause us to act differently. Fear can cause us to cower down. Fear can cause us to second guess ourselves. Fear can cause us to not reach our full potential. Fear can cause us to miss opportunities.

For many years of my life, I was very fearful. I let fear rule different areas of my life and it caused me to be enslaved by fear. It also caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities. God has a lot for you. Yes, YOU! There’s work to be done. There’s doors to be taken. There’s a need to stand firm. There’s a reason to speak up. Do not let fear rule you. Remember what God promises. Remember Who your God is and remember He is a big God, a faithful God, and that you have no reason to fear.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]

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Interested in People

People are important. Every single person matters. Zechariah 7:9-10 tells us, “Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil” (MSG). These are simple commands to remember and act upon; however, our society screams, “Me, me, me.”

If you are not so interested in people, then you have forgotten the two commandments of Jesus: Love God, love others. It’s plain and clear. There’s no way to misinterpret. It is not complex or mysterious. Zechariah states, “You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.” Sometimes we get that mixed up.

Religion is very different than relationship. God wants a relationship with us and He wants us to be in relationships with others too. God is a communal. It is all about community. It is all about people. If people—all people—are not your interests, I pray today you may start changing your interests. There are a whole lot of people out there—and each one needs Love.

 

 

“God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: ‘When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.’” Zechariah 7:4-6 [MSG]

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Change Your Life

It is very easy to change your clothes to appear different. Many people have clothing for different events and situations. We have our work clothing, our casual clothing, our dress clothing, etc. But changing your clothing does not change you. It only changes your appearance to make you more comfortable in your environment, to help you blend in, to keep you hot/cool, or to follow some dress code requirement at work or school.

In Joel we read the need to change your life. You cannot simply change the outer appearance and think you have accomplished what God was after. God wants your heart. God wants you to have a pure heart. You can easily change your clothing and attend church and think you’ve done what was required of you. Yet your heart could be without change—the outside was changed but the inside remained the same.

Today is the day to look deep within and ask yourself if there has been a change. Have you just changed clothing? Have you simply sought a “Christian” radio station and changed your appearance? Have you started to attend church every Sunday so you can say you went to church? Or have you changed? Do you see something different about yourself? Are you more joyful? Are you more hopeful? Are you more helpful? Are you nicer? Do you act with more compassion? Are you after truth? If you aren’t seeing one bit of change, chances are you have just changed your clothes.

“Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.”
-Joel 2:13 [MSG]

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Cover Your Ears

As I was walking Max down a familiar street, a young girl told her friend, “Cover your ears.” I chuckled a bit. I saw that there was a cat hiding under a nearby car. I assumed that she told the other girl to put her hands over her ears because she believed Max would notice the cat and start barking. I continued walking but quite soon found out why the little girl warned her friend.

From around the corner a large dog approached, barking as he ran in our direction. The girls held their ears as the dog continued to warn Max and I to keep our distance. Here I thought it was humorous that she thought Max would bark. Silly girls. Yet I was the silly one. I was the one also covering my ears as I walked away, shaking my head that I did not see the big picture.

In life we never really see the big picture. Only God sees the big picture. We see small glimpses. We know some things. We can hold on to His promises. We can walk in trust. We can only remind ourselves that He has a great plan. We do not need to see the big picture to live knowing that it is a great one, that He is good, that He is faithful, that He loves us and promises us life in abundance and eternal life with Him.

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” – Psalm 33:4-6 [NIV]

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Desperate Disruptions

When you get desperate you do things you wouldn’t normally. You are more vulnerable. You are more shameless. You are more likely to fall upon your knees. You are more likely to take action. Again and again we see this desperation from so many people in the Bible. Remember the hemorrhaging woman who reached out to touch Jesus? How about the friends who went through the roof to get their friend to see Jesus? Or the blind man who continued to call to Jesus for mercy despite the people around him who told him to quiet down? These people all were desperate. These people were all in need. These people all recognized they could not do it alone.

Jesus did not see these people as disruptions. They were each people in need—in need of a Savior. Each person needed help. Each person needed healing. Jesus did not turn them away despite having other things on the agenda. He took time. He gave of Himself. He embraced these people and filled their needs.

We each are in desperate need of a Savior and we each find ourselves on our knees in desperation again and again. If we look around, there are also moments when people are in need of help and they are placed before you so that you can be the hands and feet of Christ. Today I ask if you see these people as disruptions or if you keep your hands open and your eyes on Christ? Perhaps these “disruptions” are God’s plan all along. Perhaps at this very moment, you were to do something great for God’s glory, but you saw it as an inconvenience and passed up the opportunity to show someone the love of Jesus. Perhaps.

“I cry to you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” – Psalm 142:5-6 [NIV]

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