Monthly Archives: August, 2014

Stone Dead Worker

In Revelation we read about the church in Sardis. The church was spiritually dead. The Message calls them “stone-dead.” They looked alive. They had a reputation for vigor. But they were like the whitewashed tombs Jesus spoke about when referring to the Pharisees. From the outside it looked great but it was a façade and God is not fooled.

You might look like you have it all together. You might tithe, serve at the local soup kitchen, attend Sunday service. You might look like you are being a “good Christian.” But God sees the heart—He sees your heart. He can see right through the work and know if you are doing it because you have a heart for Him and His people or if you are doing it to keep up with the Joneses or to appear righteous.

There was a clear warning to the people of Sardis. Jesus told them to wake up, repent and strengthen what remained in them. Today I pray that you are not a stone-dead worker. May God reveal to you the areas within you that are not alive and may you repent if your eyes are opened to these things. Never aim for a false reputation. Never build up a façade life. There is no point to a dead worker.

“Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: ‘I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you’re dead, stone-dead.’” – Revelation 3:1 [MSG]

One Sneaky Dog

10606005_10153078767998776_8901731169283629346_nHaving two dogs certainly can be entertaining. This morning as I was preparing to leave for work I noticed Marci was walking what looked to be an obstacle course underneath the kitchen table. I did not understand why she was weaving and turning through chairs until I saw where the course brought her. She was trying to sneak to Max’s bone, grab it, and then sneak away. She could have easily walked straight toward the bone and snatched it but she figured he would catch her and intervene. Instead, mom (me) spotted her naughty paws and repossessed the bone.

Marci was a sneak because she did not want to get caught. She was doing something wrong. It would not have made her actions right if she wasn’t caught; it was still wrong. She knew it was wrong too. In life there are times when we think something is not so bad so long as we don’t get caught. Guess what!?! Whether you are caught or not by human eyes, security cameras, etc., God sees all and knows all. You can deceive, lie, steal, cheat, and sin again and again without human detection but God sees. So why does that not bring us to reconsider these poor decisions? Why do we sneak around to do these bad things in an attempt to not get caught by people, rather than stop altogether with these bad things because they are wrong and we want to please God who sees all?

Tonight let us praise God and thank Him for His mercy. Let us remember that today we did things we were not meant to do, but we did them anyway. For some of us, we tried to hide what we did. For some of us, we were already alone and didn’t think anyone would find out. Pray that God will reveal these things to you and that the Holy Spirit would convict you and God would give you the strength to overcome and claim victory through Jesus. We have not yet achieved perfection, but we can make it to the finish line. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” – Hebrews 4:13 [NLT]

Passionate Patience Outline

Here’s a message outline on Hebrews 12:1. You can download this outline below.

Passionate Patience

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1 [NLT]

In 1845, the ill-fated Franklin Expedition sailed from England to find a passage across the Arctic Ocean.

                The crew loaded their two sailing ships with a lot of things they didn’t need: a 1,200-volume library, fine china, crystal goblets, and sterling silverware for each officer with his initials engraved on the handles. Amazingly, each ship took only a 12-day supply of coal for their auxiliary steam engines.

                The ships became trapped in vast frozen plains of ice. After several months, Lord Franklin died. The men decided to trek to safety in small groups, but none of them survived.

                One story is especially heartbreaking. Two officers pulled a large sled more than 65 miles across the treacherous ice. When rescuers found their bodies, they discovered that the sled was filled with table silver.

What strengthens and encourages your relationship with Jesus? What is beneficial?

What disrupts or interrupts your relationship with Jesus? What is a hindrance?

 

Sin, habits, pleasures, self-indulgences, associations that hold you back, worldly cares, riches, honors, opinions, activities, possessions, relationships, careers. Anything that occupies our time, energy, affections to neglect time with the Lord and our pursuit of Christ-likeness.

Jesus is the goal of our journey and companion on the way

Go steadily forward in the race and refuse to be deflected: Hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay) – cheerful or hopeful endurance, enduring patience, patient continuance (waiting). Passionate patience – Perseverance or Patient Endurance – 2 Pet 1:6, Rev 3:10, Rev 14:12, 1 Cor 13:7, Lk 21:19

  • COMMIT YOURSELF: BOLDLY CLAIM IT CAN BE DONE!! It’s already been done. Great cloud of witnesses – inspiration – motivation – what we see in them – Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith
  • FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESS – Admit you cannot do life alone. You need Jesus. Passionately seek Him with all you have. Know Him, love Him, worship Him.Fix your eyes on Him.
  • ADMIT YOU AREN’T FINISHED YET. “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.” – Philippians 3:12 [NLT] Passionately pursuing Jesus –Press on to the finish
  • EMBRACE HARDSHIPS & STRUGGLES AND REMOVE OBSTACLES & DISTRACTIONS. Hardships are opportunities for growth. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C.S. Lewis “Problem of Pain

Hebrews 12:2 Fix your eyes on Jesus

 

Download Passionate Patience Outline

Fit Together

15750_10153076107218776_4254025796038838073_nHaving two dogs changes the way you take the dogs for a walk. I decided it was in my best interest to purchase a double leash so that Max and Marci are fit together on one leash that midway connects to become two leads, one for each dog. Some people smile and giggle when they see Max and Marci because the two dogs are so very different, but despite their differences visible and not visible, they walk well on that double dog coupler.

In Colossians we read about being “properly fixed and fit together” because of what Jesus did on the Cross. Because of what He did, we are no longer “broken and dislocated.” We become part of One body. Paul wrote, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT).

So how then do we fit together with others as part of this One body? How do we work together with others in the Church? We are fit together because of Christ. We are fit together through Christ. We can work together because of Christ. We all have One Spirit. If things do not seem to fit so well, if things are crumbling around you, if you are not hearing “vibrant harmonies,” perhaps the presence of the Spirit is being drowned by man. With Him alone we can fit together.

“He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.” – Colossians 1:18-20 [MSG]

Grim Strength and Glory Strength

We have the option of doing things using our own strength or doing things with God strengthening us “with all power, according to His glorious might” (Colossians 1:11b ESV). I have tried both ways and I know which way is best. Time and time again, using my own strength was like running a race without eating breakfast first. You might finish what you meant to finish, but it’s not fun, not easily accomplished, and it really beats you up.

In the Message there are two strengths mentioned: Grim Strength and Glory Strength. Grim strength is when you are gritting your teeth just to get something done. It’s almost as if you have to force it to be completed, giving it every ounce of what you have to make it work. It’s a bad struggle. It’s not how God intended things to work. The Glory Strength is when you allow God to strengthen you to accomplish His will. You might have a great struggle before you but with His strength it is never grim. People see you overcome, people see your achievements, and God gets so much glory. When you live with God’s Glory Strength, you do great things through Him and cannot help but have this outpouring of praise for what He’s done through you. You realize that you could have struggled alone and barely scraped by but with Him you were able to soar to great heights for His glory. He qualified you. He did the work. You simply were the vessel through which He worked.

Life is rough. Life is hard. Life is filled with struggles and obstacles. You have two options: Grim Strength or Glory Strength. You can do life alone and try to make it through to the end or you can do life with God and allow Him to provide you the strength you need to get things accomplished. You can focus on a life that is lived for you, where your plans are the goals to be reached, or you can focus on God’s will for your life and realize that you have put great limits on your life. For God wants you to soar; God wants you to be a great bright light in a world of darkness. When you walk with grim strength, you miss out on the great plan He has for your life. In the end, a life lived with that strength causes you a lot more than just gritting teeth. May you learn how God works and how to live with Glory Strength so that you may endure and praise God with all you have as you see Him move and work through your life.

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” – Colossians 1:9-12 [MSG]

Being Faithful to God Outline

Here’s a sermon outline on Being Faithful to God. You may download the outline below.

Being Faithful to God

Definition of faithful: Loyal, constant, steadfast, devoted, committed, dedicated, unswerving.

Revelation 19:7-9 ESV Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”      His Bride has made herself ready

Matthew 25:1-13 – Parable of the Ten Virigins

  • BELIEVE – you must be saved. What is holding you back? Disbelief / fear / doubt
    1. Double-minded – James 1:6 NIV But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Double-minded – “dipsuchos” / dis meaning “twice” and psuche meaning “mind.” – divided in interests, uncertain, two-faced, half-hearted. You can’t half believe God.
  • ACT – you weren’t saved to stand still – This is how you get to know God better.
    1. Bible – Read it / Study it – Individually and in Group – only offensive weapon
    2. Prayer – Prayer is a two way conversation. (ex: Bro Lawrence)
    3. Church – Worship / Community
  • DRESS – you must be dressed to stand firm  
    1. Ephesians 6:13 NLT Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. – God’s own nature / Dressed for battle – battle for souls
    2. Clothed in Righteousness – “I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.” (Isaiah 61:10 MSG)

 

Lamentations 3:25 MSG “God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the    

                                                                                                                woman who diligently seeks.”

Act Justly / Love Mercy / Walk Humbly – Micah 6:8 NLT

Love God. Love Others ( Deuteronomy / Gospels)

 

“‘I came by again and saw you, saw that you were ready for love and a lover. I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I gave you a good bath, washing off all that old blood, and anointed you with aromatic oils. I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and a fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master.”

(Ezekiel 16:8-14 MSG)

Download Being Faithful to God Outline

 

Take Off Your Shoes

Moses was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Joshua was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Joshua 5:15). Holy means set apart or sacred. One of my favorite passages references Isaiah’s commission. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne and He is in complete awe and reverence as he hears the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” He knows he is unclean. He knows he is undeserving.

It is important to approach God with fear and awe. The fear is not the fear we consider when we typically speak of fear. When Proverbs 1 speaks of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, it doesn’t mean we are frightened as we are when watching a horror movie. Fearing God means that you have a fear of disobeying and displeasing God which would result in judgment and a disconnection from Him. It is about reverence and submission. God is holy and exalted above all. It is approaching with humility.

Yes, the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and when we repent we are forgiven of our sins. Yes, the veil has been torn and we can approach God once again. But it is important that we still approach God with fear and awe. The song says you have a friend in Jesus, and you do, but that is to be treasured not stomped on. When you approach God in prayer, in church, wherever—don’t take it for granted. Focus on Him. Remember He is holy and you too are to be holy. May your heart be filled with a passion and desire to worship, to truly worship Him, with all that you have and all that you are, each and every day.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” – Isaiah 6:1-5 [NIV]

 

Be a Barnabas Outline

I recently shared a devotional on being one who provides encouragement to others. Here’s the outline for reference / resource. To download this, follow the link below.

Be a Barnabas

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 [NLT]

The apostles sent Barnabas to Antioch — “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” – Acts 11:23-24 [NIV]

Acts 4:36-37 – Barnabas sold land to provide for fellow Christians

Acts 9:26-28 – Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) took a chance on Paul. Others weren’t accepting him in Jerusalem because they didn’t believe he was a disciple but Barnabas spoke up for him.

Barnabas provided encouragement to John Mark. There was a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Barnabas didn’t give up on John Mark and Paul later requested John Mark because he was “profitable to the ministry” (2 Timothy 4).

  • ENCOURAGE – help them develop to who they are meant to be in Christ, give support, give confidence
    • Put yourself aside and help others get ahead [Philippians 2:3-4]
    • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29 [MSG] SPEAK LIFE
  • EQUIP – Give them tools needed, supply someone something, prepare someone, be an example.
  • EMPOWER – Create opportunities for them to serve others, give authority – don’t always say yes to something because you think no one will step up. You end up filling up what God designed someone else to fill and spreading yourself too thing.
  • EMBRACE – Love them, care for them, pray for them, accept, support, hold closely
    • Loving God includes loving people (1 John 4:20-21)
    • Paul told Timothy – 1st thing PRAY every way you know how for everyone you know – 1 Timothy 2:1-3
    • “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do…. Treat them gently.” – Romans 14:1 [MSG]
    • Strong and able in faith – step in and lend a hand to those who falter à How can I help? “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” – Romans 15:1 [ESV]

William Barclay said, “No man ever saved his soul who devoted his whole time and energy to saving it, but many a man has saved it by being so concerned for others that he forgot that he himself had a soul to save.”

 Download Be a Barnabas Outline

 

Forgiveness Outline

I recently shared a devotional on Forgiveness. Here’s the outline for reference / resource. To download this, follow the link below.

Forgiveness

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13 [NLT]

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18:21-35

PRAY FOR THEM:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44 [NIV]

THINK LOVING THOUGHTS:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus; Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:3-8 [NIV]

ACT IN LOVE:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” – Luke 6:27-28 [NLT]

EXPECT THE BEST:

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7 [NLT]

Download Forgiveness Outline