Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8.  The Lord is already on the road ahead of you and He’ll be there when you get there.  He already is where you’re going to be.  Not only is He already where you’re going to be, He is always with you on the journey there. 

God wants you to take courage and believe in Him.  He has you surrounded and He’s leading you.  Go forward and trust that He will be there because He already is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ADMITTANCE

If Jesus is not the Manager of all in your life, He’s not the Manager at all in your life.  He doesn’t want to be just a part of your life. He doesn’t want to be just one category, one entry on your weekly planner.  He wants to be your Everything.  That’s the only way He can fill your life with His grace and truth.  That’s the only way we know what a full and meaningful life is like. 

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-25 (Mes),

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?”

Monday, May 18, 2015

WINNIE THE POOH, PIGLET, AND FAITH

In Winnie the Pooh, Pooh and Piglet take an evening walk.  For a long time they walk together in silence.  Finally Piglet breaks the silence and asks, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” answers Pooh.  “And what do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.”

You can choose a “breakfast vision” or an “excitement vision.”  Which one do you choose?  What’s your vision for each day?  What’s your vision for your relationship with God?  Where do you want it to go?  What’s your vision for you and your family?  What’s your vision for your life-purpose and eternity?  What’s your vision for your church? 

What we expect from life is usually what we get.  Jesus said, "It shall be done to you according to your faith." Matt. 9:29 (NAS)

Monday, May 11, 2015

BEING PEACEABLE

Borrowing from Gordon McDonald, the word “peace” in its general definition means any system in which there is order, justice, and security. The Romans talked about peace (Pax Romana), but their system was sustained through violence and intimidation. The Jews of Jerusalem had their own concepts of peace: a kingdom that mirrored the ancient reign of David. These were concepts of peace imposed from the outside of a person.

But then Jesus came, speaking of a peace that took root inside a person. This peace was unaffected by any form of opposition. You can do away with the body, Jesus said, but never the soul. His was a radical idea: that the most important of all things has to do with a person's heart.

Monks years ago made this point with a story: A cruel warlord confronted an old monk, commanding the monk to bow to him, but the monk refused. “Do you know who I am?” bellowed the warlord. “I am he who has the power to run you through with a sword.”  “And do you know who I am?” responded the monk. “I am he who has the power to let you run me through with a sword.”  This old man, unbowed, was peaceful from his core. He operated out of an ordered heart.

Jesus said His peace was not compatible with the “world's” view of peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).  He created a movement whose trademarks were humility, compassion, mercy, and a breaking down of barriers that traditionally separated people.  Paul referred to this as “the peace of Christ,” and he urged the Christ-followers of the Colossian church to reorient themselves around this trait.

At the same time we shouldn’t confuse the peace of Christ with niceness, or feeling good, or the avoidance of conflict. The peaceful Jesus was not a wimp. When He wreaked havoc on the Temple money-launderers He was justifiably furious.  When He was confronted by influential hypocritical religious leaders He held nothing back in telling them the truth about who they were in their arrogance and disrespect for God.

Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” “Go in peace,” He said to a healed woman. “Peace,” He shouted at a threatening storm. To many others He said, “Peace be with you.”  Wherever He went, He took His fresh idea of human order with Him.

Where do peaceable people come from? For some, peacefulness is the product of hardship or suffering or failure. Something takes place which causes deep pain (physical, spiritual, relational) and a brokenness that softens the heart. Perspectives are reoriented. Views on certain issues are rearranged, and a new person, a peaceful person, emerges.

Aging with its accumulation of life-experience, can produce a peaceful person if he or she has pursued a close walk with Jesus.

Peaceable people are an expression of the work of the Holy Spirit. And how is that work done? A rhythmic devotional life, engaging with the right kind of friends, and storing up the wisdom (journaling comes to mind) that comes from looking for meaning in everyday activity.
These are all ways the Holy Spirit builds an inner tranquility that becomes more and more valuable as the years pass.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent the last year of his life in Nazi prisons. One night, along with other prisoners, he was herded into a shelter while Allied bombs fell in the area. One man, Fabian von Schlabrendorff, writes of that moment: “Tightly squeezed together we were standing in our air-raid shelter when a bomb hit with an enormous explosion. For a second it seemed the shelter were bursting and the ceiling crashing down on top of us. It rocked like a ship tossing in the storm, but it held. At that moment Dietrich Bonhoeffer showed his mettle. He remained quite calm, he did not move a muscle, but stood motionless and relaxed as if nothing had happened.”  Elizabeth Raum, a Bonhoeffer biographer, writes of this moment: “Dietrich's actions calmed those around him. He acted like a man totally confident that nothing, even death, could harm him.”  He calmed everyone around him because they saw Jesus in him.

Oswald Chambers once wrote: “The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us ... but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field: peacefully, simply, and unaffectedly. These are the lives that mold us.”

Peaceable people offer a fresh view of Jesus because He is embedded in their character and personality.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

QUESTIONS OF SUCCESS

Success or failure is defined by the questions we ask.  And whoever defines the question defines success.  When the widow put a penny into the offering, Jesus’ disciples dismissed her gift as insignificant.  Their culture was conditioned to ask, “How much did she give?”  Jesus, on the other hand praised her offering because He asked a different question, “How much did she sacrifice?”  Whoever defines the question defines success.  When we ask God-oriented questions about things like faithfulness, sacrifice, and grace, we discover that an unheard of Christ-follower with no celebrity status is actually highly successful in God’s kingdom.  We need to give attention to asking the right questions, because it’s the question which determines success or failure, not the outcome.

Monday, May 4, 2015

GRACE CAUSES

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3 NAS).

The cause of your new spiritual birth is God the Father.  It’s not from our initiative.  He even gave us the faith to believe:  For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Phil. 2:13); By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect (1 Cor. 15:10); Now the God of peace … working in us that which is pleasing in His sight … (Heb. 13:20-21 NAS).  Jesus said, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me …” (John 6:44 NLT).

Certainly God works through people to tell people about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  And we are to be persuasive and loving and reaching out to others to lead them to Jesus.  Then choices are made by individuals while at the same time God is at work in those choices.  We choose, but God’s grace causes.  It’s both/and. 

God’s grace is not something passive; it is active.  His grace targets us, moves toward us, and works in us.  God’s grace toward us is not something that sits on a shelf, and we walk by and decide if we want to take it off the shelf and take it with us.  Instead God’s grace is pursuing us and overtaking us.  His grace is chasing you.   His love is hounding you.  That’s the idea in what David said in the twenty-third Psalm:  “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life …” (Psa. 23:6 NLT).

God’s grace is never stagnant.  It’s never dormant, never lifeless, never still.  Instead His grace is always in motion, making and saving, resurrecting and transforming.  Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. … we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving (Eph. 2:7-9 Mes).   

God’s grace causes.  His grace causes life, salvation, undying hope, promise, and eternal life.  Center your everyday living on God’s grace and truth.  Revolve your life purpose around God’s grace and truth.  Discover who you are in God’s grace and truth.  Do your part to live according to God’s grace and truth.