Monday, March 17, 2014
Ephesians 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
So many times in my life I have chosen to be the child in Christ instead of growing and maturing in the Lord. The difference I guess is that a child is easily diverted going in ten different directions at the same time, easily distracted, provoked, mislead, and self-centered. I’m not saying that I always constantly choose this approach. I think at least for me, it’s easy to cruise on autopilot and before you know it you’re being blown in every direction without a strong foundation to hold it all together.
My goal today is to be more thankful, thoughtful and prayerful.
1. Thankful for this incredible life that I have been given.
2. Thoughtful in taking the time to humbly (and happily) share God’s gifts with others.
3. Prayerful to be in step with the Spirit as I try to apply the first two goals.
Then I believe, maturity in the Body in my case and of the Body of Christ in our case (if we try together), will happen. Oh, and if all else fails, a little action sponsored by the Spirit couldn’t hurt.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please instill in us today your Spirit. May we be receptive to maturing as a family dedicated to being your Body in Christ. AMEN
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Romans 1:5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
Can you imagine what the world would look like today if Jesus had not come? It would be a very different place than the world we live in now. Well, maybe not, come to think of it. The world today looks a lot like historians told us the civilized world looked back in Jesus’ day.
But because He did dwell among us and gave up His earthly life for us, we have something far greater than the people did back then. We have hope. We have the promise of Heaven. We have reconciliation to God through Christ. We don’t live under the law and the sacrificial system God gave to the Jews. We are saved by Grace; the grace God shows us when we confess Christ as Savior.
We didn’t deserve it and we can’t earn it. But through Him we receive it. So what do we do in response? We are called to make disciples and to grow in the Grace and knowledge of Christ. How are you doing at disciple making? I know for me it’s an ongoing process. I’m not good at it, but fortunately, there are lots of people that are, that have shared some tools for evangelizing. I know I have shortcomings in this one area of my walk (Ok, not just this one, but it seems important to work on this one right now because much of the conversation about our church away from the Sunday sermon is about how to grow it) and I’m really trying to be better at it.
Christ issued to believers the “Great Commission”. Making disciples isn’t an option; it’s a command we’re to be obedient to.
Prayer: God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to be better at witnessing to people and being ready to mentor new believers. Help me make disciples for Your glory! AMEN
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Colossians 3:1-3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
The refrain from one of my favorite contemporary worship songs (“Where I Belong” by Building 429) reminds me that no matter what, I’m just a temporary resident of planet Earth and my real home is in heaven. Citizenship in the Kingdom has responsibilities that start here in my temporary home.
How I act here, the things I do, and the words I say will factor in what my future home will be like. By doing things that the Lord Jesus left us to do; love God, love our neighbor, and go and make disciples, we store up treasures for ourselves in Heaven. When we’re responsible with a little, we will be given more. When we focus on things from above, this is stewardship. When God comes first, when we accept that all we have is His, that He alone owns everything, it changes how we care for the things we’ve been blessed with.
We should be ever mindful that while we live here, we have dual-citizenship in Heaven and Kingdom things matter both here and there! Let’s always keep our minds on those things. Doing so will bring Glory and honor to God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me remember that this isn’t my final home. Help me to live this life with a focus on You, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit as my guides, that I may live a life that will bring honor and glory to you! AMEN
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
When we turn away from sin’s appeal, through the Holy Spirit’s power, and regard that sin is dead to us, we can ignore temptation when it comes.
Prayer: Dear God, bless me with your spirit that I will be hardened against sin and its temptations. Bless me that my past sin will have no power over me and that it will be truly dead to me. Open me to your will for my life that I may see anew. AMEN
Friday, March 21, 2014
2 Peter 3:8-10 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Do you have to wait on someone at one time or another? Time just is not as important to some as others. Eternity has not time restrictions, have you thought much about that? God tells us that one day is as a thousand and thousand as one day. Those who lose track of time may have an easier time in Eternity because they are not always checking and worrying about what time it is. Next time you are waiting.. think about this “when the Lord will come?” He is coming back and we are to watch and wait upon him.
Prayer: Ask simply to be able to wait. AMEN
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Normally when we think of mourning we put it in the context of the death of a friend or a family member. And regardless of the circumstances of the death, or how much they might have been suffering, regardless of how firm a faith we claim (or actually possess), despite the platitudes that might be muttered because people truly don’t know what to say, when there is a death, we mourn. We grieve; we feel the absence in very powerful ways. We miss that person. When Christians mourn someone, they do get to experience God’s comfort, but this verse isn’t really talking about mourning a loved one.
When Jesus talked about those who mourn, he was talking about those moments when sinners absent themselves from the presence of God. We’ve all had those things or people in our lives that we didn’t really appreciate – until they were gone. We’ve known people who were quietly faithful and we never noticed them, until the day they weren’t there. More noticeable by their absence then they ever were by their presence.
It’s those desert moments, when we’ve lost contact, when it seems like God has moved, and suddenly we’re in despair. It’s those moments when we know we’re looking for something but don’t know what, and suddenly realize that because of our sin, we have moved away from God. And it hurts. We get to the point where we can’t stand it anymore, and we cry out in anguish, as we seek that which we have lost. And the promise is that those who turn from that deliberate separation from the source of all joy will find peace and comfort. Jesus will call those people to Him, and speak the words of pardon, forgiveness and welcome that they need to hear.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to remember in my dark times, that it’s not you that has moved; it was me. As much as I might try to hide from you, keep shining your light in my direction. Call me to you, and remind me of the eternal life that only you can offer. AMEN
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
In chapter eight of the book of Ezra, we see a group of Israelites returning to their homeland after decades in exile. They were nervous and scared, and had every reason to be. You see, the country of Israel hadn’t become a ghost town in their absence. It had been overtaken by marauding bands, wild beasts, and had no infrastructure. In some ways, they were starting with less than when they went there with Joshua hundreds of years before. When they left the king, he had offered Ezra and crew, a unit of his horsemen to protect them. But Ezra was so excited and grateful to God that he turned it down. His explanation? God will protect us. So here he was, him and his rag tag group of followers, trusting God to help them restore a No Man’s land to glory. He was scared and frightened, and knew he couldn’t do it on his own. Sure, he could have prayed to God. But he desired to show God that he was serious enough to not only ask the big man for help, but he would sacrifice something to God as well: he fasted.
He sacrificed meals during a time of little food, to show God he really meant business. God heard his pleas, and they were blessed with the safety they sought. God listened. He heard their prayers, accepted their sacrifice, and protected them.
We as a congregation have talked about returning our church to its former glory. We have gone in prayer, asking God to grow it beyond the ever diminishing group that currently attends. And I have one question: what sacrifices are you willing to make to see that dream come true? Are you willing to fast your meals to God? What about your time, what about your talents? As you ask God for great blessings, what are you willing to give in return? God, I want this church to grow. And I know I can not do it without you.
Prayer: Lord help me to sacrifice what I need to You, to show You I am serious and earnest about what I ask. I love you God. AMEN
Monday, March 24, 2014
Philippians 1:6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
As I read and reread this passage I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So as often is the case I turned to my copy of the Orthodox Jewish Bible. In the OJB passage is a reference to Psalms 138:8. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. God made me so that I may love Him. And in loving Him I study His word, or simply put, the owner’s manual for the human soul. As long as I follow His word to the best of my abilities, I will continue to grow and mature spiritually. I now understand that He will not forsake me just because he can. That my relationship with the Lord will grow so long as I let it. God does not forsake me, it is I who forsake Him. My relationship with the Lord begins in me and ends in me, and spiritual growth is the fruit of my relationship with Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I will strive each day to grow in your word. AMEN
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
John 14:15 You too can be comforted in your loss.
It is quiet, you hear the sounds of machines humming in the distance. You continue to stare at the person in front of you. They are breathing on their own, sometimes making unintelligible sounds. Sometimes a name will be called out asking for help with their pain. You hate to experience this scene but as you do you find yourself praying that this person has been blessed with the knowledge of the Lord and his ability to save us all, if only we accept Him into our hearts and souls. Knowing this happened many years ago, and the Lord has been at this person’s side, through many, many trials. You suddenly realize she is safe and soon will be out of misery and pain. Yes, it is hard to let go and say, ”Good bye.”
Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”
Prayer: Oh Lord, you are always there for us if only we ask. Keep us safe and mindful of your heavenly way. AMEN