Friday, May 17, 2019

Choosing to Accept God’s Grace

In review of Romans 6:23 it tells me that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (NLT).

Today’s verse is from Romans 6. It tells me that sin pays its wage, death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

In my life I am free to choose between two masters, but I am not free to adjust the consequences of my choice. Each of the two masters pays with his own kind of currency. The currency of sin is eternal death. That is all I can expect or hope for in a life without God. Christ's currency is eternal life, a new life with God that begins on earth and continues forever with God.

Eternal life is a gift from God. If it is a gift, then it is not something that I can earn, nor something that I need to pay back. The most appropriate response to a loved one who offers a gift is graceful acceptance with gratitude. My salvation is a gift of God, not something of my own doing. He saved me because of his mercy, not because of any good things that I have done.

Grace is the gift that keeps on giving. When you get to know Jesus Christ and his grace and love, it gets better and better and better. It is available and extended throughout eternity. And the best is yet to come!

What’s heaven going to be like? I’m going to be reunited with loved ones who know the Lord. I’m going to be rewarded for my faith. I’m going to be reassigned a position of work that I’ll love to do. I’m going to be released from pain, depression, despair, shame, and guilt, and I’m going to rejoice and party for eternity. What a deal!

But there’s a catch: I first needed to accept it. A gift is worthless unless I accept it. I needed to accept God’s grace through his Son, Jesus Christ.

There is one person who will never reject me, and his name is Jesus Christ. He’s saying to me, “Come home.” The more I understand the grace of God, the more I will fall in love with God and the more I’ll want to draw closer to Jesus, because it’s almost impossible to not love somebody who loves you that much.

In summary, sin will pay its wage, death. God offers a free give of eternal life with Christ. It is not something that I can earn, nor something I need to pay back. The most appropriate response is gratitude. God offers this because of his mercy.

Bottom Line:
God offers a gift of salvation, take it.

What this means to me:
God offers me a gift of salvation and everlasting life. My most appropriate response should be deep gratitude.

This morning Father I want to take a few minutes to reflect on what you give me and to be grateful for your mercy and kindness to me. I want to refocus my day with the grace you offer. I also pray Father for your wisdom and guidance for my day, my work, my interactions with others and in my planning for leading my team. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

If I Want to Know What to Do, Just Ask

In review of James 1:5-6, I'm reminded that “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you . . . But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you” (TLB).

Today’s passage comes from James 1. In these two verses are packed a tremendous amount of information and direction. James tells me that If I lacks wisdom, I should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault (or guilting me for always asking), and it will be given to me. But he also tells me that when I ask, I must believe and not doubt, because my doubt will make me like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

James is talking about wisdom that is not only knowledge but in the ability to make wise decisions. When I need wisdom, I can pray to God and He will supply me with what I need. I can ask for God's wisdom to guide my choices.

This wisdom is practical, it's a tool by which trials are overcome and one that allows me to put profound ideas into action. The wisdom to choose the most likely reason and proceed to take action.

This wisdom is divine. It goes beyond common sense. It leads me to choose joy in the middle of trials. It begins with respect for God, leads to living by God's direction, and results in the ability to tell right from wrong.

And lastly, this wisdom is Christlike. It's asking to be like Christ.

When I ask, I rely on God and expect that he will hear and answer when I pray. Therefore I must put away my critical attitude when I come to him. I must also have confidence that God will align my desires with his purposes.

If I have any divided loyalty to what he provides, then I'm not convinced that His way is best. It's much like treating it like human advice, retaining the option to disobey. Divided loyalty on my part will leave me as unsettled as the restless waves of the ocean. If I want to stop being tossed about, I need to rely on God to show me what is best for me. When I ask, my decisions will be sure and solid.

As today’s verse says, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you” (James 1:5 TLB).

But why do I have to ask before he answers? I’m learning that it’s because my relationship with God begins with faith. He doesn’t force things on me. He invites me into a relationship with him. So I ask.

In reality, many times I forget to ask. I’m just rushing through my day doing this, doing that, assuming it’s going to be okay. But I need to just stop once in a while and say, “God, I ask you, what is your direction?” He will gladly tell me.

How does he tell me? An answer will usually come through one of two main ways: through people that are following him and through his Word. Get together with a few people who I know seek after God, and ask them for their opinion. Look in their eyes, and get an honest answer. And, turn to God’s Word. Ask him, “God, what do you have to say about this?”

Some people think God is not interested in our relationships. After all, he’s got a universe to keep going. But he is interested. He made me! The Bible says, “But be sure in deciding these matters that you are living as God intended, marrying or not marrying in accordance with God’s direction and help, and accepting whatever situation God has put you into” (1 Corinthians 7:17).

Today is a great reminder and reinforcement for what I ask regularly when I ask for His wisdom and guidance for my day and actions. This morning I continue to ask for your wisdom and guidance for how I handle the activities and responsibilities I have. Help me to lead my team with wisdom. Help me in my interactions with others to be loving and of a service / help to them. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

When I Lose My Love, Choose the Action of Loving

In review of Psalm 62:8 it tells me to “Trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our protection” (NCV).

Today’s verse is from Psalm 62. In it I’m reminded to trust in him at all times and to pour out my heart to him, for God is my true refuge.

Knowing that God is in control allows me to wait patiently for him to rescue me. True relief doesn't come when the problem is resolved because more problems are always on the way. True relief comes from an enduring hope in God's ultimate salvation. Only then will all trials be resolved.

What do I do with the feelings that come from disappointment? I can’t stuff them away, because they will just pop out somewhere else.

I need to trust God and tell him all my problems because he is my protection.

Tell him when I’m angry or disappointed or that I feel nothing. In those times when I feel nothing, when I feel like I’ve lost the love, go to God and tell him that, and then trust him. Hebrews 10:23 teaches us, “We can trust God to do what he promised” (NCV). And he promises to pour his love into my heart.

Love is a feeling, but it is also an action. And when I lose the feeling to love someone, move forward with the action of loving them, and that will help me reclaim my feelings of love. This isn’t hypocritical, it’s just being human. Everyone loses the feeling to love at sometime. It usually happens when a decision is made to live with a problem instead of talking it out or openly facing it.

I can start by telling God my feelings about the problem. From there, he can begin to give me the strength to talk to my loved one about it. As I do this, God will begin to restore my feeling of love for that person. He does what Lamentations 5:21 says: “Turn us around and bring us back to you again! That is our only hope! Give us back the joys we used to have!” (TLB).

It’s a process, and it begins when I decide to trust God and tell him my feelings.

In summary, trust in him at all times and pour out my heart to him, for He is my refuge. Knowing that God is in control allows me to wait patiently for him to rescue me

Father this morning I pray that I remember to come to you when I’m feeling down or having a relationship problem. With your strength I can start to love regardless of my feelings. I pray also this morning for your wisdom and guidance in how I handle my work task, leadership and interactions with others. This I ask in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Leaving a Legacy of Hospitality

In review of Hebrews 10:24 it says, “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds” (NCV).

Today’s verse is from Hebrews 10, where Paul reminds me to be concerned, to help, show love and to do good to others.

What I’m learning is that an awesome family will teach their kids that they’re not the center of the universe. They will teach their kids that God made them and shaped them for a mission. They model dedication, service, generosity, and prayer. An average family won’t do those things. But an Awesome family will.

It’s important to learn that the universe doesn’t revolve around me. I need to be instilled with a value system of caring about others.

Service to others and hospitality are really important. This is something my wife displays all the time. She is always concerned with others and more than willing to help out in way, whether it be help or a meal. It’s important for me to learn and adopt an attitude of “giving my life away” and that life is not all about me.

That’s what awesome families do. They teach each other to show love and to do good deeds. Good deeds are called ministry. They are called service. A good example of this is Cornelius’ family in the book of Acts: “He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts 10:2 NIV).

A key question and consideration for myself today is, Will I take the time to help others become what God has made them to be? Would I help them discover God’s mission for their life?

Bottom Line:
Show other consideration and assistance.

What this means to me:
Show concern for others, help them out, show love and do good.

In summary, I need to live my life in a way in which I am concerned about, help, show love and do good to others I encounter. This morning Father I pray for a heart that will be concerned and serve others. I also pray this morning for wisdom and guidance for my day. Help me to serve and show hospitality to others, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

Monday, May 13, 2019

God’s Love Frees You to Love Fearlessly

In review of 1 John 4:18 John tells me that, “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it . . . shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (NLT).

Today’s verse is 1 John 4:18. In it John reminds me that there is no fear in love; for perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.

If I'm ever afraid of the future, eternity, or God's judgment, I can remind myself of God's love. I know that he loves me perfectly. I can resolve my fears by focusing on his immeasurable love for me, and then by allowing him to love others through me. His love will quiet my fear and give me confidence.

Conflict occurs in relationships when someone is trying to control someone else. Fear is beneath that control. Insecurity causes us to try to control others or resist the control of others. If  I become so insecure that all I think about is what others think of me, it will destroy my relationships, disable my life and weaken my effectiveness.

It’s an amazing dilemma I have as a human being: I long to be close, but also fear it. I long to have intimacy with others, but I’m also scared to death of it.

Insecurity prevents intimacy and destroys my relationships. I can’t get close to somebody if there’s fear in the relationship. If insecurity destroys relationships, then what builds them? Love! Love builds relationships.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it . . . shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (NLT).

Love expels all fear by taking the focus off of myself and putting on others. It makes a big difference to get the focus off of myself and onto the people in front of me. If I start thinking about what they thought of me, I would have something to be afraid of, right? But the minute I start thinking about how much I love them and how I want serve God, then the fear will disappear. Focusing on the others will give me the power to throw fear out of my life.

So how do I find that power to focus on others? I’m learning that I start by realizing how much God loves me. The moment I begin to understand how much God loves me, I don’t have to prove myself any more. I don’t have to spend my life trying to impress others, because I already know that God loves me.

My identity and self-worth are not caught up in what others might think of me. When I’m secure in my relationship with Christ, I’m no longer pressured by everybody else’s expectations. God’s love frees me to love others fearlessly.

Bottom Line:
There is no fear in love.

What this means to me:
I should have no fear in love for perfect love drives out all fear.

In summary, there is no fear in love, perfect love drives out all fear. God loves me perfectly. I can resolve my fears by focusing on his immeasurable love for me, then by allowing to love others through me. Love expels all fear by taking the focus off of myself and putting on others. I don't have to spend my life trying to impress others, because I know that God already loves me. My identity and self-worth are not caught up in what others might think of me. God's love frees me to love others fearlessly.

This morning Father I realize that I often get caught up in what others think of me or my team. I need to rest in knowing you that you love me deeply and this is what I need most. I can be free to not fear or get caught up in myself but to using the love you give me to love and serve others, and make a difference in their lives.

I pray this morning father for relief of focusing on myself and to organize my responsibilities and tasks in a way that aren’t reactive but proactive and forward thinking. I pray for your wisdom and guidance. This I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Giving God My Best Time

In review of Psalm 25:14 it tells me that “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises” (TLB).

Today’s verse is Psalm 25:14. In it David tells us that the Lord is the friend of those who obey him and he affirms his covenant with them.

What I have been learning is that God offers me an intimate and lasting friendship with him as I revere and hold him in the highest honor. What other relationship could ever compare with having the Lord of all creation for a friend? My everlasting friendship with God will grow as I respect and honor him.

I’m also learning that, if I want to build a deep relationship with God, I have to slow down and be quiet.

Friendship with God is like any other friendship, I have to make time for it. If I don’t make time for my human friends, they’re not my friends. You make time for your friends. And if God is going to be my best friend, I’ve got to give my best time to him.

The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).

This means that I need to continue to have a daily quiet time with God. In it I have to be still so that I can know him better.

Psalm 25:14 says, “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises” (TLB).

Many people don’t know God. They haven’t experienced God’s love. They don’t know why he does what he does. Yet, the Bible says that friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him, in other words, those who slow down and spend time with him.

What would a friendship be if I never invested my time in it? Friendships need attention. I will never know God intimately if all I do is go to church services. I’ve got to read God’s Word and ask him, “God, is there anything you want to say to me?” I don’t have to use any fancy phrases or words. Just talk to him authentically. And then listen!

The Bible says it like this in Matthew 6:5-6: “When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production . . . Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matthew 6:5-6 The Message).

Today slow down, focus on God, and listen as he speaks to me about his grace.

Bottom Line:
In true Friendship with God he reveals his promises.

What this means to me:
When I take God seriously, reverence and obey him, he shares and affirms his promises to me.

In summary, the Lord is my friend when I take time to be with and listen to him. So I need to slow down and be quiet. I need to be still so that I can know him better. Just slow down, focus on him and listen as he speaks to me.

Father I realize that I have a lot of distractions and time commitments in my life. This often disrupts and water down’s my time in your Word and with you. As I think about what are the distractions that keep me from being still before you. I know that location (noise) and time commitments are some of the biggest hindrances. I could use your assistance to help me find a new place or use earphones w/soft music to help block noise. I can even position myself so I’m not distracted. I pray this morning Father for your guidance and wisdom in handling my tasks for today and planning for the future. Allow me to lead my team and interact rightly with others. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Choosing to Accept God’s Grace

In review of Romans 6:23 it tells me that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lor...