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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Use Your Gifts To Bless Others And Further His Kingdom

In summary of 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Be a good manager and generously use them to serve one another.”

Bottom Line:
God has provided you a gift from his diverse supply of spiritual gifts.  As a good steward we should use them to serve others.

What this means to me:
God has provided me with particular gifts/talents when I put my trust in him.  He has equipped me with these gifts from his great and diverse supply of spiritual gifts.  It is gifts I didn’t deserve, but He has given them to me to serve others.  I need to be a good steward and use them to bless others and to further his kingdom.  In order to be a good steward it is good to remind myself of what God has given me.  They are the things coincide with my heart, my abilities, my personality and my experiences.  I am responsible to use what he has provided and he will hold me accountable  It’s important for me to remember these gifts are not for my benefit.  As I reflect this morning, I remember that God has gifted me with the ability to teach / explain what I’m learning and to lead smaller groups/individuals.  I believe he has equipped me to work with and train others, help guide them.  He has also given me a bit of musical talent which I use to serve in the worship team.  I need to consider those that I can work with to help mentor and consider what I can do to lead a group of people to a closer walk with God.  As I am thinking through my list of those I can encourage, I can consider what I can do to help mentor them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

See Others As God Sees Them

In summary of Galatians 6:2 it says, “Share in and help carry/bear each other’s burdens, and in this way obey and fulfill and complete the law of Christ”

Bottom Line:
We are to help with other’s burdens, when we do so we are obeying and fulfilling the complete law of Christ.

What this means to me:
God wants me to look around me and help those who have heavy burdens and troublesome moral faults.  When I do so I’m obeying Christ and observing perfectly his law.  As a believer and follower of Christ, God’s word tells me to that I need to value everybody (even the ones who would insult me, put me down or I think may not be worthy of it.)  The best way to do this is to see them as God sees them; people he was willing to sacrifice his Son for.  When I can appreciate and affirm people around me it will automatically raise their value.  To best practice this, I need to really listen to them; when I do so it communicates that I value them and what they have to say.  I need to think and use positive, helpful words; ones that build them up and provide what is really needed in order to best bless them.  Speaking positive words of encouragement will really minister to them (I always feel better after someone is positive with me or builds me up.)  I need learn to complement good things I see in their lives to help them grow in that area.  Next I can pray for them.  This week, I will make a list of who can I encourage this week and start with affirming them via positive words, by listening or by just praying for them.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Making My Load Lighter

In summary of Psalm 55:22 it says, "Give your burdens to the Lord, he will take care of you and make that load lighter.  He will support and sustain in these times.  He will not permit his consistent followers to be shaken or to slip and fall into ruin."

Bottom Line:
What ever is weighing you down, don’t hold onto it.  Give it to God.  He has told us that if we do he will take care of you, he will help support and sustain you.  God does not permit those who consistently follow him to be shaken or to slip and fall into ruin.

What this means to me:
Some translations state that I am to cast or pile my burdens unto the Lord for he will support me and take care of me.  This means I can release the weight of burdens on him.  He will sustain me and not allow me to fall due to the load.  He will not let me, as one of his consistent followers to be shaken or to falter.   So this morning I reflect and realize that there are some things I’m not taking to the Lord.  I’m using my own strength to handle them.  So I turn to God this morning and lay them at his feet and ask for his support.  I am giving these to God and asking him to guide me through the appropriate steps that I will need to take.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don’t Expect Heaven On Earth

In summary of Ephesians 4:22-24 it says, “Throw off, change your former way of life which is corrupted by lust, deception and deceitful desires; and take on an entirely new way - a God-fashioned life in which you let the Spirit inside you renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Then put on your new nature, clothe yourself with the new person, and allow this to work itself into your conduct making you more like God’s image in justice and true holiness while God accurately reproduces his character in you.”

Bottom Line:
Change your former way of living, which was corrupted by things of this world and take on a new way to live.  Allow God’s Spirit in you to renew your thoughts, attitudes and ways of thinking.  Then each day put on our new nature (like you would put on new clothes), allow the His Spirit to work in your life, making you more like God’s character each day.

What this means to me:
This scripture instructs me to to get rid of my former nature (my old self / way of thinking), which characterized the way I had lived before (it was corrupted by lusts and desires that sprang from the world's ways), and instead be constantly renewed by the fresh mental and spiritual attitude, putting on a new regenerated self, one that is created in God’s image in justice and true holiness.  There is a difference between taking on God’s character versus being like God.  I often try to take on God’s role by trying to control my circumstances, the future or people around me.  I can never be God and he doesn’t want me to be.  Instead he wants me to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character - “take on an entirely new way of life.”  I must realize that God’s ultimate goal for me here on the Earth is not comfort, but rather character development.  He wants me to grow and become more like Christ, but still within my own uniqueness.  It’s about transforming my character not my personality.  Life can often be difficult, it’s this way to grow me.  I have to remember Earth is not Heaven!  Having an abundant life is not having it easy and using God as my personal genie who grants me what I want.  I must not forget that life is not about me, and that I exist for God’s purposes.  My time here on earth is my training ground to build strength and character for later in Heaven.  So today I will focus on taking on and displaying God’s character in my thinking, while still being my own unique personality.  I will open for how God wants to use me today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Obedience Unlocks God’s Power

In summary of Ephesians 4:23 it says, “Always be renewed in your thinking, let the Spirit change the way you think.”

Bottom Line:
Let the Spirit renew you and influence your way of thinking.

What this means to me:
God wants his Spirit living in me to constantly renew my mind, giving me a fresh mental and spiritual attitude.  So I should let his Spirit help me each day.  God’s word has taught me that the Holy Spirit releases his power the moment I take a step of faith.  It is only after I take that step forward in obedience and faith that I can truly see unlock this power.  God will not pressure me, he wants me to act first.  So I need to learn to not wait until I feel powerful or confident, but to move ahead in my weakness, doing what is right in spite of any fears or how I feel.  In the long run moving forward in obedience and faith need to become my default habitual act (what comes naturally.)  So today, I really need to spend some time focusing on what area in my life I need to take a step of faith and move forward regardless of fears/feelings.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Living At Peace - As Far As It Depends On Me

In summary of Romans 12:18 it says, "If possible and to the best of your ability, live at peace and to get along with everybody."

Bottom Line:
If possible and to the best of your ability, do all you can to at peace, getting along with everybody.

What this means to me:  
If it is possible, God wants me to do all I can (as far as it depends on me) to live in peace and get along with everybody I encounter.    This is a big “if it’s possible” not always “it is possible”.  Secondly his word tells me “as far as it depends on me.”  There are some individuals in which nothing I can do will bring peace with them.  Often it’s directly related to their pain and their hurt.  What I need to realize is that it may not always be about me.  When I run into situations like this the best I can do is continue to do what I know is right and possibly just be silent / leave it alone.  I can however pray for them and then leave it in God’s hands.

Monday, July 23, 2012

God Has Made This Day; Rejoice And Be Glad In It

In summary of Psalm 118:24 it says, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. " 

Bottom Line:
This is the day which the Lord has brought about he has created it. Given that we will rejoice and be glad in it.

What this means to me:
Like all creation and everything in it, God also created today.  I should rejoice in this day as in all days.  He has created it and has plans for what should be accomplished in it.  Because of that I need to steward well what he has entrusted me with today.  This is extremely helpful for me today, especially as I struggled just to get up this morning.  I just felt like sleeping and wasting the day away.  So I ask you God through your power and your word to help energize me this morning and to truly rejoice and be glad in what you created today; and not just today but all my others days.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jesus Offers Mercy, Not Condemnation

In summary of Romans 8:1-2 it says, "There is no condemnation or guilty judgement for those who follow and belong to Christ Jesus because through him the law of the Spirit of life sets you free from the law of sin and death.  

Bottom Line:
When you follow and actually belong to Christ Jesus you are no longer subject to a guilty verdict.  Through Him the law of the Spirit of life sets you free from the law of sin and death.  Free to live the life he wants me to live.

What this means to me:
God began the work to bring me back into his presence long before I was even born.  He knew I couldn’t make it on my own, so while I was still helpless, he provided a means that saved me from the end effects of my sins (past and future) with Christ dying for me.  It is through His Son, and my now belonging to him (by following him and making him the leader of my life,) that now provides this protection from the law of sin and death / eternal separation from him.  No matter what I had done, making Christ the boss and leader of my life keeps me from ultimate condemnation.  Christ sits at God’s right hand, not as an accuser but rather as my advocate - he gave his life for me.  Jesus wants to bring me back into an intimacy with the Father, he’s not interested in making me jump through hoops to prove myself worthy or in any attempt to earn my way.  It is God’s gift and Jesus’ sacrifices that have washed me clean.  Given this, I can now approach God with confidence, knowing that I will find mercy and grace to help me in my time of needs and difficulty.  I need to remind myself today that I don’t need to earn God’s approval or provide some type of sacrifice or offering in order to make up for my wrong doings.  I need to just walk today in the confidence that I have God’s mercy and Jesus as my advocate.  I won’t get caught up in things of the world today, instead I want to concentrate on loving God and loving those he has put around me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

God Wants To Give You Freedom

In Summary of John 8:36 it says,"If the Son liberates you and makes you free men, then you are really unquestionably free through and through."

Bottom Line:
If Jesus sets you free, you are unquestionably free.

What this means to me:
Jesus has the power to liberate me and truly free me from my fallen state and if Jesus sets me free then I am unquestionably free.  This translates into no longer being a slave to this world or its ways.  To me the world defines freedom as “life without any restraint; one in which you can do or say anything you’d want to do,”  and while this practice may burn others, one would get their own way.  In summary you get freedom but by being totally selfish.  Scripture tells me that the the only way to be free is through Jesus.  Real freedom from him provides freedom from fear, where I’d be truly free from any guilt, worry, bitterness and death.  I would be free to quit any pretending because I would be free.  So the best way for me to move forward and to eliminate any of these fears in my life is to let God live me.  I need to remember that God loves me and when I keep this in mind then I can begin to live in true freedom.  God way takes the focus off of me (selfishness) and puts it on; love for him and love for others (serving, helping others.)  Today I will keep in mind how much God loves me and has shown me how to be free from guilt, worry and bitterness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Servant Who Leads

In summary of Luke 22:31-32 it says, "Simon, stay on your toes.  Satan has asked excessively that all of you be given up to him, to be taken away and separated from the power and keeping of God, that he might sift all of you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out, that your faith may not fail.  So when you have repented and turned to me again, you will strengthen your brothers, establish them and give them a fresh start."

Bottom Line:
Simon stay alert, Satan wants to distract you, take you away, separate you from the power of God, sifting you like wheat.  But Jesus prayed that Simon would not give in or give up, that his faith would not fail.  So explained to Simon that after you have realize this sifting that you would repent and turn back to God again.  Then strengthen and encourage your brothers in their walk, remind them of the fresh start that can be realized when one repents and returns to God.

What this means to me:
This is a reminder to me that Satan is ready at any time to distract me and get me off course from following God and having the protection that comes from a close intimate relationship with God.  I too have a strong advocate (Jesus) praying that I would not give in / give up or lose faith.  This verse also reminds me that not if, but when I’m not alert and I allow myself to be drawn away, that I can repent of my waywardness and come back to God.  God is still in control and his presence inside me (his Spirit) is greater than our enemy Satan.  God wants me to encourage others around me when I see this happen to them or when they get too discouraged that a fresh start is always available (my own example) when we return to God.  It's likely the times of sifting probe my current weaknesses, revealing what’s really on my heart and in my thoughts.  I need to remember that it’s not in my own strength that I can resist and think differently, but with the strength that comes from him.  The sifting helps identify the distractions that are likely hindering me from fulfilling my purpose and allow me to refocus.  Overall, God wants me to survive the sifting and return stronger, with the purpose of strengthening my brothers.  In a sense, it’s like being a servant who will lead others.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meekness Is Not Weakness

In summary of 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, "God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid or timid (being shy with his gifts), but that of power, love, self-discipline and self-control (being bold, loving and sensible.)"

Bottom Line:
God did not give us a spirit of timidity (being a coward or shy), but one of power and of love, a calm, well-balanced mind, disciplined and self-controlled.

What this means to me:
God provides me with a spirit of power and of love, not one of being timid or a door stop.  He has provided me with a well-balanced mind and self-control in which to conduct myself.  With this spirit from him, I can be bold, but at the same time loving and sensible.  Christians are meek, however this meekness does not translate to weakness.  Meekness means to have a strength that is under control, a power that is now ready for the master’s use.  God does not expect me to cave in just because someone wants to manipulate me.  It is ok to say “no” at times when it doesn’t make sense to say “yes”, (especially as it relates to immoral issues.)  God wants me to deal with those who try to manipulate with a power (confidence), in love (focusing on their needs), and in self-control.  Typically I tend to be a people pleaser, but I must always realize that I can’t please everyone.  Instead, I need to remember to hold my ground, then pray for those who want to persecute me.  After that I can just leave the rest to God.  I just need to remind myself that God’s spirit isn’t intended to make me timid or to be a weakling, instead I’m a power (strength) under control for his use.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Remember Always, I’m Unique

In summary of Psalm 139:13-14 it says, "You made my whole being; shaped me first inside then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.  I praise and thank you for making me in an amazing and wonderful way.  What you have done is wonderful, how well I know it."

Bottom Line:
You completely shaped me starting inside, then out while I was in my mother's womb.  I praise and give you thanks for making me in such an amazing and wonderful way.  I well know that what you have done is awesome.

What this means to me:
God has uniquely made me starting from the inside and working his way out; and all of this while still in my mother’s womb as you had prescribed and defined me before my birth.  You know what I would be like.  You chose me and my particular characteristics for your purposes.  This makes me unique, there is only one me.  So what this teaches me is that if I don’t be me, who will be what he made me to be.  I should be glad always for who I am.  I don’t need to try to be someone else.  I need to keep from comparing myself with others and look to God to define what I should be.  God you deserve all the praise and thanks I can give for the amazing way you have made me.   God, daily I will look to understand more about you and what you defined for me to be each day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Truth Will Guide My Steps

In summary of John 16:13, it says "But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.  He won’t draw attention to himself or speak his own words; but instead will speak only what he hears.  He will help you make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said."

Bottom Line:
When the Spirit of truth comes into your life, he will guide you into all the truth there is.  He will not speak his own words, instead he will speak only what he hears from the father.  He will help you make sense of it, and what is about to happen.  He will also help you understand all that I have said and done.

What this means to me:
At the time of my confession and commitment to him, God has provided his Spirit of truth.  It is his Spirit within me that guides me into all the truth that exists.  The Spirit is humble, he won’t draw attention to himself or speak his own words; instead he speaks only what the Father has shared with him.  He is present to help me make sense out of what is about to happen and to all the things that Jesus taught and spoke of.  This is truly a gift from God, present within me to guide me deeper and provide direction in his Truth.  He encourages me to take each step of faith in the places where I will face my fears.  When I do face my fears I do so with God’s strength.  God has been revealing to me more about who he is and how he works each day that I study and get his word into my life.  The past few days he has taught me that I don’t need approval from others or need to please them and that he is the only one I should turn to for approval.  He has also reminded me of getting priorities in life straight, not getting caught up in busy work that would make me tired or feed my own desires, but rather take on the things he says are important for me to follow.  He also has warned me to guard what is getting into my heart.  I need to protect what is occupying my time.  What gets in should be the things that are good and peaceful, things I can use to benefit others and not those things that are selfishly for myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Don’t Need To Seek The Approval Of Others Or Please Everyone

In summary of Proverbs 29:25 it says, "It’s dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, it will prove to be a snare or a trap.  Human opinion of others can disable you.  Instead put your trust in God, he will protect you and provide safety from that."

Bottom Line:
It's dangerous to let what others think of you, control you.  It will prove to be a snare or trap from keeping you from moving forward.  Instead put all of your trust in God and what he thinks of you.  When you do, God provides you with protection and safety from getting caught up in the disabling trap of others opinions.  

What this means to me:
God wants me to look to him for approval and not others.  Letting what others think can paralyze my thinking and progress toward being what He wants me to be (it will be a trap that will hold me back, keep me from what is best.)  God tells me if I only look to him for approval, he will protect and provide safety from the disabling emotional trap of others opinions.  In this world, I don’t have to please everyone.  This is difficult for me, as I’m traditionally a people pleaser and seek approval of others.  However, In reality it would be difficult to please everyone regardless.  What I need to realize is that my happiness does not depend on approval from others.  Even God can’t please everyone since all typically base their decisions on their own gain or selfishness.  So, I don’t need to cave in or squeeze into the worlds mold.  If I feel pressured, controlled or manipulated then its because I’m allowing myself to be pressure, controlled and manipulated.  Instead, it’s ok to stand up for what’s right.  It’s OK to be assertive.  God doesn’t expect me to be a doormat.   Interestingly I find, that when I’m being what God wants me to be, people are usually amazed at my behavior and wonder how I can be patient and kind with others when they are being selfish or difficult.  The key for me will be to not let myself be pressured into being something different from what God intend for me, just to get the approval of someone else.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting Priorities Straight

In summary of Matthew 11:28 it says, "Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads/burdens, get away with me and you’ll recover your life and I will show you how to take a real rest.’"

Bottom line:
Jesus tells those who are tired from carrying heavy loads and burdens to come to him.  He will show you how to recover and show you how to take a real rest.

What this means to me:
This scripture tells me that I can find real rest and recovery from day to day life when I come to Jesus and allow him to take control.  I have to admit that my schedule can get real busy most of the time going from one meeting to another and the pressure of constant deadlines or many after work activities. The key for me to is understand when I’m doing too much in life I may be out of the will of God.  One way of telling is to reflect on how tired I am.  Is it constant feeling.  If so, I may be off track and will need to spend some time reflecting and re-evaluating what I’m doing.  I don’t believe God’s intended for me to be constantly busy with a heavy load.  I’ll need to take time to evaluate all the things I’m involved with, perhaps take an inventory.  Am I putting unrealistic burdens and expectations on myself?  Am I attending too many meetings?  Perhaps I need to just block time out in my calendar so that some free time can be obtained.  I must remember that to live in the center of God’s will is a lighter will than to live out of his will.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Guard What Gets Into Your Heart

In Summary of Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Above all else, guard and keep a vigilant watch over your heart and what you think, for it determines course of everything you do in life, it shapes your thoughts and future actions (it is the starting point.)“

Bottom Line:
You must keep a close guard/watch over your heart and what you think about and take in.  Your heart will determine the course of everything you do and think in life.  

What this means to me:
This scripture warns me to guard and keep a vigilant watch over what I take in and allow to shape my heart and thoughts.  God knows that whatever I dwell and focus on will become part of my life, these things will determine my feelings which in turn end up determining my actions.  So given this I need to be careful what I let into my mind/heart including self talk about how I feel about myself (I can be my own worst self critic - putting myself down.)  I reminded this morning as I study Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Connection devotional from July 5th that when I put myself down, I’m really in essence pointing to the one who made me, say “God, you blew it with me” which I know is wrong, as God never makes mistakes.  So I need to be careful what I’m allowing into my life.  Philippians 4:8 reminds me to “fix my thoughts on what is true, good and right.”  So when I’m disappointed in myself I should turn those into opportunities to reflect on what I can thank God about and be grateful for it.  Next focus my thoughts on what I want to be and on what God wants me to do in this life.  Then be sure that I continually get into and absorb God’s word each day.  As I do, I need to fully study it, understand what it says to do and then apply it.  Ultimately I need to start believing in what God says about me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Truth Will Set You Free

In summary of John 8:31-32 it says, “Jesus said to the people who claimed to believe in him, ‘If you stick with and remain faithful to my teachings, living out what I tell you, you will be my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves and know the truth, and this truth will set you free.’”

Bottom Line:
Jesus tells those who claim to believe in him to stick with it, remain faithful to what he is teaching them and living it out.  If you do, then you will be his disciples for sure.  In doing so you will experience for yourselves and know the truth.  It is this truth that will set you free.

What this means to me:
It is the truth that will set me free.  For me to fully understand the truth, I need to follow and remain faithful to what Jesus has taught.  This is more than just listening, I must put it into practice and experience it.  Then I will know first hand the truth.  This is a truth that will change my way of life.  When I follow steadfastly, the truth then lives in me.  When i follow Jesus, I am connected to God through him and his truth enables me to discern and reject the lies of the enemy.  One of the most important things to remind myself of is that your Truth says how I’m forgiven, loved by you, your child.  Knowing the Truth helps me respond to your direction.  It is trustworthy and I know I can follow it wholeheartedly.  So I will do everything I can to leave the interpretation of the facts and the determination of the truth of any situation to you.  I will let your Truth make the decisions, and then I will obey and leave the consequences in your loving, truth-filled hands.  All the decisions are yours to make.  Because you are Truth, I can respond in the Truth in all situations; I will no longer need to be a slave to my emotions.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God Has Much Better Things In Store For Us

In summary of Romans 8:18 it says, "I believe that the present suffering we experience now is nothing compared to the glory he is going to reveal to us."

Bottom Line:
Any suffering we experience now will be nothing compared to the glory that God will reveal to us in time.

What this means to me:
God has so much better things in store for me if just continue to persevere and strive to achieve his will.  He tells me that in the end, when I look back at what I had suffered it will seem so insignificant and will make what he has in store for me all worthwhile.  It’s sometime hard for me to imagine what God ultimately has in store for me.  This life is all about learning to have a relationship with him and preparation for what he will have me do.  It would be worthwhile for me to reflect on this from time to time.  It is a glory that will awesome and beyond any good thing that can happen here.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

An Everlasting Source Of Strength

In summary of Isaiah 40:28-31 it says "Have you never heard, never understood or been listening?  God doesn’t come and go, he is the everlasting God, the creator of all you can see or imagine.  He never grows weak or weary, he won’t get tired.  He knows everything, inside and out, no one can measure the depths of his understanding.  He’ll energize those who are tired, he’ll give power to the weak, and give fresh strength to the powerless.  Even young people will tire, become weak, and fall in exhaustion.  But those who wait and trust in God will find new strength, they will spread their wings and soar like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint or fall behind."

Bottom Line:
If you don’t understand or had not been listening, know that God is the everlasting God, and he is always present (he doesn’t need to sit back and take a break.). He is the creator of all you see or could even imagine is possible.  He will never grow week or become tired.  He knows all and no one can measure the depths of his understanding.  He will energize those who are tired, he will give power to those who are weak he will provide strength to those who are powerless.  Even a young person will eventually tire, and succomb to exhaustion.  But those who decide to trust in and wait for God will find new strength in which they will be able to spread their wings and soar like eagles, they can then run and not grow weary, walk and not get faint.

What this means to me:
God reminds me in this scripture that he is everlasting, nothing will take him off duty or make him tired / exhausted.  He is the creator of all things and as such I cannot even comprehend or measure the depth of his knowledge and understanding.  He does promise me that if I put my faith and complete trust in him that he will provide the energy and the fresh strength I can use to do his will.  I will find such freedom that it will be like flying on the wings of eagles.  And with this I will be able to keep going, even when things seem to be going nowhere.  This is really a key understanding for me to take in.  On my own strength I will get tired, impatient and likely be ready to just give in.  I need to look to Him all the time (the one who never tires or grows weary) for renewed strength to keep going.  When I feel myself starting to tire, I need to look to see if I’m trying to do things on my own strength and then look to God for the energy and strength to face what ever he decides to put in my path for this day.  I need to remind myself that I serve the one who created all things and his knowledge and strength are never ending.  He is a power source that will never be depleted.