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Thursday, September 27, 2012

God Requires Risky Obedience

In summary of Luke 19:26 it says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given to them.  Those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

Bottom Line:
Risk you life and use well what you are given, if you do you’ll find even more is given to you.  However if you do nothing and play it safe then even what you have will be taken away.

What this means to me:
If I’m willing to risk my life in obedience to what He asks of me, he will provide more than I can ever dream of.  If instead, I try to play it safe, then what I do have will be taken away and I’ll end up holding the bag.  If God is asking me to take a step of faith, but I hesitate to take it (waiting until he shows me the steps afterward), I’m actually not waiting on God, rather he’s waitin on me.  God wants to use risks of obedience in my life to push me deeper in faith.  I need to step toward faith even when I don’t know what the next step will be.  The not knowing is what requires my faith and it compels me to rely on God to guide me forward.  What seems to be a no-guarantee situation actually comes with the greatest guarantee of all - a God-guarantee; that he’s working in my life.  With this I can enter into the risky obedience know that God will provide the strength to do it.  That he will help change my priorities to match his, (sacrificing in faith), what I cannot keep for the things that can never be taken away.   I can engage in the risky obedience of making disciples of people I encounter and teaching them that a risky obedience of following Jesus comes with a God-guarantee. Today I will consider tasks that are before me that at this point seem impossible.  I’ll think about how my approach to it can change if I believe it comes from God and he is wanting me to move forward in risky obedience.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Faith Involves Taking Risks

In summary of 1 Thessalonians 5:24 it says, "The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will finish what he has set out to do.”

Bottom Line
The one who called you is completely dependable.  If he said it, he’ll do it!

What this means to me:
God, who has chosen me, is completely faithful and dependable.  In Him I can fully trust.  Because of this, he will finish what he sets out to do.  As I follow him, he will move me deeper in faith by asking me to take risks.  I am certain that they will never be a “leap of faith” into darkness; rather they will be specific risks he asks of me.  Each risk, taken in faith helps to show exactly how he will take care of me (just as he promised.)  Each step of faith I take will help me get away from living by sight and closer to living in a life of faith, where I truly believe I’m secure in God’s promises.  So for me taking risks do not come naturally.  I’m the one who always feels better seeing it laid out on a map before I proceed.  What this passage tells me is that If he asks it, he will provide.  It’s up to me to take the step, perhaps without seeing a full map.  Today, I will consider if there are some steps God is asking me to take that seem risky and how I can move forward with them in faith.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Being An Influence For God’s Glory

In summary of Matthew 5:14-16 it says, “Your are the world’s light - it is impossible to hide a town built on top of a hill.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your your light shine before others that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, novel and good deeds.  Then they can recognize, honor, praise and glorify our Father who is in heaven.”

Bottom line:
You’re here to be light, bringing out God’s goodness in the world.  A light is not something you hide.  Instead it is put in a high spot so that it can provide light to every.  So let your light shine before others.  Then they can recognize and praise the Father who is in heaven.

What this means to me:
I’m here in this life to be a vehicle for God to use.  I’m am to show others the difference it makes to have God working in one’s life.  God is not a secret to be kept.  I’m to go public with this (as public as a city on top of a hill.)  I should not hide under a bucket, instead I should give light to others.  I’m to be generous with my life, serving others and showing what the grace of God has done for me.  By opening up to others, It will prompt people to also open up to God who is our generous Father.  By myself, I cannot make myself the light of the world.  It is only because of my relationship with him, that I become that light, that reflection of him in me, a real life.  He calls each of us to follow him, and he tells us that “whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.  My focus therefore must always be on the light; humbly trusting Jesus to reveal the light through me.  My influence and visibility is a result of who is living within me, and not because of what I do.  God is the one who will put me in a place of influence and visibility.  I’m just a steward, so I must get out of the way (my way) and let Jesus work through me.  Today I ask God to humble me and help me consider how he has placed me in a place of influence for his glory alone.  I ask for wisdom and discernment as I follow the example of Jesus and his direction for my life.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tell God Exactly How You Feel

In summary of Job 7:11 it says, “I cannot keep from speaking, I must express my anguish and distress, so I cry out to you.  My bitter soul must complain.”

Bottom Line:
I can't be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak.

What this means to me:
Often I think that I should not complain to God, he has given me so much.  Part of me is holding back and not being honest with God.  But God already knows what's in my heart.  But this passage from Job tells me that Job felt comfortable enough with God to speak what was on his heart.  I too should not refrain from speaking what’s on my heart to God.  God can handle my emotions.  It’s ok to be honest; tell it all to God, get it off my shoulders.  God completely understands me and my hurts and he won’t be surprised by my emotional state.  So I don’t just need to “grin and bear it,” I can tell God exactly what I feel. It’s in this process that I come to understand more about him and his will for me.  Life was never meant to be easy.  It’s important to note that even though Job questioned God’s actions, he never stopped trusting God.  I know that this life is all a training ground for what he wants to do through me in this life and beyond.  Therefore, I will remember its ok not to restrain my real feelings before him.  I can speak and let God know of my disappointments, bitterness and fears.  I’m going to lay it all out on the table and then know that he will work in my heart for what is best because God can handle it.  Today I will think about those things I may be holding onto, the “gin and bear” it stuff.  I’ll take it to God in prayer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making God’s Word Is My Authority For How To Live My Life

In summary of Hebrews 10:35 it says, "Don’t throw away your confident trust in the Lord.  It carries with it a rich reward in the world to come."

Bottom Line:
Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards.

What this means to me:
In this world full of attacks on biblical worldview, I need to live with uncommon courage by continuing to accept God’s Word as my authority; God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me whether I fully understand it or not.  Doing so allows me to build on the rock that never changes and not on the popular opinion of the time.  God gives both his promise and his oath and these are unchangeable because he is unchangeable.  In addition I need to continue to make it my priority to spend personal time with Him.  The more time I spend with him the less I can be influenced or intimidated by the opinions of others and the more courage I’ll have.  I need to realize that standing courageously for biblical views won’t be easy, but this scripture this morning encourages me to remember that the rewards of doing so will last forever.  
Today I will pray this:

“God, I want to be a person of courage. I don’t want to back down. I don’t want other people to control what I say or think. I want to build my life on a biblical worldview. I make these two commitments today: First, I accept your Word as my authority. You say it, I believe it, and that settles it. Second, Lord, I want to spend time with you every day. I want to get to know you personally, Jesus. I want to be so full of joy and courage that people say, ‘That guy’s been with Jesus.’ I ask you to help me to be fearless for the truth. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stand Up For Sanctity

In summary of Acts 18:9 it says, “And one night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, Have no fear, but speak and do not keep silent”

Bottom Line:
Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent

What this means to me:
I am to not be afraid, I am to speak up for what is true and right.  I am to let no one silence me.  As I am working through my worldview and searching God’s truth on all matters, there are three controversial parts I must maintain.  They will require the most courage to speak up about.  These are topics that most will disagree on and will passionately argue with me about.  The three revolve around sanctity.  

  • The sanctity of life:  God has a purpose for every unborn child.  God had planned me before I was born and before my parents were born and well before the he created the universe.  I need to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves: the unborn.  Every life is sacred.
  • The sanctity of sex:  Sex is only for marriage.  Sex was God’s idea, it isn’t dirty or wrong; sex is holy.  God’s instructions never change.  Premarital sex is unacceptable to God.  Living together without being married is unacceptable to God.  Adultery is unacceptable to God.  Ponography and the objectfication of women are unacceptable to God.
  • The sanctity of marriage:  One man and one woman for life.  That is God’s intended original design.  God is very clear on the issue of marriage: “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh . . . So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV).
So as a follower of God and his truth, I need to have the courage to stand up for these areas, even and especially when it’s not the popular or politically correct thing to do.  Today’s world seems to slowly begin to accept the opposite of these truths.  I will need to be able to communicate well God’s viewpoint on all three of these topics.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Going Against The Worlds Opinion

In summary of Matthew 10:32 it says, "Everyone who acknowledges and confesses following me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven."

Bottom Line:
To those who acknowledge and profess their faith in Him before others publicly, He will likewise be acknowledge by Jesus before the Father.

What this means to me:
If I stand up for Jesus publically, against the worlds opinion, Jesus will stand up for me before the Father in Heaven and vouch for me.  I can’t turn tail and run as it wouldn’t show my real faith and reveal that I’m more afraid of men and their opinions than God.  To live with uncommon courage and stand up for Christ, I need to learn how to clarify my worldview (what I’m basing my beliefs on) and understand the non-Christian worldviews:

  • Materialism: What matters most is money/possessions.  In this view, success is measured by wealth.  However, we did not come into the world with anything and we will leave it with nothing.  Then why would it be beneficial to build up a pile of things that you will leave behind?  The greatest things in life aren’t things.
  • Hedonism: Whatever feels good is good.  Pleasure is the goal and the god. In this view life is to be comfortable and fun.  What we find in scripture is that happiness is not the goal in life; happiness is a byproduct of living out your purpose.  God provides happiness to the ones who please him.
  • Individualism: What I want comes first.  God didn’t create us to live for ourselves.  If we are to follow Jesus, you have to put aside your selfish ambition.  
  • Socialism: Government should control everything. There is nothing wrong with politics, but it shouldn’t be your savior.  We are to be responsible citizens, but we do now own government our lives.  A greater loyalty should be to God and not government.  
The result of folks following these worldviews is a crumbling of our culture, crisis in our schools, corruption in our businesses, chaos in our government, carnality in our churches, confusion in our families, and conflicts in our personal lives.  Any time we miss following the owners manual (His Word) we are the ones who end up getting hurt.  When we break God’s laws we are really breaking us.  I believe God is call me to stand up for his truth “against world opinion.”  This will require really having a solid foundation in God’s Word and the uncommon courage that will come from my relationship with him.  Today I will make it a priority to go back though the notes on the “Truth Project” and really grasp the worldviews presented there and the contrasting views of God.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Uncommon Courage To Stand Up For A Biblical Worldview

In summary of Acts 18:9 it says, “One night God spoken to Paul in a vision and told him; do not be afraid, keep on speaking out, do not be silent.”

Bottom Line
Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent

What this means to me:
Like Paul, God encourages me to have great courage and to speak up for His viewpoint on life to others.  I’m not to be afraid of what others think of me, or what could potentially happen to me for speaking out.  God does not want me to be silent.  He promises to be with me.  God wants me to have an uncommon courage and to stand up for what I know is true and right.  The world (media, large interest group agendas) continue to speak and tell you a worldview that goes against God’s word and most come to believe it because it usually suits their desires / selfishness.  In order to best accomplish my speaking out, it is important for me to grasp what the world believes (what they base their beliefs in) and what God says is the truth.  Everyone has a worldview that they see life through.  People can see things differently based on conflicting worldviews.  Like “instagram” which can take bad pictures and make them look better through filters, it is still the same bad or so-so picture.  Peoples worldview includes how the view God, themselves, others, past, present and future, money, time, good and evil.  It influences everything in their lives.  Every decision is made based upon their worldview.  Unfortunately, most people’s worldviews have been profoundly influenced by the media and others.  It is vitally important that I help others know the worldview based on God’s Word (which is the truth.)  So, what I hear God telling me is to make a stand for his truth, help others know that just adopting the worlds way of doing things is hurting them.  Taking that kind of stand will require an uncommon courage that is only available through my knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and how it contrasts.  I also need to review what my worldview is.  What do my everyday words and actions say about my worldview.  Am I really living based on what I believe.  I may need to make some changes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stand Firm On God’s Truth, Not Anothers Opinion

In summary of Proverbs 29:25 it says, “Fearing what others think of you is a dangerous trap.  Trusting in the Lord brings safety.”

Bottom Line:
It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.

What this means to me:
It can be a real disabling trap if I let what others think about me keep me from doing what God tells me I should do.  It takes courage to move out on what I believe so I shouldn’t be a coward.  God’s word tells me that If I put my trust and confidence in him, then his direction will bring me safety and I won’t miss out on his best for me.  It’s difficult to take a stand for his truth if I’m overly concerned with what people think about me.  If I worry about such things then I actually allow them to control me.  So I need to be careful to not cave in to criticism.  My focus should be on doing what’s right and not what others think I should do.  As I move forward I need to remember that:

  • I can’t please everyone
  • It really isn’t necessary to please everyone (joy/happiness in life comes from God, not others)
  • c. Rejection will not ruin my life (it may hurt, not be fun and can be extremely uncomfortable, but it can ruin my life unless I allow it to.)
I need to remember; nothing I do will make God love me less. Nothing I ever do will make God love me more. He loves me completely right now.   With this confidence I should have all the courage I need to take a stand. I will focus today and see if I have been living life trying to please anyone other than God.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hand It Over, Then Take The Next Step

In summary of Mark 10:52 it says, “Jesus spoke to him, “you may go, for your faith has healed you.”  Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.”

Bottom Line:
Faith is what is needed to move ahead.

What this means to me:
There are two fundamental things I must do in order to move forward.  First, I need to hand my concern over to God, and secondly I need to take the next step knowing that God will do what is best for me (not always what I think is best, but what he knows is best.)  Like the blind man in this passage it requires me to put my faith in Him.  I am fortunate that I have actually seen God prove himself as being trustworthy to me time after time (there’s a great track record.)  I have seen him come through and it’s always what I need, even when it involves discomfort or pain.  Also, like the blind man, I can ask God to help me overcome problems, or provide guidance in decisions.  The key is to not ask for selfish means but to ask for the things I need, fears I have or things that will progress him and his kingdom to others.  Then I take the next steps he has laid out for me in his word.  It is only after I step forward in faith that God will likely begin to work.  I also need to seize the moment and recognize when God presents to me an opportunity.  This will likely include moving against my fears.  I need to just affirm my faith and the changes I’d like to see in my life and receive God’s grace.  The blind man in the passage seized the opportunity to call out to Jesus when he walked by, he expressed his belief in who Jesus was and what he could do for him, then accepted the grace that allowed him to see again.  So no matter what is happening or what mistakes I’m making, Jesus can provide a fresh start.  Its not something I can earn by doing good works, but only something I can receive as a gift from him.   Today, I need to think about what things I may be holding onto (not letting go, thinking I can do it on my own) and then take the next step/action.  I need to do the things he has already told me to do.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Stop Any Procrastination, Seize The Moment

In summary of Luke 9:62 it says, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow but keeps looking back (to the things of the past) is not fit for advancing the Kingdom of God.”

Bottom Line:
If you keep looking backward (to the things of the past) you can’t really move ahead and be effective in building the Kingdom.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that if I’m looking back to things of the past or if I’m procrastinating (one my default actions) I won’t really be making a difference for the Kingdom (advancing God’s goals/desires.)  I really shouldn’t put God’s Kingdom off till tomorrow.  I need to seize what’s in front of me right now, seize the moment.  Whatever it is I’m going to do, I need to do it, I can wait till next year, next month, next week or tomorrow.  I need to be thinking about seizing what is right in front of me.  I already know that procrastination is one of my biggest personal issues and struggles.  I sometimes think that by procrastinating it will make life easier whereas it often just adds stress.  The fact is that I already know what the right things are to do and what the benefits are that come from doing them.  Scripture reminds me that I should never presume upon tomorrow, as I’m not guaranteed a tomorrow.  So whatever it is that I’m going to do, I better get after it now.  So today I will consider what areas in my life that I need to stop procrastinating in and instead consider what would I want to accomplish if today was all I had left.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

God Finishes What He Starts

In summary of Philippians 1:6 it says,“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus returns.”

Bottom Line:
I’m convinced and very sure of this, that he who began a good work in you, will keep on working in you to completion (at the point when his son Jesus Christ returns.)  What God starts, he’ll finish!

What this means to me:
God is the one who began this good work within me, and his promise is that he’ll keep on developing me to full maturity.  This work won’t be perfected or complete until the day that Christ Jesus returns.  I have learned that where God guides, he provides.  Where God leads, he meets my needs. I have to remember however that there will be times of testing in my life, because my testimony would be no good without a test (a before and an afterword.)  For these things to happen, I need to be willing to trust God completely.  Then I need to remember and retell others.  These stories need to be a bit like the memorial’s that were created in the Old Testament times.  There were there to serve as reminders, things that when the children asked about them the story of what God did for them (a reminder of God’s faithfulness) could be retold and remembered.  Today, I need to consider what I would build as a memorial (when God came through, what it stands for, what I would not want to forget.)  Things in my life are not what matters.  I am God’s legacy and my life is made up of the moments that made a difference for God’s Kingdom, the relationships that had eternal significance.  Today I will also pray:
“Father, I remember right now the love of Jesus. Thank you for the miracles you’ve worked in my life. God, help me to remember your grace and to be gracious. I remember your generosity toward me. I ask you for the strength to be generous toward others. I trust that you will be with me, and I trust that you will finish what you have started in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Know Who You Are So That You Can Move Forward

In summary of John 8:12 it says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

Bottom Line:
When Jesus spoke to the the people, he said, "I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in."

What this means to me:
When I choose to follow Jesus he will provide the guidance I need, keeping me from just stumbling around in the darkness.  He provides a light that will give real life, a life as God intended it to be.  When Jesus say’s “I am the light of the world” he knew who he was.  He has defined himself in the Word as the door, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life.  Because of this he never felt pressured to conform.  As long as I am unsure of my identity, I’ll feel the pressure to fit into other people’s molds.  If I’m not careful the world’s ways will influence me, and I’ll end up conforming to what popular opinion thinks rather than what God made me to be.  Fear will ensue in my life if I try to be someone I’m not or become fearful that someone’s going to find out what I’m really like and that I don’t measure up.  Instead I need to concentrate on having an internal sense of satisfaction about who I really am, the one God made me to be.  Today I can continue to discover who I am by remembering first that I am deeply loved and accepted by him.  Secondly by knowing that he has a plan for my life.  Most of his plan for me will likely include service for others.  So If I’m going to get on board with God’s plan for me, I need to overcome any insecurity’s and get a good grip on myself, otherwise, I won't feel like helping anyone else.  Today I need to continue to concentrate on being secure in who I am so that you can effectively serve others.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Having Confidence In God

In summary of Philippians 4:13 it says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Bottom Line:
Christ gives us the strength needed to face anything I can come up against.

What this means to me:
Christ gives me the strength I need to face anything that comes my way.  I can be self sufficient because of his sufficiency.  I can learn to be confident in God’s unlimited compassion and power and to let go of any confidence in myself.  Standing on my own leaves me on an uncertain foundation and no matter how confident I am in myself, eventually things will happen to wash away my own self confidence.  But having my confidence in God, I can know that I will always be able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence; In it I will always find his mercy and grace to help in my time of need.  His love and acceptance is always there.  So today I will consider anything that I’m hesitating on moving forward with.  I will then switch my confidence to him and know that he can do anything through my life if I let him.

Faithful People Are Persistent People

In review of Galatians 6:9 I read “Let us not become weary in doing good , for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give...