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Friday, November 15, 2019

To Be Like Jesus, I Need To Spend Time with Him

In review of the first part of Hebrews 12:2, I learn that to run the race with endurance, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (NLT).

To run with endurance the race God has set before me, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, the one who initiates and perfects my faith. This means that I must strip off the excess weight that slows me down. Choose friends who are also committed to the race. Make wise choices about the activities I get involved with. Give up whatever endangers my relationship with Him. To live effectively, I must spend time with him. I'll stumble if I look away from him to stare or focus on myself or at the circumstances that are surrounding me. Keep my eyes on Christ, not myself.

You’ve likely heard this old cliché: “You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re running with the turkeys.” This has great ramifications for my spiritual life.

I should invest less time in certain relationships because they’ll only drag me down. If I hang out with people who have no ambition, I’ll have no ambition. If I hang out with critical people, I’ll become critical. The people I spend the most time around will influence what I’m like on a day-to-day basis.

HIs Word tells me this about our spiritual growth: “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2a NLT).

This is why it’s so important for me to spend time with Jesus every day. My spiritual growth depends upon it. I become more like Jesus when I spend time with him.

Jesus made a habit of going to a place where he could talk with his heavenly Father. Luke 22:39 describes him going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as usual” (NIV). If Jesus made it a point to spend time with his Father, this same habit will benefit me as well. It’s the only way I can really start to become more like him. Therefore I should continue to have some daily time with Him to talk about what’s going on in my life. To read his Word, to study a devotional, and then to ask for guidance and wisdom for the day

In summary, to be like Jesus I need to keep my eyes on him. For He is the champion who initiates and perfects my faith. I need to strip off the things that slow me down, choose friends who are committed to the same race. Learn to make wise choices about the activities I get involved with. Give up what endangers my relationship with him. If I look away from him and just focus on myself and my circumstances, I stumble. The people I spend the most time with will influence what I'm like on a day-to-day basis. Therefore It's important for me to spend time with Jesus every day. I'll become more like him when I spend time with him. 

Father I thank you for your Word and how you speak to me through it and through application notes and devotions. In my work life, things are changing. One of the priorities of the organization is to “challenge the status quo.” We get stuck in doing things a certain way because that's the way we have always done it or it’s someone else's job or role to do. It appears that our role and organizational structure will change. As things change, there are decisions that have been made that I or we have no way to change. The only thing I/we can do is to champion leadership’s desires. I / We need to do the best job we can, with excellence to make things occur to accomplish the organization's mission. I need to keep away from those who may be a bit negative in approach about it. This will only drag me down. I need to put into action the processes, plans and procedures I know will bring success. I need to take the focus off myself and any pity party about what I see that I don't like or feel like I haven't been treated with consideration. I need to schedule a one-on-one’s with leadership to get their perspective and to help champion what they would like to see.

I pray this morning Father for the perspective you have brought me to become part of my actions moving forward. I ask for your assistance to do the right things, like Jesus would. I ask you for wisdom and guidance for my day, my leadership and my interactions with others. These things I pray through your Son Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Taking Baby Steps to Spiritual Maturity

In review of Hebrews 12:1, it says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (NLT).

Others before me have run the race and won. Their witness should stir me to run and win as well. A long-distance runner works hard to build endurance and strength. To run the race that God has set before me, I must strip off the excess weight that slows me down. I can do this by choosing friends who are also committed to the race as well. Make wise choices, which may mean dropping certain activities. Get help for anything that weighs me down.  Being a Christ follower involves giving up whatever endangers my relationship with God, to run with endurance, and to struggle against sin with the power of the Holy Spirit. To live effectively, I must keep my eyes on Jesus. I will stumble if I look away from him to stare at myself or at the circumstances surrounding me. I should be running for Christ, not for myself, and always keep him in sight.

It’s no accident that the Bible routinely refers to the Christian life as a race. Just like in a long-distance race, I must be patient to grow as a Christian. The Bible says, “Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b TLB).

I won’t finish this race quickly (in a week, a month, or even a year). In fact, It will take my whole life. God’s plan for making me into the person he wants me to be requires a lifetime commitment.

I won’t be able to short-cut or short-circuit that kind of growth. When I became a Christian, I started growing quickly. Much like a baby in the early months, who grow enormously fast during the first year. However I won’t continue growing as quickly the rest of my life. Growth, both physical and spiritual, slows down. It’s stable and secure over a period of time. God isn’t in a hurry for me to grow. I am, but he isn’t.

I’m learning that I need to start with simple steps toward growth. If I take one or two baby steps every week, I’ll be much further down the road of growth at the end of the year than I would be otherwise.

Christian living isn’t one big leap across the Grand Canyon. It’s a journey of baby steps, one step at a time.

In summary, I need to strip off the things that weigh me down, especially the sin that so easily trips me up. I need to run with endurance the race that God has set before me. I do this by choosing friends who are also committed to running the race. Making wise choices, which may mean dropping certain activities. Giving up anything that might endanger my relationship with God. Using the Holy Spirit's power to help with sin. Keeping my eyes on Jesus. If I look away or focus only on the circumstances that surround me, I will stumble. Run for Christ and not for myself. Be patient in my growth, as I won't finish the race quickly. It will take a whole life time. God wants to grow me over time and not in an instant. So I need to start with simple steps each day. It won't be one big leap, but rather a journey of baby steps along the way.

Thank you Father for the reminder to run with endurance the race you have set out before me. I face circumstances that I’m not quite sure what to do with, and my mind races. I see another get ahead with a promotion and I stay the same. I need to be patient that you have a plan for me. It’s my job to follow you and take steps toward keeping my focus on you and celebrating others successes. 

I pray this morning Father that with the help of the Holy Spirit, that I’m reminded of this crucial perspective. Give me wisdom and guidance for my day, my activities, my leadership and my interaction with others. Help me to live with integrity and to make a difference in the lives of those around me. I ask these things through your Son Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Two Steps to Handle Temptation

In review of Ephesians 6:17 it says to Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (NCV).

I need supernatural power to defeat Satan, and God has provided this to me by giving me his Holy Spirit who dwells within me and God's armor surrounding me. When I feel discouraged, remember Jesus' words to Peter: "Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the power of hell will not conquer it."

In order to handle temptation, I need to claim the promises of God that he has given in his Word about temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).

I can’t think or believe that “I couldn’t help myself. It was impossible to resist. Or, I had no choice but to give in.” When I say that, I’m calling God a liar! God says he’ll always offer an escape from the temptation I face. It may be tough and painful. It might even be embarrassing. But there will always be a way out. God makes sure of it! This is his promise.

Satan is constantly battling for my mind. That’s where the battle happens. When God gives me an idea, it’s inspiration. When the Devil gives me an idea, it’s temptation. I choose every day which thought I’m going to dwell on.

I can change my mind by replacing the temptation with truth, and truth is found in the Bible.

Prepare for temptation and resist the Devil, with Ephesians 6:17 which says, “Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (NCV).

There are two things I need to do in order to handle temptation. Salvation is the first step: “Accept God’s salvation as your helmet.” What does a helmet do? It protects your head and my mind, and that’s where the battle is going on. Before I can say no to the Devil, I have to learn to say yes to Jesus Christ. I’ve got to have his power through salvation.

The second step is to receive God’s Word to use as a sword. Truth is the antidote to temptation. I can keep my Bible near at hand, but when I’m at work and tempted, I need to get the truth that is in that book into my mind.

The single most effective tool to combating temptation is to memorize Scripture. If I don’t have any verses memorized, I have no weapon for the fight! When the Devil comes along, how will I counter him? He’s not afraid of my opinion, but he does fear the truth. The sword of God is God’s truth, but it only becomes a weapon when is close at hand from memory. So I need to memorize it.

In summary, Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, This is God's provision. To handle the temptation, claim the promise of God, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.  It may be tough and painful. It might even be embarrassing. But there will always be a way out. Satan is constantly battling for my mind. That’s where the battle happens. two things I need to do in order to handle temptation. Salvation is the first step: “Accept God’s salvation as your helmet.” The helmet protects your head and my mind, and that’s where the battle is going on. The second step is to receive God’s Word to use as a sword. Truth is the antidote to temptation. Satan does fear the truth. The sword of God is God’s truth, but it only becomes a weapon when is close at hand from my memory.

Father thank you for the reminder about temptations this morning. I pray today for your Spirit to help remind me of your truth and my own practice of memorizing scripture. I ask for your wisdom and guidance for my day, my work, my leadership and my interaction with others. I ask these things through your Son Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Choose Holiness over Happiness

In review of James 1:14-15 it reminds me that We are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires. Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (GNT).

As I live for God, I find I still have temptations. It's not God who is tempting me. God will however test me, but he does not tempt me by trying to seduce me to sin. God does allow Satan to tempt me, but it’s in order to refine my faith and to help me grow in my dependence on Christ. I can resist the temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey his word. It's easy to blame others and make excuses for evil thoughts and wrong actions. I've used excuses such as: 1). It's the other person's fault; 2). I couldn't help it; 3). everybody's doing it; 4). it was just a mistake; 5). nobody's perfect; 6). the devil made me do it; 7) I was pressured into it; 8). I didn't know it was wrong; 9). God is tempting me. When I make excuses I'm shifting the blame from myself to something or someone else. As a Christ follower, I need to accept responsibility for my wrongs, confess them and ask God for forgiveness.

We live in an age of irresponsibility, where no one wants to admit that their problems are their own fault. We’ve all become victims. No problem we have is ever considered our fault anymore; it’s always somebody else’s problem. We blame others. We blame the government, the media, our parents, the schools, our DNA, and the environment—everything but ourselves.

The truth is that I bring most of my problems on myself. I just need to accept responsibility and quit blaming others. Every time I blame somebody else, I’m not admitting what the real problem is.

I’m never going to find freedom until I stop fixing the blame and start fixing the problem. Stop blaming others! Even when others have hurt me, it’s my reaction that’s causing the problem.

God’s will never contradicts God’s Word. If God says, “Don’t do that” in the Bible, he will never tell me “yes” through a feeling. It doesn’t matter how good the feeling is. If I listen to my feelings instead of God’s Word, I’m walking straight into a trap. 

God wants me to be happy. But God wants me to be holy more than he wants me to be happy. He wants me to obey him. I will never be totally happy when I ignore God’s will. In fact, I’m heading for destruction when I do that. The rules and principles in the Bible are not there just to make life miserable. They’re there for my own good.

The happiest people in the world are those who hang on to what God says and follow it, regardless of what their feelings say.

In summary, I'm tempted when I allow myself to be drawn away and trapped by my own evil desires. These desires conceive and give birth to sin. I face temptations, but it's not God who is tempting me. God will however test me. He allows Satan to tempt me, but it's in order to help refine my faith and grow my dependence on Christ. I can resist the temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey his Word. It's easy to blame others or make excuses. I need to accept responsibility for my wrongs, confess them and ask for forgiveness. Seems one one wants to admit that their problems are their own fault. We like to think of ourselves as victims. Also, it's important to note that God will never contradict his Word, no matter how good the feeling is. God wants me to be holy more than he wants me to be happy. To be happy, I just need to hang on to what God says and follow it, regardless of what my feelings may bring. 

Father this morning I thank you for how you want to build my character more than fulfill my happiness. I pray that your Spirit reminds me of these truths when temptation or my tendency to want to blame others for bad choices. I ask for your wisdom and guidance for my day, my work tasks, my leadership, and my interaction with others.  These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, November 8, 2019

If I Sow Generosity, I Will Reap Generosity

In review of 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 it says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (NIV).

People often have hesitations about giving generously to God. They worry about having enough left to meet their own needs. Paul assures the Corinthians that God would always meet their needs. A person who gives only a little will receive only a little in return. Having a giving attitude is more important than the amount that I give. God himself is a cheerful giver. God is pleased when we who are created in his image give generously and joyfully like him. Having difficulty in letting go and giving may reflect ungratefulness to God.

The principle of sowing and reaping applies to every area of life, not just my money. Whatever I sow in life, I’m going to reap. Whatever I deposit is going to be returned to me. If I sow criticism in life, I’ll reap criticism from others. If I sow kindness, I’m going to reap kindness. It’s the law of the harvest. If I plant apple seeds, I don’t get pears; I get apples. If I sow with generosity, I’ll reap generosity.

This is the principle of the harvest: Whenever I have a need, plant a seed. When a farmer looks at his barren fields, he doesn’t gripe about it. He just goes out and starts planting some seeds. If he only has a little bit of seed, he has a choice. He can either hoard it or give it away. If he holds on to it, that’s all he’s got. If he gives it away, God will multiply it. The amazing thing is this: I don’t just reap what I sow. I always reap more!

God set it up this way because he wants me to become like him. God is a giver. The only way that I’m ever going to become like him is to learn to be generous. When I’m stingy, I’m like the Enemy. When I’m generous, I’m like God. When I give it away, God multiplies it.

This sounds illogical, to give away when you have a need so that you will get more back. But that’s why it requires faith! God says the way I get is by giving, not by holding on.

In summary, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously. Give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion. God loves a cheerful giver and will always meet my needs. Having a giving attitude is more important than the amount that is given. God is pleased when we give generously and joyfully like him. Having difficulty in giving reflects ungratefulness to God. This principle of sowing and reaping applies to every area of life, not just money. Whatever I sow in life, I'll reap. If I sow with generosity, I'll reap generosity in my life. Amazingly enough, if I give it away, God will multiply it. I don't just reap what I sow, I'll always reap more. The way I get is by giving, not holding on.

This morning with this verse and study, I’m reminded that sowing and reaping applies to everything in life. I need to sow and not be stingy with my time and attention to people. My day can go by pretty quickly and be filled with work tasks and silence in my morning commute on the light rail, followed by an evening at home watching TV. I need to focus on relationships with others outside of the work context. I also need to sow generosity and assistance in the assistance I can provide at work.

Father this morning, I pray that the Holy Spirit help me keep this perspective in what I do and handle life. I pray for wisdom and guidance for my day today, my work, my leadership and my interactions with others. These things I pray through your Son Jesus name, Amen.

To Be Like Jesus, I Need To Spend Time with Him

In review of the first part of Hebrews 12:2, I learn that to run the race with endurance, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus , the ch...