Friday, April 25, 2008

Make a difference

I haven't written much in the last week but I've given a lot of thought to the following topic.

What does it mean to be a true disciple of Christ?

I considered the verse that says we can't serve two masters. We can't serve Jesus and the world at the same time. We need to get off the fence and take a side. We're either hot or cold - we either sell out to Jesus or we are sold out to the world. How do we become more captive to Christ? Can we give ourselves to him in greater ways? How can we experience more of God's grace and presence in our lives every day.

Most Christians I know want to keep growing in their faith. It's a constant challenge. We need to stubbornly stick to Biblical principles in all areas of our lives. We need to be careful of jumping to "greener pastures". Be leery of anyone who promises an easy or comfortable life. That's not what Jesus promised. Be willing to stand up for Biblical truth whether anyone agrees with you or not. Speak the truth, in love, but speak the truth. When we stop speaking the truth, we begin to compromise our faith. Small compromises lead to bigger compromises. It is imperative that we live lives of love and compassion but only when founded on truth. If you are living your life to please the Lord, then there will be times when you won't be pleasing other people. Stick to the Word and let it lead you. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you when you are out of line. Don't worry about who you offend.

God wants you to love him. He wants you to spend time with Him. He wants you to be hungry for His presence in your life. It's time for any gray areas in your life to disappear. Move forward in His strength. Speak boldly as He leads you. Make a difference.

Monday, April 21, 2008

God's Love

I've been reading through some passages about God's love for me and trying to focus on that the last few days.

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies (Psalm 36:5).

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7).

Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love (Psalm 48:9).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13).

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (John 15:9).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grace isn't Cheap

I passed a church billboard this week that read:

"Grace is free but it isn't cheap."

There's a lot of truth in that short statement. God freely gives us eternal life through faith in Christ. While that gift is free to us, it cost God the life of his only Son.

In a book called The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer described the difference between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” Cheap grace, he said, is grace without a commitment and response from the believer. It is grace without servanthood. Costly grace, said Bonhoeffer, moves us to respond to the call of Jesus.

Lots of people believe in Jesus. They just love him to pieces. They worship and adore him. They praise his name. They invite him into their hearts and accept him as their Lord and Savior. But not many people are willing to follow him - to put their faith into action. In the second chapter of James it says faith without works is dead.

For the most part, believing “in” Jesus is really believing things “about” Jesus—that Jesus is divine, that he died for our sins, that he will come again to judge humanity and to establish his kingdom. But this kind of belief does not necessarily take the teachings of Jesus seriously. True Christianity is standing up for what you believe and being different in a culture where most Christians blend in with the values, lifestyles, economics and politics of the predominant culture of their society.

Following Jesus is about listening and doing. It is about putting into practice the things that Jesus taught. It is about a lifestyle that sets one apart from others.

Are you an admirer, a worshipper, or have you become a follower?

Ephesians 2:8 -9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Count my blessings

I spent three hours in the ER last night with my daughter. She had an accident playing soccer. While going to head the ball, she collided with another player. There was blood everywhere. I took one look and said, "I think she broke her nose." We know they don't really do much for a broken nose but we decided to have it looked at anyway. Three hours later, it was confirmed to be broken. She was given some pain medicine and sent home. We'll watch it to make sure it heals straight. If it doesn't, then we'll have to take her back and have it set. I remember being worried and thankful at the same time. I know she'll be fine. There were many other people at the hospital in much worse shape than she was. I need to remember every day to count my blessings and to thank God for taking care of my family each and every day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Curve Ball Part 2

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything. The surgery on my hand went as expected. I had it in bandages and a sling for two weeks. I went today to get them off and the stitches out. I was expecting a splint as that was what the doctor had indicated is usually the next step. However, that is not what happened. After examining the wrist, he felt it was best to put it in a cast for two more weeks - curve ball! I was ready for the splint. I had myself prepared for that. I desperately wanted to shower without a bag on my arm. I am discouraged and frustrated. Remember I have been trying to get this wrist repaired since July 2006. I've already endured surgery, cast, splint, rehab, cortisone shots, another surgery, and I was ready to be almost finished. Now I got a 2 week detour. 2 weeks doesn't sound like a lot but I had been counting the days until I got my arm back. Now I am just hoping to be able to play a round of golf in July with my Dad.

How do you handle discouragement and frustration - Those "curve balls" that life throws at you? I am trying to be patient. I know there are lots of people in this world that are worse off than me. I am reminded of a passage in Romans 5 that says that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance, character, and character, hope. It is that hope that keeps us going. That hope comes from God. He loves us and wants the best for us. He loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us. Not because we deserved it but because he loved us.

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would deeply know God's love.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21).

I’m encouraged –how about you?