I just discovered this comedian. Give him a few minutes. I think he will make you laugh.
Meet Michael Jr
Jesus’ LIttle Brother
Pray with your neighbor
I am a big Braves fan and my favorite player has been Matt Diaz. Matt was not resigned for the 2011 season. I will miss him greatly. Matt knows how to play the game. He plays hard and always does his best. He is a leader on and off the field. He’s the kind of man that we want our children to look up to. He’s a man of character and integrity. He never complained about playing time. He was always ready to go when it was his turn to contribute.
In a day and age when athletes are constantly in the news for drugs, guns, cheating on their wives, rape, etc., Matt, you’ve showed us the way professional athletes are supposed to behave. You are a class act.
Matt, thanks for five wonderful years in Atlanta. We respect you and we love you. We will miss you but we wish you well as you go to Pittsburgh.
An event occurred at work last week where I felt extremely disrespected. I was given some news and I sat in shock as I heard it. I tried not to react. I left feeling like I had just been slapped in the face. I don’t think it was intended that way but that’s the way it came across.
I knew I needed to be careful not to react from the flesh. (Although I did go home and have a good cry about it.) I knew I needed to take it to God and leave the situation in His hands. That is really hard because I really wanted to tell these people exactly what I thought.
I am still struggling with this. I think it is because I work with these people every day and I thought they appreciated me and respected me. Right now I need to get past this. Forgiveness is easy when you are writing about it and telling someone else to practice it. It’s hard when you are the one needing to forgive someone.
Living the Christian life isn’t always easy. Being committed to doing the right thing is hard. Not reacting when you are feeling hurt is hard. Letting situations in God’s hands and praying for a just outcome is hard.
No one said that living the Christian life was going to be easy…
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. “ Ephesians 4:31-32
“An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” Proverbs 29:22
“He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.“ Proverbs 14:29
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26
A friend sent me the link to this video. It will really grip your heart.
"God is looking for more than the money of saints. He's looking for the entirety of their lives to be spent for the weak."
If you have trouble playing it from my blog, go here - http://ellerslie.com/Depraved_Indifference.html
On Saturday night, my teenage daughter received a voice mail on her cell phone. The caller had a creepy voice and called her by name and said “In seven days, I am going to kill you. I’m going to bring my big machete knife and come in your house. I’m going to put a pillow over your face and stab you to death. See you in seven days”
Needless to say we were quite shaken up about this. My daughter was absolutely freaked out. She didn’t want to go into her bedroom alone. She slept in my bed the last couple of nights. We couldn’t imagine who would do this to her.
She’s a quiet kid. She’s just pretty average. She’s an A/B student. Solid but not top of her class . She’s not a star athlete. She’s a manager for the marching band. She’s a good kid who has never been in trouble and is known for helping others.
We suspected a student(s) from school had done this as a prank and so we went the the dean of students at her school on Monday. He was very helpful and got right on it. As much as we brainstormed, we couldn’t come up with anyone who might do this to her.
The school has some Gwinnett County policemen who work on campus each day. They had me file a police report. Then the officer went to Sprint and got them to release the phone number who made the call. It had come in as a private number. He took the number to Verizon and got them to release the name of the person on the account. (They wanted us to wait 10 days!)
The officer called the number a couple of times and finally got someone to answer on the other end. It turns out that the phone belongs to a teenager who lives about an hour from us. She and some of her friends were dialing random phone numbers Saturday night and when they got a voice mail, her male friend was leaving these threatening messages. They thought they were being funny.
What they didn’t realize was that leaving threatening messages like this is a felony. That is a felony count for each message. The officer talked to the mother of this young lady and she convinced him that she would deal with her daughter about this and that she would call the parents of the young man who left the message.
Then the police officer called us and wanted to know if we are going to press charges. We decided that we didn’t want to ruin these kids lives. They made a stupid mistake. We really just wanted to know that this was a prank and nothing to really fear.
What would you have done? Would you have pressed charges? Our daughter was scared to death from Saturday night until Tuesday night. She hasn’t slept. She hasn’t been able to concentrate on her school work.
We prayed a lot for God’s protection and for God to allow the officer to quickly figure this all out. We also prayed for the person who made the call. We are thankful for answers to our prayers.
All we could think of tonight was how grateful we were that she is OK. We are relieved that the whole ordeal is over. We are thankful that the dean of students and the Gwinnett County police officer at our school were really on top of this incident and cleared it up so quickly. We are thankful that it was just a stupid prank and that there is nothing to worry about. There really is so much to give thanks for.
A teenager made this statement to me: “I did the right thing and I still got in trouble.” What would you say? I was taken back for a few minutes.
I finally told the young lady that as a Christian we are responsible to do the right thing all the time. That doesn’t mean everything will go in our favor. We are not responsible for what others do or how they react to what we do. We are only responsible for our actions. We are not responsible for the actions (or reactions) of others.
What do you think the Bible has to say about this?
My thoughts tonight went to the book of Esther. If you recall the story, Haman had issued a decree that he would annihilate the Jews on a set day. Mordecai sent word to Esther. He sent her a copy of the decree and explained that she had to try to talk to the King in order to stop the killing of the Jews.
At first, Esther thought no way am I doing that! She thought the king would kill her when she went before him without being summoned. However, Mordecai convinced her that she had an obligation to God to try to save the Jews.
After she was convinced to to do it, she said, ““Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Because Esther acted and did the right thing and didn’t give in to her fear, the Jewish nation was saved.
The biggest lesson we can take from this story is to always do the right thing and let the outcome in God’s hands. He loves you and will take care you. If any fallout comes from doing the right thing, leave that in God’s hands as well. He will reward you in due time.
Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. This is the time of year that we often stop and think about all the things we have to be thankful for. Are you feeling thankful today? Or are there things in your life that you are not thankful for?
It is easy to complain. It is easy to have an unthankful spirit. However, when we are unthankful we reveal a lot about our character. It is a sin to be unthankful. No one wants to be around an ungrateful person.
How do you feel when you do something for someone else and they act like it meant nothing to them? Their actions tell you that they don’t really care about you and that hurts.
Jesus know better than anyone what it feels like to sacrifice for someone and then find them unthankful. He committed no sin and yet was crucified for ours. He went around constantly doing good. He lived a perfect life and then willingly gave it up for the forgiveness of our sins.
Colossians 3:15 tells us to be thankful.
1 Thessalonian 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.
We are not supposed to keep that thanksgiving to ourselves but we need to express that to each other.
Matthew chapter 17 talks about the 10 lepers that Jesus cleansed. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. When they obeyed and went, they were healed. Out of the 10 that Jesus healed, only 1 returned to say thank you. What do you think Jesus thought? Jesus knew only 1 would return to give thanks and yet he healed all 10. I might have been tempted to undo the healing of the other 9 ungrateful lepers.
Everything we have is a gift from God. We don’t deserve any of it. Are we thankful? in all things …. Or are we some times arrogant, prideful, boastful, and unthankful?
We should be thankful to God for all the talents, gifts, abilities, jobs, income, and opportunities that we have. We need to remember that everything that exists belongs to God and that what we currently have came from God. Everything we have is to be used to God’s glory.
Ephesians 5:20 “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. “
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Earlier this week I wrote about instant gratification. Our society today is used to getting everything they want exactly when they want it. One of the biggest dangers we face today is that we have so much that we take it all for granted. Most of us have never really seen hard times. If you have always had and never really been in need, then it is easy to forget to be thankful.
One last thought is that as we are thankful we are to look out for the needs of others. Giving to others helps remind you of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
God has been so good to me that I can’t begin to count my blessings. What about you …….
I was giving some thought to the fact that we are raising a generation of kids today that are very used to instant gratification. If they want something, they are used to getting it. And they usually get it as soon as they want it. This is true even of adults today. With the overuse of credit cards, no one waits for anything any more.
This is not new but a problem that has been growing in our society for the last 50 years. People are no longer interested in self-discipline. No one wants to wait for anything. Hence the advent of TV dinners, the microwave, the computer with instant messaging, and texting on cell phones.
This lifestyle of the quick and easy can have a detrimental effect on our walk with Christ. It makes us want instant answers to hard problems. We need to remember that some situations require regular prayer and waiting on the Lord.
We need to spend time daily in the Word seeking the Lord. We need to really know the Word and there’s no quick way to do that. It’s not a “quick read” and you are done. There’s no weekend retreat that is a substitute for daily study.
If we have an instant gratification approach to our Christian life then we are bound to be frustrated. It takes a long time to grow spiritual fruit. If we get frustrated, we may quit on our way to spiritual growth. Do we think that prayer takes too long to produce results? Do think studying the Bible is boring?
The Bible tells us over and over that we need to be patient. Patience is a fruit of the spirit. While the world tells us that the most important thing is the here and now, the Scriptures tell us to focus on eternity. We need to devote ourselves to a life of seeking Christ first. Pray, study the Bible, and serve the Lord with your gifts and talents. Keep your focus on things that are eternal.
There is no instant solution to godliness.
Ok – now I think I am confused.
Last night I talked about lightening up and really living life. I mentioned enjoying the journey as I walk with God. I warned against meaningless habits :
“He (the devil) tries to get me to be religious – with meaningless rituals instead of communing with the living God. He tries to get me to look at things like church as habits. He tries to get my mind to wander and not to engage with God”
On July 30th I wrote about spiritual discipline. I encouraged godly habits.
“You can develop godly habits. As you execute those habits you will grow in Christlikeness. As time passes on you will discover that the things that were hard to remember to do will gradually become easier. They become part of your routine. You discipline yourself to time in prayer, time in the Word, and time in fellowship. As these become a habit, you begin to look forward to these activities. You long to spend time with Christ. You miss it when it doesn’t happen.”
Aren’t these two ideas in conflict which each other? How can both be true?
I think there are two things to think about here. The first one is to have balance in your life while serving Christ. You want to reach out and be a blessing to others but you don’t want to get so exhausted that you can’t take care of your own relationship with Christ.
The second thing I am reminded of is that not all habits are meaningless. Habits can be good things. The key is when you are in church or Bible study, be sure to focus on God, on meeting with God, on developing a meaningful relationship with God. Doing these things just to do them, will gain you nothing.
I am reminded tonight of one of my favorite verses.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Confusion gone for now. Feel free to comment on how you balance the ideas of joyful living and spiritual discipline.
Some people skip through life. Some people walk through careful and calm. While others drag their feet the whole way. I think I am the careful calm one.
I have a purposeful, planned approach to life. Yet, somehow it is getting more difficult to fit everything into a day that needs to get done. Sometimes I am too serious and don’t enjoy each day the Lord has given me. I’m going through life but not really living.
Time flies by. Each year goes faster. I remember being young and how slow each year went. It took forever to get to another birthday or another Christmas. I remember as a youth thinking that someone in their 30s was old. Funny - but 50s are seeming pretty young now.
Life is busy – too busy. I think this is one of the devils schemes. He tries to get me off-track. He tries to get me to waste the time God has given me. He tries to get me to be religious – with meaningless rituals instead of communing with the living God. He tries to get me to look at things like church as habits. He tries to get my mind to wander and not to engage with God.
I need to focus on God’s love for me and my love for Him. When you love someone, you delight in what they delight in. It’s easy to serve someone you love. It’s easy to spend time with someone you love.
I need to focus on strengthening my relationship with God – that can happen anywhere and any time – and everywhere and all the time. It’s not a ritual, it’s a relationship.
I’m not getting any more time. Once a day has passed, it is gone forever. So as time marches on, perhaps I should consider lightening up and skipping through life.
Don’t just go through life but really live it. Live it hand-in-hand with the God of the universe and enjoy the journey.
Thanksgiving is coming up in just over 2 weeks. It is time again to start to focus on all the things in my life that I am thankful for. I did a post similar to this a couple of years ago. It really helped me focus on counting my blessings.
I am thankful for my health. While it still isn’t great, it is much better than this time last year. A year ago I was struggling with a really sore foot and I was scheduled for some female surgery. My foot is much better and the surgery was a success.
I am thankful for my family. I have a great kid. She loves the Lord. She is constantly putting others needs in front of her own. She’s has a real servant’s heart.
I am thankful for godly parents who raised me in a Christian home. I am thankful that they were able to sell their farm this summer and move into an adult community. I am thankful that they are both healthy. Mom was really sick most of last winter and had me really worried.
I am thankful for a good job. I work at a really good school and I work with some really great people.
I am thankful for my church. It is a great place to worship and we have pastors who are not afraid to preach the truth.
I am thankful for heat. It has been cold at night for a couple of weeks and our furnace was broken for about three weeks.
Be sure in this upcoming Thanksgiving season that you pause and give thanks for all the blessings you have in your life.
I read an article tonight titled “More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians". It was an interesting description of teenagers today.
Summary of the article:
More American teenagers are embracing what the author calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.
She goes on to say that a lot of this is why teenagers abandon church just as soon as they can.
The author interviewed 3300 teenagers between 13 and 17. Her study included all kinds of Christians from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. 3 out of 4 teenagers claim to be Christians but fewer than 50% of those practice their faith. Most can’t talk coherently about their beliefs.
Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good.
Adults don’t expect much from youth pastors. They really just want them to keep their kids off drugs and away from premarital sex.
The author said that churches share the blame for the religious apathy that is displayed by teenagers. She says that pastors often preach a “safe” message that can bring in the most people. They are preaching a gospel of “niceness.” Meaning that God rewards those who are nice. This doesn’t teach teens (or anyone) how to face problems or tragedies.
As a church we are doing our kids a huge disservice if we don’t teach them how to deal with the problems of life. Things can and will go wrong and they need to know how to handle it.
“What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?"
Are our churches reaching out to the lost? Are we engaging them in thought provoking discussions? Or, are we boring them to death. Are we so concerned that they won’t come back that we fail to challenge them?
Are we, as a church, seeking to involve all people by using each person’s gifts and talents? Everyone should be involved in the church. Everyone should be a contributor.
Are we praying and believing God can change not only others, but us. Do we really want a revival or are we comfortable with our church exactly the way it is? Do we really want a personal revival or are we content with who we are? Are we afraid of change?
What if a new family started coming and they “took the seat you always sit in”? Would you be mad because they took your seat or would you be excited to see a new family coming to church?
Are we, as a church, supporting and encouraging one another? Are we fellowshipping together? Are we joyful? Are we worshipping?
Are we reaching out into the community and inviting others in? Are our lives any different than the lost in the community? Is there anything about your life that would attract others to Christ?
Are we taking care of the elderly, the shut-ins, and the widows?
Are we preaching the Word? Are we discipling believers? Are we loving each other? Are we standing up for truth and righteousness?
Not many answers today. Just lots of questions to think about. Perhaps more tomorrow….
Casting Crowns – Until the Whole World Hears
I’ve been thinking this week about the seriousness of telling someone else that you will pray for him/her. When people have told you that they would pray for you, have you ever wondered if they really did? What if they didn’t? I’m not saying their intentions weren’t good…
Is the phrase, “I will pray for you,” just that….. a phrase?
A survey I found online said that only 74% of people who said they would pray for someone else actually did.
I think these words are sometimes used by people who don’t even have a relationship with God. Can the prayers of a non-Christian matter any way?
Is saying my thoughts are with you the same as I’ll pray for you. I don’t think my thoughts will help anything. However, taking your need to the throne of God and praying can make a difference.
We should never take prayer lightly. God hears all our prayers. Prayer makes a difference. When you tell someone you will pray for them, that’s like making a promise.
So, how do we keep our verbal commitment to pray? I think the best way is to go ahead and pray for that person immediately. Whatever you are doing, stop, take a minute and pray for that person or situation.
What the Word of God says about prayer:
James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
Proverbs 15:29 “The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
John 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Do you end your prayers with “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Do you do it quickly without thinking about it? Is it kind of like a “good-bye” to God? Sort of a “so long”, “see you later”, or “over and out.” Do you really think about what it means to pray in Jesus’ name?
It’s not a magic formula that you have to add in order to get what you want. It’s not a way of saying, “I’m done praying now.” They are the words that communicate everything about what gives us the right to pray to God.
When we pray in Jesus’ name we are putting our whole faith for the answers to our prayers in His hands. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we’ve done; it’s totally about who Jesus is and what He’s done.
Praying in Jesus’ name means praying with Jesus’ authority and asking God (the Father) to answer our prayers because we come in the name of His Son.
Praying in Jesus’ name means praying according to God’s will.
1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
When you seek the Lord with your whole heart, your prayers will line up with His will.
No time to write this morning but I read this yesterday on Facebook and thought about it quite a bit..
"When life doesn’t make sense and things aren’t going your way - always return to who you are. You are a one-time-only, creative expression of a God who would rather die than live without you."
It still amazes me that the God of the Universe would lower himself to become a man. That He came and walked this earth with His creation. That He would willingly allow himself to be crucified on the cross for us. He didn’t have to do it. He chose to do it.
The above is quoted from Kevin and Talyor’s Facebook – 104.7 The Fish.
After giving the faculty devotion at the all staff meeting the beginning of October, the headmaster asked me to repeat that devotion for the October school board meeting. The day finally came for me to do that. As usual, when asked to speak in public, I got really nervous.
However, as I stated in a previous blog, it is a privilege to talk about God. Even if public speaking isn’t your gift, when given the opportunity, you need to take advantage of it and speak up for God.
1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
If you were asked to give the reason for the hope you have, how would you answer? Would you share it willingly? Would you know what to say? Can you verbalize your testimony or the plan of salvation?
Peter wrote these verses to Jewish Christians who were being persecuted. Those of us who live in areas where we can freely share our faith need to be ready to do that and we need to take every opportunity to share. Never shy away from telling others about Jesus – no matter how nervous you get. Trust God, and “just do it.”
In church tonight the pastor was speaking from 2 Samuel 18:18-28.
The story is about a battle that the Israelites won but in winning Absalom was killed. Absalom was King David’s son. David was anxiously awaiting news from the battlefield. Ahimazz begs Joab to let him run and tell David that they won the battle.
Ahimazz is seen by the watchman from a distance. He is recognized by the way he runs. David replies “He’s a good man. He comes with good news.”
How do people see me? Does how I live my life give credibility to my testimony? When people see me do they say I am a good person? Am I trustworthy in everything? Am I always truthful? Do I always do the right thing? Do I always do my best?
What we do and how we live will affect our reputation and that will affect our testimony. Would you be recognized by how you run? How are you running the race?
1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
I read a blog that is written by a public school superintendent. He says that one of the things he has had to deal with lately is the language being used by children as young as first grade. He says
six-year olds now use the “f bomb” frequently.
What has our society come to if our children don’t know how to speak without using four letter words. The blogger states that he doesn’t think these first graders even know it is a bad word and that they are less and less afraid of the consequences.
How did this happen? It has taken time but it is has gradually filtered down from adults to teenagers to middle school students and now it has infected our first graders.
Are Christians also involved in this? Do Christians think it is wrong to swear? I’ve heard plenty of them do it.
I think there are three main reasons why people swear.
1) They get really angry at their spouse, mom. child, boss, etc., and they just let it fly.
2) They are really insecure and in order to make themselves look tough, they hide behind curse words.
3) It’s a habit. They swear without even considering a different adjective.
I think swearing is wrong and here are my reasons:
1. Instead of swearing, we need to spend time building each other up. Ephesians 4:29- "Let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up others, so that it might help those who listen."
2. It damages our testimony. The word Christian mean Christ-like. Unbelievers watch our conduct, attitude, and speech to see it all of that really lines up with our profession of faith.
3. Matthew 12:34 “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” If the heart is clean, how can curse words come out? If a holy God has taken up residence in your life, how can you use language that is unpleasing to Him?
4. James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
5. Our words can have either a positive or a negative impact on those around us. We should be spending our time blessing instead of cursing. Psalm 34:1 “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
6. Ephesians 5:4 “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”
7. 1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
There are other things that some people do who wouldn’t dream of swearing. Some people don’t think twice about gossiping, back-biting, telling confidential information, or using their words to cut others down. These individuals are just as wrong as the person who cusses.
Remember that you reap what you sow. Sow blessings in other peoples lives and you will be blessed.
May God richly bless you……
How do you react when things don’t go the way you expect them to? Are you someone who steps up and puts on a positive attitude or are you a complainer? It is really easy to whine and complain.
We all have been that complainer. It is hard to always keep upbeat. It is easy to complain. It is easy to make excuses.
Is it wrong to complain? Does your complaining show an ungrateful or bitter attitude? What do you think God thinks? Can complaining lead to a worse problem? I think it causes you to lose sight of all the good things God has done for you. If you focus on negative things it will not only affect your relationship with Christ but will make you completely ineffective as a witness for Christ.
Things will go wrong in your life. That one you can bet on. You can let that thing take your eyes off of God or you can look to find a way to make things better. Focus on God’s love for you. Remember all the times God has provided for you. Keep a positive attitude and pray that God will use this situation for good in your life.
Figure out what it is in your life that brings out your “grouch” or your “whiner”? Concentrate on these areas and determine not to let that complaining spirit rear up its ugly head.
Focus on the blessings in your life. Focus on God’s love for you.
Have a great week filled with God’s love and grace.
Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without complaining or arguing,”
Ephesians 4:29 - “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:11 – 13 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
I was given the “privilege” of giving the devotion at our faculty and staff meeting. (about 150 people) I used the word privilege and I do mean privilege. I am not a good public speaker. I get very nervous. However, anytime we have the opportunity to talk about God and His love for us, we need to do that.
I was a wreck. I didn’t sleep much the night before. You might be wondering why this would bother me so much. I really don’t know why it bothers me, I just know it does.
I believe that God gives us each gifts and talents and we need to use those to serve Him. I also believe that God can use us when we are outside our comfort zone – when we are doing things we aren’t necessarily gifted to do. These are the times we are driven to our knees. These are the times we show our faith in Christ when we step out in faith and believe that God will accomplish the task through us.
Want to see God work? Then attempt something that you can’t do on your own. Something you have to trust God to get you through. Step out in faith trusting God to get you through and then look back afterwards and give Him thanks. He won’t let you down.
I’m taking a graduate class from Liberty and we are focusing a lot on leadership. I’ve been thinking about leaders I have known and which ones were most effective. I’ve tried to think about what a good leader should be like.
One big trait that needs to be present in a good leader is humility. Humility is not understood or admired by our culture. Our culture doesn’t want a leader to look weak. Being humble and helping others is seen as a sign of weakness. Most leaders view themselves as being there to be served. They think they will lose the respect of their subordinates and their superiors if they stoop down to help others.
We say we appreciate humility in others but we rarely want it for ourselves. After all, humility is not what gets us ahead in life. We like humble people because they don’t threaten our position. They are safe to be around.
Humility is not the result of low self-esteem. If you think about Jesus, he didn’t feel inferior. Jesus never struggled with insecurity. Jesus was our model for humility.
True humility comes from inner security. Genuinely humble people are aware of their gifts, their training, their experience, and all the attributes that make them successful at what they do. That humble assessment gives them the security they need to be humble.
Humble people are so concerned with the needs of others that they don’t even notice themselves.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
I was involved in a conversation this week about learning disabilities. We talked about some famous people who had learning disabilities like Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, George Patton, etc. We talked about how these people changed the world. Then a statement was made something like – think what they could have done it they hadn’t had a learning disability.
I want to tie that idea into what I was reading this morning in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. No one really knows what this was but we know that Paul prayed repeatedly for God to take it away and yet God didn’t.
Here are verses 7 – 10.
“there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It seems pretty apparent here that Paul believes that his thorn in flesh was to keep him dependent on God. It was to keep him humble and keep him focused. It was to remind him that he wasn’t in control of his life. It was to force him to his knees in prayer.
The end of this passage talks about Christ’s power being made perfect in our weaknesses. This is how we can thank God for the problems in our lives. Like Paul, each of us has something in our lives that we wish we didn’t have. Something that forces us to trust God. We need to be thankful for those thorns. They keep us from being prideful and arrogant. They force is to lean on God’s grace and power.
What would Paul have been like without his “thorn?” No one can really say but it is possible that he wouldn’t have been the great apostle and missionary that he was. It is possible that he wouldn’t have gone in his missionary journeys. It is possible that he could have become self-reliant rather than totally dependent on God. Remember, all of these are guesses. The point is God allowed Paul to have this “thorn” for a reason. Paul focused on God and his grace and because of that God used him in a mighty way.
Now, how does all that tie back into our discussion on learning disabilities? Each child is a unique creation by God. Each one was created exactly according to God’s plan. Each one is loved by God and has a purpose in life.
As a parent of a child with a learning disability, it is easy to pray for God to take that away. What is hard is accepting that she is that way because God created her to be that way. Accepting that God doesn’t make mistakes and that her disability is there for a reason. That reason may be unbeknownst to me but is known by God.
Her learning disability is a part of who she is. It will affect what she does and who she becomes. I believe that God has given that to her so that he can mold her into exactly who He wants her to be. So that she can accomplish His purposes for her life.
I believe that His ways are better than my ways.
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
So what is your “thorn?” Is it a learning disability, an illness, an injury? Is it unemployment, a family conflict, a bad habit?
It doesn’t really matter what it is, it is there to keep you humble. It is there to force you to rely on God and experience His power. It is there so you can experience his peace and his grace.
It is also there so that you remember Christ’s thorns. He, who was God, willingly went to the cross for you. He paid for your sin. He wore the crown of thorns and had blood running down his face for you. He endured all of that so that you could experience forgiveness and grace.
Be thankful for your thorns and for the Savior who loves you enough to let you have them.
We are studying spiritual disciplines at school this year. The school has assigned a different discipline to each month. We look at them as a faculty and we emphasize those with our students each month.
So I got to thinking, what is discipline. Discipline is something that no one likes but that everyone admires in someone else. Discipline is hard work done for the sake of excellence.
It takes discipline to study for a test. It takes discipline to exercise each day. (please don’t go there right now!) It takes discipline to eat correctly.
Athletes exert discipline in their practice. Musicians discipline themselves to practice. It is as they practice that they get better at their sport or their music.
Do you know anyone who you really respect for their scripture memory or their walk with God. That just didn’t happen. It came with discipline.
Paul tells Timothy “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;” (1 Timothy 4:7)
Godliness is different than athletics or music. No one may know about our disciplining ourselves in godliness. It is usually done in secret and has no public performance. It’s just between you and God.
Remember that our end goal is to know God intimately.
“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]” Philippians 3:10 Amplified Version
I am continuing to think about the discipline of prayer. Here are some of my thoughts today …
God is never too busy, never sleeps, never ignores me, never turns His back on me, never has His mind so occupied with running the universe that He will not hear me.
I need to remember that an answer to prayer doesn’t mean He will solve my problems the way I want them to be solved. But He does hear my requests and He does respond with solutions – sometimes those solutions are quite surprising. These solutions not only address my concerns but deepen my faith in HIs wisdom and love. They strengthen my confidence in His sovereignty.
God wants good things for me. God wants to bless me. However, He can’t do that at the expense of His holiness. He may choose to deny my request for one blessing, if that refusal makes the way for a greater blessing.
The goal in prayer is not just to make my daily life easier or better or more enjoyable, but it is to lead me to intimacy with Christ. Seek intimacy with Christ and I will have everything I really need in life – including things I didn’t even know I needed.
(Notice the key word above is need not want.)
Have a great night.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
To make it simple, Paul said worry about nothing. Pray about everything.
God’s not saying “Don’t worry. Be happy.” He’s not saying that I am not supposed to care. He’s saying as I care, turn those cares over to Him. Trust Him to take care of it. He knows that troubles will come my way. It is His desire that I turn those troubles over to Him. Determine now how I am going to face the next crisis.
If I am worried, then I need to pray. If after praying I am still worried, then I need to pray some more. I need to pray until I feel the peace of God ruling my heart and mind.
Worrying is wrestling with problems on my own. Sometimes the hardest part is leaving my problem with God. I’ve prayed about it but waiting for God to answer is sometimes hard. I want to fix it myself. Giving up control over the problem it tough.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells me to pray without ceasing. I need to start my day with prayer. I need to pray throughout the day. I need to pray at each break. I need to pray at lunch. I need to pray before class and before meetings. Pray when I am disappointed. Pray when I am frustrated. Pray when I get surprised. Pray in the midst of bad news. Pray in good times. Pray about everything and all the time.
My heavenly Father loves me. He wants the best for me. He wants me to trust Him and lean on Him. He wants me to bring everything to him.
Graduate school is killing me. I work on papers every night. That has eaten up the time I usually use to write my blog. I finish my degree by Christmas. Then I feel like I will get my life back. Prayer is probably a topic I really need to think about and study. I need all the prayer I can get!
Prayer is simply talking to God. It can be audible or silent. It is collaborating with God in order to accomplish His goals in your life. This is something I sometimes forget. It is not to get God to do what I want but to change my heart towards what He wants.
When praying, I should be seeking God’s will for my life. My prayers should be God-centered. Even with praying for others or confessing sin, it should come from a heart that longs for God and His will. Prayer time should also include time for listening. I need to hear from God.
Prayer is not a bargaining session. It’s not magical. I can’t manipulate God. When I reduce prayer to a cheap marketing scheme I insult a holy and righteous God. Prayer is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Prayer is not giving God a wish list like I would a genie. Prayer is not to be painful. I should enjoy spending time with God. Prayer should not involve meaningless repetition. I am not trying to impress God with my spirituality or works. I am to seek His plan for my life and then adjust my will to match His.
Well, that’s about it for tonight. More thoughts on prayer coming soon.
I’ve been working on a paper on the life of Moses and what leadership principles we can gain from his life. Here’s my rough copy. Take a look and let me know what you think.
This paper on the life of Moses will reveal how God worked in him to develop him into an effective leader. Moses was born when the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh was afraid that the Israelite population was growing too large and so he ordered all the male children to be killed. Moses’ mother places him in a basket and leaves him in the reeds along the river banks. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and adopts him. Therefore, Moses’ gets raised in Pharaoh’s house.
As Moses grows up, he becomes distressed over the treatment of his people by the Egyptians. One day Moses sees an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew men and he becomes so angry that kills the Egyptian. Moses flees Egypt to the desert and lives there for forty years.
The first principle of leadership is that God places a desire in a person’s heart to lead. Moses felt an emotional attachment to the Hebrew man even though he had been raised in Pharaoh’s palace. Moses’ desire to help the Israelites was placed in his heart by God.
Moses spends his next forty years in the wilderness. He had lots of time to think, reflect on his life, and pray. God hears the cries of his people in slavery in Egypt. He chooses Moses to be the one who will go to Egypt and deliver his people from Pharaoh. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses was ready to hear him. Oftentimes leaders today are too busy to take time alone with God. Without the quietness, you can’t hear God speak.
Moses has also learned humility and honesty during his time in the desert. God tells Moses to approach Pharaoh and ask for the release of his people. He also tells Moses that Pharaoh is not going to let them go on his first request. He tells Moses that if Pharaoh doesn’t let them go then He will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His wonders. God tells Moses that after He stretches out His hand against Pharaoh, then Pharaoh will let them go. (Exodus 3) After receiving all his instructions from God, Moses still has a few questions. He asks God what to do if they won’t listen to him. God then has Moses pick up a serpent by the tail and it turns into a rod. Good leaders ask questions and then act on the answers. It took a great deal of faith for Moses to pick up a serpent by the tail. God gives Moses a few other signs he can use to show Pharaoh that Moses is speaking for God.
The next thing Moses does is question God’s calling on his life. He gives the excuse that he doesn’t speak well. God responds with the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are, I am with you. Moses really struggled with feeling inferior. He compared himself to others, including his brother, Aaron. Moses’ questioning angers God. God tells Moses that Aaron can go with him and be the spokesman to the people. There are two leadership principles to look at in this section. The first is when God calls you to a task; he will equip you for that task. The other is if a leader has a known weakness, then find someone who can help in that area. A leader should be surrounded by people who complement his weaknesses and who share the same vision.
Moses is eighty years old when he and his eighty-three year old brother, Aaron, go into Egypt on a rescue mission. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. As God predicted, Pharaoh says no. God then begins what is known as the 10 plagues that strike Egypt. The first five plagues are actually done with the rod by Aaron. God tells Moses what to tell Aaron to do. Aaron does it and Moses watches. The sixth plague Moses and Aaron work together on. The last four plagues Moses completes while Aaron watches. God uses Aaron during this time to help build Moses’ self-confidence. From now on, Moses takes the lead in everything. Leadership principle seen here is leaders sometimes have to be grown and groomed for leadership. When developing a leader, be patient but have a plan for growth.
The tenth plague finally breaks Pharaoh and he agrees to let the Israelites go. The Bible says they have been in bondage for 430 years. The Israelites start to leave but Pharaoh changes his mind and the Egyptian army is chasing them and they get stuck in front of the Red Sea. They have nowhere to go. Moses steps up, believes God, and parts the Red Sea. The Israelites cross on dry ground and then Moses stretches his hand out over the Red Sea and the waters come back and drown the army. In Exodus 14:13, Moses speaks with calmness in the midst of the crisis. “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” Good leaders take charge in a crisis and are a calming presence.
Exodus chapter 15 is about the celebration that followed their successful escape. Good leaders celebrate the victories with their people. Good leaders also recognize God’s hand of protection. God decides to take the Israelites on a journey that will take them a long time to complete. God is testing their patience and their faithfulness. The Israelites are barely gone from Egypt when they start to complain. They complain about food and God supplies manna for them. Then they complain about water and Moses strikes the rock. Again, God provides for their needs as water flows from the rock. Good leaders don’t let whiners and complainers frustrate them. Also, good leaders trust God to provide for them.
During their time in the wilderness, God wanted to see if His people would keep His laws and commandments. So God calls Moses to come to the top of Mount Sinai and meet with Him. No one else is permitted to come. God tells Moses what the Ten Commandments are going to be. Moses delivers that news to the people and then goes back up on the mountain for forty days and nights. During this time, God writes the commandments on stone tablets. He also gives Moses some specific directions for building the tabernacle. During this time, the people grow impatient and start complaining again. Then they build the golden calf. God’s becomes furious and wants to wipe them out. Moses pleads to God on their behalf. Moses comes down the mountain and sees the golden calf and now he becomes furious. Moses breaks the stone tablets. Then he destroys the golden calf. Moses speaks to the people and tells them to choose a side to stand on. God kills everyone who doesn’t choose to stand on his side. Moses goes back up the mountain and gets replacement tablets. While Moses is up on the mountain this time, God passes by him and allows Moses to see His back. The leadership principles here include God desires intimacy from his people but especially those who lead. Leaders must take some time to separate themselves from the crowd. Leaders are watched and analyzed by the public. Leaders must stand for what is right even if everyone else is on the other side.
The saddest part of the story of Moses is that he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. The Bible says that the reason Moses could not enter the promised land was because he struck the rock when God to him to speak to the rock to bring forth water. Striking the rock was disobedience to a specific command by God. The leadership principle here is when God gives you a specific command, do exactly what you are told. Disobedience causes people to miss out on blessings.
Bradley, M. (2008). Lessons from the story of Moses. Bible-Knowledge.com, retrieved from http://www.bible-knowledge.com/lessons-from-the-story-of-moses/
Maxwell, J. & Elmore, T. (Eds.). (2007). The maxwell leadership bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
I fell into the trap of the “I wishes “ today. This is a trap that Satan uses to defeat Christians. It causes us to focus on things that either can’t happen or aren’t currently happening. It wastes our time and makes us inefficient. It makes us be discontented with where the Lord has us today. Our focus is on ourselves and not on the Lord.
Philippians 4:12 –13 ”I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
To be content means to be satisfied with what I am and what I have. My life is completely in God’s control. He is all knowing, all powerful, all present, and all loving. I can trust God and I can trust that He wants the best for me.
It’s hard to keep all that in mind when bad stuff happens. I don’t understand why some things happen to me and not to others. I also don’t understand why some things happen to others and not to me. How does God choose who He spares? How does He decide who gets cancer? Who gets hit by a drunk driver? These are all things I don’t understand and I may never understand.
All I know is I trust that God loves me and wants the best for me.
So, when the “I wishes” come along, I need to replace them with I am satisfied, I am content, I am trusting God.
I don’t usually use The Message but I found this interpretation of these verses to be refreshing.
“If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:1-4 The Message
Have a great week.
I am continuing to look at the idea of “being still” or in other words silence. What happens when we are silent?
Proverbs 2 tells about all the things that if we cease, God will reveal.
The opposite is also true. If I refuse to “be still”, then I may gain some knowledge about God but I will not “know” God. It is through times of silence and stillness that He speaks and reveals Himself.
Romans 8:16 (The Message) “God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children”
Proverbs 4:23 (The Message) “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts.”
Above everything else, guard my heart. Preserve it and keep it sensitive towards the Lord. From it will come decisions and characteristics that will define who I am and what I want to do. God will transform my heart to be more like Him and to more fully reflect His character. Sustained periods of quietness are necessary in order for that to happen.
My responsibility is to find time away from the TV, the computer, the iPod, and everything else that makes “noise” in my life. Alone and quiet in stillness and solitude, listen and wait for God to lead.
As I am still before God, the problems that weighted me down become smaller and smaller before God. He calms my spirit. He frees me from worry. He gives a sense of peace.
Most people are afraid of silence. They see it as empty and hollow. It is like a great hole that they have fallen into. They count the seconds until the silence will be over.
These kinds of people are shallow. They have no depth to their lives. As a Christian, we need that depth. We need to be deeply and intimately known by God. It is from this depth that ministry flows. You can’t reach out to others unless you have something to give.
Make an effort to find time to “be still”. You won’t regret it.
There are some things that I am very skeptical about. One of those is people who approach me and ask me for money. I had taken my daughter to the pet store after school today to get some supplies. When we exited the store, a lady approached me. She seemed nice but sad and depressed. She was probably in her mid-30s. She said that she was $5 short on her rent at the Extended Stay across the road. She said that she and her 11 year old were not going to have any place to stay if she couldn’t come up with $5. She apologized for bothering us but said she didn’t know what to do.
I looked in her eyes and I believed her. I dug out my wallet and I asked her if she was sure the money was going to go for rent. She assured me that it was. I gave her all I had - $7. ( I never carry much cash.) She was very grateful. I thought she was going to cry. As we walked to our car and made our way across the parking lot, I watched her walk across the road and back to the Extended Stay.
I have no way of knowing if she was being honest with me or not. I don’t know if she needed rent money or if she was just panhandling. I only know that I did what I thought was right.
You never know who God will put in your path to help. Look for them and look for opportunities to bless others.
Couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d blog. Why do I blog….some reasons are to keep a record of what God has been teaching me, reminding me, reinforcing in my life. So I can read it and be encouraged and so I can share those thoughts and ideas with others.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts about eternity this week. School started on Monday but it was also Monday when we lost one of our fellow teachers to cancer. We also lost one of our school’s alumni this week to a tragic accident. So, lots of news and none of it would be considered good news.
Everyone has to make their decision on what they believe about eternity. I think it is this belief that determines how people live while here.
The Bible doesn’t give a lot of details about heaven. We know it is a wonderful place. We know we want to go there. What else do I know…
Here’s a few things I know about eternity.
** As a believer, I can face death without fear
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
** As a believer, I will enter the Lord’s presence at death.
2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
** As a believer, I will dwell with God forever.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
** As a believer, Jesus is preparing a special place for me in heaven.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
** As a believer, heaven will be a better place for me than earth.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
** As a believer, I will receive a crown in heaven.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
I’m sure I’ve left out a few things. What do you think of when you think of eternity or heaven?
Saturday morning is not a normal time for me to write. I love sleeping in on Saturday mornings. I look forward to it all week. I stay up too late and get up too early throughout the week and so Saturday is my time to “catch up” on my rest.
This morning I woke up about 7:30 with all kinds of things racing through my mind that I needed to get done. I couldn’t believe that I was awake. I’ve been putting in long hard days the last two weeks at work. The last thing I wanted to do was get up early on Saturday.
However, as I laid in bed and thought of all I needed to accomplish, another thought kept coming in my mind. That was, “Be Still.” God does not speak to me in audible voices and yet I knew this was God trying to get me to focus.
If it had been an audible conversation, here’s how it would have gone:
I don’t have time to be still. I have the laundry to do, my kitchen is a mess, and the house needs cleaned.
Beth needs highlighters. I need to take her and make sure she has all her school supplies.
Oh, yeah. I have to reorder her shoes today. They came and they were too big.
I forgot to set up the calendars on the network for the teachers to sign up to use the lab. I’ve got to log onto the network and get that done today. Oh, yeah - lesson plans. I need to work on those. Wonder what else I am forgetting to do for Monday.
God, I don’t have time to be still. Obviously, I woke up early so I could get more done today. I need to go shopping and find some new school clothes and I need a haircut.
We need groceries. I wonder what Randy wants to eat this week. I could cook some stuff today and we could eat leftovers each night. It’s going to be hectic week.
I will “be still” later, God. Right now I need to make a “to do” list. I have a lot to accomplish today. I really need to get up and get going.
Okay, you don’t need to yell. You’ve got my attention.
As I began to focus on God, He began to impress on my mind the need to “be still” not just with my body but with my mind and my heart. Being still shows my faith and trust are in God. God is in control of my situation. God is my source of strength. Relax. Be quiet. Quit worrying. Do nothing. Don’t panic. Cease everything. Listen to God. Quiet my heart……
Focus on God. Draw strength from Him. Allow him to shoulder my burdens and prioritize my life. I still have things to do today but none of them more important than my time with God. I shouldn’t allow any of my “to do” list to stress me out. Things really aren’t as urgent as they seem. This does not mean I don’t still need to take care of my household responsibilities. It just means, relax, breathe deep, and let God walk with me through the day.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Proverbs 2: 1 – 5
1My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.
I added the bold to the above words. All of these point to our responsibilities. If you do these things. If you are willing to pay the price. If you are willing to do the hard work.
Then, and only then, you will see what the knowledge of God means. Then you will understand what it means to know God. What it means to be in an intimate relationship with the infinite God.
We are to search with diligence and be ready to see whatever it is that God has to show us. We need to ask God to open our eyes and allow us to see all the things He has for us.
Now let me go back to the verse I looked at last time “progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him,” (Philippians 3:10)
How do I do this? I go to church. I go to Sunday School. I take notes on the sermons. I have notebooks full of the notes I’ve taken. I sing the worship songs. Isn’t all that enough?
Actually, no. that’s not enough. Going through the motions is not the same as intimacy with Christ. I need to prioritize my life so that everything I do puts Jesus first. I have responsibilities in this relationship. I need to seek God with my whole heart. I need to keep my mind and heart open to what God wants for me.
The lyrics in the video below talk about this idea of just Going Through the Motions
I was thinking some more about spiritual discipline. I am an organized person. I make lists about everything and then work to complete those tasks. You can’t really do that with God.
You can’t put godliness on a schedule. You can develop godly habits. As you execute those habits you will grow in Christlikeness. As time passes on you will discover that the things that were hard to remember to do will gradually become easier. They become part of your routine. You discipline your self to time in prayer, time in the Word, and time in fellowship. As these become a habit, you begin to look forward to these activities. You long to spend time with Christ. you miss it when it doesn’t happen.
Remember the verse I looked at the last time I wrote. Philippians 3:10:
“10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”
Notice the words continually transformed that I bolded above. Becoming like Christ is a journey not a destination. Plan on the journey taking a lifetime to accomplish and try to enjoy the process.
I went to the dentist yesterday. I hate going to the dentist but it is one of those necessary things that you have to do. No cavities – that was the good news. However, he said I don’t floss enough. Rats – didn’t think he’d notice that I’d been a little lax on that this summer. I didn’t notice. It’s one of those details that can escape my attention. It’s a discipline.
Discipline – what an ugly word. No one likes to talk about discipline. It takes discipline to do those things we really need to do but don’t really feel like it all the time.
Seeking intimacy in my relationship with God also requires discipline. It takes determination. If I want to live my life as Christ-intends then I have to make some hard choices, do some hard work, but it yields the joy that comes from walking with Christ.
1 Tim 4:7 talks about “training ourselves for godliness.” It is like an athlete preparing for competition. It takes conditioning and preparation. Also – no one else can do it for you.
If I am training for godliness – what is godliness? How do I define it? I need to know what the goal is. I think the best way to describe godliness is to be Christlike. Not that we can be perfect – we can’t. We can seek to make our actions and attitudes match Christ’s.
Keep in mind that there is nothing you can do to make you more accepted by the Father. Once you have accepted Christ into your life, you are loved and accepted. He has already done it all for you.
So what’s the discipline for…. Philippians 3:10 talks about our purpose being to know Christ. Below is this verse from the Amplified Version:
“10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”
So I want to be more like Christ…. that won’t happen by just hanging around a church, or thinking lofty thoughts, or memorizing more scripture. I will take more than that. It will take determination. It will take discipline. It will take focused thinking. It will take modeling the life of Christ. It will take hard work. It will involve mistakes, heart-ache, and yet will yield immeasurable joy.
Want to join me and make it your purpose to really know Christ…
Do you ever read about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and think something like – yeah right – who could be like that?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal 5:22
Do you exhibit these in your life? Do you have more self-control than the non-Christians you know? Are you more faithful than the Mormons you know? (They are always going door-to-door in our neighborhood.)
Do you know what it is like to be filled with joy? Do you experience peace in every day life? Do you respond with kindness to others, no matter how they treat you?
I got mad in rush hour traffic this afternoon because as we waited to turn left at a light, dozens of cars were going past us and then cutting in. It probably cost us an extra 10 minutes on our commute. I was really angry – yet did it really matter? So I was 10 minutes later getting home – big deal.
Does it bother you that God lives in you (if you are a Christian) and yet your life is not much different than the world around you?
How can I make it different? I can’t make myself love more. I can’t make myself more patient. I can’t do it myself.
That’s why they are called fruits of the Spirit. They are the result of a life that is completely turned over to Christ. Spend time in prayer and talk to the Father about it. As you develop that relationship and focus on that, the fruits will come. Spend time with the one you want to model your life after. The more time you spend with Him, the more like Him you will become.
Want more of the fruits ….. spend time with the fruit giver.