October 28, 2009

At the Core of the Crowd

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Matthew 16:13

If Jesus were to walk into your town today, I wonder what kind of people He would attract. If you were like the rest of us, you’d probably expect all the well-put-together churchgoers to show up and occupy the front row seats. But you just might be surprised.

In Luke 15, it wasn’t the good folk who crowded around Jesus; it was the tax collectors and “sinners.” These were the ones who lived in blatant disregard for the law—the problem people in town! Which makes me wonder, what is it about Jesus that attracted them? And why were the “good folk” standing at the fringe of the crowd? Because they were ticked at sinners to begin with and mad at Jesus for hanging out with such unworthy people!

Thankfully, Jesus puts things into perspective for them—and for us—with a few lessons about why He hangs out with sinners, by telling the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

The point Jesus makes is that sinners have great value to God. Why else would the shepherd go after one lost sheep, or the woman conduct a diligent search for her coin? They had suffered significant loss—a loss like God suffered when sin took people, His prized possession, away from Him.

And, to make matters worse, sinners are hopelessly lost. Sheep can’t help themselves when lost, and obviously when a coin is lost, it remains lost until someone finds it. Which means there must be intentional intervention to rescue the lost. That’s why Jesus said that He came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Obviously the grumblers on the fringe didn’t get it, but it was Jesus’ love and pursuit of sinners that drew their hearts to Him.

Got any “sinners” near you? Are you feeling a little standoffish and grumpy about them, or are you compelled to love them by launching a rescue operation of your own? After all, I bet you’re glad He went after you—as hopelessly lost and hell-bound as you were. So take a moment to remember what it was like to be lost, and do what you can to attract others to the joy of being found. You can’t go wrong when you’re at the core of the crowd. See you there!

Lord Jesus, I want to be at the core of the crowd. Forgive me for attitudes that counteract Your abundant mercy for the lost, and enable me to be Your hands and feet to reach out to those who desperately need to be found. Amen
by Joe Stowell

October 25, 2009

Submitting to God's Purpose

Submitting to God’s Purpose
by Oswald Chambers

I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some —1 Corinthians 9:22

A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, "If only I were somewhere else!" All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Unless we have the right purpose intellectually in our minds and lovingly in our hearts, we will very quickly be diverted from being useful to God. We are not workers for God by choice. Many people deliberately choose to be workers, but they have no purpose of God’s almighty grace or His mighty Word in them. Paul’s whole heart, mind, and soul were consumed with the great purpose of what Jesus Christ came to do, and he never lost sight of that one thing. We must continually confront ourselves with one central fact— ". . . Jesus Christ and Him crucified" ( 1 Corinthians 2:2 ).

"I chose you . . ." ( John 15:16 ). Keep these words as a wonderful reminder in your theology. It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you. God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. And why is He doing it? He is doing it for only one purpose— that He may be able to say, "This is My man, and this is My woman." We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us.

Never choose to be a worker, but once God has placed His call upon you, woe be to you if you "turn aside . . . to the right or the left . . ." ( Deuteronomy 28:14 ). He will do with you what He never did before His call came to you, and He will do with you what He is not doing with other people. Let Him have His way.

October 21, 2009

Impulsiveness or Discipleship?

From Oswald Chambers Devotion "Utmost for His Highest"

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith . . . —Jude 20

There was nothing of the nature of impulsive or thoughtless action about our Lord, but only a calm strength that never got into a panic. Most of us develop our Christianity along the lines of our own nature, not along the lines of God’s nature. Impulsiveness is a trait of the natural life, and our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God gives a sense of restraint to impulsiveness, suddenly bringing us a feeling of self-conscious foolishness, which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves. Impulsiveness is all right in a child, but is disastrous in a man or woman—an impulsive adult is always a spoiled person. Impulsiveness needs to be trained into intuition through discipline.

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he "followed Him at a distance" on dry land ( Mark 14:54 ). We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes.

October 20, 2009

Love Angle

Loving people the way they need to be loved does not always coincide with the way they want to be loved. Agreement will necessitate maturity of discernment.

In thinking about loving someone as we should, there is a very important factor of love that is overlooked, in my opinion, and that is intent. We cannot truly love someone without our intent being, caring for and commitment toward, the receiving individual. In other words, whomever that intent is in favor of is whom the object of our “love” is directed at. This is how we know if we are in fact in love with someone else or simply in love with ourselves.

If our actions are ultimately neglecting the nurturing, encouragement, or support of the one we are in the relationship with, then whether our intent is to do that or not it is still happening to them. We cannot see how harmful our actions, words, etc are unless we are open to looking at our true love angle.

It is important to understand neglectful behavior happens when we commit to relationship, but then do not have the discipline or selflessness to follow through due to lack of discipline within ourselves. This has to do with areas in which we as individuals have to address maturity principles and seek wisdom.

Our word “understand” is from a Hebrew word, BYIN –which means to discern , perceive, observe, pay attention, to be intelligent, to heed, to instruct, to teach, to attend to, to be sensible. It pertains to superior knowledge. One must know how to use information wisely, we perceive through our senses. As Jesus noted in Matt 13:13 it is possible to hear without perceiving. This understanding is a gift from God. We can pray for it and God can reveal it. The seat for this ethical insight is the heart. (Proverbs 28:5) We must diligently pursue it.

My Prayer for us all is that we mature into our head, which is Christ.  Then our love will be complete; missing  nothing!

Much love to you all,

They do not truly love who do not show their love. —Shakespeare

They do not truly love who do not show their love. —Shakespeare

This is what God says about Love

1 Corinthian 13:1-3

I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t
have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. I may have the gift
to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries
and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains.
But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me.

This is what Love acts like.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own
praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done,but it is happy with the truth.  Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

Can Love Go away?

1 Corinthians 13:11-13
Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has
revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used. Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.

What is your real love angle?
(Refer to Love Angle)

October 17, 2009

In the Clouds

There is a destiny that makes us brothers:
None goes his way alone;
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.

(verses from Hebrew 11, 12 and 1 Corinthians 10)

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that all our ancestors who left Egypt were under the cloud, and they all went through the sea. They were all united with Moses by baptism in the cloud and in the sea. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet, God was not pleased with most of them, so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert. These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did.
These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as a warning for us who are living in the closing days of history. So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall. There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.
Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. God accepted our ancestors because of their faith .Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen. We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.
What more should I say? I don’t have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground. All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised. God planned to give us something very special so that we would gain eternal life with them. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.
You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:
“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you.
Don’t give up when he corrects you.
The Lord disciplines everyone he loves.
He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”
Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you. Make sure that no one commits sexual sin or is as concerned about earthly things as Esau was. He sold his rights as the firstborn son for a single meal You have not come to something that you can feel, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a storm, to a trumpet’s blast, and to a voice. You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than Abel’s. Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks. Your ancestors didn’t escape when they refused to listen to God, who warned them on earth.
Continue to love each other. Don’t forget to show hospitality to believers you don’t know. By doing this some believers have shown hospitality to angels without being aware of it. Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are mistreated as if you were being mistreated.

Just think...we are part of that cloud now, and we have an opportunity everyday to be a person lifting up another to look from our shoulders...and see higher than we did. Isn't that awesome?
Much love,

October 15, 2009

Fear.. Love... and the Fear of Not being Loved

fear...Love....and the Fear of Not being Loved

Philippians 4 1-9

So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm! I encourage both Euodia and Syntyche to have the attitude the Lord wants them to have. Yes, I also ask you, Syzugus, my true partner, to help these women. They fought beside me to spread the Good News along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.

I love the way Paul speaks the truth in love. He is encouraging his fellow believers and those he has been sent to lead and cover. He opens with how much he loves them all….right where they are, as they are. He speaks of a desire for them, to be with them and how he wears that relationship with pride / honor.
Look at what he says next, keep your focus on God first. He does not say focus on what “I” am saying, how much “I” love you and you own “me” something (usually respect due to how we have mentored or cared for someone) He keeps all eyes focused on Christ. He encourages them to seek this relationship first.
Paul goes on to speak highly of the work of others as He is making these requests. He is not touting what he alone has done; he is expressing how they are one body.
It is my opinion that a large factor of how conflict either gets resolved or propelled into a drama is within the next few scriptures. We take our focus off Christ and get into the problem and short comings of people in our midst. We start to desire to “fix” the other person, “Tinker” with how and why they do not see things as we do. We get anxious, irritated, defensive, justified, self righteous…..angry.
Fear is what we have been talking about along with Trust over the past few months. Counseling programs have a diagram that shows “anger” being the tip of an iceberg with all those emotions felt being unresolved beneath the surface of the water. I would like to propose a thought. What if anger is the surface of the water and “Fear” is the cap of the iceberg.
What if we would visualize Christ walking on that fluid surface of anger coming toward us….wearing our cap of fear? We are to grow up into our head which is Christ. He does not wear a hat labeled fear. In fact God promised that there is no fear in love. He also said that pure love casts out all fear.
We cannot wear 2 hats on one head. I think in the south we state it another way…2 horses one backside. Paul closed these encouraging words “then the God who gives this peace will be with you”. Will you receive it? Paul showed us how in these scriptures.
I pray for us all that others will see how considerate we are. I pray that the peace and joy of the Lord is our today and that we rejoice. I pray that we grow in relationship with Christ today all the while giving thanks that we are one body upheld by His righteousness. I pray that those who have hurt us or threatened us in anyway be forgiven because I do not believe they knew what they were doing. I pray that Christ meet them right where they are and bring them understanding so that restoration may take place. I pray that God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard our thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. I thank God that He is showing us thoughts that are Holy, Lovely and Pure so that we can be holy….because He is holy.

If Christ is our foundation - that means He is literally the road way, because the ground we walk on uphold us.  Stay with me here - Christ himself said he is "the way" "the truth" and "the life".  So write and think about the surface you are walking on.  Look beneath that surface even if for a moment and take a quick peak.  See if your way has truth under it.  Now look up and see if the destination seems to be heading you toward life


I trust that all this is done, because of Christ our Lord, the abilities of our God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit working within us this day. Amen

October 13, 2009

After being offline for almost 2 weeks, I have a heightened appreciation of all the internet affords us to do.  During this time, I have regained focus...which is great!  Part of what I gained during this time was a better understanding of the real boundaries needed to "be still and know He is God".  I thank you all for your prayers and continued efforts to interceed for the women, children and all their support as they deal with issues of domestic violence in their precious lives.

With much love and my kindest regards,