Wednesday, March 30, 2016

God's Presence is Real

What words do you repeat to yourself when you wake in the middle of the night with heart pounding and adrenaline surging? How about Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." It is the reminder of God’s presence that makes these words precious. God’s presence allows your heart to calm and the adrenaline to subside as you reorient yourself to the reality that God will never leave your or forsake you.

This week choose to be aware of God’s presence in your life. Spend three to five minutes just sitting quietly and being aware of God’s presence. The words of Deuteronomy 31:6 assures us that God is always with us. Claim this promise and then be attentive and aware of God’s presence with you at that moment. A realization of God’s very real presence can bring you peace in the middle of a storm of thoughts, or worries or concerns. His presence can quiet your heart enough to prepare you for the rest of your devotional time.

In those moments, you may even feel encouraged to stand up for truth in difficult situations. You may remember a moment at your job where gossip started. This may give you the courage to turn that conversation toward the truth. You may remember a friend who looked burdened and take that opportunity to ask if they want you to pray with them.

The knowledge that God is with you is meant to be a comfort. It should instill a thread of iron in your backbone for difficult situations. Knowing God is near when your heart breaks gives courage to step into the future. God’s presence can enable you to serve with a joyful heart. How will you allow this realization to shape your life this week?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

For God So Loved...

Arguably one of the most memorized scriptures in all of the Bible, John 3:16 brings a reminder of God’s love and a hope for our future. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It reminds us of God’s love and affection, as well as His plans for our future.

And yet the idea that God loves the world is surprising. Elsewhere in the book of John is the caution not to love the world, he cautions against loving the world because it is a place of disbelief and hostility. Commentator Carson puts it this way, “There is no contradiction between this prohibition and the fact that God does love it [the world]. Christians are not to love the world with the selfish love of participation; God loves the world with the selfless, costly love of redemption.”

This insightful comment brings new meaning to the prohibition against Christians loving the world. The prohibition isn’t against loving the world that is protected by Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. The world described is not God’s second book, nature. We as Christians are called to be stewards of the physical world around us. Rather it is that part of humanity that is opposed to God. That part of society that chooses to rebel against God’s laws and instructions. And while we are told not to love that part of the world, or become a part of it, Jesus purposefully chose to enter that very world with the goal of redemption.

This is what Jesus came to do, to show this love through redemption. It is not to a specific group of people, not those chosen or privileged that the Savior came to seek and to save. It is the world. It is all of humanity. It is you that Jesus chose to save. “He came to save the world, namely, the all-encompassing circle of men and women who inhabit this planet, people who embrace darkness habitually (3:19–21),” according to Burge. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Draw Near

How will you draw near to God today? In James 4:8 it says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This is an invitation from the God of the universe to draw near and allow His presence to change you.

Prayer is the vital breathing of our souls. It is what brings life to our spiritual walk, and vigor to our relationship with God. It is not an isolated experience that happens only when we are feeling low. Prayer isn’t a prescription to fix us like a prescription for antibiotics is for an infection. Prayer is an essential daily habit, if we are to be formed into His likeness.

It is just as when a couple married for many years begins to look alike. Their jokes become similar, their hand gestures mirrors of one another. The years indelibly mark the other with their character. As we daily spend time with God in prayer, His character is reproduced in us.

How will you spend time with God today? Will you choose to pray on another’s behalf? Will you choose to pray a scripture, looking for its application to your life? Will you choose to unravel your worries and concerns in His presence? I challenge you to spend intentional time today with the God of the universe and allow Him to leave His imprint on you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Disciple Is ...

In the heart of the great gospel commission is a call for disciples. Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

I issued the call to define what a disciple is, and this is what you shared.

A disciple is....

One who ministers to others
Open to learning and growing
An obedient friend
Someone that reflects Christ to others
Willing to listen when they are called by God
A follower of Jesus, Ones that love
A person who loves Christ and lets Him teach them
A person who follows Christ and does His will
Teachable, Caring
A person who obeys the great commission from Jesus to go out and share the gospel/good news to the world
Willing, Forgiving, Loving
A friend/student of God, A helper
A representative of God
Kind, Teachable
A willing and dedicated student
An example of His master, a reflection of His purpose
One who wants a relationship with Christ
Will follow you to the end
They care for my family!
A person that gives all for God
An instrument of salvation
A humble servant looking for ways to bless others
Opening myself to God by participating in corporate worship

Following God daily through spiritual practices
Returning time, talents, and resources to God

Willingly serve my local church and community in the context of my spiritual gifts
Anticipating spiritual growth in others by being in genuine relationships

Growing in my life of faith as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit

What would you add to this list? Where do you need to grow as a disciple of Christ?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Becoming a Vibrant Disciple

As our revival series unfolds, we learn how to be more deeply committee to our Savior and to reach out to the world around us. As disciples we are challenged to Reach Forward by following this acronym:

Following God through daily spiritual practices.

Opening myself to God by participating in regular corporate worship.

Returning time, talents, and resource to God.

Willingly serve my local church and community in the context of my spiritual gifts.

Anticipating spiritual growth in others by being in genuine relationships.

Reproducing the discipleship journey in others through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Developing in my life of faith as evidence by the fruits of the Spirit.

Take a few minutes to talk with God about each of these characteristics of a disciple. How are you in allowing God to transform you, what areas do you need His strength to grow in?