Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sow What?

sowing

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.   For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Galatians 6:7-8

Sir Isaac Newton was the identifier of physical laws that govern the universe, like ‘what goes up, must come down,’ and ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’  There are spiritual laws that are true whether people know them or agree with them. One is that we have all sinned and sin must be paid for by blood.  That’s why they used animal sacrifices in the Old Testament and why Jesus had to shed His own blood to pay for our sin, told about in the New Testament.

Our Galatians verses point to some other spiritual laws, like that our actions have consequences, either good or bad.  What we do matters.  One day we will be repaid  for what we have done.   Sowing is another word for planting seeds, and reaping is another word for harvesting.  We aren’t talking about actual seeds, but spiritual ones.  Our seeds are deeds that we have done, choices we have made, or actions that we have taken.

If you sow to the flesh, you will reap the consequences of that.  Sowing to the flesh could mean a lot of things, like  selfish or sinful acts done,  things we have done to satisfy our own desires, or things we have done by striving in the flesh to do things on your own without God.  Reaping corruption means that you suffer the consequences of those deeds.  Plus, those deeds will be like bad crops that are destroyed and not harvested.  You throw away the rotten pumpkins in the garden, and your selfish and sinful deeds will be tossed out.

Sowing to the Spirit is the opposite.  They are things that we do because we are looking to please God.  They are good deeds, things done in obedience or with the good intention of helping others or doing what is right.  Those seeds planted will go into eternity.  You might think that good guys end last, or that it doesn’t matter because no one notices or cares.  Wrong.  God notices, He keeps an account and He will reward you.  What we do matters.

Galatians 6:9 commands us to not grow weary of doing good or to give up.  Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  In Heaven you will see the results of the things you did for God and many people may come running thanking you for what you did.

It is never too late to turn your harvest around.  Start living for Jesus and, as Ephesians 5:10 says, “Find out what pleases the Lord.”


Two Roads

Power Verse: Matthew 7:13-14

Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The Daily Diet…

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” ends with this stanza:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh; Somewhere ages and ages hence:                              Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by,                             And that has made all the difference.”

That pretty much sums up to the two roads that lie ahead of all of us.  Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it only leads to death.”  That way that seems right is our own way, the one where Frank Sinatra sang about: “I did it MY way.”  It might sound good in a song, but in life it leads to destruction and an eternity in Hell.  It is a wide road and most of the people in life are on that road.  It is the road that says “no” to God and “yes” to self.  It is the easy road, the road most taken.

In contrast, the second road is the one that leads to Jesus and to eternal life.  It is a narrow path, and few are on it.  There is a contrast between those who follow Jesus and those who take the other road.  It is the many and the few contrast.  It’s all over the Bible, and when it comes to being a Christian, it should be all over our life.  Take the story of Numbers 13 where they sent twelve spies into the Promised Land, the place that God promised and prepared for the Israelites.  Ten gave a bad report because they were chickens.  Just two looked at it with the eyes of faith and said, “Let’s go.”   

It’s always ten to two.  You might look around and find no one on your path.  Get used to it.  You might always be the outsider, the hold out, the loner.  That’s the way the call is designed.  Don’t expect people to stand up and applaud you.  Our choices in life have been narrowly defined by this call of God to something different.  It is the path that leads to eternal life, so hold on.  Our rewards aren’t here and we aren’t going to see the benefits immediately,  they are for Heaven and they are certain.


A City on a Hill

Power Verse: Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.


little-city

Jesus is calling us out to live a different life because we know Him.  We no longer have living for self as our primary goal.  Charles Barkley, the NBA star said quite a few years ago now after he had done something that others criticized, “I am not a role model.”  But now that you belong to Jesus, He is asking quite the opposite.  He tells us to be a role model, the light of the world, a city on a hill.  We are to be so changed in our actions that others see our good works and give glory to God because of it.

We aren’t saved by those good works, so don’t be confused with doing more to become a Christian, to earn God’s love or to prove your worth somehow.  When grace invades our lives, God changes our hearts and our actions.   That’s part of being a new creation.  We turn from being involved in activities of the darkness, which could involve carousing, drunkenness, materialism and being just plain self-centered.  And as God drives that out of us, He turns us to seeking what He wants for our lives.  

In Acts 10:38 that “Jesus went about doing good.”  Titus 3:8 tells us, “That those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.  These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  And finally, in Ephesians 2:10 we find that “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  

Start by going about doing good, just like Jesus.  If there is something you can do to help someone or if there is a way you can bring positivity and goodness to a conversation, a situation or to a person that is down, that’s a good start.  People will just want to be around you.  And when they ask why you’re different than everyone else, you can tell them about Jesus and what He has done in your life.

Go and shine your light!


Getting Started

Power Verse:  John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Daily Diet…

Before we start, let’s lay a foundation of what it means to be a Jesus follower.  In Genesis 1:1 we find that everything starts with “In the beginning, God…”  That is the first step to being a child of God, recognizing and submitting to the fact that everything begins and ends with God.  He created us and He has spoken to us through His Word, the Bible.  It is God’s words and has absolute authority over our lives.

In the Garden of Eden, sin was introduced to the world through three principal characters: Adam, Eve, and Satan.  God had said “Do not eat” of two trees in the middle of paradise.  Satan, God’s archenemy, lured Eve and then Adam to see and to eat.  This separated us from God, each other, nature and ourselves.  In Romans 6:23 God tells us that the payment for sin is death, and in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The Old Testament prepares the way for a perfect sacrifice, the payment for this sin.  God works through Adam and Eve’s seed to bring about a man Abraham, a family of twelve sons of Jacob, and a country Israel.  When the fulness of the time was right, God sent Jesus His son to come to the earth through Abraham and Jacob’s family line, through the country of Israel, to all of us. John 3:16 proclaims the words of eternal life for us.

Through faith in Jesus we are offered the free gift of salvation through grace.  We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it because of our sin.  We accept it through faith, calling on God and telling Him that we believe that He exists, that He made us, and that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sin.  Romans 10:9 states, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

When you believe in your heart, that means that you are changed and that God did it.  When you come to faith in God, He gives you a new heart.  Instead of being bent of self and sin, you are changed to craving His life and priorities over and above your own.  God does that.  Your response is to follow Him and to obey His words.


Food For the Soul

I have been writing Bible studies to send to a couple of women who are in prison.  One of them spent her first three months in a cell by herself , with no TV and only got out for two hours a day.  But she had her Bible and her new found faith.  This is one of the series of studies I wrote to her.

In writing it, I have grown and trust that others that want to spend time in the Word will grow as well.  So here we go..

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16

Healthy eating seems to be the fad these days, complete with superfoods and antioxidants.  The Word of God is super food for the soul.  

It is better for
healthy-foodyou than avocados and pomegranates.  These studies are a series of daily devotional, complete with power verses for each day to meditate on and to even commit to memory.  All of the verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

I challenge you to mark these verses in your Bible and to read the chapter the verse or verses are surrounded by.  This book takes you through the New Testament.

Let’s start eating!

 

 


“Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?”

That’s what Jesus told His parents when He was 12 in Luke 2:49.  Picture it:      He gets to go from Nazareth to Jerusalem with His parents for the Feast of Passover.  I don’t know if it’s the first time He gets to make the trip or not.  But He is fully human, so how much does He know?  He doesn’t have an earthly father, so He doesn’t have original sin pulling at Him, that sin nature that dogs the rest of us.

Maybe it’s like this:  He’s finally here and this is Jesus’ chance to interact with people who have studied the Old Testament scriptures–the very ones that were written about Him.  He’s had these dreams about glory, and when He gets to hear scripture at the Synagogue, His heart burns.  And now He’s finally at the Temple.  He’s home.

“I’m home, this feels so good.  I want to stay here.  Wait a minute.  Why are these guys so spiritually cold?  Why don’t they recognize Me?  Okay, I’m only 12.  I don’t even know how my dreams are going to work themselves out.  That Passover Lamb–is that Me?  I have to tell them there’s another way, to not be all caught up in the rules so they miss the love and the promises and the relationship with God Almighty…”

“If only they knew what this Temple was made to be, what it was like when My glory filled it.  Why do I keep having these dreams?  I wish I could tell someone who gets it…”     “JESUS!  Where were you?  We were worried sick.  We were halfway home.  What are you still doing here?”

“I MUST be at My Father’s house.”

Do you have the same things that drive and pull you because Jesus lives in you?  Do His dreams tug at you and speak to you and scream at times, driving you mad in a good way?

I do.  I’ve come to realize they are put there by my Father.  I realize that because Jesus lives in me and His Spirit is alive in me, I can say with Jesus (John 2:17) “Zeal for my Father’s house will consume me,” and as the KJV renders Luke 2:49 “I must be about my Father’s business.”  And “I must be in His house.”

There are a few other must’s that drive me.

  • I must sit at His feet on a regular basis, not just whizzing in and out like those “5 minutes with God” devotionals (what?) but reclining in God’s presence, speaking with Him in an intimate, secret place. “Your words were found and I ate them and they because to me a joy and the delight of my heart.  I did not sit in the company of revelers.  I sat alone because Your hand was upon me.”  Jeremiah 15:16-17
  • I must tell a lost and dying world the good news of Jesus.
  • I must be where Jesus is.  He is bent low, so I must have friends in low places: the outcasts, outsiders and outlaws.  I must go to people and places where others won’t to shine the light of Jesus and bid them to come from darkness to His marvelous light.

 


The goodness and kindness of God our Savior

I am leading the Awana council time for almost 100 3rd-6th graders for the month of December.  Many are not “churched,” but come out faithfully for a night of games, quoting verses, singing and a Bible lesson.  It has caused me to soak in the message and intent of the Christmas story from the angle of kids, knowing that I face those very kids at school.  The same “to do” list I give them is for me and we somehow hold each other accountable.

One of the things that has captured me this week has been something I’ve not paid attention to before: that it was the goodness and kindness of God that led to sending Jesus to earth for us.  Check out some of the verses:

Titus 3:4 “When the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us”

Ephesians 2:7 “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the Heavenly realms in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:3 “He called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Hosea 11:4 “I led them with cords of kindness with the bands of love and I hosea11-4became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bend down to them and fed them.”

I’m reading Kisses From Katie, about the young woman who left an affluent home to be in Uganda after high school because the more she delved into the truths of Scripture (at the age of 12 and 13) she began to realize that God wanted more from her and she wanted more of Him.  Katie Davis, the young woman, adopted dozens of orphaned children.  She talks about bending low to sweep crumbs, to wipe vomit, to cook a big pot of stew, to fold endless laundry and at the end of the day, she bends next to the bed and asks only that she could bend more, bend lower.

Because we serve a Savior who, in goodness and kindness, bent down to us.  He entered through Mary’s birth canal, was greeted by field dirtied shepherds, and  willingly took on the form of a humble servant.  God bent low on the earth that we might attain all the glory of Heaven.

So we are to do likewise.  To “love our enemies and do good, expecting nothing in return, and our reward will be great and we will be Sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”  Luke 6:35

Acts 10:38 tells us that “God anointed Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit and with power.  He went about doing good.”

Titus 3:8 admonishes us to be careful to devote ourselves to good works and 3:14 tells us we need to learn to do good so we can be fruitful.

So, in kindness (the good intent to help people) and goodness (the actual act) I be like Jesus and bend as He did,

  • to listen to others and to ask them about themselves and not talk about me
  • to lead with a servant leadership that does not lord power over people, but shares it with them
  • to hug kids (at the risk of lice), calling them by name and knowing them individually, along with their families
  • to pray that God would direct my steps, lead me in the Spirit to intercede for those in my sphere of living
  • to give to those who can’t give back, who aren’t grateful, who don’t work and are maybe even evil
  • to be in an obscure place faithfully and joyfully serving God
  • to be alert for opportunities to show goodness and kindness, meeting the ordinary needs of people in any way possible

Because the goodness and kindness of God my Savior appeared and saved me.

 

 

 


The Practice of Godliness

Faithfulness

(After not posting for well over a year, much good has taken place and my heart is filled with many things that God has been doing in my life and showing me through the study of His Word. So perhaps it is time to get to logging them here as well as in my journals.)

Our women’s Sunday School class is studying through Jerry Bridge’s book The Practice of Godliness. It has been a good time to slowly work through the characteristics listed in the fruit of the Spirit ingredient label in Galatians 5:22-23. It’s what’s inside because Jesus lives inside of us and He is all of those things and so then I am somehow becoming and am all of those things.

We’re on faithfulness. Today I’m thinking about Daniel. In Daniel 6:3-4 we find that “Daniel became distinguished above all the other straps because an excellent spirit was in him. He was faithful and no error or fault was found in him.” Then in verse 10 it tells that he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks to God as he had done previously.

So did Daniel just get an excellent spirit from God because God wanted to pick out someone to keep His kingdom going–or did Daniel have an excellent spirit because he prayed three times a day?

In Exodus 35:30-36:2 there’s an interesting picture that would indicate that some of the excellent spirit debate leans to the side of God giving it to Daniel by a work of His grace. Context: It’s time to build the tabernacle and God has called by name Bezalel and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge and with all craftsmanship and He inspired him to teach. Wow! Since I found that this summer I have been praying that God would infuse me with all of those things through the Holy Spirit to do my job with skill, intelligence, creativity, energy and great ability. My job is “secular.” I have also been praying that God would use my job for the Kingdom, realizing that though it is secular, it is my calling from God, and thus my ministry. I want a spirit of excellence from the Holy Spirit to do Kingdom work and to see God do great things in and through me whether I am at church or at work.

Here’s my verse for the other side of the debate. Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” ESV In the NASB it tells us to “cultivate faithfulness.” That means I have to do something–not just one thing, but lots of things over a period of many years. Like what?

  • Be diligent. Daniel prayed three times a day. That takes diligence and discipline.
  • Make faithfulness a priority and something to be honored. Psalm 101:6 “I will look with favor on the faithful in the land that they may dwell with me.” It is so easy to unintentionally honor people who are funny, witty, can sing well, or have some other talent but aren’t faithful or who don’t have a walk that is blameless.
  • Keep your word even when it hurts. Psalm 15:4 “Who swears to his own hurt and does not change.”
  • Be loyal, dependable, reliable, careful, thoughtful and considerate. Luke 16:10 tells us that “he who is faithful in little will be faithful in very much and he who is dishonest in very little with be dishonest in much.” That’s about money but it’s true with every area of our lives.
  • Be spiritually steadfast and unmovable. That’s spiritual faithfulness. 1 Cor. 15:58 admonishes us to be always abounding in the work of the Lord; 2 Cor. 4:2 says “we do not lose heart,” and Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary of doing good.”

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, which means that it’s a by product of the Holy Spirit being at work in our lives. God is faithful and He lives inside of us. His faithfulness will rub off on us because we’re becoming like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that the good that comes from the bad things is to conform us to the image of Jesus–make us like Him.

What gets in the way of that conforming process? ME!!!!

There’s nothing to pull me away from me in this narcissistic selfie culture. Narcissism is defined as “an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance; vanity, self absorption.” We think about my day, my comfort, my agenda, my stuff, me, me me, me…

Until Jesus enters and proclaims “death to self.” In Matthew 16:23 Jesus rebuked one of his best earthly friends “Get behind me Satan! You are a hinderance to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” That’s what we’re doing in the flesh when we’re not in prayer much and in the Word much. We’re setting our interest on me, myself and I. When Peter started to sink on top of the water in Matthew 14:25-33 it is because “he saw the wind and was afraid.” He stopped looking at Jesus and looked at the wind. And he was sunk. And so are we.

We are changed from being a self centered, sporadic, well intentioned but inconsistent Christian to a more Daniel like believer with an excellent spirit by both the Spirit of the living God that we call upon daily to work in us, and by cultivating faithfulness, loyalty, integrity, steadfastness and discipline ourselves day by day, kneeling three times a day as is our practice.
Martha


Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  James 1:5-8 ESV

James makes it sound so simple–if you lack wisdom ask for it in faith and voila’–you got it.  So why aren’t we wiser?  When we’re stuck and we pray, why doesn’t this formula work as cleanly as this?

I can think of a few things we don’t always do to start with and then I’ll move to the opposite.

1.  James 4:2-4 says that we have not because we ask not.  And when we ask, we have selfish motives to spend on our own desires.  We don’t pray and we’re self centered.  In Joshua 9 the Gibeonites didn’t want to get wiped out by the Israelites so they dressed up like they were from a long way off and got them to sign a treaty.  The Israelites, according to Joshua 9:14, “did not inquire of the Lord or ask counsel from Him.”  One version calls it presumption, which the Hebrew defines as “seething pride.”

Seething pride is when we think we got it covered.  We don’t think we need God, or we don’t think to ask Him.  

2.  We don’t know how to listen for God’s voice.  Some Christians just don’t know that when they ask, God will answer.  We’re not just praying some general rote prayer, like meal time grace.  And we’re not leaving a message on God’s voicemail that He may or may not respond to.  John 10:4-5 clearly teaches, “My sheep follow Me because they know my voice.  They do not know the voice of strangers.”  We don’t have to worry about being deceived if we get to know God’s voice.  

He speaks first and foremost through His Word.  That activates the Holy Spirit and keeps us grounded.  People who get mystical or off in a ditch usually aren’t feeding on the Bible on a consistent basis.  Others are students of the Bible, but think that listening for God’s voice is bogus.  Then so is John 10.  

3.  We get spun around with anxiety, worry, self pity, doubt, fear and unproductive things.  It’s easy to do in any given situation.  So we need to go to God in the middle of the muck and call out for help, for peace, and for wisdom.  Some people like the process of wallowing and don’t like to be called out.  Jesus didn’t mince words when He said things like “O ye of little faith,” and told His disciples they had hard hearts.  He even told Peter, “Get behind Me Satan.”  We need to gently but firmly remind ourselves and each other of God’s call to ask in faith with nothing wavering.

What are the positives about getting wisdom?

1. Wisdom comes from having a hearing heart. You can go to school for knowledge or Google just about anything, but wisdom is gained from calling out to God on a regular basis.  When Solomon was called to be king God gave him one request.  In 1 Kings 3:9  it tells what Solomon asked for: “Give your servant an understanding mind, a hearing heart.”  

 2.  In Proverbs 2 Solomon coached his readers to treasure up God’s commands, to call out for insight and to search for wisdom like silver and hidden treasures.  Wisdom comes from a long obedience in the same direction.  It is a quest that is much like mining for gold.  

3.  Wisdom comes through prayer.  In Luke 11:1 the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  It doesn’t say “teach us how to pray,” but “teach us TO pray.”  We try to figure things out on our own, or get advice from others, or something less efficient–but God says to pray.  If you lack wisdom, ask for it.  

We know this stuff, it’s just hard to do.  And even when we do, life doesn’t always comply.  Plus, God doesn’t work on our time schedule.  And things that we think should be easy aren’t.  But the promise still stands.  If you lack wisdom, ask for it and God will give it.  Don’t you wish you could just push the “Staples” easy button?easy button

 

 

 

 

 

 


If Stress is Contagious then….

I’d rather pass good things on to others than stress, negativity and a critical spirit. What a good quick word of encouragement!

Blue Skies & Lollipops

stress

According a team of psychologists from St Louis University, stress is as contagious as the common cold. Apparently this is through the conveying of stress through tone of voice, facial expressions and posture. As people perceive the stress of another, they themselves “catch” the stress.

If stress is contagious, other internal realities must also be contagious. A person who is angry, worried or negative can also impact the atmosphere around them and by default also impact people. Who hasn’t spent time with someone who is down for some reason and ended up in the same frame of mind?

If stress is contagious – if that internal reality can then influence the external reality around us, then surely the living spirit within us must also be contagious? We can impact the world around us through our presence as we broker the reality that we are aware of into our surroundings.

Jesus modelled this…

View original post 98 more words