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Archive for the ‘reflection’ Category

 For ever, O LORD,
thy word is settled in heaven.
– Psalm 119:89

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

-Psalm 119:9-11(NIV)

Look at the Word of God.  Look into and seek the things that God wants to share with you.  Oddly enough, the Word tends to strike us right where we are in our lives.  Whether we are up or down, happy or sad, it touches us and it speaks to us through the Spirit of God.
Start keeping track of your daily inspirations from God and His Word.  Jot down in a journal or notebook how God speaks to you daily.  Keep track of it.  Refer to it on your down days or just during your down time. 
Write openly and freely about what the Lord says to you with the Word.  Keep your journal as your own private sanctuary for you coming before the presence of God with the burdens of your heart and soul.  Let loose and see what God does with your thoughts, expressions and feelings.

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5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

If we are to become like Jesus, we will have to start to do like Jesus.


That sounds simple enough.  It sounds almost like a formula. Doing like Jesus = being like Jesus.

Really?

We can get wrapped up in a whole lot of theological theory or biblical-sounding babble that sounds good but does us no earthly (or, even eternal) good.  In the end, talk remains just as cheap in Christendom as it did in any secular sense.  At some point, we have to do more of Christianity than simply study about it and show up for church, Sunday school or prayer meeting.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

We need to do Jesus by doing like Jesus. That’s not as simple as it sounds.  Look at what Jesus went through, too.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:3 (ESV)
And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. – Mark 6:5 (NLT)
27 Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” – Mark 11:27-28 (NLT)
No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. – John 5:44 (NLT)
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? – Matthew 11:2-3 (KJV)

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
– John 6:66 (NIV)
For even his own brothers did not believe in him. – John 7:5 (NIV)

Jesus went through a lot.  He went through a lot with many of the people who should have had His back.  He withstood unbelief and doubt, even an outright walk-out by some of His own disciples.  Even John the Baptist, in his last days in prison, sent two of his own disciples to find out if Jesus was really the Messiah or not.  Jesus had to deal with all of that.

The question is whether we can do like Jesus and endure the abandonment of family and friends. 

Can we withstand those who will walk out or walk away and never walk with us again? Can we endure the doubters and their disbelief?
Can we stand firm when we have to stand alone?

No, the Lord never forsakes us.  He is with us, but we have to understand that the Lord’s work can become lonely work in human terms.  We have to accept the fact that some folks just won’t stick with us or stick by us as we continue on a journey with Jesus.

If you aim to do like Jesus, just expect to be done like Jesus, too.  Let us not forget that it was Jesus who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  It was Jesus who took on the penalty of sin upon the cross for the sake of mankind’s salvation.   If that’s how people treated the Anointed One who healed the sick and performed miracle upon miracle, how do you think they’ll do you?
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself. . .

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Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
 – Isaiah 53:10 (NKJV)

God’s people are to live in such a way that their lives please God.  God’s people are to live to please God.

It doesn’t sound like the Christianity that many of us signed up for when we walked down the aisle of our home church and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior in our lives.  It does not resemble the only-believe sermons that echoed in tent revivals throughout Middle America during the times of Progressives prior to the Industrial Revolution of America.  No, it does not even seem to resemble any of the tenets of religious righteousness that seem to make the headlines as the Religious Right.  That doesn’t sound like the normal Christian life that many pastors, evangelists and others have spread throughout the nation and the world about prosperity, being born again, and serving to be saved. No, it doesn’t sound like any of that at all.

However, that is what the Word says.  We are to live in a way that pleases God.  We are to model our lives after the service, sacrifice and suffrage of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah’s “Suffering Savior,”  the “man of sorrows,” presents us with a humble manner of submission that we can see and reflect in our own daily lives.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. . .

Sadly, we often interpret God’s pleasure as an image of the Heavenly Father looking down and smiling upon Jesus on the cross.  That sounds far from the accurate interpretation of the matter.  God’s pleasure in the situation is the satisfied debt of sins.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the debt of sin through the Lamb of God who was “without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19, NKJV).  Therefore, Jesus submitted to God and offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  As John says, He serves as “the propitiation of our sins.” Read Hebrews 2:17 and 1 John 4:10 about His sacrifice for our sins.

He paid a debt that we could never repay on our own.  He had to serve as the propitiation of our sins in order to satisfy the debt that we could never repay ourselves.  As Paul wrote, salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).  He stepped up and stood in for us, only to sacrifice all and suffer for our sakes.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:2-4 (NKJV)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

We need to reflect Christ’s sacrificial living.  Paul stated that we should have the mind of Christ.  Peter said that we should suffer just as Christ suffered.  James, the brother of the Lord, said that we should embrace being tested and tried.  We are to live in a manner that satisfies God.  We are to please God.

Our daily lives are to please God.  Let not Christ’s suffering and sacrifice appear to be in vain.  Do not disregard the cost of salvation.  God did not hold back.  He offered His best.  We, too, are called to offer our best.  God offered His best in Jesus Christ.  God expects us to offer our best by following the example of Jesus Christ.

Live to please God.  Live a repentant and revived life.  Live a renewed life as a new creation in Christ Jesus.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. – Psalm 147:11 (KJV)

“It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”
-Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi quotes)

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5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-11 (NIV)
Peter: Apostle for the Whole Church (Personalities of the New Testament)

I had to take a much-needed break.  I needed the time off.  I was going in all sorts of directions at a perilous pace.  At some point, I had to realize that I needed to regroup in order to continue effectively and ensure that my work contributed to the kingdom of God.  I was drifting into doing more than being.

Have you ever been there? I mean the lonely space where you are knowing what’s the truth, speaking the truth and doing the truth, but not necessarily having the truth as your mainstay.  It is a place where what you have been upholding has to become what holds you up after everything is said and done.

I was there.  God captured my attention.  He had me arrive at a simple resolution. 

… be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure… 1 Peter 1:10 (NIV)

Make a turnaround at this turning point.

Did God provide me with this audible announcement? No, I should dare not say so.  He helped me come to the realization that the statement summarizes all that He has placed before me and on my heart.  Even as I preached this past week on Peter’s confession of the Lord as the Christ, the son of the living God, and shared a simple Bible lesson on thankfulness, I reckoned with the fact that God called me to do more than simply preach and teach among those who already believe.

I will continue to blog.  Starting Monday, November 29th, I will continue with the series From Eden to Egypt.  I return to the blogosphere renewed and revived.  The Lord has recharged me, energizing me to forge ahead in faith with even greater fire burning within me.

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But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
– Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB)
Few seek to quietly endure the pain and agony that comes with being chosen by God for a special task.  Moses sought for the Lord to give it to someone else.  Elijah was at the brink of breaking down.  Peter had gone so far as to deny knowing the very Christ who he had confessed as the son of the living God.  Jonah had done it in both a physical and spiritual sense, running away from God.  Yet, when we look at Jeremiah, we see the weeping prophet ready to call it quits on God.
Jeremiah felt that he had been given a raw deal.  He felt he had been swindled or tricked.  He was not feeling it, especially after all of the ridicule and his calling becoming like a “reproach” for him.  He was done.  He had it.  He was ready to quit.
However, in the same breath of his resignation, Jeremiah found resolve.  In the midst of his departure, he discovered a new devotion to the Divine.  Right when he was ready to give in, he emerged with a way and a means by which to give more.  He could give more because of all that had been taken away from him and all that God was still willing to see him through.  Jeremiah found a way to give even more than what he cried out about losing.  He decided that he had enough within him for him to give more and more.

When you are ready to quit, dig deep. Take a moment and search the very depths of your soul for a little bit more to give.  Scrape the bottom of your well and see if you do not come up with something more to offer.  Don’t just get back in the race.  Get back in the running.
Give another sermonTeach another Sunday school classStay on as ministry leaderTrain someone else to serve in your capacity. Give more. Don’t give up. Just give a little more.

Teach Your Team to Fish: Using Ancient Wisdom for Inspired Teamwork

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Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.- Eph. 4:26

Paul shared a simple warning to those believers at Ephesus.  He advised that the Christian not let the sun go down on his or her anger.  In other words, don’t get so wrapped up in being angry that it consumes you for the remainder of the evening and into the next day.  At some point, if we are truly faithful and holding fast to the Lord, we will not let our anger lead us into sin.

The verse speaks about being angry.  It doesn’t say that you becoming angry is a sin.  I t warns for you to not allow your anger to linger to the point where it leads to sin and causes damage for the Christian and those around the Christian.  In essence, that isn’t the way that the Lord wants us to live. he wants us to live more abundantly by faith.

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That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”- 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

I found inspiration for a short piece of poetry when I spent some personal reflection time in the Pauline epistles, especially 1 and 2 Corinthians.  The words of Paul are directly quoting the Scriptures, specifically Isaiah’s prophecy.  I was inspired, so I wrote freely and I share it here now with all others.

Eyes Have Not Seen

There is something that eyes have not seen.

The truth is that many don’t have eyes to see my change.

They do not recognize it.

They do not realize it.

Their eyes are not open to seeing my change.

I’m still who I used to be to them.

I can only be who I used to be in their eyes.

Even though their eyes have not seen,

I know what they see.

I just don’t know why.

I feel that God wants more out of me.

I believe He just doesn’t want me saved.

He wants me to say it and show it.

He wants me to say that I’ve changed

And He wants me to show that I have changed.

If they can’t see it, at least some will hear it.

Some may not see it, but God will work on them.

Their eyes just have not seen yet.

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