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Showing posts from July, 2010

Bags packed, GPS guidance ahead

1-3 In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.  (Eph. 4:1-3) Paul is imprisoned for preaching the gospel message, but he takes his call to preach the gospel, plant and establish churches, and encourage believers in Christ seriously.  He writes to the Ephesian church, even when he cannot be at their homes and in their synagogue preaching the message, in order to encourage them to keep growing in the faith.  His words are clear - get out there and walk!  Okay, before you jump off the deep end a

Dream and Imagine - God is waiting

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.   (Eph. 3:20-21) As we consider this passage today, it would be appropriate to ask, "What are you imagining God will do for you today?"  So many times we face each day with all the agenda items that we have laid out for ourselves and others, all the while being pretty oblivious to what it is that God is imagining for our day.  Just as frequently, we go to God with huge desire, but somehow we think God's plan to meet that desire is to do it in a small way.  Both ways of facing life are equally riddled with issues.  When we exclude God from our plans, we open ourselves up to failure that need not be there.  When we limit God by our lack of faith, we do not fully appreciate the magnificence of his love for us. Paul reminds us that God CAN do anything - i

Equipped beyond natural abilities

7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.  (Eph. 3:7-8) Paul seemed like quite a well-educated, very capable guy when you looked him at from the outside.  Yet, he takes moments like this in the letter to the church at Ephesus to explain his own personal struggle with feeling "ill-prepared" for what God is calling him to do.  He transitions in this chapter to telling us what he recognizes as his calling on his life - to help people understand and respond to the message of salvation.  It was this message that he spent the remainder of his years attempting to get out to as many people as possible, establish

Cistern or well?

  5-7 The whole point of what we're urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven't the remotest idea of what they're holding forth with such imposing eloquence.    8-11 It's true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It's obvious, isn't it, that the law code isn't primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I've been put in charge of by this great God.  (I Tim. 1:5-11) In our passage this morning, you will see that Paul opens his letter to Timothy, a young man of God, called to work with the church at Ephesus, with a

Peel back the wrapper

13   Ignore the Word and suffer;   honor God's commands and grow rich.  (Proverbs 13:13) Our text this morning offers a pretty somber warning - ignore the Word and you will certainly suffer!  It also offers a pretty awesome reminder - honor God's commands and you will grow rich!  Okay, don't get me wrong, study of God's Word is not a "get rich quick" scheme!  It is actually a pretty orderly, sequential growth process that has many rewards for the one who takes the time to make the investment into taking it in. Later in this same chapter, the writer tells us that an appetite for good brings much satisfaction.  We have many ways of satisfying the appetite we have.  If we want chocolate, we purchase a chocolate bar, peel back the wrapper and dig in.  If we want a salty snack, we may rip open a bag of peanuts and chow down. The Word of God is often referred to as that which satisfies the cravings, or longings, of our soul.  If we want some good "soul fo

A plain and simple life

  7   A pretentious, showy life is an empty life;  a  plain and simple life is a full life. (Proverbs 13:7) The writer of Proverbs take some time throughout the book to remind us of the importance of living genuinely - showing our "real colors" vs. living with a "facade" in place.  This is another of those verses that reminds us of the importance of not living a life that others would look upon and see only a pretense of happiness.  Too many times, it is easy to hide behind what we want to portray to the world vs. being our real selves.  This is because we interpret ourselves as unworthy of public display, not of value - so we create a facade to hide behind.  This is a very dangerous place to be - live there long enough and you will forget what exists behind the facade! We are reminded that a life that is pretentious (pretend, false, make-believe) is really an empty life.  Empty lives do not contain what one would expect to find when examining those lives clos

Beach Front Property For Sale

3   You can't find firm footing in a swamp,   but life rooted in God stands firm.  (Proverbs 12:3) In the swamp are many obstacles that impact our ability to be on the footing that allows for solid growth.  This morning, I'd like to look at just a couple of common obstacles found in a swamp and link them to some possible "spiritual" applications to our daily walk. A swamp is made up of water, reeds, muddy bogs, and lots of pesky critters.  The water of the swamp is not known for its clarity or purity.  In fact, it is known for the murkiness.  Within the murky waters are all kinds of "critters" that science has come to term as "leeches".  These little wiggly creatures serve a purpose - to suck the very life out of that which they attach to!  The swamp is full of those things that exist to suck life from those who wander into the murky waters - all too often unaware of what is just below the surface.  Those leeching critters are upon us faster

God's a great teacher

  1   If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction!   (Proverbs 12:1) I sometimes take a little heat from my friends because I like to learn new things.  I have a curious mind that is only satisfied when I have discovered a new fact - like taking something apart to see how it works, or discovering the name of a bug that crawls out of a hole in my back yard.  The writer of Proverbs says that if we are the kind of people that love learning, then we will also love the discipline that goes with it.  Most of us could say that we are open to learning new things, but does discipline REALLY have to be part of it?!? The process of learning requires that we take in knowledge or a new skill through the process of being instructed or in self-study.  We go through a process of learning - it is systematic.  Learning is seldom "instantaneous", although it can be.  I remember being rear-ended when I was quite young.  Since that

Receive and Experience

23 Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves. (Phil. 4:23) This verse is the salutation of Paul to the Philippian church.  He has instructed them in attitude of being content in all circumstances - good or bad, prosperous or in need.  The church had made a gift to him to support him in his ministry and he is gracious to thank them for their continuous support in the spread of the gospel.  He leaves them with these parting words - received and experience the amazing grace of Jesus.  It is more than just saying "Love, Paul" at the end of a letter.  It is a specific instruction of his hope for the people who love God. Grace is often described as the unmerited favor of God.  Most of us can even quote that definition when asked what the grace of God is.  I think it carries a deeper meaning, though.  To understand God's grace, we must first know that it is freely given, even when we don't know we need it.  Yes,

Chew on this

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.  (Phil. 4:8-9) Yesterday, we looked a little at the corrosive power of fretful thinking - how it wears us down and brings us into a place of paralysis in our faith.  Paul goes on in this same chapter to explain the things we are supposed to be thinking on.  In the realm of helping people make change a reality in their lives, there is a concept of the "put off - put on" dynamic.  You have to put off a bad or less desirable habit, and in turn, you put on a better one.  You can pretty well follow this concept throughout Scripture.  When God

Tormenting thoughts

6-7 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  (Phil. 4:6-7) Paul experienced some unique trials in his time in service to the Lord.  He was jailed, brought before magistrates to give an account for his actions, engaged with others in ministry that struggled with each other, and he faced physical ailment in his body...just to name a few.  In the concluding chapter of Philippians, Paul directs his readers (and that includes us) to live a life that is free of fretting and worrying.  Instead of worrying - we are to pray.  Okay, you are already saying, "Easier said than done."  I am right there with you!  I have often struggled with the worrying long before I remember to tu

Contagious love

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.  Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip.  They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.  It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say.  It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever!  They are contemptuous of this great message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God. (I Tim. 1:5-11) Paul earnestly desires that Timothy develop into a strong leader in the church, but he also knows the tendency that we have in the natural sense to want to “rise to the top” and become the ce

A word about words

12 And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don't add words like "I swear to God" to your own words. Don't show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can't be used against you.  (James 5:12) I can honestly say that I have read this verse many times and simply glossed over some of the meaning contained within.  In this chapter, James concludes that we stop complaining about the things we are going through.  He reminds us of the Prophets of old who put up with all kinds of abuse from the people they were called to serve.  Even Job is brought into the picture as one who "stayed the course" and how God "brought it all together for him in the end".  All this summed up with "God cares, really cares" about what happens in our life.  To that, he adds the verse we see above.   Since we know God cares, we are to let our very words reveal

No more sentimental dribble

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.  Learn to love appropriately.  You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.  Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.  (Philippians 1:9-11) Paul explains the purpose of his prayers – that our love may flourish – not just be evident, but be overwhelmingly, undeniably present in all our actions, speech, and emotion.  Flourishing love is contagious love.  Flourishing love is an active love – producing byproducts of its action in the lives of those it touches.  This type of love is not in word only, but is a daily lived, sacrificial, unconditional reaching out of our lives for the benefit and well-being of others.  Paul encourages the believer to not only

Right there beside you

6   "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because   God , your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you."  (Deut. 31:6) Moses is now 120 years old as he gives this message from the Lord to the nation of Israel.  He has a clear understanding that the nation stands at the very threshold of what God has planned for them - the Promised Land.  It is now very clear to him that he will not cross over Jordan into the Promised Land with them - Joshua will lead them into the promise.  Joshua's name even carries significant meaning as we look at him as the leader of the Israelites as they enter the land.  His name means, "Jehovah is salvation."  What better guide could they have? As Moses speaks with Israel, and to Joshua as the next leader of the nation's progress into Canaan, he speaks this message from God.  Be strong - take courage - don&#

What tools are in your box?

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God.  Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer.  I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.  I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present.  There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  (Philippians 1:3-6) It is an exciting thing to know that God has placed leaders, mentors, and caring relationships in our lives that are moved to prayerful consideration of us as we cross their minds.  God can do much with a soul that is yielded to his purposes – especially in the support of his children.  The “trigger” to pray is born out of the newness of heart that God places within us at the time of our salvation.  A trigger is something that initiates a process or response. 

God will outdo himself

6-7   God , your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts, freeing you to love  God , your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.  God , your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you.   8-9  And you will make a new start, listening obediently to  God , keeping all his commandments that I'm commanding you today.  God , your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes,  God  will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors.   10  But only if you listen obediently to  God , your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to  God , your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.   11-14  This commandment that I'm commanding you tod