It isn’t easy, but it is so good.

The great are humble.

So what is humility?

http://bible.com/116/mat.18.1-4.nlt
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Continue reading “It isn’t easy, but it is so good.”

Don’t let the food get in the way

My wife and I had a date night last night. It’s the first time that we have been to our favorite restaurant in almost 11 months. Needless to say, we were both excited. And we talked afterwards about how much more we appreciate it now that we aren’t going all the time.

But last night, I realized that I had missed out on a great opportunity for it to be more than a trip to a restaurant together. It was partially a missed opportunity for me to really focus on being kind and honoring to my wife. I didn’t dishonor her,  and we had a great time together, but our focus was on the meal. To be honest with you, the “time together” was probably secondary to the “great food” for both of us.

How often does that happen and we don’t even realize it until something wakes us up?  How often do we let the most important things fall out of their proper order and priority in our lives?

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Celebrate the brokenness

http://bible.com/116/1pe.2.19-20.nlt
For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

About a year ago, I prayed that the Lord would give me more patience and that we would learn how to better manage His blessings wisely. Yes, I realize that those of you who are spiritually mature are probably laughing right now – and I realize that those selling prosperity gospel would tell me to not give up because my breakthrough is just up ahead.

Our life seems to be a revolving door of things breaking, of unexpected expenses,  and of circumstances that push us to our limits. But we are also giving more than we’ve ever been able to give, serving more than we’ve ever been able to serve, paying off debts,  and learning to praise the Lord when something breaks because He has something better in mind.

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Remaining Underground

Before fruit is ever visible, a seed had to be planted, and it needs nutrients, water and the Son to grow. And the roots bust forth from the seed,  and they spend their life tearing through the soil,  breaking it apart and devouring the decomposing soil. The death and decay in the soil mixes with water to feed the plant through its roots below the surface,  so that the tree can grow above the surface.

And isn’t it the same with spiritual growth? We start out as decaying flesh. Physical bodies of chemical elements – dust that will return to dust. And a seed is planted – of gospel truth, of awareness of God, of realization of something greater than self. And we either desire to remain dead and decaying and playing in the mud with the worms, or we draw near to the life giving water and light of the Lord.

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There is no substitute for real Love

http://bible.com/116/1co.13.4-7.nlt
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Observation
Love is about what we DO unto others.

Most of what we hear the world talking about when they say love is actually a poor substitute that focuses on our own “feelings”. Sex is used to sell lust falsely as “love”. Community awards and titles are handed out to tout benevolence and charity which even fall short of godly “love”. Our hearts can trick us into thinking we are “a good person” when we are really still doing good for some type of reward or recognition in return. 

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God sized steps

I had a humbling phone call yesterday. A lady wanted to know how I made room for a full time IT job, leading and teaching my family, and the things that I do for ministry. She was praising me and asking for tips. I was humbled because I truly cannot take credit,  I’m just along for the ride. I explained that we took things small and one thing at a time,  but with a dedication and a focus to not just learn it,  but to see opportunities to put it into action, and to look for the Lord to be alive and active and empowering in our lives.

We started out with a simple time of praise and devotional as a family first thing in the morning. And we do it not just to learn in our heads, but to get on the same page as a family, and to encourage each other, and to hold each other accountable each day, and to see the lessons play out in our lives,  as Christ empowers our lives and works through us as the body of Christ. We are trusting Him to bear fruit in our lives and to pour out onto others.

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Live!

http://bible.com/116/mat.16.25.nlt
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

He tells us again and again –

Let go of your life

Lay down your life for others

Follow me

Don’t turn back

Don’t take your hands from the plow

– and He does this to teach us that even though this Grace is a free gift, it isn’t cheap.

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Is my name written, erased, known, called, chosen?

Erased:
http://bible.com/116/psa.69.28.nlt
Erase their names from the Book of Life; don’t let them be counted among the righteous.

Removed:
http://bible.com/116/rev.22.19.nlt
And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.

No covering:
http://bible.com/116/heb.10.26-31.nlt Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Faithful:
http://bible.com/116/heb.10.37-39.nlt
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Obedient Child of God or lying child of the devil:
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.44-51.nlt
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.  Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

Obedience demonstrates Love/Life, while disobedience proves the absence of life
http://bible.com/116/1jn.2.4-6.nlt
If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Love others,  Honoring their value to God
http://bible.com/116/1jn.4.20-21.nlt
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

Are you uncommon, precious?
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.13-14.nlt “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Agape Love is the unveiled fulfillment of what is taught in the Law
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.12.nlt
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

It isn’t about Religion
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.21-23.nlt “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

It’s about Faith
http://bible.com/116/rom.4.3.nlt
For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

It’s about His forgiveness
http://bible.com/116/rom.4.5-8.nlt
But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the lord has cleared of sin.”

It is a free gift
http://bible.com/116/rom.4.13-16.nlt
Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

Belief,  Faith
http://bible.com/116/rom.4.20-22.nlt Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.

Faith tested builds character and endurance
http://bible.com/116/rom.5.1-5.nlt Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

He chooses you
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.16.nlt You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

He draws you to Christ to be raised up
http://bible.com/116/jhn.6.44-45.nlt
For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.  As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

He will not leave you
http://bible.com/116/isa.41.9-10.nlt
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Know who you are, Child of God, by who you love –

http://bible.com/116/mat.22.14.nlt
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”

http://bible.com/116/rom.8.28-30.nlt And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Teaching with Compassion

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http://bible.com/116/mat.14.14.nlt Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Compassion + Truth = Understanding + Application

Jesus performed miracles to confirm his identity and authority. Sometimes these miracles were a clear part of His teaching the people a spoken lesson,  and sometimes it was done out of compassion, demonstrating His love in action.

There is a time for our focus to be on sharing a lesson, and a time to focus on compassion. But there should always a little of both, as we see in Christ’s example He taught love by demonstrating it,  not just by talking about it. 

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I talk too much to say so little

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I talk too much to say so little.

http://bible.com/59/pro.10.19-20.ESV
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.  The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

Volume does not equal quality or wisdom.

http://bible.com/59/pro.17.28.ESV
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Continue reading “I talk too much to say so little”