It’s starting to get weird around here

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.
John 16:20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.16.20.NLT

Yes,  disciples of Christ are a “peculiar people” compared to the rest of the world. And disciple is not a great title that is beyond you to bear,  friend.

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“A disciple is a follower and student of a mentor, teacher, or other figure. ” – Wikipedia

Let’s not get religious and start putting other people on pedestals so that we can minimize our own value in Christ’s eyes and the purpose and calling that Christ has upon each of our individual lives. But let’s understand that each of us has great value and purpose in the eyes of the Lord. Each of us is meant to be a disciple and to make disciples. That is the call. Yes, even you.

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The world rejoices over those who seek titles and honor and wealth and pleasure and temptations and distractions and all sorts of wickedness.  Just turn on your television these days and you can see what the world glorifies and gives honor to. And when we were serving that master, we were like the world. But we have been set apart as a peculiar people for His use.

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And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:8-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1pe.2.8-9.NLT

And there are those who will make claim that it is narcissistic,  prideful above all things to take something in the Bible said to another group of people and apply it to ourselves – Yes, I know the venom of that liar’s voice. I know the voice of the one who is no shepherd at all and who does not feed the sheep but who instead feed upon them. Take this Word of God and apply it to your heart and to your lives,  children of God. Take hold of your inheritance like your brothers and sisters have done before you.

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So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts 10:34-35 ESV
http://bible.com/59/act.10.34-35.ESV

Do you see that He accepts all who fear Him and do what is right? That He shows no favoritism? That you are just as much a Child of God as any of those children mentioned in the Bible if you will just hear His call and choose Him over the world – not just a one time choice, but a change of direction to do what is right because you believe and respect, His divine instruction and guidance. You are to be set apart, chosen,  with a purpose and value to God.

And many will say,  but look what I have done. Look at my past.  God cannot use me. I’ve been an addict. I’ve been a drunk. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been a thief. I’ve been a liar. I’ve committed adultery. I’ve been divorced. I’ve murdered. I’ve hurt innocent children. I’ve hurt women. I’ve chased after the things of this world. I’ve participated in things that were satanic, the occult, witchcraft, religions and traditions of man. I too know that liar’s voice – but he has no authority here anymore.

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:19-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.10.19-20.ESV

Have you not yet realized that every person in the Bible has clear flaws except one. Only Christ fulfilled the law and His offering of grace is sufficient for you, dear friend.

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He is ready to do a work in your life. He is the stumbling block that leaves us no room for excuses,  because He says,  let me come live in you and I will do the work,  I will overcome your demons, I will change your life – all you must do is hear my call and choose to follow me.

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.12.9-10.ESV

The world sees a life surrendered to Christ, not keeping wealth for yourself but sharing freely with others who cannot pay you back as foolish, but to His children,  He says:

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord , and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/pro.19.17.ESV

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Luke 14:12-14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.14.12-14.ESV

The world says that giving a glass of water to the thirsty,  or food to the hungry,  or giving encouragement to those in prison is foolish and is enabling those “who aren’t contributing to society”, but to His children,  He says:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.25.34-40.ESV

Yes, we have laid hold of a treasure greater than what can be held or tasted or enjoyed upon this earth and have set our eyes upon a greater treasure indeed – Christ as our portion and our prize.

“The kingdom of heaven  is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and  buys that field.
Matthew 13:44 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.13.44.ESV

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
1 Corinthians 2:7-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.2.7-10.ESV

So we must ask ourselves, “Do I love Him? ”

And if our first answer is yes,  we must ask ourselves, “Does my life example demonstrate clearly to others that I love Him?”

And this is the answer that proves us to be a peculiar people,  set apart for His use. For many will be comfortable with the first question,  but will turn back from the narrow path of a living,  surrendered life to be satisfied practicing empty religious sacrifices in His name. But how many truly love the Lord and will follow Him along the narrow path?

Remember, it does not even take your own strength, He will guide you and teach you and establish your steps, but we each choose who we will follow and who we will serve.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
John 8:31-32, 34-36, 42-47 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.8.31-47.ESV

Spending Correctly?

How are we spending our resources each day?  Our time, our talents, our life – what are we using it to produce? Are we using it to gain more of the world for ourselves, or are we using it to bring honor and glory to the Lord, to allow Christ to be manifest through our lives living and serving others?

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.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Luke 9:24-25 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.9.24-25.NLT

Life Application Devotional
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“Nothing material can compensate for the loss of eternal life. Jesus’ disciples are not to use their lives on earth for their own pleasure-they should spend their lives serving God and people. If this present life is most important to you, you will do everything you can to protect it. You will not want to do anything that might endanger your safety, health, or comfort. By contrast, if following Jesus is most important, you may find yourself in unsafe, unhealthy, and uncomfortable places. You will risk death, but you will not fear it because you know that Jesus will raise you to eternal life.”

Continue reading “Spending Correctly?”

Assume the Position

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.5.NLT

The correct spiritual position is looking up,  reaching up,  towards God.

Whatever changes this position of honoring God is a distraction and a danger.

Continue reading “Assume the Position”

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.

Continue reading “Celebrate the brokenness”

He knows you, you are set apart

He who has ears,  hear what the Word of God says –

http://bible.com/116/jer.1.5.nlt
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

You are special and unique. Everything in creation has a purpose and is of use in fulfilling God’s purpose.

And you, friend are set apart and appointed.

Continue reading “He knows you, you are set apart”

Sign me up for the fiery trials. Really? Yes, really.

Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, Romans 8:18, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
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The daily fiery trials of the Lord burning the old away, and refining our lives with conviction and repentance is neither comfortable nor easy nor without leaving scars – but He proves Himself by never leaving us, and by healing the wounds where the disease was cut out.

Continue reading “Sign me up for the fiery trials. Really? Yes, really.”

Do we just “like” Christ? Or are we Christ-like?

1 Peter 2:24 AMP
He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.

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Jesus Christ is the Word of God,  come in the flesh, to live among men,  to demonstrate the Spirit of God’s Holy and divine instruction, as a contrast to the law of man that hard hearted people without understanding had twisted for their own selfish purposes. He demonstrated love, joy,  peace,  patience,  kindness,  goodness,  faithfulness, and long-suffering in the example of His life. He showed us the Truth of the written Word of God to not be a rule book to be followed out of obligation, but that we should love God and love others,  so that we might follow and obey His will in grattitude for the grace that has been extended to us. He did this to show us that He is the truth, the life,  and the way.

Continue reading “Do we just “like” Christ? Or are we Christ-like?”

Am I resisting?

1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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How much resistance am I showing today?

Am I examining those things in my life that need to change that aren’t glorifying God?

When I’m aware of those things that need to change (and when I’ve prayed for change in that area) –

Am I walking through that trial by resisting the temptation AND relying on my faith in Christ to carry me through – or am I expecting God to be a personal genie and make everything easy with no trials or challenges?

Resisting requires effort and faith on our part. This is the testing and proving of our faith. And it is through this testing and proving that we truly learn that God’s promises are true and He is faithful.

So daily, I look at myself and ask – am I trying to sail through on this promise of heaven, using Jesus as a get out of hell free card for myself, buy missing out on my purpose in this Kingdom work that is in front of me today?

How many opportunities will I miss to make corrections in my own life that might have an impact either positively or negatively on others based on my decisions, actions, and words today?

Every decision that I make carries consequences – it can either bring more of Christ’s light into this world today, or it can allow more darkness. My attitude, which is visible in my actions and words will have an impact on others today.

Every action that I take – even whether or not I hold the door for someone at a restaurant today will either be an opportunity for more love or a lost opportunity.

Every word that I speak can either draw someone closer, or push them further away. Words have power.

Truth spoken from a hard, hardened and judgemental stance is still truth, but it may push people away from light and truth if there is no VISIBLE love in the eyes of the person receiving.

Truth spoken as loving, kind, and gentle is easier to be received by those who don’t yet know whether or not they can trust you. If you don’t have someone’s trust, hitting them over the head with a sword isn’t the best way to show them that they are not your enemy.

Yes, truth sometimes must be spoken boldly and directly as a warning, but without any foundation for trust – will we look like an enemy or a friend?

Let’s remember, everyone struggles just as we do. Other men and women of flesh and blood need mercy and forgiveness and healing just like we do. Let’s not forget the sinners that we are if it was not for this free gift of grace and salvation. Is there anyone foolish enough to think they are worthy by their own works?

So, I hope that I can be prepared for those opportunities today – those opportunities to see what in me can be a better example of the Christ that I have in me. That I will not overlook the opportunities to show love and share love in my thoughts, attitude, actions, and words today.

And that somewhere, beneath all of these imperfections and shortcomings and failings of my walk in the flesh – a ray of light of Christ’s love might break through and shine or to touch another life today. Not so that anyone might see me doing good, but so they might experience for themselves this Christ that is mine.

I love you, friend.

Let’s be the Christ in us.

Let’s follow this Holy Spirit guidance.

Let’s resist the evil.

And let’s see the truth of Christ’s love, and of this free gift of grace touch lives today and until He returns.