Do and say everything on purpose

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-16‬ ‭ESV

One of my kids favorite responses to the question of why they did or said something is, “I don’t know.” Sometimes I think they may just not want to tell the reason, but most of the time I really don’t think they know. Unfortunately I think that same problem plagues people well into adulthood. And that, in itself, is the source of so many of our conflicts.

We have to live on purpose. As believers in Jesus, we are beckoned to the commission of living life intentionally. We are supposed to let our actions be a light before all those looking on so they will glorify God (Matthew 5). We are expected to only say things that build others up and benefit them (Ephesians 4). The goal of our lives is to be blameless and not complain (Philippians 2). The great commission calls us to tell the world about Jesus (Matthew 28). All of the commandments of God are wrapped up in loving Him and loving others (Mark 12).

If these aren’t the reasons we do and say things, then what are as doing? Those careless words and those pointless actions just lead to strife and wasted days. Life is to short and to precious to not live intentionally. Lets allow our words and actions to be filled with Christ. Then when we are asked to reason behind our words and deeds, we can point to Jesus.

Never Lose Your Wonder

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…Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.

Job 37:14 NKJV

When is the last time you paused to think about all the amazing things God has done in your life? I mean, really contemplate them. Not the casual “thanks God” when something comes to mind. I believe what this verse is getting at is to actually stop, put everything else on hold, and focus entirely on the goodness of God. Set aside the worries, the to-do lists, the concerns of the hour, and meditate on the wondrous works of God. Imagine the perspective change that could give us. You may or may not find yourself in the place of Job, but circumstances don’t dictate our ability to marvel at all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do. This is more than stopping to smell the roses. This is allowing God’s track record to remake our mindset. Sure, responsibilities grow as we move through life, but we get weighed down because we lose sight of how much bigger God is. We stop dreaming. We stop imagining. We lose our wonder. May it never be so in me, and you dear reader.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

You can’t earn it

Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness. That can be an easy thing to forget. I think it’s humans natural tendency to try and earn our way into God’s good graces. Just look at every religion that has ever existed, with the exception of one. The Christian faith is unique in many ways. But most importantly, there is the aspect of grace. At the center of it all is a loving God who desires the redemption of a fallen humanity and goes to the greatest lengths to make that possible. In every other religion exists the constant struggle to be “good enough” or to “earn” our way. The truth is, none of us are good enough and never will be. God is holy, which means set apart. There is no one like Him. The only way any of us can ever hope to be in His presence is if He, not us, make that possible.

The freedom we get in Jesus is astounding. Not only do we get washed clean of our past sins, we also get released from the power of sin. And not just those hideous and dark sins, but also the ugly sin of self righteousness. You can’t earn God’s love. He already loves you. Just look at the cross. If that’s not proof, then nothing is. Amazing grace is a gift, not a loan. Just soak in His love and let that soften your heart and mold you and before you know it, that same love will be pouring out of you.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peace is Yours

It’s easy to be hasty. Especially in today’s climate. We see uneasiness, suspicion and tensions on the rise, not only here in the United States, but around the world. Inflation of prices and shortages of many day-to-day items can be a huge area of concern and we have all felt the effects. Godlessness is rampant and society continues to try and skew the lines between good and bad, and right and wrong. It is in this climate that God speaks. It can be in our weakest and most helpless times that the Lord shows his strength the most. And to all my brothers and sisters out there, I say to take heart. Don’t be quick to be responsive. Don’t act out of fear or worry. Look to the Lord, whose presence is very real and who has not left you even for a moment. Have courage and remember that for those who are of God the happiest of endings await.

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭27:13-14‬ ‭ESV

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters.

Are we listening?

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27 NIV

I don’t know about you, but I have to be very intentional when it comes to listening. I am not talking about hearing. Listening is much different. It involves a deeper comprehension of what is being said. Listening has an element of learning to it. Simple acknowledgment that something was said does not correlate with taking it to heart. It’s vital to any relationship that both parties develop their skills in the art of listening. That is a key component to any communication. Therefore, it can be said that those of us in relationship with Jesus must also develop our ability to listen to Him, not to merely hear Him.

How often have you read the Bible and the next day or the next week, you couldn’t recall the specifics of what you had read nor the application to your life? I’ve done it. Many times. It feels like a wasted opportunity. I could have grown and matured spiritually. It could have had a tremendous impact of my perceptions for that day or week or even life, and I’ll never know because I let the lessons vanish from my mind. It’s fair and right to say that every time we read the Bible, Jesus speaks. So, isn’t it also fair and right to say that those of us who value a good healthy relationship with Jesus should also be listening?

Those who listen to their spouse, their parents, their kids, or their friends, have an intimate understanding of who they are and what makes them come alive. They know how to interact at a level that breathes life into the relationship. If we are truly listening to Jesus, then we are following Him. We will do the things that please Him. We will love and pursue Him. We will know the value and purpose He has placed on our lives. But we have to really listen. Meditation is not some odd eastern religious practice. It’s Biblical. God has actually asked it of us. Meditation simply means to think deeply or carefully about something. What better to meditate on then what Jesus is speaking into our lives? But are we listening?

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters

Receiving Rest from Jesus

Have you ever had those moments when God reached out to you at the perfect time? When He directly spoke to you? Well that happened to me earlier this week.

Driving to work a while back I realized I was a bit overwhelmed. My heart was not at rest. I was tired and my mind my was going in twenty different directions. Then I heard the words, “come to me.” By hear, I don’t mean audibly, but the overwhelming sensation and cognitive awareness that comes from the Holy Spirit moving in the heart and mind of a believer. Jesus was calling me into His presence. And like He usually does, those words were confirmed when I got to work and my desktop devotional was on this verse:

“ Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Isn’t it incredible how He orchestrates things in our lives ahead of time in order to speak to us in our time of need? He was reminding me of the words He spoke so many years ago, recorded here in Matthew chapter 11, and that He’s spoken so many times before to me. I would say that I was feeling very burdened, both physically and mentally. And Jesus found me in that moment (not as though He ever lost me). And His gentle voice whispered that same invitation that He’s extended to me many times before. But that invitation doesn’t just stop with sitting at His feet. Deep breathes and a refocusing are great, but are temporary unless there are lessons being learned.

Rest at His feet:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””

Luke 10:38-42 NIV

Jesus said to learn from Him. The purpose of coming to Jesus, is to learn from and take on the character of Jesus. The purpose of faith is to abide in Him and to be transformed by Him. Coming to Jesus can’t be a pitstop on the journey of life. Coming to Jesus is the destination of our life. He is, after all, the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, and the author of our salvation. Each time I come to Him I should be changed. If I’m not growing during my times of rest, then I will eventually fall to the same traps, the same weaknesses, the same burdens, as I did before. It makes no sense to sit like Mary if we are going to get right back up and be a Martha.

Rest in His leading:

“Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

Exodus 33:12-15 NIV

One critical key to finding rest is remaining in the presence of God. His presence isn’t stationary. That’s good news. We don’t have to always be sitting to be at rest. Life doesn’t stand still, but our hearts and minds can be still none the less. After coming to Jesus we need to be lead by Him. We don’t simply go our own way. The mention of His yoke is an image of being steered by Him. As Psalm 23 says, “ “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (23:1-3) He doesn’t always lead us to the easy places but He does refresh us in all the places He leads us.

Rest in His purposes:

Whether you’re a mom raising kiddos at home, homeschooling, working one or multiple jobs, trying to make your way through new and difficult circumstances, or moving into a new and uncertain phase of life, you can have rest. Not outside of the hectic day to day, but in the middle of it. When we come to Him, have those moments at His feet, when we’re lead by Him, and when the purposes of our life is centered on God’s mission.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalms 127:1-2 NIV

When the busyness of our lives are for self centered reasons, they are feudal. But when they serve His purposes, then they have meaning. In our moments of reflection its good to ask, If God isn’t in it, what’s the point? Why am I wearing myself out? Is it to provide for my family or to buy the nice things? Is my career about making my name great or having an impact to make His name known? For what or for whom are we toiling? Is there eternal value in what I am filling my days with? If your heart isn’t at rest, then something needs to change. Some things may need to cease. Some may simply need to be rethought.

If you’re not at rest today loved ones, the first step is to come to Jesus. Come sit at His feet. Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Trumpets of Victory

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“And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭27:13‬ ‭ESV

There is a day coming, where all of God’s children will be gathered together. Even those who have been lost. Rosh Hashanah is a beautiful promise, for all believers, that victory is at hand. The Messiah will return, to gather His sheep, and destroy the ravaging wolf.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:51-52‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Not only will we be gathered, we will be made like Him. The greatest of all victories achieved. Death is overcome. Evil will experience the full weight of justice. And our corrupted physical natures will be replaced with glorious ones. Hallelujah!

In the spring, Passover marks the moment Jesus paid our ransom. The feast of Trumpets marks the day He returns for that which He so preciously bought. Come Lord Jesus! Your people are await your glorious return. We long for our eternal home. Until then, we will praise you. May the hearts of your people sing a joyful song.

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters. He will return!

Where is He leading me?

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.

Psalm 43:3 HCSB

As believers in Jesus, we pray a lot for wisdom and for guidance. Hopefully we realize that it will always lead us towards God. The direction He wants us to take in life is the place of light and truth that He possess. It’s holy ground. God is both with us and waiting in the place He wants us to go. In whatever guidance we’re looking for we must always seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Many of our questions can be answered by starting there. Seeking a new career? Wanting to know whether or not to ask someone to marry you? Contemplating moving and starting over somewhere new? Should I buy that? Should I give to that? Ask yourself, which of your options will lead you in the pursuit of righteousness? And, could lead others towards righteousness. God’s light will always guide you to the greatest service, to the deepest love, to the purest living, and to highest character.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV

Short-changing God

theversesproject.com

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Psalm 96:8 KJV

This seems like a tall order. First, how do we give glory unto the Lord? Second, how could we possibly hope to give Him all He deserves? Isn’t this the purpose of our very existence? We are made in His image, to bear His name, and to honor Him by the manner of our lives. But how does that look? I think the Bible answers that for us.

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Whatever we do, one thing that is paramount is worship. Our praise for God should intertwine the activities we do throughout the day, from the redundant, to the exciting and new. His children should elevate God above and beyond in within all things they do. Praise should be a constant, both privately and publicly. We cannot hesitate to shout His goodness from the mountaintops and tell the world of the great things He’s done for us for others.

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.

Matthew 5:16 ESV

God deserves our service. He deserves our energies and our resources. Not only should our lips shout the glories of God, but our actions should display them. In our love, we show God. In our character, we show God. In the way we lay our lives down for our neighbors, we show God.

Truth is, God deserves far more than we could ever give. But that should never stop us from devoting each waking moment to sing His praises and to put His love on display. Have a blessed day brothers and sister!

Never Underestimate Mercy

sermoncentral.com

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7 ESV

Recent events in my family’s experiences have reminded me of the immense value of mercy. No one is perfect, therefore everyone messes up. We are all in need of mercy, from one another, and from God. There is no one who doesn’t need forgiveness. When people we know are going astray, don’t abandoned them. For when they return, they will need your open arms to further their healing and recovery.

God makes no room for an unforgiving spirit. That only comes from arrogance and a distorted view of our own “goodness”. It’s easy to look at the choices of others and drift towards judgement. But what God commissions us to is an attitude of compassion and prayer. We need to stop wasting our time with anger and frustration and spend more time pouring out our hearts in prayer for those who are not living the way they should. I have witnessed, time and time again, people’s lives being redirected through God’s goodness. No one is too far gone. Let’s all stop the gossip chains. Let’s stop wasting our voices bashing others. From our lips should come love and truth seasoned with grace and hope. Condemning others never lead to their salvation.

There will come a time when you and me will need mercy to be extended to us. I need it fairly often. I needed it in a big way just a few months ago. I am extremely grateful for those who have shown me grace, and that gratitude should punctuate and attitude of mercy in my own heart. A good thing to remember is that no one could ever hurt us as much as we’ve hurt God. Our sin rendered us underserving. It’s Christ’s sacrifice that opens the door for each of us to find mercy. Our sin gave Him lashes and drove the nails through His wrists and feet every bit as much as those who have hurt us. We too have broken the heart of God, and have received His mercy. If that doesn’t propel us to show grace then nothing will, and we will then be the most pitiable of all.