Monday, March 28, 2011

Evaluating Your Success

I preached yesterday on Spiritual Success (find it here to listen) and highlighted the cost of Godless success and the demands of a life lived with Gods' blessing.

This morning I read this devotion by Blanchard and it also spoke to the issue of success. It is convicting and challenging to consider what Jesus' definition of success in His own life and ministry was.

What criteria do you use to evaluate yourself as a leader? John 17 records Jesus' prayer as He assessed His season of leadership. He evaluated His personal focus on His God-given mission, His responsibility to teach His disciples what they needed to know to be successful, having protected them while they were under His leadership, and having prepared them for the future. How would you assess your leadership using these same criteria? ~Blanchard

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

Monday, March 21, 2011

Discerning God's Will

I appreciated this post by Blanchard. This is the Scripture we've memorized this last series at The Hope and been blessed by in tremendous ways.

As leaders, we need a biblical perspective on opposition to keep us from becoming discouraged. Jesus endured opposition, so opposition does not necessarily mean that we are out of the will of God. Opposition can mean that we are right where God needs us to be. Where are you struggling with discouragement? What does God want to accomplish in and through you as you focus on Him and persevere?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:2-3

This is an area where I often struggle. So often I want to believe that the narrow road is the path of least resistance. The fact of the matter is that the enemy of God is far more devious and treacherous than imaginable and has the capacity to bring fear and frustration at any given moment.

That is why I am so thankful that I have so many dear brothers in Christ that I can pray with, consult with, and talk with about what God is doing. God has blessed me with men that hold me accountable, with elders, with Godly staff leadership, and a network of pastors that I love and that love me. Together we are able to encourage one another to focus on Christ and find His plan in the midst of life's chaos.

I don't know much, but I know that the Christian life is not an individual effort. God saved us to be in His community of faith. It is vital for all believers to have a church home, a small group of faithful friends that are following Christ, and the humility that comes with Spirit-filled living. Armed with these gifts a believer can navigate the enemy's field of mines and walk the narrow road God has planned for each of us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Inspiring Praise

Galatians 1:24 "And they praised God because of me."

The apostle Paul is a true inspiration. While he was alive, he caused others to praise God. Even now because God's Holy Spirit inspired him to write portions of His Word, Paul is causing me and many others to praise God.

Paul was not the most well loved guy during his life. There were some folks in Corinth and all over the Mediterranean that did not like the man. Demons hated him and even feared him. Remember what those demons said to the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:15 "One day the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?'”

Paul knew who he was in Christ and his passion for the Gospel and his faith in the Lord caused others to praise God. He was not always thought well of or appreciated. He did not live a perfect life or always do the right thing. He was just a man. But his life was lived for the glory of God and God worked in and through Paul.

Question to ask: Does my life defined by my faith in Jesus cause others to praise God?

Monday, March 14, 2011


John 4:13–14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The lady from Samaria that Jesus was talking to that day was taking care of her normal chores. One of the basic necessities of life is water. There are people all over the world today that will spend a large portion of their waking hours seeking out, obtaining, and consuming water in order to live.

Jesus makes a startling claim here, but He meant it in a far more practical and permanent way than this woman could understand. He offered living water that would satisfy her soul. She thought He was offering her the ability to be free of one less chore.

Most people want less problems and more fun. God does not offer less of anything, but more of what we truly need. He offers hope, joy, and peace in the face of problems and life's pain. He offers a life of significance that when lived out in a community of believers is truly fun.

In the Gospel God gives us the answer to our eternal need. It does not make all of our day to day problems go away - that won't happen on this side of death. We will still have chores, tough decisions, pain, sickness, and chores. What God gives is better. He gives Himself and with God in us we can get through anything. It is a well of living water living in us giving us strength and provisions that will never run dry.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How'd He Do That?

Luke 22:1–6 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

How God brought redemption to the world amazes me. For thousands of years the world had been living in the hope of God's Promise. Now that Promise, Jesus Christ the Messiah of God, had come to take away the sins of the world.

It was not chance. It was not coincidence. It was a sovereign act of God in His providence that made this moment happen.

The Passover was the celebration the reminded the Israelites how God had saved them from Egypt. A lamb was slain and the blood covered the people from death. It was God's plan to make Jesus the lamb the takes away the sin of the world.

Then when I think about the religious system that would allow Jesus to be sentenced to death and the Roman rule that would make the crucifiction possible, I am overwhelmed. God planned this.

The ultimate point of amazement is Judas. This man was chosen for a purpose. He saw the miracles and the love and the living Truth and yet, Judas chose to betray God in flesh to His penal substitutionary death. Judas made the choice, but it was God's plan from the beginning. How did God do that?

He is sovereign. He is amazing. He loves us so much.

We can know if God can do this, He has a plan for everything we are facing and will ever face. He is the sovereign God of heaven and earth that rules and accomplishes His will.

Psalm 135:5–6 "I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. 6 The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths."

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Are You Thinking?

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8
"The things you allow your mind to dwell on will be revealed by the way you live. If you focus on negative things, you will inevitably be a negative person. If you allow unholy thoughts to fill your mind, ungodliness will become common in your life. If you fill your mind with thoughts of Christ, you will become Christlike.What you fill your mind with is a matter of choice. Choose to concentrate on the magnificent truths of God, and they will create in you a noble character that brings glory to God." ~Blackaby

This is so simple and true and yet, the temptation to do contrary to the Word on this is so powerful and real. Our world, especially it seems in North America, presses hard upon us to think of ourselves: what we want, need, feel, or desire. As we focus on self, we imagine what will satisfy the flesh rather than serve the Spirit.

I have come to believe that the best defense against this enemy is a good offense. Spiritual Disciplines, as they are called, provide a strong attack on the sin that so easily entangles our minds.

The three most common and easier disciplines:

1. Prayer: talking with God and engaging in a constant sense of His presence is a wonderful way to live and enables us to focus on what is good and noble.
2. Bible Study: getting into the Word and then memorizing or meditating on the Scripture gets the Word in us. Once the Living Word is in our hearts and minds, it works to silence the power of sin and strengthen the work of the Spirit.
3. Fasting: cutting off the body from things is a way to train it and strengthen the influence of the Spirit. Disallowing food or technology or something that we normally desire puts the body in it's place. Each time the urge comes to eat or watch something or text or whatever, it reminds us to focus on Christ. This allows us to train our body to be a servant for God's glory and not a dictator.

Father, thank you for your presence and power. Be the inspiration, subject, and outcome of my thoughts today. Forgive me for my sloppy sinful thinking. Enable me to guard my heart by protecting my mind and filling it with thoughts of You. You alone are holy, wonderful, peace-giving, unconditionally loving, gracious and worthy of my praise in word, thought and deed.