Aside

Scripture – Galatians 3:29

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Observation

I do. I really do belong to Jesus. He bought me outright and yet he gives me freedom. The promise of God to Abraham belongs to me. Wow. Abraham’s relationship with God was through friendship and promise. That is now mine. I have friendship and promise with God who became my Father through my willing adoption through my faith in Jesus.

Application

How can I help myself to live this way everyday?

I need to remind myself daily of a few truths. 

  • I belong to Christ. He cares more for me, my family, my life, my career, my ministry, my well-being and my heart so much more than I or anyone else could ever care. I am his.
  • God’s promise to Abraham belongs to me as a child of God and a co-heir of the promise with Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Father, thank you. Thank you for the reminder of my identity as an adopted son of God. Thank you for the promises. Do something incredible today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Becoming a disciple: In Christ alone

Scripture – Hebrews 10:39

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Observation

There is nothing else to do, but to persevere. This is a promise, an exhortation, a command. We are not to shrink back and be destroyed, but we believe and are saved.

This means we need to keep our eyes on the prize, which is Jesus. We cannot and must not start off bold and courageous just to wither under the pressure as time goes on. We must strive to keep focused on the one who holds all things together. Too many glances behind us breeds doubt which breeds slowing down which breeds stopping which breeds death. We have the strength in Jesus to keep going and simply believe. The trouble is, the longer we live the more time the enemy has to figure out our weaknesses and potential ways he can distract us. So the longer we live the more we need to surrender all our weaknesses to Jesus, to be hidden from the enemy.

Application

The older I get the more weaknesses and flaws I see in myself. The more I realize my need for Jesus. I need to lay every area of my life before him, which helps me keep my eyes on him, so that I might not shrink back and be destroyed.

Prayer

Jesus, I give you all my weaknesses today. I give you my youth, my inexperience, my immaturity, my lack of wisdom, my pride, my arrogance, my lack of knowledge and understanding, my past sins and the sins of my father and grandfathers, my fears and my insecurities. I give them to you to be hidden in you, redeemed by you, used by you for your kingdom and your glory’s sake. I am nothing. You are all. In you I am held together. Thank you for keeping my heart and my eyes set on the prize, which is you alone. Thank you that Jesus plus everything = Jesus alone. I believe and I am saved by your great mercy and grace. Let that truth be never far from my thoughts. In Christ alone I stand. In Christ alone.

Becoming a disciple: knowing the one who calls you

Scripture – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Observation

God is the one who has called me. He is the one who is constantly calling me. He is the one who is faithful, even when I am unfaithful. He is the one who will do it.

Application

I need to remember this. Every day my Father calls me to himself and to the work of his Kingdom. I need to remember that even in my weakness and my unfaithfulness, he is the one who will be faithful to complete the works he includes me in. Nothing rides on me. Everything rides on him. I am blessed and thankful that he calls me to his side to do good works and to love people and I am blessed and thankful that he is the one who can be relied upon and that it’s not all on me. There is such freedom and grace in trusting the one who is faithful.

Prayer

Father, you know me better than I know myself. Thank you for being faithful and trustworthy. Sorry for when I am neither. I know that your will will be done. I am grateful that you include me in it. Make today a day you get the glory you deserve. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Becoming a disciple: forgiving in the valley

Scripture – Job 42:10

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Observation

Job’s final challenge. After tons of chapters of his friends chastising him, judging him, putting him down and thinking they were better than he, they now get told by God to take bulls and rams to Job and have him pray for them – something they could never imagine.

But this isn’t the most interesting thing that’s about to happen. There has been no talk from God about restoring anything (people or stuff) to Job. Job is faced with the choice of praying for his friends, forgiving them truly in his heart, with the expectation that he would still be left with his kids killed, his animals stolen, his land destroyed.

God said that he was angry with his friends and that it was in his hands to save them from what they deserved – forgiving and praying for their salvation when he had literally nothing to his name and no future hope.

So what did he do? Job did pray for them and forgive them.

Then what happened? God blessed Job and not only restored to him everything he had lost but a double measure. This only happened after he prayed for his friends.

Application

When I feel at my worst, at my most vulnerable, at my poorest and weakest, I don’t feel like forgiving and praying for those who caused me grief. Yet, the lesson from this interaction between Job and God, is profound. To forgive and pray for those who have been against me, not once I have recovered, but at the depth of my suffering, is key – and just watch if God doesn’t honor that in ways beyond understanding.

Prayer

Father, you are so good. Thank you for Job and his story. Thank you for showing him how to live in complete humility. Thank you for redeeming him and thank you for redeeming me. I pray I will be ready to forgive and pray for those who cause me grief while I am still at my worst and not waiting until I am at my best. You really do look at the heart. I pray you would find in me a pure heart. Grateful for your word and your encouragement today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Becoming a disciple: starting blind

Scripture – Mark 10:50

Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

Observation

Blind guy. Bartimaeus. Begging outside the gates of Jericho. All he had to his name was the clothes he was wearing and a cloak which was his bed, his pillow, his comforter, his seat. It was all he had.

He demonstrated his faith by throwing aside the only thing that he had, the only thing that gave him any sense of comfort. His identity as a blind guy was wrapped up in his cloak. Throwing it aside meant there was no going back. This was it. He’d never be able to find it again anyway.

Application

What am I still holding onto that is my cloak, my safety blanket, that prevents me from fully flinging myself at Jesus’ feet? Have a fully recognized how truly blind I was? Can I truly see with fresh eyes or am I simply ambling along with the crowd, following the voice of Jesus, carrying my cloak.

I want see fully. I want eyes to see not just ears to hear.

Prayer

Father, I recognize how blind and pathetic I am. Show me any blankets I’m still holding onto and give me courage and faith to throw them aside never to be found again. I fling myself at your feet today, crying out for mercy and for my eyes to be opened. I want to truly see Jesus so I can not just follow at a distance but be right by his side. Thank you for Bartimaeus son of Timaeus and his story. Love you God, amen.

Becoming a disciple: Led by the Spirit

Scripture – Acts 18:20

When they asked him to remain for a longer time, he would not consent

Observation

Paul was truly led by the Spirit. He stayed for 18 months in Corinth and virtually no time in Ephesus. I think time and personal investment are areas we have put our western boxes around. What would it be like to be as free as Paul to be truly led by the Spirit. I guess that’s part of being an apostle. But then again, as the Church was being established, people moved around a lot and fledgling churches were left under the leadership of new Christians. People were sent for and they came. People were asked to stay and they did what God spoke to them to do.
How do we remain in a place of being led by the Spirit within the confines of our societal structure?

Application

Live light. With hands and ears open. Be wise but have faith.

Prayer

Father, please lead me by your Spirit. Could the churches we plant now in 21st century america be done with the same leading as did Paul and his team 2000 years ago? I never want my “world” to hinder me from being led by your Spirit. Two years ago today you showed me a burning bush that was the confirmation for my family and I to move to Seattle from Colorado. Thank you for leading me by your Spirit then and I pray you would continue to tune my ear to your leading. There is no other way. Thank you for today, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Becoming a disciple: loving an enemy

Scripture – Acts 8:1, 3 (amp)

And Saul was [not only] consenting to [Stephen’s] death [he was pleased and entirely approving]. On that day a great and severe persecution broke out against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (special messengers).

But Saul shamefully treated and laid waste the church continuously [with cruelty and violence]; and entering house after house, he dragged out men and women and committed them to prison.

Observation

Saul was a Christian-hating psychopath. His mentor was Gamaliel, one of the top pharisee dudes, and he was the young up-and-coming star of the Sanhedrin. He knew all the top brass and had his sights on becoming the youngest-ever chief priest one of these days. It’s difficult to overstate how voraciously opposed he was to the Way.

Application

It’s easy to love people as they are beginning to turn the corner and have an encounter with God. It’s not easy to love the people who just straight up hate you, hate your church and your Jesus.

I wonder who the people are that are Saul’s to our church and our faith. Who are the people we just steer clear of? Do I believe it’s possible one or more of them could experience such a 180 turnaround?

I want to find someone who just hates us. And pray. And love. And see what happens.

Prayer

Father, please give me supernatural insight into who could be a Saul in our community, who would do anything to see our faith and our church fail. Show me and our church how to pray and how to love so that we are there when it happens. Amen.