Friday, January 29, 2016

THE END OF A PRAYER


At the end of our prayers, we say “Amen,” which means “so be it.”  It signifies the end of a prayer.  But the end of a prayer is always just the beginning.  It’s the beginning of a dream.  It’s the beginning of a miracle.  It’s the beginning of a promise.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

#3811

Thursday, January 28, 2016

FOLLOWING JESUS

Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print -- that’s a guarantee.


-- Kyle Idleman




#3810

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PROCLAIMING GOD'S GLORIOUS REIGN


God has a plan, and it involves the church, and it is not about church for church's sake. God's plan is about gathering as many people as possible into the Kingdom of God, and the church is God's goofy, ungainly, counterintuitive means to that end. The church, of all things, exists to point the way, to steer the outsider in, to save the lost, to proclaim God's glorious reign -- that more citizens may be naturalized.

-- James D. Berkley, First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington


#3809

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

INTERRUPTED BY GOD


We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.  God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.  We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps -- reading the Bible.  When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that not our way, but God's way must be done.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Life Together


#3808

Monday, January 25, 2016

INTENTIONALITY IN OUR DISCIPLESHIP


"We are not meant to remain as children ..." (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).

As I write this I am just coming off of a 3-day photography workshop that helped me understand the importance of intentionality in capturing an image. The instructors emphasized the need to be very purposeful about what is included and what is excluded in every capture. They helped us see differently, to see with intentionality.

They invited me to consider how my photography and my spirituality are related. In doing so I realized the importance of intentionality in my personal discipleship and in my ministry.

In order for us to grow spiritually we need to be intentional. God's goal for you and me is to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love, humble service, and witness.

Sadly, there are far too many Christians who grow older but never grow up. They're stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, drinking only milk and remaining in diapers. The reason is because they never were intentional about growing spiritually. Growth in our faith life is not automatic; it takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. That's intentionality.

Discipleship is the process of becoming like Christ -- being intentional about what is included and what is excluded in every aspect of our spiritual life.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson, www.davidt-wilkinson.pixels.com


#3807

Thursday, January 21, 2016

THE NEED FOR REST

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;…"  (Psalm 23:1-3a NKJV)

John Stroman [says]: "A life out-of-balance is like a tire out-of-balance on your car; both wear out quickly." Green pastures, still waters, and soul restoration go together. A life overbrimming and running over with plans, appointments, and anxieties is not a healthy life. Without rest, the heavy-laden lifestyle leads to mental and spiritual infertility...

Mozart was fond of saying, "I can tell a good musician by the way he plays the rests." Christians can't afford to ignore the "rests" and the "silences," for they are the very things that make us good musicians.

-- Leonard Sweet in A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe


#3806

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

HOPE AND FAITH

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoiced in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)


Without hope… there is no faith. Hope is faith waiting for tomorrow. Faith requires belief, and believing is what we do with our minds. Faith requires commitment, and committing is what we do with our wills. But faith must also have hope, and hoping is what we do in our hearts.


-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt




#3805

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

THE HEALER, NOT THE ENABLER


Many times I have treated God the Father like the prodigal did.  I have cried out for the quick fix.  I have demanded that God bail me out, fix me up, and move with power on my behalf.

"Lord, just solve this problem; I don't want to wait.  I need help now!"

In the parable, the father did not go drag the son out of the pigpen.  And God will not do that for us, either.  Because He loves us so deeply, He will give us the dignity of choice.  God's purpose in our lives is to heal us, not enable us.

-- Ted Roberts in Pure Desire


#3804

Monday, January 18, 2016

THE JOY OF THE PRODIGAL


I became aware that my whole life was consumed with doing rather than being. I knew what it meant to believe in Jesus, I didn't know what it meant to be with Jesus. I knew how to talk with Jesus, I didn't know how to sit still long enough to let Jesus talk to me. I found it easy to do the work of God, but I had no idea how to let God work in me. I understood soul-saving, but I was clueless about soul-making. I knew how to be busy, but I didn't know how to be still. I could talk about God, I just couldn't listen to God. I felt comfortable with God's people, but I felt uncomfortable alone with God. I was acquainted with the God "out-there," but I was a complete stranger to the God "in-here." I could meet God anywhere... except in my heart, in my soul, in my being.

It took only a few hours of silence before I began to hear my soul speaking. It only took being alone for a short period of time for me to discover that I wasn't alone. God had been trying to shout over the noisiness of my life, and I couldn't hear Him. But in the stillness and solitude, His whispers shouted from my soul, "Michael, I'm here. I've been calling you. I've been loving you, but you haven't been listening. Can you hear Me, Michael? I love you. I've always loved you. And I've been waiting for you to hear Me say that to you. But you've been so busy trying to prove to yourself that you're loved that you haven't heard Me."

I heard Him, and my slumbering soul was filled with the joy of the prodigal son. My soul was awakened by a loving Father who had been looking and waiting for me.

-- Mike Yaconelli, Youth Specialties


#3803

Friday, January 15, 2016

MAKING THE BROKEN BEAUTIFUL


The bad news is that I'm not okay and neither are you. We're both badly broken. Not "gently used," like the clothing requested by Goodwill. We're ripped, torn, and ragged. Citizens of the global junk heap.

The good news is that God makes the broken whole. He takes the overlooked, the undervalued, the left out, the written off, the damaged and destroyed, and then He does what only He can do.

God loves to make the broken beautiful.

In his book Lord, Break Me, William MacDonald points out that in the physical world, broken things lose their value. They are thrown away -- glassware, dishes, furniture. Flaws are fatal. But in the spiritual world, the reverse is true. Broken things are precious. Broken people reveal the beauty and power of God.

-- Kyle Idleman in The End of Me


#3802

Thursday, January 14, 2016

LIVING MORE OBEDIENTLY


There are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will not do is give Him exclusive right of way. ... They are not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone. Many a professing Christian is a stumbling-block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on weekdays God has little or no place in his thoughts. I want people to place their faith in Jesus and motivate them to live more obediently.

-- D.L. Moody


#3801

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WHOLEHEARTED PERSEVERANCE


What is so striking about a determined spirit?  Why do stories of courage and tenacity inspire us?  Why do we seek out and follow heroes who model wholehearted perseverance?  How does another person's determination motivate us toward excellence?

The Bible clearly shows that perseverance is an outward expression of good character or integrity.  Whether it's called courage, tenacity, resolve, determination, steadfastness or persistence -- God calls us to model a commitment to Him and His plans.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3-4).

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab


#3800

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

LET US WORSHIP AND ADORE HIM

The first element in worship is adoration. The Hebrews expressed this by their posture and not alone by their word. For they prostrated themselves before God. "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." (Psalm 95:6) They did not come with an easy familiarity into the presence of God, but were aware of His greatness and majesty, and came with a sense of privilege to His house.


-- H.H. Rowley in Worship in Ancient Israel




#3799

Monday, January 11, 2016

FOCUSED ON JESUS


"But when Peter noticed the strong wind,* he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' 31Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?'"  (Matthew 14:30-31)

God calls us to be so focused on Jesus that, even if we are in the midst of a crisis, even if there are very real dangers around, we will remain calm, knowing that our focus on God always keeps us from sinking.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 1999. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#3798

Friday, January 8, 2016

KING JESUS

"Pilate therefore said to Him, 'Are you a king then?' Jesus answered, 'You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'" (John 18:37)


We have two kinds of kings in this world. The first is the parliamentary monarch, such as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. As the object of great reverence, she is encircled by grandeur and gilded with tradition. In terms of real power, however, she has little; her opinions are heard with politeness and patience, but her office is primarily ceremonial. The British prime minister holds the reins of government.


The other kind of king is the absolute monarch whose office is both ceremonially impressive and politically powerful. He is head of state, he leads the nation, and his authority is supreme.


Many Christians treat Jesus like a parliamentary king. Once a week -- if it's convenient! -- they hold court with Him and make Him the object of great reverence. He is heard with politeness and patience, but in terms of daily life He has little influence.


Our Lord is an absolute monarch. He would rather have one person who is 100 percent committed to Him than a hundred people who are 80% committed. John Wesley said, “if I had 300 men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and determined to know nothing among men but Christ, and Him crucified, I would set the world on fire.”


“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).


Queen Victoria once asked General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, for the secret of his success. “I guess,” replied Booth, “the reason is because God has all there is of me.”


Does He have all there is of you?


-- Robert J. Morgan in He Shall Be Called




#3797

Thursday, January 7, 2016

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

"Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves." (James 1:22 NRSV)


A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half empty. An optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a Christ-follower sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who is thirsty.


-- Unknown




#3796

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

STARTING NOW


Though I cannot go back and make a brand new start my friend, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.

-- Dr. John Maxwell in Making the Most of Your Marriage Video Series


#3795

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

THE PEARL OF GREAT VALUE


"When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!"  (Matthew 13:46)

Jesus confronted people directly about the choice to become a follower. He came with the gracious announcement that it is now possible to live in the presence and under the reign of God -- that was His Good News. It is possible to live in such a way that when people see us, they will say to themselves, "Wow! I didn't know that a life could look like that." It indeed happens. It has happened for many who have followed Christ, and it really is possible for us. This is the "pearl of great value" of which Jesus spoke, for which any sensible person would sell everything. This is the race for which we were born. But we will not drift into such a life. We must decide.

-- John Ortberg in The Life You've Always Wanted


#3794

Monday, January 4, 2016

VALUES OUT OF SORTS

A prankster broke into a hardware store. He didn’t steal anything, but he did switch price tags throughout the store.  The store manager knew something was wrong when a customer stepped up to the cash-register with a claw hammer and it rang up for $199.95. The customer’s jaw dropped and asked: “What’s this hammer made of, Platinum?” An employee noticed that a big screen TV was priced at $14.95. Many items for sale had their values out of sorts.


We need to be careful that we don’t get values in our life switched and create a chaos of price tags for things we value most. The Apostle Paul made it clear what we should value most:  "The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash -- along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant -- dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him… I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally."  (Philippians 3:7-8,10 The Message)


--  Ray Ellis in a sermon entitled "I'd Rather Have Jesus"




#3793