How do you start your day? Do you awaken to the blast of an alarm that catapults you from your subconscious state? Do you consider what must be done that day and simply do what you can to get yourself moving on the right path? Do you start your day alone in your head? Or on your phone?
Or, do you start your day seeking and acknowledging God’s presence? This may sound like a religious/Sunday school question that has an obvious “right answer,” but press past the conceptual and consider your actual, consistent experience.
When describing His relationship with His Father Jesus said,
“The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
Jesus did not live His life alone; He lived it with the Father. He maintained this connected relationship by doing the things He sensed the Father wanted.
Jesus went on to say,
“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and...
Most of us who come to Christ do so when we are facing difficult times. We come when we are in great need. We are hoping for change in our circumstances and/or within ourselves.
Why don’t we often come to God when we are in a “good space”? It’s probably because, when things are going well, we tend to be content in our self-reliance. We call out to God when relying on ourselves isn’t working anymore.
Life can still be tough – even when do we rely on God. The apostle Paul encourages those who are living in Christ, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Why would people who have learned to rely on Christ become weary in doing the right things? It’s because we all are prone to lose focus.
Most of us live in deep fear of being found out. We are scared of people knowing us deeply; our weaknesses, inadequacies, fears, doubts and sin. We are deeply ashamed of our condition. Yet, we all have darknesses – we are all very flawed, and our responses to our conditions are
peppered with brokenness.
Coming clean with who we are and what we have done can feel terrifying … apart from the grace of God. Letting others, God or even ourselves know just how corrupted parts of our souls are raises fears. We are afraid of being judged, condemned – or worst of all – rejected. So, we are tempted to deny or hide our “stuff.” We try to tell ourselves and/or others that we either didn’t do what we did, or that it wasn’t really sin when we did it. We often coat our motives with feigned good intentions. We perform these mental gymnastics because it’s too scary to admit the truth about ourselves … apart from the grace of God.
One of the great challenges of our day is that hardly any of us are very good at stilling ourselves before the Lord. The good news is that we can all learn to do so.
There is, however, an additional problem that might surface as we learn to be still. As we behold God’s goodness, experience measures of healing in our souls, and get in touch with our true selves, we have the potential to get stuck.
Sometimes, we can so enjoy our time with the Lord that we become passive in our faith.
When we learn to receive, rather than strive, we might (unintentionally) forget the value of purposefully pursuing the Lord, and the importance of obeying His direction.
No one means to become too passive or disobedient, but it can happen if we over-prize our experience of Him, rather than our growing relationship with Him.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The verse goes on to say, “I wil be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in...
Jesus said that in the last days the love of most people will grow cold. Is your love cold or hot
with the presence and purposes of God? Real love is focused and intentional. It is focused on
another or others. It is intentional in that it is expressed – it is an active verb. You can tell if you
are expressing this kind of love, they will experience it and others will see it. Real love is
demonstrative. Its deepest source and inspiration comes from God.
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Love is the expression of His essence – and it is His motivation for
creation. His creation expresses His love and shares His love. As we experience love, walk in
love and act lovingly, we bare His image in this world. Let’s look at three clear, yet counter-
cultural expressions of love. This kind of love is a prophetic sign in our day. It points to a
greater source and purpose than ourselves.
“Be devoted to one another...
What do people mean when they say they “hear God’s voice?” Can everyone hear God? Do people have the same capacity and/or ability to hear the Lord? Does the Lord “speak” more often or more clearly in some places and at some times than others?
The book of 1 Samuel notes, “In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Sam. 3:1). Apparently, there are different dispensations regarding the frequency and clarity of God's communication. Approximately 3,100 years ago the people of God were not experiencing much of the revelation of God. Then Samuel was born, and God started communicating boldly through the prophets.
In the New Testament, the book of Hebrews begins, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through...
Names are important; they carry meaning. When we name a pet, we usually try to capture its “personality” or some strong identifying trait or characteristic. In Bible times, name giving was an important responsibility. People would pray and share insight in order to understand God’s intent for the new life that He was creating.
Have you ever realized that God invented you, planned you, created you and set you in this particular generation and location for His purposes? None of these things are happenstance. Whether or not your present “natural” name clearly reflects God’s purposes, He does have an intimate and purposeful name for you. (Revelation 2:17)
Other people, and the structures of this world, have their names for you, too. Some of these labels may be harmful or playful or affectionate, while others might describe how you have been useful (or not) for their purposes. We must be careful, however, not to build our identity on the...
How can you tell how badly someone wants something? There seem to be two primary indicators. First, how hard are they trying to get what they want? Second, how long are they willing to keep trying? How much someone wants something is often a function of both factors – intensity and perseverance.
Once, when I arrived at Logan airport late for my flight, the passion with which I pleaded for mercy and help from the airline administrator indicated that I wanted very badly to be placed on that plane immediately. Passion, intensity and the exertion of energy often indicate deep desire. Sometimes, however, shear hard work is not enough to get what you want; it requires sustained effort over a long period of time. Lincoln demonstrated, through his unwillingness to give up after repeated political losses and failures, that he really wanted to become president of the United States. From time to time a wall must be struck repeatedly, over a long period of...
Do you ever feel out of sorts, like something isn’t right within you and you need some form of comfort? Where do you look and what do you do for comfort in times like this?
We all have different things that bring us some level of relief. Some are benign and some may be toxic. Some help us draw near to God, and some are false comforts that produce guilt and shame within us. It is important to remember that on the deepest level God is our great comfort in Jesus Christ, and He willingly comforts us in all our troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
What about your family, or your neighborhood, or city – Who/what can console on these larger levels? You can probably think of some families that participate in particular false comforts from generation to generation; some neighborhoods are known for their false comforts; and even some cities are known this way. But Jesus Christ alone is the real consolation for people!
The angels declared at the birth of Jesus, ...
Sometimes the things that seem like they will make our lives easier and more efficient are the very things that can steal our purpose and passion right out from under us.
God’s desire has always been to draw people from all nations into His eternal household. But, “doing church” (or, in this case, "doing temple") got in the way of that purpose in the lives and practice of the people of God. Addressing the people in Jerusalem, Jesus quoted from the book of Isaiah and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17) When the people came to make sacrifices at the temple they had to bring animals, or grain or whatever was needed. This proved to be quite an inconvenience for those who had a long way to travel, so they developed a system of exchange right at the temple. People could simply bring money and “buy” what they needed for...