But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Phil 3:7-9 NIV)
Monday, December 29, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
- This is the time of year when Jesus' birth as a human being is acknowledged. Some professing Believers choose to focus more on materialism or secular celebrations than on Jesus. Others want to argue details, e.g., "He really was not born this time of year."
In my opinion, most important, is that He was born, He lived, He died as the atonement sacrifice for our sin, He was resurrected, and He is alive now and forevermore.
In order to die for our sin, He first had to be born. Do not let the hustle, hassle, social pressures, and commercialism of this season rob you of time to contemplate and honor all that Jesus did for us.
Though cliche, this is true: "Jesus is the reason for the season."
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:12-14 NIV)
Monday, December 22, 2014
- If you have had to live without encouragement, you know how precious any encouraging word can be--like water in the desert. I have been there before, and I am deeply grateful for those who encourage me now. (Especially my wife--the most positive, encouraging person I have ever known--truly a gift from God!)
There are many ways we can encourage each other; it could be as simple as a smile or a kind word. Sometimes, just listening to someone can be a great encouragement because it shows that you care.
- From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:26-27 NIV)
Friday, December 19, 2014
- We may not be able to avoid rejection or keep it from hurting when it happens, but we can keep it in perspective. There is One who will never reject us. In Psalm 27, David wrote: "My father and mother may abandon me, but the LORD will take care of me." (v. 10, GNB)
"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." (John 13:18-20 NIV)
Thursday, December 18, 2014
- Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
I want to learn from the past and not repeat the same mistakes over and over. I can learn from history and other people's mistakes, of course. However, if I am truly honest with myself and ask for God's help, I can also learn from my own.
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. (1 Cor 10:1-6 NIV)
Monday, December 15, 2014
- Have you ever felt like a failure because you could not "win" someone for Jesus? It is easy to do; we live in a predominantly uncompassionate, results-oriented world.
However, if you feel that way, you should re-examine those feelings, because producing the results of our obedience to God is not within the scope of our ability or responsibility.
I believe that the only way we can fail Him is to disobey Him. The results of our obedience are His, and His alone.
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" (Acts 22:17,18,21 NIV)
Friday, December 12, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
- When I have asked the Lord for a specific answer or direction, seldom has the answer come right away.
I have learned to wait and to trust that the answer will come. It always has. It always does. Sometimes (almost always) later than sooner, but it comes.
At times, I waited days, weeks, or months--sometimes even years. Eventually, the answer came. And when it came, it was at exactly the right time. I am waiting on some answers now; I know they will come.
What about you? Do you need to hear from God? Do not panic and take matters into your own hands. Wait. Trust. Follow Habakkuk's example: "...wait to see what the LORD will say..."
I will stand like a guard and watch. I will wait to see what the LORD will say to me. I will wait and learn how he answers my questions. The LORD answered me, "Write down what I show you. Write it clearly on a sign so that the message will be easy to read. This message is about a special time in the future. This message is about the end, and it will come true. Just be patient and wait for it. That time will come; it will not be late. (Hab 2:1-3 ERV)
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
- If you truly love, you risk being hurt; you cannot have one without the other. Some people "shut down" to avoid pain. I know; I was one of them. I was emotionally dead, unable to feel anything.
I cried out to God to bring me back to life. He did, but ironically, it required great pain.
If you love, you may get hurt. But in my experience, not feeling anything was far worse than any pain I have ever felt.
I am not afraid anymore. I learned that if I do get hurt, God can turn it into a treasure beyond price in my life. No doubt.
I also have no doubt that He can do the same for you, if you are willing. Do not be afraid to love, beginning with God.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1:9-11 NIV)
Friday, December 5, 2014
What is God's will? That is a very big, very important question.
We talk and pray about being in "God's will" for our lives as though it was a sports field and we must be careful not to run out-of-bounds. But is that really what it is, specifically, for you and for your life? I personally think it is much more.
I believe "God's will" for our lives is His vision, plan, purpose, and potential for each of us. Of course, there are boundaries--values and principles we absolutely cannot violate and remain in favor with Him. However, I believe "God's will" for us is to be discovered more in the context of our relationship with Him than in ticking off lists of "do's and don't's".
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:13-15 NIV)
Thursday, December 4, 2014
- Scripture teaches us that faith in God is a requirement. But have you ever considered that God has faith in you?
He had faith that you would one day choose to love Him (you, personally). And He has faith in you now that you will choose to continue to mature in your relationship with Him.
Though we believe in Him now, He believed in us first.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:3-6 NIV)
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
- Do you know someone who is "not happy unless they are miserable"? I do. This person sees (or imagines) something negative in everything. This is the most unhappy, miserable human I have ever known.
We all encounter circumstances that are beyond our control, but it is especially sad when someone creates their own. So it is with this person--and I truly hurt for them.
If you know such a one, I say to you what I try to do: Do not take responsibility for their misery, however much they may try to make you feel so. Be a light and a witness of God's love to them. He is the only One who can help them--if they are willing to let Him.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me. I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt. (Hosea 7:14-16 NIV)
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
- Think about Jonah: God told him to preach repentance in the capital of the Assyrian Empire. He didn't like Assyria and would rather see them destroyed. So...
He tried to flee from God on a ship. Didn't work.
Then he was thrown overboard in a storm (b-i-g storm!). Didn't drown.
Then he was swallowed by a fish (b-i-g fish!). Didn't die.
Then, wrapped in seaweed, he was spit up on the beach. Then God repeated the instruction. Then he obeyed. Then Nineveh repented.
As you read this, get the point, but don't judge Jonah too harshly. Remember: we all learn the hard way sometimes.
And what is the point? I enjoy a good seaweed salad at my favorite Asian restaurant, but I don't want to do what Jonah did to get one. Better to obey God the first time. Wouldn't you agree?
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city--a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:1-5-10 NIV)
Monday, December 1, 2014
- If God has given you a dream, hold to it; do not let it go. If you have not yet seen it fulfilled, it may only mean that it is not over yet.
Some, like Joseph's brothers, may outright reject you or the dream, however, some, like his father, will keep the matter in mind.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Gen 37:9-11 NIV)