Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified...
Showing items for 'Weekly Message Recaps'
God’s people had been through a lot over their early years; they finally left Egypt very wealthy, and were on their way to the Promised Land but they were not grateful. They grumbled about the miraculous manna from heaven, they criticized their leadership, they were led by God...
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply...
Greater love has no one than this:to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends. Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we? Well, yes. We are.If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the...
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.(1 Peter 3:15 ESV) Most of us claiming the resurrection of Christ act like we...
This Week's Life Lifter: For God loved the world so muchthat he gave his one and only Son,so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) Think back to a time you fought for something. Was it important to you? We fight for things we...
Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan...
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your...
2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through...
Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served.Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.(Matthew 20:28 NIRV) What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and...
Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
There is a difference between doing and being. More than the obvious differences of activity and rest—there is a spiritual difference.
Doing is about appearances. It’s about activity. It’s about the outward and the effort. Doing is “religion.”
Going to church because you’re supposed to.
Reading the Bible and praying because it’s on your list.
Joining a small group because you’ll look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
Serving because it looks good on your resume.
Man is not justified by works. “Doing” for the sake of redemption does nothing but keep us busy, bothered, and stressed. Doing makes us think that we are in control of our destiny, our purpose, and our salvation. Doing keeps us focused on self instead of God.
Doing does not justify. Doing is empty and broken trying desperately to be something.
Being is about presence. It’s about the inward. It’s about your motivation. The dictionary defines being as, “having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, of something specified.” Being aligns your identity, your nature, your role, to Jesus. Being is relationship.
Being changes your purpose and motivation.
So instead of just going to church, you go to be with Jesus.
Instead of reading the Bible and praying because it’s on your list, you do it to be closer to God.
Instead of being in a connect group for appearances, you go to be with other believers.
Instead of serving to build your resume, you serve to be like Jesus.
This week, instead of thinking about what you are doing, ask yourself what you are being.
Are you being close to Jesus?
Are you being Jesus to others?
Are you…being the difference?
God’s people had been through a lot over their early years; they finally left Egypt very wealthy, and were on their way to the Promised Land but they were not grateful. They grumbled about the miraculous manna from heaven, they criticized their leadership, they were led by God himself in the form of fire and cloud. Yet they asked to have a golden calf built so they could bow down to it. There definitely seemed to be an absence of joy during those times. Fast forward to present times and there seems to be an absence of joy in the present day as well, at least among believers and it should not be so.
Joy is a Person and a Path
When Jesus appeared as the Savior, he brought joy in the form of his person, and a path of eternal life to be reunited with God. In Matthew 3:17, we read: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Jesus brings God great joy. We, as Jesus’ disciples also bring the Father great joy when we follow his commandments and share his love with others.
I’ve been meditating on a line from Nehemiah 8:10 recently. It says: ...Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Whenever I feel down, things not going my way, anything that could go wrong seems to go wrong, I remind myself that I am weak on my own, but in God, I am strong. No need to be a grumpy, sad, overcast believer. Turn that frown upside down and rejoice because God has already won whatever battle, or condition, or circumstance for us.
Rejoice in Everything
When I read through the scripture there is so much emphasis on joy and rejoicing, it is clear that God wanted us to be happy in everything. The shepherds saw the star signaling the birth of Jesus, they were filled with joy (Matthew 2:10). A sinner repents and returns to God, heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). If you experience any kind of trouble, count it all joy (James 1:2-8). If you are having a good day, be joyful, a bad day, be joyful. If you are having a meal together, be joyful (Acts 2:46). In this way we can show a broken world that we have something that they need.
Have you ever noticed when you go to a store that a salesperson most always will approach you with a smile and try to be very helpful? If you had to choose between a person with a smile and a person with a grumpy look on their face, whom would you want to be your salesperson? In the same way a broken world needs a joyful messenger to share a message of love.
If we live as believers and love Jesus, we have to live joyfully. We should perform a course correction in our lives if that is not already our norm. I’ve personally been working hard on myself in that respect. I’ve recently been through a nerve-wracking trial and I just stopped worrying about it and saying to myself, God’s got it. I cast my cares on him and I felt better immediately. I’ve been putting his word first, acknowledging him (Proverbs 3:6) and everything is working out for good.
I recently added a sticky note reminder to my work computer with the following items of encouragement:
- LG – let it go, and Let God,
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and
- The joy of the Lord is my strength.
These sayings serve as daily reminders that I am loved and I need to reflect the love of God to others every day, no matter what.
As we fast approach Christmas Day, let us choose to follow the path of joy. Let us continually seek the joyful fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) every minute of every day of our lives.
Every day we remain on earth is another opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to someone. I like to pray that God be reflected through me, especially his joy.
If joy makes us strong, then sorrow probably weakens us. There are times when we may feel we have no choice but to be sad, but we have a comforter in Christ who knows and who is there for us. Let us choose joy no matter the issue (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
We have a short time on earth and an eternity in heaven, let us act in a way that the Father will say that this is my child in whom I am pleased.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply affect how we view ourselves and those around us. But looking to Jesus brings us clarity, charity and peace.
Increasing racial tensions can quickly resurrect old wounds and cause them to burn with a vengeance. We can find bitterness an easy path to take, but it is one which wounds us even more deeply.
In our broken world, we are all wounded, often deeply, by the differences that divide us. Racism – and other divisive beliefs and attitudes – permeate this world, wounding and dividing us. But we can be at peace – and be peacemakers – in the midst of this turmoil.
Jesus rejected racism and identity politics. In him, we “are all one” – transcending all racial, class and gender distinctions. Jesus prayed to our Father: “ I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:22-23).
How is that possible? Because we have Christ incarnate in us. The glory Jesus gave us is himself.
We are a new creation in Jesus Christ, who reconciled us to God and “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Now, we can have healing in our hearts and in our relationships through Jesus Christ. Jesus can – and will – heal our deepest wounds and soften the hardness of our own hearts.
At the cross, we see other people by the value of Christ’s blood. We see people of infinite worth in God’s eyes. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We all need transformed hearts that are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is especially at troubled times like these that we must listen to and talk with one another. In so doing – in extending the grace, love and forgiveness of God to others – we minister to them and bring reconciliation.
Let us not get caught up in the superficial, the outward appearance, but rather look to one another as equals – brothers and sisters of Christ who are all equal at the foot of the cross.
Let us love one another, as God loves us.
Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we?
Well, yes. We are.
If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the world then we must die!
We must die to self.
We must lay down our own lives -- set aside our prejudices, our rights, and our own desires -- for a better way.
A way of love.
There is no other option in Scripture.
If we want to live we must die to the desire to put ourselves first.
We must lay down our busy lives for our friends...
- We can lay down our To Do List and help a friend in need.
- We can turn off Netflix and be with our neighbors to start relationships.
- We can set aside our prejudices and instead show empathy and share God's love.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
And in case you were wondering, God has equipped you to lay down your life. He has equipped you to share his love. He has even put someone in your life who needs to know about Jesus.
What are you going to do?
Love has called your name and gifted you. Love is sending you and offering you the greatest joy of eternity--leading the lost home. Love asks you to lay down your life.
For whom will you lay it down? Who will you lead home?
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
(1 Peter 3:15 ESV)
Most of us claiming the resurrection of Christ act like we don’t have a story to tell. We might think we can’t be a witness for Jesus because our story isn’t “good enough.”
That is simply not true.
A witness is an "attestation of fact, event, etc., from personal knowledge;” (source) Witnessing has nothing to do with our goodness, or our imperfections. Each of us can speak with authority based on our personal knowledge of the situation.
Personal knowledge is an important element of a Christian witness. And personal knowledge is something God promises us as we pursue a relationship with him.
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
What is your personal knowledge of Jesus? What is your personal knowledge of the hope that Jesus’ resurrection gives to you? This is your story. This is what you can share.
As a Jesus follower you have personal knowledge of what Jesus has done in your life. You have personal knowledge of how Jesus changes your heart. You have personal knowledge about why you trust him. You have a story about giving up your life and following after him.
Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic. It certainly won’t be like anyone else’s story because you’re unique. But you do have a story...a story about the day you invited Jesus into your heart...a story about how he reveals himself to you. This is what we must share.
Have you prayed prayers and seen answers? This is your witness.
Have you seen miracles - even small ones? This is your testimony.
Have you seen Jesus revealed in and around you? This is your story.
Your witness, your testimony of fact from personal knowledge and relationship with Jesus, is your story about how Jesus is real to you.
No one can refute it.
As a disciple you must share it.
And God will use it to bring glory to himself.
If you would like to receive a weekly devotional like this in your inbox each Thursday, sign up for the Weekly Life Lifters here!