Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; when there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Big Idea:
God didn’t promise us a happy-go-lucky life filled with certainty. Change happens and sometimes it comes at us when we least expect it or want it. So what are you going to do about it? How we respond to change and the trials of life matters greatly.
Life is never a guarantee. We can’t manage it, control it, or bank on it. Yes, life has joy, but life can also come at us fast with unexplainable and unfair hardships. Take for instance the thousands of people who lost nearly everything, including their homes, in the recent California fires. Was this part of their plans or did their lives experience a sudden turn? Be assured that God isn’t in a hurry. God isn’t surprised by the sudden turns of life. He knows about every page in the book of your life. And we are never victims. God has a plan. He dwells in eternity, but he has a perfect sense of timing. However, we sometimes get so stuck in the moment that we can’t see eternity, even when eternity is yelling at us. We must have a Kingdom perspective that will allow us to see the big picture and the forest through the trees. Yes, God’s plans for us can take sudden and unexpected turns. Sometimes it even feels like God is interrupting our lives and disrupting our sense of stability. Or, is he knocking us out of our ruts? Sudden changes are an opportunity for growth and ultimately for God to be glorified. So, don’t run, hide, whine, or get angry and bitter when life takes that sudden turn. Rather, look at the unexpected turns of life as opportunities for us to trust God and face life head-on. This is our chance to win the battle by persevering, maturing, and allowing God’s plan to be completed.
Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)
Romans 8:28 Does this mean that everything that happens to us will be good? Do you have some examples in your life that didn’t initially look like God was involved, but turned out good and for the glory of God?
Philippians 4:10-13 Was Paul only content and able to praise God when things were going great? Why can Paul so confidently state that he can handle all situations? What are we doing to ensure that our response to adversity will be like Paul’s?
James 1:2-8 Do you experience joy in the midst of trials and sudden changes? Present examples of trials in your life that have been used to mature you.
Taking Action: Spend some time this week writing down trials from your past that God has used to mature and perfect you. Are there any trials or sudden changes in your life right now? Based on this study, how should you respond?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Fearing the Lord is rather important. So, what does it mean to fear the Lord? We shouldn’t fear our Father - right? It is interesting that in these passages fearing the Lord is mentioned side-by-side with his love, goodness, and blessings. Here is some additional insight into what the fear of the Lord is.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools (morally deficient) despise wisdom and discipline. - Proverbs 1:7The primary theme of the entire book of Proverbs is the fear of the Lord. It presents the fear of the Lord as a loving reverence for God, a real submission to his lordship, and obedience to his commands. The fear of the Lord is often defined as being in awe of him. However, it goes further than this and is manifested in a life lived for him. Fearing the Lord also involves trusting in him and obeying him.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. – Psalm 34:8-11
I located a good presentation called "WALKING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD" which outlines and defines the fear of the Lord as well as instruction on how to properly develop a healthy and saving fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and it must be something we both understand and live out from our innermost being. I am definitely challenged to search my heart and my life to make sure I daily live with this healthy and saving kind of fear.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The Big Idea:
When Jesus came he preached that the Kingdom of God is now! That’s right - not sometime in the distant future, but today. And it is good. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on this reality.
When Jesus began His ministry by preaching “the Kingdom of God is here!” it shocked the religious community to the core. His message concerning the present reality of the Kingdom was in direct conflict with their “postponement theology” – all the good stuff of God was yet to come. In a world characterized by hopelessness and despair, Jesus forced them to face an alternate reality. He revealed the goodness of God to them by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, delivering the oppressed, raising the dead and conquering sin. And He did it at that moment, not somewhere out in the future! God could have started all over when man sinned against him. It is only the goodness of God that keeps God engaged with humanity. When a god of lesser goodness would have destroyed it all and began again, or at least abandoned it to its own rebellion, God did neither of those things. He has stayed engaged with humanity in spite of our stubbornness, in spite of our selfishness, in spite of our negligence, in spite of our own self-sufficiency. God continues to engage us, simply because He is a good Father who desires to give good gifts to His children. Do you believe this? Do you believe Jesus is alive today and that his goodness endures forever? Do you live your life based on this truth? Is the Kingdom of God alive in your world or are you still waiting for the goodness of God to come? Stop living for tomorrow, stop living for yourself, and instead live for God. Live in his reality and experience the good God who gives, forgives, heals, restores, cares, satisfies, and empowers.
Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)
Discuss your responses to this passage about God’s goodness. What kind of good gifts do think Jesus is referencing? Give examples.
Identify seven signs of God’s goodness from these passages. Present to the group a “real life” example of his goodness in your life.
What is the ultimate expression and result of God’s goodness? How does this affect the way we live life? What does this mean to you?
Taking Action: (1) Spend some time this week meditating on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) and seriously examine your life. (2) Are you living in the reality of the Kingdom or the reality of this world? (3) Focus on God’s goodness and expect all that he has made available to you through the cross as you surrender your life and live in Christ Jesus. (4) Using the passage in Psalm 103:1-5, compile a list of God’s goodness made real in your life.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Hey. My favorite Spanish t-shirt that I have says this: "Yo he venido para que tengan vida, y la tengan en abundancia". "I have come that you might have life and that you may have it in abundance."
I was laughing about a mistake one of our children made when she was trying to memorize the verse. The mistake went like this: "Yo he venido para que tengan vida, y la tengan en la ambulancia." "I have come that you might have life and that you might have it in the ambulance."
Her mistake was not entirely wrong. I believe we really can have abundant life in the ambulance. In fact, it feels like sometimes we have more abundant life in the ambulance than we do anywhere else. God is present and reaching out to us all the time, but when the other things, food, health, security, are stripped from us and we are forced to turn to him, that's when we often find that the source of our greatest joy was God all along. When the trials come, get ready to live. - George
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We thank you, for you, O Lord our God, are our fathers’ God for all eternity, our Rock, our Shield that saves through every generation. We thank you and declare your praise for all your tender care. We trust our lives into your loving hand. We are always in your keeping; your wonders and miracles are with us daily, evening, morning and noon. O you, who are all good; whose mercies never fail us, Compassionate One, whose faithful love never ceases, we ever hope in you. And for all these blessings, may your name be exalted, our King, forever and to all generations. All the living shall thank you and praise your name faithfully, the God of salvation and deliverance. Blessed are you, O Lord, whose Name is good, and to whom it is pleasant to give thanks.May you have a tremendously blessed Thanksgiving. God is so good and has given us more than we deserve - his son Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
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. Philippians 1:10-11.I think Paul is making some incredible points in these verses. First, he is presenting that our actions, what we do, and how we live life all matter. We aren’t supposed to simply be mostly moral and ethical. Our lives shouldn’t have even the slightest mixture of evil in with the good of God.
Second, he is proposing that being a Christian isn’t a virtual reality. The ability to live pure, blameless, and righteous lives right now is not just a fairytale; it is possible and actually expected. Paul isn’t talking about displaying the fruit of righteousness when we die. Rather, he is talking about it being evident in its fullness today.
Finally, why live this way? Why does it matter? Because it brings God glory. Simply put, God is glorified when we live pure and blameless lives exhibiting the fruit of righteousness.
By the work of Christ Jesus and the grace of God, this is how our lives can, and should, be right now. That is exciting and great news; may it be so.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
In the first chapter of Philippians, Paul prays that the Christians in Philippi would possess a love that is increasing.
And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, - Philippians 1:9Paul is pointing out that true love requires growth and that the way to grow is by increasing our knowledge. Love grows when we mature in the areas of knowledge and insight (understanding, sensitivity, and real-world discernment).
In other words, the more we know about someone and the more we understand someone, the more we can show our love to them. In fact, the act of intentionally gaining the additional knowledge and insight about someone for the purpose of loving them more is, in itself, an act of love.
Why do we seek God? Why do we read the Bible? Why do we pray? Is it just to get something from God? Or, do we take these actions so that we might grow in our knowledge and understanding of him, in order that our love for him might abound more and more?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Mark 14:26This passage describes what Jesus and his disciples did immediately following the Lord’s Supper. Yes, they sang together. That is awesome. The next time you praise God in song, try getting this picture in your mind of Jesus singing. And just think, we can have an eternity of singing to Jesus and, I believe, with Jesus when we are with him face-to-face.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this (that false teachers are coming), be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men (false teachers) and fall from your secure position. But, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. - 2 Peter 3:17-18
Did Peter just say that we can fall from our secure position? What secure position is Peter talking about? Is it our position in society? No, he is talking in terms of the Kingdom. Does that mean he is saying that we can lose our salvation?
Well, let’s look at the beginning of his letter to get a better understanding of where he is coming from. In chapter 1 verses 10 & 11 Peter says the following:
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things (the things mentioned in verses 5-7), you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to get into the whole debate of predestination. Let’s stay focused on the topic at hand: falling. So, we see in these passages that Peter is in fact talking about falling from our position in the Kingdom of God. Additionally, he is not talking about a temporal situation or momentary stumble that makes life a little tougher here on earth. Rather, he clearly underscores the eternal ramifications.
With this in mind, I think we should seriously analyze our lives and honestly take inventory based on the characteristics and qualities Peter presents in verses 5 through 7:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's a fundamental building block in the foundation of the Christian faith: the belief that a Christlike life is actually possible, or at least approachable, when one is "in Christ" (to use Paul's characteristic descriptor). We say it is God Himself who makes this possible, God who empowers us for righteousness, and yet, of course, there is this gap--I'll call it the righteousness gap--between the life we believe to be possible in Christ and the life that we actually live.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The Big Idea:
We are called to engage the world. Our lives should naturally be all about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. But, too often we can become complacent or lose our awe of him who saved us. How do we prevent this?
God loves people. Jesus demonstrated this when he interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well. Although she was supposedly below his social class, he introduced her to the living water, himself, and she believed. The disciples were shocked that he would associate with such a person. But the story continues. Who ended up bringing the people out to meet the savior of the world? Was it the disciples who daily walked with Jesus? No, surprisingly the disciples didn’t tell the good news to anyone in her town; rather, it was the Samaritan woman who had just encountered Jesus and was full of awe and excitement that enthusiastically ran into the village and led them out to meet Jesus. We must never allow Jesus to be old news either in our hearts or our minds. We must never lose our awe and amazement for who he is and what he has done for us. We must never allow ourselves to silently walk through life, not telling others the good news and introducing them to Christ. We must deeply love both God and people. This love will cause us to act like the Samaritan woman and enthusiastically proclaim the good news. We need to also keep our relationship with God fresh and daily have our meeting with Jesus at the well.
Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)
First, read John 4:1-42 and discuss this encounter.
Where should we put our trust? What is the result of trusting God? Discuss some practical ways you can trust God instead of yourself or this world.
What does the Psalmist declare is a habit of the blessed man? What is a result of meditating on God’s Word? Discuss some ideas on how this can be implemented in your life?
John 15:5-6 & 9-11
What does Jesus say is the result of remaining in him-living at the “well”? What role does obedience play? Discuss some things in your life that have helped you remain in him or have kept you at the “well” instead of in the world.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The Big Idea: Heaven throws a big party when one sinner repents, so Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He was a friend of sinners. Are you?
Summary: Jesus said that it is the sick who need a doctor not those who are already healthy. In the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son we see a general theme that the Father in Heaven rejoices greatly over the lost one who repents and comes to him. Jesus exemplified how we reach the lost by seeking them out, welcoming them, eating with them, and encouraging them to live for God. He didn’t ignore them or shun them, but instead he made sure he was intentionally encountering them. How will we be able to lead people to Christ and share his gospel if we are not part of their lives? How will people see Christ in us if we hide from them? Don’t “hide it under a bushel;” rather, make it a point to encounter and befriend those who are lost and who are in desperate need of Christ. Get the party started in heaven by being Christ in a lost world; for there will be much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.
Additional Resources: on sharing your faith (Called to Fish, What’s in Your Tackle Box, Harvest Time) and repentance. Another related post is Use Words.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I really enjoyed hanging out on Thursday night with Abraham Piper and Josh Sowin of Desiring God, Matt Anderson of Mere Orthodoxy fame, the always cool Rhett Smith, and of course my friend Andy Jackson of SmartChristian. This conference was also a great opportunity to meet and spend time with Roger Overton and Amy Hall of the A-Team, Joe Carter, John Mark Reynolds, La Shawn Barber – the list goes on…
It is a privilege and a joy to have this opportunity to use the tools of new media for ministry. I left GodBlogCon with a renewed commitment to take TransformedDaily into the future of new media.
A big thank you to all of the staff and student volunteers from Biola University who helped make GodBlogCon happen.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Al Mohler said that “no one will intuit the Gospel”. I think that is mostly right. Words get to the point of the matter very clearly, concisely, and in a timely manner. Words are important. Let’s not be afraid to use them in order to tell the greatest story of all time. If ever words should be used it should be for the purpose of sharing the Good News of Christ.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I find myself often in a similar predicament as Jude was when he wanted to discuss the marvels of salvation, but instead found it necessary to write fellow believers about fighting for ones faith due to a “cheap grace” message that was beginning to emerge.
Some preachers, teachers, and writers have detoured the message of God’s grace down a road that can inadvertently encourage their listeners and readers to be comfortable with sin and to feel powerless against it. Typically what happens is, in an effort to be “seeker sensitive”, only one side of God’s amazing grace is presented: his grace that justifies us and atones for our sins. The work of sanctification and real-life transformation is then ignored or collapsed into justification often because of a desire to “streamline” the process of making converts. For instance, the call to obedience is left for a later time which most often never comes and the rest of the gospel message is ultimately forgotten and never presented or heard. This actually flies in the face of the great commission.
Moving our faith forward is extremely important. Jude reminds us that it is one thing to be delivered and yet quite another thing to actually reach the promised land.
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an exampleThe following doxology that is presented at the end of Jude’s letter is not just fancy words or something that will only happen when we die. The work of the cross should move us to action and change. He is able to keep us from falling each and every day. This stuff is real and should be indicative of our lives as followers of Christ. Jude is praising God because it is not a fairytale. Christ can keep us from falling; from living lives characterized by sin; from committing “ungodly acts, in ungodly ways; from following our ungodly desires.”
of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. – Jude 5-7
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. - JudeJude is definitely not promoting cheap grace in his letter. Rather, he is prescribing the powerful grace that Christ died for us to have. Don’t ever sell the cross short. Let’s never be mere talkers about God’s grace. And let’s not ignore the rest of the good news: that the work of Christ is sufficient to both fully justify and sanctify those who believe and who, according to Jude, “build themselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Let’s teach and apply the whole grace of God and the full work of Christ’ work on the cross to our lives. This comprehensive act of faith leads to true victorious living identified by new fruit, obedience, transformation, peace, and the joy of the Lord.
Monday, November 05, 2007
"Now forgiveness is this," he said gently. "Not that you forget, not that you say what they did was all right --- it wasn't! Forgiveness is canceling the debt, tearing it up, clearing the account. Only you have the right to do it. The debt is owed to you. You might think that means they're going free, that they're getting away with it, and you're right. Your enemies don't deserve it. But when you forgive you'll discover that your enemies aren't the ones who go free---you are." - Wings of Refuge by Lynn AustinForgiveness is rarely deserved and it doesn’t mean that you will immediately forget. However, forgiveness is so important and not optional for anyone who calls himself a Christ follower. Freedom and a clear conscience occur when we forgive others. Maybe because God releases his grace and peace on us in increased measure when we obey him by forgiving others as he has so graciously forgiven us.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:2This is incredibly good news. This is the Gospel of Christ meeting our practical need to change and giving us the powerful grace to experience this change as a reality. Obeying God really happens when we, in faith, submit to God, put to death the junk in our lives, and live by the Spirit.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:13-14
Friday, November 02, 2007
Link to Teaching Audio File
Thursday, November 01, 2007
God was faithful and my son’s health was stabilized and restored rather quickly. Contrary to the doctor’s initial response that he would need to be admitted to the hospital, my son was actually discharged from the emergency room at 2:40AM. I immediately drove him back home and we got to bed at 4AM. My son’s breathing has improved dramatically since this episode. In fact, he says that he has never breathed better (in his life). This is the incredible healing work of God. We are asking God that this would be the end of these episodes. We are praying for complete healing. God is able and has all authority! God is good, he is faithful, he is victorious, and he will be glorified in all things.
Here is one of the realities that I prayed and held onto as I drove to the emergency room that night. Remember Christ’s interaction with the centurion? The centurion asked for Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to go with him to minister healing. However, the centurion stopped Jesus and told him something incredible and faith-filled. He told Jesus that it was not necessary for him to make the trip in order to heal his servant. He told Jesus that when someone has authority that he can make things happen with a simple command. Jesus was surprised and deeply moved by this man’s faith.
Jesus has all authority. He only needs to speak it and it will be so. Whether it is healing or calming the rough waters, he only needs to speak it. This was my cry that night. This was my prayer. This was my hope. Jesus has the authority to heal my son. In faith, I cried out to him for his command of healing. And as a follower of Christ and one who is in Christ, I too, boldly commanded healing in the authority of my King Jesus Christ. God is good!