Thursday, June 25, 2009

Passionately pursuing?

In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul, states, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Phil. 3:10-11

Paul is the man. If anyone knows Christ, it would be Paul at this point in his life. If anyone should be able to sit back and relax, it should be Paul. However, Paul states that he wants to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Paul’s attitude and understanding of his Savior and Lord is one of awe, of Godly fear, of humility, and of pursuit. Paul knows enough to know that he doesn’t know everything and that he needs to continue pursuing Jesus every day of his life. He is driven by an overwhelming desire to pursue Christ and to know Him more and more.

Paul’s passionate pursuit of his Savior is a model for the rest of us. Are we consumed with a deep desire to know Him more? How great is our need for Christ?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Motivation matters

What is your motivation? Is it your happiness, your comfort, your reputation, your acceptance, your desire to avoid pain? Are you looking to earn points with God? Is it all about looking good to God and to others? Or, are you motivated by a heart-felt desire to obey God, to follow Jesus, and to glorify the Lord? How you answer this question matters tremendously. It’s all about the condition of your heart – your motivation. Is your motivation (heart) still turned to you or is it turned to God?

Maybe you need to cry out, like David did, “create in me a clean heart O’ God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Is this your prayer? Is this your deepest desire? Are you willing to allow this to happen? Caution - you will have to give up yourself for this to happen. However, there is really no option. We are must be completely His. We must be willing to love God with our whole heart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God will do it

God will accomplish His plans. He will complete His work in us and in the world. His name will be lifted up. God will save those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. God will do it.

God will deliver His children. He will set the captives free, He will bring liberty to the oppressed, He will bring sight to the blind. God will do it.

God will lift up the humble and bring peace to the broken hearted. He will show Himself to those who seek Him. God will do it.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fearless Christianity

The early Christians were fearless. They were being thrown into prison, tortured, stoned, and run out of their homes, yet they kept telling people about Christ. Check it out: 
“On that day (the day that Stephen was stoned for preaching Christ) a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Acts 8:1-4
May God pour His powerful grace on us, that we may be this fearless for Him. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

They waited for the gift

I am still hanging out at Pentecost and stopped for a moment to contemplate the following statement:  
“We (the apostles) are witnesses of these things (the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ), and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." – Acts 5:32 
It is interesting to see that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles was correlated to their obedience. I think we can better understand this passage and this correlation between the fullness of the Holy Spirit and our obedience by looking at the following instructions that Jesus gave to the apostles:  
"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." – Acts 1:4b-5   
Would the apostles have experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem if they did not obey God and wait? Would the miracles surrounding Pentecost have happened if the apostles had not obeyed? Would the number of believers have grown to 3,000 on that day if the apostles had not obeyed?     

If we want all that God has for us, if we want to be used by Him, if we want to see His glory, if we want to be used for kingdom advancement, if we want the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we need to obey God. We need to go when He tells us to go and we need to stay when He tells us to stay.  We need to be about His work and fully submit our will to His will. 

If we don’t remain when God has called us to remain, we are being disobedient, and we will miss out on His fullness. If we don’t go when and where He has called to go, we are being disobedient and will miss out on His fullness. Let’s be people who submit to God in obedience and really follow Him. Let’s be people who love God with everything in us and at all times. Let’s be YES men and women. And as a result, we will be people who advance the kingdom of God while being filled to the overflow with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It’s not really about the shock and awe

Continuing on the topic of miracles, I wanted to point out that miracles aren’t simply for the shock and awe factor. They have a greater purpose. In fact, throughout the New Testament, miracles weren’t really even for the edification of the saints. Rather, miracles got people’s attention and drew men to Christ. Miracles showed the greatness of God and gave opportunity to lift up the name of Christ, resulting in the lost coming to Him.   

Check out Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came in power and the believers spoke in different tongues. This definitely displayed some shock and awe, but the final result wasn’t just a bunch of open mouths; rather, it resulted in 3,000 people coming to Christ. When Peter and John healed the lame man in the name of Jesus, it provided a lot of shock and awe, but it ultimately resulted in the name of Christ being glorified and the number of believers growing to 5,000.

It’s not really about the shock and awe. It’s about advancing the kingdom of God by lifting up the name of Jesus and drawing men unto Him. So, may we see miracles today, resulting in the name of Christ being lifted up and the lost being drawn to their Savior. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It might take a miracle

As I was reading through the first several chapters from the Book of Acts this morning, the presence of miracles in the ministry of the apostles once again appeared front and center. This wasn’t new, as miracles were instrumental in the earthly ministry of Jesus. They were just continuing the ministry of Jesus.   

God uses miracles to touch people’s lives and to get people's attention. Turning water into wine got people’s attention. Feeding the 5,000 got people’s attention. Raising Lazarus from the dead got people’s attention. Conquering the grave got people’s attention. The move of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues at Pentecost got people’s attention and 3,000 came to Christ. The lame man walking got people’s attention and the number of believers grew to 5,000. The list goes on and on.     

But what about today? Does God still use miracles? He is the same today as He was yesterday. Around the world, God is still using miracles to get our attention. I have seen it first hand. While in Africa, I saw a man who was lame for four years get up and walk. This got everyone’s attention and pointed them to Christ. I have also seen many people physically healed and/or delivered from addictions right here in America. But, it still seems like we live in a culture, even in the church, that doesn’t fully expect God to show up in miraculous power. Is it a lack of faith? Is it a lack of desperation? I don’t know, but throughout history and in the lives of countless many around the world today, God is showing up in power and showing Himself to be the God of Miracles.

Can He do this in our generation right here in the United States? I know He can, but it might take a miracle. Let’s be people who continue the ministry of Christ and in faith allow Him to be glorified as He touches the lives of people through miracles.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Put others before ourselves

As the Apostle Paul pointed out at the beginning of the 2nd chapter in his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the key ingredient to unity is humility. We must humble ourselves and, like Christ, die to our own rights and desires and put others before us. 

By God’s grace, let’s shed the old selfish tendencies and be people who are motivated by loving God and loving people. In fact, let’s be people who don’t go to church looking for how we can be blessed; rather, let’s go to church looking for opportunities to bless others!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today, June 8th, is my 18th wedding anniversary. I am blessed to be married to an amazing woman of God who loves Jesus with a tender and pure heart. Velvet is my faithful partner, my co-laborer in ministry, my encourager, my helpmate, and my best friend. She is so much more than just a good catch, she is a precious gift from the Creator of the universe. She is a gift from God.
May God continue to take us where we could never go in our own strength; may we always keep our eyes on His cause; may we accomplish every good thing that He has planned for our lives; may our children rise up to call us blessed and may they never depart from the Lord; may the name of The Lord be glorified in our marriage; may we grow old together.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Let's lay it down

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul demonstrates his willingness to forgo his personal desires in order to minister to others.   

We need to learn this kingdom quality from Paul and be willing to lay down our own preferences, comforts, time, and resources in order to reach others. Let’s be willing to not have everything just the way we personally want it so that we can minister to others. Let’s put the cause of Christ above our own cause.   

In fact, even when we gather together for worship and prayer, let’s not simply seek what will bring us joy or even give us those wonderful spiritual goose bumps, rather let’s seek what will advance the gospel and show love to others. Believe me, then the true joy and spiritual goose bumps will happen.