Into My Life

Lord, put into my life enough delays to teach me patience.
.......................enough failure to teach me humility.
.......................enough expenses to teach me to work.
.......................enough needy people to teach me generosity.
.......................enough leisure to teach me to enjoy myself.
.......................enough health to allow me to help the sick.
.......................enough barriers to teach me perseverance.
.......................enough illness to teach me to accept help.
.......................enough stress to teach me serenity.
.......................enough loneliness to teach me to reach out.
.......................enough joy to teach me to smile.
.......................enough questions to teach me faith.
.......................enough of YOU to teach me awe.

Christian Repentance

“As a Christian, all my sins of the past, present and future have been forgiven. Therefore, I don’t need to repent. Repentance is only for lost people, isn’t it?”

Unfortunately, many of God’s children have such an attitude concerning repentance. And their lack of repentance causes them to miss the blessings of a close relationship with Him.

Repentance is not one of the things from which we are “set free” when we are saved. This is pointed out in II Chronicles 7:14 when God said “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin.” (Emphasis mine.)

We, more than non-Christians, should be sickened by sin, especially the sin in our own lives. We know that our sins damage others and displease God.  Thus, more than all other people we should be ready, even anxious, to repent.

The Chronicles verse makes another important point. Repentance is more than confession. Confession alone involves only “I acknowledge I did it and I’m sorry.” There is nothing beyond the past (“I did it”) and the present emotional impact (“I’m sorry.”)

Spirit-led repentance includes both of these plus a future resolve. God included this factor when He said “…and turn from their wicked ways.” Genuine repentance requires that we attempt, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to avoid sinning again.

For the Christian, confession is the beginning of what we are called to do after we have sinned. Repentance is the completion of God’s call to destroy the barriers sin places between us and our heavenly Father.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 22

We sing “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on…” without realizing that if we want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus we will have to go where He wants to go, when He wants to go, as fast as He wants to go and then stand still when He says to. Traveling with Jesus means we let Him make all the “going” decisions.

Our spiritual ears work best when our emotional knees are bent and our physical mouth is shut.

God loves me too much and too wisely to give me too much responsibility in his kingdom. But He loves me too much to give me no responsibility.

If we want advice from God we need to have the humility to ask, the patience to wait for the answer, the faith to trust his answer is best and the courage to act on it.

God can’t do his work through us until we let him do his work in us.

If our churches had more suggestion boxes there would probably be more money in the collection boxes.

It is better to ask God rather than tell Him. (We really can’t tell God anything He does not already know.)

We must learn to recognize God’s mercy, be grateful for it and share it.

Becoming Like Jesus

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 21

Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.

**********

Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?

**********

In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?

**********

Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.

**********

What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?

**********

The Father decides.    The Son delivers.    The Holy Spirit defines.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 19

God is more interested in developing me into a tool for his service rather than a trophy for his mantel.

I am a nobody trying to tell everybody about the Somebody who can save us all.

For a child of God his mercy will last longer and be stronger than his discipline.

I am glad God gave us commandments. How else would we know how to please Him?

Does God intend for me to be a soldier or a lamb, a crusader or a teacher, a fierce defender of the faith or a little child approaching Jesus?

May God’s joy in my heart soften my judgements of others and  allow his grace to spill over onto them.

A life of service to God is much to be preferred over a life of comfort for self. Do we really believe that?

God applies his forgiveness to our sins with eagerness and joy, not with reluctance and regret. As much as that forgiveness cost Him…..the death of Jesus…..we can be sure He delights in applying it to us. I must give to others what God has given me.

Dear Father, slow me down before I break down and lift me up before I blow up.

The Unique Gift

Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.

That’s right, give away some of yourself:

Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you.
Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down.
Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family.
Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely.
Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss.
Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked.
Give a gentle response to the frustrated.
Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement.
Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood.
Give a second thought to someone else's opinion.
Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you.
Give a second chance to someone who has failed.

God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?

Courage to Care, Contact, Confront

In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.

Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the

Courage to Care

We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.

Courage to Contact

The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.

Courage to Confront

In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.

Good or Best

     Does Satan sometimes influence a Christian to do “good” things? Oddly enough, it seems sometimes the answer is yes. 

     One of Satan’s most successful ploys is to encourage us to do good things which will prevent us from doing the best things that God intends for us. 

          Satan may tempt us to do a religious thing rather than a Christian thing.
          Satan may tempt us to do a church thing rather than serve a neighbor.
          Satan may tempt us to only pray for another person rather than help them while we pray.
          Satan may tempt us to give a cup of cold water rather than explain the path of salvation.

     The allure of the good is strong for several reasons. Such activity is usually socially acceptable and we gain the praise of others for being so generous. Good behavior is less likely to involve a long-term relationship that might be confining. And, of course, good behavior allows us to have warm feelings of self-satisfaction.

     What is the promised reward when we correctly identify, select and carry out the best? We will hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

     How can we know which actions are good, but not the best? James 1:5 promises such wisdom. If we don’t seek this wisdom, we are likely to miss the chance to do the best things by instantly doing every good thing that comes along.

     It is vital that we have an eagerness and willingness to joyfully serve our Master. But before putting our enthusiasm into play, we must seek and find his will. We must allow him to help us correctly identify our assignments. Then He will help us complete them. 

Disobedience Thru Ignorance

None of us consciously intends to disobey God. We don’t get up in the morning and say “Today I’m going to refuse to do what God tells me.”

Yet every day we manage to be disobedient. Why?

Sometimes the answer is that we simply don’t hear Him telling us how to obey. We are like the child who, as he runs off to play, honestly does not hear his mother say “You be home by noon.” We don’t consider our actions to be disobedient because we can’t be expected to do what God says if we don’t know what He says, can we?

Oh, we don’t put our hands over our ears and shout “I can’t hear you” like we did when we were children. Yet we allow the radio, phone, TV, computer and demands of job and family to drown out his still, small voice. We don’t hear because we don’t listen. Often we don’t listen because we fear He will tell us to do, or stop doing, something.

We may feel “I didn’t know” is an acceptable excuse for sinning. But while it may serve as a thin veneer of acceptability in our minds, God views it differently. For a child of God to be ignorant of His commands is a sin that leads to further sins.

Does God really want to make his specific will clear to each of us every day? Yes! But those messages will remain a mystery unless we learn to listen and comprehend. To hear Him more clearly and consistently we must enter our prayer closet several times each day, listen for his voice in the din of life, read what He has already written for us and discipline our minds to think of spiritual things.

He will guard us from accidental disobedience if we deeply and sincerely want to obey.