content top

2012: Focus on What God Can Do Through You

2012: Focus on What God Can Do Through You

2012: Focus on What God Can Do Through You “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity …” (Hebrews 6:1a NIV) Although God does the heavy lifting in our transformation to Christ-likeness, we still bear the responsibility to keep discipline part of discipleship. Therefore, we no longer run aimlessly; we have the sizeable objective of becoming just like Jesus. And so, as the Apostle Paul describes it, we beat our bodies into submission as we press on toward our objective (1 Corinthians 9:26–27). But, as we’re beating discipline into our thoughts and behavior, we too often slip into beating ourselves up over the inability to do the things we ought to do (Romans 7:16–25). Here’s the thing: Becoming like Jesus is difficult enough without this “Try harder!” mentality we force upon ourselves. It sucks us into a cycle of “I must do better,” “I ought to pray more,” and “I should be spiritually more mature by now.” We’re left feeling defeated, and that pushes us further into our cycle of trying harder to measure up to God’s standards. But can you see that this keeps us focused on ourselves and on the things we can’t do? God wants us focused on the things he can do through us. He wants us to know that, having begun a good work in us, he “will carry it on to completion” until we see Jesus face-to-face (Philippians 1:6 NIV). Paul, ever the exhorter, says we’re to push toward the ideal, but these standards were never meant as imperative “ought-to” statements demanding immediate perfection from us. Perhaps more than any one of us, Paul understands our desperate need for God’s grace. Our objective is to make every effort to mature into believers who think and act just like Jesus. We may slip, we may fail horribly, but we press on to take hold of the abundant life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:12)....

Read More

Abandon Your Old Wineskins Before 2012

Abandon Your Old Wineskins Before 2012

Abandon Your Old Wineskins Before 2012 “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22 NIV) Near my house is a gas station/convenience store that just underwent a makeover, changing their utilitarian look into a warm and inviting neighborhood haven, something like a coffee bar with gas pumps. When I walked into the place, however, it appeared the employees missed the makeover memo. The kid behind the counter wore a new uniform that matched the new look, but he still wore the same sullen expression from before, perhaps a little bored and a bit put out that an actual customer had walked in to disturb him. It made me think about how we try to put new wine into old wineskins. Jesus says we’re doomed to failure because “the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined” (Mark 2:22 NIV). For you to become the person God wants you to be in 2012, you will have to abandon the old wineskins in your life so that God can pour himself into the wineskin of your new life-in-Christ. This may mean, for instance, that we cannot try to pour the new wine of “honesty at work” into an old wineskin of “cutting corners.” Otherwise, “both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.” This year, you will have to change in order to be the person God wants you to be. Are you ready to make the changes? Do you feel the excitement of knowing God is right there with you, not just helping you change, but leading you in the...

Read More

Seek Out the Lost

Seek Out the Lost

“Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.” (Romans 12:16 CEV) In The Message paraphrase, 2 Corinthians 5:20b is rendered: “Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” That’s the message we’re to take to the world, yet often we limit our influence by seeking and maintaining friendships exclusively among other believers. Jesus, on the other hand, sought out the lost, deliberately becoming friends with those who needed a friend in God. The Bible says that when the Pharisees saw Jesus keeping company with the community’s great unwashed, “they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?’ Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: “I’m after mercy, not religion.” I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders’” (Matthew 9:10-13 MSG). Jesus knew who he was, according to God’s design; Jesus knew whose he was, according to God’s truth; and Jesus knew his purpose for being here on Earth. All this allowed him to relax and ignore what others thought or said about him. It meant Jesus wasn’t worried when others accused him of being a friend of sinners (Luke 19:7) because he was doing exactly what the Father sent him to do: persuade men and women to make peace with God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Likewise, we’re to represent Jesus, speaking on his behalf to those still on the “outside.” Yet some of us are so isolated and disconnected from unbelievers that we rarely have any meaningful conversations with them. The tendency is that the longer we’re believers, the more insulated we become from unbelievers and perhaps the more uncomfortable we become with them. The result: We no longer have friends who are non-believers. Jesus’ actions suggest that our witness to a non-believer starts with friendship: We earn the right to share the Gospel through relationship. The old cliché is a cliché because it’s true: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Those who have yet to become friends with God are just like you and me, looking for deep, true, supportive friendships, sometimes especially during the Christmas season. The Apostle Paul encourages us to find common ground with non-believers: “I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the blessing I myself receive when I see them come to Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 LB). Finding common ground is an act of friendship; it guides us to look for the positive instead of...

Read More

Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart “For who has known or understood the mind(the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct [Him] and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ, the Messiah, and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) Isn’t it exciting to realize that you can hold the thoughts and feelings and purposes of God’s very own heart in your heart? Isn’t it thrilling to know the Creator of heaven and earth wants to be one spirit with you and transmit His thoughts to your mind? First Corinthians 6:17 says that when you were joined to the Lord you became one spirit with Him. He came into union with you so that He can talk to you heart to heart. God wants you in this harmony with Him so that His thoughts can become your actions. He wants you to walk so closely with Him that you never lack power to overcome the evil of this world. He wants you to be so in tune with His Spirit that you are able to feel His heart of compassion toward those around you who are hurting or bowed down with sickness and pain. He wants to be one with you, so He can reach out through your hands and fulfill His purposes in the earth. Make a fresh commitment today to walk in union with your God. Give your attention to His Spirit in your inner man. Determine to yield to His voice and not to the voices of the world or the flesh! Allow the mind of Christ to flow through you! Scripture Study:  1 Corinthians...

Read More

Strength Made Perfect

Strength Made Perfect

Strength Made Perfect   “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)     When you run into an impossible situation, a situation you simply don’t have the strength or the ability to handle, are you often tempted to simply give up and accept defeat? Don’t! Instead shout, “Glory!” because the Word says God’s strength is about to be made perfect in you.   The word translated “strength” in this scripture is dunamis. It means “God’s miracle-working power.” Just think about that. When your human strength ends, God has promised that His miraculous power will bring you through!   If you’ll look in Acts 14, you can see that promise in action. The apostle Paul was stoned by a group of Jews, taken out of the city and left for dead. Paul’s human strength had ended. He was absolutely powerless.   But the disciples gathered around him and prayed, and the Lord raised him up and he went on his way. In other words, when Paul didn’t have enough human strength to overcome, God’s miracle-working power was sufficient for him. It enabled him to be an overcomer in spite of his weakness!   So, if you are facing a crisis today. If you’re sick and medicine has failed you. If your finances are out of control. If your family is falling apart. If bad habits have you hopelessly bound. If you’ve done absolutely all you know to do and you still haven’t gotten results. Then rejoice! For when human strength ends, the power of God excels! Only believe! God’s grace is sufficient for...

Read More
Page 3 of 4512345...102030...Last »

content top