Our great reward

Posted: July 21, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The LORD is his inheritance, as the LORD your God said to him.
(Deuteronomy 10:9 ESV)

Have you ever thought about how you will pay for your retirement when you get older?

If you haven’t yet, there will be a day when you do. When you are no longer on this Earth, that money you worked hard for and saved up for your whole life will go to your children as an inheritance. It will probably help pay off some debt or buy a new house or car for your kids. Inheritances can also rip families apart as they fight for who gets what and how much they get.

What a shame that we work so hard and horde so much money for our retirement and an inheritance for our kids when there is the greatest inheritance of all to be fought for as a follower of Jesus.

“When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, “I am thy part and thine inheritance,” and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the most high God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.” – A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Rejoice! Our inheritance is the Lord!

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:4-5 ESV)

In every interaction you have is someone weighted?

What do I mean by this? Do you put expectations on others to act a certain way or say things in a certain manner? Then, when they don’t do what you expected, do you get upset? Do you misinterpret others’ words? Or do you put words into people’s mouths that they didn’t say? Welcome to the broken club my friend.

I can’t believe how broken I still am when I put expectations on interactions! I’m cruising along doing fine, and one misinterpreted interaction brings me back to that lost and abandoned child. Pain comes rushing back, and sorrow sets in.

However, I have learned a few things over the years; one being, most people are selfish. Yes, it’s true. People care about themselves and their own problems. It’s our human nature; so if you’re putting expectations on people, you will be failed. King David experienced this throughout his life and cried out to God in the Psalms.

If you are putting expectations on a person to fill you; you will fail my friend and still find yourself alone and lost. There is only one who will never fail you. There is only one who will never abandon you. You can trust Jesus to listen. You can trust Jesus to hold you when you are broken-hearted. He alone is your refuge!

Father, we acknowledge we are broken and ask for You to fill us with Your presence. Fill us with Your joy! Let us not look to others to fill our void, but only to Jesus, our refuge and portion, in Jesus mighty name.

Be a grace giver

Posted: July 18, 2017 in Thoughts on God

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

The question of genuine forgiveness is one of eternal importance. And why is it, you may ask, so crucial that Christians forgive? For starters, Jesus’ statement in today’s text is quite a compelling reason, for “if you do not forgive others…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Suffice it to say then, we had better make sure we are forgiving “our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Here’s the bottom line: forgiveness is such a central element to Christianity that it is an indicator of salvation! Not that we are saved by any works of our own, such as forgiving others, but that when we are reconciled to God through Christ, our new life will be marked by grace giving and forgiveness.

Remember, our sin was exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our wrong for His right, our injustice for His justice. God meets our rebellion and pride with grace in and through the person and work of Jesus. Those to whom grace is extended should also extend grace, and those to whom forgiveness is extended should also extend forgiveness.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s at the core of who you are in Christ.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4-6 ESV)

Yesterday our devotion was on consistency, and today we will discuss other side of this; inconsistency. What does it look like when you know that someone’s words are different than their actions?

In 1 John 2 we see a sobering picture of what consistency is, and what it isn’t. Paraphrasing the first part of chapter 2, John essentially says that if you say you have received the love and grace of Jesus Christ, but do not live by His commandments, then you are a liar and the truth is not in you. In other words, if you have put your faith in Jesus and there is no outward change, no want to know Him, no want to love the things He loves and no care for His mission with consistency, then you should stop and really examine your heart. You should stop and examine your walk and relationship with Him, because something appears to be out of order.

Our walk and growth in Jesus will never be perfect… so please don’t hear me saying when we have the slightest mess up, we should question our faith. What I am saying is what John is: when we do sin, we have an advocate with the father, who has paid the price for our mess-ups and His name is Jesus. He’s set the perfect example, which should serve to inspire us to strive for consistency in our faith.

As Paul says in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” What areas of your life are showing inconsistency? How can you make a change and focus on what Jesus is calling you to do?

A costly cross

Posted: July 15, 2017 in Thoughts on God

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
(Luke 9:23-25 ESV)

Living well comes at a great cost, but so does living poorly. There is a price to pay and a sacrifice to be made for every decision in life. These costs vary, from something as mundane as a speeding ticket, to something as great as the loss of friends or familial ties (Luke 12:53).

Following Jesus is costly. In fact, that word falls short to describe the depth of sacrifice required in walking after him. Taking up a “cross” would not have been the sanitized allegory to Jesus’ original hearers that it can be to us today. The cross took everything from men. It was a torturous end to human life. It was not meant to merely punish, but to kill. In fact, the legacy of the cross lives on even in our language, as the word excruciating literally means “from the cross”. A pain so intense, a loss so tremendous, it had to be associated with the worst death a human could die. This phrase cannot be glazed over, it cannot be brushed aside.

There is a reality here we must rediscover; following Jesus Christ means death. And, though death costs much, it is the price of eternal life. Save your life and follow Jesus today.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1​ ESV)

The secret of Paul’s greatness is that he was first a “servant” and second an “apostle.”

The Greek word for “servant” can also be translated as “bondslave.” Here’s the deal, Paul didn’t think about himself first as an authority figure or leader—he viewed himself as someone totally under the orders of his Master.

In the Church, we spend a lot of time on becoming better leaders. Leading well is definitely a good thing! But if we take a cue from Paul, we see his leadership flow not from personal achievements or discipline (though he had these LIKE CRAZY!). Instead, he walked in incredible spiritual authority because he submitted himself to the greatest authority—Jesus himself.

Paul’s Radical Transformation

To understand and emulate Paul, we need to focus his relationship with Jesus before we look at his feats of faith.

Like we discovered in part one of this series, Paul’s old life was spent mercilessly persecuting Christians as a devout Pharisee (Acts 8:1; Phillipians 3:5–6). And now, he’s writing a letter to a Gentile church in Rome…

So when we read today’s verse, we should be astounded that Paul submitted to the authority of a man killed as a Jewish blasphemer and heretic—Jesus of Nazareth.

That is the power of the gospel to change people—to change us. There is no power greater and no heart too far. What an encouragement—and challenge to my limited beliefs—the life of Paul is. The gospel can change any heart, any time, anywhere.

The heart of Paul’s ministry is his intimacy and obedience to Jesus. He was a man under orders, not in control of his own life and destiny.

He looked to Jesus. He listened to Jesus. He obeyed Jesus.

He was a servant before he was a Saint. A man who gave up control of his life; who modeled what it means to submit to Jesus as Lord.

Are you a servant of Jesus? And more importantly, do you live like it?

Bless us with rest tonight, Jesus, and a good night’s sleep. Forgive us for the things we did today that did not honor you. Thank you for loving us so much and that you know us through and through. We need your help every day, and we thank you for the strength you give and for helping us know that with you, even hard things are possible. Bless our family and our home, and keep us safe through the night. May your angels guard us and watch over us, just like you promised.

You’ve told us we are just like sheep. And that you lead us and guard us like a shepherd. You know our names, and you make us feel special and loved. When we hurt, you help us feel better. Thank you, Jesus, for your good care and for giving us [mom/dad/parents/foster parents/pastors] to help. Thank you for the Bible, and for teaching us stuff in life that helps us grow. Bless the people in our world, and help them to know you love them, too. Thank you for all the people who help us so much: teachers, doctors, policeman, and fireman—and so many more.

Thank you for your good plan for our lives. Help us to obey you and love you more and more. When we awake in the morning, put a smile on our face and your purpose in our hearts, ready to start a new day. We love you, Jesus. Good night. In Jesus’s precious name, Amen.