Week Thirteen: Peace For Dummies

11 Jun

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

This promise in scripture has given me great joy, confidence, and of course, peace over the last couple of months. But beyond that, it has caused me to dive deeper into the meaning of peace. When defining peace, one may think of ideals such as tranquility, harmony, and the freedom from oppression and troubling thoughts or emotions. However, these ideals can only remain ideals because the world that we live in is not tranquil, not harmonious, and not free. Don’t get me wrong, we may be able to briefly experience these feelings on Earth, but the peace that the Earth gives is fleeting, faulty, and easily tainted. In this scripture, Jesus is making it very clear that the peace that He intends for us to possess can only come from Him. The peace that He is gifting us with is not only a supernatural peace, but it is HIS supernatural peace. In James 1:17, we are told that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” His peace is a gift and the gifts that God gives are perfect. This gift will not pass away, it will not change, and it will not be tainted due to circumstance like that of the world. The peace that Jesus gives is the peace that He had when He descended to Earth, maintained during temptation, and held on to when He was nailed to the cross. Peace can be a hard concept to grasp, especially in a world that prides itself on being busy but in Philippians 4:7, the Bible says that God’s peace is a shield for our hearts and minds. So when a storm begins to rage, just remember the disciples’ melt down in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had so much peace during the storm that He slept while the waves broke over the boat. When the disciples woke Him, He rebuked the storm by saying “Peace. Be still.” And the storm ceased. The peace of the Lord, which dwells in us, has the power to calm the storm, guard our hearts and minds, and can grant us freedom, tranquility, and harmony, you just have to let go, and let the Prince of Peace rebuke the waves.

Pray: God, I thank You for Your peace. I ask that You would help me grasp what it truly means to rest in Your peace this week and help me to rest in that peace this week.

Ask Yourself: Do I find myself in a state of peace or in panic? Am I allowing fear into my heart or am I resting in the gift peace that God is offering to give me?

Apply: If you do not feel like you are living in the peace that the Lord talks about in His word, ask that you may receive His peace in your life. If you are resting in His peace, take the time to thank and praise God for the gift of peace and pray that resting in His peace would be your first response in any circumstances you may face this week.

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Week Twelve: Face-plant

29 Jan

 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 3:23

Look up the word perfect in the dictionary…seriously, look it up. I’ll wait…

 

…What do you see? I bet it says phrases like “entirely without fault or defect” or “satisfactory in all requirements” or even “legally valid”. Let me translate those phrases for you: they mean everything that you are not. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of faults and defects. I am pretty sure that I don’t always fulfill the requirements that God or life throw at me. And in regards to the law…sometimes I break commandments and don’t use my turn signal when I drive. But God knows this and still loves me and wants to use me. And that goes for everyone. But if you don’t believe me, I’ll give you some examples from the Bible. Look at Rahab, David, Peter, and Paul. Rahab was a prostitute. David kept running away from everything and then committed adultery when he finally let God prosper him. Peter had trouble understanding Jesus’ teaching, didn’t know when it was appropriate to speak, lost faith quickly, and denied Jesus three times before He was crucified. And Paul, before his conversion, was a legalistic Jew whose life work was murdering Christians. These are real people, who lived through real difficulties, and who God used for His glory. Rahab helped the children of Israel infiltrate Jericho. David ruled Israel mightily and wrote a majority of the psalms. Peter served God with fervor and spread the Gospel with such faith that he became a martyr. And Paul is the author of most of the New Testament and founded churches all across Eurasia. All of these people, at one point or another, have not just fallen, but have face-planted into sin. But God has plans for us. We just have to run towards Him and although we may stumble, He will catch us before be biff it too badly. Trust that God has your back even when you fail and that you have been redeemed by the One who really is perfect.

 

Pray: God, thank you for being who you are. You are so good to me even though I sin against You. Thank You for the cross and Your sacrifice that has given me a new start. Strengthen me that I might not sin against You.

 

Ask Yourself: Am I caught in some unrepentant sin? Do I really accept that Christ is as forgiving as He says He is? Am I committed to striving towards His perfection?

 

Apply: If you are currently stuck in unrepentant sin, seek the Lord and turn away from it. Ask for forgiveness and run back towards God. Realize that you will never attain perfection on this earth and just keep running after His perfection.

Week Eleven: Pre-Game Jitters

21 Jan

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Colossians 3:1

How often do you think of eternity? I feel that sometimes, we forget that our life on earth is the pre-game and that heaven is the real deal. We think of life and God in such a small way that we get pre-game jitters and just want to quit because things don’t always go according to plan. But guess what? Earth is not our home. It shouldn’t be comfortable and Jesus warned us that it would be hard. But the majesty and the glory that awaits us with Christ in heaven is something that we as believers should hold fast to. It’s something that we should think of when we share the gospel. It’s also something that we should remember when it comes to Christ descending into our midst, to die on a cross, and to defeat death. He left everything that He deserved: All of the glory, honor, praise, and worship to be born in a manger, surrounded in scandal, and  live  a perfect and humble human life. Instead of remaining in glory, He endured the most painful and shameful death imaginable after being brutally beaten, mocked, and deserted. And as if all of this weren’t enough, in Romans 8:34, the Bible clearly states that Jesus is still interceding for us. Out of the depths of our sin and depravity, He gives us redemption if we call upon His name and follow Him as Lord. No matter how many times you mess up, He is still fighting for you! He loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Himself in heaven. God wants His salvation to go out to everyone.  He doesn’t want anyone on the sidelines, to suffer hell and eternal separation from the Father. So with all of this being said, we need our hearts to be set on God. On His will for salvation, on His call for each person, on His peace that surpasses all understanding, on His love that covers our sin, and on the fact that Christ won the victory and that no one can take that away. When Christ defeated death and rose from the dead, He broke the chains of death and sin that were holding us! So share His gospel to people who don’t know Him yet! Stop getting frozen with pre-game jitters, because you already know the outcome. For now, just work to stay at the top of your game and recruit some new teammates.

Pray: Lord I pray that my heart would be set on You and Your kingdom. I pray that no matter the circumstances that surround me on earth, I focus on You and remember that You are interceding for me with the Father as You sit at His right hand. Thank you for being such a loving and amazing Savior, Lord, and friend.

Ask Yourself: Am I letting my circumstances get the better of me or am I keeping my heart fixed on Christ, His kingdom, and His glory? Am I really accepting that Christ is seated at God’s right hand, interceding for me and inthroned in glory? Or am I letting the jitters get the best of me?

Apply: Just think about Christ being seated at God’s right hand. The glory and beauty that that scene is. As you try to fathom that unfathomable image in your mind, think of the staggering reality of Christ coming down to Earth. Now let that truth resonate in your being that Jesus loves you enough to leave all of that majesty to die for you on the cross. He is the God worth giving everything to and serving with everything. So set your mind on Him and His kingdom and let the rest melt away.

Week Ten: He Is The Lord!

13 Jan

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Isaiah 40:28

A couple of years back when I attended Calvary of Albuquerque, Pastor Chuck Smith came to teach and he said something that has stuck with me, and will probably continue to stick with me, for years. When we encounter LORD in the Bible, we are to think of when God revealed Himself to Moses at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 34:6-7. This is what that passage says of the Lord: He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and faithfulness extending mercy to thousands; forgiving rebellion, wickedness, and sin. So take all of that and add what else this verse has to say. He is without end, He created absolutely everything, He does not get tired or weary, and He has unlimited understanding. How beautiful is the Lord? He is literally unfathomable. He is absolutely immeasurable in every way. He never gets weary at all, which also means that He doesn’t get weary with us. I love this verse because it always challenges me to look past theology and doctrine and religion and just see God. The Creator, the Father, the Savior, the Friend, and I could go on and on. And not only do I get to see God but I get such strong reassurance of my faith because I know that He is all of these things and so much more! Never lose sight of who God really is and never stop praising Him for it!

Pray: God thank you for being who you are despite who I am. For being not only a perfect Creator but also an amazing Father and loving Lord. You are everything that I could ever want or need and I thank you for Your amazing grace and compassion.

Ask Yourself: How am I approaching God? With reverence and awe or is it more like blah? When you hear that God loves you and died for you are you really thinking of the vast, weightiness of that statement?

Apply: Just take a step back and think about the Lord. Think about His attributes. Spend time just praising God for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing now.

P.S: There are people who “do not know” and “have not heard” of the amazing God that we serve. Jesus calls us in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations. So spread the gospel this week because lives do depend on it. People are desperate and hurting and this God, who is everything that we could ever need, is the only hope!

Week Nine: Worrywart

10 Jan

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:33-34

We live in a society that seems to promote worry and stress. Every day we are faced with economic hardships, relational issues, and even spiritual concerns. We want a plan for everything and for that plan to be followed by the letter, but the moment that something isn’t going according to plan, we get worried. We ask ourselves: What will happen next? What can I do to fix it? Why isn’t this working? I don’t know what to do? This is my advice when those thoughts infiltrate your mind: just stop. Take a deep breath, pray, and be still. I feel that we forget that God is sovereign and perfect. He is our Heavenly Father who loves us and He has His hand over the situation. Once we allow worry to creep into our minds, we have kicked Christ out. It may seem harsh, but it’s true. The moment that you take your eyes off of what God has for you now and stop seeking His righteousness, worry becomes your god. We have to keep our priorities straight because the enemy wants nothing more than for us to lose our focus on Jesus. He loves useless Christians that give off a bad witness…don’t be what the enemy wants! Seek God at all times. He promises to not only to give you what you need but also the things that you desire if they are in His will. The beautiful thing about being in a relationship with Christ, is that the more you seek Him and trust Him, the more your thoughts and desires become like His. So just let it go. Whatever the thing is that you are worrying about. Is it money? A job? A relationship? A lack of relationship? Whatever it is, if it is a God-given desire, He will give it to you and if it is not, then with prayer and patience, know that the Lord will remove that desire. And just know this, God really does have perfect timing so don’t worry. He knows what you need, when you need it, and when to give it to you. So don’t be a worry wart, God’s got your back.

Pray: God, I pray that You would strengthen me as I seek You. Let me focus on You, Your kingdom, and on what You have for me today, not on what may lie ahead tomorrow.

Ask Yourself: Am I constantly worrying about things that I want, can’t do, or things that I think I need? Am I worrying about what tomorrow has in store, whether good or bad, or am I seeking Christ and His righteousness?

Apply: Just follow what the Lord says in this passage. Seek His kingdom, do His will, and seek His righteousness. Whatever the issue is that you are having will either melt away in light of His glory or He will reveal His plan in His time. Ask the Lord for peace in what ever areas that you are stressing over and focus on Jesus.

Week Eight: A Resolution Worth Keeping

1 Jan

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

It’s the beginning of a new year, which for many of us means “New Years Resolutions”. Or as I like to call it, “A long list of things that you won’t follow through with because you were too ambitious and now you’re over it”. We seem to do this every single year. We get really excited and think that we will be able to do everything that we always wanted to do in one year just because we wrote it down on a piece of paper. Sometimes, it’s because we get lazy or the list was a bit unrealistic or way too lengthy. But let’s be honest, maybe the reason you didn’t follow through with your resolutions isn’t because they were unrealistic, maybe it’s because they just weren’t worth keeping. But here is a resolution that you can and should keep: stand firm and work. For us to be effective Christians in this world, we must have a strong faith in Christ and a firm foundation of what it means to be a Christian. We are to be the light of the world, but if you aren’t seeking Christ and growing in Him, you’re practically a wet match in a damp cave…not very useful. Seek the Lord in this next year with zeal and fervor so that you can stand firm in the face of trial and uncertainty. He will make you strong as you seek His face. Christian, in this next year, pull up your sleeves and work. People are going to hell and hearts are becoming hardened and we need to try as hard as humanly possible to keep people from eternal separation from Christ. Any work done for the kingdom of God whether it be leading a small group or greeting someone at church, is not work done in vain. If your work is for the Lord, you are building up treasures in heaven and you will hopefully lead people to Jesus. This life is short and the only thing that will last is what is done for Jesus.

 Pray: Lord, give me the strength to stand firm in the faith. Keep me from moving away from You and Your truth. Lord, let me work for You and Your kingdom with no hesitation and will my whole heart.

Ask Yourself: Are you standing firm in Christ or are you wavering in your faith? Are you applying His principles in your daily life, or are you shrinking back? Is your work for God’s glory or your own? Are you getting disheartened in your service to the Lord?

Apply: Stay strong! Christ is the Cornerstone, providing a firm foundation for us to thrive. Life has it’s rough patches but stand firm and know that He is God and He is stronger than anything that may be thrown at you. Plant this truth in your heart, because your work is not in vain. Commit to a resolution this year that will get you closer to God, whether it be reading through the whole Bible, joining a small group, or serving at your local church. Get involved and stay committed and He will bless your labor.

Week Seven: The Devils Mendacity

24 Dec

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7

I feel that sometimes, in the deep recesses of our minds, we try to act as though the devil shares equality with God. We think of good and evil, love and hate, war and peace, and then God and the devil. It’s seems to be an automatic response to give them a direct and equal correspondence like we do with the above principles, because they are, of course, opposites. But don’t fall into this trap. The enemy wants us to believe that he is God’s equal because he is a liar and he wants us to stumble and fall. When I say that they are opposites, I really do mean it in every way. Down to the fact that God is uncreated and the enemy is creation. This fact alone discredits their equality and should give you confidence in the God that you serve. I don’t want to give the idea that the devil is not a formidable foe and thus pollute your ability to fight him. He is strong, especially if given the opportunity to work in this world that he been given temporary authority and rule over. But Christian, I want you to remember this fact in times of trial, pain, grief, and even prosperity, when you are feeling the devil advance; he has already lost and Christ is victorious. And not only that, but the moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given the Holy Spirit who then dwells in us. This Spirit gives you the discernment and power to submit to the Lord and fight the devil. The Lord doesn’t just say resist and the devil will flee, He says to submit, resist and then he’ll flee. Submit to the authority of God the Father, Christ the Savior, and the intercessory Holy Spirit and the devil will flee from you. We may be fighting against powers of darkness but we have better armor than our enemy and we know who has already won.

Pray: Lord I ask that You would give me the desire and drive to fully submit myself to You. God, keep me from succumbing to my flesh. Give me the wisdom to flee from temptation and run into Your arms. I pray that Your desires would be my desires and that I would be active in seeking You.

Ask Yourself: In what areas are you not submitting yourself to God and allowing the devil to have a foothold in your life? Why are you fighting submission in this/these area(s)?

Apply: Confront the areas in your life that you have not given to the Lord, and ask God to give you a submissive heart in those areas.  He promises to bless you as you strive to be more like Christ. And once again, don’t forget about the Spirit that dwells within you.

Week Six: Sloppy Seconds

17 Dec

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  

Colossians 3:23

 

As Christians, we know, at least in our heads, that God wants all of us. He wants every aspect of our lives, He wants our full worship, and He wants all of the glory. And once again, in our heads, we agree. In our hearts however, we are singing a different tune. In the back of our minds, at one point or another, we are seeking the glory for ourselves. We are always trying to impress everyone in earshot because we like feeling special. We like to feel like we are better than everyone else, even if just for a moment. It’s part of our nature and it’s a battle that we must fight daily. We are told that we should act in such a way that when people see our good works, that they will glorify our Father in heaven. Who is to get the glory? God. Not you and God, not your church and God, not your ministry group and God, just God. The Lord has given us the opportunity to serve Him and partner with Him in His kingdom but more often than not, we tend to leave Him with our sloppy seconds instead of our first fruits. He is the God of the universe, so why do we think that leftovers are acceptable? Stop trying to glorify yourself because you will always fall short. Glorify the God who is above all things. Stop trying to impress other people. Focus on God and the rest will fall into place. And stop with the sloppy seconds, because it’s selfish and rude. It’s like your stealing the first corner piece of a birthday cake, when it’s not your birthday. God gets the awesome piece of cake, not you. And chances are, if you’re willing to pass Him the piece of cake He deserves, He’ll give you a better piece anyway.

Pray: Lord, give me Your strength to surrender my whole heart to You. Give me the heart to work with only You and Your glory as my motivation. Please bless the work I do for You and Your kingdom.

Ask Yourself: Am I surrendering every aspect of my work to the Lord? Whether it be in ministry, in the workplace, or at home, am I fully dedicated to offering it up to the Lord as worship? Am I focused on glorifying Him or am I eyeing that corner piece?

Apply: If you are seeking to glorify yourself in any type of work that you do, ask the Lord to remove that desire. Actively ask yourself if the Lord is being glorified in what you are doing. If He isn’t then quit it.

Week Five: Flimsy Fingernail

9 Dec

 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  James 1:22 

It has been said, that there are not four gospel accounts but five: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the life of the believer. Unbelievers will seldom read the first four but focus on the other with intense and critical examination. More often than not, when our lives don’t match the standard that is in the Bible, hearts become hard and the term hypocrisy gets thrown around. Don’t get me wrong, we all fall into sin at times but don’t become comfortable in it. One of the saddest things to see is someone who professes to be a Christian but has not truly accepted Christ as Lord, they know the truth but just can’t bring themselves to act on it. And even more so, their charade turns away others in the process. We are to be His hands and feet, not just a fingernail that grows for a little bit, breaks and falls away, then grows back again and then repeats the cycle time and again. Don’t simply be the person who goes to church on Sunday and doesn’t live for Christ everyday or you’ll be like that flimsy fingernail. Salvation doesn’t come from religion but from faith in Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Snags will happen because life isn’t perfect, but shake it off and run after Him harder. Christian, love the Lord with everything you have, apply His Word to your life, and be a light in this world. Take heart, He has equipped you with a willing Spirit and an instruction manual; you just have to use them.

Pray: Lord, please strengthen my heart so that I may do what You command in Your Word. Let my heart yearn for You and fix my eyes on the cross. I want to live a life that is pleasing to You and a strong testimony to lead others to Yourself.

Ask Yourself: Am I really following the instruction that the Lord gives in His Word? Am I putting my faith into practice? Am I really letting Him be the Lord of my life?

 Apply: Stay in the Word and when you read it pray for the Lord to give you an opportunity to apply it. If you are confronted with a heart issue, pray He would mend your heart. And if you haven’t truly received Christ, please don’t try to keep up the religious facade, don’t deceive yourself. Ask Him into your heart so that you can live the life He intends for you to live, both now and in eternity.

Week Four: ‘Til My Dying Day

2 Dec

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

This is a really weighty scripture that I cannot properly dissect in this particular post, but I will try to give a glimpse of its beauty and share more on it a bit later. So here goes. Christ desires for us to live for Him and worship Him fully. He honestly wants for us to live our lives in a way that we would please the Father and lead others to Himself. A life of faith. A life of love. A life that is crucified. This is the part of Christianity that people have a hard time swallowing, and understandably so, but it is so important that we strive daily to reach this goal that Paul presents to us in Galatians. You aren’t suppose to simply be religious and go to church on Sunday and maybe attend a midweek service and call yourself a Christian. You are to take a backseat as Christ moves, changes, and shapes you into His image. To put it simply, you have to kill your flesh to be made into the likeness of Christ. We must worship Him in every aspect of life, not just once a week. He is the Alpha and Omega, He is righteous, He is just, and He is everything. He wants all of you, so trust that He has better plans for you that you do for yourself and that He is bigger than any circumstance. Take hold of the life Christ has planned for you because He will use you mightily if you do.

Pray: God, help me to live a crucified life. Help me that I may die to my flesh and sinful desires and seek you fully. Make clear to me the changes that need to be made in my daily walk and convict me of any sin that may be lurking within me. I pray that I would walk by faith and not by sight and that you would create in me a likeness to Christ, so that others may see Your Son shine through me.

Ask Yourself: Am I truly living my life by faith in Christ? What parts of my life am I not giving over to Him fully and why? Am I trying to attain a crucified life where I worship God unashamedly and wholly?

 Apply: Pray that the Lord would show you what area of your life needs to be immediately changed and start working on it. Seek His guidance in the Word and continually seek His face. Fast if you need to fast, weep if you need to weep, and keep your thoughts focused on Him. Do this for every area of your life and He will grow you if your motivation is to glorify Christ.

P.S: This is a lifelong journey. Don’t expect everything to change over night. Just press on and trust that He is faithful and don’t get discouraged if you stumble. Repent and seek Him harder!