Monthly Archives: November 2019

Preparation is Godly Discipline

Many of us are gearing up for a time of family and friends, of social gatherings and joyful celebrations.

Some of us, however, are facing a time of conflict . . . loneliness . . . mourning . . . memories of what once was. We are looking at this season of joy as a season of dread.

Whichever season we are in, we need to be prepared for what the day has . . . prepared to be representatives of Christ. 

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

If we are prepared, we are ready to rely on God and not on our own understanding. We are ready to handle what this world has for us – ready for the challenges – the flaming arrows, the disappointments, the naysayers, the gossip, the criticism, the judgment. We are ready to handle the joys . . . ready to encourage . . . ready to be hospitable . . . ready to love.

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters.

We get prepared for these days ahead by practicing and applying truth, righteousness, peacefulness, faithfulness and claiming the power of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Remember . . . God’s weapons are for use in this day. Ask Him to show you how to use them. Read His Word. Sit with Him and His Word in a daily way and listen and converse with Him moment by moment. This is a discipline. It takes practice. It is preparation.

Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Ephesians 6:10-18 The Message

Remember . . . this is not a competition – we want everyone to win . . . to know the love of Christ. We want all our family, friends, and neighbors to be with us in paradise. So pay attention to those who God has placed in your path. Be prepared to encourage each other in love.

Prepare

After Jesus feed the five thousand and walked across the Sea of Galilee, the people realized that he had left them. So they went seeking him.

When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”

To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”

Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”

They waffled: “Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”

They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!”

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.

 I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” John 6:26-40

Did you ever think about the fact that Jesus’ “job” is to “put us on our feet alive and whole at the completion of time”? This process called “life” is the means by which God’s Will is carried out by Jesus. He is even now setting us on our feet and preparing us for the entrance into eternal life.

So as we contemplate Thanksgiving, let us remember God’s Will.   Let’s cooperate in it. Let us not jump in front of Jesus but instead be in step with Him, following when we need to follow, waiting when we need to wait, being still when we need to be still.

Let us remember the friends and family that are going to join us and the joys and challenges those interactions will produce. Let us remember to be on guard against falling into the same patterns of behavior that do not honor God. Let us sit in prayer and thanksgiving in advance of Thanksgiving Day so that we are prepared to bring Glory to God.

Prepare. Prepare your mind, your heart and your soul to bring Glory to your God. Let us join in prayer:

Lord Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,

We give thanks that you called each of us.

We give thanks that once you have us, you will never leave us or forsake us.

We give thanks that you love us . . . unconditionally.

We give thanks that you have entrusted each of us with people who are precious to you and therefore should be precious to us.

We give thanks that who your Son sets free is free indeed.

We give thanks that in your house, there is a place for each of us – yes, we are your children.

We give thanks that you are for us, not against us.

And we Believe, Lord, yes we believe.

Because we believe, we confess and repent of our sin.

We confess and repent of our selfishness, our arrogance, our anger, our jealousies, our unfaithfulness.

We confess and repent of our greed and malice, our sexual misconduct and adulteries.

We confess and repent because we have worshipped idols of all kinds including – money and power and position.

We confess and repent of our failure to take care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls which make up the temple of your Holy Spirit.

We confess and repent of our gossiping and whining and our complaining.

We confess and repent of our failure to turn to you, to listen, to go when you have called.

We confess and repent of our worry which exhibits our distrust in you.

We confess and repent of our failing to pray first, failing to wait upon you for your Will to be done.

We confess and repent for intervening in situations based on our own assessments instead of yours.

We confess and repent because we have judged people and situations that we really have no understanding of.

We confess and repent of our failure to extend grace – your grace that you freely give to us.

We confess and repent for failure to pray for the leaders in your Church, the leaders of this state, this country and your world.

We confess and repent of our dishonor of you and your son Jesus Christ and your Holy Spirit who lives and moves in we who believe.

Reach each of us in our brokenness and weaknesses.

Rid us of our unbelief – rid us of anything that is not of you.

You have promised us protection through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit and so we claim your protection for each of us and ask that you continue your protection of us and our families, of all your saints, and of your Church.

As temples of your Holy Spirit, we ask you to fill us to overflowing with the fruits of your Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Oh Lord, may we give thanks to you as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

May we love you with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds and all our strength and our neighbors as ourselves.

In Jesus Name we pray. Amen

Remember . . . For the Glory of God

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

When we let “right” behavior take over, it leads to more right behavior. “Right” behavior leads us to take care of those who God has placed in our path.

Respect instills more respect.

Self-control produces more self-control.

Kindness brings more kindness.

Encouragement ripples into more encouragement.

Faith spawns more faith.

Peace brings more peace.

Love births more love.

This daily exercise in “right” living produces sheep who listen to their shepherd and . . . sheep who listen to their shepherd will spend eternity in His presence.

Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’

And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ’ Matthew 25:41-46

The converse is also true. Once we let “bad” behavior loose it leads to more “bad” behavior. “Un-right” behavior focuses us on ourselves and leads us away from God.

Gossip encourages more gossip.

Lying leads to more lying.

Gluttony brings on more gluttony.

Self-centeredness brings on more self-centeredness.

Scheming leads to more scheming.

Hate breeds more hate.

This behavioral challenge occurs each day – in every way – in every situation.   The more we choose the Godly way, the more Godly we become.

Remember . . . Do the next right thing . . . For the Glory of God.

Meshing our faith (drenched in love) with Life – part 2

“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. Matthew 10:16 The Message

Take away #5 – Remember, power corrupts. We need to be on guard to strive to be humble; strive to focus on others instead of ourselves. If not, we will be dragged into the fray – office gossip, pot-stirring, planning another’s fall, and conniving to get ahead or to remain at the top.

 “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.

“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.

 “A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?

 “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.

 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. Matthew 10:17-28 The Message

Take away #6 – We need not be concerned when others speak ill of us. Although it hurts, especially if family or close friends are involved, choose to give those experiences to God and ask for Him to forgive them, and draw them to Him so that you can see them again in paradise. Remember, we are participants in planting, cultivating and harvesting. That is tough work and we can’t expect to be treated better than Jesus. God uses the people in our lives to help us and uses us to help them. Remember also . . . He will never leave us or forsake us – so when there seems like no options are left – don’t give up. A closed door means a window is being opened. Hold on; be still and wait for His miracle.

 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.

“Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

 “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

 “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

“We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

When Jesus finished placing this charge before his twelve disciples, he went on to teach and preach in their villages. Matthew 10:29–11:1 The Message

Take away #7 – God loves us. We need to love Him more than anyone else. When we put Him first, we will have His strength to persevere through storms.

He has a job for us to do in the moment we are in. He provides all we need for this day. Don’t worry about family and friends who don’t get it. When you leave them behind to go do His Work, Jesus will come teach and preach to them in ways you could not have imagined.

Be gentle, kind, humble, and honest. Trust that God can work through you and in you to help in the planting, cultivating and harvesting of souls.

Remember to accept the help provided to you by God – sometimes we are so focused on giving that we fail to see what is being provided to us. Be aware. Be thankful.

In this day, mesh your faith, drenched in love, in the place you have been placed with the people you have been placed here with.

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