You Are Not Alone: Acts 12

“But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.”

Acts 12:5

Have you watched the reality show Alone on the History Channel? Its premise is simple – place 10 individuals in the wilderness to survive on his/her own & see who lasts the longest.  They are completely cut off from all civilization & humanity. After 7 seasons the longest someone has remained alone is 100 days in the Arctic.

Each contestant is completely alone.  There is no camera crew to capture the footage for them. They film everything themselves.  About once a week they receive medical check-ups but otherwise they see no other human being.  Most contestants reflect on the loved ones they miss and wanting to get back to them.  Some tap out because they simply want to be with their loved ones. All contestants process what it means to be alone and how difficult it is to thrive completely alone.

During our study through Acts we see in each chapter how God does not have the apostles or followers be on his/her own.  God sends out the apostles at least in pairs, like Paul & Barnabas.  We read continually how the followers gathered together almost daily to share life together.  They live in community ensuring that no one felt alone.  

This week’s chapter we read how Peter got in trouble again for preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  He was arrested by the Israelite king, Herod and thrown into jail.  He awaited his trial when the Holy Spirit intervened to release him from jail and return him to the believers. (I love how Rhoda was so surprised she kept the door closed on Peter. Check it out.)

Peter may have been arrested but he was not alone.  The believers showed how they we were with him in spirit when they prayed earnestly for him.  They would not forget their brother Peter.  They loved him in words and actions.  They lifted him up in prayer to plead with God for Peter’s safekeeping while he was in jail.

As we continue in this pandemic we can feel alone ourselves.  We are not able to spend time with family and friends as we are accustomed to being together. We video chat with each other but it’s not the same. Perhaps we are experiencing our own season of Alone right now. 

Hear this: You are not alone.  As a follower of Jesus Christ you belong to the family of God.  We are connected to one another when we worship God.  We lift up one another in prayer trusting one another into God’s care. 

If you feel alone reach out to a friend.  Connect with a small group to share life together.  Pray to God to bring you comfort.  You can leave a message on any of our social media accounts to connect. 

As you study this chapter read how God was present with Peter in jail.  Note how Peter was followed the angel when he was woken up in the middle of the night.  Model the prayers of the followers when they were at Mary’s house.  

May you go about your day, your week remembering you are not alone.  You belong to God.  You belong to God’s family.  Be connected with the followers of Jesus through prayer, worship, fellowship via Zoom. 

This Week’s Challenge

Complete this sentence: When I feel alone I will reach out to________________  by ______________________. 

What is A Christian? – Acts 11

“It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.”

Acts 11:26b

As we have journeyed through the book of Act we have seen God send out ordinary people to spread the news about Jesus rising from the grave.  They did not necessarily go to college specializing in ministry. Their credentials? A heart for God and a willingness to serve.

In Acts 11 we see Peter sharing about his dream with the Jewish believers in Jerusalem.  They did not think the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) follow Jesus without converting to Judaism.  Peter told them about his dream and how the Lord taught him to love the Gentiles as God loves them.

The Gospel was being taught among the Jews and Gentiles with lives being changed completely.  All were praising God for the blessing being shared to all people who believed.  While in the city Antioch Barnabas joins Saul (aka Paul) to team teach for a year.  While there the believers began to be called Christians.  

So what is a Christian?

A Christian is a person who follows Jesus Christ with his/her whole life.  This individual has surrendered to Jesus, accepting that s/he cannot save one’s self. Complete change begins in his/her heart so that s/he becomes more like Christ has s/he grows in faith.

A Christian has his/her identity solely in Jesus. So far we have learned from the early Christians how to live and share in the Gospel. They changed their lives to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

What does a Christian look like in today’s world?  Do we have to walk away from our careers to move to a foreign country?  Not necessarily. 

Being a Christian in today’s world means the same thing as it did in Acts 11.  We surrender to Jesus, acknowledging that we cannot save ourselves. We grow in trust in God and see ourselves completely change from the inside out. 

Since we are Christians we live The 168 Life.  Our faith guides our decisions, determines our actions. We become examples in the world of how God loves everyone. Rather than arguing and causing divisions with others we listen to learn and gain understanding. Where one is in need physically, emotionally or spiritually we serve willingly without judgment.

As a follower of Jesus you are a Christian.  You represent God in the world.  What is the message you are saying about God with your life?  Think about the one thing you want everyone to know about Jesus? This is the story you have to share.

You are a Christian.  You are a missionary. Seek where God is sending you to share your story.  Is it at work with a fellow co-worker?  Perhaps it is with a neighbor?  Or maybe God is having you volunteer in the community to help others?

So as a Christian live the 168 Life in such a way that others see the difference in you and ask what it is.  Take courage from fellow Christians in the Book of Acts to persevere when opposition arises. Listen to the voice of God to go where you are led and to share the words you are given.

Christian, may others see you and praise God in Heaven for all things God has done for us.

This Week’s Challenge

Write in a paragraph the message you want others to hear about Jesus.  To help think about why you love Jesus.

Acts 10: God Does Not Have a Favorite

“Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.”

Acts 10:34

What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off?

What’s your favorite color?

We all have favorites, our go-tos in life.  Favorite song. Favorite meal. Favorite book to read.  Favorites bring us comfort.  We love them for a reason whether it invokes a beloved memory or helps us feel connected to a loved.  We keep our favorites close to us.

This week we spend time with Peter as he prays and receives a vision from God.  He is led by the Holy Spirit to meet with three men who are not Jewish to share with them the Gospel story. Peter learns to not judge others because God loves them as much as God loves Peter. God does not show favoritism to any of His people.

Peter believed that since the Jewish nation was God’s Chosen people than those who were Gentiles (non-Jewish) needed to become Jewish to be saved.  Rather God teaches Peter that all people are loved unconditionally by God, regardless of nation, class or gender.  

We can become exclusive by spending our time with those things/people that are familiar to us.  We feel comfortable around them so we spend more time with them.  But by doing so we can lose out on new experiences or new relationships.

God teaches us through Peter the importance of accepting others.  As we journey along with Jesus we learn from God’s perspective.  We begin to see anew other people and other experiences.  God works in our hearts to not be judging but rather accepting.  We will not always argue with one another but we can learn from one another. 

As God does not show favoritism we do not show favoritism.  God welcomes all to a walk with Jesus Christ so shall we welcome all people.  We may be tempted to shape someone to be the “right type” Christian first.  But we must remember that God accepts us just as we are, right we are.  God does not show favoritism meaning some can come as they are while others have to change first.  All are welcomed at the feet of Jesus as s/he is that day.

So as we live the The 168 Life, we love others as God loves.  We get to know people for who they are as God created them.  We pray for God to open our hearts to love openly, to open our eyes to see one as God sees them. We share our story with Jesus with all so all may have their story with Jesus for themselves.

Let us show God’s love for everyone by loving all. Pray in your daily walk to see as God sees, to open up to new experiences with new people.  Pray that you do not show favorites because God surely does not show favoritism.

This Week’s Challenge

Meet with someone who is different from you.  Learn from one another. Each share who you are, what makes you unique.  See what God loves about this individual and how you can come to love them. 

Acts 9: You Don’t Have to Change to Serve God

“But the Lord said, ‘Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.’”

Acts 9:15

Have you ever thought you needed to change first before you could serve God?

This week we meet Paul.  At the end of Chapter 8 we see a man called Saul (the same guy we know as Paul) watching the stoning of Steven. Saul made it his mission to eradicate the followers of Jesus.  He saw them as opposition to the Jewish faith so he used his passion & determination to defeat them. 

One day on his journey to a new town Saul meets the Ascended Jesus.  Through their interaction Jesus tells him to go into the city to await further guidance. This conversation is known as Paul’s conversion.  Paul goes on to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles (those not of the Jewish faith) and kings.  He wrote more than half of the New Testament with some of his letters.  

God did have Paul change who he was once called to serve.  Instead God used Paul’s passion & determination to go into new cities & cultures sharing the Gospel.  We will learn more from Paul as we study through Acts. For right now we learn how God calls anyone to serve without the expectation of changing one’s personality. 

Paul was determined to stop the Christians because he saw them as opposition to the Jewish faith.  He got support from leadership to go town to town to arrest any Christians in that town. But when God called him to share the Gospel of Jesus God did not ask Paul to stop being determined or displaying leadership.  Rather God used that same determination &  leadership in the name of Jesus.

Paul made 3 missionary trips and ended up in Rome, the virtual capital of the world, sharing the Gospel & starting churches in each town. Paul now became determined to tell everyone about Jesus and led others to begin following the Way in their own lives. 

As God is calling you to serve you do not need to change who you are first before you can serve.  The traits that make you unique are the very ones God wants to use to share the Gospel with people in your life.  

If you love hosting people at gatherings to hang out think how you can now gather people to hear the Gospel.

If you enjoy creating music & playing see how you can use those loves to communicate God’s love to others.

If you enjoy being creative with materials, how can that creativity can articulate aspects of God’s unconditional love for each of us.

God is calling you to serve as you are where you are. Don’t not believe the adversary’s (Satan) lies trying to convince you that you have to change first before God can use you.  Hear the Holy Spirit whisper in your heart that you are perfect just as you are. God wants to use your uniqueness to share the Gospel in the world. 

As you go about your week see how God is using your uniqueness.  Dream how you can use that uniqueness to share your story with Jesus Christ. Pray with God for the opportunities to share & the courage to step into those moments. 

Keep being yourself.  Grow more into the individual God has created you to be in this life. Be as Paul, committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, just as you are.

This Week’s Challenge

Write in your journal how God has created you unique.  For each trait, write how you can share your story about Jesus with that trait.

Acts 8: Follow On the Adventure

“The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Acts 8:29

So far in our study of Acts we have seen the disciples going here & there sharing the Gospel.  They were led by the Holy Spirit to go out from Jerusalem to neighboring cities & countries. Today we follow Philip on his journey of sharing the Gospel.

He was sent by the Holy Spirit to go south on a road away from Jerusalem.  The reason why was not first explained but Philip did learn quickly on his trip the reason. He met a man from Ethiopia who was studying the Scriptures. Philip stopped and asked if he was understanding what he was reading.  From this question a conversation about the story of Jesus began ending in the Ethiopian man being baptized as a sign of his new faith in Jesus. 

Being led by the Holy Spirit is an adventure. We do not always know the ‘why’ as we start out.  We are asked by God to trust and follow.  As we journey along over time we see the ‘why’, either in full or in part. God has a purpose for us as part of His Plan. We cannot see the full picture but we can see the pieces of the puzzle that are directly connected to us.  

Philip models for us the willingness to go where God leads. He starts out on the road not sure where he will end up but once he sees the man on the road studying the Scriptures he understood what God had for him to do that day.  As their conversation began the words were given to Philip to share with the Ethiopian man so as the Gospel can be received openly.

In our lives God has us go and do things we may not understand immediately as to why.  We know it is God sending us in a variety of ways.  It can be gut feelings that simply don’t go away.  It can be studying the Scriptures ourselves when a verse pops out at us and the next step becomes clear.  It is in our prayers with God when a thought becomes clear.  A passion from within us grows bright that cannot be denied.

As you travel along your journey with Jesus note the times God is leading you.  What are the gut feelings you have?  Trust God’s leading and follow on the adventure. 

When you study the book of Acts note the times you can relate to the disciples as they are led by God.  Pray to God asking what God is leading you to do, teaching you in the moment.  Then trust that where God leads us the Holy Spirit will give you the courage to serve & the words to share.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ we are on an adventure with God.  We will see amazing things, experience incredible moments.  While we do not always understand the ‘why’ right away we trust God fully. 

So this week, follow God’s leading.  That gut feeling you have that just doesn’t seem to go away, pray to God what you are to do.  The conversation you just know you need to have know the Holy Spirit will give you the words to share at just the right time.  Follow along on the adventure ready for the experiences that await you.

This Week’s Challenge

As you go about your week note the nudges you get to have a conversation or go somewhere.  Pray to ensure it is from God.  Then go & do as God leads.  Afterwards look to see how led you on this part of the adventure.

Acts 7: A History Lesson on Faith

“As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.”

Acts 7:59-60

In Acts 6 we met Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, chosen by God to serve the people. And now we receive a history lesson from Stephen.  If you have not read the 1st 5 books of the Bible in the Old Testament (the front section) Stephen provides a pretty succinct summary of the history.  He even goes past those books all the way up to the book of Psalms.  

The reason he gives this history lesson is to remind those accusing him of their own history.  He illustrates the Plan of Salvation through the centuries.  He wants them to see that Jesus is not a heretic.  He is the Son of God Who came to redeemed the world. Stephen shares the Gospel message with the very people who have been waiting for the Messiah (the Promised One).

Stephen shared the story not to condemn them but rather to open their eyes.  Religion had become the focus that trusting God was forgotten.  Rituals became more important than living out one’s faith in all aspects of life. 

Let’s just say those who were listening to Stephen did not receive what he had to say very well.  

“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage.” Acts 7:54

A couple of verses later we read how they put their fingers in their ears.  Crazy, I know.

Stephen was killed for telling the Gospel story.  But he did not hold a grudge.  As he was being killed he prayed to God for the forgiveness of those who were killing him.  He loved that much.  He trusted God that fully.

In our own lives we become distracted by the rituals of religion that we lose sight of the authentic living of our faiths.  We fixate on doing things the right way that we forget about the relationship God is seeking with each of us.

What we learn from Stephen in this story is to not lose the story of our faiths.  It is important look back on our own faith story and how we have grown in maturity with God.  We cannot forget the why of our faith.

By remembering our story we see the moments God directed our path, the times the Holy Spirit provided courage in times of fear, the courage Jesus gave us as we took a step of faith. The path is seen and the next steps can be better understood as we see the full journey.

Take time this week to reflect on your faith journey. It might be 2 decades long or 2 years long.  It does not matter.  Sit with God and see the story of your faith.  Mark the high times of joy.  Note the times of sadness.  See the periods of growth. Celebrate how God was with you through it all.

A history lesson of faith in each of us.  By learning from it we are better able to tell it to others so they can begin to have their own story of faith with God.

This Week’s Challenge
Outline your own story of faith.  List the times of joy, of sorrow, of growth. See how God was in each part of it with you.

Acts 6: Chosen to Serve

“And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.”

Acts 6:3

As the Church grew in size it grew in infrastructure. In other words, there was more work to be done.  Therefore more volunteers were needed.  Some of the believers did not think they were receiving a fair portion of the gifts. The Disciples were busy with teaching and leading so they were not available to settle the dispute.  The solution? Select 7 men to oversee the project.  Our first instance of delegation in the early Church.

Among the seven chosen was Stephen.  He was a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). Stephen was a man who loved Jesus and loved people. He humbly led the distribution to ensure everyone received a fair amount.  He is an example for us today of living The 168 Life.  He went about his day serving the Lord in word and action.

His life was such an example of the The 168 Life that the Temple leaders took notice and tried to get him to stop.  They gathered false testimony against him so to charge him with blasphemy (speaking falsely against God). But this did not stop Stephen.  He shared his love for Jesus even when a jail sentence was threatening.

See, Stephen was chosen by God to serve in the Church and with his life.  Stephen knew that God was with him every step of the way.  He did not need to fear the lies that were being said against him.  He trusted God to protect him even if it meant death (That’s next week’s post).

For us today, we are chosen by God to serve.  Some it is as a pastor or on a church staff.  Others it may be as a teacher guiding children on their learning journey.  Still others in the medical profession caring for people.  Or in the corporate world helping products & systems get to people. 

Wherever God has led you, you have been chosen by God to serve right where you are as you are.  Fancy degrees are not necessary.  Simply be like Stephen telling people about Jesus in word and action.  As you do your job work with integrity leading by example.  As you go about your personal life care for friends and neighbors with love.  

When difficulties arise, probably not as severe as false testimony like for Stephen, trust that God is with you always. You have been chosen to serve.  Be confident in the gifts & passions God has placed in your heart. 

As you start each day ask God where/who you are being led to serve.  Seek for the opportunities to share why you love Jesus.  Care for another who may not be expecting the gift of service. You can open the door for the person behind you or the one coming in as you are leaving a building.  Or smile to another as you pass each other on the sidewalk or bike trail.

Each of these are small services we are all called (directed) by God to do as disciples. Each one share the love of God with the world.

So go out chosen disciple of Jesus Christ.  Go out and serve as you have been gifted to serve.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down at the end of each day how you serve someone that day with the love of God.  Did you help a neighbor? Reach out to a friend to check on them?  Run an errand for someone that was not able to do so themselves?

Acts 5: Being Authentic is Real

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Acts 5:29

“Sharing is caring”

At the end of Acts 4 we see once again the followers of Jesus sharing all that they have with one another.  As we begin to read Acts 5 we get a more in-depth look as to what community looks like in every day life. A couple, Ananias & Sapphira, sold a piece of property. Together they devised a plan to give some of the money to the faith community while misleading everyone to falsely believe that the couple was giving all of the money.

This lie did not work out well for them.  No spoiler alerts here.  You can read for yourself what were the results of their actions.

The lesson for us to learn today is the importance of authenticity.

Ananias & Sapphira were not authentic and paid the consequences for it.

In the same chapter we read about how Peter and the Apostles were once again brought before the religious leaders (the Sanhedrin). They were told another time to stop sharing the Gospel of Jesus and healing people by His name. The religious leaders did not want the Apostles to take people away to follow Jesus. So they ordered the Apostles to stop all together.

How did the Apostles respond?  With fear? With nonchalance?

The Apostles said, “We must obey God rather than human beings.” (Acts 5:29).

The faith of the Apostles was authentic.  It flowed out of them in their words and with their actions.  They did not put up a front to ‘show off’ in front of the public.  One way you can say is their social media life matched their real life.

So here is the question before us: Are we authentic in our faiths in all aspects of our lives?

Look at your social media.  Is what you post online truly represent who you are in real life?  Are you trying to be one person online and a different person in real life? Ask yourself why that may be if you are different.

Or are you one way in one area of life and another in your faith journey? Is there a reason you may try to hide your faith around a certain friend group?

Being authentic in one’s faith journey is difficult at times.  As we have seen so far with the Apostles they were thrown in jail for being authentic followers of Jesus.  It was not a smooth road for them to travel on. There are times we will face struggles while we are authentic in our own faith journeys. If we try to deceive others the lie will be found out as it was with Ananias and Sapphira.

This week take time in your devotional time to define what being authentic in your faith journey looks like in daily life. Think about what message you want to share with the world about Jesus. Consider what actions you can do each day that help convey that message. See how your social media posts are a way to also share that message.

It is in seeing the difference in our lives that others begin to question what is the reason for the difference. #ActsofDisciples @ReSolvedFaith

Authenticity is a strong way to share the Gospel message with others.  It is in seeing the difference in our lives that others begin to question what is the reason for the difference. They look at our actions and our words to make sure they match up. If they do then questions are asked.  If they don’t match then they do not see the importance of faith in one’s life. 

So take the time to see how you can be authentic in your faith.  Be assured you do not need to be perfect.  Remember we live by grace, freely forgiven by God when we repent (aka admit sin, ask for forgiveness, change behavior/attitude). Being authentic is also sharing about the lows and how God carries us through them.

May you be encourage by Peter and the Apostles knowing that no obstacle or difficulty will separate you from the love of God. May you be authentic in your faith so others may ask what is different in your life.

This Week’s Challenge

How can you be authentic in your faith?  Select one thing you can change to this end. Plan it into your day to make this change permanent.

Acts 4: Courageous Faith Sharing

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

Peter and John did not fly under the radar as they shared the Gospel with the people. After they brought healing in the name of Jesus to the Lame Beggar outside of the Temple (Acts 3) Temple leaders approached them to have a ‘discussion.’

Sharing the Gospel does bring about changes to lives.  The Temple leaders were concerned that the more Peter & John taught the people the less the power the leaders would have in public.  The Temple leaders did not believe in Jesus’ resurrection.  They worked to quell the Jesus Movement as best they could.  And now they had to deal with the fact that a 40 year old man who was lame since birth was now walking around town. 

The Temple Leaders worked to have Peter & John to be quiet. They order the duo to no longer preach in public.  If the two could not speak in public then the problem would be solved.  Except it didn’t go away.

Peter & John had courage to share their faiths because they knew Jesus was sending them out to share the Gospel.  They knew the Holy Spirt was with them always giving them the words to say. The Temple Leaders were not going to stop them (Acts 4:19-20).

We learn from Peter & John how to be courageous.  Each man was an ordinary man.  They did not have a bunch of letters after their names signifying a great deal of education. They were regular fishermen who lived with Jesus for 3 years watching and learning directly from Him.  They went now simply shared their stories of being with Jesus. 

I can hear now Peter sitting at dinner with some friends telling them about the time he walked on water. 

In our lives we do not need to have a ton of education before we share our faith stories. We simply tell the times we saw God in our lives and loved us.  We have courage to share, as Peter & John did, because the Holy Spirit is with us always. 

People will also take note of your faith when they hear of your story.  They will hear Jesus through the stories you share with them of your experiences with Him.  It is not about you. The hero of your story is Jesus alone. Let people begin to experience Him as you share your story.  

So do not fear, fellow disciple.  Be courageous to share your story with Jesus. Speak the words the Holy Spirit gives you to share. See God work another’s heart planting the seed of faith. The Gospel will continue go out into the world as the disciples of Jesus courageously share their stories of being with Jesus with others.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down any fear/worry you have about sharing your faith story with someone. Next to each one write what God says to give you courage against that fear/worry.

Acts 3: Healed in the Name of Jesus!

“Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.” (Acts 3:16)

Whenever I hear of a faith healing this image comes to mind: A gaudy dressed preacher (probably sweating & spitting as he speaks) yelling, “Healed in the Name of Jeeesus!” An individual seeking healing of some sort is ‘sooo” overcome s/he faints into the waiting arms of the ushers miraculously healed. Crutches are tossed aside. Wheelchairs left empty.  Men and women who haven’t walked in years are not walking home.

In this third chapter of Acts we hear the story of the Lame Beggar being healed by the Name of Jesus.  We left the disciples in Chapter 2 after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost empowering them to go and make disciples in all nations.  Now we follow Peter & John going to the Temple one afternoon passing a lame beggar man.

This man who was lame from birth.  He relied on friends to bring him to the Temple each day so he can ask whoever came to the Temple for their generous giving of money.  It was how he supported himself.  But Peter & John was able to give him something much better than money.  They shared Jesus’ name with the man so he was able to walk home on his own for the first time ever.

Receiving healing in the name of Jesus is offered to everyone. And it is not limited to physical healing only.  Perhaps it is a healing of your heart from a broken relationship.  Or healing from pain acquired from society. Whatever healing you are searching for believe in the name of Jesus.  Know that deep within your soul Jesus is offering to completely change you by His love. 

Just as the Lame Beggar believed what Peter & John told him it was his faith in Jesus that he received healing.  He trusted fully in the power in the name of Jesus.  It is because of this trust that his story was heard throughout the town and others came to know & trust Jesus in their own lives. Peter & John were able to share the Gospel with more people after encountering this man’s faith.

In your own life how do you trust Jesus?  Are there areas of your own life that you want to trust more?  Maybe in relationships? Or perhaps with finances or your career? Take the time this week spending time with Jesus so He can begin to bring you healing.  Let go of the pain or fear that you may carry.  Place it at His feet trusting fully in the power of His name. 

You are healed in the Name of Jesus!  Go now walking freely with the Lord of Life.

This Week’s Challenge

What do you want healing for in your life? Pray each day this week to be healed in the Name of Jesus.  Surrender yourself to be transformed by Jesus.

Acts 2: You Get God’s Grace! And You Get God’s Grace! God’s Grace for Everyone!!

“This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:39)

This week we are looking at Acts Chapter 2.  We left Chapter 1 with Jesus promising the disciples they will not be alone once He ascends into Heaven.  He promised them the Holy Spirit where they would receive power as they live as witnesses in Jerusalem and all over the world. 

Now in Chapter 2 the disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a Jewish festival celebrating the harvest and 50 days after the Passover. While they were gathered together the Holy Spirit came empowering them to be witnesses in Jerusalem first and then all over the world. 

As you read Acts Chapter 2 note how Peter, the impulsive disciple, now stands in front of the city preaching a full sermon with full confidence. He quotes the Old Testament a couple of times. He preached so well thousands were saved that day.

Today we are looking at the verse 39 where Peter shares how all are saved by the grace of God. Previously only Jewish people were able to be saved.  If one was born a Gentile (not from Israel) s/he needed to be converted into the Jewish faith so that s/he can be saved.  What Peter says is revolutionary.  Gentiles can be saved?!?! God’s grace is for everyone?!?!?

No one is left out of receiving God’s grace.  Each one of us is loved unconditionally by God. We are called to repentance, a turning back on sin and turning towards God’s open arms. This is the joy to be found in God alone. 

When you look at the section after Peter’s sermon you see how the community of followers shared life together.  If one had more of something s/he shared with the community. They gathered together to worship and have a meal together.  As others saw how much they loved one another and served in the city they asked more about faith and became followers of Jesus in their own lives.

This is the example we are to follow in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is the community we share with fellow disciples that gives an example of God’s love for everyone. By caring for one another we demonstrate God’s unconditional love for all people. Remember God’s grace is for everyone.  We cannot isolate ourselves with fellow disciples. God sends out to the world to be witnesses, telling our stories with Jesus.

This Week’s Challenge

Who is someone in your life that God is nudging you towards sharing your witness about Jesus Christ? What is 1 thing you will do this week to begin the conversation?

Acts 1: Sharing About Jesus in 1 Sentence

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Today we begin a new series going through the Book of Acts. Acts was written by Luke (the same guy who wrote the Gospel According to Luke) as a ‘sequel’. He wrote Acts to follow the story of the disciples (the closest followers of Jesus) and the growth of the Church after Jesus returned to Heaven after His Resurrection. 

We are going through Acts chapter by chapter to hear the stories of the disciples & the Church to learn from them how we can share the Gospel in our lives. From ordinary men and women God built the Church.  These men and women were not famous already.  They were like you & me, people who loved Jesus and follow Him wherever He leads them.

Each week read the next chapter of Acts.  So for this week, read Acts 1.  You can read it each day and see what jumps out at you for that day.  Write it down in your journal.  If you want you can use the YouVersion Bible App to read the chapter in different versions.  I recommend: New International Version (NIV 2011), English Standard Version, New Living Translation, The Message.  

Spend quality time with each chapter.  Let the Holy Spirit teach what God has to say in each chapter.  You can even choose a verse each week to memorize.  By the end of the series you will have 28 verses memorized.

Now to the 1st chapter of Acts:  Here we see Jesus spend some final moments with His followers before He ascends to Heaven.  He tells them to wait in Jerusalem until the Helper (aka the Holy Spirit) comes to empower them to go out into the world sharing the Gospel. 

Today Jesus gives us the same instructions to receive the Holy Spirit and then go out into our whole lives sharing the Gospel.  It does feel daunting but it does not need to be. Focus on the day ahead of you.  Look to the people already in your life. God will show you opportunities of where you can share with people already.

As you follow Jesus you are not left alone to figure out life on your own. No need to fear. God gives you the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to go out and the words to share in conversation. You are not alone.

In your devotions this week think about the reasons you love Jesus.  What difference has Jesus made in you and your life? Write it all down in your journal.  Then craft what you wrote into 1 sentence.  Make it a sentence that is easy to remember. One that sounds natural as you say it to someone else.  Let it be a succinct way for you to share why you love Jesus. 

As Jesus promised the disciples that they will receive the Holy Spirit so that they can go out as witnesses of Jesus in the world. They knew Jesus.  They saw how He lived and interacted with others.  They were to simply go out and share their experiences with Him to the world.  Us today have our own relationships with Jesus. We have our own stories to share about Him.  That is what we are asked to do.  Share why we love Jesus. 

So go about your day, your week and as the opportunities arise tell someone in 1 sentence why you love Jesus.  Then see how God guides the conversation from there.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down in 1 sentence what you want someone to know about Jesus. What is 1 thing this week you will do to live this out?

#168Life: Living Faith in the 168

There are 168 hours in a week.  Historically as the Church we have focused faith to be in the couple of hours on Sunday mornings we spend in worship & an hour during the week in Bible study. We begin to think that Church is what we do at specific times in specific places. Faith becomes categorized to a segment of our lives.  We treat as an outfit that we put on for certain occasions when it is appropriate.

But faith was never meant to be limited to 2-3 hours a week.  Being a disciple means “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophe” (Oxford Dictionary).  It involves a person’s whole life.  We follow Jesus wherever He leads us. We learn from His teachings in the Bible applying them in our lives. 

The #168Life is living out one’s faith every day all day.  It influences what we say with friends or post on social media.  Faith is the filter through which we see the world. By it we make decisions, interact with others, share love with the world. Faith shapes who we are in every area of life. It is who we are, not what we do.

Here at ReSolved Ministry we strive to live our faiths in a way that others ask what is different about us.  We serve others with love and share the Gospel with humility. We grow each day in the Lord knowing that we are being changed from the inside out by the Holy Spirit. 

There are 4 Missional Habits to help one live the #168Life: Be Present, Listen to Learn, Serve, Share. 

  1. Be Present – put away the distractions and be fully present in the moment.  It is giving your undivided attention to the one(s) you are with.
  2. Listen to Learn – listening to one another, not waiting to respond, but to learn about the other person.  It is listing with your eyes & ears hearing what is being said and what is not said.
  3. Serve – As you learn about one another you hear their real needs. You can serve with humility, caring for one another.
  4. Share – as the relationship grows so does trust.  In this trusting friendship you lovingly share why you love Jesus.

The Missional Life Habits are tools we use to help us live out our faiths 168 hours a week.  We grow in each one over time as we grow closer to the Lord.  

To help you grow in the Missional Life Habits you can join the ReSolved Ministry Online Community, our Facebook Group. It is a place to connect, share prayer requests, encourage.  On Sundays we look at one of the Missional Life Habits for that week then discuss how we can live it out in our lives for the next 168 hours. 

May every disciple life the #168Life so that the whole world questions the lives we live asking about the difference that is in us.  This is how the Gospel goes out into the ends of the world advancing the Kingdom of God.

Who’s In Your Tribe?

“The New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion.”

John Wesley

Reading through the Gospel of Matthew and the whole New Testament one sees time and time again how as God sends someone out to share the Gospel s/he goes with others.  No one was sent out by the Holy Spirit alone.  Even Jesus served in ministry with others and He was the Son of God.

Becoming a follower of Jesus involves connecting with other followers of Jesus. We come together in worship, prayer & fellowship to grow closer to God and thereby to one another. We share stories from serving in our communities, living out our faiths. 

Who is in your tribe?  Who are the people closest to you that walk with you as all of you serve the Lord?  

Having a tribe is vital to growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Through our tribe God comforts us, teaches us, challenges us. In our communities we discern together how the Holy Spirit is leading us. 

If you do not know who is in your tribe pray to God to show you who He is bringing into your life.  Look to your local church community for a small group you can join. Or ask the pastor to help you get connected with others to have a tribe together.

As you have your tribe decide together when all of you will meet.  Is it weekly in person or bi-weekly via Zoom? Look to see how you will stay connected during the week.  Group text messages help to quickly share prayers & updates.  Emails provide a place for stories from ministry to be share in full. However you meet & connect it is important to remain in communication with one another.

Being a part of a small group is part of being a follower of Jesus. Together we serve the Lord participating in God’s Will being done here on Earth. We see the amazing things God is doing in and through us for His glory.

So, who’s in your tribe?

This Week’s Challenge
Determine who is in our tribe. Now decide together how often you will meet & how you stay connected during the week. Watch together what God is doing in reaching all people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Healing from the Inside

When reading the 8th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew one encounters two stories of Jesus healing people.  He was approached by two individuals who were not regarded ‘good’ by Jewish society as worthy of being around Jesus.  One was a leper who was perennially unclean and could not be around others lest they cause someone else to become unclean.  The other was a Roman centurion who was in a position of authority over the Jewish people and was seen as an enemy.

Each person, the leper and the centurion, understood who Jesus truly was, a gentle healer for all people.  They approached Jesus with humility to ask for healing for either themselves or for a loved one.  Jesus saw in these requests a faith that superseded anything else. Jesus offered healing because of their great trust in Him as the true Messiah.

In our lives today we face hardship and pain.  The loss of a loved one.  Difficulty in relationships. Struggles in professional lives. The pain is not always seen physically on the outside for others to see. It does sit deep in our souls where we try to cover it up and not let someone see it.

Jesus brings healing to everyone. Whether the pain is a disease or internal hurt His healing brings peace to our souls. This world is broken and not as God the Father intended at Creation.  So Jesus comes to us to heal us from the hurts of this world. 

We see His dedication in the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10-20. Here in this story we see the Great Shepherd leave the 99 sheep in their pen safe from harm and went out into the wilderness to find the 1 lost sheep.  He loves all of His sheep, children, so deeply that He will do what needs to be done to heal them.

Jesus brings His healing to you.  What pain are you holding onto from your past?  Where are you searching for peace from the brokenness of this world? 

Go before the Lord and give Him your hurt.  Tell Him where it hurts.  Let Him blanket you with peace to grow through the pain and become stronger in the Lord.  Grow in trust in the Healer God. 

As the leper said to Jesus, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2), say the same to Jesus. Watch the healing He brings you from the inside out.

This Week’s Challenge

Each day this week pray to Jesus the pain you feel deep in your soul.  Ask Him to bring healing to you and show you how He is healing. Memorize Matthew 8:2 as part of your prayer life this week.

Evangelism Isn’t So Scary

The interesting thing about faith is how it can become extinct with each generation.  Unless people share why they love Jesus then faith is not passed on to the next person and slowly disappears.

As a follower of Jesus Christ each of us are to share why we love Jesus.  It is how the faith is passed on.  Think about how you began your own faith journey.  Who shared their own story with you?  Who invited you to begin your own walk with Jesus?  That is evangelism, the telling of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Evangelism can be intimidating.  Pictures of going to dangerous places talking to people who are against the church.  Evangelism is not for everyone is a common thought.  Only certain people are called to do that line of work.

But think about people in your life who are not following Jesus yet.  Ask yourself, “How will they hear?” Perhaps God has placed you in each other’s lives so that you can build a friendship, grow trust and when the Holy Spirit’s leads share your story with him/her.

It is in the day in, day out showing up in one another’s lives, serving with humility. Here in quiet, humble service we are broadcasting the Word of God to everyone in our lives.  We are living out the Good news of Jesus Christ. Then the Holy Spirit goes out nurturing those seeds of faith.

When we consistently show up, listen to learn, serve and share over the course of our lives we will see many lives changed as a result.  In our resolved to serve God with our whole lives others will be resolved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Evangelism does not need to be scary.  See it not as going into strange places fearing for your safety.  See it in your friends, neighbors, co-workers who have not yet heard.  Broadly cast your story through word and action each day.  See how God is leading you to those who have not heard.  Live your life as an ambassador for Jesus Christ. This is the work of an evangelist.

This Week’s Challenge
Serve someone in your life this week who has not yet heard the Gospel.  Begin praying for the Holy Spirit to show you the right time to share your story with him/her.

How to Navigate When the Easy Road Isn’t So Easy

There is a misperception out there that once a person becomes a Christian life becomes easy. Somehow by following God all problems melt away, heartache is not a part of one’s life.

Hear this — this is a lie. Life does not get easy once a person becomes a Christian. In fact it could be argued that life may become more difficult.

I don’t say this to scare you but to be authentic. Satan roams around the world to destroy us. The enemy does not want us to grow closer to God. The enemy does what he can to stop us from being changed by the Holy Spirit. 

Here’s the hope to cling to — Jesus faced temptations from Satan also. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read how Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the Wilderness where He fasted for 40 days! Only then did Satan come to tempt Him. Jesus faced the same temptations as we do and He did not give in. He resisted all temptations.

Now Jesus is the Son of God.  He is fully God and fully Man.  He is perfect.  We, human beings, are the created and are not perfect.  There are times we will stumble but all hope is not lost. We freely receive God’s grace to begin again. So let’s learn from Jesus how we are to respond when temptations do arise.

Jesus responded with each temptation with Scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy from the Old Testament. He understood the power in God’s Word and knew the Holy Spirit was with Him. Jesus shows us how to navigate when the easy road isn’t easy.

In your life there are hardships. The enemy does attempt to stop us from growing closer to God. When those times do come follow Jesus’ example. It is 2 Steps:

  1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be with you
  2. Speak God’s Word to the enemy

Each day read the Bible even if it’s only a handful of verse. Memorize verses so God’s Word is written on your heart at all times. Over time you will see how God’s Word infiltrates your whole being.

Pray throughout the day. Stay in regular conversation with God the Father. Ask to see how the Holy Spirit is with you so you can recognize it during the not so easy times.

The road is not always easy. Problems arise. Heartaches happen. Satan tries to separate us from God.  Remember NOTHING can separate us from God’s love.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Speak God’s Word.

Pray to see the Holy Spirit.

Then the not so easy road becomes easier to navigate.

This Week’s Challenge

Memorize Romans 8:37-39 so you can speak Truth when times become difficult.

Do You Want to Know What God has for You?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I’m convinced that most adults ask kids this question so they can get some ideas for themselves.  It is one thing to have a job and another to pursue a passionate career. We all want to live our lives with purpose.

Jesus called 12 individuals to be His students and do life with Him. Each one left an established careers to go follow a Rabbi who was a little radical according to the established leadership. They left jobs to discover a new passion and career.

One of those 12 was Matthew, the author of the Gospel we have been studying in this series, On The Verge. Matthew was a tax collector who was not well like by his fellow Israelites. Jesus invited him to join the 12 and discover a new life.

Read Matthew’s story here: Matthew 9:9-13

Matthew was not initially welcomed by the established church leadership to have dinner with Jesus. This did not matter to Jesus. Jesus had a plan for Matthew and that is all that mattered. Matthew went on to share the Gospel with all people after Jesus’ Resurrection. 

Fellow disciple of Jesus, hear the call the passion God has for you. The Christian life is integrated into our whole lives. God gives each of us abilities to serve Him and share with others.

It is in how we live our lives, in the good times and difficult ones, that we share the light of Jesus. We reflect walking by faith when we don’t have all the answers but we still act, trusting God.

So what passion has God given you in serving Him and sharing the Gospel? What times do you thrive? Times you feel confident. it’s in these moments you discover what God has for you to do. No further need to ask kids for ideas for yourself.

Go on the journey with Jesus learning like Matthew the new path God has for you. You are just on the verge of something incredible.

This Week’s Challenge
Through free-writing (no editing, simple write whatever comes to mind), write down the times you thrived and an individual. Then see how God uses those times to share the Gospel.

Give What You Have, God Will Multiply It

It can feel like you are not qualified to serve or teach others about Jesus. If you just knew a little bit more about the Bible. Or if you had a little more skill.  Then you will be qualified to go out and serve.

Here’s the joy: give what you have and watch God multiply it. It is not dependent all on you. What is required of each us is the willingness to serve and follow God.

Let’s take a moment to read from the Gospel of Matthew to see how Jesus did this in His ministry. Click over to read: Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus knew everyone needed to eat but there wasn’t a couple of food trucks on hand to take care of it. The disciples got 5 loaves of bread and a couple of fish and were confused how far that was going to last. Jesus had a plan. He gave thanks and blessed the food. From that “small” gift 1000s of people ate and were full.

The lesson we learn here in Matthew is how our role is to give what we have and watch Jesus use it to bless others. The full weight of providing all the resources to teach or serve does not rest on our shoulders. God stands besides us saying, “Watch how I’ll do this.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as you sit on the verge of growing deeper in your faith do not think you must first learn more or be able to do more before God can use you. Know this, God wants your willing heart to serve, to grow. Before our eyes God will take our 5 loaves and 2 fish and multiply it beyond our wildest dreams.

So as you go out today see where God is asking you to serve. Maybe it is to give a can of food to a food pantry. Then see it be added to a bag of groceries for a family.

Maybe God has you to write a short note of encouragement to a neighbor. Then see it bring a smile to their day and they serve joyfully to others.

Whatever it is that God has to teach you this week welcome it warmly. Watch the seed of faith grow and help sow seeds of faith in others by the Holy Spirit.

Fellow disciples of Jesus Christ await with great anticipation the wonderful things God has for you to do in His Name. Give Him what you have whatever it is and watch God multiply it according to His Will.

This Week’s Challenge

Go around your house and collect what you can donate to another family or an organization. See how God uses and multiplies it to bless others.

Finding Shalom: Peace in the Midst of Anxiety

These are uneasy times. Lots of unknowns. There are more questions than answers. Each day I hear from another person how they are struggling with anxiety.

We all are searching for peace in a time of what feels like chaos.

We are not the first ones to have some doubts about the future. After Jesus’ resurrection there were some disciples who saw Him but still doubted.

“And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted.”

Matthew 28:17

They did not know what was coming next. They knew Jesus was fully alive and returning to Heaven but what about them? What were they to do, or go?

Jesus’ response to those who doubted and to those who at the same time worshipped is what we now call the Great Commission:

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

He assured all of them they are not alone. They are given the duty to tell others the good news about Jesus and through  the Holy Spirit teach them how to be a follower of Jesus.

They had shalom with God, wholeness or oneness with God. Whether there was doubt or worship all were given God’s peace.

For us today we have shalom with God as well.  Jesus gives us His peace by the Holy Spirit to serve through our worship and our doubts.

The enemy tries to cause us to feel anxious because we can’t answer all the questions. We don’t need to answer them all. We only need to point back to Jesus.

Friends, have the peace of God in all things. 

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6

Live in the Shalom of God today and everyday. Be one with God. Rest in His arms.

As you feel anxiety creep in, pray: “God, blanket me with Your peace right now. Help me have Shalom with You alone.”

Having doubts is not wrong. Staying in doubt is not growing in the Lord. Give your doubts to asking to trust once again. There you find true Shalom with God.

This Week’s Challenge

Pray the prayer about whenever you feel anxious or doubt this week.

Who’s in Your Tribe?

We are made to be in community with one another. No one was meant to go through life alone. To share both the highs and lows. There to be a shoulder to cry on. an extra pair of hands to help. A friend to share a laugh with.

Humanity was created in the image of God. God is a Triune God, 3 in 1. Three distinct Persons in the One Godhead. It is not separate gods. Rather The Triune God lives in perfect community with one another. Also it serves as the example we are to follow ourselves. 

Jesus’ Baptism is an example of the Trinity being present with each other. We see Jesus being pronounced by God the Father as the Promised One while the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rest with Jesus. Three in One. Perfect community.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

Matthew 3:13-17

So here’s a question for you:  Who is in your tribe?

Who do you share life with?

As followers of Jesus we must follow His example and be in community with others. God is perfect and lives in community with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Think about who you turn to in times of struggle for encouragement; in times of joy who do you want to celebrate with. It is the people who are in your tribe.

In previous posts we have seen how God speaks to us in community with other believers. Together we share life and grow closer to God. We serve for and with one another in community.

If you don’t know who is in your tribe pray with God to show who is your tribe. See who comes into your life and connect with them. Share life together with one another. 

As you have your tribe meet together to connect, check in, encourage, hold accountable. Share with each other the joys and sorrows, teachings from God, serve one another.

We learn from the Triune God how to be in community. We share life together because God shares life together. We follow God’s model. 

Now go out and be with your tribe. Make memories together. Learn with one another. serve with one another.

This Week’s Challenge

Establish a regular connection time with those in your tribe. Share stories with one another.  Share how you can be praying for each other. Laugh together. Serve one another.

3 Ways to Keep in Step with God

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:25

If someone is to be follower one needs to know how to follow. How does one follow when you can’t see God?

Think about it this way: a person can’t see the wind but knows it is there and goes in the direction it blows. God’s leading is similar in that we may not see Him but we learn how He leads us. In today’s post we explore 3 ways God leads us.

First, we listen to God by reading the Bible. See, the Bible is the Word of God teaching us faith and life with Jesus. For anyone new to reading the Bible it can be confusing. I recommend starting with a Reading Plan. Also answering these 3 Questions will help you in understanding the Bible.

  1. What did you just read?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. How does it apply to you, your family, work, life and community?

Over time you will hear more clearly God speaking to you. Your questions will adapt as well.

Another way God leads us is in prayer. Prayer is our conversation with God directly. It is where we share our joys, fears, worries with Him. It is where He rejoices with us, comforts, heals and teaches us. So keep talking with God and listen to that still, small voice. Test to see that it is God. Keep praying and following the Lord.

A third way God leads us is in community with other followers of Jesus. Those nudges we get in our Bible reading & prayer are confirmed by our faith community. Faith is not to be in isolation. God created us to be in community with one another. As a united body we follow Jesus together keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

Matthew 19:14

Jesus welcomes everyone to come to Him and become His follower. If you are on the verge of faith be assured that God is leading you. Trust the insights you hear from reading the Bible, gut feelings God gives you in prayer and the ministry opportunities for you and your faith community.

This is not an exhaustive list of how God leads us His followers. It is a list to get you started in following His lead.

Set aside 15-30 minutes this week to read, pray and reflect on where God is leading you. Then take the first step in being obedient to that leading. See where God takes you.

This Week’s Challenge

Schedule time in your calendar to reflect on how God is leading you. Share any insights with your small group or church community.

Disconnecting to Reconnect with God Each Day

How do you like to learn?

By reading?

Watching someone do it?

Trying it yourself?

Asking questions?

Whatever is your preferred method of learning it is important to make the time to pursue learning as you go forward from being on the verge of faith to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Spiritual disciplines are the practices we do as followers of Jesus so that we learn and remain close to God. They include, but are not limited to, prayer (Click Here to read previous post on Prayer), Scripture reading, worship, serving, Sabbath.  For the purposes of this post we are looking at two, Scripture reading and Sabbath.

First, reading the Bible is where we directly encounter the Living God. We read it not as a textbook to gain knowledge. We read it so that we are changed by the Holy Spirit. We read the Bible to learn what God has to teach us.

If you sense your anxiety level rising at the thought of reading the Bible take a deep breath and now exhale slowly. Here is a little bit of advice to help you:

  1. Read the Bible at the same time each day or put it on your calendar to remind you.
  2. Find a reading plan to help you get started.  Here is a helpful place to find one for yourself: YouVersion
  3. As you read answer these questions:
    1. Summarize what you read
    2. What does it mean?
    3. How does it apply to you, your family, work, life and community?

Follow this rhythm for two weeks and see how it goes. Note how God is teaching you. See what has begun to change in your relationship with God.

Second, observing a regular Sabbath is key in our relationships with Jesus. To clarify, Sabbath means resting from work and rejuvenating your soul as you spend quality time with God. We are told in the Old Testament to “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.” [Exodus 20:8]. God wants us to slow down, step away from work and be with Him alone. One day a week. One hour a day. We disconnect to reconnect with God.

Now this one can be a little more difficult to implement all at once. It’s okay to build up to it. This day can either be a full calendar day or from sundown to sundown whichever works better for you. The key is to schedule it in your calendar like everything else.  Guard it.  Prepare for it by getting things done ahead of time. Give yourself things to do that is fun, life-giving.

As for daily Sabbath, make the time for it. Do what gives you life. Step away from work for an hour and have fun.  If you enjoy going outside go for a walk, play ball with family or friends, spend time at a park reading or drawing.  Whatever it is give yourself permission to be in the moment, truly present with God.

Having a daily rhythm with God will look different from time to time. It is important to spend the quality time with God each day.

Find the rhythm that fits you and follow it. Ask a friend to hold you accountable and share stories of growth with each other.

As you spend time with God you will see the Spirit is changing you from the inside out.  

This Week’s Challenge

  1. Start a Bible reading plan and take notes on what God is teaching you.
  2. Schedule your weekly Sabbath and plan what fun, life-giving things you will do.

Prayer is Listening to God

“I don’t know how to pray.”

“I’m not very good at praying.”

You may have said either or both of these sentences at some point in your life. I know I certainly have one time or another.

Praying can be intimidating for anyone. I mean, who wouldn’t be nervous to talk directly to the God of the Universe, the One Who spoke and created all that we see. We are mere humans. Who are we to talk to Him?

Listen closely to this next part…Prayer at it’s heart is simply a conversation with God. Fancy words are not required. Location is not important. It is about communicating with God. 

God wants to spend time with us. In prayer we share what is in our hearts what scares us, what we are excited about. God wants to share with us, to teach us, to show us the next step. In talking with God we learn from God.

See, prayer is at the heart of being a follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of our discipleship is having an ever-growing relationship with God. We converse with God and listen to learn directly from Him.

So, as you are on the verge of faith look to how you want to talk with God. What do you want to learn from Him? How do you want to grow as a follower?

Here’s what I recommend for you as you begin your own daily conversations with God: find what works for you. Then schedule it in your calendar like a recurring meeting.

Perhaps you fell comfortable in your favorite chair and you journal with God. 

Or you sit in a room in one chair next to an empty and you talk aloud to God.

Maybe you go for a walk/run/workout/yard work and you converse with God there.

However, it looks for you do it each day. Spend time with God alone to grow closer to Him, to learn from Him, to be with Him. Be not afraid to be with the Creator God.

Over time you’ll see prayer doesn’t feel so scary. It seems more natural. You may even find yourself talking with God outside your regularly scheduled times. That’s okay. Trust me, He likes it.

Possibly one day you might hear someone say one of those statements at the beginning of this post. If you do, share your story. Help him/her have their own story to share with someone else.

This Week’s Challenge

Find your own way to pray with God. Discover what works for you and schedule it into your calendar every day.

Discipleship Means Following the Teacher

Running is an interesting sport. It is more individual based than team focused but don’t be mistaken, it is a communal sport. When one goes out for a run s/he follows the path in front of him/her taking it one step at a time.

Being a follower of Jesus is like a run whereby the disciple goes in the steps of Jesus. The follower learns how to love as God loves; to serve as God leads us to serve. Each day brings a new lesson from God. We need to be open to receive it.

As one who is on the verge of faith be encouraged by the Apostle Matthew.  By profession he was a tax collector. He was responsible to collect taxes from his fellow Israelites for the Roman government.  As he was able he could collect more from his fellow countrymen to keep for himself.  It goes without saying he was not the most popular man in town.

So when Jesus met him one afternoon in Capernaum, Matthew was surprised that the Great Teacher was inviting him, the tax collector, to be one of His chosen disciples. And what was Matthew’s response? He got up, walked away from his tax booth and followed Jesus that day.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.”

Matthew 9:9

Today Jesus stands before you inviting you to follow Him as one of His closest disciples. You may currently be on the verge of growing deeper in your trust in God. What will you do? Will you get up like Matthew and follow Him?

Your journey with Jesus is your own run but you are not alone. You run with a community of fellow disciples, encouraging you along the way.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Each day look for the lesson God has to share with you. Open your heart to trust the Holy Spirit and where the Spirit leads you. Love, not judge others. Serve humbly to share God’s love with others.

Over time you will see how your thoughts become fixed on Jesus. You act differently than before you began following Jesus. You will see God transforming your whole self from the inside out.

So when the winds of life try to blow you back lean into Jesus. Hold His Hand and let Him carry you through the storm.

During the times of joy give praise to our Creator God Who cares for you and the whole world.

Lastly one question only you can answer: What is your response to Jesus inviting you to be His disciple?

This Week’s Challenge

Note each day this week what Jesus is teaching you about trusting Him more fully. What is your response to those lessons?

Nobody’s Perfect. Well…He Is

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has faults Everyone makes mistakes. No one can earn a perfect 10 for one’s life.

As this is true, then what hope does anyone have for going to Heaven?

A person has to be perfect in order to get into Heaven. If no one is perfect than what is one to do?

There is one who is perfect. Jesus Christ lived the life we are supposed to live and willingly died the death meant for us. Then He rose from the grave conquering sin, death and the devil.

It is because of Jesus’ willing sacrifice we have salvation. It is by God’s grace freely given to us that we go to Heaven. Heaven is where we are close to God without sickness, pain or death. Joy abounds. Peace teems the streets reaching all people.

Sin corrupts all things. It has power over of us that we cannot overcome on our own. The things we do not want to do but somehow we still do them. The changes we want to make but struggle to fully implement them.

Sin separates us from God. God is holy. Nothing unholy can be in His presence. Jesus steps in and bestows His righteousness on us so that we can spend eternity in Heaven with God. The great chasm that we will never cross on our own is shrunk to non-existence by God’s grace.

As we realize our need for a Savior and humbly surrender to Jesus we begin to live our new lives in Christ in freedom.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

You are on the verge of living your new life in Christ. all it takes beginning the day seeking what God’s Will is. Start now. Pray, “Lord, how do You have me to serve You today?”

Live in this freedom with joy. Be not afraid of the adventure. Show your gratitude by sharing why you love Jesus. Love as God loves you. Share freely as God has freely shared with you.

As you are on the verge step into the new life with open arms Jesus chose to die because He loves you. He rose from the grave so you, me, every person in the world can spend eternity with Him, God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This Week’s Challenge

How has God blessed you?
Go share the blessing with someone today.

Who is this Guy Jesus?

If someone says s/he is a follower of Jesus it is safe to assume that individual has a relationship with Jesus. So it begs the question how does someone get to know a man who lived two thousand years ago?

There is little debate about the historical Jesus. Scholarly thought across the board agrees a man from Nazareth named Jesus lived and taught. What is debated is whether He is the Son of God. Some think He is the Son of God. Some think He was a great teacher and that was all.  Others say He was a lunatic.

The writer CS Lewis renowned for The Chronicles of Narnia and his books on Christian thought states a person’s decision on Jesus this way,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who say he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”

As you decide for yourself who Jesus is consider this no body was ever found after His death (even though it was guarded by Roman soldiers to prevent theft). He appeared to His disciples and up to 500 people at one time over the course of 40 days.  Also, instead of the movement fading away it only grew after His death and resurrection.

For any person who is on the verge of growing deeper in faith saying for one’s self who Jesus is important. Reflect on times God was beside you in joyous times and difficult times. Remember how God provided for you in all circumstances.

As we read through the Gospel of Matthew in this series let us see how Jesus lived through loving all, showing us how to serve one another.

Look at Matthew 8. In this chapter we read 4 different stories of how Jesus had authority over disease, death, nature and spiritual world. Could a mere man do this on his own?

Jesus was fully man and fully God. He experienced the highs and lows of life. He understands what we are going through in our own lives. We can go to Him with our questions, our fears, our worries. He walks with us through it all.  #resolvedfaith

Go to Him with your questions. He loves to answer them. Give Him your fears. He will calm them. Trust Him. He will teach you great things.

While you may still have questions who Jesus is hear God the Father speak to who Jesus is:

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

Who do you say Jesus is?

This Week’s Challenge

Journal who you say Jesus is.  Explore why you love Him.  Ask Him to help you grow in your relationship.

On the Verge of the Adventure of Your Life

Is this all there is?

Is there more to life?

We search for meaning, a purpose to the daily humdrum of life. It can be easy to slip into a rut and forget the big picture. To be reminded of our why helps to encourage us on those days we want to run away from it all.

We begin a new series together exploring being from on the verge of going deeper in our faiths with Jesus Christ. Whether you have been journeying with Him for decades, or a couple of years, or you are beginning your journey today, we are all on the verge of a deeper faith in Jesus.

Over the next several weeks together we will hear from God in the Gospel of Matthew of how we are created in His image and each called to serve wherever we are in His name.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:20)

Each of us has been created in the image of God.  Meaning we are akin to God enabling us to have genuine fellowship with God. God knows us fully. We are able to grow in our relationship with Him because we are created in His image.

Though we are created in His image it does not mean we can ‘rest on our laurels’ and feel entitled to go to Heaven.  It is from our humble repentance and God freely giving His grace that we live and serve.  We live in the freedom of being fully forgiven of our sins.

As followers of Jesus we live from the image of God (imago Dei). We are empowered to serve the Lord with joy. What we do and say reflects Jesus to others. We are His representatives here on Earth.  

It is exciting to know we are created in the image of God. We know our identity is from God alone. Peace abounds within us because we know we belong to God. Joy fills our hearts as we go forward serving the Lord. 

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they [Peter and Andrew] left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus called His disciples to learn from Him.  In this verse Jesus invites two brothers Peter & Andrew to leave their family’s fishing business to follow Him with their whole lives. 

Jesus stands in front of you today saying the same words He said to Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me.”

He is inviting you to serve Him with joy.

He is inviting you to step from being on the verge to a closer walk with Him. 

Will you join Him?

This Week’s Challenge

Write in Dry Erase marker on your bathroom mirror one way you want to grow closer to Jesus. Be practical in how you will live it out.  As you get ready each morning schedule it in your day to do it.

Go Ahead and Hit the Refresh Button for Your Life

The week after Christmas is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Work slows down just enough to allow for some dreaming to occur. New Year’s Day is just around the corner to provide the best natural restart. Anything is possible. So why not dream big?

During this last week of the year I become giddy as a child waiting for Santa.  January 1st is the day I can start using my new planner.  The blank pages contained within it scream to be filled with new hopes and dreams. They wait with great anticipation to record the adventures during the new year. Oh the joy is uncontainable!

Remember those habits you want to change or start doing?  Why not start new on January 1st?  Those projects you have been meaning to start?  Start them once the ball drops in Times Square. 

It’s almost like hitting the refresh button but only for your life!

As a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ we are given our own “refresh” button each morning.  Every morning brings a new beginning in the Lord.  Regardless of how far we think we strayed from God we can turn back to Him and receive His grace and forgiveness.  We get to out again serving the Lord with our whole selves. It’s like every morning is January 1st.  

If you are not a follower of Jesus yet today is your own “refresh” day. Surrender your self to Him and watch the great things God will show you. Don’t fear if you think you don’t know “enough”. Have a willing heart to learn. Connect with other disciples and do life and ministry together. Serve together and watch the Holy Spirit sow seeds of faith.

The beauty of the Christian faith journey is grace. One is not required to be perfect. A humble heart that is willing to serve is what God seeks. The questions we have we can ask and watch how God answers them. Stress is relieved because we know God’s in control. We can enjoy the ride. 

As you take time this week ask God to help you hit the “refresh” button. See what plans God has for you. Be open to new possibilities, different perspectives. If one day takes you away from Him know that each day you can hit the refresh button and start anew. 

Dream the big dreams God has for you.  

Enjoy the adventure. 

Each morning hit the refresh button and serve with a humble heart.

This Week’s Challenge

Take a blank piece of paper and dream how God is equipping you to serve this you.  Post it to your social media and share throughout the year the fun adventures God has for you.

Stepping with the Holy Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

This has been a transformative journey together exploring what it truly looks like to pray the petition, “God, Your Will be done”. On the surface it appears we are ‘giving permission’ for God to move in this world. As sense of letting go and giving space for God to lead us.

As we have dug deeper we have learned that God is already moving. His Will is being accomplished, even if we do not see it with our own eyes. What we are asking in this prayer is for us to be used by God to achieve His Will.

How God responds to us in by sending the Holy Spirit to guide along God’s path. Those times we may grow tired the Holy Spirit is there to give us rest and then pick us up when it’s time to serve. When we are discouraged the Holy Spirit sends us reminders showing us some of the fruits of ministry.

Paul, the writer of the letter to the Galatian people teaches them, and us, the importance of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit because the Spirit transforms us from the inside out. We are no longer burdened with the things of this world. Instead, we live freely in God’s grace.

So how do we keep in step with the Holy Spirit?

First, we listen to the Holy Spirit by reading the Bible. We recognize God’s Voice with more ease when we routinely hear it.

Next we look to see what God is doing around us. We note what doors of ministry open. We see who God places in our lives to become friends and serve.

Keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is a daily discipline which requires our humble hearts to follow and obey.

Be not afraid fellow disciple (student) of Jesus Christ. Be excited to see the awesome things God is including you in.

Each day take one step with the Holy Spirit. Walk into the opportunities God presents you. If you get nervous remember God is in control. He’s got it covered. You have nothing to worry about.

Go out, disciple of Jesus. Step in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit. Serve where God places you. See all the great things being accomplished according to His Will.

This Week’s Challenge

In your devotional time not where the footsteps of the Holy Spirit are leading you. What ministry opportunities is God giving you today?

How to Grow Closer to God

Praying the petition, “God, Your Will be done” has profound impact on us individually and corporately as the children of God. It is all encompassing, transforming each of us from the inside out. We are certainly not the same people after earnestly praying this prayer.

While we have seen in this series that God’s Will is being accomplished here on Earth we are truly asking God to show us His Will and to include us in it. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and hearts in seeing how God is already moving. We surrender to His Will so that we participate in it.

The key learning in this petition is the undeniable fact that God draws us closer to Him. Our hardened hearts are soften. Our eyes are open to truly see Him. Our ears come unclogged to hear the Will of the Lord. We journey more closely with the Father as a result.

The 3rd Petition (aka section) of the Lord’s Prayer helps us to pursue humility and be reminded that we are not in charge, God the Creator is.  We take our rightly place in submission to follow obediently and serve faithfully. We think not of ourselves but rather of what God has for the world. 

While left to our own vices we become self-centered, neglectful of the needs of others. We seek after our selfish desires ignoring the wider community. It is only by God’s grace are we able to break free and fix our eyes on Jesus. We begin our humble submission by praying this petition.

As this year is drawing to a close it is a natural time to stop and reflect on how we can be better servants of the Lord.

So what areas of your life need to be submitted to the Lord? How might you be selfish and thinking only of yourself? What is God teaching you about His Will?

Take time this week to pray this petition earnestly and hear how God answers it. Be receptive. Put aside whatever expectations you personally may have and hear what the Lord has for you. See how God brings you into community to serve and grow.

Spend time with fellow disciples and pray together how God is calling all of you to step out in faith to humbly serve. Receive what the Holy Spirit gives to you.

Don’t be afraid at how God will transform you. There will be growing pains but hang in there to see the beautiful growth God does in you.

Through it all note how you do draw closer to God. It is a natural outcome to humble prayers to the Lord Almighty. When we all pray “God, Your Will be done” we become steadfast in the Lord able to withstand all attacks from the adversary. With God all things are possible.

This Week’s Challenge

Begin each day this week praying this petition and see throughout the day how He draws you closer to Him.  When you meet with friends or your small group or Bible Study do the same and see how as a community brings you closer to Him.

Did You Catch that Glimpse of Heaven?

As we have seen in previous posts in this series seeking God’s Will changes who we are and brings us closer to community with one another. It is a journey that may begin at various times for each individual but does continue for a lifetime for everyone. It is a journey which draws us home to Heaven.

See, this world is not how God originally designed it. Rebellion set in with humanity and leaving this world to be broken. Things are not how they should be as God created it. Instead of walking away, God set into action His Plan to redeem the world through the life, death, and resurrection of His Only Son Jesus Christ. God’s Will is to bring all of humanity back to the perfect union we once had before rebellion entered.

We do not seek God’s Will on our own. If we attempt to do so we, at best, will only see a small portion of it. In community with others do we begin to see the full picture. With this authentic community we also get a glimpse of Heaven. We get to see how intricately woven together we are by the Holy Spirit.

God is continually restoring and healing the world in preparation for the new Heaven and the new Earth where there is no mourning, no loss, no pain. Perfect union between God and creation is restored. We pray for God’s Will to be done for this end.

Each time we pray the petition, “God, Your Will be done” we are praying to see what God is doing and how we are called to help fulfill it. As an united community seeking God’s Will we get a glimpse of Heaven, a small taste of what it will be like in Heaven when all things are restored.

This glimpse of Heaven is found in the relationships we share with one another. One sees Heaven wherever 2 or more people come together from varying backgrounds and experiences to not grapple for political power but rather utilize their differences to be stronger together in service to the Lord.

The glimpses we do receive from the Holy Spirit helps us to not be discouraged. They serve as a motivator for those times the adversary attempts to derail us.

These glimpses also remind us who we are. They whisper in our hearts the plans God has for us. We are able to keep seeking God’s Will because while we may not see the finish line right now we do know where it is and how wonderful it will be in Heaven.

So as you go about your day and your week look for those glimpses of Heaven that God sends you. Be encouraged that this journey is not in vain. Stand firm in the Lord and together in community. Give praise to God for His unending love for all of us.

This Week’s Challenge — As you serve this week in community debrief together how you got a glimpse of Heaven.

It’s More Fun With Friends

Seeking after God’s Will is a fun adventure. And it’s definitely more fun with a friends. We are not meant to go through this journey alone. God designed us to journey together, striving after Him as a united body.

See, God lives in community. God the Father is in perfect community with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They dwell in perfect harmony and serve together as one body. Now if the Almighty Creator is in community shouldn’t we, the created, be in community with one another?

The beauty of community is that where one may be weak, another is strong. If you do not have experience someone else has that experience. Or you may be skilled in an area that someone else may not be as skilled.  It is only in community together that we truly see God’s Will.

We are not able to see perfectly as God sees.  So God then puts us together with one another so that as a united body we can see what God’s Will is for the world. When we stop to listen together we are able to put the puzzle pieces together and see the beauty of God’s Will.

When we try to go it alone we lose the full beauty of God’s Will.  We may know clearly what God has for us to do but we miss the pieces that God gives to others. Without them we have a partial picture, only part of the story.

Imagine trying to complete a puzzle with only the edge pieces.  Sure, you may have the complete frame but do you see the full picture? Imagine now if you worked with others who had the inside pieces to help complete the full picture. This is the beauty of seeking God’s Will in community with others. We get to see more fully the beauty of God’s Perfect Plan.

Here’s the question before each of us how do I seek God’s Will in the community with fellow believers?

Do I insist on being on my own and not intentionally be in community with fellow disciples?

When do I listen to what God is telling another disciple to learn from him/her?

How do I pray with disciples humbly seeking God’s Will for us?

Each of these questions are vital to being in authentic relationships with fellow disciples seeking God’s Will.  We cannot do this alone. God created us to be in community with one another as He is in community with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When we are in united community together we begin to see the beauty of God’s Plan.

This Week’s Challenge

Meet with a friend or two this week to share how each of you see God leading you in ministry.  Pray together to hear God’s Will and see how your puzzle piece fits in.

Seeing the World with God’s Lenses

Did you ever get a new pair of glasses? Before them the world appeared clear, in focus. Then presto, change-o wearing the new glasses everything is brighter, crisper. Who knew all these colors even existed before? it’s like a whole new world before your very eyes.

As you wear these new lenses you do see things differently and therefore you begin to act differently. The information being received is processed in a new way. You are not able to act the same, old way. You are changed. You are new doing new things.

Along our faith journeys the Holy Spirit works within us changing us from the inside out. This transformation is necessary as we authentically pray for God’s Will to be done. As a result we begin to see the world as God sees it. We view it with new lenses on. Now we see through the lenses of love and grace. As we have experienced God’s love and grace so we can share it with others.

It is incredible seeing the world from a new perspective. It is seeing it as if for the first time. You learn about what you did not already know. Passion is renewed as it was in the beginning of your own faith journey.

The curious thing is we don’t know what we don’t know. By stepping out and trying new things, gaining new perspectives we learn to see through the new lenses God gives us. It requires a step of faith to leave the “safety of our comfort zone.”

So what does it look like? It is going to a new place where you are the minority and being humble to learn from a new culture.

It is seeing a person in need and asking, “How can I help?”

It is listening to someone on the opposite side of a political issue and learning from him/her.  Remember to listen to learn, not to argue.

Wearing new lenses helps us to see our faith community through the eyes of a guest. How inclusive are we to the guest?

As you go about your week serving Jesus ask Him to see the world through His eyes. What is different?  What do you learn? Do you see people more clearly?

This Week’s Challenge

Have a conversation this week with someone who has an opposing political view from you. Learn from their perspective.  How do you see the issue differently now?

Keep Looking at Jesus

Last post we talked about the importance of being changed by the Holy Spirit. In order to be a part of God’s Will we must be transformed from the inside out.

As we are being transformed so much of life can feel like it is in complete chaos. Anxiety may build up. In turn it is important to have a focal point that we can turn to in these moments. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, our focal point, the chaos becomes white noise and the anxiety is replaced with peace. 

Jesus stands with us through all the changes. When temptations arise to return to our old selves we look to Jesus to remind us where we are going. We are able to take that next step God has for us.

Any journey a person embarks on the final destination remains in the forefront. Decisions of what route to take are made based on where one is going. You remember where you are going as you are getting there. Destinations arise but fall to the wayside because we remain focused on Jesus. So we may see a roadside attraction and want to stop at it for a little while.  But when we get back on the road we remember our ultimate destination and focus on it exclusively. 

It is possible to become self-absorbed as we are being transformed from the inside out. We can stop and look back and be proud of how far we have come. A sense of “Look at me. Aren’t I great?” This temptation causes us to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we continue to pursue humility.  We are not detoured from becoming aligned with God’s Will. 

To avoid the distractions and temptations we keep looking to Jesus. As Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and walked on water so too we ‘glide’ while keeping our eyes on Him. Storms still arise but we do not need to worry. Jesus calms our fears as we ride out the storm together.

As we keep looking at Jesus we see how God is moving in the world. We see His Word going out and returning fruitful. We watch the Holy Spirit working through others to spread the Gospel. We get a glimpse of how God is using us as well to make disciples.

Here’s another way to visualize it.  A figure skater finds a focal point before going into a spin.  This is to help cut down on feeling dizzy coming out of the spin. As s/he rotates they turn their head quickly around to focus on the point. We keep Jesus as our focal point to cut out the noise of this world so we can continue to be transformed by Him.

It’s all part of the wonderful journey with God as we grow closer to Him. As we grow closer to God we become more a part of God’s Will in the world. 

This Week’s Challenge

This week decide on a phrase/sentence you will say to yourself to bring your eyes back to Jesus. Note how it helps you in those times of distractions.

But, We’ve Never Done It That Way Before….

The Joyous Adventure of Change

Change is hard. Change is fun. Change is necessary.

Change can indicate growth. Change shows the Holy Spirit working in us transforming our hearts to be in align with His Will. This change is an integral part of following God’s Will.

See for us to be aligned with God’s Will we must first change. It is not a change we can accomplish on our own. It is the Holy Spirit coming to us to work this change in us from the inside out. Our job is to be open to the change and daily surrender to God.

As God is working in the world we are invited into it. He does not need us but chooses to use us to accomplish His Will. We are forever changed by this invitation.

But let’s admit it, change is scary.

One does not always know where change will lead us. Changing requires leaving our comfort zone and actually trusting God. Isn’t it easier to say we trust God and stay warm and snuggly in our comfort zone?  We haven’t done it before so why try it now?

But if we stay right where we are how will we begin to see the breath-taking experiences God has to show us? How will we become more aligned with God’s Will if we remain the same?

Yes change is difficult … at times. Yes, change is scary … at times. And yes, change is breath-taking.

As Jesus’ followers we get to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We get to see God change us from the inside out. We are invited on this adventure of all of eternity.

So, how is God changing you? What are areas you sense the nudging of the Holy Spirit to step out of your comfort zone to explore? Are there areas of life you don’t want to change but deep down you know you need to?

Be not afraid, fellow disciple. Take that first step out of your comfort zone and begin to see what God has planned.

Change is necessary so that we get to participate in God’s Will.  It is why we daily surrender to Him. As we are tempted to go back to how things used to be God reminds us why He is transforming us. It is for His glory, not our comfort.

Keep note of how God is changing you from the inside out. Seek in prayer why this change and what to do now as a result of it.

Enjoy the adventure, disciple. It is thrilling and scary at times but more importantly, it is awesome.

This Week’s Challenge
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Do something today that you have not done before for the Lord. How was it?
AND
Journal how you are different now from who you were 10 years ago. How is God using you as a result of this change?

We are Included in God’s Will

The thing is whatever we do God’s Will is being done here on earth. Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, teaches us that God’s Word does not return to Heaven empty (Isaiah 55:11). It does accomplish what God has willed it to do.

See, God accomplishes what He wills. He does not need us BUT He chooses to be a part of His plan. While we may be rebellious against God, He freely forgives us and graciously incorporates us to His plan.

Being a part of God’s plan is AWESOME! God has great plans to transform the world and us. It is beyond our own comprehension. The longer we journey with the Holy Spirit the more we begin to understand what God is doing.

We get to be included in God’s Will. As God is moving we come alongside and go for the ride. The Holy Spirit acts as our guide teaching us God is already doing.

It is an honor to to be included in God’s Will. It does not need to be scary though. As God invites us in He also gives us all the abilities and resources to accomplish what He has for us to do. He also gives us the courage to face any fears or attacks from the enemy.

Have courage fellow disciple of Jesus Christ. Be filled with joy as you anticipate the amazing things God will show you. Serve with gladness as God uses you to accomplish His Will in the world.

As you serve invite another to serve alongside you so s/he may see first-hand what God is doing. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in them so s/he may humbly surrender his/her whole self to God. Then with joy the two of you will see what God is doing.

We get to be included in God’s Will. This is reason enough to celebrate and give thanks to God for His unconditional love. 

This Week’s Challenge

In your prayers today thank God for including you in His plan. Share the joy you have with Him and what He shows you.

You are a Brand Ambassador for Jesus!

Brand Ambassadors are individuals who represent a company, showing the message embodying the core values. They are the human representation for the company.

They generally go out to meet people who have not heard of the brand introducing them to it. In the course of the interaction an invitation is given by the ambassador to the individual to “join” be a part of the community.

Sound a little familiar? Kinda like a missionary?

Well, you’re not wrong. Brand Ambassadors work similarly to missionaries. Both go to places that have not heard yet. Both embody the values of the community they represent. Each serve to invite people to join the community.

“But missionaries go to foreign countries. I can’t leave my life here.”

True some missionaries are led by God to serve in other countries. But each follower of Jesus is called to be a brand ambassador for Him.

For God’s Will to be done here on the earth. He chooses to use us, His disciples, to accomplish His Will. In order for us to do that we must recognize that all of our actions and words represent Him to the world. We are His brand ambassadors going out into the world inviting others into the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do we do as God’s ambassadors?

First we remember that we represent God where’ve we go, whomever we are with at the moment. We can recognize this in the safety of our home and still be scared to live it out in the world. When we are scared we pray for the Spirit to strengthen us to persevere.

Also we act as Jesus would act. We will not be perfect. We will make mistakes. But we do our best and keep showing love to others. We serve humbly not for our glory but to care for another. We do not let differences separate us but rather we use our difference to learn how God created us uniquely.

Brand Ambassadors for Jesus are resolved to get the Gospel out into the world. They know God’s Will is being done here on earth. They surrender themselves to the Creator God being faithful servants. They draw nearer to God as they are transformed by the Holy Spirit. They do not remain the same. They are new people with the help of the Holy Spirit.

As you go about your day to day ask God to show you how to represent Him in the world. Seek the message the He has for you to share. Once He tells go and do it. Be excited to share and invite others. Watch how the Holy Spirit uses you to expand God’s Will here on earth.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down the message you want people to know about Jesus. Then decide what you will do today to show that message with your life.

What Does the Daily Life of a Disciple Look Like?

In seeking God’s Will to be done we learn how to live the life of a disciple. In order to be a part of God’s movement in the world we must first know how to walk with God.

So what does the daily walk of a follower of Jesus look like anyway? Does one have to shave his/her head and move to the wilderness to live a solitary life?

No. You don’t need to become a monk/nun to follow Jesus. If God calls you to this life then I say openly embrace the incredible adventure God has planned for you.

For the rest of us, daily discipleship is learning from the Holy Spirit. We spend time hearing from God by reading the Bible. We talk with God in prayer sharing our deepest fears while listening to Him and all He has for us. We walk with God living our lives as Jesus lived His life.

How did Jesus lived His life?

He loved all people, believers and noon-believers. He invited everyone to their new life in God. He pointed back to God the Father to give Him all the glory.

Jesus lived His life so we had an example of how to be disciples in our own lives. We are to love everyone, those in the church and those not yet believers. We demonstrate what a new life in Jesus looks like by how we act at work, with friends, running errands, on our own.

In this daily walk we learn from the Holy Spirit God’s Will in this world. Our minds are transformed little by little each day. We are able to see more clearly because God teachers every day.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not something we do one day a week or only with a certain group of friends. It is who you are. It impacts every aspect of you, what you do.

Each day as you go about your day ask yourself how you are learning from the Holy Spirit? Are you humble to learn and grow? Do you listen to God or only speak at Him?

As you pray ask God to teach you that day a new lesson in being a disciple. How love another who is different from you. Or how to draw closer to Him. Walk each day with Jesus and learn from Him how to be disciple.

This Week’s Challenge

Read one of the Gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and note in your journal how Jesus lived His life.  What can you emulate in your life this week that Jesus did in His?

Daily Surrendering to God

How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution and by January 15th or February 1st already forget it?

Once? Twice? Annually?

Don’t fret I have a feeling you are not the only one who may have broken a New Year’s resolution.

But seriously, it is quite exciting when you first make a resolution, a commitment to change. The adrenaline is rushing through the veins. Anything is possible. Therefore nothing is going to stop you. Life is changing from this moment forward.

Then life sets in. The adrenaline slows to a stop. The reality of daily discipline sets in. The actuality of making different choices is not as easy as we ideally thought in the beginning.

Change really is hard.

When we initially give our lives to Jesus we are full of excitement ready to take down satan. There is nothing that is going to stop us. but the enthusiasm begins to wane after a brief time. Each day we need to surrender so we remain close to God.

Praying “God, Your Will be done” requires initially surrendering to God followed by a daily surrendering to remain close to Him. Sin tempts us to turn away from God. It is only by the continual surrender are we able to keep journeying with the Holy Spirit.

So, how do you remain surrendered to the Lord? What practice do you have to remind yourself that God is the Creator and we are the created?

Each of us need that daily practice which will humble us before Jesus. It gives us the eyes to see others as God sees them. It opens our hearts once again to love God and others authentically.

It is essential because our great enthusiasm at the beginning will wane down to zero. The enemy will toil to distract us if we do not remain humbly surrendered to the Lord. We cannot do it on our own.

Look towards your morning routine. What do you already do that will help you be surrendered before the Lord? Is there something you can add/change that will be the daily reminder?

As we daily surrender before God we will draw closer to Him. We will see more clearly how He is moving in the world and how He is leading us serve according to His Will.

This Week’s Challenge
Implement this week a morning practice so you daily surrender before God.
— Try morning yoga session to slow down. Repeat this saying, “God, I surrender myself to You fully today. God, Your Will be done.”

— Prayer time listening to God asking Him to open your eyes to see how He is moving in the world.

— Journal giving your whole self to God

First Surrendering to Jesus Christ

Following the Will of God is a humble step. It means that you are admitting you are not in control and that God is sovereign. But not one of us is capable of coming to this realization on our own. We come to it by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

It is in this initial surrender to God where we first become aligned in God’s Will. We acknowledge we are the created and God is the Creator. We bow before the Lord as humble servants.

So what does an initial surrender look like? How do you even know that you fully surrendered?

Surrendering for one can look like kneeling on one’s knees stating Jesus is Lord. For another it is confessing to a confident one’s sins and hearing God’s absolution (forgiveness).

Surrendering also is publicly stating that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of your life. It also publicly states you cannot redeem yourself. We all are in need of a Redeemer. We cannot earn of our salvation. It is only by surrendering to Jesus that we receive salvation.

And this is the greatest gift one can ever receive!

As we follow God’s leading we begin to see how God is moving in the world. We take the first steps in becoming aligned with God’s Will. We are admitting that we do not have all the answers. Only God does. As we do this we take a step closer to God.

As we go about our lives this week let us live in this complete surrender. Humbly seeking God’s Will setting aside our own. When we get up in the meaning we ask God what He will have us do, where we shall go. We ask for the Holy Spirit to give us the faith to trust and follow in step. In this we remain surrendered to the Lord seeking God’s Will in this world. 

This Week’s Challenge — As you pray this week ask God to help you to be fully surrendered, open to following the Holy Spirit humbly.

What does praying “God, Your Will Be Done” Truly Look Like?

How many times have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying the words but not really paying attention?  You were going through the motions just to get it done.

Don’t worry I have done it many times myself.  You’re not alone.

In this series we are studying the part, “God, Your Will be done.” We pray it but how well do we really understand what we are asking God in it? 

What does it look like practically when we say these words in our prayers?  

What are we actually asking God to do?

There is so much packed into this phrase.  We are turning to God the Father seeking for His plan to be done here on Earth.  We are not telling God what to do but rather, we are seeking to know what He is perfect plan is for us and the world.

We are submitting ourselves to His leadership, His authority.

As we authentically pray this petition we acknowledge an unawareness of the future while knowing God fully knows. We wrestle with our desire to be in control, aware of all of the details before we ever take a step forward.  As we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit we begin to discover God’s amazing plan.

In this series we will explore seeking God’s Will from a variety of perspectives. As we authentically pray for God’s Will we will study how we are transformed from the inside out.  As a result our own faith journeys are impacted on a daily basis. Our eyes become more fixed on Jesus to see where He is going and to learn at His feet. 

Even our perspective on seeing the world changes.  We do not see others as we have seen them. We begin to see others as God sees them.  

Each of these changes can only occur when we surrender ourselves wholly to God.  It is an initial surrender, one time event.  It is also a daily surrender.  A turning away from our past lives without Jesus to return to God alone.  

We do not seek God’s Will alone.  We seek it in community with fellow disciples of Jesus. We become united as one body.  We do not allow differences to separate us.  We can begin to see differences as opportunities to learn from each other about how God is moving in this world.

It is my prayer that as we embark on this exploration our eyes see anew what has been in front of us all along. May we draw closer to God and thereby one another as we surrender to God daily. The Holy Spirit is moving in this world. I pray we partake in the Spirit’s movement as God has called and equipped each of us to do so.

This Week’s Challenge

Pay this prayer in the morning as you begin your day:

“God, Your Will be done. Open my eyes to see where You are moving. Use me to further Your Kingdom here on Earth. Enable me to serve humbly and faithfully.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Throughout the day write down the times God has shown You His Will being done. 

10th Case Study of Philippians 4:10-13 — Learning to be Content

Some great advice from a sign in a quaint restaurant in Ireland.

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:10-13)

“New and Improved!”

“But wait! There’s more!”

We are bombarded with 1000s of advertisements throughout the day. In TV, podcasts, radio, magazines, pop-ads (how does social media know what I just shopped for on Amazon anyway?), spam emails, flyers in our mailboxes.  

Each ad is designed by people who are very good at their jobs to get us to think we are missing out.  We are in need and life won’t be complete unless we purchase ____________. 

Fear of Missing Out is real.

As we read in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he shares how to be content regardless of one’s current circumstances. As he shares from his life there were times when he dad it all and times he was in need. Regardless of his circumstances he learned to be content. He found joy in all things, at all times.

See, Paul did not fear missing out because his joy did not come from what he had in his life. His joy, and ours, come from the Lord. God promises to provide for our daily needs. We do not want for anything. We have no reason to fear. God is with us every step of the way.

We learn from Paul to check our lives to see what we want and what we truly need. Whatever life has in front of us we find joy. We do so because God is by our side. If times are difficult we have peace because God’s got it. If times are bountiful we give thanks for God’s blessings. 

As we have more contentment in our lives we see by the Holy Spirit that we can do all things in Christ. Fear fades away. Insecurity weakens. We see more clearly how and where God is working. Our strength comes from the Lord.

So the question before us today is how are we being content in our lives?

Do you check your social media seeing friends’ posts wishing you were there?

Do you watch ads wishing the item was yours?

What causes jealousy to rise up in you?

When do you feel insecure?

My prayer for each of us this week is that we find contentment every day. Whatever the day brings there is joy in it. The day may not be good but there is good in it.

This Week’s Challenge

Before going to bed each night write down a moment/experience that brought contentment. Describe why you were content.

9th Case Study of Philippians 4:8-9 — Think on These Things

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)

What’s running through your mind right now?

You know those mental tapes that play inside your head that only you can hear. The ones that shape how you see yourself.

These mental tapes can be harsh critics. Pointing out all our perceived faults. Lying to us that we are not valuable, or loved.

They can also be healthy recordings inside our heads. Being the loving encouragement of the Holy Spirit constantly reminding how dearly loved we truly are by God.

Paul tells his readers in the passage what we are to surround ourselves with so that we hear the Holy Spirit clearly. To think about the right things; to see the brighter side of faith; to seek how God is moving.

When we surround ourselves with these things we are better equipped to resist the lies of the adversary. Then there is space, a quietness, to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are not distracted but rather free to be the child of God we are meant to be.

So the question posed to you is what do your mental tapes say to you? Are they lies from the enemy or are they encouragements from the Holy Spirit?

Do you “feed” your mind with healthy media? Things that teach you how you are a child of God. Friends who lovingly hold you accountable. Scripture reading so you hear directly from God.

It is these things that Paul tells his readers and ourselves today to think on. Thinking on them the mental tapes inside our heads will become healthy. When they are healthy we are more open to be used by God to expand His Kingdom.

This week I challenge each of us to begin changing the negative mental tapes to healthy ones. It will be a slow, long transition but we will get there. Keep listening to the Holy Spirit.

Let’s each begin by looking at the media we consume. Music, TV, Movies, Podcasts, Websites, Apps, Blogs/Vlogs, Youtube, Books, Magazines. 

Today sit down and make a list dividing each of the media you consume into 2 columns.  One Healthy. One Negative.  What ones need to change?  What ones are good to keep?

Follow Paul’s words and think on whatever is good, pure, right, noble, true, pure, lovely and admirable.  And see the God of peace will fill each of us with His unconditional, perfect love. 

This Week’s Challenge

Look over what you fill your mind with during the day and week.

Make the list suggested above.

Commit to exchanging 1 on the Negative side of the List with a new 1 for the Healthy side.

Note in your journal or prayers the difference you are beginning to see in this exchange.  What is God teaching in this change?

A Case Study of Philippians 4:4-7 — Rejoice!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

Don’t worry there will not be a Bobby McFerrin quote in this blog post.  So you can be happy now.  Anxiety levels can go back down to Low.

Paul was emphatic about this week’s passage that he repeated it. He was ensuring his readers go the point. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to rejoice, celebrate in Jesus. We have no reason to fear or be anxious at any time. Jesus is close at hand. He is taking care of everything.

As we walk along this journey of faith there are times we can’t see around the bend. Our trust is put to the test as we forge forward without having the answers to all of our questions. Instead of being worrisome we can rejoice because God’s got this. 

Anxiety is a tricky thing. It creeps in and begins to unpack its bags before we realize it’s even there. Then we feel helpless, losing confidence in ourselves in the future.

Anxiety is a tool used by the enemy to distract us from growing in our faiths. While it appears to be all encompassing, anxiety disappears the moment God’s peace arrives on the scene. This is the reason Paul reminds his readers, and us today, to rejoice.

See, God’s peace is beyond our human minds to fully comprehend. It relieves all anxiety we may be experiencing and brings a calm that takes care of all things. God’s peace is the defense against the devil’s attacks. It protects our hearts and minds so we continue to grow in faith.

We cannot become more like Jesus if we are consumed with anxiety. Rather than being open and learning from the Holy Spirit we become closed off and scared for what “may” come. This is why Paul reminds us to rejoice. By celebrating we make room for God’s peace to boot out anxiety and dwell within us.

So what do we do to rejoice in the Lord?

First, recognize when anxiety tries to creep in. Take a breath and celebrate what God is doing right now. Don’t give anxiety a chance.

Next, focus on how the Holy Spirit is leading you today. Rejoice for the moments the Kingdom of God is expanding. Celebrate for those who are now followers of Jesus Christ.

Remain hopeful in the Lord. Our confidence does not come from our abilities. It is only by God that we have peace, not anxiety. And it is for this reason we rejoice in the Lord.

This Week’s Challenge

What gives you anxiety?  Causes you to worry?

Make a plan for what you will do the next time it tries to move in. 

How will you rejoice in the Lord today?

7th Case Study in Philippians 3:17 — Faith Mentors

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” (Phil. 3:17) 

Who was your favorite teacher growing up? Someone you admired, wanted to be like. What did you most admire about him/her?

Go ahead and write down what you remember or take a short stroll down memory lane. Don’t worry we’ll wait for ya. 

It is important to have someone to look up to as we grow into maturity. Our faith journeys are no different. God places in our paths people to learn from, watch how they serve and share, ask questions, journey together.

Paul encourages his readers to do this very thing in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Philippians. He encourages them to learn from those who go before them. To learn from another’s experience.

This journey of faith has its twists and turns. It gets foggy at times where you are not able to see the step in front of you. It is wise to learn from a faith mentor to see how one keeps in step with the Holy Spirit. 

By having a mentoring relationship one has a place to ask questions and explore. Also there is someone to watch to learn how to put faith in action on a daily basis. 

Having a faith mentor also helps one stay on the right path. This world will work to tempt, to discourage, to distract us from being faith-filled servants of Jesus Christ. Knowing there is someone that has your back no matter what is a comfort when you feel attacked by the enemy.

See being a part of a faith community helps everyone grow deeper in his/her faith. We learn from one another. We hold each other accountable. We resist temptation with a united front.

A faith journey is meant to be done in community. No one should feel s/he is outside the faith community. One learns from others. We share experiences and learnings together.

The question before each of us is: 

Who are we learning from?

Who has God placed in our lives to watch and learn? Some to ask questions to process. A person to help us be accountable and resist temptation.

God has placed these people in all of our faith paths. They may be older or younger than us. They may be have a different cultural background form us. Be open to who it is and be open to learn. Regardless of who it is at this moment be receptive to how the Holy Spirit is teaching you. You don’t know what you don’t know.

This Week’s Challenge

Reflect on who is in your life that God has led you to so you can learn from him/her.

Write down 3 things you will like to learn from him/her. 

Now how will you learn those 3 things?

6th Case Study of Philippians 3:12-14 — Forge Forward

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

Life is a grand adventure. Each day has new experiences awaiting for us. It is easy to be distracted by the past. What went wrong. What could have been. How we could have done things better.

Looking forward brings excitement and hope. The “not knowing” is not anxiety ridden. It’s a fresh start, a natural reset button. That is what Paul encourage his readers on in this passage. He knows he has not finished his race yet. He forges forward towards what God how for him. Letting go of the past.

We can learn a lot from Paul. Our fears can hold us back embracing the future. We are caught up reflecting on what has happened while missing the new adventures in the present day.

See, faith is not simply cognitive assent in a belief system. It is trusting God above all things; trusting not knowing where exactly your foot will land as you take a step of faith. If we keep our turned to look backwards we will trip because we don’t see where we are going.

So, the future may be unclear from our perspective. But from God’s perspective it’s crystal clear. We embrace the day praying to have eyes to see a glimpse of what He sees. This is faith. Living out our trust in God every day. 

As we journey through life let’s forget the past and forge into the future with great joy. Anticipate the incredible adventures God already has planned for you, for me, for all of us. With confidence we know God provides for all our needs. As we are called to serve the Holy Spirit gives us the necessary resources. “Can’t” is removed from our vocabulary.  We believe in our hearts that with God anything is possible.

What are you excited for on your adventure?

What do you need to let go from the past?

What adventures does God have in store for you?

This Week’s Challenge

Take a piece of paper and write on it something that is holding you back from fully trusting God. Now put it through a paper shredder or burn it in a fire. Know it is gone for good. Pray God to forge forward with joy into the future. Write that on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of it every day.  Enjoy the adventure!!

5th Case Study in Philippians 2:14-16 – Go, Shine Like Stars

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

What’s a pet peeve you have? You know that one thing that for whatever reason just gets under your skin. It just irks you. When it pops up we breathe ourselves through it, not letting the anxiety get in too much control.

We stay calm during times when the walls are caving in. We do so not by our strength but by God’s strength filling us so we can stand. It is this model of faith in action that conveys a message of hope to those who are not yet believers. 

It is our actions that demonstrate to others our trust in Jesus Christ. If we bicker with one another what message does that convey? If we encourage one another during disagreements what message does that convey?

See our actions do speak louder than words.  People see how we react to stressful situations. They know we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit so they want to see the difference. If we act the same way then why would one on the verge of faith surround to Jesus Christ? Even when a pet peeve arises how we conduct ourselves through it conveys the Gospel. 

Paul tells his readers to “shine like stars” so people see the difference following Jesus makes in a person’s life. Paul knows he did not “labor in vain” when he was with them. He sees how the seeds of faith were planted and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.

In our own lives we need to assess where we are at in our transformation. When troubles arise do we face them with a calm, at peace perspective? Does anger arise when we are frustrated?

A ReSolved disciple knows difficult times will come. S/he looks to Jesus for a calm spirit to endure. It is not by our might that we persevere through adversity. A ReSolved disciple prays to be transparent so when others see him/her they see Jesus Christ.

So as we go out to serve we keep in the forefront of our minds who are we saying Jesus Christ is with our actions. We are His Brand Ambassadors here on Earth. Are we loving as He loved? Do we serve others as He served?

This week let us take the time to clarify the message Jesus will have for us to share. Listen to the Holy Spirit to hear how God is leading us. Have no fear, God will calm your heart so you can shine like stars.

This Week’s Challenge

List 5 ways you can live out the message God will have you share.  At the end of each day reflect on how you lived them out that day.