Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fear, We're Done!

"There is a world around me that is one conversation away from a change of eternity and that's why the Church exists." ~ Chris Hodges

What stops us from sharing the unconditional love of Jesus with other people? Why do we not engage in conversations with others outside the walls of the church each week in hopes to point them to our Amazing God? I think it's fear. I think some of us are scared we won't say the right thing. I think some of us are scared we will be rejected. I think some of us fear we won't know the answer to their questions, while others are scared of what other people will think about us. Fear is a jerk and keeps us paralyzed. 

Fear hangs out with the devil.  You see the devil is the father of lies and he sends those lies our way on a regular basis. But we Christians don't have to put up with it.  The truth of the matter is that the most repeated command in the Bible is "do not fear". Our God did not give us a spirit of fear! Our God said we can do all things through Christ Jesus. And, in Romans it says if our God is for us, who can be against us? 

So really, if our God is for us then who can be against us?  Huh, nobody I can think of is big enough for that task. I can't think of anything or anyone that can stand up to The Creator - my Father. 

I'm going to break up with Fear.  He's lied to me and made me think that Jesus can't use me. Well, not this week mister. I'm going to listen to my Father. I'm going to do share God's love with others whether Fear likes it or not. Fear can kiss my grits.

Lord, help me to be your hands and feet and mouth. I know sometimes I'm one conversation away from a change in someones eternity and I don't want that person to miss out on Your Love because I'm scared for dumb reasons. I love you, Jesus. Your unconditional love is amazing and I should share it with everyone. Help me with this, Lord.  - In Jesus' name, Amen.

For a deeper study look up the following verses and journal what God teaches you through His Word:
  • Romans 8: 31 - 39
  • 2 Timothy 1: 5 - 8
  • Philippians 4: 6 - 7
  • Psalm 56:3
  • Psalm 91
  • Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

From a Relationship for Relationships

You were created from a Relationship (The Trinity) for relationships (with God and each other). 

Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us." 

Romans 5:11 "So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God."  

Acts 2: 44-47 "And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." 

Relationships are important to God. If they are important to God, then they should be important to us. We were NEVER meant to walk through this world alone. God made us so that we could have a relationship with Him and others.

Relationships have changed my life. It was through relationship with other Christian women that I found myself studying God's Word for the first time years ago and growing in my faith. It was relationships with other Christians that helped sustain my husband and I when we have walked through hard times in this broken world. I bet you could also think of times when your peeps have helped you through some hard times.

Because I know that relationships are so important, it grieves me to think there are people in my neighborhood and my city that do not have a community of Believers around them. There are people walking through very hard life situations (homelessness, illness, loss of loved ones, financial chaos, etc.) feeling like they are alone in their circumstances. God created The Church as the plan for helping people. The Church is Plan A.  There is no Plan B. 

How do we build relationship? Well, we have to look where we are planted. We have to ask God where we can serve others. We have to be intentional in doing this or if your schedule is anything like my schedule it will never happen. We must be real, and we must be approachable. But the number one thing you can do to build relationships, is to LISTEN. 

  • Who in your sphere of influence needs to be in a relationship with other Christians?
  • What can you do to schedule some time to be intentional with building relationships with others?
Lord, forgive us when we have missed opportunities for relationships. We want to be a Church that is useful in helping others and bringing glory to your name. Open our eyes to the possibilities we have with relationships, Lord. - In Jesus' name - Amen.

For a deeper study read:
  • Acts 2: 42-47.  Make a list of what a community should look like according to these verses. Where do you need to do better with being a community member?
  • Read Isaiah 58. Make a list of how God wants us to spend our time according to these verses. What will be the result of us living that way according to these verses?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I'm looking for my friend, Grace? Have you seen her?

Jesus told His disciples to "wake up and look around".  They had missed an opportunity.

Jesus had just finished ministering to a woman. She was not any woman, but an outcast woman that was a Samaritan. The disciples were actually quite taken back that Jesus would even be talking to this woman.  The Bible says they were "shocked". I mean after all, she was a woman and men didn't approach women, much less shady women.  She was also an outcast, so what was a rabbi doing talking to an outcast? And to top it off, she was a Samaritan. Jewish people did not hang out with Samaritan people. 

The disciples were confused,but Jesus was not. Jesus saw a hurting woman and He wanted to help her. Jesus knew of her past, and He wanted her to be sure of her future. Jesus loved her in spite of her. Jesus wasn't concerned what others would think. He was trying to get the disciples to understand, while all they could do was to think about getting some lunch.  Bless them. I have to imagine when he said "wake up and look around" it was more like "WAKE UP AND LOOK AROUND!!!!!"

Do you need to wake up and look around? Is there someone that you are missing that God has intentionally put into your life, but yet you're so focused on going to lunch that you walk right by her every day? Maybe we should all be more concerned with what is around us verses what we are going to put in our belly each day. I know I should. Jesus said His nourishment came from doing the will of His Father.  

Today I'm looking around for "the one" that needs me. Where is she? What if I'm the only Jesus example she ever sees?  I take responsibility for her today even though I don't know who she is. I'm going to name her Grace until I know her real name.

Where are you, Grace?  I'm looking for you!

Lord, help me to see others. Help me to wake up and look around every day of my life from here on out. I don't want to miss an opportunity to share the unconditional love of Jesus with anyone! Open my eyes, Lord.  I'll give you the glory and honor for all who come to know you in my efforts. In the precious name of Jesus ~ Amen.


For a more in depth study:

  • Read John 4: 1 - 42
  • Journal or discuss with other how Jesus' actions and words were different from the words of the others in the story.
  • Would you have acted any differently than the disciples?
  • How can we keep our eyes wide open looking for Grace?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This Thing Called Love

Love really isn't how I imagined it would be as a Christian. In my younger Christian life I thought love was so precious and sweet and all hearts and sappy stuff. But it's not. Not even close most days. Love is not always fun. Love actually drives me crazy sometimes. Loving others is a choice, and it's one that I have to make myself do on a regular basis. 

Jesus said we have to love our enemies.  (Matthew 5:43-48)  That means I have to love the person that flipped me off while driving down the road.  This also means I have to love the neighbor that lets their dog run into my yard all the time even though they know I would rather their dog not be in my yard. I have to make a choice to love these people.

Jesus said I have to love those that are different than me and those that are in need. (Matthew 25: 31-46) That means I have to love women where they are - even if where they are is homeless.  That means that I have to love women no matter what they do - even if what they do is being a stripper to support their family. I have to make a choice to love others no matter where they are in life.  I don't have to agree with their lifestyle to love them.

Jesus said the most important thing I can do is to love God.(Matthew 22: 34-40) When we are going through hardships - financial crisis, illness, death of a loved one, raising a teenager (Oh that last one's got me right now! And for those that don't think that is as hard as the other hardships mentioned then you haven't had a teenager in your house. I suggest you borrow mine.) - it's hard to love God wholeheartedly. Some days are just hard in this broken world and I'm not feeling so thankful to walk through the junk. It's a choice I have to make.  I choose to love God in spite of my circumstances.

Jesus said the second most important thing I can do is to love my neighbor as I love myself. (Matthew 22: 34-40) See point above on loving my neighbor with the dog. Not easy. But I think this verse isn't just about loving my neighbor. It's also about loving myself. That means I have to take care of myself.  That means I have to remind myself that I'm a daughter of the King of Kings. That means I have to forgive myself for mistakes. Loving yourself is not always easy either. It's a choice, too.

Love is important to God. God is love and we will be known as Christians by our LOVE for others. (1 John 4 and John 13:35) Sometimes it's hard to love, but we can do all things through Christ. (Philippians 4:13)

  • Who needs to feel loved in your sphere of influence today?
  • How can we love on those that are hard to love?
  • How do we love God more than anything?
  • How can we love ourselves?

Jesus - thank you for Your amazing love.  I'm in awe of how You love me in spite of me. Help me to love Your way. - Amen

For a deeper study:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 13 and make a list of the way we should love others, and then go love on others that way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Want My Inheritance!

If someone tried to take away an inheritance left to you by your deceased father my guess is that you would fight for your inheritance. It would make sense that you would seek possession for what is rightfully yours. I mean, if your father owned something (land, bank accounts, boats, cars, etc) then he passed away and left you those items, why would you walk away from your inheritance? I bet you would not.

As a Christian, you are a child of the King of Kings. While part of our inheritance is eternal life in heaven, much of our inheritance is here on this side of eternity.  John 10:10 says that Jesus came to give us an abundant life, but it also says in that same verse that Satan has come to try to steal, kill and destroy this abundant life that is rightfully yours! What a jerk!

Jesus left you with peace.  Are you living a peace-filled life?

Jesus left you joy.  Are your days filled with joy?

Jesus left you the Holy Spirit.  Do you listen to Him and walk His path instead of your own?

Jesus left you with the ability to do great works. What have you done in the name of Jesus this week for His Glory?

Are you living the abundant life that is rightfully yours? Is today the day you need to tell Satan to go to hell and start fighting back for the abundant life Jesus died for you to have? It's your inheritance in Him. Take your first punch!

Jesus - Oh how eternally thankful I am that you loved me enough to die for me on a Cross and then rose to life again giving me not only eternal life but also an inheritance that is beyond amazing. I pray my life will forever bring glory and honor to your name. ~ Amen

For a deeper study read the following scriptures and make notes of what God tells you about your inheritance in Him:

  • Galatians 5: 22-23
  • Romans 7: 1-4
  • Galatians 4
  • John 14:12
  • John 15:5
  • Ephesians 1:10-14
  • John 3:16-17