Recently I was reading Jeremiah 29, which contains some verses familiar to many of us. Normally my attention is drawn to verse 11, which is the life verse God gave my middle daughter: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We like to read that verse. But as I reflected, it struck me that this promise comes with conditions (or at least a roadmap). The words that immediately follow it, verses 12 & 13, explain: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” For at least a week now, I keep thinking about verse 13 … when you seek me with all your heart. Sounds like the picture of someone who is “all in”, fully committed. What a challenge this can be, but what a glorious outcome. When I get down about the state of God’s People today, or with my own walk for that matter, I am reminded of the solution laid out in these verses. We must call on Him, come to Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart. The question is, am I “all in”? Are you?
At a recent conference for medial workers, I had the opportunity to chat with some of the folks from Crossworld, a mission agency focused on disciple-makers from all professions bringing God’s love to life in the world’s least-reached marketplaces. They shared with me a resource called “A Better Way”, which is available as a 160pg soft cover book or a free 24 page booklet. One of the concepts I really liked in it was the 925 Window. Not sure what that is? Read the book to find out. Here’s a hint … working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living.
Have you ever wanted to be more effective at living intentionally for the Gospel as you enter a new culture? Ever felt overwhelmed in the process, or at the prospect of doing so? Then, perhaps there’s a book for you. Larry & Susan McCrary from the Upstream Collective have written a book called “First 30 Daze”. This resource contains thirty topics that blend scripture verses, stories and practical ways to tackle the issues most folks face when first entering a new culture. Check it out. You might find it quite useful for where you are, or where God is taking you.
The other day I came across this devotional from Os Hillman in his Today God Is First series. It was a challenge I faced years ago, but one I still revisit from time to time. How about you?
“All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied” (Eccl. 6:7 NKJV).
How would you feel about yourself if your job was removed from you tomorrow? Let’s imagine that your income wouldn’t change, just what you did everyday.
One of the schemes that Satan uses in the life of the Christian worker is to get him/her to view their value solely based on the type of work they do and how well they do it. We call this performance-based acceptance. It says “As long as I have a good job and I do it well, I have self-esteem.”
This is a “slippery slope” and can be used by Satan to keep our focus on our performance versus Christ. We are never to find our value in what we do. Instead, our value is solely based on who we are in Christ. The apostle Paul wrestled with this after he came to faith in Christ. He had grown to the top of his field as a Jewish leader.
“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Phil 3:4-9).
You’ll never really know to the degree that your self-esteem is rooted in your work until your work is removed. Unemployment, illness, or a financial crisis can lead to job loss.
Why not evaluate where you are in this area of your life. Affirm with God your desire to be known by Who you know versus what you do.
As we start a new year, I thought we’d kick it off by sharing with you a simple tool to help you grow as a disciple and a disciple maker. I’m borrowing this from our friends at www.moredisciples.com, who borrowed it from someone else, and it goes by the acronym “SOAPs.”
- S – Scripture: Choose 1 to 4 focus verses and write them out word for word.
- O – Own: Now paraphrase the focus verses in your own words.
- A – Apply: Ask God how He wants you to apply any truths in the focus verses in your life today
- P – Pray: Pray that the Lord will give you strength, courage and boldness to put these truths into practice today.
- s – Share: Share these focus verses and the lessons you’ve drawn from them with someone you meet today.
It’s easy and practical, but also deepens your time in Scripture in a great way. Why not commit to doing your SOAPs for the next 14 days, and see what God does?
This Christmas, I wanted to share with you a video from The Skit Guys that explores different perspectives on Christmas. Sit back, grab your hot cocoa, and enjoy. You might even see yourself in one of these characters.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Some days I find myself wondering, “How can God use a regular person like me?” This past week I heard a “regular guy” named Lee Wood share his God-story. Lee, a former street dude with lots of energy and “self-diagnosed ADD … squirrel”, is a riot to listen to. God has worked through Lee and his team to launch a disciple making movement in the heart of Tampa, Florida. (click here to read Lee’s story). As Lee shared with us, it struck me how often God uses unlikely instruments to accomplish His work. It made me think of Samuel anointing David as the next king (1Samuel 16:7) … man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. So, take heart. However God has wired you, He wants to use your unique gifting, talents and passions to help fulfill the Great Commission. Ask Him to show you, and He will.
A friend of mine runs a company in a country fairly hostile to Christianity, especially when it’s introduced by “foreigners”. The other day he sent a note about what God has been doing through his business. He said, “There has been a movement of people in our area for the last couple of years. People coming to Christ continually in 2s or 3s or families. Some centered around our company. This week the local government called our manager in for questioning and training on ‘respect for other religions’. It is strange/significant that the local officials called our manager in and not the church leaders. I sometimes feel that people think my company is not Kingdom [work], but the local officials recognize something [different].”
My friend’s note made me wonder. Would I be guilty of a “crime” like that … being more of a Kingdom threat than the officially sanctioned church leaders in my area? What changes would I need to make in my life and in my practice in order to become a “threat” like that? How about you?
Have you ever thought about the agreements you enter into, and your heart attitude towards them? Sometimes we fear our ability to accomplish what God calls us to. Other times we don’t live up to the promises we make to others, whether at work or in our personal lives.
The devotional that follows is from Os Hillman’s Today God Is First. Perhaps it will give you some more food for thought.
“But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” Genesis 6:18
The Bible is filled with covenants made between God and people. Six of those covenants were made with Old Testament figures: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The seventh was made with His own Son, Jesus Christ. God is always the strongest partner in a covenant relationship.
God made a covenant with Noah in order to preserve the human race. This covenant involved Noah’s participation by building an ark. He’d never built an ark before. He’d never had a boat. It was a totally new concept to Noah and the rest of the world. Why would he need a boat in a dry land?
Noah did not have to invent the ark; God gave him the plans-in specific dimensional detail. He did not have to gather the animals-God led them into the ark. God even closed the door when they all came on board. God made it rain to prove why the ark was needed.
The covenant provided all Noah needed to complete his mission in life. When God spoke to Noah to do this thing, he needed only to respond to God’s call to do it. Noah could rest in knowing the covenant made with God was going to be fulfilled if he fulfilled his part.
If you have entered into a covenant relationship with God, you too can be assured that God will uphold His part of the covenant relationship. He is committed to fulfilling His covenant with you and to fulfill His purposes in and through your life. It only requires one thing on your part-obedience. He will even provide grace and faith to you to help you fulfill your part of the covenant.
Each of us has a covenant with God. But we also enter covenants with others in our personal and business lives. How are you doing in fulfilling covenants to others? God has given us the example to follow. Ask God if you have any unfulfilled covenants you need to honor. He has called you and me to be covenant keepers. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).