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Day 21

The Unseen

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In 2Corinthians 4:18, we read that “we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” A friend of mine was talking about this verse, and how it relates to business.  We observed that most people plan their business and make decisions based on best practices, or by using traditional metrics, both derived from the seen world. But in God’s economy, those things mean very little. God operates first in the unseen, which then impacts the seen. As my friend so aptly put it, “You can adjust any knob you want in the seen world, and it won’t affect the unseen at all. Period.”  When you reflect on your work and this verse, what does God say to you about living by the unseen?

 

 

Believe

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Chapter seven in Dan Grider’s book Crucial Conversations: Bridging the Awkward Spiritual Gap is titled “The Power of Pisteuo”.  Grider explains how the Greek word pisteuo is usually translated as “believe” , or sometimes as “faith”. However, our typical church culture mistakenly thinks that by this Jesus meant “we should dispassionately repeat a set of sterile doctrines, theologies, and beliefs”.  Rather, it’s not about intellectual consent to a set of facts. In reality, Crider suggest that to capture what Jesus intended, a better translation would be “all in” or “abandon all competing ways to live and fully embrace the new Jesus Kingdom”.

Imagine what our world would be like if it was full of Christians who understood belief as all in, complete abandon, to truths working themselves out in every aspect of our lives. What a huge difference that would make!

The hard part for me is reading Scripture in light of this expanded definition.  John 3:16 would be “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would be all in / sold out / fully abandoned to His way of life shall not perish but have eternal life”.  Now read John 3:18 or Hebrews 11:6 or Mark 16:16 with this pisteuo/believe definition in mind.  Calls us to up our game, doesn’t it?

 

 

Life’s Darkest Day

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I came across the following post on Facebook, and thought I’d share it with you.  If you are facing a “darkest day” right now, I pray it encourages you where you are.

 

Today I find myself contemplating “Holy Saturday”, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I think about what it must have been like for the disciples to pass life’s darkest day … between the Cross and the Empty Tomb, between death and life, between hope lost and joy restored.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  It didn’t make sense.  Had God failed somehow? Fast forward two thousand years, and we often find ourselves in a similar place. Our dreams and plans, even ones dedicated to God, don’t always go as we expected. Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant. We live in a bent world, one that only God can restore. Sadly, until Jesus returns, most of us will endure times like these. But, take heart. Easter is coming. God is faithful to the faith-filled. Where are you facing dark times right now?  Is it with your work? Your family? Your past? Your future? Be encouraged by Jesus’ words, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). When things are darkest, remember that the Empty Tomb was not the end, it was a new beginning. And, best of all, Jesus offers that new life to each of us. Happy Easter.

 

 

Run In Such A Way

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Seek Me And Live

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Sometimes I wonder why so many people who profess to be Christians live lives of defeat and have minimal impact on those around them.  The other day I came across this devotional in my YouVersion bible reading plan (Daily Encouragement by David Evans). I wonder if this might be part of the reason?

“Seek me and live” – this is the essence of true religion: to seek and find the one true and living God, and in finding him, to enter into a life which pleases him. That life is inevitably characterized by good works and the evident presence of God: “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you” (Amos 5:14).

The tragedy of nominal, formal, merely traditional religion is that it is just religion and nothing more. It does not change the life of the individual, and the Lord is conspicuous by his absence. The ritual is carried on while righteousness is missing in public and private life. People go to Bethel, but they do not meet with God. There is no lack of religious feasts, assemblies and music, but this ritual goes hand in hand with injustice and immorality and is an abomination to the Lord.

The test of all religious profession and practice lies here. Is there a genuine seeking of God, and does it produce holy living? We do well to bring our meetings, our music, our charity, and our whole lifestyle to this searching examination. Our Bible study must be subject to it too, because it is possible to search the Scriptures and yet not come to Christ (John 5:39,40).

All In

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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?

Identity

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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.

Covenant

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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).

Success

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My father-in-law was very “successful” financially as a businessman, then for many years lived the retired American dream lifestyle. He now has poor health and suffers from dementia. His life has changed dramatically in just a matter of months. I spent this past weekend going through a storage unit of stuff that he had accumulated, and it was like a time capsule of his life. As I was reflecting on what God was trying to teach me through this experience, I received a devotional from Os Hillman’s Today God Is First.  In it, Os says: “For many people in the world, real meaning in life is the next vacation, career success, or stepping up the income ladder. It is a life based on pleasurable experiences. Many a human being has toiled their whole life to gain a pleasurable lifestyle only to find a life that is empty and meaningless. You only have to watch television for one evening to discover that advertisers want us to believe this is the goal of life. The work-to-play theme is consistent with most advertising messages. Knowing Christ brings the only real meaning and purpose to the human soul. Spend time today getting to know the Lord in a more intimate way. Then you will discover real meaning and purpose in life.” God then told me, “this is Truth. It resonates with the Gospel. But, there’s one more ingredient. The Truth (Gospel) must be shared with others.”

I guess that was my answer to finding purpose and success.  What is yours?

Racial Reconciliation

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It seems like everywhere we turn these days, we’re confronted with the issue of racism. Whether it’s a simple conversation over coffee or a violent protest that makes headlines, racial conflict seems to be on the minds of many people. But, one question that has not really been fully addressed is this: what is my role as a Christian? Or better yet, how does the Gospel touch the issue of racial reconciliation? If we believe that the Gospel impacts every area of our lives, and every aspect of society, then surely we must give this careful consideration.

The video below was recorded by The Village Church. It is an interview with author and pastor Bryan Loritts, and it focuses on how the Gospel is the ONLY hope for racial reconciliation …. and what reconciliation means for all sides involved.