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Day 21

Fix My Eyes

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Do you ever wake up and just feel like you need a boost?  Some sort of reminder that God will do what He has promised, and that our troubles will not overcome us?  That happened to me this week, and God pointed me to Hebrews 8 for the solution. Where are you fixing your eyes?  Check out this video if you need a bounce in your step.

 

Heb 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Scattered

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Have you ever faced challenges, especially when living out your calling in the marketplace? Today God took me to Acts 8:1-4 and asked, “what do you see?”  It was bad. Great persecution. The disciples were scattered, torn from their friends and families and everything that was known to them. They were burying the dead, the church was ravaged, and people were being dragged off and thrown into prison. But then there was also verse 4. A few simple words. Those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Then God said to me, “Look again. What do you see?”  I saw a call to faithfulness in the midst of adversity. I saw a prayer that my core purpose in Christ would not be lost in the overwhelming flood of life’s challenges. I saw a reminder that God’s power is sometimes more obvious in times of our greatest need. I saw that God turned what looked like a terrible end into the real beginning of it all. These verses encouraged me to look at my circumstances in a new light. I pray you would be encouraged to do the same.

 

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.   Acts 8:1-4

 

Spiritual Leadership

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One of the best books on leadership, especially how faith and work intersect, is “Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda” by Henry & Richard Blackaby. The book shares truths applicable to both business and church leaders alike. One common thread is the difference between vision and revelation, and which one should drive our thinking and action.  For example, here are three quotes:

“There is a significant difference between revelation and vision. Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive.”

“The world functions by vision; God’s people live by revelation.”

“Every time leaders choose to develop their own vision for their people instead of seeking God’s will, they are giving their people their best thinking instead of God’s. That is a poor exchange indeed.”

Which of these represents how you tend to view your work?  Which way is closer to how you do “strategic planning”?  Anything you need to change?

 

 

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.