Sunday, April 30, 2023
Gracious God, I come before you in humility and with a heart full of faith. I thank you for your goodness and mercy, and for the gift of your Son, Jesus, whose sacrifice secured forgiveness and salvation for me.
Lord, I ask for your strength and courage as I navigate the challenges of this world. I pray for boldness to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love. I ask for the courage to follow your will, even when it is difficult or unpopular.
Help me to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity, knowing that you are always with me. Give me the courage to step out in faith, trusting that you will guide me and provide for me every step of the way.
Lord, I pray that you would fill me with the Holy Spirit, that I may be empowered to live the life that brings honor and glory to your name. Give me the courage to share your love and grace with those around me, even when it may be uncomfortable or challenging.
Help me to remember that I am not alone, and that you are always with me. May my life be a shining light that points others to you, and may I never waver in my faith or my commitment to your kingdom.
I pray all of this in the mighty name of Jesus, who is my strength and shield. Amen.
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," which expressed his profound gratitude and worship for God's character and work. Peter recognized that God's gracious mercy is the source of all spiritual blessings and the foundation of salvation. God's mercy is not based on human merit or worthiness but flows from His infinite love and grace. Through His mercy, God has given us new birth that brings us from death to life and makes us children of God (John 1:12-13).
This new birth is not a result of our own efforts or achievements but is a gift of God's grace that is given to us through the faithfulness of Jesus and our trust in him. Peter emphasized that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate proof and guarantee that this new birth is a reality and that God’s people now have a living hope.
Peter also highlighted the nature and quality of the inheritance that all of God’s people receive through this new birth. The inheritance we have is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. It is imperishable because it is not subject to decay, corruption, or death. It is eternal, incorruptible, and indestructible. It is undefiled because it is pure, holy, and perfect. It is untainted by sin, evil, or imperfection. It is unfading because it never loses its value, beauty, or glory. It is the perfect gift that God wants His people to have.
This inheritance is not something we earn or deserve but it is a gracious gift God gives to his people. It is not a temporary or earthly possession but an eternal and heavenly treasure. It is not a vague or abstract concept but a concrete and personal reality. It is something that is grander and more wonderful than we can imagine. It is not something we keep but something that keeps us. It is not something we can lose but something that is guarded by God's promise and power.
Peter also reassured the believers that their inheritance is secure and guarded by God's power through faith. The phrase "you are being guarded" implies ongoing and active protection by God's power. The verb tense suggests that this guarding is not a one-time event but a continuous process. God's power is not limited but it is eternal. His power is not arbitrary or random but is directed by His wisdom and love. God’s power is not passive or indifferent but is active and engaged.
This guarding is also through faith, which implies that Christians have a role to play in our spiritual security. Faith is not a passive or static belief but an active and dynamic trust in God's promises and character. Faith is not a blind or irrational leap but a reasonable and informed response to God's revelation. Faith is not a private or isolated experience but a communal and relational reality. Faith is not a temporary or fluctuating emotion but a persistent and persevering conviction.
Peter concluded this passage by reminding the believers that their salvation is not fully revealed yet, but it is ready to be revealed in the last time. This means that our inheritance is not fully realized yet, we have a glimpse of it, but it will be fully revealed when Jesus returns and makes everything right. Until then, believers must live in hope, faith, and obedience, knowing that their ultimate destiny is secure and glorious.
This passage is teaches that our hope and our salvation is all a work of God. It highlights the depth and breadth of God's mercy, the power and significance of Christ's resurrection, and the greatness and certainty of our inheritance.
As Christians, we have been born again into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance. We are guarded by God's power through faith as we wait for our salvation to be fully revealed. We need to live as children of God, shining the light of Christ in a dark world, and eagerly awaiting the day when we will see Him face to face and inherit all that He has promised.
Friday, April 28, 2023
Transformation is a popular thing to talk about in our culture. Everywhere we turn, from fitness to self-improvement, people seem to be obsessed with the idea of change. While change can certainly be positive, true transformation is something that cannot be achieved by human effort alone.
Many people try to change themselves through sheer willpower or by following a self-help program. While these things can be helpful, they cannot bring about true transformation. Without the initiative and action of God, we will not be able to become the people God created us to be. We may make temporary changes, but we will not be able to overcome the flesh that controls our lives.
Part of the Gospel message is that God is able to transform us. He is in the business of changing the lives of people. In Philippians 1:6, Paul wrote, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." God won’t abandon us halfway through the transformation process. We can be confident that He will see it through until the end.
The transformation that God brings about in our lives is not just external, but it is also internal. In fact, the transformation we need is a transformation of our hearts, our minds, and our souls. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He changes our desires and gives us a new purpose. He also helps us to see ourselves and other people in a new light. The transformation that God brings about is a transformation of the entire person.
There are many benefits to experiencing true transformation through God. For one, we become better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws our way. We are less likely to be shaken by difficult circumstances because we have a firm foundation in Christ. We are also able to experience a greater sense of peace and joy because we are no longer weighed down by the burdens of our past.
Another benefit of experiencing true transformation is that we become better equipped to serve others. As we become more like Jesus, we begin to see the world, and others, through His eyes. We become more compassionate, more understanding, and more willing to help those in need. Our relationships with people are strengthened, and we are better able to make a positive impact on those closest to us.
How can we experience transformation in our lives?
This starts with prayer. We are to confess our sins to God and declare our loyalty to Jesus. We pray and ask God to reveal areas in our lives that need to be transformed. We ask Him to give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses and to help us grow in our relationship with Him. We also pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance.
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of life. From the moment a child is born, parents are faced with the responsibility of raising them to become responsible, compassionate, and productive members of society. Christian parents also have the added responsibility of raising their children to be faithful disciples of Jesus.
Children are a gift and a responsibility from GodChildren are a precious gift from God, and they come into our lives as a result of His plan and design. Because of this we know that each child is unique and has his or her own God-given purpose and potential. As parents, it is our responsibility to nurture and guide our children, helping them to grow and develop in all areas of life.
Since children come from God, we need to remember that He is entrusting them into our care. They are not a burden or inconvenience, but a blessing to be cherished and celebrated. Psalm 127:3-5 says that children like arrows in the hand of a warrior, meaning that parenting children is one way that God will increase His influence in the world. Just as an archer takes careful aim and shoots an arrow towards its target, parents must aim to raise their children in a way that honors God and helps them fulfill their potential.
Raising children is a significant responsibility, and it requires a great deal of effort, sacrifice, and commitment. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to "train up a child in the way he should go," indicating that we must be intentional and deliberate in our approach to parenting. This involves teaching our children about God and His ways, modeling a life of faith and obedience, and providing them with the guidance and support they need to navigate the challenges of life.
As parents, we have a profound influence on the spiritual development of our children. We are called to be their primary disciplers, helping them to know and love God, and showing them what it means to follow Jesus. Our decisions about how we raise our children have eternal consequences, and we must take this responsibility seriously.
Parenting is filled with challenges and opportunitiesOne of the biggest challenges of parenting in today's world is managing the impact of technology on our children's lives. Social media, video games, and other forms of technology can be both a blessing and a curse. While they provide entertainment and educational opportunities, they can also be addictive and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Even worse, as studies seem to suggest, the role technology has the the social, emotional, and even spiritual development of children is huge. As parents, we must be vigilant in setting limits and boundaries around technology use, and provide our children with good alternatives for entertainment and social interaction.
Another challenge of parenting in today's world is helping our children navigate the complexities of relationships and social dynamics. Peer pressure, bullying, and social isolation are all too common in our society, and they can have a profound impact on our children's emotional and mental health. As parents, we must be attuned to our children's emotional needs and provide them with the guidance and support they need to navigate these challenges.
Despite these challenges, parenting also presents many opportunities. As parents, we have the opportunity to shape the lives of our children and help them become the best versions of themselves. We can provide them with a strong foundation of faith and values, teach them important life skills, and encourage them to pursue their passions and talents. We can also model healthy behaviors and attitudes, showing them what it means to live a life faithfully following Jesus.
Parenting is crucial for the future of society and the churchSince our children are the future of both our society and the church, it is important that we are intentional in how we raise them. Children who are raised with strong values and a sense of purpose are more likely to become responsible and compassionate adults who make positive contributions to society. By raising children who are committed to serving others and making the world a better place, we can help them see that they can make a difference in the world.
At the same time, parenting is also crucial for the future of the church. As Christian parents, we have a unique opportunity to pass on our faith to the next generation. This means not only teaching our children about the Bible and the doctrines of the faith, but also modeling a life of love, truth, humility, and service.
By living out our faith in front of our children, we help them develop a deep and lasting relationship with God that will sustain them throughout their lives.
In addition, parents have a responsibility to equip their children to be effective witnesses for Jesus in the world. This requires us to be intentional in teaching them so they can have the skills and knowledge they need to share their faith with others in a winsome and persuasive way. By raising up a generation of young people who are passionate about living the Gospel, is one way we are completing the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.
Parenting is one of the most important responsibilities we have as adults. It is a calling from God that requires us to be intentional, patient, and prayerful as we seek to raise our children to become the men and women God created them to be. As we fulfill this calling, we can trust that God will be with us every step of the way, guiding and empowering us to be the parents our children need us to be.
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
For me, a good EDC begins with a knife.
In addition to its practical uses, an EDC knife can also provide a sense of security and preparedness. Knowing that you have a reliable tool (which is same basic tool humans have been carrying for centuries) with you can give you peace of mind in potentially dangerous or unpredictable situations.
When selecting a good EDC knife, there are a few important factors to consider.
The shape of the blade will also depend on what you plan to use the knife for. A drop point or clip point blade may be better for everyday tasks, while a tanto or serrated blade may be more useful in emergencies. There are also the sheepsfoot that provides a good work blade that is non-threatening because it lacks is point.
The handle is another important factor to consider. G10 and Micarta are both lightweight, durable materials that provide a good grip, but other materials like wood, reinforced nylon, or carbon fiber may also be suitable depending on personal preference.
With folding knives you also have to consider locking mechanism. Most traditional pocket knives are slip joints with no locking mechanism. There are lock backs that have a button on the back to push to release the lock. A frame lock using part of the frame of the knife to snap into place locking the blade and a liner lock, which is the same idea but uses the liner inside the frame rather than the frame itself. There are a number of number with other locking mechanism, the cool one right now is the button lock, that helps the blade to stay in place and not fold onto your fingers.
Lastly, a pocket clip can be a useful feature on an EDC knife, allowing you to clip the knife onto your pocket or waistband for easy access.
Some examples of popular EDC knives include the Spyderco Delica, the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, CRKT Pilar, Civivi Elementum, Ontario Rat 1, and Kizer Dukes. These knives all have durable blades, comfortable handles, and pocket clips for easy carry.
Carrying an EDC knife can provide a sense of security and preparedness in a variety of situations. When selecting a good EDC knife, consider the blade material, shape, and length, as well as the handle material, size, locking mechanism, and pocket clip. Remember to choose a knife from a reputable manufacturer with a good reputation for producing high-quality knives. With the right knife, you'll be ready to handle whatever life throws your way.
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
"Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16; CSB)
We are called to be wise in our use of time.
But what does it mean to be wise in our use of time?
Monday, April 24, 2023
Christians are people of faith. Biblical faith is more than simply believing, it is about trusting and obeying. In other words, we are to trust God more than we trust ourselves. This trust will come out in the way we live. If we trust God then we will do what He says. We will act immediately, regardless of the potential consequences.
In our American culture, it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and ignore the Holy Spirit nudging us to take action. It also becomes easy to put off doing what we know is right because we don't want to deal with the difficulty, discomfort, or even the opposition that may come with it. But as McManus wrote, we cannot afford to procrastinate when it comes to fulfilling God's plan for our lives.
The Bible has many examples of people who were called to do difficult things for God but initially hesitated or procrastinated. Moses, for instance, was reluctant at first to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he didn't feel equipped for the task. Yet, once he finally submitted to God's will, he became the prototypical leader for Israel.
Similarly, Jonah resisted God's call at first to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh, but a few days in the stomach of a fish, Jonah listened to God’s call, and great city of Nineveh experienced a revival.
I also want to note that following God's will doesn't necessarily mean that life will be easy or without challenges. In fact it is often quite the opposite. We may face resistance, persecution, or even danger when we step out in faith to do what God has called us to do. Yet, as Erwin McManus emphasized, courage does what's right regardless of the situation or consequence.
Courageous obedience to God's will requires that we trust Him more than we trust ourselves and that we believe He has our best interests at heart, even when we can't see the bigger picture. This boldness requires us to believe that God will provide us with the strength, wisdom, and resources we need to accomplish His plan for our lives.
Whaat Erwin McManus wrote in Uprising is a good reminder that following God's will requires immediate action. We must step out in faith, even when it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. We must confront our sin and seek forgiveness, knowing that this is the first step towards restoration with God.
As we strive to live a life that honors God and demonstrates His character, we need to remember that we are not alone in this journey. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, the Bible to instruct us, and the Church to support us. Let us commit to living a life of courageous obedience to God's will, trusting that He will lead us on a path of purpose and fulfillment.
Sunday, April 23, 2023
I come before you with a heart full of gratitude and praise. I ask that you open my heart and mind to your wisdom as I meditate on your truth that is revealed in the Bible. I thank you for the guidance you have given to me through Scripture and I commit to aligning my life to its truth.
Father, empower me to set my heart on things above, the things of heaven. May I not be consumed by the distractions and temptations of the world, but rather my I be focused on you and your character.
Help me to die to my flesh and rise again as a new creation in Jesus, filled with your Spirit and empowered to live a life of holiness and righteousness. I pray that my mind may be renewed by your truth and that I may be transformed by the power of your love. May I seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and trust that you will provide all my needs.
Fill me with the joy and peace that come from knowing Jesus, and may my life be a testimony to your grace and goodness. And may all glory and honor be given to you, now and forever. Amen.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
The Apostle Peter's letter to Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Following Jesus meant that they lived as foreigners even though they were at home in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
This is our reality as well. Most of us were born right here in the United States, yet, as followers of Jesus we find ourselves as aliens and foreigners in our own country. I think this is one reason why the message of 1 Peter is relevant to us today as it was to the believers of that time.
In this opening passage, Peter addressed three crucial points: the identity of his readers, their divine calling, and the grace and peace available to them.
First, Peter identified his readers as "God's chosen people." This description reminds us that as Christians, we have been called out of darkness of the world and into the light of God’s kingdom. We are not ordinary people, but rather we are holy, set apart for God's purposes. This identity gives us a purpose and a community. We may live as foreigners in a world that does not understand or accept us, but we belong to a community, the Church, that is made up of God’s people. In this community we are able to live out our purpose and discover the love we need.
Second, Peter emphasized that God chose his readers long ago and that his Spirit has made them holy. From the start of creation, God’s plan has always to have a people who would be faithful to Him. Our salvation is not a result of our own efforts or merit but is entirely due to God's grace and mercy. In fact, according to Peter, the entire Trinity, is involved in our salvation. The Father created the plan, the Spirit transforms us and makes us holy, and Jesus secured our forgiveness on the cross. This truth should humble us and fill us with gratitude for God's great love and amazing grace.
Finally, Peter ended his greeting by praying that God would give his readers grace and peace. Grace, which was a standard greeting in Greek letters, is the unmerited favor of God that enables us to live a life pleasing to him. Peace, which was the standard Jewish greeting, is the well-being a person experiences by being in a right relationship with God. Both of these blessings are available to us through Jesus Christ, and Peter encouraged his readers to expect them as gifts from God as they followed Jesus.
Peter's letter to the chosen people reminds us of our identity as God’s holy people, our divine calling through God's grace, and the abundant blessings of grace and peace available to us through Jesus Christ. As we navigate the challenges of life in a sin corrupted world, may we hold on to these truths and find strength and comfort in Jesus.
Friday, April 21, 2023
The apostle Paul wrote:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4; CSB)In this passage, we discover two crucial parts of discipleship. In order to follow Jesus and experience the transforming working of the Holy Spirit, we must start with our minds.
Colossians 3 begins by reminding us that we have been raised with Christ, and therefore, we need to seek the things above. This is very similar to what Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33; CSB)
This means that the first crucial part of discipleship is to have a transformation of our values. We can’t continue to chase after the things the world values: pleasure, success, money, and recognition and follow Jesus. Disciples are to value the things of Heaven.
Our values change because our identity has changed. We are now citizens and ambassadors of God’s kingdom. To be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God means that we represent Him in the world, and we can only do that if we value God and His kingdom above all else.
Colossians 3 continues in verse 2 by saying that we need to set our minds on the things above. To set our minds on the things above isn’t about trying to imagine pearly gates and streets of gold, but meditating on heavenly things.
This brings us to the second crucial part of discipleship, and that is, we need to have a change of mind. Having a change of mind means what we think about and believe needs to be in line with God’s will and word. Rather than having opinions and thoughts that are shaped by politics, social media, and partisan news networks, our minds are influenced by the Bible, prayer, and other Christians.
The passage goes on to remind us that we have died to ourselves and that our lives are hidden with God through Jesus. The lives we live are not our lives, but they belong to God. We may be able to see a change of heart and a change of behavior, but these changes are only the beginning of the transformation that Jesus has promised to us. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer slaves to sin but instead, we are made new in him.
This happens because our old selves, with their sinful desires and selfish pursuits, are crucified with Christ, and we are raised to new life. This new life is characterized by a desire to please God by demonstrating His character in this world through the way we live.
Finally, Colossians 3:4 teaches us that when Jesus returns, we will also appear with him in glory. This is a reminder of the hope that we have because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We know that this life is not all there is, and that one day Jesus will return and make everything right, and that God will come and dwell with His people.
This hope should inspire us to live our lives with purpose and intentionality. We are to seek to live our lives in a way that honors God and reflects His love to those around us. In this way, we show that we value the things of heaven over the things of the world.
The passage of Colossians 3:1-4 serves as a significant reminder of the pivotal role our minds and hearts play in discipleship. Our ability to progress with Jesus depends on the transformation of our values and thoughts. Such a transformation empowers us with the strength to live the lives that God had intended for us from the very beginning.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Forgiveness is a essential part of being a disciple of Jesus. Forgiveness is not only about releasing others from their wrongdoing, but it is also about freeing ourselves from the pain and hurt that have been holding us back.
In Colossians 3:13, it says:
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. This verse highlights the importance of forgiveness and encourages us to forgive others as God has forgiven us. (NLT)
It is understandable to hold onto past hurts as a way of protecting ourselves from future pain, but this can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Instead of protecting us, holding onto anger and resentment creates a constant state of negativity, which prevents us from fully living our lives. Not forgiving is like carrying a heavy backpack filled with rocks that weighs us down and makes it difficult to move forward.
Forgiveness is a process of letting go of the pain and negativity we have been holding onto. It does not mean excusing or justifying the actions of the person who hurt us. Instead, it is about releasing ourselves from the burden of anger, resentment, and hurt. When we forgive, we create space for healing and reconciliation, and we give ourselves permission to move on from the past and focus demonstrating God’s character in this world.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15; NLT)
This teaching emphasizes the importance of forgiveness not only for our own healing but also for our relationship with God. We can’t demonstrate God’s character, which includes His forgiving nature, while withholding forgiveness from others.
Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is essential for our wellbeing and spiritual growth. It is a choice that we make for both the person who hurt us and for ourselves. By forgiving, we let go of the hurt and pain that's been holding us back and create room for healing and reconciliation. We owe it to ourselves and our relationship with God to let go and move forward, free from the past so we can continue to follow Jesus into the future.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Last month, Taylor Martin over at The Best Damn EDC took on a challenge of buying a complete EDC kit on Amazon for $100. He had done a similar challenge a few years ago and asked his followers what the bare minimum EDC carry would be. They determined that a wallet, watch, pen/pencil, flashlight, key organizer, and a tool (knife, multitool, pry bar) were essential items. This formed the foundation for his challenge, and he completed several challenges ($50, $100, $200) at different stores using that combination.
However, the challenge he did last month had a slightly different focus. He was looking for a wallet, pen, flashlight, key organizer, knife, and multitool. As I watched the video, I wondered what I could do for $100 on Amazon. I decided to challenge myself to find items I would recommend to a person creating an Everyday Carry for the first time. So, I opted not to look for a wallet or key organizer because I assumed most people already have those things covered.
Therefore, I searched for a knife, multitool, pen, flashlight, and pocket organizer, and here's what I found.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
But what exactly are the benefits of having a morning routine, and why is it so important?
Having a consistent morning routine can provide numerous benefits to your mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few of them:
- Sets the Tone for the Day — Starting your day off with a consistent routine helps to set the tone for the rest of the day. When you have a set routine that you follow every morning, it gives you a sense of control and structure. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety and create a sense of calm and focus.
- Boosts Productivity — When you have a morning routine, you start your day with intention and purpose. This can help to boost productivity and increase your overall effectiveness throughout the day. By starting your day off with tasks that are important to you, you can create momentum that carries you through the rest of your day.
- Improves Mental Health — A morning routine can also be beneficial for your mental health. When you have a set routine, it can help to reduce anxiety and stress. Taking time for yourself in the morning can also help you feel more centered and grounded. This can help you to start your day with a positive attitude and increase your overall well-being.
- Creates Consistency — Consistency is key when it comes to creating habits that stick. By establishing a morning routine, you can create consistency in your life. This consistency can help you to feel more in control of your life and can help you to establish other healthy habits throughout your day.
- Increases Energy — A morning routine can help to increase your energy levels. When you start your day with healthy habits, such as exercise, meditation, or a healthy breakfast, it can help to give you a boost of energy that lasts throughout the day. This can help you to feel more alert and focused and can improve your overall productivity and well-being.
Here are some tips for creating a morning routine that works for you:
- Start with your ideal wake-up time — Decide what time you want to wake up each morning and plan your routine around that.
- Include activities that energize you — Consider including activities like walking, weight lifting, yoga, or body weight exercises - anything that helps you feel energized and focused.
- Plan for what needs to be done — Think about the things you need to do to get ready for the day, like taking a shower, eating breakfast, and brushing your teeth. These activities are a normal part of the morning, but they need to be scheduled, otherwise, the routine will feel hurried and unhelpful.
- Make time for spiritual formation — Consider what disciplines would be beneficial to do on a daily basis and would get the day started on the right foot. Disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, singing worship music, meditation, or journaling. These activities can help you focus the day on God.
- Be consistent — Stick to your morning routine as much as possible, even on weekends. This will help you create a habit and reap the full benefits of a consistent routine.
- Be flexible — Be open to adjusting your routine as needed. Life is unpredictable, so be willing to make changes when necessary.
To make the most of this habit, it's important to maintain a balance of consistency and flexibility, and to prioritize activities that align with our well-being and values. As good stewards of our time, we can leverage the power of a morning routine to enhance our lives and make progress towards our goals.
Monday, April 17, 2023
In his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard wrote:
One of the greatest deceptions in the practice of the Christian religion is the idea that all that really matters is our internal feelings, ideas, beliefs, and intentions. It is this mistake about the psychology of the human being that more than anything else divorces salvation from life, leaving us a headful of vital truths about God and a body unable to fend off sin. (p. 152)This quote highlights a common mistake among Christians: the belief that our internal feelings, ideas, beliefs, and intentions are all that matter in our relationship with God. This idea leads to a twisted view of salvation, one that emphasizes knowledge and feeling over action and change, which leaves us stunted in our spiritual formation.
To truly live as disciples of Jesus, we need a discipleship that integrates our thoughts, emotions, and actions. The spiritual formation that is to happen in our minds and hearts must be reflected in the way we live and interact with the world around us.
I think it is crucial to remember that ongoing spiritual formation requires both a change of mind and a change of behavior. Repentance leads to a change of mind which motivates a change of behavior which leads to a renewed repentance that flows into a changed mind which results in a change of behavior. And this cycle keeps us moving forward in our spiritual formation.
One crucial part in this process is the practice of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are intentional habits and practices that help us align our minds and hearts with God's will. Disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, fasting, and solitude, allow us to train our minds to focus on God's truth and our hearts to respond in obedience.
However, spiritual disciplines alone are not enough. We also need to cultivate a lifestyle of service and selflessness. As Jesus himself said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; NLT)
To deny ourselves means that we put aside our own desires and preferences so we can love God and love our neighbor. We know that we maturing in our discipleship as it becomes second nature for us to love.
Ultimately, our salvation is not just a matter of intellectual understanding or emotional experience; it is a transformation of our whole being. As Willard writes, "Salvation is not just a matter of being saved from our sins; it is a matter of being saved to be the kind of person who naturally does the good and right thing" (p. 153).
We need to reject the belief that our feelings and intentions are all that matter in our spiritual formation. Instead, let us embrace a discipleship that integrates our thoughts, emotions, and actions in pursuit of God's will. This is how we become the people God created us to be.
Sunday, April 16, 2023
I approach You with a heart full of gratitude for the gift of life that You have given me. I thank You for sustaining me, protecting me, and guiding me in all my ways.
Lord, You have entrusted me with the responsibility of caring for my life, and I recognize that it is only through You that I can make wise choices that lead to life. Grant me Your wisdom and discernment, that I may choose the path of life that leads to You.
Help me to stay connected to You, the source of all life, through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Strengthen me to follow Him, even when it is difficult, so that I may experience the abundant life that He offers.
I declare today that I choose life, and I ask for Your guidance and protection as I walk in this path. May my life bring glory to You and be a testimony of Your goodness and grace.
In Jesus' name, I pray, amen.
Saturday, April 15, 2023
The first question is the same one that Jesus posed to Peter after His resurrection. As you may recall, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before the crucifixion, and after the resurrection, Jesus approached Peter to restore him. The restoration process involved asking Peter the same question three times: "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15; ESV).
It's easy to say that we love Jesus more than anything else, but our actions often betray our words. We may love our families, recognition, jobs, alcohol, or hobbies more than Jesus. Personally, I know that I often place Jesus in the backseat, even when it comes to ministry.
Since we tend to relegate Jesus to the back corners of our lives, it's crucial for us to answer this important question. Every day, we must affirm our love for Jesus through prayer and commitment. It's essential that we take the time to hear Jesus' question and respond to it. We must tell Jesus that we love Him and demonstrate that love through the way we live our lives.
The second question is the one that Jesus asked of blind Bartimaeus. As Jesus was passing through Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was walking by where he was begging. Bartimaeus cried out to get Jesus' attention: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47; ESV). Despite everyone else telling him to be quiet, Bartimaeus continued to yell, and eventually, Jesus called for him to come. When Bartimaeus reached Jesus, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51; ESV).
What do I want Jesus to do for me?
What do I want from Jesus? I want life. I want to be free from fear and sin. I want to obey God and follow Jesus with my whole heart. I want to make a difference in this world for the Kingdom. I don't want to settle for a life of my own making; I want to live the life God created me to live. The only way I know this can happen is by asking Jesus to give it to me.
Certain questions require us to take the time to reflect and respond because our answers will determine the direction of our lives. This is especially true when Jesus poses the questions. So, what is Jesus asking you?
Friday, April 14, 2023
We know that loving our neighbor is not always easy. It can be challenging to find time in our busy schedules to reach out and care for others. But for us to truly bear God’s image in this world, we must be prioritize loving our neighbor over our own agendas.
The fact that God commands His people to love means that love is more than a feeling. Love, the type of love God wants His people to have, is an intentional choice. In other words, love is an action that we choose to do.
While it might be convenient to add times service to our to do lists, loving our neighbors can't simply be blocked off on our schedules. The reality is that opportunities to love people often appear in our lives during inconvenient times. This forces us to choose between our agendas and God's command.
Jesus demonstrated this kind of sacrificial love throughout his ministry.
In Luke 10:25-37, when Jesus was asked “who is my neighbor,” he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable the Samaritan stopped to help a man who had been beaten and left for dead. The Samaritan was inconvenienced by this act of love, but he chose to prioritize caring for the injured man over his own schedule.
For us who follow Jesus, we are called to prioritize loving our neighbor over our own agendas, just like Jesus did. This requires us to be flexible and willing to put aside our own plans when someone is in need. It also requires us to be intentional about looking for opportunities to love by helping and serving those around us. Prioritizing love will also require that we step out of our comfort zones and be open to the different ways God is calling us to love people.
Loving our neighbor is one half of the central commandment of the Christianity. To obey God’s command for us to love requires us to have compassion and kindness for those around us, even when it is inconvenient. As we follow Jesus' example, we must prioritize loving our neighbor over other things in our lives.
Thursday, April 13, 2023
I believe the way we approach prayer reveals what we truly believe about God.
If we believe that God is distant and uninterested in our lives, we will not see the point in praying. If, on the other hand, we believe that God cares deeply for us and is actively working on our behalf, then we will be motivated to pray at every opportunity about the things that weigh on our hearts.
Remember, the Bible tells us that God is a loving and caring Father who is deeply concerned for His children. Jesus taught us to pray to "Our Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). Addressing God as our Father is a powerful reminder of the love and care God has for us. This truth can motivate us to approach God with confidence, knowing that He loves us and desires the best for our lives.
Yet, it can be hard to remember the love and care God has for us. The circumstances of life can cause us to doubt God. When we face trials and difficulties, we can wonder if God really does care about us. We may question why He has allowed us to experience pain and suffering.
How do we pray when we don’t feel like praying? When we doubt the goodness of God?
I don’t know if I have a good answer for that, except, that we fall back on the discipline of prayer. This is why it is crucial to develop a habit of prayer, so we will follow through the with the actions of faith, even when the feeling of faith is not there.
I am confident that as we come to God in prayer, we are reminded of His faithfulness and love for us. We are reminded that He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Prayer is also the way we align our hearts and minds with God's will. When we pray, we seek God's guidance and direction for our lives. We acknowledge that we need His wisdom and understanding to navigate the challenges that we face. As we pray, we remember of God's sovereignty and power. We remind ourselves that He is in control, even when things seem to be spiraling out of our control.
Prayer is a spiritual discipline that reveals what we truly believe about God. If we believe that God is distant and uninterested in our lives, we may not see the point in praying. But if we believe that God cares deeply for us and is actively working on our behalf, then we will be motivated to fall on our knees and cry out to Him.
As we pray, we are reminded of God's love and care for us. We are also reminded of His sovereignty and power. May we be encouraged to pray with faith and confidence, knowing that God hears our prayers and is actively working on our behalf.
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
- Jesus demonstrates what it means to be created in the image of God. To live as an image-bearer of God, we need to look to Jesus.
- Jesus reveals God's character to us in a way that humans can understand. To know who God is, we must look to Jesus.
Elias Dantes' essay, The Incarnation of Christ and its Implications, in the book Christ the One and Only, emphasizes both these truths: "If you want to know what it means to be a human being and to stand for the humanity of man, look to Jesus Christ. If you want to know God, look to Jesus Christ."
The author of Hebrews also highlights these truths:
Hebrews 1:3 (CSB) "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."John wrote about these realities as well:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (CSB) "Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death."
1 John 2:6 (NLT) "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did."
John 14:9 (NLT) "Jesus replied, 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?'"
Jesus is not only our example for living but also reveals the truth about who God is. By looking at Jesus, we can understand God's character in terms our finite minds can grasp.
Since we are created in God's image to reflect His glory, it should come as no surprise that these two realities are connected in Jesus. We are meant to imitate Jesus in our lives, becoming more like him each day. As we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is, we grow in our understanding of who God is.
In a world that often confuses and confounds us, the simplicity of looking to Jesus to know who we are and to know who God is can be a great help. As we face the challenges of daily life, we can find wisdom, confidence, and hope in the example of Jesus.
Let us then look to Jesus, who is not only our example but more importantly our King and Savior. We need to commit to living as he did, and in that way, grow in our knowledge of who God is.
Monday, April 10, 2023
Many years ago I listened to a class taught by Mark Moore. During the final class session he gave the students some things to think about and one of the things he said was this: "Sex is sacred, but not essential, and our lives say the opposite.”
In our discussions about the role sex should play in our lives, I think this short quote provides us with three crucial insights that should guide our thinking.
The first insight is: “Sex is sacred…”
Sex is to have a place of honor in our lives. The author of Hebrews wrote; “Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4; CSB).
God designed sex to bring a man and a woman into an intimate relationship that cannot be expressed in any other way. It is not dirty or shameful nor is it common and ordinary. Sexual intimacy has a very special place in binding a husband and wife together.
When we are unwilling to hold sex as something that is sacred then it loses its significance. It becomes a “fun” activity for consenting adults to participate in, but its ultimate purpose of God’s gift to married couples is diminished. As followers of Jesus we are to be good stewards of all of God’s gifts, and that means we must hold sex as sacred and leave it within the bounds of marriage where it belongs.
This includes the way we talk about sex. C. S. Lewis wrote;
“The reason why I must is that you and I…have been fed all day long on solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not” (Mere Christianity; pg. 91-92)
Too often, the way we have talked about sex, both in the world and in the church, has led us to make sex common, and thus not sacred. I am not advocating ignoring sex, because, like every other area of our lives, we need discipleship and healing when it comes to sex. Rather I am advocating, that in order to hold sex in high regard it cannot be the foundation of our stories, jokes, and our lives.
That brings us to the second part: “but not essential…”
Here comes a shocking statement: Sex is not necessary for a good life!
This truth is contrary to what we have been taught and to what we believe. Sex is not essential to our happiness! You can have a joyful life, a fulfilled life, and still be a virgin. Jesus was at least 33 years old when He was crucified and He never had sex.
For Jesus to command you to keep sex within the bounds of marriage means that He is not asking you to do anything that He has not already done. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:1 writes; Now in response to the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” (CSB). Sexual intimacy is not essential part of our discipleship or the calling that God has placed on our lives.
There is no sexual act that will give us the type of life that we long to have. The abundant life that Jesus gives is not found in a life of sexual freedom, but living a life that seeks to love God and love people. The truly fulfilled life is a life that has enjoyed all the good gifts of life: time spent with friends, the love of a family, the knowledge of a job well done, and enjoying the great outdoors. Sex is not required for living a good and fulfilling life.
The final part: “and our lives say the opposite.”
I don’t need to remind us how sex has gone wrong in the world. That reality is seen all around us, and we are faced with it each and everyday. It should be no surprise that we find the world living contrary to God’s standard when it comes to sex.
The way of the world has always been to twist God’s good gifts in order to lead people away from God. When Mark Moore says “our lives,” he is not making a judgment on people already living apart from God’s will. Rather, he is pointing out how Christians are not any different than the world when it comes to sex.
The reality is sexual purity isn't very fashionable idea. I am continually amazed by the number of Christian people I know who are living with someone or are comfortable with talking about their sexual encounters.
When it comes to sex, Christians have been discipled by the world and not by the Bible.
The movies and television shows many Christians watch carry a message that is different to God's will about sex, and we don't give these messages a second thought. Keeping sex as sacred is more than just keeping sex between married people, it is about honoring the place sex is to have in our lives. Sex will not remain sacred when it becomes a common element in our entertainment.
The apostle Paul wrote:
But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. (Ephesians 5:3-4; CSB).
Whether or not we hold sex to be sacred is not only seen in our actions, but also in our speech. Too often we are trying to tell the world to honor sex while we are treating it with disrespect when it comes to our entertainment and our jokes.
In Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis wrote:
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong” (Mere Christianity; p. 90).
One of the reasons the early Church grew the way it did was because of the way Christians lived. They lived differently than everyone else. Chastity was one of those Christian virtues that set the early followers of Jesus apart from the rest of Roman society.
In a world gone wrong when it comes to sex, our way forward as disciples of Jesus is to adopt this same practice. Chastity must once again become a primary virtue for God’s people. The foundation of this crucial virtue is remembering that sex is sacred, but it is not necessary for us to live the abundant life God has for His people.
This week the prayer prompts designed to help you draw closer to God as you learn to rely on His love and guidance. Each day, I have provi...
Dear Jesus, I love you. I worship you. I trust you. I want to bear the image of God in this world and I come to you, Jesus, so my connecti...
We make the decision to love. While emotion might make the choice to love easier, we still decide whether or not we will love our pets, ou...