Archive for the ‘selfless life’ Category

Paying a great price (Jeremiah 26, Mark 12)

July 30, 2014

‘But as for me, I am in your hands.  Do with me as seems good and right to you.” Jeremiah 26:14

Yes, it is true, “The price of everything has gone up.”  I never thought I would pay the prices I pay for gas each time I fill up my tank.  But as the world economy changes, so changes the price.

Question, “Have you ever complained about elevated prices?”  Certainly all of us would have to answer, “Yes.”

Consider the following:  Anything of value will be costly to our lives.

Think it through:

In the book of Jeremiah we discover how costly obeying God really was for Jeremiah.  In this chapter he has been arrested and is facing those who would take his life.  By the grace of God he would be spared this death.

Look deeply behind the scenes.  Jeremiah was paying a great price because he was simply giving forth the Word of God.

In many places in our world, this same circumstance is taking place.

Maybe you are not facing the price of your life on a cross, but still you are facing a great price.

1.  You are a mother, who pays the price of long hours in sharing your life with your children.  Be assured the price is worth it, when you see your children coming to the Lord and serving the Lord.

2.  You are a father, who pays the price of giving of yourself to your family.  Be assured the price is worth it, when you experience the maturity of faith in your family.

3.  You are a son or daughter, who is paying a great price for serving the Lord.  Be assured it will be worth it when you stand before Jesus to receive the great reward for your sacrifice.

Our response:

Is the Lord dealing with you about some area where it seems He is asking you to pay a great price?  Your answer will depend on the amount of love you have for Jesus.  In Mk. 12 the widow gave out of her substance.  She gave all she had. Yes, this was a great price.  But there was great reward in that her story encourages us to be a people who give to Jesus out of love.

I want to challenge you to be willing to sacrifice whatever it takes for God’s glory to be made known.  Truly it is worth it.

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Measuring your gifts (I Kings 7; Ephesians 4)

October 4, 2013

“But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  Ephesians 4:7

Imagine with me the following scenario:  You have gathered with family and friends for your birthday party.  You enjoy the food and fellowship.  All evening you have been noticing the one large gift wrapped and sitting in a chair in the living room.  Finally the food is over and it is time for the opening of the one gift.  As the gift is given to you, the following directions are given,”in this package you will find many gifts.  Please give them out to people in this room as you see fit.”

Question:  “Do you like the scenario?”  What would be your response?  For me, I must admit, in the flesh I would be crying out, “These gifts are for me.”

Consider Ephesians 4 with me for a moment.  Here Paul is speaking to believers who have been given a measure of spiritual gifts.  Paul instructs the church to use those gifts in building up the church.  Simply stated, “give your gifts to others!!!”

Think it through:

1.  Ours is a society that things about using every gift for their own betterment.

2.  Ours is a society that resist helping others.

3.  As followers of Christ we are called to a different life:  A life of serving others and giving to others for the glory of God.

Taking it out for a spin:

Take some time this weekend in serving others.  Discover the joy that is reserved for those who serve.  Also discover the praise that is brought to God because of your measuring out your gifts.  

Promoting Someone Else (John 7:1-31)

November 30, 2012

“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of  him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”  John 6:28

Those of you who know me well know that the Andy Griffith Show is one of my all time favorite shows.  A particular episode comes to mind.  In this episode Barney runs for sheriff against Andy.  The show climaxes as Barney gives a speech in which he condemns Andy.  But as Andy speaks Barney realizes how awesome Andy really is as a sheriff and how wrong he is.  Barney stands and proclaims to the crowd, “I am supporting Andy!”

Question, “in light of John chapter seven, who are you supporting?”  By John 7 the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is in the fish bowl of men’s opinions.  2 examples are before us:

1.  His brothers sought for Jesus to take glory to himself, Vs: 3-4

2.  His brethren (Countrymen) struggled with whether Jesus was God or a hoax, Vs: 5-13

In these moments we are challenged by the example of Jesus.  Notice what Jesus does:

1.  He seeks to glorify His father, Vs: 17-18

I stand amazed at the teaching and the true judgments of Jesus.  Here is one who is pointing people to His Father and here is one who paid the price for our freedom before the Father.

2.  He is seeking to gain only the glory of his father, Vs: 19-31

Jesus always lifted up his father because he knew everything about his father.  Herein lies our greatest problem.  You and I spend so much time consumed with self-absorption and self-advancement that we fail to see our Savior.  But as we see the Savior, the more and more we want to serve our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

This day I offer you a challenge, “Spend this day only focusing on discovering all you can about Jesus.”  At the end of the day you will have a fresh and glorious view of our Great God!”  You will proclaim with Barney, “I am supporting _____.” But it will be Jesus instead of Andy.

For further reading consider Revelation 4-5.  

All you need

July 5, 2012

“That in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge…” I Corinthians 1:5

Imagine the following scene, “You are standing outside of a nice brick home.  You see a sign over one of the widows of this house.  You step closer in order that you might read the sign.  The sign reads, “Please look in the window.”  You hesitate, but then you cannot help it, “You look.”  To your surprise there is a nice young boy who is maybe eight years old.  He is seated on the floor in his bedroom with toys of many different types all around him.  This is a room that all little boys would love to have.  But to your shock, he does not seem to be happy.  You look closer.  Now you notice, he has a catalog in his hand and it is open to a particular page.  You look closer and you can see that he has a particular toy circled and there are tears on the page.  In this moment, you want to say to him, “But you have all of these toys around you.  Why would you be crying about what you do not have?”  Suddenly, you realize this is a picture of your own life.  You have all you need but there is division in your heart as the battle between the old and new nature rage’s on!

This mornings More For Christ readings, I Cor. 1:1-25, reminded me of this battle between two natures.  Here was a church that had been blessed with all they needed.  Here is Paul’s introduction:

1.  They were blessed to be the “Church of God.”

They had one leader (Jesus Christ).  They had a great life in the family of God (Saints together).

2.  They were blessed with competency in the church.

Their leader (Jesus Christ) had blessed them with both abundant grace and abundant gifts.  This church should be successful in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples.

3.  They were blessed in that God would complete their sanctification

Their leader (Jesus Christ) was the source and sustainer of their faith.  Their leader (Jesus Christ) would finish what he started.

This church had all they needed.  But they wanted more.  This church wanted to lead themselves and they wanted to be left alone in their corruption.  Because of this we see the good, the bad, and the ugly in their lives. (This is much of what Paul confronts in the book of I Corinthians.)

Question, “What do people see when they look into the window of your life and my life?”  I wonder if they see a person who has all they need, but they want more.  Or do they see someone who is growing in grace as they follow their leader Jesus Christ.

This day, I aspire to be the second person, but at the same time I know I am fighting the first person.  May each of us aspire to be the second person for His glory.

All You Have

June 21, 2012

“And He said, Truly, I tell you, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  Luke 21:3-4

Last week during our VBS I experienced what Jesus experienced some 2000 years ago.  It was the last evening of VBS.  Our Preschool director was cleaning up the sanctuary with her two children because we were having closing assemblies in the family life center.  I walked into the sanctuary to just say thank you for all she did.  Little did I know but I was going to hear a story that mirrored part of our More For Christ readings, Lk 21:1-33.

Here is the story.  This Preschool director’s children were preparing themselves to come to VBS and it became apparent that the little boy was seriously considering his offering for the evening.  Our Mission’s offering is designated for FBC of West Liberty Ky.  This church was devastated by a tornado in March of this year.  We are partnering to rebuild this church.  Aston had been deeply considering what he should give.  So in his child-like faith, he chose to not give a little or a lot.  Aston chose to give all he had.  His grandparents had given him money and he was saving for a train.  But God’s work was greater than his work. So to even his grandparents surprise, he gave it all.  Here was his why, “I want other boys and girls to hear about Jesus.”

Brothers and sisters, this is the heart we must evidence as followers of Christ.  I believe this was this poor widow’s heart in Luke 21.  Others were giving out of abundance, but she gave all.  They were in the category of offerings, but she was in the category of sacrifice.

This very day, I am challenged to move beyond offerings to sacrifice.  Maybe you ask, “Why?”  I want to have radical love for Christ.  Oh, how I pray this for your life as well.

Now What?

May 18, 2012

“And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?'”  Luke 3:10

There are times when we are able to spot the problem, but we do not know how to solve the problem.  For example, My Air Condition quit working in my van.  I knew the problem was that it was not working but I could not solve the problem.  So I took the problem to a place where the problem could be solved.  350 dollars later the problem was solved.

Our More For Christ readings begin in Luke 3:10. John the Baptist has identified the problem of the people and he has prescribed the solution which is repentance.  Beginning in verse ten we discover the impact of this message.  Notice the response:

1) Repentant people develop compassion

John tells people who have blessed with excess to share with those who have needs.  One of the truest signs of repentance shows up in the way we respond to needs around us.

2) Repentant people discover honesty

John tells people who have been in the tax business to stop cheating others.  Only charge what is right.

3) Repentant people discover contentment

John tells soldiers to cease using their position to leverage benefit for their own lives.  True contentment comes from a life of godliness.

In this moment, I wonder if these people did what John the Baptist asked them to do?  Well we can find personal illustrations in the gospels.  For example, we find a guy by the name of Zacchaeus in Luke 19.  Here is his testimony, “Behold Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  In this moment Jesus responds, “today salvation has come to this house.”

Question, “Do you see the now whats in your own life and do I see the now whats in my life?”  This day, we must take inventory of how we share, how we are honest, and how we are content.

I truly see this in many people’s lives and I see some in my own life, but I confess, “I need to grow in my life so the now whats will be clearly seen for his glory.”  So as you approach the weekend, I challenge you to get busy with the now whats!!!

The Right Of The Poor

September 30, 2011

“To turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey” Isaiah 10:2.

Can you believe it, “Banks are starting to charge for the use of debit cards.”  CNN.COM reports, “Bank Of America will begin charging five dollars each month to its customers for the use of a debit card.” Certainly it does not seem that the economic crisis in the world is getting any better.  A recent survey suggests that 90% of all Americans are frustrated with the economy.

The nation of Israel was headed down a path that would lead them to the same feeling of frustration as they would face such economic hardship that would leave their land destitute of anything of value.  Here in Isaiah 10 we discover one of the many reasons why God was sending judgment on his people.  The nation of Israel was taking advantage of the poor in their midst.

But this is not only the sin of Israel, it has been the sin of every people in every generation.  Jesus said, “The poor you will have with you always,” Matthew 26:11. The fact is, one of our nation’s biggest failures has been in our care for the poor around us.  Yes, this nation above all others has given to those in need around the world.  But in proportion to all we have been blessed with, we have given very little.

Where have we failed?  Certainly some would look to Washington and point a finger in her direction.  However, the failure is much closer to home.  I believe the failure is in the hearts of the very people who have been called to minister to the poor (James 1:27).  When you look at the church you often discover a people who are caring for their own wants and forgetting the needs of the poor around them.

Consider the five dollar fee that will be accessed to your debit card each month. Do you realize that for this amount of money we could be helping a starving family to have food for one month.  David Platt writes in the book Radical: “I wonder if followers of Christ 150 years from now will look back at Christians in America today and ask, ‘How could they live in such big houses?  How could they drive such nice cars and wear such nice clothes?  How could they live in such affluence while thousands of children were dying because they did not have food and water?  How could they go on with their lives as though the billions of poor didn’t even exist,” cited on Pg. 111, “Radical.”

Brothers and sisters we must resist the sin of looking to our own desires.  We must surrender ourselves to the Christ life which includes the right of the poor in our midst.  We must follow the example of our Lord.  In Isaiah 11 the prophet of God describes the coming ministry of Christ, “But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth,” 11:4.  Our Savior was and is balanced and fair.

This day I am both convicted and challenged to care for the poor in my midst.  Both those who are spiritually and physically poor.  This day I pray that each of you who read this bog will commit to the right of the poor for the Glory Of The Lord!!!

For Someone Else

August 30, 2011

Question, “Is it difficult to do things for other people?”  A recent survey indicated that people of all walks of life struggle with putting someone else’s needs above their own.  For example, you are travelling down a busy highway trying to get to a meeting and you have just a few minutes before the meeting begins.  In the other lane there is a car that is giving a signal that it wants to turn into your lane.  At this moment you have a choice, will you or will you not let them turn into your lane.  You quickly analysis the situation, if you slow down and let them in, it could cost you more time.  It you let them in it could mean that they make their appointment on time.  So what will you do?

As you think about your response, allow me to turn your attention to the word of God.  “Grace to you and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the Glory forever and ever. Amen,” Gal. 1:3-5.  

Here in Paul’s greeting we discover Jesus response to the Father’s leadership.  Jesus gave himself for our sins.  The scriptures are clear, “Jesus had no sin.”  The scriptures are clear, “Jesus paid a price He did not owe.”  The scriptures are clear, “We owe a price we cannot pay.”

So we can correctly say, “Jesus coming was for someone else.”  This someone else was you and it was me.  At this moment I join Paul in praising the Father and the Son.  But I also find myself asking the question, “Am I to follow Christ example?”  Here is Christ’s response, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” John 13:34.  

Certainly we cannot die in someone’s place to secure their salvation.  Only Christ could do this work.  However our work is to sacrificially put others before ourselves.  In doing so we become examples of Christ’s love for others.  “Bear one another’s burden’s and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Gal 6:2.  

This certainly is not always easy.  There are days when I become selfish and I become doubtful that putting others first is going to pay off.  If this is you also, take encouragement from the world of God, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap, if we do not give up,” Gal. 6:9.  Brothers and sisters stay the course, it will pay off!!!

Now, lets return to our choice of whether we let the person turn into our lane or not.  Let’s say you do allow them to turn in.  Several things happen. First there is the feeling of accomplishment as you really are following Christ command.  Second you discover the person is actually driving someone to the hospital who is about to deliver a baby. Finally, this person is actually a dear friend that you had been praying for to come to Christ.  Be assured God is at work in every opportunity to put others first.

The Exception Clause

August 17, 2011

Yesterday I spent much of my day in two meetings.  One was a meeting for church planting in our association and the other was our home owners association.  Both meetings were long and both had many good points.  But in each there was careful effort given to make sure that our decisions left us room to adjust our processes if needed.  We actually could call this “The exception clause.”

Question, “Are there any exception clauses built into your life?”  This is a great question that came to my heart and mind during my devotion time which covered Romans 12-16.  Romans 12 begins Paul’s practical section in his letter to these brethren.  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers…” Because of the work of Christ in the believer’s life, he or she is now to live for Christ.  Chapters 12 through 16 gives us directions in how to accomplish this task.

However, there is one exception clause. But before we identify this clause, I ask you, “What type of exception clauses do you have built into your life in Christ?”  For some people the exception clause is in the area of forgiveness, “I will forgive if the person asks or if they have not hurt me to much.” For others the exception clause is in the area of certain sins.  For these people, “No one is perfect and they make an exception for their particular sin.”  Finally, some people have an exception clause when it comes to their service of Jesus.  Such people will serve God with the exception that God certainly does not expect them to put him first in everything.  Without a doubt there are hundreds and hundreds of exception clauses that I have not identified.

Now before you think I am being to critical, I want you to know that I believe most people have exception clauses.  This however does not make them right.  God has called us to a life of total abandonment to his “Good and perfect will for our lives.” 

I want to encourage you to be honest about your exception clauses.  Test your clauses against the word of God.  By faith lay them at the feet of Jesus and leave them there.

“But what about Paul’s exception clause?” If he had one then why can’t we?  Before I answer this question, I think we should see his exception clause.  “owe no one anything, Except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law,” Romans 13:8.

Wow, this changes the whole dynamic of our discussion.  Paul instructs us to always be faithful in paying what we owe others (13:1-7).  However there is a something we owe everyone throughout their lives.  We must love everyone as Christ loved us.

Brothers and sisters, be assured our exception clauses will keep us from accomplishing our greatest task as believers.  Dear Father:

“May I live today wanting to fulfill your commands.  Help me and all who read this to openly confess our exception clauses.  May we see the sin and rebellion in our clauses.  May we repent and may we chart a different course.  A course that says, “I will serve you, not exceptions.”  Thank you for your forgiveness and thank you for zero exception clauses when Jesus came to this earth.”  May we do the same with the rest of our days in Jesus name.”

The Life Of A Partaker

March 31, 2011

“For you are all partakers with me of grace.” Phil 1:7. As the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the church at Philippi, he is particularly thankful for this church.  This church more than any other were partakers of life with him.  For example, “Yet it was kind of you to share in my trouble,” 4:14.

As I read through the book of Philippians I found myself being challenged by this deal of partaking.  Here is what I mean, “To partake with someone else is more than just sharing a moment with others.  It means you enter into life with the person and you actually live life with them.”

As Paul writes to this church he says, “We are partakers of grace together.” Brothers and sisters we are in God’s family by grace.  We are allowed by His grace to be in fellowship with one another.  Question, “How seriously do we take this responsibility?”

Paul took this very seriously.  Notice several things:  His daily prayer for those who were partakers with him. Always in every prayer of mine.”  His daily partnership in the gospel with those who were partakers with him. “Partners in the gospel from the first day until now.”  The daily provision for the partnership. You provided for my need.” Finally, His daily principle of humility in the partnership. But in humility count others more significant than yourselves.’

I truly believe the key to effective partaking of life with fellow believers is seen in the principle of humility.  How long has it been since we considered others more significant than ourselves?  I was deeply challenged by this.

Daily we get so wrapped up in what we need.  Daily we get so wrapped up in why others do not seem to be partaking in what we are wrapped up in.  I consider it a high and holy honor to be a partaker of grace alongside other believers.

So let us commit ourselves to the life of a partaker.  Engage in praying for your brothers and sisters all over the world today.  Seek people to partner with in God’s family.  Ask the Lord, how you can be a source of provision for others in God’s family.  Finally develop an attitude of genuinely thinking of others as more significant than yourself.

By the way, “This is the very path Jesus took as He walked among us.”  For example as we approach Easter, Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper,” as a reminder of His payment on the cross for us.  Every time we Partake it is a clear reminder of our commitment to partake of the life of grace.

My God grant you the understand to carry this out today.  May God grant you the persistence to do it again tomorrow and every day after.  Praise be to His name alone.