Don’t Rely on Yourself

We just talked about this!  And here in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us that his group was under great pressure – far beyond their ability to endure.  They thought they were going to die.  But Paul says this happened so that they would learn to rely on God, not on themselves.dec 4 2014 don't rely on ourselves

And then Paul reminds us something that was true for him and is true for us today.  God has always delivered us in the past and he will deliver us again.

Such a comforting truth!  I often remind myself of this reality in my life.  God has always been faithful in the past.  He will be faith now – in this situation I’m facing today.

It’s not in God’s character to drop the ball – to be too late or too early.  His plan unfolds at just the right time in the right way – if we let it.

We will face trials and situations that are far beyond our ability to endure on our own.

But nothing is impossible with God!

Amen!  Hallelujah!

There is a Purpose

I bet you can relate to this – when something bad happens in my life, I often wonder why this is happening?  What’s the purpose?  I have learned to get very close to God during these times and ride out the storm – not knowing why this had to happen to me.  Then 2 years, 5 years, 15 years later, someone walks into my life who needs to hear about that specific time in my life and how God helped me through it.

It happens all the time.dec 4 2014 a purpose

Paul tells us this is going to happen in 2 Corinthians 1.  We receive comfort from God in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

God has a purpose for everything that he permits to happen to us.  Everything flows through his hands into our lives.

As we learn to trust him more, we can be confident in the knowledge that God is in total control.

God’s got this.

We know God.  He loves us.  He has a plan for us.  He wants the best for us.

All is well.

Thank you, dear Father.

Sword Fighting Class – Perseverance has Rewards

 ”Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1 1 -9

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not believe that he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Great job so far in memorizing James 1!  Verse 9 gives us an example:

‘The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.”

He should take pride because he has persevered in his faith despite his lack of earthly possessions.

This man has let his trials grow him and help him be mature and complete.

He has asked for wisdom when he needed it.

He believed that he received it.  There were no doubts.

His faith helped him become a stable man focused on God.

A high position.

Please help us follow his example, dear Father.

Nothing in Vain

‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”December 3 2014 nothing in vain

This is one of my life verses.

Stand firm – grounded in the truth with my eyes focused on Jesus.

Not Moving – faithfully following Christ is the life I’ve chosen.  Nothing is going to change that.

Always give myself fully to the work of the Lord – it’s all about God.  Sometimes I still need to remind myself about that.  And the ‘work’ of the Lord is everything I do, not just what I do at the office.

Nothing I do for God is in vain.  This is my favorite part of this verse.

How much of our time is spent on worthless things?  Things that have no kingdom value?

A lot!  Too much!

But everything I do for God is valuable.  Everything I do in his name has meaning.  Nothing I do for God is a waste of my time.

Love it!

If we want our lives to have purpose and be worthwhile, we need to be all about God!

I’m smiling as I remember the day that I realized I had become a ‘Jesus freak’ :)  It  kind of shocked me because the words bring to my mind an image of a hippy looking person driving around in a VW Van with flowers painted on it.

Not me.

But totally sold out to Jesus is me.  So I’m proud to be a Jesus freak :)

Completely Wrong

“God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle.”december 1 b Completely misquoted

I’m sure you’ve heard this – and you might have said this before.

It’s not in the Bible.  The verse that is being misquoted is in 1 Corinthians:

“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

What?  This isn’t even about struggles or suffering.  It’s about temptations.

And that makes sense to me.  In my experience, God often gives us more hardships and problems than we can face by ourselves.  When these things happen, we are driven to reach out to him, depend on him and he gets us through them.

So, every time I heard someone use this misquote, I knew it was wrong but I just figured out why its wrong.  It’s not in the Bible.

This is a great example to all of us about how we need to be grounded in the truth.

Another saying I hear sometimes is ‘God helps those who help themselves.’  Not in the Bible.  God actually talks to us often about loving others and serving others.

Have you heard any other quotes that sound like they are from the Bible but they’re not?

We know the truth when we read and internalize God’s word to us.   Knowing the truth sets us free from the lies!

Thank you, dear Father!

Sword Fighting Class – Become Stable

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.   Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1 2-5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the sea.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;” 

Great job!  We’re memorizing James 1 one verse at a time and we’re adding verse 8 this week:

‘he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Double – minded.  Changing his mind over and over.  Not sure.  Not confident.  Not grounded.

Unstable.

So, how do we become stable?  When the waves of life crash all around us.  Over us.  Into us.  Shoving us.  Frustrating us.  Making us unhappy.  Tired.

God tells us to believe and not doubt.

Believe he is the creator of the universe.  Believe that he is in control.  Believe that he wants the best for us. Believe that he sent his Son to save us.  Believe that he gives us wisdom when we ask for it.

Believe – not doubt.

Become stable.  Sure.  Confident.  Grounded on the Rock.

Thank you, dear Father.

I Have the Right….

to do anything – but not everything is beneficial,” Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians. dec 1 2014 i have the right He goes on to tell us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.  We were bought with a price and God wants us to honor him with our bodies.  These verses also mention food.

Recently, the Holy Spirit convicted me that this is true for me.  Don’t you love how you can read these verses for years and then, suddenly, the Spirit uses one of them to rock your world?

This is true for me and food.  I needed to start using food for the right purpose – to nourish me.  Not to comfort me or make me happy or to ‘treat’ myself.  That’s not the way God wants me to take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit which is my body.

When God made this a matter of obedience for me, it was a game-changer.

We have the right to do a lot of things, but some of these things are not beneficial.  So God tells us avoid things that are not beneficial – even if we have the right.

This fits in with God’s direction to us that we will have to deny ourselves – what we want – when we pick our cross and follow him.

It’s not easy, but it’s the truth.  And lining up our lives with what God wants for us is always the right thing to do.

Thank you, dear Father, for the truth.

Don’t Forget

As part of a church family, we can sometimes forget how we should act.  Paul exhorts the people in the Thessalonian churches to encourage one another – build each other up:Nov 29 2014 don't forget

* Always acknowledge those who work hard for the Lord, who care for us and correct us.  Hold them in highest regard with love.

* Live in peace with each other, warning those who are disruptive and idle.

* Encourage those who are down and depressed.

* Help the weak.

* Be patient with everyone.

* Always strive to do what is good for others.

* Rejoice always.

* Pray continually.

*Give thanks in all circumstances.

Thank you, dear Father, for this reminder of how we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

You Foolish Galatians!

Paul calls it like he sees it.Nov 26 2014 you foolish Galatians

The Galatians were wandering from the truth of the gospel of grace back to acting like their righteousness came from trying to follow all of the laws.  They were acting like they could earn salvation by doing good things – the right things.

Do we ever get caught up in that lie?

Do we ever check off our list of Christian responsibilities and think we’re doing a great job?

Church – check!

Pray – well, we say grace at every meal – check!

Read my Bible – I really need to find it. I know it’s around somewhere. Here, I’ll sign up for a Daily Devotional email – check!

Give money to God – I put $20 in the offering every week – check!

Serve – we always bring food in whenever the church asks for it – check!

Paul is reminding us today that Christ lives within us.  We live by faith in Jesus who gave his life for us.

We are all lucky that salvation is not about being good enough – because we will never be good enough.

Christ redeemed us from having to complete any checklist.

We are all children of God through faith.  God has sent his spirit into our hearts, redeeming us, adopting us and setting us free!

Nothing we can do will ever make our Father God love us more.

Nothing we can do will every make our Father God love us less.

Accepting Jesus as our Savior enables us to call God our ‘Abba’ Father.

Thank you, dear Abba.

We Know the Answer

Gamaliel was a smart man.  As a member of the Sanhedrin, he took part in their debate about how to get rid of Peter and the other Apostles.  They were creating a growing threat to the Sanhedrin the established religious authority.Nov 21 2014 We know the answer

In Acts 5, Gamaliel advised the Sanhedrin, “Leave these men alone!  Let them go!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

It is now over 2000 years later.

And we know the answer to his question, don’t we.

Thank you, dear Father.