Archive for the ‘“Around the Table” Discussion Topic/Marketplace Devo’ Category

“Judging from the cover…”

1 Samuel 16:6-7

There was a story that came out in the late nineties about how Stanford University was founded. The account of the story was that Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, in order to speak to university’s president about erecting a building in honor of their son who attended Harvard but died unexpectedly. Apparently, the president of the university responded rather gruffly to the shabbily dressed ‘country hicks’ and asked if they had any idea how much it costs to build a building. He told them he had over seven and a half million dollars in the physical structures on the campus. Mrs. Stanford looked at her husband and commented that if that was all it cost to start a university they should start their own. Her comment left the Harvard president speechless and the Stanfords went back to California and started Stanford University. While this rendition of the origin of Stanford University is absolutely false, the underlying moral of the story and premise of “never judging someone by mere appearance” couldn’t be truer.

Every day, in the business marketplace…in schools…in our neighborhoods…in churches…people are judged based on their appearance. Of course, I am not speaking only of those who are looked down upon because they don’t quite meet a certain dress code or look. An attractive outer appearance has a similar impact but in the opposite way. How we present ourselves is very important. However, our outward appearance is not the determinant of who we are…and certainly is not what God looks at. A perfect example is the Lord’s appointment and rejection of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 15) and anointing of young David as the future king (1 Samuel 16). “When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (ESV).

Challenge: I started at an early age to live by the creed “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” And appearance is a major factor in the impressions, both first and ongoing, that we make. However, one’s outer appearance doesn’t always reveal the “real” person. I have been guilty, more than I would like to admit, of judging someone based on appearance, both positively and negatively. I looked at them through my own filter and not God’s. And it’s interesting…and humbling…how God convicted me when I did…and how still He convicts me when I do.

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to form opinions and impressions based on appearance. In today’s world, appearance has become so important and a condition of acceptance…of promotion. Lord, despite of what we look like to others and see others as, You know our heart and the people we are…and likely the people we want to be. Lord, give me the courage to look beyond the appearance to reach others and love them as You did…and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.           

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January 15, 2012

“In Hot Pursuit…”

Proverbs 21:21

What is it that we pursue? Fame? Success? Possessions? Knowledge? Power? The perfect golf swing? There are so many things in this life and this world we pursue that we often lose sight of what is truly important, what will have lasting impact, and what will not fade away. In fact, those things we find hardest to attain are the very things we pursue with a relentless tenacity comparable only to that of a heat seeking missile. Status, wealth, accomplishment, recognition, and possessions are natural pursuits for the human spirit. It is that spirit of pursuit that resides in all of us. It is how we are wired. God tells us through His word that “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).

Challenge: King Solomon, the man who literally had everything, said, “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). We are told in God’s word to pursue righteousness and not the things of this world. We are told to seek first the kingdom of God… and the things that we need will be given to us (Matthew 6). We are also told to ‘delight in the Lord and he will give us the desires of our hearts.’ (Psalm 37:4). The challenge this week is to commit to pursue God and His righteousness…first. If this is new for you, don’t worry. We all crawled before we were able to run.

Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me that if pursue You, You will give me everything I need. Sometimes it is hard for me to focus on You first when all of my needs are staring me in the face. You also tell me that if I keep with You, I will get the desires of my heart. Lord, I am so grateful for your forgiveness because I need it. Because if I am honest, with myself and with You, sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, I have a hard time going after what You want me to rather than what I want to. Please help me to look upward before I look forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Don’t forget to visit Servant Warrior Ministries at www.servantwarriorministries.org

January 8, 2012

“Go Where Your Competition’s Not”

Matthew 9:10-13

In today’s world of information overload and instant access to almost anything via the internet, cable television, satellite radio, etc…, advertisers and marketers are faced with an uphill battle on how to blaze new and unchartered trails in order to reach their desired target market or customer. The ability of companies and/or organizations to tap into potential clients that reside in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the “Target” (we will talk about my ‘Target Theory’ in the coming weeks), there has to be a strategy, but more importantly a plausible purpose and reason for why they are ringing their doorbell. Good organizations and companies are able to connect the dots and show potential customers in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the target the benefit of doing business together. Tapping into the outer rings often puts folks where their competition is not. While those who are a bit more tunnel-focused will wonder why in the world, let’s say as they did a number of years ago, a car dealership is putting cars in the middle of the mall. The reasoning was two-fold. One, there are no other car dealerships doing it. And two, there are a lot of people in the mall and they need cars too. I like the rationale. And it worked.

After Jesus called Levi (aka, Matthew), a tax collector, to follow Him, He went to Matthew’s house for dinner and ate with other tax collectors and ‘sinners’. The Pharisees, not only did they think it was wholly inappropriate and wrong for Him to be associating with such people, they couldn’t see the reasoning or the rationale of why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’. “On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV).  There was the strategy, purpose, reason, and benefit. Jesus came to deliver ‘sinners’. So He had to go where ‘they’ were. They were His customers…still are. And there obviously were no other competitors bidding for His customers’…eternal… business.

Challenge: In business, whether in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors, having the ability to connect the dots and build relationships to potential “customers” in the outer rings of the target is essential to increasing market share and building lasting and beneficial relationships. Sometimes, the only way to reach those in the outer rings is to go where some either can’t understand why or think it’s “inappropriate”. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field.’” Matthew 9:37. The Message of Christ has eternal implications…and benefits. Be open to opportunities to share the grace and unconditional love of Christ and the Message with other…sinners.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your love and grace, neither of which I deserve. Forgive me for judging others. Please help me to look inward before I look outward. And please give me the strength, confidence, and courage to go where You call me to go and share Your message of eternal life…despite what others may think. Your word tells me I am more than a conqueror if I am in You. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

January 1, 2012

“New”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”     2 Corinthians 5:17. The old year is gone…the new year is ahead. With Christ, all things are new. ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV).

Challenge: Simple…Let the past pass. Learn from it. Cherish great moments. Remember God’s blessings…His faithfulness. Look to each day as a new opportunity to make a difference…to live for Christ.

 Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me your faithfulness and love are eternal and your compassions are new every morning. Let my strength to live every day for You be in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

December 18, 2011

The Drum (Part 2)

Luke 2:1-20

Back to the drum…

As I said last week, the song “The Little Drummer Boy” was a favorite of mine growing up but I never really got it, or at least what it means to me, until just recently. A small boy, in a humbleness that only a child can bring, stands before Christ, the newborn King, the Savior of the world, and brings all he has, a gift of noise made by two sticks on an animal skin draped over a piece of wood.  If you listen to the words of the song, it says, “ I’m a poor boy too…I have no gift to bring…that’s fit to give the King…Shall I play for you…on my drum…” His gift was not the beautiful tones from a violin, or a flute, or a harp. He banged on a drum.  I can only imagine what God must have thought as He looked proudly down at the boy, His child. No doubt His response must have been, “That’s all I want you to do. I gave you a drum. And all I ask is that you do your best with what I have given you and then give it, your life, back to me as a gift.” By the way, He wants the same from us today.  The song goes on, “I played my drum for Him…I played my best for Him…” What happens? The last line of the song says it all… “Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum, me and my drum.”

How awesome, and humbling, and incredible, and unbelievable is it that we can stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords empty handed and with nothing more to offer but our messed up and shallow lives …noise, and receive unconditional grace, love, and forgiveness…a smile? Wow.  That’s my God.  Men, our worth in this life is not in the status we achieve, in the possessions we have acquired, in the fortunes we have amassed, or in the gifts we are able or unable to give. Our worth resides in the eyes and arms of our Heavenly Father and in the life, and noise, we bring to the manger of Christ. Merry Christmas.

Challenge: Simple…we must make sure not to forget the reason for the season…the reason we celebrate Christmas. This coming Sunday, Christmas Day, before the room fills with discarded wrapping paper, open God’s word and read aloud Luke 2:1-20. Remember, the greatest gift ever given came in the form of a baby…the Messiah.

Prayer: Lord, simply saying “thank you’ doesn’t quite seem adequate. I am so grateful for Your forgiveness, Your love, Your grace….all undeserved and unconditional. Most of all, thank You for giving us the greatest gift ever given…Your Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Door to the Father and to everlasting life. Help me never to forget the manger. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

December 11, 2011

The Drum (Part 1)

Luke 2:1-20

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Christmas. The time for decorations, lights, sweaters (everywhere except Florida), cider, great food, friends, family, traffic, stress, overcrowded malls, and gifts. It also means carols that began just after July 4th and will go through Memorial Day. Sorry, maybe it just seems that way. No, I like Christmas carols and Christmas music …during Christmas. I digress.

The song “Little Drummer Boy” was always a favorite of mine growing up. But I never really understood the meaning or took the song’s message into context as it relates to “the giving of a gift.” Now I have to be honest when I say that I am not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday. Yes, you read it right. No typo here. I know that I have just thrown many of you into an uproar and simply cannot believe that a Christian, especially one who claims to be an “outspoken and highly motivated servant of the Almighty” would say that he was not a fan of Christmas.  I am going to pause here for a second……or two….. Good. Hopefully things have calmed down where you are, you didn’t lose your testimony, and your blood pressure has come back to a relatively normal level. If it hasn’t, please take some deep breaths and think happy thoughts. It’s okay. I’ll wait for you. I don’t want you to miss out on the rest of the message.

I said I wasn’t a fan of the Christmas HOLIDAY, not the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the greatest Gift ever given. Period.  And the gift He brings is eternal life with Him in heaven. While I could jump into full pastoral discourse, I see no need for it. Bottom line: It really doesn’t get any better than God’s Gift and the gift of salvation. Now. What I am not a big fan of is what the Christmas holiday has turned into…a “keepin’ up with the Jones’ and trying to get everything that’s hot this year while making sure the kids get more than last year in order to outdo the neighbors and coworkers in a quest – to the death if necessary – for the ultimate gift despite the mounting debt but it’s never quite enough” holiday. I have to ask you, does that sound like a holiday where Christ is at the center? You don’t have to respond. We know the answer.

We as people, especially us men, need to realize that we bring absolutely nothing to the table. It’s God’s unlimited grace that allows us to enter into His presence. It’s not what we bring through our abilities, talents, or our works. He doesn’t need us. He created the heavens and the earth for crying out loud. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. But despite our inadequacies, He wants to be involved in every single little aspect of our lives. All He asks of us is…us. We think His love is because of us and what we do for Him. Is this you? However, as Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” On the other side, many of us feel so unworthy, so undeserving of anyone’s love, much less God’s love, because of what we have done or even continue to do, that the gifts of grace and forgiveness are far beyond our reach or comprehension.  We feel there is no way God wants to hear from me, could ever love me, or would ever want a “gift” from me. Is that you? Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Check out Around the Corner next week for Part 2 of “The Drum”.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

December 4, 2011

Real:

“Walking the Talk”

Colossians 3:7-10

I was having a conversation with a gentleman just this past week who told me that as much as he hated to say it, he was really getting disheartened by the lack of genuineness among the men in his church. He said the more he thought about it, the more he saw it among the “Christian” men he knew and associated with. He told me that as much as he would like not to admit it, it made him not want to go to church. He said he could see why more men are not “stepping up” in the way they should because despite what many “men of the church” speak from their mouths there is very little observable difference between the actions of men inside and outside of the church. No matter how many times I get hit with that reality baseball bat, it still hurts. Our actions speak much louder than our words. And, if I am real and honest with my own self assessment, I must admit that I am as guilty as anyone. Question to self: Is there enough evidence in my actions to substantiate my claim of being a follower of Christ? Too often, the answer breaks my heart.

Challenge: It doesn’t matter where we are, who we are, or what we are, a lack of genuineness puts a barrier between us and those around us. For men of God, if we are going to heed Christ’s commandment of “making disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19) and reach generations of men where they are and impact them for Christ, there has to be a distinct and consistent difference between us and men of the world. Talking the talk but not walking the walk hurts our testimony more than if we said nothing at all. This is true for men of any age. This week, we need to take a long and hard look in the mirror. We must be honest with who we see and ask ourselves, “If someone said something about me, either way, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”

Prayer: Lord, please help me be honest with myself and more importantly, honest with You. You already know me better than I know myself…and You love me unconditionally and call me your own. I pray that You, who are Absolute Truth, shines through me in all that I say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

November 27, 2010

Relevant:

When the going gets tough, the tough….

2 Cor 12:9-10

We have all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It is right up there with “Pull yourself up by your boot straps.” As guys, we are very familiar with these sayings and attitudes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of relentless approach and tenacity when facing obstacles, hardships, or challenges. How many times have we tried to take things on ourselves, in our own strength, and come up short? How do we feel? Inadequate? Weak? Not up to the challenge? Even the fastest race car and most formidable land mover machines don’t finish strong without fuel and/or the right operator. I’ve never heard of something that can move tons of earth with ease referred to as ‘weak’ or ‘inadequate”. And neither are you. Jesus Christ said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9. Don’t feel you have to take on the challenges of life alone or in your own strength. Let the Omnipresent and Omnipotent God work through you and on your behalf.

Challenge: Lean on God and ask Him to help you with some of your challenges and obstacles. For many of you who find it hard to let go of things or feel the need to maintain control, rest in the fact that the Almighty is up for the task. He wants to show you how faithful and capable He is.

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that You care about the challenges and struggles in my life. I am also thankful that you are capable of handling anything and faithful to never let me down. Please give me the strength, Lord, to allow you to work through me and on my behalf. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

November 20, 2011

Relentless:

“Pursuing a thankful heart…”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving Day is this coming Thursday. It is a day we gather with family and friends and give thanks. For many of us, circumstances in and beyond our control make having a thankful heart and giving thanks difficult. However, we are told to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes 5:18 (NIV). If we allow our circumstances to dictate our thankfulness, or lack thereof, our lives, and joy, will rise and fall like the tide. We will be nothing more than yoyos. “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” It’s a saying we have all heard many times and is one that has absolute application here. How we choose to view our circumstances and allow them to impact our lives is solely up to us. If we will pursue a thankful heart and look for the good in the bad…the silver lining of the storm clouds…we will foster an attitude of faithful anticipation of the Almighty’s goodness. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Challenge: It is much easier said than done when speaking of finding the blessings in life’s struggles. I’m not talking about smiling on the outside and while the inside is in shambles. That is only surface level and paper thin…and gets shattered by the smallest of trials. I’m talking about knowing that “…nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love …”(Romans 8:38-39 MSG), that an all loving, all powerful, all present, all forgiving, all sufficient Savior and God loves me, is my strong Tower, my Rock, and is a creating in me a foundation that weather any storm…and a life that can “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Prayer: Lord, Your word says to give thanks in all circumstances. I know that in my own strength and abilities it is impossible. However, you did not give us a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and self-discipline. In Your strength I can do all things. Lord, give me the strength to pursue a thankful heart. Lord, give me the ability to see You in everything…and to recognize Your blessings and provision in every circumstance. You tell me that that whatever I ask for in Your name, it will be given to me. Lord, I am so grateful that Your promises are true. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.      

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

November 13, 2011

Radical:

“Narrow-Minded Simpletons…”

Luke 18:17

“Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Luke 18:17 (MSG) Why do we have such a hard accepting the simple message of grace, unconditional love, and salvation? The word “simple” is not used to denote easy, it is used to mean uncomplicated…transparent. I interpret the words Christ spoke about God’s kingdom to say that unless we accept the message of grace, love, and salvation at face value, without clouding it up with any analytical, scholarly, or intellectual insight, we will miss the point entirely and could very well find ourselves on the outside looking in. It is difficult to relate to loving unconditionally and extending unconditional forgiveness to those we know, like, and love, much less those we don’t know, don’t like, don’t like us, etc…Why? As we go through life, the filter we see the things through is impacted by our experiences, knowledge, etc…Children, on the other hand, do not have those filters. They don’t look at anything beyond its face value…its simplicity. Isn’t it funny that the more knowledge we acquire, the less we are able to accept the most simple, basic, and transparent concepts.

Challenge:  There are those that tout a belief in the reality of heaven, grace, unconditional love, salvation, absolute truth, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and loving God, and an all sufficient Savior who hung on a cross and died for the sins of humanity, past-present-future, is a naïve, narrow-minded, uneducated, and simpleton perspective and point of view. The world tell us that things that sound “too good to be true”…usually are. However, we are clearly told in God’s word that it will take a childlike faith in order to enter heaven. If we will humble ourselves and seek His wisdom ,and not our own, He will reveal a message of grace, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, and eternal life that truly is…“just that simple.”

Prayer: Lord, You are so worthy of my praise. Thank You so much for loving me…for Your grace and forgiveness. Lord, I know that from You comes all things. That includes knowledge, perspective, and wisdom. In today’s world of information overload, please help me accept Your simple, but life changing and eternal message of grace, love, and salvation as truth, and as You intended. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   Also, make statement without saying a word. Visit www.dontdiestupid.net to find out how. 

November 6, 2011

Real:

“Teachable Moment Opportunities”

Colossians 4:5

If we are “real” and honest with ourselves, guilt often hits us more for the things we don’t do rather than the things that we do. You know the “I should’ve done this.” or “I should’ve done that.” Why is that? God is always providing teachable moment opportunities for us to share AND to receive. It is our job not to miss either.   A coach once addressed the kids in his PE class regarding how they should treat each other after hearing that one of the kids complained about another kid, one who was not quite as athletically talented, being placed on his team. Without calling out the young man who made the comment, the coach spoke to the entire group about treating others with respect and that we would ALL stand before God and be judged for every one of our words and thoughts. The following is an excerpt from an email the coach received by a parent of a child in the class who observed the “teachable moment opportunity”.

You did something I have never seen before. You really were able to get your point across to those kids. I could really see God moving in you. You are such a Godly man. You are great with the kids. I feel God has put you in all of their lives for a reason 🙂 I can honestly say you almost had me crying. The way you made them all sit and listen to you at the end of class. You telling them that God is watching and how he doesn’t like what some people do to others was one of the best talks I have ever seen to a group of kids. I get tears just thinking about it. Something else that you did was you didn’t just take boy who said it to the side and say, “You know you shouldn’t do that.” and then just leave at that. You did it in a way that was spiritual. I would like to Thank You from the bottom of my heart.”

Challenge: Galatians 6:10 tells us “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” And Colossians 4:5 challenges us to, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. “ We never know when God is going to throw an opportunity our way that, depending on how we respond, could change someone’s life forever.

Prayer: Lord, looking back there have been so many times in my life I feel like I missed opportunities that You placed in my path. Forgive me. Please give me Your eyes, ears, and heart so I will be open to your divine appointments and recognize the opportunity and Your hand in all situations. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   Also, make statement without saying a word. Visit www.dontdiestupid.net to find out how. 

October 30, 2011

Relevant:

“God Dreams ”

Genesis 37:1-11

I love the story of Joseph. There are so many truths of God’s sovereignty that can be dived into. This week I want to talk about dreams…God dreams. I once heard a pastor say that God dreams are always met with opposition, are always greater than our current capabilities and character, and are always for a purpose much greater than ourselves.  These three characteristics fit Joseph’s dreams perfectly. In Genesis 37, Joseph shares two of his dreams with his brothers and father. In both dreams, the Joseph was the object of others bowing down to him. That, of course, was met with significant opposition (especially his brothers wanted to kill him but ended up selling him into slavery), was certainly greater than his ability as he was just a shepherd boy, and was certainly for a purpose greater than himself as he would eventually be second in Egypt only to Pharaoh and save millions from starvation because of his plan to gather grain during prosperity in preparation for a 7 year famine.

While most of us will never have a story like Joseph’s, we are all given God dreams. I will tell you that Servant Warrior Ministries was one. ..and still is. For many, a God dream it may be a vocational change. For others, it may be a business venture. And for some, it may be something like teaching a Sunday school class, going back to school, even starting a new hobby. If it is a God dream, the three characteristics will be clearly evident.

Challenge:  We often times place a level of expectations on “God Dreams.” We think that to be a “God Dream”, it has to be some earth-shattering, world changing endeavor. It doesn’t.  God dreams are simply those things He places on our hearts that we cannot do ourselves, in our power and abilities. They usually require us to leave a comfort zone and/or go where we feel wholly ill-equipped knowing we have no reason to be there but realizing it is exactly where we are supposed to be. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. Isaiah 55:8 (MSG).

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Dreams. Thank You for bringing me to a place where I know I can’t do what I have been called to do without You. Lord, please give me the ability to recognize the dreams You place in my heart. And please give me the strength and confidence to go where You call me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.  Make a statement without saying a word. Visit www.dontdiestupid.net to find out how.

 

October 23, 2011

Relentless:

“And the walls came tumbling…”

Joshua 5:13-15

The story of the Walls of Jericho and how Joshua and the Israelites overcame this seeming impenetrable and impassable barrier on their way to the promised land is one of the most well known stories in the Bible. The City of Jericho was an  absolute fortress….virtually impenetrable to anyone coming against it. To God, it was simply another “faith waypoint” for Joshua and the Israelites on the road to the promised land – a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). The journey to the promised land was God’s plan for the Israelites. It is no different for us today. God’s plan for our lives is filled with these “faith waypoints” that we must face. Joshua faced a seemingly impossible task to be accomplished by, what many would think, very unorthodox (you can say it…crazy) means…bring down the fortified walls Jericho with only voices and faith. Of course, the operative word is faith.     

Challenge: The journey of the Israelites is no different than our journeys today. God’s plan for our lives is filled with “faith waypoints” where we must decide whether we will trust in Him and follow His promptings or choose our way and our logic. Just as He had for the Israelites, He has promised us a land filled with milk and honey…if we will trust Him…a life fulfilled…a life on God’s terms. (Luke 17:33 MSG) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your love, grace, and for Your promises. You tell me that whatever I ask in Your name it will be granted to me. Thank You for Your faithfulness despite my lack of it. Please give me the ability to hear You and the strength and courage to do what You have called me to do…to follow Your plan for my life, not mine. Please give me the strength to have faith in You when I come up upon the many “walls” in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

 For more information visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.

October 9, 2011

Real:

“Who am I kidding?”

Psalm 139:13-16

In this day of “never let’em see you sweat” and “don’t show all your cards”, the permeating sentiment among men in our country is that we need to look a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way, in other words…be who we are not. Why? Is it because society tells us to? Is it because we have created expectations that we need to live up to? Is it because we feel if we don’t, we won’t fit in at the neighborhood pool, at work, at school, or at church? Why do we put on an act for those around us when the One who we will ultimately stand before as He judges all of creation, who knew us before the world began, who formed us in the womb, who knows every hair on our head, who knows our heart and our motives, sees us for who we truly are? Who are we fooling?  God, in His sovereignty, created us and gave us personalities, talents, characteristics…gifts, to specifications unlike any other – past, present, future – has set forth a plan for us….a perfect plan, and has given us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in heaven if we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord of our life. All of this leads me to a question: Why in the world would we put on an act and seek the approval and acceptance of the people in the world rather than be who we truly are, be who we were created and called to be, accept the unconditional love and grace of Almighty God and live a life worthy of Him?

Challenge:  The pressures to be accepted, both self imposed and of the world, have a significant impact on how we act, how we portray ourselves, and how we want others to see us. This is true across age segments, especially in our youth. The more we try to be what we are not, or what we think we need to be, the more we are setting ourselves up for failure and a life unfulfilled. Why? Because it’s not from God. He tells me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And that, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14,16 (NIV).  This week, take a good look at yourself, your life, and ask yourself: Am I authentic and real with myself and others or am I an actor? Are the lenses I see myself in mine, the world’s, or God’s”? Know this: He will never let us down and we are the apple of His eye.

Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. The pressures I face to succeed, to fit in, live up to an expectation, are sometimes overwhelming. And You know my struggle as You faced those same pressures while You were on earth. Help me see me as You see me. Help me see Your plan for my life. Please give me the courage to be who You have created me to be. I know that through You, I can do all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

“Who Am I Kidding?” is a repost from earlier this year.

October 2, 2011

Relevant:

“The Struggle”

Romans 7:19

If I hear anyone saying that being a Christian is easy, I wonder whether they are living in the same world I am. I never will question anyone’s faith as our testimony is the ONE thing that can never be questioned. What Christ has done in the life of an individual is something no one can question…even though it happens more often than it should. However, being a follower of Christ, dying to Him daily, and doing what we know we want to do and are supposed to do is something that is not easily accomplished given the inherent nature of sin that resides in all of us. The apostle Paul, the author of 13 books in the Bible, faced the same struggles as we do today with doing what we know we shouldn’t and don’t want to do in spite of our relationship and love of Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul got very real with his fellow Gentiles when he said, “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19 NLT) We beat ourselves up when we do something we know we shouldn’t and often feel we should “pack up and go home” in regards to our walk with Christ because a voice we hear says, “a Christian doesn’t live that way…or do that. You’re a poser…a fake…a hypocrite. You can’t impact anyone for the Kingdom.” That, my friends, is the voice of the THE liar and comes directly from the pit of Hell. Ineffective and worthless to the Kingdom is exactly what the devil wants us to hear…and believe…because if we believe him, we no longer pose a threat. Don’t listen to him. Tell him to sell that somewhere else because we know in Whom our victory lies. Remind the devil that we know how the story ends.

Challenge:   One of the most effective tactics of the enemy is to remind us how far we fall short of perfection…of a sinless life. There has been only One who has lived a sinless life on this earth…and none of us are Him. Remember, God’s word tell us, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.” (Romans 3:24-25a). “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for loving us…in spite of us. We fall so short of Your glory. Yet You still see us as holy…all because of Your Son, Jesus. Lord, give us the strength to call on Your name when the evil one attacks us with lies and deception as the devil has to flee when we call on Your name. Thank you for Your assurance of victory and everlasting life…all through Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.    

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