Life is hard.

James 1:12

12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Life is hard. It seems like a mystery when we face troubles. We wonder how things could happen to us and how things could end up the way they do, but life is hard.

I think it is cool that God promises us a blessing for coming through hardship. The blessing is eternal life. Because it is eternal life, I can only assume that our whole earthly existence will be relatively hard. I’m sure it is due to our separation from God and living in a fallen world opposed to the perfection that was originally intended.

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Poor in spirit is not referring to those who don’t have the Spirit of God in them but rather it refers to those who are bummed out and struggling in a hard life.

Just tonight I was alerted to a couple folks struggling with hard times. Additionally, I can think of few others that have been having a hard time for awhile now. Father, you know who these folks are. I pray that your promises from James and from the mouth of Jesus would give comfort to their tired and troubled souls. Remind them of the blessing that awaits them at the end of this life. Thank you for your love and blessings. Amen.

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Christian, God’s not mad at you.

I run into so many Christians who are convinced God is mad at them. They will say “oh this happening because I did this and God is punishing me”, or “I haven’t been walking with the Lord and my life is a mess”. Admittedly, I have had similar thoughts. I have worried that I haven’t attended church enough or read my Bible enough or prayed enough or served enough and on and on. The reality is God loves us. God created us with a desire to have relationship with us. God sacrificed His own son so that the relationship between Him and us would be full and unencumbered. Think about it, would God really do all that He has done to reconcile mankind to Him so that He could be mad at them. It doesn’t make sense.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s His.

Romans 8:1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

What the Apostle Paul is explaining to us is that those who are followers of Jesus have a transformed relationship with God. We are no longer on the outside of God’s grace, we are no longer the objects of God’s wrath or anger. Simply, God is not mad at us.

I think the challenge for most of us is to let go of the way we understand how relationships work. For many of us we think that we have to act a certain way and do certain things to be accepted in relationships. We are keenly aware of what to do and what not to do to make sure those we are relating to are happy with us or not mad at us. We can’t apply this formula to God. We have to look at all He has done out of love for us and learn to rest in the fact that there was nothing we did, good or bad, to cause Him act that way.

Finally, if I am powerless to cause God to love me, how could I somehow have the power to cause Him to be angry with me? Like I said before. It doesn’t make sense. Christian, God is not mad at you.

Father, thank you so much for your love and grace. Thank you Lord Jesus for your work of reconciliation and your example. Help me rest in the reality of your love and peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Daily Devotional – Christians Love Politics More than Jesus

Psalms 7:11 (ESV)

11 God is a righteous judge,

and a God who feels indignation every day.

It seems like the social media sites are blowing up with indignation over the current state of affairs in American politics. Even though the volleys are short tweets or status updates you can feel the emotion behind the impassioned pleas of their authors for justice and equity in the political realm. Sadly, I rarely see or demonstrate this kind of passion for God. I don’t know if we are so corrupted by sin or we just don’t believe what we say we believe, but it seems most Christians I know can go on and on about politics, sports, entertainment, gossip and so many other things but rarely show the same enthusiasm for the Lord. It makes me question my faith honestly. Look at today’s verse. God feels indignation every day. Every day. I wonder if that indignation springs from the passionless apathy of those who profess to follow Him demonstrate. Obviously, I am thankful for grace, but should grace excuse me from a vibrant passionate pursuing and making much of God? Shouldn’t I at least be somewhat mindful and declarative of God and what He has done for me. I’m feeling convicted. It is easy to rant, yet hard to do something about it. I think we should try.

Father, thank you for your love and grace. Thank you Lord Jesus that by your sacrifice you have given us a way to be reconciled to God. Forgive us our passionless pursuit of you Father, while we passionately pursue other things. Help us. In Jesus name, Amen.

Daily Devotional – Know Peace

Colossians 1:19-20

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and
through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in
heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

I used to have a t-shirt in the 90s that read “NO JESUS, NO PEACE,
KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE”. It was and is a suble reminder that true
peace only comes from being in relationship with God through Jesus.
Peace is a word that is bandied around a lot, but for the Christian
peace really should be one of the key ideas to meditate and think on.
The story of our faith is a story of a great conflict that exists
between God and man. We and God are two opposing forces unreconciled.
Ironically, one side of this conflict has the ability to crush the
other side out of existence. Even more ironic is the weaker side
thinks they have have the ability to deny that the greater side even
exists. Yet, in all this irony, there is peace. There is peace because
God our great Father chose to reconcile us back to himself. He did it
through sacrifice. He did it by offering up the life of His son Jesus
so that God himself would no longer have to view man in conflict.

How do you view God? Do you see God as a great enemy of man? Do you
see Him as an eternal punisher who will bust you down if you do wrong?
If so, you don’t see Him through Jesus, and until you do see Him
through Jesus, you will never know peace.

Father, our great God in Heaven! Thank you that you do not war
against us. Thank you for forgiving our arrogance and our self-pride
and making peace through the offering of your Son. Father help us
understand your love and empower us to be peacemakers in the way you
are. Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice and love. We offer you
praise. Amen.

Daily Devotional – Convincers or Proclaimers?

1 Corinthians 1:21

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Almost everyday I look at the WordPress.com articles tagged with the Christianity tag. It is a great way to find other blogs written about the faith. What is interesting is that many times atheist bloggers will tag their blog with the Christianity tag which makes these blogs show up in the search result also. I find myself fascinated reading these and realizing how dependent the atheist writers are on their own wisdom. Almost every article is predicated in the idea that Christianity is illogical or inconsistent or that faith is stupid and simpleminded. I am assuming that maybe the intellectuals in Paul’s day had the same the same issues with Christianity. Reading today’s verse we see how the scripture addresses this very question of man’s ability to intellectually grasp God. Notice the verse plainly says that the “the world did not know God through wisdom”. It goes on to say that most folks analyzing the faith using human logic will find it foolish. I honestly think it is a failure on the part of the Christian when he transitions from proclaiming to convincing. The scripture is clear; no intellectual argument is going convert the unsaved, it is only the power of the Spirit through the proclamation of the Gospel that saves souls. I am challenged somewhat to spend a little less time brushing up on my apologetics and little more time investing in people who desperately need to hear the Gospel proclaimed.

Father, thank you for your love and your reconciliation. Thank you for the Kingdom. Help us be proclaimers and not convincers. Remind us that your ways are not man’s ways and for us to assume that in our wisdom we can understand you is folly. Guide us by your Spirit and give us boldness to proclaim the Gospel wherever we may be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Check out the WordPress.com blogs tagged Christianity here.

Pray the Word

Sometimes I am at a complete loss for what to pray. The cool thing is the Bible is a rich well, full of examples of prayers to God. Here is a great prayer from the Psalms dealing with sin:

Psalm 19:12–14 (ESV)

12Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

So when you get stuck or you feel stale in your prayer life, spend some time reading the Word and incorporate it into your communication with the Father. Pray the Word!

Father, thank you for another day. Thank you for your Word and the opportunity to worship you and commune with you in prayer. Remind us of your love for us and of the adoption we have into your family through your Son. Thank you for your many blessings. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Performance Review – Aim to Please Him

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

This a section of a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. In these verses, Paul is laying out the basic issue all Christians have post conversion; namely, we are all still stuck in the physical world. I know there are times when I share Paul’s sentiment of rather being with Jesus in heaven than stuck in this body in the broken world we live in. What I really fail to grasp sometimes and what Paul so rightly describes here is that this time on earth matters. Paul was keenly aware of the fact that the reason he existed was to share the message of Jesus and the Kingdom with others. He had a mission. It was this mission that sustained him and motivated him to march through this life and into eternity with Jesus. He also understood that he would be rewarded for how well he completed this mission. I think sometimes the idea of the Father rewarding us for our good or poor performance on earth is more than folks want to consider. Yet in this passage and several others Paul directly tells us that we will receive in Heaven what we we deserve based on our earthly actions. It is important to understand that this is not a conversation about salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will warrant salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will remove the penalty of their sin and make them righteous enough to be accepted by God. Salvation only comes by faith in Jesus alone. So its not salvation that Paul is talking about here but it is about reward. I think as Christians we really need to capture this idea of commission or being sent out. We need to go medieval and embrace the reality that we have been commissioned by a King to be ambassadors sent out to proclaim the message of our Kingdom and demonstrate the love and service of our leader and periodically, we need to evaluate ourselves and ask how well we are doing. I know personally, I work hard to be a good worker at my job. I am keen to the objectives that are set out for me each year and strive to make sure that those objectives are met so that when my boss evaluates my performance I am found well pleasing to him. If I am willing to toil and labor to please my earthly boss how much more should I be will to toil and labor for Jesus my eternal King?

Father, thank you for your love and the grace you give all humanity to rise each day and live in the world you created. Thank you for adoption into your family and your Kingdom through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus for your love and your sacrifice and your Kingship. I pray that I would honor your sacrifice and that I perform admirably as your ambassador in this world for as long as this body constrains me to it. I offer you praise. In your name, Amen.