Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overcoming Anger One Year Ago

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

It was about this time a year ago that I got mad at God. Most you didn't know it, its not my style to publicize such a personal matter, but God and I were not on good terms. I think it's more accurate to say that I was in the wrong place, but not God.

I was at a point where I felt like I needed to be in different place and doing something different. I became angry, frustrated and and maybe a little bit confused. At times my anger may have seemed rooted in the place, but it was not, it was at God. Selfishly, I believed I needed to be somewhere else, hence God was "wrong," which mad me mad.

This season of anger lasted about the entire month of December. As the new year approached I sought counsel from other friends who had be in the ministry longer. The counsel was pretty simple: are you asking God, "How do I need to be serving God and not Jeremy?" Are you asking "do I need to learn something new, if so, let me be receptive?" and "is there something else You need to show me through someone here?"

God had more in store for me at the camp; I just needed to get over myself.

Jesus says, "Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" John 16:24. I may have been praying, but I was not praying correctly, it was out of anger and my will, not His. God wanted me to surrender my anger and surrender my will to Him.

At the end of the month I decided to "let God." I was ready and willing to do whatever He asked me to do, whatever I needed to learn and seek out whoever I needed to seek out.

I was refreshed and renewed at a place I didn't think I needed to be, but really it was right where God wanted me to be.

During the next four and a half months at the camp I learned so much about God: His purposes in my life, how to serve Him better and also to serve those around me; all for His glory. I came to a better understanding that speaking His words into people's lives was part of His plan. To help equip others, encourage, and do life together. I learned to listen to the Holy Spirit, speak when prompted by God, not me.

God's plans and purposes are way beyond my feeble plans! God wants us to have a deep and rich relationship with Him. He is constantly communicating with you and I, and it's our job and responsibility to be attentive to His leading and follow.

I am thankful for my "time of anger," but more thankful I decided to surrender and allow Him to grow me!

If you're in a position where you're angry or upset with your job, yourself or maybe your family, it is time to allow God to teach you something!

Rick Warren says, "It's not about you."

Surrender your life, surrender your will and ask Him what you need to be doing. Allow Christ to rule, not YOU.

It took me almost a month to realize that I was more worried about me than I was about God. That may be where you are today.

Ask God, what do you need to be learning, how could you be serving Him and if there's someone who can help you. Begin to earnestly pray, seek Him and His will. He will lead you.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Church According to Acts 2:42-47 - Part 1

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching..." Acts 2:42

In Acts 2:42-47 we catch a glimpse of what the early church looked like.  The word church or ekklēsia, commonly confused with a structure, is a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly (this assembly might be in a home). This group of people, know as the ekklēsia have a common denominator, their faith is in Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, "...I will build my church..." Before the word ekklēsia or church is egō. This is used as a primary pronoun of the first person; Jesus identifies the church as His (my, me, I).  Our church must be founded in Him.

The example set in Acts 2:42 says they "devoted themselves".  Devotion means to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing. What were they devoted to? God's word.  The apostles' teaching is God's word.  Most of the eyewitness heard Jesus teach and several complied His words in what we know as the Holy Bible.

Devoted to God's word. I can just imagine what this group of people did: reading and meditating on God's word morning, lunch, afternoon, evening, nightly and early hours of the morning.  They had devotion to His word.

I consider some of my own devotions and confess, I am not near this devoted to God's word.  I think think of a few things that get my time: Facebook, Twitter, Texting, Instagram.  You may have a similar list.  Consider the hours your might spend on these applications.  I make attempts to reminder myself to fire my YouVerion bible app, but more often than not I slip back onto another application.

God wants you and I to rearrange our priorities as the early church in Acts 2:42 showed us.  We need to devote ourselves to God's word.  I heard someone say, we might be considered the generation who wasted the most time.  Wow, what an indictment.  Are you ready to be considered that generation? God created us for much more than mismanagement of time. 

He wants you and I to have a relationship with Him.  The only way we can have that is by spending time is His word.  With Jesus as our foundation, we must begin to learn about Him through the word and Spirit.  That's how we get to know one another, we spend time talking to one another.  Devoting ourselves to God word stretches our faith, builds it up and deepens our relationship with Christ.

Ekklēsia, are you ready to devote more time to God's word?

Check back to see what else the early church did and please feel free to drop a comment with some additional insight.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Man and a Baseball

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Last Saturday, Landon found one of my collectible baseballs still in the plastic. This Houston Astros baseball was white with the old logo, but no signature. I thought I might put it on the shelf one day, you know, to look at. Landon said, "Dad, I want to play with this white baseball." I sternly replied, "No!"

Kari sometimes reminds me that the Holy Spirit can speak through her to me. Well on that day she said, "Jeremy, what are you going to do, put it on a shelf to let it collect dust. Go outside and play."

Considering Deuteronomy 28:1, I thought to myself, this is an opportunity to obey. I know it might seem simple or petty to some, but this baseball held me captive to a thought: maybe, just maybe I was going to do something with this baseball and it was more important than enjoying life. What might happen: I break my son's heart and take away an opportunity to play in the backyard and introduce him to a game I enjoy.

I quote I Corinthians 10:31 because I believe that this was a moment to give God the glory. Instead of putting that baseball on the shelf I got to spend time in the backyard with my son throwing, catching, laughing, and enjoying life. Thanks to Him, the giver of life!

It quickly could've turned into a missed opportunity to play baseball with my son. If I would've stuck to my guns and been bullheaded about putting the ball on the shelf, I believe I might have denied God the glory.

The Scripture says, "in whatever you do..." My initial thoughts in response to Landon we're not glorifying to God. I will not be taking that baseball to heaven with me or any other item that I might put on my shelf. I realized that I need to go outside and play baseball with this ball and treasure the moment God has given!

Are you holding onto something and not living life, denying God the glory? Take it off the shelf, dust it off, toss it around some and put some dirt on it.

Life is meant to be lived; in that recognize where it derives from and give Him all the glory...even if its just a baseball!

God bless.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jesus Rocked the Boat!

"And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him." Luke 5:11

Jesus is in the business of rocking our boats.

Simon Peter, James and John, three of the twelve disciples, referred to in this passage "left everything" to follow Jesus (job and family). I think it is a similar call He asks you and I to follow Him; we must leave everything behind.

I can think of several things to leave behind, here are a few thoughts:

Money or Job. God wants us to rely on Him so much we must be willing to leave behind money or an amazing job.

While serving at the camp I learned it was pretty comfortable serving there: no rent, no water bill, no electricity bill. Don't get me wrong, it was hard work, but a pretty amazing job when you looked at the many ways the camp takes care of those who serve there.

We came to a place where if we wanted to followed God, obey (Deut. 28:1), we had to leave somewhere we were comfortable to serve Him right where He wanted us.

Guilt and shame. Not only does Jesus' blood cover up our iniquities, He asks us to leave it behind. Our past is taken care of by His blood, there is no reason you and I should allow Satan to use it against us. Cast out these thoughts and leave them behind, if we don't than we are disobeying His command.

Our selfish earthly selves. God wants us to be transformed! The desires of our heart must begin to change; for in His service our sensitivity to the spiritual realm must increase.

"as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

What we leave behind is the things we see and we need to begin to focus on the spiritual realm. Living for ourselves, focusing on flesh things, hinders us from following Him.

Leave it behind. Follow Him.

Our you ready to let Him rock your boat today? The call is there, "...[leave] everything and [follow] Him." How will you let go of what's holding you from surrendering all today?

My prayer is we allow ourselves to leave it and follow Jesus more today than yesterday.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Say you have Christ, so what?

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

"So what?"

This life is meaningless without Christ and yet many parade their "faith" or attend every service, but never figure out its all about Him and not us.

If you aren't dead, I think these three phrases are accurate descriptions of loud, worthless and useless counterfeits. Not saying God cannot change them, but love comes from Him, therefore they are missing something!

What's missing?

"I have been crucified with Christ..." Galatians 2:20

The concept of death with Christ is sometimes over looked. Eternity in heaven and deliverance from hell seems to be bonus features of our faith (obviously great things), but God wants you and I to live a certain way now. He wants us to obey is words and commands.

"...It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me..." Galatians 2:20

So what? If our death is so important, how does it look daily?

Daily we submit our countenance, attitude, mood, reactions, thoughts, self indulgences and allow Christ to rule these area of our lives. When He is doing the living, it is He who shines and receives the glory.

If others don't see Christ, than it begs the question, so what? Are you a loud, worthless and useless Christian counterfeit?

If you don't see a difference, than we need to ask the Spirit to reveal imperfections; areas of our life we have not surrendered to Him. A friend of mine calls this process identifying red flags and another calls it identifying bad seeds.

Surrender these things to Christ and begin to live in the grace and freedom that come through dying to self.

So what?

Are YOU dead?

"...It is no longer I who live, but Christ..." Galatians 2:20

No longer. Pretty simple, the Greek says, no longer, no more, no further. When we put in Christ, we, I, is no more.

According to the Greek, "I" is very specific (I, me, my), it does not mean anything else, no other pronoun, beside I. That is our sole responsibility to understand that it is not me doing the living, but Christ.

The word for "who live" is zaō.

To live (in Christ) means the following:

1) to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead)
2) to enjoy real life
a) to have true life and worthy of the name

Real life only comes through the death of ourselves. Christ must be doing the living for us, because if we our left at the helm, that means we are in control...and you don't want me (my flesh) in charge!

To begin the day, the question is, are YOU dead?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Concerning the Election

Jesus is Lord; no man will separate you and I from Christ.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Watch what you say, represent Christ. May Christ in you draw people near, not push away.

"Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene..." 2 Timothy 2:14-17a

Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray for our leaders, friends, and family. God knows what He is doing, even when we think we know better.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

No need to worry; take your requests before God and let Him rule, not us.

"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6