Tuesday, October 17, 2017

joyfully giving thanks

Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

I want people to see the kingdom of light through my life.  I want to live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.  I want to bear fruit.  I want to have a constant lifestyle of joyfully giving thanks to the Father so that other people will see it.

Father, please increase your joy flowing through me.  Holy Spirit, pour your oil of gladness through me so that other people will be smeared with joy.  I don't want cheap happiness, I want deep abiding joy that overflows to the people around me, especially my wife and children.  Lord Jesus, you are my fountain of life.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Conclusions from Ephesians

Eph. 6:4 NLT  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

My role as a father is not to teach them about the Lord, my role is to tell my children what the Lord is speaking to them.  I am a relay of His instruction.  I need to pay more attention to what the Lord is speaking to me for my children.  And I need to treat them with gentleness and kindness so that they know how the Heavenly Father treats them.


Eph. 6:18 NIV  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.

I want to pray in the Spirit.  I want live in constant conversation with the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father.


Eph. 6:24 NIV  Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

The Greek word that is translated here as "undying" is "ἀφθαρσίᾳ", which is also translated as "incorruptible".  Based on the Strongs definitions that I read, the word is not referring to lack of contamination, but more about immortality, perpetuity, and lack of decay.  This is interesting to me because, just yesterday, a guest speaker in our Paseo gathering reminded us of Jesus's words to the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation:

Rev. 2:3-4 NIV You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

I want to persist in loving the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I want to grow in that love every day.  I want to grow every day in my awe of His amazing love towards us.

Father, I want to be a father like you.  Teach me.  Help me watch you and emulate you.  Holy Spirit, show me how to pray in the Spirit.  I want to be consciously aware of your presence and speaking the entire day.  Lord Jesus, I want to continue growing in loving you.  Tune my heart and mind to love you more.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

God's heart for his lost children

I was thinking about the magnitude of God's compassion for all people.  He loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to rescue us. 

Parents know the intensity of the panic when they lose their children in a public place.  You immediately start calling their name, looking everywhere, asking other people if they have seen them.  Of course the analogy doesn't quite work, because God knows exactly where we are, but I think His reaching for us is even more intense than what we experience as parents.  

Labor Day weekend, we went to the water park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, and Brandi ran across a girl who couldn't find her parents.  She was lonely and afraid, and Brandi and I felt the urgency and sense of helplessness of helping her find her parents.

Father, I want to live with your urgency and intensity in reaching out to your lost children.  You want all of your children back.  Your heart hurts that they are lost.  Your heart hurts for those who are lonely and scared.  Your heart hurts for those who are distracted by the things of this world and who don't yet realize that they are lost.  Lord, please use me to help people find you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

motivation

I attended the first session of a UTEP leadership development series yesterday afternoon, and President Diana Natalicio was the first speaker.  She shared her inspiring story of growing up in a blue collar family and how high quality education in elementary school and college empowered her to live an impactful life.  She talked about how money and prestige do not motivate her and that, instead, she is motivated by making a lasting impact in the lives of other people, especially through education.  She talked about how an aspect of leadership is understanding what motivates you and making an impact in what you are passionate about.

Walking back to teach class, I sent Brandi a text message and asked her what motivates me (without any context for my question).  She replied, "Bringing glory to God, helping others, pointing people to Jesus, knowing what you are doing has a real impact on lives, naturally strong work ethic is part of your character."  To be honest, I feel like I am more motivated by what other people think of me than bringing glory to God, but she knows me better than I do, so I am going to trust her and agree with her in faith.  As I consider the life of Jesus, He was totally motivated by glorifying and pleasing the Father.  I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be passionate about God's glory.  In John 17, Jesus's prayed about glory:

John 17:1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

I want to be singularly focused on His glory and doing the work that He has prepared for me.
 
Eph. 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Father, thank you for adopting me as your son.  I want to live like Jesus lived - focused on glorifying you and pleasing you by knowing you and doing the work that you have prepared for me to do.  I want to fulfill my God-given purpose.  By your grace, I am a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led son of God, and I will love you, walk with you, and glorify you.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Living like Jesus

Even though they were shipwrecked on their voyage to Rome, the Apostle Paul was still living like Jesus:

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
Acts 28:7‭-‬9 NIV

After finally arriving in Rome and still waiting for a hearing with Ceasar, Paul took every opportunity to share the Good News:

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
Acts 28:30‭-‬31 NIV

Father, I want to live like Jesus.  I want to walk in your power and authority of healing people so that they know that you are good.  And I want to teach people about your kingdom and help them walk in close fellowship with you.  Holy Spirit, lead me today.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Observations from Paul's commissioning

'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.  I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
Acts 26:16‭-‬18 NIV

I believe these are universally applicable to all sons and daughters of God:
- sent into the world
- sent to open eyes
- sent to turn people from darkness to light
- sent to turn people from the power of Satan to the power of God
- sent to help people receive forgiveness of sins
- sent to establish people as sanctified sons and daughters of God.

Father, thank you for commissioning Jesus as the first Son of God to give us a perfect example of your character and will.  Jesus, thank you for sending Paul and for the heritage of the great cloud of witnesses that we have in faith.  Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit with us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  I want to run with you today.  Lead me; I will follow.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus, the Son Who was sent and who sends.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Religion is dangerous

Questions: Before his conversion, why was Saul so adamant about persecuting people of The Way?  After Jesus transformed Saul to Paul, why were the Jews so adamant about killing Paul?  

Acts 21:27 ... some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, "Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place." 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)  ... 31 ... they were trying to kill him ...
 
Acts 23:12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here."

Acts 25:3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.

Question:  What would cause people for whom one of their top ten most important laws reads, "Do not murder", to not once, but twice, conspire an ambush to kill someone (deception, collusion, premeditated murder)?

Answer: Religion.

The Jews had developed many additional rules and regulations for themselves beyond what God had originally given them, but more significantly, they lost sight of the main point of relationship with God.  They developed a religion through which they could reinforce self-righteousness.

I think it is tempting as humans to rationalize our behavior, and even people who profess to be "Christians" develop doctrine to justify their perspectives.

At lunch this past Sunday, I told some friends that Brandi and I want our kids to grow up with genuine relationship with God, not religion.  We want our kids to know the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  We want our kids to live in constant fellowship with the Holy Trinity, dynamic conversation, and bold obedience.  Brandi and I want to live that for ourselves so that our home is an incubator and accelerator for their spiritual growth.

Father, thank you for your grace and mercy through Jesus, that we can abide with you as sons and daughters of God.  Jesus, thank you for your example and promise of abundant life.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  May we live in constant fellowship, conversation, and obedience with you today.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.