Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Another chance

When I was a kid, I was very mean to my brothers.  Both of them were really sweet kids, but was really harsh with them.  Often I have wished that I could go back in time and be kind to them.  So many things that I wish I could take back and do better.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the tractor with Rhett, and I told him that he reminds me of my brother, Jeremy.  Then it hit me.  The Lord has given me "another chance" to be kind, tender, and compassionate: to my sons.

As I choose to set my mind on the spirit instead of the flesh, I quench anger and allow the Kingdom of God to be manifest through the fruit of the Spirit and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Heavenly Father, I really want 2017 to be a year marked by my patience and tenderness with my boys.  Thank you for another chance. Holy Spirit, produce more of your fruit in my life. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.


Yesterday, we had our birthday party for Jesus, and then we opened gifts.  I think our boys understand why we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to give gifts to my children.

Then we went into town to meet with my parents' church.  The preacher pointed out that Christmas is celebrating the presence of God and that His presence brings comfort and commission.

Heavenly Father, I really enjoyed our time together as a family yesterday.  It was a very special day.  I am so thankful for my family, and I am thankful for the Greatest Gift of all.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders

Romans 15:17-19, 29 NIV
Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. ... I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

From Paul's perspective, the signs and wonders are part of preaching the Gospel, and I think that is associated with the full measure of the blessing of Christ.  God cares about our spiritual and physical well-being.  He doesn't guarantee that our physical circumstances will be peachy, but sometimes He intervenes in supernatural ways to demonstrate His love and power.  I want to open myself to be a vessel for Him to use to pour out His love and power.

This past Saturday, I went with Shaun to pray for people who were waiting in line at Raelene's tattoo shop. Shaun and I prayed for a lady in line, and her back pain was gone immediately.  It was cold and windy, so a local church opened their building, so people didn't have to stand outside.    We prayed about five times for a lady on crutches who had torn her ACL and MCL.  By the end of the day, she walked on it with no pain.  I shared the Gospel with a young couple, they guy was an accounting student; they didn't accept the invitation, but I prayed for them, and I could tell that they were touched.  We prayed for a guy who was troubled, and he showed some improvement, but I am still praying for complete deliverance for him.  

Praise the Lord for His love and power!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to step out in faith and minister to people.  Lord, I want to share the Gospel with signs and wonders so that even more will trust you with their lives and become fully devoted followers of Christ.  Holy Spirit, give me boldness, and flow through me your love and power.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Righteousness credited by faith

Romans 3:22‭-‬24 NIV
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:3‭, ‬10‭-‬11‭, ‬16‭, ‬23‭-‬25 NIV
What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." ... Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. ... Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abrahamʼs offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. ... The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Justification is by grace, through faith in the promise of God.

If baptism is the new covenant fulfillment of the old covenant sign/seal of circumcision, then I suppose that baptism is not required for justification but is essential for sanctification (if the two can actually be dissected).

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for giving me faith and counting me as righteous, including me as a descendant of Abraham.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice to accomplish justice.  Holy Spirit, lead me to a deeper appreciation of this reality.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sowing generously and cheerfully

2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬11 NIV
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever."  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

I taught on giving/tithing back in the summer, and as I studied Old Testament and New Testament passages in preparation for teaching, I developed a sincere belief that the tithe is a starting point and that God does promise blessing in return for our generosity and charity.  You have to be careful to avoid the doctrinal ditch on either side of orthodoxy: the prosperity gospel on one side and the poverty gospel on the other.  Giving should not be used as a means to get rich, and being poor should not be used as a means to become righteous.  Money, riches, or wealth is not inherently evil, but it can be a tool for good or a tool for evil.

Recently, I heard a sermon from Bill Johnson that cemented what I had studied and begun to believe this summer - that tithing to your church and giving consistent offerings to other ministries is good practice of Christ followers, with the desire to continually increase your giving and the expectation that God will give you more resources as you faithfully invest what He has already given you.

This sowing and reaping concept in 2 Cor 8-9 seems so clear to me now.  Jesus sowed His eternal life into humanity to reap a harvest of eternal Brothers and Sisters.  We have the opportunity to sow generously by giving love, encouragement, money, etc and reap a harvest of righteousness.  And the Lord will refill our seed silos so that we can sow more next time.

God has implicitly embedded a pattern/fractal of exponential/geometric increase into the framework of generosity (sowing and reaping).

The terms "sparingly" and "generously" are relative terms - relative to what you have, not what you don't have.  The Lord loves the grateful, cheerful, childlike heart that continually wants to give more to be more like Jesus, who gave it all.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and mercy.  Thank you for your generous gift through Christ.  May I celebrate your generosity, especially this Christmas season.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, please help me listen to your promptings and obey.  Please grow a harvest of righteousness for your glory.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Jesus is our 'yes'

2 Corinthians 1:19‭-‬22 NIV
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We had a great home group meeting on Sunday night.  We talked about hearing God's voice in the context of spiritual gifts, and we prayed for two of our group members. 

We also discussed a little about the practical details of how to pray for someone who is sick.  Shaun said that he usually doesn't ask God to heal because that implies that God might say 'no', but Jesus is 'yes'.  God has already communicated that it is always His desire to heal, so we are authorized to command sickness and pain to leave.  Some people get caught up in why some people don't get healed, but we shouldn't assume that it is because God didn't want to.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being a good father and giving good gifts to your children.  Jesus, you are our yes.  Holy Spirit, please teach me to walk in your truth and power.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Spiritual gifts

1 Corinthians 12:7‭-‬11‭, ‬27‭-‬31 NIV
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. ...  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. ...

He gives these gifts to manifest Himself, and that is for the good of everyone in the world.

Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself through us by way of spiritual gifts.  Lord Jesus, thank you for sending the Spirit to empower us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the grace you have given me through the spiritual gifts that you have chosen to give me.  Help me be aware of those gifts, and help me mature and become proficient in allowing you to flow through those giftings to reveal your goodness and love.  I want to be like the man in the parable who doubled the return on investment.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Supernatural annointing

Acts 19:11‭-‬12 NIV
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

I am taking baby steps toward the healing anointing that Jesus, Peter, and Paul demonstrated.  Yesterday, I prayed for the swelling and pain to leave Brenda's hand immediately.  Well, it didn't leave immediately like I wanted, but she sent me a message this morning telling me that her hand is less swollen and painful this morning.  Praise the Lord!  I will keep asking the Lord for more!

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your goodness.  You are good, and you give good gifts to your children.  You desire wholeness for us, and you use us to bring wholeness to each other.  Thank you for the examples that Jesus, Peter, and Paul demonstrated.  Please grow me into that level of anointing.  Holy Spirit, please annoint me and use me today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.