Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Drives You?

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. (‭Genesis‬ ‭25‬:‭32-34‬ NIV)

Esau and Jacob--two competitive brothers showing their true colors in this exchange. But what really got my attention today was Esau's lack of faith in the blessing he had coming. His foolishness is on full display.

Esau had the spiritual birthright as the oldest son. This was a given and he was to get it one day when his father decided to bless him. This was a big deal and God recognized and honored it.

But to Esau, it had little to no value. After all, he couldn't see this God his father talked about. So what good was it. Especially when it would buy him a feast.

Esau is young, yes. But not all young people are as foolish as he. And it appears that if Isaac taught him things of faith and God Esau didn't believe it much if at all.

This is seen in that he traded his birthright away for a bowl of stew. Clearly he was famished. But I don't care if you haven't eaten in a week. If you believe that God will bless you once you receive your spiritual birthright, I think you might hang on to it even when famished. Easy for me to say, I know. But then the fool thinks with his stomach. He is short-sighted and driven by fleshly desires. Esau is the fool.

Jacob on the other hand did believe in the power, provision and wisdom of the birthright. We could certainly question his motives and methods. But we can see he truly values God's blessing even if his methods leave a lot to be desired.

What about us?

I wonder if I really believe in the value of the spiritual blessing that only God gives. His promises. He wise ways. His example.

Do I pursue the wise path of God's blessing over the foolish path of my fleshly desires? Do I orient my day around God's mission and wisdom--or my appetites? What drives you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

God Answers Specific Prayer

May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭24‬:‭14‬ NIV)

 God answers specific prayers specifically.

Abraham's most senior servant is on the mission of his life. He's looking for a wife for Abraham's son Isaac. His only son by Sarah. The promised son.

Abraham gave his servant very specific instructions. And his servant clearly wanted to please his master. But he also wanted to succeed. Abraham was asking a lot.

As the servant approaches a well in the area that he thinks he'll find Isaac's wife, he prays. Apparently he trusts Abraham's God to not just guide him but to actually pick out Isaac's wife. (Abraham does promise an angel will guide him (v. 7)). But he doesn't just pray--he prays a very specific prayer. 

"May it be that when I say to a young woman, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too.'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."

The servant is trusting in the God to bring success to his mission. It appears that he genuinely believes that God can and will answer his prayer. God surely does!

So what?

God answers specific prayers specifically. The servant asked God for help in finding Isaac's wife. So he asked God a very specific prayer request. And God answered it specifically.

Not only did he answer the prayer, he answered it immediately. "Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out..." (v. 15) God was ready--even eager--to answer this prayer.

What about us?

God wants to bless people through his people. God's desire to bless the nations through Isaac was seen in his answering of the servant's prayer. 

God wants to bless people through us. He will answer our specific prayers specifically--one way or the other. Especially when they are in accordance with his will to bless people through his people. 

When we engage his holy search and rescue mission to lead people far from God to know him, he will answer our prayers. Therefore, let's walk with God and not be afraid to ask for his help--his very specific help--in prayer.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Be Prayerful

We'll pray bolder prayers when we believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God who one day taught us how to pray. (Matthew 6:5-15)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Be Free!

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. (‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭23‬ NLT)

Rules provide "no help in conquering a person's evil desires."



Rules (laws, statues, commandments) in scripture are designed to do one thing: make us aware of our sinful behavior, attitudes, words and thoughts. And that is God's grace at work. Because if we're not aware we're breaking his law, we'll not be convicted and repentant. We'll harden our heart.

That's what the whole letter to the Galatians is about. But I digress...

The point here is that Christ set us free from all that! (v. 20) We don't have to live with a list of rules or laws in our hands. We're free from that now. The law of Christ is in us now. The Spirit of Christ rules our hearts now.

Freedom. Freedom in Christ. Breathe it in again for the first time. Freedom.

Other than sin, all things are permissible (even though not all things are profitable). Paul says this in other places a number of times. 

What is interesting is that the less rules we try to follow, the less temptation there is for us. Rules (think laws) tempt our flesh to want to break them. 

Think about the last time you saw a sign that read, "Don't walk on the grass." You really wanted to walk on that grass, didn't you. But not until you saw the sign telling you not to!

When we're free to walk in the Spirit, we don't need the laws or rules (except maybe to inform us) to keep us from living a holy, blameless life. We're walking with the HOLY Spirit of God! I don't think he'll allow us to walk contrary to any of his laws without convicting us of it. 

So quit trying to be holy by keeping the law. Christ freed you from that! 

Walk with the Spirit (Gal 5) and enjoy the freedom in Christ we all received when we were born again.

What is God saying to you right now?

What are you going to do about it?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why Jesus Came

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (‭Luke‬ ‭19‬:‭10‬ NIV)

Jesus gives us in plain words why he came. He came to "seek and to save the lost."

I want to focus on the word "came." 

Advent, a good Bible word we use at Christmas, means "come or coming". Specifically, it refers to the coming of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Coming purposefully to "seek and to save the lost."

So Christmas is about the coming of the baby Jesus who became our Rescuer. (Hence, Advent season)

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I too should "come" (or "go" might be a better way to say it) to "seek and to save the lost." Could it be any simpler?

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Show and Tell: Multiply Disciple-makers (xDM)

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (‭John‬ ‭20‬:‭21‬ NIV)

Jesus is walking and talking with his disciples in his resurrected body, at this point. He is helping them come to grips with what they are seeing and what has happened (the resurrection) and the implications. 

They are understandably upset, confused and emotionally exhausted. Which is probably why he keeps saying to them, "Peace be with you!"

Jesus will be around for a total of 40 days and then he'll ascend returning to his Father in heaven. So he's understandably focused on teaching what he wants them to do next. 

Mission. His mission. The mission of God:

Multiply disciple-makers.

He uses himself as the model so that they can picture in their mind what he wants them to do. Harder to forget. Follow the leader.

"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

It's simple, really. Just like Daddy sent me down here to show and tell you how you can walk in love with him again, I'm sending you out to show and tell others how they can walk in love with me--with my Father.

And then those you show and tell go out and show and tell to others who will show and tell others and so on. 

Multiply disciple-makers. xDM

Let's review:

It starts with "peace" from Jesus. (19, 21a)
It moves to going. (21c)
It follows that we send. (21b)
It comes with the authority to forgive sins. (22-23)

What is God saying to you right now?

What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One Stitch Closer: Veronika empowers other women (video)

Ok, so I don't know Veronika. I don't know how legit this video is. But even if it were fiction, it would inspire and challenge anyone who cares even a little bit. 

Great leadership, entrepreneurship and compassion in action. Makes me want to open up a shop like this in Charleston. 

Short-term homelessness is a real challenge locally. Jobs isn't the answer but it's a big step towards a solution. When we in the Church get serious about breaking cycles of poverty, things like this will happen.