A Spiritual Checkup (2)

Featured

“I the Lord search the heart.” Jer 17:10 NIV

How do you measure up when it comes to: (1) Obedience. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb 13:17 NKJV). Do you consistently obey the things you know God wants you to do? Do you submit to the guidance of those God’s placed over you? Do you pray for them and thank God for the deposits they make into your life? (2) A pure heart. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn 1:8-9 NKJV). Do you confess your sins specifically and by name? Do you purpose to forsake your sin the moment God reveals it to you? What about your unsurrendered areas? Are you willing to give up all sin for God? (3) A clear conscience. “I…strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Ac 24:16 NKJV). Do you seek forgiveness from those you’ve offended? Is your conscience clear with God and man? (4) Confidence before God. “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1Jn 3:21-22 NKJV). Have you moved beyond merely “right or wrong,” and asked yourself, “How will this affect my confidence before God?”

A Spiritual Checkup (1)

Featured

“The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive.” 1Ch 28:9 NIV

The Psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24 NKJV). If you’re wise you’ll visit your doctor and get regular physical checkups. You’ll also go to God for regular spiritual checkups. In what areas? (1) Your salvation. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Co 5:17 NKJV). Was there ever a time in your life when you repented of your sin and placed your trust in Jesus to save you? Have you surrendered to Him and made Him Lord of your life? (2) Your devotional life. “I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps 119:97 NKJV). “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (v. 140 NKJV). Do you read and meditate on God’s Word each day? Are your personal devotions consistent and meaningful? Do you try to apply the principles of Scripture to each circumstance you’re in? (3) Your humility. God says: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57:15 NKJV). Are you quick to recognize and agree with God when you have sinned? Are you quick to admit to others when you are wrong? Can you rejoice at others’ successes, even when yours goes unnoticed? Do you esteem others as better than yourself? (See Ro 12:10). Do you live with a sense of dependence upon God?

Learn to Wait

Featured

“My times are in Your hand.” Ps 31:15 NKJV

The Psalmist writes, “I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand” (vv. 14-15 NKJV). As you walk with God you’ll find that you spend more time waiting than you do receiving. And when you receive what you’re waiting for, then you’ll begin waiting for something else! So if you don’t learn to wait with joy, you’ll live in frustration. Paul writes, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9). “Due season” is when God knows the time is right, not when you think it is. God has a set time for accomplishing things in your life, so you might as well settle down and wait because that’s when it will happen, and not before. God knows what you need, when you need it, and how to get it to you. You ask, “And what am I supposed to do while I’m waiting?” Trust Him! One Bible teacher writes: “God has taught me to keep living the life I now have while I’m waiting for the things that are in my heart to come to pass. We become so intent on trying to give birth to the next thing, that we neither enjoy nor take care of the things at hand. I had a vision from God ten years before I began to see it fulfilled. During those years I believe I missed a lot of joy by trying to give birth outside of God’s timing. Learn to enjoy where you are, while you are waiting to get to where you want to be.”

Complacent or Committed?

Featured

“Daniel purposed in his heart.” Da 1:8

The Bible says, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with…the king’s meat.” Daniel had settled the issue, before the challenge arose. Joseph had also decided his values; therefore he was able to say no to Potiphar’s wife. The three Hebrew children already knew what they were going to do, fiery furnace or not: “Our God…is able to deliver us…and He will…But if not…we do not serve your gods” (Da 3:17-18 NKJV). What do you believe about God? If you think He might fail you, you’ll never totally commit yourself to Him. Commitment grows! You can’t make big commitments until you’ve first made small ones. The three Hebrew children first said no to the king’s food; later they were able to say no to worshiping his idols. You don’t get that kind of faith suddenly. Most of us can look back over the years and identify a point at which our lives changed significantly. Because of a readiness within us, we made a choice that would affect us from that point forward. But before you can make a real commitment to anything you must overcome three problems: (1) The security problem. Insecure people fear taking risks. They have a “Plan B” in case God doesn’t come through for them; they depend on themselves rather than on Him. (2) The success problem. When you’ve had some success you want to guard it. You want people to continue thinking well of you, so you start living defensively. (3) The satisfaction problem. The lukewarm Laodicean church said, “I am…increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev 3:17). So ask yourself, “Am I complacent or committed?”

How Much Is Enough? (2)

Featured

“Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Lk 12:31 NIV

At what point does need become greed? One author writes: “Rarely does a person wake up and say, ‘I’ve been living for an ego trip…I’m going to get rid of the big car and the fancy sailboat and go live in the slums…working with the poor. God deals with us individually. What may be okay for some, isn’t necessarily okay for others…When Pastor Renny Scott began wrestling with this issue…he said, ‘I just couldn’t resolve the tension of living in a peaceful bedroom community while hell on earth was all around me in the form of hunger and poverty.’ He went to Africa with World Vision, which was the beginning of involvement with the needs of others. Next he moved into the inner city…That was the second step. Then he took a church of fifty which met in a school cafeteria. When a deacon suggested they give the entire Sunday morning offering to missions, Scott swallowed hard – because his salary was included! Eventually he and his wife came to grips with their lifestyle and did something I’ve challenged many to do…cap your lifestyle and say, ‘This much and no more’; and everything above that was given away…The little church grew into a body of 1,800 people who matched dollars for buildings with dollars for missions. Today they’ve taken on the challenge of helping homeless people find affordable housing. Scott said, ‘I had to pause and ask myself what I’d want to be doing if Christ returned today. And I found myself answering from Matthew chapter 24 and 25…to take my talents and invest them [where the need was].’”

16 Daddy Christmas Tips.

Featured

’Tis the season for Dad to drop the holiday ball, stress out as the money is being spent for presents, and miss yet another providential opportunity to lovingly lead his family. So, this blog is intended to help dads not fall into the same old rut of holiday humdrum, sitting on the couch watching football and eating carbs, but rather intentionally plan out the upcoming holiday season. Our children grow quickly and if we miss the sacred moments God opens up for us to connect with and bless our families, everyone suffers and we set in motion generations of missed opportunity.

DAD NEEDS…

01. A plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?

02. To check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family.

03. To carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is your calendar ready for December?

04. To not let the stress of the holidays, including money, cause him to be grumpy with Mom or the kids. Dad, how’s your joy?

05. To give experiences and not just gifts. Dad, what special memories can you make this holiday season.

06. To manage the extended family and friends during the holidays. Dad, who or what do you need to say “no” to?

07. To ensure his family is giving generously during the holidays. Dad, who in need is your family going to adopt and bless?

08. To schedule a big Christmas daddy date with his daughter. Dad, what’s your big plan for the fancy daddy date?

09. To schedule guy time with his son. Dad, what are you and your son going to do that is active, outdoors, and fun?

10. To help Mom get the house decorated. Dad, are you really a big help to Mom with getting things ready?

11. To ensure some holiday smells and sounds. Dad, is Christmas music on the iPod, is the tree up, and can you smell cookies and cider in your house?

12. To snuggle up and watch some fun shows with the kids, especially the little ones. Dad, is the DVR set?

13. To take the family on a drive to see Christmas lights while listening to music and sipping cider. Dad, is it mapped out?

14. To help Mom get the kids’ rooms decorated. Dad, do the little kids get lights or a small tree in their room?

15. To read about Jesus and pray over his kids. Dad, how’s your pastoral work going with each of your kids?

16. To repent of being lazy, selfish, grumpy, or just dumping the holidays on Mom. Dad, are you a servant like Jesus to your family?

– By Mark Driscoll

How Much Is Enough? (1)

Featured

“Life is not measured by how much you own.” Lk 12:15 NLT

What does “the good life” mean to you? Driving the fastest car? Owning the biggest house? Wearing the latest clothes and having the most prestigious job? God’s concept is very different. Jesus said, “Guard against…greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” G. K. Chesterton said, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less and less.” Aleksander Solzhenitsyn discovered this truth in a Soviet prison when his freedom, his friends, his home and his books were taken away. After months of solitude in Antarctica, Admiral Richard Byrd wrote, “I’m learning…a man can live profoundly without masses of things.” What a great place to arrive at! Harold Sala writes, “People today are possessed by possessions as no other generation…The more complex life becomes, the more convinced we are that we need more to be happy. Having obtained what we think we need, we soon become unhappy because a model with more bells and whistles comes out…It takes far less than we think to discover happiness if [it] comes from within and we break the stranglehold things have on our lives.” So, how much is enough? Jesus told the rich young ruler who wrestled with that question, “Sell your possessions…give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21 NIV). Not the answer he expected! Does that mean God is opposed to you having money? No, He’s just against anything taking His place in your life! He knows that “Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Mt 6:21 NCV).

Pray a Prayer of Release

Featured

“The curse does not come without a cause.” Pr 26:2 BBE

Author Stormie Omartian grew up with a mother who told her she was worthless. She locked Stormie in a closet because she couldn’t “stand to see her daughter’s face!” Stormie writes: “I was raised by a mentally ill mother…and…her behavior left me with guilt, hopelessness, helplessness and deep emotional pain. By the time I was a young woman I was still locked in – only the boundaries were emotional not physical – a deep, ever-present pain which expressed itself through self-destruction and paralyzing fear. Years later [with help from a Christian counselor] I learned that unforgiveness as deeply rooted as mine…must be unraveled one layer at a time. One day I felt led to pray, ‘Lord, give me a heart like Yours for my mother.’ Immediately I had a vision of her as a beautiful, fun-loving, gifted woman with no resemblance to the person I knew…I was seeing her the way God made her to be, not the way she’d become. What an amazing revelation! In an instant I put together the pieces of her past – her mother’s tragic death…the suicide of her beloved uncle and foster father, her feelings of abandonment, guilt, bitterness and unforgiveness…Touching the heart of God brought such forgiveness that when she died…I had no bad feelings. In fact, the more I forgave her the more God brought to mind good memories…People are often the way they are because of how life shaped them, and only God knows their history. To enjoy everything God has for you, pray a prayer of release and let go of the past.” Only then can you move on.

Why You Can Depend on God’s Word (2)

Featured

“The word of God which…effectively works in you.” 1Th 2:13 NKJV

Observe two things: (1) God’s Word is inspired. Chuck Swindoll writes: “We’ve no problem with the Giver of truth…but wasn’t the truth corrupted when He relayed it through sinful men? This is the perfect moment to get acquainted with revelation, inspiration, and illumination. Revelation occurred when God gave His truth, inspiration when writers received and recorded it, and illumination when we understand and apply it. Your confidence in the Bible is directly related to your confidence in its inspiration. How can we be sure it’s error-free and trustworthy? Paul provides help answering this question: ‘All Scripture is inspired by God…for teaching…showing people what is wrong in their lives…correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right’ (2Ti 3:16 NCV). When God revealed His truth to human writers He ‘breathed out’ His Word. When we dictate a letter we ‘breathe out a message’ and someone else types it. So did the writers simply take dictation? If you know much about the Bible you realize…Peter doesn’t sound like John. John doesn’t sound like David. Somehow each writer’s personality was preserved without corrupting the text…That rules out the idea of dictation. Peter says, ‘No…Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or…human initiative…[They] were moved by the Holy Spirit, and…spoke from God’ (2Pe 1:20-21 NLT). That answers that question! (2) It’ll hold you up. When you go through chaotic experiences God’s Word gives you stability. No other counsel will get you through the long haul. No other truth will help you stand firm in storms of doubt and uncertainty. No other reality will give you the strength you need each day.”

Why You Can Depend on God’s Word (1)

Featured

“Your word is truth.” Jn 17:17 NIV

When your “back is against the wall,” where can you turn to find strength? Awash in a sea of moral and ethical questions, where can you go to find a reliable compass? One author says: “There can be no more reliable authority than God’s Word. This timeless, trustworthy source holds the key that unlocks life’s mysteries. It alone provides us with the shelter we need in times of storm. Why does [it] qualify as our final authority? (1) God’s Word is Truth. Jesus said as He prayed to the Father, ‘Your word is truth.’ Real truth you can rely on…that’ll never shrivel up…turn sour…backfire or mislead…That’s what the Bible’s about…[it] provides us with the constant and the needed support. (2) God’s Book is God’s voice. Paul writes, ‘You received the Word of God…not as the word of men, but as…the word of God, which…effectively works in you who believe’ (1Th 2:13 NKJV). Think of it this way…If the Lord were to return to earth and speak…His message would tie in exactly with what you see in Scripture – His opinion, counsel, commands, desires, and warnings. When you rely on God’s voice you have a sure foundation…truth that can be trusted…power that imparts new life and releases grace by which you can grow in faith and commitment. (3) God’s Word endures. There are only two eternal things on earth today…people and God’s Word. Everything else will ultimately be burned up…stuff we place on the shelf, things we put frames around, trophies and whatnots we shine and love to show off…all headed for the final bonfire (See 2Pe 3:7, 10-12)…God’s Book ‘stands forever’ (1Pe 1:25 NIV).”