Meet Jesus: Bright Eye ..GSJ8

brighteyeHe saw it, and acted on it. He spoke healing.

Matthew 6:22: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23: but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Dark Notes: Darkness represents what we need not even know. Light is the path of Jesus. Light keeps us focused on the right path. Jesus looked to the light. It wasn’t that He did not see the darkness. He saw it, and acted on it. He spoke healing. He spoke life. He spoke light. He spoke the presence of His Father. When our eyes are filtered by darkness, we see darkness darkly. That is a great darkness. When our eyes are filtered by light, we see darkness in the light. We see clearly.

Tunnel Light: Greg was ready to pray now.  As he had mulled over his own ineffectiveness and mistakes at work, repentance fill his heart.  He truly wanted to do the right thing by his staff and made that commitment to himself and God.  Over the week, he had called in different co-workers and apologized and recommitted to what they needed.  Now, he was ready to pray.  His prayer took on a violent note.  It was decisive and declarative.  He began to speak solutions into place at work.  He began to declare that God was on his side and would provide the right person.  He began to rebuke confusion and conflict and dissension that had been in the workplace.  His prayer surprised him.  His confidence that God was in it was strengthened.  Light was appearing in his tunnel.

This devotion is #8 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT! Look with light on your day today. Can you see good in a dark moment? Can you see Jesus in a good moment.

PRAY! Light of life, Father of light, open my eyes with understanding. Help my eyes to let in light to my soul. So much in this world is full of darkness, I need Your light. I need you to open for me a lighted eye that I might see the good You are doing around me. Open for me a lighted eye that I might see Jesus active in my life and those around me. Help me see the good and the positive and block out darkness from entering in with my eye lighted at all times.

Meet Jesus: Heart For Heaven …GSJ7

treasureJesus’ heart is His Father’s heart. His treasure was the will of His Father.

Matthew 6:19:Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal 20: but lay for yourselves treasures in heaven , where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Treasure House: The treasure of our heart is the treasure of our thought and word and action. Jesus’ heart was always toward heaven. His Father’s house was His continual concern. His Father’s house is still His continual concern. The gathering of men and women together into His body is about filling His Father’s table. Jesus is focused on fulfilling the heart of His Father. Jesus’ heart is His Father’s heart. His treasure was the will of His Father.

Mulled Jake: Jake mulled over his options.  The pain of continuing wrong choices plagued his quiet thoughts.  There just seemed to be no release from the pain of his mistakes.  Just then, the phone beeped.  It was Sally.  She wanted to know if he and his family would like to attend church Sunday morning with her family.  She went on rambling about praying for him all week.  He wasn’t sure he believed she would really do that.  It was a long pause as he thought over how to say no.

This devotion is #7 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT! Does the Father have a specific will for you?  Do you know it?  Do you know His heart for you?  Pursue filling His house.  Invite someone today to join you the next time you are going to a gathering of believers.

PRAY! Precious Father of life and love. I want to fill Your house with others. I want my treasure to fill up Your house. Your house is my heart. My heart is to fill up the table of blessing in Your house that You as Father would have more sons and daughters. Focus me. Help me to see Your specific will for my life and action. Help me to think of You and Your house, Your heaven first above all.

Meet Jesus: Fastened ….GSJ6

fastenerJesus is fastened to the idea that our service is to God first in private and men second in private when necessary.

Matthew 6:16: And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17: But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18: that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Fast is Slow: Jesus’ fast was always one of dealing between Him and the Father. It goes along with the old English definition of suffering. To suffer means to allow, quietly. For Jesus it was incredibly important that your dealings with the Father not be public until it was absolutely necessary. Our challenge is to be quiet about the sufferings in our lives, especially the chosen ones. Jesus is fastened to the idea that our service is to God first in private and men second in private when necessary.

 Sally’s Commitment: Sally was committed to seeing her friend blessed.  Life had been cruel to Jake.  Sure, he had made plenty of mistakes.  That was not the point.  He needed a breakthrough in his relationships and his finances.  He needed to get on solid ground to start over.  She was committed to pray for his breakthrough.  For a week, she took time every day to listen to God for Jake and pray blessing over his life.  Jake was on his way to a new life in Christ through Sally’s prayer and fastened commitment.

This devotion is #6 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT! Start a fast. Maybe just one day. Stay away from whatever food group you love the most. Do it just to draw closer to God.

PRAY! Faithful Father, in Jesus I have all the strength necessary to fast His way. I repent of being more concerned about public recognition than that for which I have fasted. Allow me Father to continue to grow strong in you. Fasten me to Your presence. Fasten in me the concept that it is Your worship that is important. It is Your recognition by me that is important.

Live the Call

Genesis 18:19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

callLive your call, friend.  There is a specific destiny in each of us, a call, a voice waiting to be heard.  May God give your voice words and actions for others to hear and see and follow.

 A Specific Destiny

 Abraham had a call.  He had a way of righteousness and justice that was imbedded in all he did.  It commanded itself into the lives of others.  It commands itself into our lives.  Without Abraham there would be no Isaac or Jacob or Israel or a tribe of Judah or Jesus born of man.  He was selected to birth nations.

 Abraham had specific promises.  These promises were delivered as he lived his call.  They were brought to him by God as he lived his call.  In the path of obedience, he found all he needed and abundance for others.

 A Christian Disciple

 Live your call.  There is a general call to obedience in Christ that applies to all of us.  Prayer, meditation, witnessing, giving, service, thankfulness, gathering, and loving others are part of your call if you live in Christ.  To not do them limits God’s ability to deliver His general promises.  He places them in the path of living the call of a disciple of Christ.

Mistaken Identity

 I can make a good living and have many benefits as a salesperson.  Give me the right product and right list with the right affinity and right relevance and right distinctive proposition and I can sell it for you.  But, that is not my call.  Sometimes, I help clients with marketing and sales.  It is not my call, though it is a talent.

 Mistaken identity can cause us to live full of financial and relational prosperity and think we are following a call.  The evidence of a call is the delivery of promises related to that call. The evidence of a talent is the delivery of results of  principles related to it.  Present a well priced product with value to the right person at the right time and you have a sell.  Be friendly and you will have friends.

 Discerning the Difference

 Live the call.  It’s fine to live the talent as long as it does not rob the call.  Most folks stumble through life with no thought of call whatsoever.  As long as progress is being made we can ignore God’s voice forever.  Humans are like that.

What is your call?  Has the still voice of God talked to you in the night about influencing legislation or pastoring or starting a business or being a great administrator?  Has He intimated promises along the path?  The promises might not include the world’s success formula.  They might include martyrdom or families being restored or they might include great wealth.  They might.  Have you listened?  Have you stepped back from the rush and press of performance long enough to really listen and examine?  It might seem too big.  Usually His call exceeds our capability.  It should look to big.call

 Live the call.  God is speaking.  You don’t need to doubt that.  He is speaking your call.  Maybe you have heard it.  Maybe you have never listened.  Maybe you’ve been too busy trying to live up to someone else’s call or your personal desires and need to sort through motivations and voices. Maybe it just seems to big to get started. No one hears your call for you.  It is between you and God.

 Prayer:  Father, here is a friend.  This one has  a call.  I call it out.  I stir it up.  Cause Your Holy Spirit to stir deep and make clear.  That call, that voice, that destiny can awaken and change our world. As they obey and follow, Father, bring quickly those things you have spoken to them that they would have confidence and continue.

 

Meet Jesus: Secretly Open

Matthew 6: 1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly  

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

 Jesus is secretly open.  What He does in secret, He does not to hide, but not to bring attention.  It isn’t that He is trying to be secret.  He just is not interested in men’s approvals and accolades.  He is interested in His Father’s approval and His Father’s will being done in secret.  It is for our example not our preoccupation.

Self Promotion? The right thing just seemed so obvious to Greg.  Why did others not see what needed to be done?  Over and over he worked to convince other managers of the prudence of his actions on the project.  They just kept acting like he was promoting himself and his team.  That was not the point at all.  He just wanted to see the company advanced and his team had the best opportunity to take it on this project.  Greg mulled over his options with the team.  Finally, they concluded they just needed to act and not talk about it anymore.  Just get the job done, they decided.

ACT! Take inventory of your “good works.”  Are they done for the Father and for example to provoke others?  Are they done to be noticed?

PRAY!  Father, increase in me attention to Your will and ways.  Let me concentrate on the private days of my life and the private  moments of my days.  Let me excell in secret that exposure of my life would only reveal Your activity.

Meet Jesus : Perfect

Matthew 5: 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 Now this is stiff to face.  A perfect Jesus is here asking us to be perfect.  How in this world can we accomplish such a challenge?  Jesus and the Father are one.  The Father is perfect.  Jesus is perfect.  The conversation exactly before this relates to relationships.  Even working at being even keeled and just and equitable in all our dealings with others in love and graciousness is tougher on perfection than we can match.  But, thanks be unto God, He did it for us.  Jesus was perfect for us to follow.

Greg’s Pressure: Greg liked to think he was strong.  Then the pressure came.  The challenge to do more in less time with less staff was causing him to stay up at night.  Over and over, he would think of reasons the project was late.  Every time, he concluded he just wasn’t the right person for the job.  This night, he decided to read a little and pray.  It was coming down to looking for a new job.  As he read through the gospel of Matthew, the verse on being perfect disturbed him.  Then he thought it through.  The thought wasn’t to do it all according to man’s perfection.  The challenge was to love and greet and meet each situation with the mind of Christ.  Whether the situation was good or bad made no difference.  Just meet it with confidence in Christ.  Love always.  Greet always.  Believe always.  He was the right man because God placed him there.  These were the right staffers.  Immediately he began to review plans and pray for wisdom.  What would he do if it were all in great shape?  Do the right thing.

ACT!  Start now.  Remove an imperfection, an attitude, a glitch in your treatment of someone today.  Don’t worry about everything.  Do work on one thing.

PRAY! Whew! Father, You sure want a lot out of me.  But, Father, You gave a lot.  You gave Your only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus gave His life’s blood for me to be perfect with You.  Encourage me, Father, to stand tall to the task and declare, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me fully and completely and perfectly.”

Meet Jesus: Even Ground

groundMatthew 5: 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

 The Father is consistent in His world creation.  The environment, the rules, the principles, the laws, and whatever else happens is the same for good and evil, just and unjust.  What goes up comes down (gravity).  What goes down comes up (seed time and harvest).  The wages of sin is death.  When it rains, everybody gets wet.  There are certain principles that affect us all.  Acting like Him means being the same with those around us whether we like them and their lifestyle or not.  Sin does not invalidate principles; it invokes them.  Think about it.

ACT!  Is there someone you are treating rudely because they have a lifestyle different than yours?  Do you hold at arms length someone in a homosexual lifestyle but not a gossiper?  Think about it, and make sure you are like your Father.

 PRAY!  Consistent Father, You treat us all the same.  You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The principles of life and death rule over me as much as anyone who hates you.  Thank you for offering that to me when I was outside of Your family.  Help me offer even ground to others that they might see Your goodness and enter also alongside me and Jesus.

Meet Jesus: Straight

Matthew 5:  33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

 In our networking, political worlds, we often find shaded communications the norm.  Jesus is a straight shooter.  His admonition to us is to avoid dependence on excuses and other items like, “I swear by the heavens”, over which we have no control.  Simply say yes or no He tells us.  Connecting with Jesus means connecting with a simple, clear answer.    Connecting with Jesus strengthens us to give a simple, clear answer and commitment when other’s depend on us.

ACT! Get straight on a miscommunication.  Think of a commitment you have made that really was neither a yes or no.   Make a decision and connect with the other person.  Tell them yes or no.

PRAY!  Father, help me to be like Jesus.  Give me clarity when I call to you.  Build clarity in me when I am called upon by others.  Show me direction.  Give me sound discretion in all decisions that I might be reliable and relied upon.  Bolster my confidence in You and in Your ability to follow through in me.  Let me not speak in shades of gray when people need clear and simple lines.  

Daily Crosses Lift Easier With Faith

underhiswingsI press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

The Cross of Your LIfe:
The going home celebration of a friend of a few decades reminded me of the fragilility of life on this side of heaven. It is full of laughs and tears and comings and goings. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of breathing. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of financial prosperity. None of us are guaranteed the next hour of health. My friend lived with joy and endurance and love and all who knew her are stronger for it.
By faith, we embrace life with all of the uncertainty and instability.
By faith, we believe in a God that promises to never leave us or forsake us.
By faith, we hope in the glory of which we cannot see, but which changes us moment by moment.
By faith, we look to life and life more abundantly.
By faith, we are certain that He will see us through to completion.
By faith, we grasp the confidence that He is greater than any issue of the world.
By faith, we tackle issue after issue after issue.
But, there are no guarantees.
The cross of your life may include some time struggling through illness or disaster.
The cross of your life may include some days of uncertain financial footing.
The cross of your life may include some betrayals and unstable friends and family.
The cross of your life may include temptations to which you fall.
But, there are sure promises and continual blessings.
By promise, we understand that He owns this world and can move resource to our need at just the right momemt.
By promise, we hold to the faith of the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.
By promise, we have wisdom in Christ.
By promise, we are complete in Him.
By promise, we know those that follow Him will lack for no good thing.
By promise, we depend on His constant intercession.
By promise, we are filled with inestimable treasure of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
By faith in the promises of a Living God we live with and through our crosses stronger for each moment and more like Him. And that is life. Live it. My friend did and all of us who knew her are stronger for it.

Prayer: Father, when I started this morning life looked glum.  I have to be honest with You.

In Your promises, I find life is a joy.

In Your love, I find life is happiness.

In Your support, I find life is enchanting.

Take me though this day with all the crosses to bear and let life be more abundant.

Meet Jesus: Clear Thoughts Matthew 5:27

meetjesustakebackMatthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

 One of the greatest thought battles of the male is with lust.  Jesus is fully aware of that thought battle.  He is conscious of the struggle men face.  He doesn’t excuse it away.  Connecting with Jesus is connecting with a commitment to clear, controlled thought-life.

With what appears to be such a strict edict, is there hope for men and women?  Yes, the thought is not just directed to men, it is directed to all.  Is there hope?

Like any struggle, Jesus is giving us tips to stopping damage before it goes to full fruit.  The key is to stop thoughts before they develop into action.  He isn’t telling us that a quick temptation is like full blown sexual contact.  He is telling us, “Don’t go there.  Get control of your thoughts before they develop further than a fleeting idea.”

ACT!  Thoughts wandering?  Try speaking blessing over a person instead of contemplating their sexual attraction.  Change the focus of your mind.  Give your mind something else to think about.  See the person as a person not an objective.

 PRAY!  Father, our hearts can be so distracted.  So many times we find ourselves struggling to stay faithful and content with the lives in which we are blessed.  You call us to not covet other’s goods and spouses and conditions.  Keep envy far from us.  Keep jealousy away from our door.  Keep coveting out of our mind.  Clear our hearts, God.  We need Your help.  You give us clear and clean thoughts to guide us.  Help us to focus on the good and gentle and kind in life and be content with our condition.