Meet Jesus: Lead Away …GSJ4

Matthew 6: 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

 Lead Away: Temptation is everywhere.  Our eyes jump to it.  Billboards call our attention to it.  Media permeates our senses with it.  No wonder, Jesus encourages us to pray for being led away from it and the evil one that builds it.  It is enough to be tempted of our own flesh.  When the evil one gets alongside our impure desires and leads us into temptation, we can easily fall.  Jesus never fell.  He stayed tall.  Surely, looking to His Father to lead Him in safe places away from tempting situations was a key.  We need to do the same.  There is enough power and glory in His kingdom to attract us.  We don’t need to spend time in tempting situations.

Jake’s Hard Day: This had been a hard day for Jake.  While he waited for God to move, it seemed nothing would ever happen.  His job just kept getting worse and worse.  His home life kept going downhill.  What about the job Sally mentioned?  Maybe that was a place where there was less drag to the dark side.  Every Friday, Jake’s co-workers tried to get him to stop at the bar on the way home.  He loved a good beer.  Sometimes he could not resist.  He became weak.  Those were the worst nights at home.  He always drank too much and would come home light headed and heavy hearted.  His wife was losing her patience.  Jake cried to God to get him away from the influence of these friends.  It just seemed too strong for him

This devotion is #4 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT!  List your weakest points.   Where do you fail most times when tempted?    Can you change your path so you don’t enter into temptation?

PRAY! Father of Love and Mercy, where is my salvation?  Can You free me from myself?  So often, I fall into the same traps over and over and over.  I know the right thing to do.  Yet, I don’t get it done.  You know me.  You know my weak spots.  Help me, Father to avoid the temptation of life.  Deliver me from the influence of the evil one.  Build your kingdom and power and glory in me that I might live in righteousness.  Make my paths straight to walk in Your ways all the days of my life.

Meet Jesus: Forgiveness …GSJ3

allowThere is a place in Jesus where we can just sit right down and not worry about anything.

Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

 A Place To Rest: Forgiveness feels good.   When we meet the release of guilt, we relax.  That is purposeful.  In Jesus, we find a place to relax.  Yes, He can be a place as much as our friend and God.  There is a place in Jesus where we can just sit right down and not worry about anything.  The past dissipates.  The pain of mistakes subsides.  We lay our head in His lap and great heaves of breath take away the memories.  Remember to be the same for others in Him.

Character Meets Greg:  Attitude had always been important to Greg.  As he thought of the character traits he’d like to see in the new team member, forgiveness came to the front.  This was a tough assignment for someone.  There were years of resistance to the project the team was pursuing.  Tempers would flare.  People would be upset.  This new member needed to bring some forgiveness with them. As much as they would need excellent technical and communication skills, they needed a keen attitude of not taking up grievances and not holding grudges.  Greg went back to prayer.

 This devotion is #3 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT!  Sit down with Jesus for a moment.  Just enjoy not being guilty.

PRAY! Father of Forgiveness, it just feels wonderful to be with You.  Sitting at Your right hand with Jesus is a wonderful place of release.  So many times, Father, I can get caught up in the press of the day and the pursuit of power and accomplishment.  Help me get caught up in You.  Help me get caught up in Your wonderful presence in which there is nothing but joy.

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.

Approaching God

Design for Discipleship

Refreshing air fills my lungs and quiet consoles my soul.

The wind is gentle and the shifting season brings a certain odor.

Friends fill my mind.  Ailing, hurting, smiling, transforming, new, old, uncertain, and depressed are they.  One was run over by a car, another is run over by cancer, another’s heart is failing, one is losing hope, one is gaining life in new ways.  They are friends and I care for them.

God cares for them.  He cares for you.  He cares for me.  He is active and approachable.

Father, let me touch Your will and let it become my ways.

Father, change me so I might offer change to others with gentleness, and freshness.

Father, open Your storehouse of blessing and comfort for my friends.  Touch and bring life.  Breathe and bring healing.  Hover over them like the Fall winds rustle through the trees over me and let them know You are here.

You are here.

You are hearing.

You are now.

You are present.

You are approachable.

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.

Life Can Be Frightening, Friend.

But then, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound, well-disciplined mind.  The Father dispenses right knowledge and wisdom and equipage to get your life lived with a smile and a dance in your step.  He does.  Really, He does.

It is frightening to face life without a loving Father’s protection and insight.  This morning as I prayed for my friends, my guideline was the book of Ephesians.  Yes, I read through the entire letter and prayed.  It usually takes about an hour these days, sometimes two hours or more.  Martin Luther, the great reformation leader, and others are quoted as saying, “I had so much to do today, I had to start with 3 hours of prayer.”  I get it.  There is no time to waste. Every minute has to count and prayer puts the power in the punch.

It is frightening to look into tomorrow and realize the threats and opportunities to fail and opportunities to succeed. Failure and success are not distant partners.  Each brings an element of pain and cleanup.  Each creates a next step that has to be addressed.  Plan for success and handle the failure.

It is frightening to go it alone. Living alongside the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a fearsome task.  He really does get things done. Boy, am I glad I don’t work in the kingdom alone.  It would be hell.  Yes, I believe hell on earth is trying to do the work of living without family and friends and partners in work and ministry and life. When I make a list of co-laborers, I never get to the end.  There are thousands.  What a blessing.

It is frightening to trust my own hand. Friend, never trust yourself to get it done.  When you stretch out with God, you will find yourself in situations that are impossible.  They take impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy.  He has a ready supply of all four.

My prayer for friends.

Father take the hand of my friend and bring impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy into the path.  As You walk with my friend enable with everything necessary to live abundantly, faithfully, and effectively.  Let life be changed.  Let fear be put into the street.  Let faith shine so bright those around my friend will lose fear and find faith.

Other’s Need – God’s Supply – Your Hand and Heart

Remember to pray for the Community Transformation Initiative and all those that are helping and joining. After taking a few months of prep and collaboration, you would not believe the demands of the next six weeks at the Community Transformation Initiative.  We are actively engaged in East OKC, North OKC, Stillwater, Del City, St. Louis, Matamoros, Mexico, and online around the world. Every one of these engagements results in life change.  Our goal for 2013 was to impact 1000 families face to face.  In the last 30 days, we’ve exceeded 300 and expect to pass that goal in the next six weeks. Much of this is 1-1.In the next six weeks, we will be presenting live for over 60 hours.  The average pastor will present 10 hours in the same period. Much of our presentation will be bilingual and all of it will occur outside my personal cultural background.  The average pastor/leader never does either of these because they are ten times more exhausting than staying within your personal culture zone or niche. The Community Transformation Initiative is not called to be average.  Our aim is transformation.

 

Our commitment and high level schedule:

General Ministerial Conference – Dallas July 24-26

East Zion Men’s Leadership – July 26th 7pm

Telemundo Radio 33.1 – July 27th Interview on Matamoros outreach 2:30pm to 3pm

Rewrite – Mentoring – Life Church July 31st

Fearless Weekend – Tabitha Baptist East OKC Aug 2,3,4

Fearless Weekend – Regrese de Clase – CAREVI – Matamoros, Mex Aug 8-12

Watch DOG Launch –  Back to School – Tulakes NW OKCAug 16

Watch DOG Launch – Epperly Heights – Del City – date tba

Outreach Planters Training – OKC Aug 23-25

Schools of Prayer – West OKC – Aug 7, Sept 4

Dad’s University – Online Fall Semester Aug 20-end of term

Champion Fathers Luncheon and Tourney – SW OKC Sept 16th

Total cost to get this done – $20,000.  On hand funds $1500.  Faith Commitments $5000. God’s Challenge To Be Met: $13,500

How to support.. <==click it

Impossible faith will see it to completion.

Impossible love will keep us motivated.

Impossible strength will bring us to perform.

Impossible energy will make this fun.

Meet Jesus: Dignity Matthew 5:21

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www,examiner.com

Matthew 5:  21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

 Dignity is a key concept in Christ.  Jesus did not assault the dignity of any human.  There were times He directly challenged people to righteousness.  He had no problem calling people to account for hidden agendas and false fronts.  He did not attack the person as a person.  He never called anyone a fool or an idiot or stupid or any such attack.  That standard stands for us.

 Interesting is the way Jesus looks at one of the ‘ten commandments’.  There is a level beyond the surface to which He takes us.  It is the heart intent that is most important.  It is the beginning of the action in the depth of the heart that Jesus looks to identify.  Lusting leads to adultery.   Anger and contempt leads to murder.  Stop the action at the point of the seed in the heart.  That’s His message.

 ACT!  Look for any bad seeds in your heart.  Take a few moments to sift through your thoughts over the last few days.  If you have a mate, is there another besides your mate that has taken time in your thoughts in the wrong direction?  Have you been unduly angered and contemptuous with someone?  Are you miffed at God over something You think He should have done for you?  Have you railed at a government official?  Now is the time to uproot the seed before it germinates.

 PRAY!  Father, I’ve got to admit.  There are times I am really upset with people acting out of my pattern.  Yes, Father, I have my ways.  Help me to not be so quick to call them right and others wrong.  Help me to see the person separately from the action.  Help me to protect the dignity of each human as precious.  Help me to look at others as Your creation with an intention for good.  Though they may be demonstrating wrongly, help me to look beyond at potential and design.  Let me call out goodness for the lives of others in the midst of pain and problems.  Help me to be like You.

Meet Jesus : Light of the World Matthew 5:13

Matthew 5: 13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

What does it mean to be the light of the world?  Connection to Jesus means we become the light of the world.  Connection to Jesus means we are a part of a city on a hill that cannot be hid.  It is not us individually to whom He speaks.  It is us, the City of God, the people of God, to whom He speaks.  Together in Him, we are the light of the world.  Our world is dark.  Our world is pained.  Our world is putrid.  Get it straight.  This world is full of shadows.  It is wrong because it is disconnected from the light.  Jesus came and spoke to the world to change to a different way of thinking.  He spoke for this world to think light not dark.  When we connect with Him we connect with a message of light.  Together, the body of Christ, is meant to shine a light on problems.  It is meant to shine solutions for our metro.  This city to which we are attached is full of solutions for others to see and grasp and join.

Of course, you may pay a high price.  Businesses and government and education are afraid of Christianity.  They have been put in fearful positions by those opposed, who have sought limitation in the name of liberation.  Choices have to be made.  Promotions will be lost.  Contracts will not close.  There are costs to being affiliated with Christ.  Do it.  Pay the price.  Carry your cross.  Better to shine a light in a dark world knowing some will be blessed and released from pain than to hide it under fear and intimidation and leave others to suffer knowingly.

ACT! Shine a light.  It is so easy to not be like Christ.  It is so easy to skip praying over a meal in public.  It is so easy to just not mention your friends and relationships in Christ.  When conversation at lunch turns to others talking about movies and shows and new homes and kids in school, how do you talk?  Are you free to mention your friends in Christ?  Are you open to talk about a great sermon you heard or a meaningful worship service that stirred your soul? Can you mention the peace you have in personal relationship?  Do you have the courage?  Are you willing to be seen connected to the city on the hill?

PRAY! Padre Precioso, Precious Father, I am committed to join the city and be known as joined to the city.  It is risky.  It is risky to be known.  Even according to Your word, it can bring persecution.  It can bring misunderstanding.  It can bring dissension.  But, Father, I am committed to be known by Your name.  Let me not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls us to live as light in a dark world.  Let me not be ashamed of the name of Jesus.  Let me not be ashamed.  Let not my enemies of my world, my flesh, and the devil triumph over me.