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.

Meet Jesus: Us Too …GSJ5

domeNo body treats me as good and forgiving as He does.  And He expects me to do the same for others.

Matthew 6:14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Do Me Like Jesus: Funny thing about Jesus, what His Father does, He does.  What He does, He expects us to do.  So He expects us to do like His Father.  An old song sings, “Can’t nobody do me like Jesus.  Can’t nobody do me like the Lord.”  That is true.  No body treats me as good and forgiving as He does.  And He expects me to do the same for others.

Team: Leadership was all about example to Greg.  Over and over he mulled on the characteristics he needed on the team for the new member.  They did not need to have a lot of experience leading others.  It was more important that they had experience leading themselves.  How had they handled life?  How had they advanced their skills?  How had they overlooked others’ problems in light of their own?  Could they handle rejection of ideas without personalizing?  Could they give examples of having to just accept offenses and get the job done?  

 Those thoughts pushed into his mind and challenged him in his own life.   How had he been doing in being gracious to his co-workers?  What about his family?  What about his friends?  Again, he went to prayer as he realized he was holding some things against other managers.  He needed to get those settled and forgiven in his heart before he brought on a new team member.  Otherwise, his angst would overflow onto the team.

This devotion is #5 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT! What did God forgive you of yesterday?  Who needs your forgiveness?  Write it off!  Quit looking for payback.  Set them free.  Don’t even ask them to say, “I’m sorry.”

PRAY!  Father, my hide is so tough.  I like to do things my way.  When I am honest, I know I would just like to do what I like to do.  Help me forgive and forget.  Help me not hold anything “against” another person.  Help me be like You.   Show me something to forgive today.  Help me take a burr out from under my saddle and get free.

Meet Jesus: Cleary Eyed …GSJ10

He wants us to have the dust out of our eyes so we can see clearly.

Matthew 7:5: Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

 Home Front: Mind the home front first.  Jesus is repetitive on this point.  Taking care of ourselves is His focus for us.

Windy: This area I live in has a constant wind blowing.  Sometimes the wind is 5 miles an hour.  Sometimes the wind is 25 miles an hour.  Always it is blowing dust and particles up into the air and eyes.  That can leave you bleary-eyed.  I keep a bottle of saline solution in my desk against those days when I catch something in the walk from the parking lot to the office.  It helps clear out any particle that blew in.  Even the smallest particle of dust can cause my vision to be clouded.

Clear: How can you focus when you are bleary-eyed?  Jesus wants us to be cleary-eyed.  He wants us to have the dust out of our eyes so we can see clearly.

Greg’s Hobnob: Greg’s feelings of joy were not echoed by Jake.  Greg was happy to see an old friend coming to his church.  Jake was not happy.  He and Greg had been friend’s years before.  Then Greg started hobnobbing with some do-gooders and would have nothing to do with him.  Those were painful memories for Jake.  Those emotions washed up on the shore of his mind as he walked.  Funny, how something from that long ago still affected him.  He was getting angry.  His wife was looking at him oddly wondering what was going on and what was getting ready to happen.  This is how he looked when he came home drinking.

This devotion is #10 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT!  Get some particle out.  Want is going on in your life that needs washed out?  Is someone else’s particle in your eye and you just need to be looking elsewhere?

PRAY! Father, help me be cleary-eyed.  Help me to tend to my business with You instead of worrying about others.  Surely, they have enough dust of their own.  Surely I need to keep my eyes clear.  Help me stay out of other’s activities in judgement.  Sufficient for me are the issues to which I need to tend.

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.

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 : 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: 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.