Saturday, December 26, 2015

Luke 2:10-11 "And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Fear not. The angel's first words to the group if terrified shepherds were ones of comfort. Why was there fear? An unexpected occurrence, an unknown being, fear for their safety, even fear of being surrounded by the light of the glory of God. But the was no reason to fear because the news that the angel brang to the shepherds was good news, it was news that would bring great joy. And it was for anyone, anywhere. No matter who, no matter what they and done. All people. Even the shepherds, the nobodies. The good news was for them too.

What was the good news? It was that there was a Savior. Christmas means that God desires to restore what has been lost. As John Piper wrote in his book "Joy," Christmas means that God keeps his promises. A Savior was promised, and Savior came. And today salvation and restoration are promised for all who will but call out to God for it.

"I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." (Psalms 18:3)

Truly he came to "save his people from their sins." Why do we look around and fear? Why do we wallow in doubt? Why do we settle for anything less then victory? There is good news of great joy for us, that a Savior has come who desires to save and restore.

"It is God's message of hope this Advent that what is good need never be lost and what is bad can be changed. The Devil works to take the good and bring the bad. And Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil." (John Piper "Joy")

The coming of the Savior brings a message of comfort and not one of fear. One of joy and not of dismay. So let us look to the One who has come to "save his people from their sins," who holds the power to keep the good and change the bad, who desires to restore what has been stolen.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Matthew 25:40 "The king will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."'

Grace what have you done. In me You, God, saw no beauty, no good, no life, no strength, nothing desirable, nothing righteous. Yet despite the ugliness, lifelessness, darkness, deadness, weakness, and sinfulness, You took me as your own, loved me, accepted me and changed me.

The degree to which I understand this beautiful grace, this undeserved steadfast love, is the degree to which I will love my Savior in return. To understand this grace is to know that despite everything that I am not and can not, dispite my wretchedness, I am accepted. And then the least of these. If I understand this grace to me, instead of looking down, demeaning the broken and needy ones around me, I will look on with compassion because who I see is myself, broken and in need, except for Christ.

But how conditional is my love. It is all to easy to love a person because of behavior, appearance, background, status, or what that individual has to give me in return. This is far from the undeserved grace and love that have been lavished on me. Do I love so conditionally because somewhere in the raw part of my heart, I think of God as loving me conditionally, based on merit? Do I love based on standards and merit because I beleive that God's love to me is based off of that? In setting a self imposed standard on how and when I allow myself to beleive that God loves me, I have imposed this standard on others. Withholding grace, judging, conditionally loving.

Only understanding in my heart the unmerited grace and love I have received will compel in me sincere love for the least of these. They are broken as I am, they are in need of grace the same as I am. That is why, in the eyes of Jesus, loving the least of these is the same as loving Him. The water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, welcome for the stranger, clothes for the naked, visitation to the sick and imprisoned, these count for loving him, but not out of duty or obligation. It is a heartfelt response to his unconditional love.

We love as we beleive to be loved.
Open my eyes to your love.

"Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer. You shall cry, and he will say 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noon day." (Isaiah 58:9-10).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

Am I acting out of fear, or out of love?

Fear always comes from a misconception of God, disbelief that he will come through, distrust that he is good and desires the best for his children. Fear is seeing God, not as our loving Father, but as a slavemaster, demanding compliance. Fear is doubting His steadfast love. Fear is bondage. It instills striving, imposes condemnation and inadequacy, never being good enough. Fear is depending on self because of doubt that God can be trusted. It leaves it's victim weary, burdened, and in despair.

Fear paralyzes, yet it also motivates. The minute I doubt His love, I begin to look in dependance on myself. I am in slavery to striving. Fear compels me to toil wearifully, dragging a heavy burden that I don't have to carry.

Yet this is not the spirit He has given His children, whom He adopted and called his own, who are covered with the redemptive blood of Christ. He has accepted me, claimed me as his child. He has chosen me, welcomed me, gave me a safe place of refuge, loved me as his daughter. He has given me an identity that is not based on what I try to do, but who He is, what He has already done. My Father is not so much looking for my service as he is my love. I can call to my Father in dependance for his help like a child would naturally call to her Father in times of need, trusting him to give aid.

Child of God, stop living like he does not love, quit living in fear, distrust of God. Realize sho you are because of the blood of Christ, how God sees you as righteous. How you are loved and have the priveledge of calling out to him as a helpless child would call to his father who is strong and able, who is loving and trustworthy.

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine." (Psalms 33:18-19"

Put your hope in His steadfast love.

"You never ask that i earn your affection,  I could never earn something that's free. There is no striving." (Bethel - There is No Striving)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Galatians 4:31-5:1 "So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit to a yoke of slavery."

A promise from God was given to Abraham, the promise of offspring. But how could life come from the womb of his wife, who could not bear children? Time passed, restlessness grew. Maybe they did not doubt the promise that God would give Abraham offspring, but they took the promise into their own hands and decided to do what they could to help God out. And not through Sarah, but through her slave woman, offspring was borne to Abraham.

Nothing but strife, abuse, and conflict resulted from this self initiated effort to fulfill God's promise. But this was not God's intent. Sure enough, in time, He fulfilled his promise to Abraham, life was brought from Sarah, who thought she could never have children.

Like the child borne to Sarah as a result of the promise of God, I am a child of the free woman, I am a result of the promise. Because of God and his grace, new life has been worked in me, when all was dead and lifeless.

But i have stooped to this yoke of slave woman many times past, yet today i bear testimony of God's work in my life showing me more and more that I have been set free. Following God appeared to me to be a lot of rules and standards, I put in a lot of effort to live to up to these, tried to do what I could to overcome sin in my life. I frustrated myself with the law that i imposed on myself, I wore a yoke of slavery. Tired and exhausted, I grew hopeless in my efforts to try please God.

Then He began to show me more of himself. The freedom of grace. I have not been set free to live in bondage to the law. I am not expected to toil in hopeless efforts of the flesh to please God. New life is only something that the Spirit of God can accomplish and the fruit of the Spirit in a life is so much more beautiful, so much more bountiful than any works, any efforts, any strivings of the flesh.

"...'Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the childen of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.'" (Galatians 4:27)

The desolate one, the lifeless, with whom it is impossible, is promised more children than the one who has the ability to on her own. Because it is God who works. And when I stop working and rest in his work, fruit is borne from what was once lifeless and desolate.

I am finding that fruit and freedom result, not from rules kept and standards met, but from giving to God in dependance to do what I could never do myself.

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." (Galatians 6:15)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Matthew 25:21 "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."

Sometimes I wonder what the future holds. What will I do after I return home? How will it be living in the states again? What is God's plan for my life? I hardly even know what I want to do with my life, will God show me?

But through these questions, wonderings, and worries, the Lord has pressed onto my heart to simply just be faithful with what he was given me for this time. It is not a question of 'what is God's plan for my life?' and then wondering and waiting until it is revealed. It is a question of 'what is God's plan for the time I am in now?' and choosing to walk in it.

In this parable of the servants and the talents, the master entrusted to each of his servants a certain amount of talents based on their ability. He expected each of his servants to faithfully invest his talents. No matter how small the amount was that they were given, He expected the talents to be used to bring more talents and not to be wasted. To the servants who were faithful with the amount that they had been given, he rewarded them with more to be faithful with.

Likewise, he has entrusted me with this time and this ministry. Whether to me it seems like a big thing or a small thing it does not matter, only that i am faithful in it. Because, as Warren Wiersbe pointed out to me in "The Bumps Are What You Climb On", the small things are what show who I really am, they determine if I will be capable to handle something bigger. The small things may seem small, but the Lord is able to bring a beautiful harvest from seeds faithfully sown.

I was so encouraged by Pastor Chuck, the former head pastor of the New Life Church, and his testimony of how the Lord led him to Cambodia. When he was asked if he always had a heart to spread the gospel oversees, or if he had a vision for a long time to go to the people of Cambodia, he said that that was not necessarily true. After he and his wife became Christians, they started out their ministry to the church by cleaning the bathrooms. Just simply cleaning the bathrooms. As they served faithfully in that, they began working in children's ministry, and as they served faithfully in that, the Lord led them to the next thing, and then the next. Finally the Lord called them to simply take the ministry that they were doing in the United States and transfer it to a cross cultural setting. And of course, as faithful and willing servants of the Lord, they said yes.

Faithful in cleaning the bathrooms. The dirty work that nobody cared to do. The unimportant job that nobody really noticed. But the Lord did.

I desire to be faithful with what the Lord has called me to during this time. Some things may seem to me bigger and more important to me than other little things that seem like they don't matter. But in God's eyes, the small things are the big things too.

God has not called me to the future, he has called me to this time, to soak up and be faithful in what he has called me to for this time.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mark 9:22-24 "'...But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.' And Jesus said to him, 'If you can'! All things are possible for one who beleives.' Immediately the Father of the child cried out and said, "I beleive; help my unbeleif!"

The Father of this demon possessed child had already brought his child before the disciples, they could not cast out the demon. In desperation he came before Jesus, "If you can do anything"! Here was this desperate circumstance, and the father cried out to Jesus to help him if he could, help him if it was in his power to do so!

How often am I the same as this man. My first inclination when fear arises, when I feel my weak capabilities loosing control, sadly is to try to figure it out myself. Tossing and turning the matter over in my mind, depending on my weakness for strength. Maybe even consulting those around me to help me to get control of the situation. Why do i hestitant to turn to Jesus for help? Why do I question the faithfulness of my Savior? The lack of my faith is so evident. Sure, I beleive that Jesus can but do I beleive that he will?

But I am finding more and more that in the midst of my frantic mind, when fear and dread begin to rise up in me, the freedom comes when I come to the Lord as this man did, "Lord I beleive, but will you help my unbeleif." Here, Lord, is my unbeleif. Here Lord is my heart and all of its rawness, not some patched up, masked up thing, so hidden by fakeness that it is indecipherable. I love to try to bring that before God, "Here is my heart God, I tried to fix it up a little."

He wants ALL of my heart. He just wants me to give it all to him. He doesn't ask me to work on it first before I bring it, he just wants me to bring everything, even the dirty parts. And when I show it all, when I talk about it with him instead of myself, that is faith. Here is my lack of faith God, here it is. I tried to pretend that it's not there, I tried to make it not be there but I cant. God will you take this.

It turns out that the demon plaguing the child, was one that could only be driven out by prayer. That is why all other sources were powerless. All Jesus wanted was for them to come before him and him alone with there great need.

And Jesus wants the same from me. To come before him, in rawness and honesty, believing that he will help my unbeleif.

Matthew 11:28-39 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Genesis 2:7 "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature."

Dust. This seemingly insignificant particle of the earth. The ugly filth that stains the feet. Dust is dirty, it is dirt really. This is what the LORD God choose to make man out of. And a song comes to mind,

"You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust."

God chose this ugly, this dirty, this insignificant thing that I hardly give a thought to except when there is the bothersome duty of removing it, God took it and made out of it a beautiful creature, he called that creature good and breathed the breath of life into his frame. But the part that encourages me the most was brought to mind as I thought of the next phrase of the song,

"You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us."

Because I am that seemingly insignificant human, who has dirt and stains and scars. No matter how hard I try, I can't make them go away. I cannot make myself beautiful. But God has chosen to make me beautiful. He has chosen to take my messiness and create out of it something beautiful. Like the dust, dead and lifeless, he has chosen to breathe into me the breath of life.

"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust."

He knows that I am weak. And he is not this God who is looking down on me and wondering, shaking his head at the fact that all the time I fail. And yes I fail, again and again. But he knows that I am weak and he does not condemn me for it. I am the one who condemns myself for being weak, I am the one who has difficulty trusting him to make a beautiful thing out of me, so just in case, I try to do it myself. I like to think that i can, somehow i think that i am trustworthy more than God to do this work. This is a silly thing to do, because can dust make itself beautiful? Can dust breath on its own?

But no, as God created something beautiful out of dust, he is creating something beautiful out of us. I must rest that he is making a beautiful thing. It is his breath giving me life, and nothing out of my own strength.

"All this pain, I wonder if I'll ever find my way. I wonder if my life could really change, at all. All this earth, could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come up from this ground at all?"

"You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us."

-Gungor "Beautiful Things"

To practically apply this verse, I will worship to this song

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Psalms 13:5-6 "But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt abundantly with me."

I love the rawness of the Psalms. The heartfelt, honest prayers of the Psalmist, pouring his heart to God. The Psalm begins as the Psalmist desparatly cries out asking,

"How long O LORD will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me. How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow to my heart all the day? How long shall my enemies be exalted over me?"

So often, when circumstances seem bleak, it is easy to wonder, where is the Lord? Why hasn't he come and saved the day by now? Where is victory? How long will it be before my enemies are silented? Situations and feelings threaten to defeat and discourage. Maybe we don't see the Lord work in the way we think he should.

These same feelings seem to bombard the mind of the one who wrote this Psalm. Although instead of harboring these questions, letting doubt eat away at his mind, he brings them honestly before the Lord. And then he remembers the character of the Lord, "But if have trusted in your steadfast love..." He is reminded of the love of the Lord. Whatever he is dealing with may seem out of control. It may seem like the Lord is hiding, is not showing his face. But there is his unfailing love. That love that i can go back to, that i can trust and rest in, even when I don't understand.

The Psalmist chooses also to give thanks. To rejoice because of his salvation. To sing because of the abundance of his blessings. Situations tempt to change our view of God, but he does not change. He is always good. He always loves me.

I must choose, in the good and the bad, to recognize God's goodness and his consistent love. His character is not transient like circumstances are, no, it is steadfast. As Roy Hession pointed out to me ("The Bumps Are What You Climb On"), when I have faith in the God who is love, I will be able to give thanks, even in what may seem like a difficulty.

To practically apply this verse, I will begin, on a sheet on my wall, a list of blessings he has abundantly given.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Psalms 5:11 "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult you."

In the two verses before this one I find David asking God for justice on his enemies. Asking him to "make them bear their guilt" because their transgressions are many, they have lying mouths and destructive hearts. They have rebelled against God and deserve no good.

Without fully comprehending these verses, a part of me cringes. The justice of God is a sobering realization. Condemnation will whisper, telling me to look at all myself and my multitude of sins. Sins that deserve nothing less than what these evil men deserve. Yes, their judgement is fair.

But. The chapter does not continue to tell me that, those who are good enough, those who have no transgressions, these are the ones blessed of the Lord. No it says, "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice." All who take refuge. It's like this cover of protection, for surely I deserve the wrath of God. I dont deserve redemption, peace with God. I dont deserve him. But Jesus covered me with himself, a place of refuge. As I look out the window of this refuge, the judgement for my sins still rains down around, but it cannot touch me because Christ is covering me, and he is bearing it. There is my sin and all I deserve. But there is this beautiful refuge of grace.

Justice is a sobering thought without seeing his great love. Verse 7 comforts me also. "But I, through the abundance of your love, will enter your house..." Again right before this verse, a picture of all who cannot stand before God, the wicked, boastful, evil doers, liars, bloodthirsty,  deceitful. How will I ever stand before God? "But...through the abundance of your love." Nothing of me, like, through the abundance of my goodness. No, only through his love.

I try, oh I love to try to conjur up something of myself to fix myself, to make myself more worthy. But I hopelessly despair. The reality is that, the only rest that there is lies in that shelter, that refuge of grace which is Him. This refuge of grace doesn't require any goodness, of which I am so painfully lacking, to enter. It only bids that i come and in it find shelter.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

In the earlier part of the chapter Paul tells of visions and revelations that he has been allowed to witness. Things so surpassingly great, 'things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.' And thorn was given to Paul to keep him humble, because the privledge of these visions, the amazing experience of them was a temptation for conceit. However this thorn he was given looked, I do not know, but Paul wanted the thorn to be taken, he asked the Lord several times that it would be removed. Yet the Lord did not remove the thorn, He only revealed himself as enough.

The Lord didn't allow Paul to have it all together. He allowed this thorn to remain so that Paul would keep coming back to Him, looking to Him in dependance. How much like Paul am I. I may long for and desire that he would just take this away, just change this. Just take away my desire to sin in the first place! But no, he does not promise to just give me the easy way. He allows these hard things that painfully show my insufficiency, so that I am forced to look outside of myself, to Him, Jehovah, Great I AM.

"...we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us..." (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

How freeing it is that the Lord uses weak creatures! The hopelessness and despair comes when I try to be that which I am not: strong and able to carry myself. Like Roy Hession pointed out to me in his book "We Would See Jesus," I love to try to climb the wall when all Jesus asks me to do is go through the door, himself. I love to try in my own power to work for something that he has already accomplished. I try to improve myself by myself, and utterly fail. If only I can admit my nothingness, my inability, he is there waiting to fill with himself, He IS everything I need.

To practically apply this verse, I will write out some ways in my life where I see need and weakness. I will admit to Jesus my nothingness to fill these places, asking him to fill them with himself.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Matthew 6:5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synoguogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

The hypocrites, they pray to be seen. He seeks an audience when he speaks to God. This act of godliness looks pure on the outside but the motive of the heart is far from the words. The words may praise God but the heart is seeking only for his own praise. Their heart is far from true worship to God, true humility before him. And their reward has no more depth than their prayer.

The next verse exemplifies how we are to pray instead. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6).

I don't think that the proper application of this verse is to never pray in front of others. But it is defiantly an exhortation to check the motives before prayer. Doing to be seen by others is hypocrisy, as it is praising God with the mouth, but the heart being far from him. When I worship or pray with other beleivers I need to focus on God and not be self conscious of the others around me. I dont need to be so careful to use nice words and language, all that needs to be said are words of sincerity from the heart.

This sincere prayer, when the consciousness of God is on the fore front of the mind even when praying in front of man, will come easily when praying in private is already a habit. When I regularly take time to go by myself and pray, my motive will not be so tainted by man's approval and I will be able to pray sincerly from the heart.

I desire to apply this personally next time I pray in front of others by being intentional about keeping the consciousness of a God on my mind instead of the people I am praying in front of.
Matthew 6:4 "so that your giving may be in secret. Then your heavenly Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

My Father will reward me. It will not be other man. When I look for man's approval, or broadcast what I've done, it's like acting like the Lord's opinion or waiting for the Lord's heavenly reward are not worth it.

The confirmation of the Lord, the Lord approving me. I must change my hunger and desire for man's approval, desire to please people, into a hunger and desire for the Lord to confirm  me. He is my reward. Why is it difficult to do this? I do try to please God, but I am realizing that often it is more of a desire to appease God. When I see myself so sinful, I try hard to put it right before him because I know that he doesn't like sin. But often I lack that simple desire to please him just because of the grace he has given to me. I suppose it all goes back to living in grace. I do not need to try to appease God, Christ has already done this for me. And it is because of grace that he has because I have absolutely no thing in me that could in any way appease for any of my sin, only in claiming the blood of Christ, can I be set right before God.

The character of the Lord is loving or else he would not have provided the appeasement for sin and he is the giver of grace because he knows we are weak. I do not have to try to appease God, this is what Christ has done, all that is for me to do is live in his grace, my desire to please him extending from the realization of his grace.

"...The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gain through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:20-20)

Like Paul, I too do not wish to set aside the grace of God and enslave myself to the letter of the law. He has been so faithful in revealing his grace to me, and I will continue in my prayer for fresh realizations of grace.
Matthew 6:3  "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,"

A heart that is truly serving the Lord will embrace this anonymity. Good deeds done in secret purify the motives. No longer is there a chance for others to look at them and commend them. The sacrafice is truly made unto the Lord.

Since deciding to come to the IGNITE program I have been blessed in huge ways by people who have chosen to give anonymously. They have sacraficed even the desire to be recognized or appreciated by me, the recipient, because their desire was purely to serve the Lord and to bless me. They even forfeit the right of me feeling in a way like I owe them something because of the sacrafice they made, even if all I could give them was a thankyou card.

Because of so many people's generosity, especially the liberal gifts of the anonymous givers, I feel like the best way for me to personally respond in gratitude is to give to others like the gave to me: liberally and anonymously and also to remember that these secret people need to see too how I have been blessed by the money they gave.

Because of so many people's generosity, especially the liberal gifts of the anonymous givers, I feel like the best way for me to personally respond in gratitude is to give to others like the gave to me: liberally and anonymously. Their generosity has inspired me to want to do them same for others. And also I need to  to remember that these secret people need to see too how I have been blessed by the money they gave.
Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synoguogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

The ones who announce their good deeds, who seek glory for themselves, whose goal is the approval of man, these are called hypocrites. A hypocrite does one thing yet is another. I can't help but think of the godless and self seeking men described in the book of Jude: they are shepherds that don't feed the sheep, clouds that don't give rain, trees that don't bear fruit. They look like they are serving Christ but have nothing to show for it. And Jesus describes the Pharisees (Matthew 23) as hyprocties who are like blind guides, white washed tombs, and cups cleaned only on the outside.

And now I see more clearly why Paul says (Galatians 1:10) "...If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." I can look like I'm serving Christ to others but the Lord looks at my heart when I serve him and if I am only serving myself, this is not service to him at all no matter how it may look. And there is no reward for the hypocrite beyond the trite approval of man, the temporary confirmation of self.

This was a convicting verse. I did not see how much hypocrisy there was in looking for man's approval while I am serving God. I cant be looking for both. I cant be serving the Lord and on the side be hoping to gain approval and confirmation from man. Because it is totally a heart matter. And I see it so much in my life.

My application is to go before God in confession and ask him to purify my heart's motives.
Matthew 6:1 "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
This goes back to my motive for service. So often in my selfishness, even acts that seem good, seem like they are dying to self, are really done for an ulterior motive. Maybe I am even subconscience of it but how many times do I secretly hope that my good deed did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This is far from the attitude of the servant in Luke 17 who did his duty without regard to what it personally cost him and didn't even expect a thankyou.

It is clear in this verse that I cannot serve myself and God at the same time. If I relish the approval of man, I will desregard God's. Paul says in Galatians 1, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Is my motive out of gratitude to please the one who I owe everything too? Man's approval is temporary and trite. But approval from God has eternal worth.

I am more naturally a people pleaser. I want to make others happy, I crave their approval. But the Lord's opinion is the only one that counts. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" And later Jesus also says, '"I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"

These verses are heavy. It shows how my true love and service for God will be measured by my love for the least, the very least. The proud one, the one who is looking out for his own reputation will not bend the neck to serve the least. It costs something to serve the least. It costs a lot of ourselves and takes love that can only come from the God of love.

I want the love of the Lord to flow through me so that I will serve him with abandon to all else, including approval from man. Why should I serve the least of these? Because I am the least of these, yet Jesus extended his love and grace to this pitiful, feeble, blind, and wretched human, who was lost yet didn't even know it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Because of the reward, because of eternity Paul does not run without purpose. He is not as one who beats the air, because what is the point of beating the air, it doesn't move or anything. He knows his goal and beats his body, putting it under pain and discipline so that he is in control of it, so that he will qualify for the prize.

A man who runs in a race aimlessly will not subject himself to strict discipline. He may know of the crown that could be gained, but it may seem unfeasible, not worth putting in the effort for. Why does he even bother running then? I suppose that he is just in for the ride, only wants to be a part of the action but not committed enough to run purposely, in pursuit of the gold. He doesn't even dare hope for it, and will never attain the joy that comes in attaining the prize.

Am I in it just to get in on the action or in it to win the prize? Too often I find myself in that trap. Running aimlessly, just in it for the action, along for the ride. Not committed enough to go for the gold, it's not feasible, it's far out of my reach. Even if I might he able to win the prize, it would take way to much effort. Only running to be a part of what's going on, wouldn't want to miss out on anything exciting you know?

When I run like that, half hearted, uncommitted, without purpose, I am totally missing out. Sure, running for the prize means sacrafice, but the reward is so great. Why do I choose to live my faith in this small way, afraid of sacrafice, of putting in too much effort, thinking that the prize is hardly attainable, not worth trying for? I am missing out. No, like Paul, I must beat my body and make it my slave so that I will be qualified to win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:25 "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

Those athletes do not take their training lightly. They make their bodies their slaves. They sacrafice physical comfort, time, energy, certain foods--- no sacrafice is to great--- all for the sake of competing to win the prize. It is their focus, their aim. Their life and daily routine are all centered around this one goal. They put themselves through the pain and perseverance of training because they have a larger aim in mind. These athletes were willing to sacrafice all such comfort in light of the hope of winning the prize.

All that the athlete could gain in running this race is a crown. A moment of glory. Recognition that will probably die before he does. This is his hope. And even though it is finite, it is worth it to him to put his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength into it. But what is my hope? A reward that will last forever. The Savior welcoming me into heaven saying "Well done." Eternal gain. The pain is great but the reward is greater. If this athlete can put all that he is in hope of the possibility of receiving a reward that is temporary, why do I hesitate to put all that I am into gaining a greater reward than this.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, " Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thrives break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Our life here is but a breath. One day I really will stand before God to account for what I have done. One day I really will meet Jesus as I enter into heaven. He has promised in Revelation 22:12, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give everyone according to what he has done." One day I really will be in his presence, worshipping him forever with all people, ever, who have trusted in Christ for salvation.

The athlete's hope is earthly gain, that will not last, that will never satisfy. I have been called to something greater for this life and the next. In application I will begin reading the book of Revelation to remind me of the things that are to come.
1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
I played volleyball during high school and one thing I learned while playing is that you can practice all the time and have a lot of skill, but when it came down to the game, it depended largely on mental discipline. One person's attitude had the power to drag the entire team down. Discouragement could quickly be seen in performance. And when we were defeated in the mind, we were also defeated on the court. If we were facing an opponent and accepted defeat or doubted that the victory would be ours, we would give up far sooner then we would've if we would've played to win. It was important to intentionally prepare our mind before a game.

The same is true in our spiritual race. I can attend church, read the Bible, pray and do all of these "spiritual excercises," but if I do not discipline my mind and decide to run the race with all that I am, I will quickly become discouraged and loose heart. I am not saying that that I shouldn't do these "spiritual excercises" because, like it is in sports, I can discipline my mind all that I want but I will get nowhere if my body has not been discipined. I am only pointing out that the outward discipline must be followed by the mental discipline. When I decide in my mind to run for the prize, my outward actions will follow.

As I am here in training, we are constantly surrounded by excercises to train us. We study the Bible, pray, go to class, attend church bi-weekly, worship, read wholesome books, etc. All of this is important, but will be meaningless if not accompanied by a mental discipline and a decision to run as for the prize. A runner who has the prize in mind is not half hearted, he is devoted and has his eyes fixed on one thing. 

"...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scoring it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3-4).

1 Corinthians 9:22b-23 "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that i may share in its blessings."

This is humility and love in one of its purest forms. Sacraficing ones identity and selfish thoughts for the sake of the gospel. It wasn't enough for Paul to come walking in and claim everything that he did without stooping low to understand. He sacraficed identity and self interest to be able to relate to any person.

I have a friend who had been dealing with a difficult situation in her life, and as I looked on the situation from the outside, I saw how I thought it should be done better. I was quick to pass judgement, and become frustrated with her choices. I was not afraid to tell her what I thought and would give my opinion whether or not it was asked for. What I lacked most of all was compassion. To often I would speak rather than listen and give my opinion rather than try to understand. If I would've always had her best interest in mind I would've stopped talking and started listening because I would've known that she didn't always need another opinion, sometimes all she needed has someone to listen who actually cared, and to often I caused hurt by speaking without trying to understand.

Whether I am entering a new culture or relating to a fellow American, I must listen to truly understand them and how they think to be of any effect in their life. If I come and tell them everything I think and know without truly stopping to listen and to understand their life, I will shut them out. They will see my motives, that i lack compassion and do not truly care for their best interest. Speaking without first listening is dangerous. Words have power to build and to tear down and trying to build without knowing without understanding what you are build is sure to create chaos. Listening just to speak is selfish, but listening to understand allows me to relate on the deepest level.

As I enter a new culture I must bear this in mind and be intentional about observing the culture around me to be able to understand why they are who they are and be willing to sacrafice identity and comfort to relate to their culture. This is exactly what Christ did for me. He became a man, related to my sufferings, died as a perfect sacrafice and is now an intercessor on my behalf.
1 Corinthians 9:22a "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak."
Paul writes in the chapter before, "Be careful, however, that the excercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." (1 Corinthians 8:9) Paul knew in his mind that he had the liberty to eat whatever food he desired whether it had been sacraficed to an idol previously or not. He knew that, " idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one." (1 Corinthians 8:4) Because of this knowledge, Paul reasoned that it did not matter if the food he eat had previously been sacraficed to idols or not.

But on the other hand, Paul knew that there were beleivers with a weaker conscience, ones who were "still so accustomed to idols" (1 Corinthians 8:7) that it convicted their conscience to eat that kind of food. Paul knew that if he excercised his freedom in this way in front of those with a weaker conscience, he would cause them to stumble. And because of the weak conscience of another beleivers, Paul, although he did not compromise his own liberty, was  sensitive to the conviction of others. He desired to "...put up with everything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." (1 Corinthians 9:12).

It is important that I am sensitive to the beliefs and convictions of others. An improper use of the liberty that I have in Christ could ruin my testimony for another. Paul said "...Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthians 8:1) I must not become prideful because of the liberty I know I have in Christ nor must i flaunt it or look down on others who may be weaker but instead, out of love, seek to respect my brother's convictions and build him up. Again Paul said, "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible." (1 Corinthians 9:19).

This verse reinforces the importance of disregarding myself, even the liberty I have in Christ, to promote the gospel in the life of another. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Luke 17:10 "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.'"
Unworthy. Unworthy is a difficult concept. I like to think that I am worthy. I look for things in me that I can bring before God so I feel at least a little deserving of his grace. I look at the law and what it has to offer. If I can measure up to the law then I will be worthy. But as I try the law condemns me time and time again. The weight of its demands is heavy on my back and I try in my own feeble strength to meet its harsh and strict demands. But i cant and fall time and time again into dispair. As I try, in my own power to be worthy, I miss out on the God of love. I miss out on grace.

Because grace, it is also a difficult concept. Because i am so undeserving. When i try to be worthy of it, it pollutes what it is. But when I finally come to the place of realizing that I cant, realizing that I have nothing and am unworthy of what he has to offer, that is when I will see grace in all its beauty and the God of love for who he is. Not as a strict master, ready to condemn, but as a gracious Savior who went to the cross, not to put heavy demands of the law on my shoulders but to set me free.

As a servant, if I served with the motivation of receiving a reward when I am finished or out of the desire to be thanked and recognized, it would imply that i am worthy of something and deserve something for my work. But in realizing that I am an unworthy servant, yet I receive grace upon grace for nothing I have done, my service will become wholehearted thank offerings lifted up to the Lord.

This week the Lord is graciously showing me grace, that I am unworthy of his love yet he extends it anyway. "For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace." (John 1:16). I will spend time writing about the grace he has shown me this week.
Luke 17:9 "Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?"
Thankyou implies I recognize that you did that and I appreciate it. If I do something, perhaps something that I didn't have to do but did anyway, I expect at least for the recipient to say thankyou and if I don't get that word of recognition, I may perhaps feel a little bit slighted because they didn't recognize or appreciate me or my efforts.

But this not what the servant in this passage expects. He does not even expect to be thanked. He does not selfishly demand recognition for the long hours he has faithfully worked in the field or for serving dinner at the end of the day even after long hours of work. He does not demand this recognition, He is not owed a thankyou, and he accepts that as he continues to serve his master.

Often I crave recognition when I serve. To often I serve to be seen. I selfishly look for some way to somehow build up myself even through acts of service. Even when doing this seemingly selfless acts of serving, I am still looking for ways to satisfy my selfishness. But as a servant of Christ this recognition should not be my drive. I am nothing and am owed nothing, not even a thankyou. I have already been blessed immeasurably, I should be the one thanking God. In fact, my service should be like a thank offering to God. It should be like, 'God you did this for me so out of gratitude I am going to do this for you.' I would not be expecting even a thank you in return for that would I? No because it is my reasonable service as Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrafices, holy and pleasing to God----this is your spiritual act of worship."

I want his love to be my drive so that I live my life as an offering of thanks for all he has done for me. I want to grasp how  In application I will write out verses reminding me of his love that I can carry with me.
Luke 17:8 "Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'?"

The servant thinks only of his master's will. All day he has been in the fields laboring, working hard. His muscles are tired, sweat drips off of his brow. It is almost dinner time and he feels the pangs of hunger. If it were me, I would grab some already prepared food, and make myself comfortable on the couch for a while. I worked hard so I deserve it right?
But that is not what this servant does. The concerns of the master are his first and foremost interest. After a hard day in the fields he does not consider it his right to quit and take a break but faithfully and dutifully does as the master requests. He is always ready at the master's request to do the master's will.

The analogy of the worm in the book "Calvary Road" (by Roy Hession) comes to mind. A snake will hiss and rear it's head, demanding compliance. But a worm does not resist to whatever may happen to it, whether it's trampled or poked, it is not like the snake who resists and strikes to what it is displeased with. I need to be a worm at the feet of Jesus, in full compliance of whatever he asks of me or does in me. A true disciple of Jesus will deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ. Firstly, I must deny myself. In denying myself, I must act as though myself does not even exist. As a servant and follower of the Lord, there is no room for selfishness if I am to be wholeheartedly devoted to his commands. I must be like this servant who faithfully toiled all day and then came once more before his master to do his will. This servant did not protest to what was being asked of him despite his own desires.

It is so difficult to deny my own desires. But this servant did. He acted like his own hunger and weariness did not exist as he faithfully served his master. In serving my master, I must do the same. It is surrendering my fleshly desires for his lasting fulfillment as Psalm 63:3 says, "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." And Luke 9:24, "For whoever wants to save his life will loose it, but whoever looses his life for me will save it."

Luke 17:7 "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he  say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat?."

As servants we have no rights neither are we entitled to anything. Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrafices, holy and pleasing to God----this is your spiritual act of worship." It is by God's mercy that we are servants at all. Offering our lives in their entirety to be used by God is what is reasonable, what is duly expected. To do otherwise would be to diminish the impact of the cross on our lives.

The servant went to the fields, plowing, watching sheep or whatever was asked of him. He did not do it to try to gain for himself personal pleasures, he did not work hard because he thought he would get a better reward or more favor from the master, no he did it because it was his reasonable duty as a servant.

We are servants of Christ and slaves to righteousness. It is by the mercy of God that we are allowed this priveldge at all. I used to be a slave to sin, in chains to the yoke of sin, but the Lord has called me out of that so "that I might belong to another." (Romans 7:4). But the yoke of Christ is not like the yoke of sin. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30).

In view of the mercies of God, my reasonable act of service is to offer all that I am to be used by him. Not serve him in hopes of winning more of his love-- he already loves me unconditionally. Not serve him in hopes if gaining for myself selfish pleasures, but out of a deep and humble appreciation for the cross.

1 John 4:19 says, "We love because he first loved us." Such as realizatiom will compel love for him because of who he is and what he has done for us.
Luke 17:6 "He replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.'"

Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." And the famous "Chapter of Faith" continues with example after example of one human after another simply taking God at his word and the Lord doing mighty things because of their steadfast belief that God is who he says he is, and that he will do what he said he will do. Moses "persevered because he saw him who is invisible." The walls of Jericho fell because of a simple trust and obedience in God's battle plan. In faith, Abraham submitted to the Lord's command in sacrificing his only son Isaac, knowing that the Lord would keep his promise.

Faith will produce a response. If I am confident in what I hope for and certain of what I do not see I will stand on limbs that I otherwise would not care to stand on of i was not certain of him who will catch me.

I have this picture of myself walking with the Lord. He wants to carry me. I lean on him a little, my arm is over his shoulder, but I struggle along still with my own two feet on the ground. I don't allow him to carry my full weight and still depend on my own strength. It is not easy walking this way. I am treating him like he is weak! I must fling myself in his stable and strongly arms, confident that he will catch me. There I must rest, close to him and completly safe and he will carry me. Psalms 62:11-12 says, "One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving..." He is strong, He is loving, I can trust him.

His promises and character are sure. The man whose son was tormented by an evil spirit implored Jesus saying, "...if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." Jesus responded, "'If you can'? Everything is possible for him who beleives." And the man exclaimed, "I do beleive; help me overcome my unbeleif!" I take comfort that the Lord still helped the son of this father who I can greatly relate to. Of course Jesus can do the things that I ask of him, why then do I ask him in doubt. Everything is possible for him who puts his trust in the character and word of God. My application is to read Romans 8 and write the promises that i can cling to in faith as a child of God.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Acts 2:46-47 "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
They met together in public, they met together in private. They ate together, their hearts were one in sincerity m gladness, praising God. This verse shows how daily they were intentional in their devotion to the fellowship. They meet daily to seek the Lord together and edify each other. Even simple things such as breaking bread were done together. Even their attitude was unified as they gave glory and praise to God from zoner hearts. The power of community is evident in their lives.

The community holds power in accountability. Isolation from the body is an easy place to hide sin and let it dwell. When I am struggling with something, the enemy can really use that to isolate me from the body, to have me withdraw in shame and to feel like nobody will understand what I am going through.

The community holds power in spurring one another on. I need to be constantly reminded of my purpose, or else I forget, I get distracted, I loose zeal. That is why the community of beleivers is so important. That is why as beleivers, we must continually come together for edification, to make sure everyone is on the same page. There is accountability in the body. Seeing others who live out what they beleive, inspire me to do the same.

The community holds power in likemindedness. As they continually met together they were of one heart, glad and sincere. Together they praised God. Attitude is contagious.

Finally, the power of community was seen from the outside and many came to know Christ. In John 17, Jesus prays for the beleivers and says, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Often I go throughout my daily life, forgetting the power of the community of beleivers I am surrounded with. Since we have the same purpose we must learn to work together to accomplish those purposes. Why do I focus to much on the differances I have with fellow beleivers rather than the common goal and purpose? Here I am surrounded by an awesome community of beleivers. I desire to take advantage of that more, by being more open about my struggles and looking for ways to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24) I want to ask my teammates for ways I can pray for them and faithfully lift them up in prayer.
Acts 2:45 "Selling their possesions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."
Here we see such unity in this new body of beleivers. They sacraficed what they had to meet the needs of others. Two chapters later in Acts 4 it says, "All the beleivers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possesions was his own, but they shared everything they had... There were no needy persons among them."

Being one in heart and mind, they were sensitive to the needs of others. They did not count their own desires and wants as important, but sacraficed so that others would not be in need. In this specific chapter in Acts, we see the ones whom God had blessed with possesions giving them up to bless those who were in need.

The Lord gave everyone in the body gifts to be used to edify the body, and if all the gifts are used appropriately, nobody will be lacking. The Lord has given me gifts to be used to build up my brother were he may fall short. If I do not use these gifts that i have been given to edify others, I am not being sensative to the needs of the body. I am not working toward the fellowship of unity and interdependence on one another. Likewise when I have need, I must be willing to allow others to help.

This is unity in the body. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I am not always sensative to the needs of others. Sometimes it is because I do not take the effort to observe the needs around me, other times it is just out of complacency and selfishness. But as a part of the body I am to look out for, to feel the needs of others and to come to their aid when I have the means.

In application I will write out three ways in which I can use the gifts I have been given for the edification of the body and do them.

Acts 2:44 "All the beleivers were together and had everything in common."

It was not about the individual gain, but the common good. They did not count anything their own. One body, one purpose.

Ephesians 4:3-5 says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit---- just as you were called to one hope when you were called---- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

They shared one body, they shared one Spirit and one Lord. They shared one hope. They shared one faith and one baptism. They shared one God. They had everything in common. No more was it about the individual's edification, but it was about the edification of the body. It was not about exalting oneself higher than another, but it was about looking out for the common good of all.

They had a common goal. That goal was to make disciples of all the nations. As a unit they moved toward this goal. A unit does not allow for one part to only look out for himself, no it is a constant in-pour out-pour system. As one part in-pours to fulfill need, another part is out-pouring to fulfill the need of the first part. In this way, one part of the body, does it need to look out only for himself because he has all the other parts looking out for it.

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:24-25).

It's amazing how much identity I can find in mere things such as my possesions. But as a part of the body of Christ, just as I am not my own, neither are my possesions. Since being in Guatemala, the Lord has taught me that I need to stop clinging to my possesions so tightly. Once he asked me to give up something that I owned, so I did but I almost cried as I felt like my identity was being stripped away. It was all very selfish. But through that he was shown me more how I need to hold my possesions lightly and with an open hand.

In application I want to look for opportunities to refresh others with my things.
Acts 2:43 "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles."
The power of the Holy Spirit. Everyone had just seen his work. Peter was a fisherman, rugged, uneducated, even at times lacking common sense. But they had just seen a radical transformation in this man. He spoke boldly, all understood this Galileen in his native tongue. He proclaimed the name of Christ clearly, his message had powerful impact, and  three thousand were brought to the Lord. Awe fell upon everyone as the Holy Spirit's power was evident. Even signs and miracles were performed.

This kind of power they had not seen. The Holy Spirit so radically enabling. Not only were they devoted together and unified through the apostle's teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer, but in every person, there was an awe of God and of the power of the Holy Spirit.

As beleivers, we need an awe of God as a unifying theme. If my view of God is complacent, how can I expect to see amazing things like the signs and wonders that the apostles did? If my faith, my awe and wonder of God is cold, the results of my life will be cold as well.

Not only will the result of a unified awe of God be a body filled with faith, but it will also keep the attention focused on where it needs to be, God. He will be the focus of our worship, the aim of our lives. As a body our eyes will be fixed outward, on him. With an awe of God, we will, not become selfish creatures, because we will be constantly in worship of who he is, not who we are. An awe of God will erase the selfishness of division. An awe of God will increase our trust in him as it did for the Israelites after they saw they hand of God part the red sea and deliver them from the Egyptians. Exodus 14:31 says, "And when the Israelites saw the great power of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Acts 2:42 "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

Devotion. Apparently little else mattered. The body of the believers had just experienced the powerful filling of the Holy Spirit, their body had just grown by three thousand after Peter' fiery Pentecost sermon. Filled by the Holy Spirit, they devoted themselves to four things: the apostle's teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, prayer. They were fully committed to these things as they dived whole heartedly in.

They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to the fellowship. In Acts 20, Paul speaks to a crowd of believers all night long. The believers in Berea "received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11) Acts 4:32 says that, "All the believers were one in heart and mind." Such was their unity that they didn't count even their possesions as their own. Some even sold land, and brought the money to the apostles.

They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and to prayer. After Peter and John returned from a short imprisonment they meet with the believers and told them what had happenee and Acts 4:2 says that, "When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God." They praised the name of God and implored him to show his power through the apostles. It says that "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Their devotion is significant. They did not just bring in half hearted attempts at doing these things. And look at the results! A body of beleivers, eager to learn, unified to heart and mind. Praying together and seeing the Holy Spirit come boldly. Here in the IGNITE program there is constant opportunity for these things. Nearly everyday we are in class listening to the Word of a God being taught. Our class is together all the time. Communion is served occasionally. We pray before events, go on prayer walks, pray as a group at the closing of the day and pray with our teams. Yes these things surround me and often are required of me but it is up to me to do them with devotion, to go the extra mile, to put my whole heart into it. Half hearted devotion is not really even devotion at all. Half hearted attempts will not produce the fruit that we see in Acts, a unified body of beleivers being filled mightily with the Holy Spirit.

The Lord has been impressing on my heart my need to put all of my heart into whatever I do. Joel 2:12-13 says, "...'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments..." He wants ALL of my heart. He does not want just the outward motions of repentance, but a heart attitude. In application, my goal today is to apply my mind more to whatever we are doing today. I also want to intentionally seek unity by praying for each individual in my class.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Philippians 3:12-13 "Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead."
I am not a runner, so when I do run its sometimes really tempting to quit, especially while trying to go maybe a little faster or a little longer than before. I feel the pain and i look around and see the distance I have yet to cover. And I have quit before, I've decided, 'OK no more I'm walking, this isn't worth this moment's pain.' But at the end I hate myself for quitting. On the contrary, when I push myself super hard til the very end, even though I might feel like I'm about to pass out, I feel accomplished.

I love these verses because in the race of life, quitting, easing up, settling is at times a tempting option. Looking around and seeing the serious pain that it took only to make a little progress can quickly discourage. But that is because I start looking around. That is where I need to take my eyes off of the situation and the pain and on to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Is is about a matter of focus which gives me the strength to press on. 'Press on' tells me 'yeah you feel tired, you feel stuck, you feel like you cant, ok, just put one foot in front of the other, just move forward.' 'Press on' acknowledges the difficulties, but does allow just sitting in them.

"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1) "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:4) "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

"When Esther's words were reported back to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: 'Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to and royal position for such a time as this?'" (Esther 4:12-14)

Like Esther I have been called to such a time as this, only this time does not need me and if I choose not to grasp it, the Lord's purposes will still be accomplished but it will very much be to my loss. I want to take hold of the purpose for which Christ took hold of me. I have not yet obtained but still I must press on. How can I take hold of my purpose? For starters, it's taking hold of the day, seeking Christ, living it to its fullest and finding joy in putting all my heart in what I'm doing.
Philippians 3:11 "and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

In Christ's death I see humiliation as he counted himself nothing putting himself a victim before man. Stripped of dignity. In humility not retaliating or using his power for his advantage, a plea with the Father to change his plan but a quiet submissiveness as he carried his cross up the hill to where he would be put to death. I see intense physical pain, I see him, hung up on his cross, exposed for all to see and mock. And then finally, when all this suffering had climaxed, his death. His followers looked on at what they thought was the end. There was Jesus, hung on a cross, dead and never to live again on this earth.

For three days it seemed like all was lost as he lay there lifeless in the tomb. But on the third, there was life, power, death was defeated and conquered. The war was won, the devil overcome. The death that had bewildered the disciples, leaving them discouraged was not in vain. All of the agony he had suffered and the death he suffered was worth the victory that he won in living.

The death and resurrection of Christ is a promise to me. That in dying to the flesh, I will somehow be given a live a life far greater. The death will not doubt be painful. It will require suffering and humiliaiton. It will strip of of the dignity I try to save. I will cry out to God asking him if there must not be another way, but it will require me, in submission, to pick up my cross and carry up the hill to where my flesh will be crucified, exposed in all of its ugliness for all to see. In the moment it may seem that when death comes all is lost, because this flesh, it is all I have ever known. But there is the promise of life. This death will not be in vain. And we can be assured, as the disciples were not, that the death not the miserable end, no it is only the passageway into a far greater life.

"Now if we died with Christ, we beleive that we will also live with him." (Romans 6:8) Psalm 126:5-6 encourages, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him."

I want to grasp more the promise of the life that death brings. Jesus asks me to give something up, and I hesitate, 'no I'll keep it I think.' And then he makes me miserable in that sin. He shows me how it is a lie, he exposes the prison that it is confining me in, until I finally hate it is well and want to be rid of it because I see the life that is far better outside of those bars. My flesh is like the ring that Gollum would not give up. It destroyed him and made him a miserable, selfish, ugly, pitiful, and wretched creature. The ring consumed his thoughts, it became his identity. Gollums bondage to the ring controlled his life and drove him to his downfall. Such is sin. And we have the power to be rid it and the promise of a far greater blessing.

In application I want to take to meditate and write about how personally I have gained life through death and exort myself to continue forward to remind me that it is worth it.

Philippians 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
Paul wanted to know Christ. Not just to know about him, not just of him, holding him at a distance, having only a taste of who Christ was. No, he wanted to know him, deeply and intimatly, drawing from his source of power, even relating to him in his suffering.

The power of the resurrection of Christ. In Ephesians 1 Paul said, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know... his incomparably great power for us who beleive. That power is like the working of his mighty stength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead..." This same power that raised Christ from the dead is made available to me because of Christ. But how often my eyes are blind to this power and I leave it unused, untapped. Then quit, drained, discouraged, and defeated because I tried through my weakness to win the battle, overcome, through off the weight, myself, through my own strength which is nothing. Like the Israelites, who by trusting in the strength of God, managed to defeat the great city of Jericho, but when faced with the little city of Ai, went on their own power and suffered a miserable defeat. Oh the victory that comes in admitting inablity, surrendering to his easy yoke, and finally tapping into the power that is in Christ. This is the same power that raised him from the dead, how much will it also give us victory over death.

Sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Paul wanted to know Christ to the point that he was willing to put himself through trials in order to experience the sweet fellowship of being able to relate to Christ and his sufferings. When going through a difficult time, there are often people there who are willing to sympathize with what is happening. But that sympathy is nothing compared to having someone come alongside who has experienced the same thing because they know. They are able to relate on a deeper level because they understand, they have experienced exactly the same thing. The level of fellowship is so much deeper and so much sweeter, because each side can relate, each side knows what the other is feeling. Paul does not take any hardship into account as long as he can know Christ more. The circumstance didnt matter, only the sweet fellowship with his Savior.

Knowing Jesus is the greatest thing. What God showed me through this is that i have been searching harder after the blessings of Jesus more than the relationship with Jesus himself. I hunger for his peace and love to flow through me, I want his joy and his power and victory to overcome sin. But I have not been seeking as hard after Jesus himself. I want to know Jesus. I want to know his resurrection power and have sweet fellowship with him in suffering. I want to know Jesus personally, intimatly, trusting him, as I would trust a good friend. I love this promise, Hebrews 11:6 which says, "...anyone who comes to him must beleive that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Phillipines 3:9 "and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--- the righteousness that comes from  God and is by faith."

Paul had plenty to boast in. He had everything as far as the righteousness of the law was concerned. He was a circumcised Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Pharisee. He had so much zeal for the law that he aided in persecuting the church. He kept the law perfectly. But he gave up all of these statuses willingly to be found in him, to claim his righteousness. He came to the place of seeing these things as nothing that he could bring before God, nothing that he could put his confidence in. And in bringing nothing, he gained everything.

As a human, I long to be of worth, to have something to offer. So, I look around me and in me for something to cling to for identity, hardly being able to fathom that God loves me enough to take from my nothingness and give me something far greater. When I look for something to credit myself with, something to put my confidence in, it is often in disbelief of his goodness and personal love. But no, my righteousness is as filthy rags. There is nothing in my flesh that God looks at with favor. Like Paul, I must come to the place of bringing nothing, counting these things as loss. It is then that he will take my broken emptiness and fill it with his righteousness.

As Jesus said to Paul, so it applies to us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (1 Corinthians 12:9-10).

God can use nothing. He made us out of nothing. When all we bring is nothing, God's power is so evidently seen and glory is brought to him because of our nothingness. It is a trade, counting all things as loss and finding his righteousness, that only is gained when in coming out of faith bringing nothing of ourselves.

Philippians 3:8 "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things, I consider them rubbish, that i may gain Christ."

'It is worth it.' Many times before I have longed for someone to tell me that this was true, to look me in the eyes and implore me with those four words to let go and push ahead. I wanted to know if it was worth it. Because I sat there in the miry clay clinging in frustrated desperation, thinking that somehow this miserable state was better then letting go and pursuing Christ.

Here Paul is, telling me that it is worth it. In fact he says that, compared to the value of knowing Christ, everything else that I must give up has the value of rubbish. Paul's words here are not empty or hypocritical because he lost everything to gain Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul describes the trials he has been through since following Christ. He went through hard work, imprisonment, flogging, severe beating, exposure to death many times. He had been stoned, shipwrecked, and spent a night on the open sea. He was all the time moving around. He faced danger nearly everywhere he went. He faced labor, toil, and lack of sleep. He knew hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness. And then in Philippians, Paul expresses,  it is worth it. It is worth taking on discomfort, pain, constant danger, no place to call home, and hunger--- to gain Christ.

Christ truly is enough. To gain Christ will be to loose everything else, but IT WILL BE WORTH IT. There is so much value in knowing Christ that i don't realize because I still see myself clinging to other things. Everything else is rubbish in comparison. And clinging to rubbish will make me feel like the rubbish itself. Is this desperate state of clinging where the freedom really is? How, as I miserably hold tightly to what I must loose, how can I think that to gain Christ instead will not be worth it. Yes it will be worth it. It is trading rubbish for the immeasurable gain of Christ.

This study has brought to mind something that I had outwardly given up to the Lord, but inwardly I stilled grasped it so in application, I want to bring that before the Lord in prayer. Also I want to make a list of things that I cling to and write next to each one, Christ is enough.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Philippians 2:8 "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--- even death on a cross!"

Such was the humility of Christ that he did not even count his life his own but submitted to death. This wasn't a glorified death nor was it a quick death. No, it was a slow and humiliating death on a cross. He was beaten and mocked, a crown of thorns was scoffingly placed on his head. His broken and bruised body was not able to bear the weight of his cross as he stumbled up the hill to Calvary where nails pounded though hands and feet to the wooden beams and he was left, stripped of dignity to suffocate to his death. He was able to humble himself in this way because of his hope of exaltation by God. Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scoring it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God." And Philippians 2:9 tells that Jesus humbled himself, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place..."

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) As Jesus suffered so are we. Denying, acting as if it does not exist. Picking up my cross and carrying it to the place where I put to death the flesh. But even as it screams in pain, protest, and humiliation, I must leave it there to die. Why would I want to put myself through this painful act of removing, killing the very thing that once controlled my life? The only reason is for the joy that is set before me. The freedom that dying to self and living for Christ carries, the hope of God commending me, the joy of eternity. Jim Elliot said that, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose." Paul said in Philippians 3, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake i have lost all things."Right after Jesus' command to take up our cross he says, "For whoever wants to save his life will loose it, but whoever looses his life for me will find it."
Philippians 2:7 "but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

Instead of grasping his position as God, Christ made himself nothing, took on a servant's nature, became like man. In this way he connected with man. He disregarded his position, comfort, rights and reputation in order to serve and to relate to men. For Christ to have refused to put on one hundred percent of man, he would not have been able to completely relate to the people he came to save. Without experiencing the struggles of man, he could not be an intercessor for them. Without making himself nothing, disregarding himself and his own rights to serve , he would not have been able to show the unconditional and selfless love that drew men to himself. It was in this way that Christ and his salvation plan connected with mankind.

Likewise, I will not be able to effectivly influence fellow humans for Christ without making myself nothing, disregarding position, rights, comfort, and reputation in order to relate to the people that I am trying to serve. I must make my self nothing, dying to the flesh, so that Christ can be all of my strength, so that he can work through me. I must seek to relate, to listen and learn, to understand a person and who they are in order to relate to them on the deepest level and be able to effectively serve them.

When I go to Cambodia in a few months it will be necessary to adopt this strategy in order to effectivly communicate the gospel. As Paul did, I will need to "become all things to all men." But now I am in Guatemala and I have this same opportunity surrounding me everyday. I can seek to relate to those around me whether it be Guatemalan people at Kids club or in town or my own team. To connect with and relate to these people requires sacrafice of myself but it is worth it. I must take time to listen and understand in order to relate and be able to effectivly serve. My goal to apply this is to learn more Spanish and also, when in conversation, to seek more to listen to understand rather than just to listen to respond.

Philippians 2:5-6 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature with God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,"

The creator stooping below the creation. The humility of Christ was so great that in love he did not cling to his position of being God, but stooped to serve man so that they could benefit. Christ came to earth and lived a human life. In order to relate to our weaknesses and become the perfect sacrafice for our sins, he had to become one of us. He cloaked himself in our weak and imperfect human nature in order to be able to intercede for our sin that separated us from God.

But in pride and defiance, we rebelled against him and clung to our lives of sin. Despite this, he humbled himself to our position and served us. He took on the position of man to save us. Yet he was "despised and rejected" by the people he sacrafided his position to serve.

Christ did not grasp his position of God, but in humility and love became a man in order to relate to my weaknesses and intercede on my behalf. He took on my nature to become the perfect sacrafice for sin. In light of this, where do I have room to exalt myself before a brother. He even humbled himself to serve me, in my pride, knowing that I would never realize to the fullest extent what he actually sacraficed. He humbled himself to someone far below himself.

He has asked me to do the same. In John 14, Christ stooped to the position of the lowest servant by washing each of the disciples feet. After performing this act of humility he told his disciples, "...Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a mess anger greater than the one who sent him." (John 13:13-16)

As humans, we tend to look to wealth, or education, or age, or social status to determine our position. While it is not neccasarily wrong to have a position, Christ still had his position as God, we are not to grasp it, cling to it, or take pride in it.  In light of the position that Christ, my Master took to exalt us, I have no place to claim position before my brothers, but ought to humble myself as Christ, who is greater than me, did before me. God himself, in humility, stooped below his position to save me and set me free, how much more ought I to take that place of humiltiy before him and others. This shows how detestable pride is. That i should think myself worthy to claim a position and not humbly serve my brothers after all that Christ let go of to serve an unworthy, unholy creature such as me.
Philippians 2:4 "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

As a body, we are dependant on on another. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'...But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that their should be no division in the body, but that it's parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Corinthians 12:21, 24b-26)

How selfish it would be for me to disconnect myself from the body, thinking, in pride, that i have no need of it. I would surely shrivel up and die. No, the body gives life but it means death to self. Because now, as part of the body, I cannot act on my own. As a body we have one spirit and one purpose and of course we have the responsibility to look out not only for our own interests, but the other member's interests as well because as a unit, their well being is important to the function of the body as a unit. If I think that that i have no need of the body, it won't be important for me to look after their interests. I then will only strive after selfish gain and will in that way disconnect myself from the life that the body gives.

But since, as the Body of Christ, we have one spirit and one purpose. When they suffer, I am to suffer, when they rejoice, I am to rejoice. "Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law if Christ." (Galatians 6:2) "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24)

If we are striving toward the same goal with one mind, there will not be opportunity for selfish ambition or envy within the body because we will be one in spirit and in purpose. We truly will suffer with those who are suffering and rejoice with those who are rejoicing, because their interests are my interests as we seek together towards our goal which is Christ. My application for today is to look for ways to praise God with those who are rejoicing and to bear the burdens of those who are mourning.
Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

I cannot help but think of how CS Lewis said it, "In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that---and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison--- you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (CS Lewis, "Mere Christianity" p.96)

That is in essence what pride is. When we have distorted and exalted our place. And if we refuse to humble ourselves before man, we cannot be humble before God. Just as it happened it Eden, man, in their pride, sought to overrule God. They took the fruit in disobedience because it promised exaltation, that they would be like God. Their lack of humility showed, not only in their relationship to God, but also in their relationship to each other. Neither of them took ownership of the sin, but blamed the other, attempting to in some way exalt themselves while tearing down the other.

The world screams every man for himself, creating chaos and disunity. But we are called to something higher. When we put God in his proper place and realize our undeservedness  of his goodness and grace, we will be compelled to extend the same grace to others, considering then as better than ourselves. In realizing that before God we have no rights, neither will we have any to claim before man.

The verse right before this one sets stage for the humble attitude I am to wear. Philippians 2:2 reads, "...make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." As the body in Christ, we have one purpose, one hope. Our mission is to build the body, not exalt ourselves. That is why there is no room for selfish ambition or vain conceit. Because a body is dependant. A body works together to grow. One part of the body is weak where another part is strong. It is a unit. In pride, I tend to isolate myself from the body, seeking to build myself up through my selfish ambitions and conceit, disconnecting myself from the body and adopting an 'every man for himself' attitude. When I refuse to humble myself, and think of myself to highly, I am forgetting the common purpose with the body of Christ that i am called to work together to fulfill.

This past week the Lord has been revealing to me walls that I have built up in my heart that have been preventing me from greater unity with the body of Christ. In selfishness I have built them. Their purposes of these walls vary, but they are all rooted in one thing: pride. My application is to go before God and meditate on his grace that he has given me although I have nothing to offer and then to bring before him some of these walls that I have built, asking him to remove them.

Friday, August 21, 2015

John 14:19 "Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live."
Christ lives. He died, but he has defeated death and now he lives. Because of this, he has given me power also to live to live a new life.

"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin may be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--- because anyone who died has been free from sin." (Romans 6:5-7)

"For if, by the trespass of one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

The power of the resurrection to live a new life exceeds the power of sin and death that once reigned over me. Because Christ lives, I also can live through sharing in his death. The battle of sin can be won. It is to easy to live like it's not true. To easy to give up battling the flesh and think, 'it can't be won,' then succumb, living in defeat. For too long, I have not claimed the power that is mine to live a victorious life. Because of the resurrection, I do not have to live in the shackles of slavery anymore.

This is the power we have: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart my be enlightened in order that you may know...his incomparably great power for us who beleive. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (Ephesians 1:18-21)

This same power is mine, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. In sharing with his death, I also can live. I must not succumb to sin in defeat, believing that there is not victory. Although it will be painful and hard, there is victory. "He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:4) This is a difficult task to accomplish on my own, in fact it is impossible. But he has called me go it and has not left me without the power to live in victory over sin.
John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Humans were in a state of hopelessness. They failed. Their choices separated them from God and brought the world into bondage to sin. Our sinful nature put a gap between us and God in his holiness and perfection that we could never try to cross on our own. God came to us. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son..." (John 3:16)

I was dead in my transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1), I was shrouded in darkness, enslaved to sin, apart from God. I could never make myself alive by any power that i have, because, being dead, i had none. But God came to me. "But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions..." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

In this passage in John, we see again, man in a helpless position---Jesus, who had just completed this great redemptive work in the history of man, and who would leave the disciples with an enormous mission---to reach every tribe, tongue, people, and nation with this good news, was about to leave the earth. But he promised that he would not leave them alone, he said, "I will come to you." Although not physically, the Holy Spirit would be sent to give them power to complete the mission at hand.

He does not leave us as orphans, left alone, without a Father, he does not look at our helpless state without compassion. He sent his Son to provide a way to be reconciled us to God and drew us out of that dominions of darkness, making us alive in Christ. Now he has sent his Spirit as our Counselor, guiding us into truth, giving us the power to complete the task at hand.

I haven't done anything to provide means to be reconciled to God, neither have done anything to be made alive in Christ. Likewise, I have no power to be "holy and blameless and in his sight" (Ephesians 1:4) which is what I have been chosen for, neither do I have the power to spread the love of God or the gospel. No, he has come and has given me power. He has not meant for me to accomplish this things on my own. James 4:2 says "...You do not have, because you do not ask God." Today i desire to rely more on the Spirit's power but asking him in specific ways for strength for the day instead of going through the day on my own power.