Thursday, May 31, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 151

I asked my men's group this morning to think about defining moments when they made a decision that changed their whole life. It's interesting to revisit those circumstances, situations, and decisions that shape who we are. Some of those are key failures. It hurts to remember those but they did help shape who we are and where we are in life. Some of those are key victories; times when we broke through, or finished, or persevered through a difficult situation. Some of those defining moments are deeply spiritual; times when God spoke to us, showed up in a big way, or taught us something profound. I'd encourage you to revisit some of those things and remember. Don't dwell on the bad ones, but don't avoid them either. Celebrate the good ones!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Esther 6-10

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 150

Our small group was recounting the story of Paul's conversion last night. It was striking how the church struggled to accept him after his attacks on the early Christians. Undoubtedly, they were skeptical of his conversion. They were assuredly frightened by the prospect of this Christian killer. What was he up to? Was his new found faith genuine? Was this some kind of a trap? Unlike many who stayed away from Paul, a brave man named Barnabas stepped in to bridge the gap. He vouched for Paul and helped him find his place in the fellowship of believers.

It made me wonder have we ever been suspect of someone coming into the church? Have you questioned someone's conversion? Ever been skeptical of someone's motives? Most of us could probably answer yes to all of these. It's natural to be skeptical. It's normal to take someone's past into account as you relate to them presently. It might even be wise to proceed cautiously at times. But we never cry foul at who Christ lets into his church. We can't. We must not. My experience is that there are people whose motives are impure and conversions are phony...but they'll get found out. In the mean time you love them, and work for their success...like Barnabas!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Esther 1-5

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 149

Had a great discussion with a young Christian this morning about the body of Christ. We were reading in 1 Corinthians 12 and I was explaining that every Christian is a necessary part of the body of Christ. We're connected. That means two really important things (at least!):
1. We need the other Christians. It's become almost cliche to say "I don't have to go to church to be a Christian." That overused statement is missing the point completely. When you become a Christian, you are the church. You need other Christians because God designed it to be that way. 1 Cor 12 says you need them when you are happy and you need them when you are sad. The church is the other people of faith that you do life with. Sometimes in the church building, and often times out.
2. The other side of that is that other Christians need you! God has made you part of the body...and every body part has a function. What's your function? What do you contribute? What do you do? I know God hasn't created you to sit in the bleachers and watch the team play...you are on the team. You have a job, and other Christians are counting on you.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 10-11

Monday, May 28, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 148

I was just thinking about the meaning of Memorial Day a moment ago. We are remembering brave people who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom. Who else can we think of that sacrificed their life for other people's freedom? Hmmmm....

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 10-11

Sunday, May 27, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 147

After Nehemiah had rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem they had a big ceremony led by Ezra. During that time people were praising God and a group of Levites said this to the people, "Stand up and praise the LORD your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!"Then they continued, "Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say."
What an amazing line of Scripture: Our God is so much greater than we can even "think". It's humbling to realize that our worship is limited by our capacity to understand God's greatness. Our minds literally cannot fathom all that He is! How many times have we given God less than he deserves because our minds can't comprehend his greatness!
Our God is so great we cannot "say" the right words to captures his greatness! It's not a case of being at a loss for words; the words won't come to us later. The words simply don't exist. That's how great our God is.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 8-9

Saturday, May 26, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 146

Faith is something that is builds up over the course of your life in Christ. Heb 11:1-2 says, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." To get that kind of faith we have actually hope that something is going to happen. We need to have a need that we don't know how to meet. These things cause us to rely on God, to wait on God, and to see what happens. When the ending is still uncertain we wrestle with the question, "Do I really believe that God is going to do what he says he's going to do?" Every time we come through one of those situations that requires dependence on God, our faith in increased.

I'm sitting in Shari's about to have a church finance meeting and you know what? They really used to freak me out! But not anymore. I've seen God string together a budget from absolute nothing. I've seen gifts show up that I never saw coming. I've seen financial surprises that could only be attributed to God. I've found faith through the experiences of not now know "what we're going do." And now, at the is point in my life, I welcome those times of uncertainty because I know on the other side of them...and they don't last forever...that we find faith.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 7

Friday, May 25, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 145

Nehemiah was the man! I was reading this morning how the enemies of God's people were trying to call a meeting with him. The meeting was really an ambush, a ruse, to get him away from his work and harm him. They were threatening to tell the king he was a rebel leader, they were hiring false prophets to tell lies. They tried everything they could to sideline him from what God had called him to do. And what was Nehemiah's response to all their efforts? He ignored them. Wouldn't meet with them. Wouldn't stop doing what God had called him to. Wouldn't be frightened by false prophets. He blew them off...and posted guards on around the city. When the enemy tries to dissuade you from doing what God has called you to...what do you do? Love to hear your comments:

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 4-6

Thursday, May 24, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 144

Yesterday day from 8am-3pm was the worst 7 hours I can remember in recent history. I won't go into it. But this morning God's assuring presence was there again to start my day off with hope and promise. I'm often surprised at the great statements of faith and joy that come from biblical authors who were under duress. I was thinking of Lamentations this morning during my quiet time. If you have never read Lamentations you could still guess what it's about. Everything has hit the fan, hope seems lost, the worst case scenario has happened. And yet, in the midst of all that Jeremiah writes,

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning."

That Scripture was lived out in my life today. Praise God for his steadfast love...

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Nehemiah 1-3

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 143

Last night in my life2life group we were looking at the story of debtor who was forgiven his massive debt but a merciful king. We were talking about the story when it dawned on the people in the group that Christ's parable was speaking about us. We are the people who have a massive debt and been forgiven. We are the ones who, without grace, would be groveling and asking for pity. But our King has simply erased the debt of our sin and ordered that we be set free from the sin debt that enslaves us.

While the beginning of that parable is endearing, the end of the story is scandalous. The man who who was forgiven a great debts turns around and denies forgiveness to another man in debt to him. Hypocrite. Weasel. Coward. Selfish. Those are some of the thoughts from the group about such a man. How could someone forgiven for so much feel justified in not forgiving so little?

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Ezra 8-10

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 142

I've been trying to get myself in what I consider to be "good shape" before my upcoming Sabbatical this summer. My favorite exercise is lifting weights at the gym...but my gym membership expired. (Why pay an annual membership fee when I'm leaving town for 2 months right?) My second favorite is cycling which is awesome...except when it rains. Did I mention yesterday it's raining? So my friend has an indoor pool that I decided to use yesterday. Today I can barely move. I thought I was going to swim laps for 30 minutes but gassed out after 15. I am apparently in terrible cardio condition and I'm the only one who didn't know it! Ha!

More importantly, however, is our spiritual shape. What kind of shape are you in spiritually? Are you ready to do battle with the enemy. Ready to go on rescue missions to save captives? Ready to give an answer for the hope you have? Ready to face trials of many kinds? If not, you better get in shape! The early church devoted themselves to four primary things that are a great place to start: apostle teaching (Bible), prayer, fellowship (church), and the breaking of bread (communion). That's a great place to start. Paul reminded Timothy, who must have been one of those young Cross-Fit addicts, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8)

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Ezra 4-7

Monday, May 21, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 141

My fellow Oregonians will agree that we have had unseasonably warm and dry weather the last two weeks. It's been interesting because we don't normally get nice weather until July! People have had the shorts on, we've had to mow the lawn twice a week, and it honestly started feeling like summer. But then it started raining again yesterday. And today it's pouring. And the forecast is rain...until Jesus comes back. (Slight exaggeration) But you know I found myself feeling thankful today. Not for the rain, but for the two full weeks of nice weather. For the chances to go cycling. For the BBQ's with friends. I'm choosing to be thankful for what I've been given instead of pining away over what I'd like to have. I guess the moral of the story today is choose gratitude. Choose to find what is right with your life. If God gives you rain; go dance in the rain.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Ezra 1-3

Sunday, May 20, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 140

Yesterday my friend and I went fishing with the boys while our ladies were off at the women's retreat. We'd never been to this particular place before and had no idea what to expect. As we were stepping out of the car we saw some people getting into their car with a net full of fish. My friend said, "What are you using today?" and they proceeded to give us the low down on where to go, what to try, and what to expect. It dawned on me that this is a perfect picture of what discipleship is.

People that accept Christ for the first time have no frame of reference for what they're about to launch into. Undoubtedly they've heard about Jesus and what he does for them, but they've never been Christians before. They will learn things on their own; some through success and some through failure. But how much better if those who have gone ahead turn back and say, "here's where to go, what to try, and what to expect." If you're new to this thing called Christianity look ahead to those who've been at it a while. If you've been at it a while, look back and help those who have not come as far.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 35-36

Saturday, May 19, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 139

"Nothing can alter the character of God. In the course of a human life, tastes and outlook and temper may change radically: a kin, equable man may turn bitter and crotchety: a man of good-will may grow cynical and callous. But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator" J.I. Packer

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 32-34

Friday, May 18, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 138

In my devotional reading this morning I came across a line in 2 Chronicles 31 that was insightful. Verse 21 says, " In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow the law and the commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful." I was just thinking how true this struck me. Sometimes people abuse these kinds of statements and promise prosperity and success to those who behave themselves. I don't believe in writing checks and expecting God to cash them. But I will say that my life experience (so far) leads me to believe that what was true for Hezekiah is generally true for us. At the very least most of us could testify that things in our life are going better when we're going with God. Success in family, marriage, work, ministry, finances, friendships, work (etc) seems more likely when we bring those areas of our life under God's authority. Love to hear any feedback on this or testimonies!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 28-31

Thursday, May 17, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 137

If you any kind of "Type-A" person...not that I know this from experience...you will have ideas about how things ought to be. And frequently, when things don't go as they ought to...you will be frustrated. You will feel uneasy, annoyed, upset, or frustrated. But here's the thing; the times in life when things go your way are few and far between. If you get undone when things go differently than you'd hoped or planned; you will always be frustrated. And that's no way to live. It's especially not how Christian people should live. So here's a practical suggestion; find what is right with situations,circumstances and people. Some of you are building an argument against this as you read. Stop it! You're finding what is wrong. Looking for faults. Poking holes in the argument. Looking for justification to continue being controlling, uptight, and annoying. God certainly knows what is wrong with this world, but he also sees the redeeming qualities in all people and circumstances. As his followers, shouldn't we strive for the same? I challenge anyone who reads this to find something that is good in a situation, circumstance, or person today and post in the comment box.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 25-27

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 136

This section is bonus: We were reading John 11 in our life2life group last night which is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. There are several noteworthy details in that story. My favorite two are as follows. The old King James Bible has Martha warning Jesus not to open the tomb. She says, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." The word stinketh is hilarious! I also think it's amusing how Lazarus exits the tomb. He's been wrapped in burial cloth and when he exits the tomb he needs help. I've always pictured him hopping out, mumbling unintelligible words. Flailing about. The crowd is so overwhelmed by what they are seeing that no one thinks to help the poor guy. He's just come back from the dead after all! So Jesus says, "Unwrap him and let him go!” This is also the passage that records that famous line, "Jesus wept." It's also the place where Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life." John 11 is an amazing story, but none of these things are what hit me last night.

As I was reading with my group I realized that two people who are normally remembered for a lack of faith...demonstrate faith! Martha was the woman obsessed with her domestic duties on one occasion. She was so infuriated by her sister that she breaks into Jesus' study and gets a rebukes from the man himself. We associate Martha with missing the point. But in John 11 Martha is the one who says, "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Faith!

Similarly, we associate Thomas with doubts. He wanted to see the resurrected Christ before he'd believe it for himself. "Don't be a doubting Thomas," people say. But, when they were heading back to the place where Jesus had almost been killed Thomas said, "Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus." Thomas was ready that day to follow Jesus wherever it led. Even to death. It goes to show that no one is always faithful and no one is always faithless. There are days when we are ready to die for Jesus and days when we're wrestling with what to believe. There are ups and downs in the faith. They are normal. They hit us all at times. So don't be frustrated when you're struggling with a doubt or get sidetracked. And don't be cocky when you're on the mountain top of your faith journey. Take the good with the bad and keep moving forward. And try not to stinketh!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 21-24

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 135

I heard someone describe the encounter of Nicodemus and Jesus as "Nick at Night". I thought that was pretty clever. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, under cover of darkness, when no one could see. At least that's what we presume. Jesus wasn't exactly a recluse, so why come at night? We can only speculate but we guess that he was on the fence about what to believe. He wasn't ready to out himself as a follower of Jesus but he was ready to get more information. He couldn't resist learning more about this man called Jesus. I wonder about this. Do people know that we are followers of Jesus? Have we ever been "caught" living for Jesus? Or, are we those "Nick at Night" disciples who are curious about Jesus, but not ready to claim him publicly? Whatever the case you should read Christ's famous response to this man's questions; the upside of discipleship is amazing, but the downside is hell.

John 3:16-21 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (NLT)

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 18-20

Monday, May 14, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 134

This morning I got up early and immediately turned my thoughts to my huge list of things to get done. It's Monday after all, and I have a whole week's work of stuff to check off the list. But as I started to plot the destruction of my checklist, I remembered that my life cannot be lived one checklist at a time. I mean, it could, but I don't want it to be. I want to live a life that is fed by the Spirit of God. And when I get into checklist mode it's hard to hear the Spirit's voice. So today I began the day by going on a walk and praying. And listening. And being thankful. It doesn't matter what the rest of the day throws at me, I'm grounded in my faith, my heart is settled, my worries relinquished, and my soul satisfied. Now I can hit the checklist. Charge!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 13-17

Sunday, May 13, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 133

Growing up I have many fond memories of my mother. Of all the things I could tell you about her there is one that stands most firmly in my mind. When I would come upstairs for breakfast she was often sitting there on the couch reading her Bible. It was early, everyone was tired, there were many things to do...but my mom was taking time to read the Bible. Thanks Mom for the great example of faith and dedication to Christ. And yes...I read my Bible this morning!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 9-12

Saturday, May 12, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 132

I have gotten comments over the years about my habit not to preach on the subject of moms on Mother's Day. Some people must think I'm "anti-mothers" apparently. If that's true I must also be "anti-fathers" because I don't preach about dads on Father's Day either! I love my mother dearly, and think that she and my wife are the best mothers I know! I realize that most of you will disagree in deference to your OWN mother!

I was surprised to discover that a woman named Julia Ward Howe was the original founder of Mother's Day. In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War Howe championed this day as a gesture of pacifism. Ironically, she is best know for writing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Lay down your arms for your mothers boys...and pick up the battle cry of God! Howe was reportedly dismayed over the way Mother's Day was commercialized and exploited. It's started as a simple gesture and became a cash cow. And that's why I don't preach about moms at Mothers Day. It's not a Holy Day, it's a Hallmark Day. I do however pray a prayer of blessing for the mothers, call my own, and cook for my wife. And I was thinking about singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as a special blessing for the moms at my church! Not.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 6-8

Friday, May 11, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 131

Last night we had fun. I was irresponsible and took the family out to dinner...but I don't regret it. We found the motor home we're taking on Sabbatical and drove it around the block several times to see how it rides. We at dessert...yes I know; on a school night? We stayed up too late, skipped chores, and had an all around good time. I for the first time in a few months I felt like the dad I want to be. Fun, impulsive, silly, generous, and loving. I'm not usually the opposite of all that, but sometimes the monotony sucks the joy out of life. I want to enjoy my kids and family more often and not just "survive". I'm ready for the sabbatical, and feeling blessed that I've got a family who actually wants to spend some extended time together. Thanks Father.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 2-5

Thursday, May 10, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 130

I catch myself feeling hurried sometimes and wonder what the hurry is. I realize there are times when we need to hustle up and get something done, and there are other times when can take our time. The problem with our society's pace, as I see it, is we have no sense of balance. We hurry all the time. We design devices to help us hurry. We hurry our food, hurry our drive, hurry our devotions, hurry our kids around. Then, in the rare instance when we aren't hurrying, we collapse. I think of Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes where he asks, "What does man get for all his anxious striving?" In other words..."why do we live like this? What the point? How's that working?" My challenge today is for you to slow down. Enjoy the people around you. Take in the scenery. Pause for a moment and appreciate your food. Give some thought to the people around you. Pet your dog, smell the flowers,let the phone ring, say a longer dinner prayer...just slow down!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 28-2 Chronicles 1

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 129

Last night our life2life group was looking through John 14 where Jesus talks about "preparing a place for us." The greatest thing about that place of course is that we will be with him there. I asked the group what they thought they'd say to Jesus when they first see him in heaven. That turned out to be an interesting question. Some said they thought they say nothing. Some thought they might be afraid. Some had specific questions they'd like to ask. One woman said she'd ask to see her two babies that miscarried. The newest Christian in the group said that she'd say, "thank you." That somehow seemed the most appropriate to me. Thank you Jesus for preparing a place for us to be with you...forever.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 25-27

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 128

Yesterday was a good day. One of those, "nothing is wrong" kinda days. I worked a million hours Saturday and Sunday so I took Monday morning easy. Went on a nice walk with a co-worker and discussed some good stuff. Had a happy upbeat lunch with my staff. Went on an awesome 20 mile bike ride in the sun. Got to lead worship with my daughter for Celebrate Recovery. And finished the day with my family chilling at home. When I was thinking about how good my day was going I was reminded...everything good is a gift from God. James 1:17 says, "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." Though we talk to God a lot when we're having bad days, remember to stop and thank him when you're having a good one. Now go have a good day!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 22-24

Monday, May 7, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 127

Last night we were holding an auction to raise money for youth and children's camps. During the live dessert auction a cherry pie came up and I wanted it bad! The lady who makes them is known for her delicious pies and I was hoping to get one. I'd set a financial limit for myself and the bidding quickly surpassed what I'd hoped to spend. I was disappointed about the pie but happy that it sold for over $50. I clapped when the auctioneer said, "sold" and thought "maybe next year". Then something surprising happened. That pie was brought over to my table by one of the runners. The person who'd overpaid for a delicious pie, beaten all the other bidders, gave it away to me. (Thanks Alicia it was delicious!) I barely know this lady, but I know why she did that. She was showing kindness through her generosity because she wanted to.

Isn't that the story of Jesus Christ? What we all want in life (freedom from our own sins, insecurities, and shortcomings) is to high a cost for us to pay. Many resign themselves to never having the abundant life because they haven't found it on their own. But someone else paid way too high a price for that freedom, and then gave it away to everyone else. And He did it because he wanted to. He showed us the ultimate kindness through his ultimate generosity because he loves us. While we were on the auction block being sold to sin, he paid the price. So praise God for Jesus Christ...and cherry pie.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 18-21

Sunday, May 6, 2012

HE MUST INCREASE - DAY 126

R.C. Sproul once said, "“If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. No part of the world is outside of His lordship. That means that no part of my life must be outside of His lordship.”
I was wondering how many parts of my life are kept safely outside of his Lordship? Obviously, all of who are Christians have some areas of our lives we've submitted to him; but is it possible that we strongholds in our heart where we don't allow God's truth to penetrate? There must be. Is God Lord of you kids? Your wallet? Your TV remote? Is he Lord of how much you eat? Is He Lord of how much you drink? Is God Lord over your thought life? Is he the Lord of you life? After just that short list you're probably thinking "not all of it". But the good news is that you are in the process of being sanctified. You were saved on the day that you place your faith in Christ, but you began the sanctification process that day as well. You are in the process of bringing every part of your life under the Lordship of Christ. God's Spirit will reveal those rebel strong holds, and as we become aware of them we must wave the white flag of surrender. We must bringing those areas under the authority of God, the teaching of Scripture, and the accountability of the church. And about the time you feel victorious in breaking a rebel stronghold in your heart...God will show you another one! But take heart, he isn't picking on you, pointing at you, or angry at you. He love you enough to help you sort through the things that are out of place for a man or woman of God.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 15-17

Saturday, May 5, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 125

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Marvel's new "Avengers" movie and it was spectacular. There was the usual amount of action, comic relief, amazing special effects, and a cameo by Stan Lee! There was scene that really gripped me. The super villain Loki (Norse mythological god)corrals a group of people and makes them bow down to him. He says something like this to them, "Humans were made for subjugation".

My initial response to that was to think "no way punk!" But as I sat there I realized he was exactly right. All people on planet earth are under some kind of subjugation. Oh, they'd argue with you about it....but it's true. We are meant to live our lives in submission to the gracious God of Heaven. He is the source of life, kindness, love, and blessings. We are meant to bow a knee to this Heavenly Father; designed to live under his benevolent rule. But many defy his rule in favor of their own. Ironically, being free from God, or even the belief in God, leads people under a different subjugation. Their freedom from God, enslaves them to their own sin, and ultimately they live with a defiant knee bowed to an invisible and merciless being. While one Master gives eternal life and freedom from bondage; the other promises to bring destruction upon you when his own ships goes down. Life or death. Freedom or bondage. Kindness or cruelty. There is no middle ground, or third option. Loki was right; human are made for subjugation." But which master you subject yourself to is your choice.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 12-14

Friday, May 4, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 124

Today. My head hurts. A friend is moving away. It's raining. It's my day off and I have a ton of work to do. A pastor friend of mine got fired. It's rainy. I need to exercise but I'd rather over eat. The grass needs mowing...but did I mention it's raining?

It could be worse. I could have chronic migraines like some friends I know. I could be the one who had to move. I could have no job, and nothing to do. It could be hailing! I could be one of the millions of people who don't have the luxury of overeating and who don't exercise because their job is physical enough. I could be without a home or lawn to mow. I could be outside in the rain instead of inside writing a blog. Remember that no matter how life seems...it could be worse; and then thank God it's not.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 9-11

Thursday, May 3, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 123

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Our church leadership challenged the people to pray from midnight Wed through midnight Thursday. Each person commits to pray for 1 hour at the church building or at home for our church, our leadership, our missionaries, and the community. It was humbling to know that people were praying while I was sleeping and they'll still be praying when I go to bed this evening. People were standing on the stage praying for the worship team, they were standing where I preach and praying for me. People were praying over the baptistery asking God to keep those waters stirring. In the lobby, in the sound booth, praying, praying, praying...prayer is our most powerful weapon and yet we struggle to wield it sometimes. Make time today to pray....ask God for his blessing on you, your people, the lost, the hurting, the sick. Pray with your voices and hearts raised to join the millions of other Christians who are praying today. Prayer changes things!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 7-8




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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 122

In sales they talk about "the big ask". The big ask is when you attempt to close the deal. You take the time to share the product information, you answer any questions, and then you ask them if they are going to buy it. You've had sales people ask, "How can I help you drive this home today?" Or, "shall I wrap it up for you?" Or, "are you ready to take one home?" It might seem a little pushy, but those sales people are just doing their jobs. Their job is to sell people on their product. And, unfortunately, sales people sell you on their product whether they believe in the product or not. How much simpler for us?

First of all, we aren't selling the Good News message, we're giving it away. We're working away at the Great Commission, but not getting a commission on the results! Whether people receive it or not is not our responsibility but we are responsible to give them the pitch (the Good News). Many people struggle with that, but the one who do manage to share will often chicken out on the big ask. After sharing the Good News they say something pathetic or weak like this..."I just wanted to share that with you." Or, "pray about this and see what you sense God saying." Why not simply say, "After hearing this message, do you believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior?" (Acts 2) Do you want to make him your Lord and Savior?" Is that such a scary question? They may say "no" or "not yet." They may think you're pushy. But unlike sales people we truly believe in what we're pedaling. Why would we hold back on making the not so big big ask? It could change someone's eternal destination. They have everything to gain, and we have nothing to lose. Don't be afraid to share the simple Good News message...and expect people to respond when you ask them to!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 6

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 121

I've had a couple of opportunities to share the gospel with people and it's refreshing to see people hear the Good News. I think we forget a couple of things about the gospel:
1. The Good News is simple. We don't need a Romans Road, Concordance or video series. Tell people the simple message of Jesus...Acts 2 is a great summary.
2. It's GOOD News. We act apologetic sometimes, or sheepish about it, but why? The Good News is the best news of our lives.
3. It's News. Even though the story isn't new, it is news to many people. Expect for them to react, to have insights, questions, concerns. Expect that they might be excited, nervous, or joyful.

Many Christians feel ill prepared to share the Good News with someone else, but we have to own our part of that particular problem. The Good News is simple, it's good, and it's news to a world lost and dying in sin. So spread it around! (Matt 28:19-20)

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 3-5