Monday, May 31, 2010

Listen for understanding

Listen for understanding
S - Prov 18:13 (NASB)
    "He who gives an answer before he hears,
         It is folly and shame to him. "

O - Good listening for understanding is a critical skill for leaders, Christians, and in general for anyone desiring to respond with wisdom and deepen relationship with other people.   The subtle message in this proverb lies in the verb hears.   I believe the Lord wants us to do more than just give everyone their fair chance to speak their mind, but to really try and listen and hear for understanding what it is they are saying.   A wise man does this, so much so that a wise man's instinct or action is never to give an answer first without asking clarifying question.  So many times when someone is speaking we are itching to respond with a profound answer or solution to their problem.   Notice though that Solomon, whom himself was sought for counsel all the time, realizes is ends up in folly or shame when we just simply answer without really understanding.

A - The application for me is to resist my tendency to want to speak answers into a conversation without completely understanding the full question that is to be answered.  I am to use the tool "action learning" or asking introspective questions to gain further understanding, and then I may if necessary speak truth, experience, and wisdom into a conversation.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would continue to teach, mentor, and guide me to be a Godly listener, and speaker of wisdom and not folly into people's life.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Investing for my children's children

Investing for my children's children
S - Prov 13:22 (NASB)
"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

O - This is a proverb my financial planner has been speaking into my life and to be honest, I haven't completely bought into. I think that is because part of me believes each person should face some struggle on their own and that I want my children to not be given or handed down everything. But then the Holy Spirit touched my heart in a way to give me understanding that one I have received an inheritance that I never earned, and that is salvation, paid for by Christ. The second revealing principle revealed to me is that this is not just a physical or financial inheritance but a legacy in the family. In some families the legacy (inheritance) is violence, alcohol abuse, dependency, etc. God wants me to leave a different inheritance to my children, one that is so rich in depth that it carries on to my children's children.

A - The application for me is to recognize God wants me to leave the inheritance of faith and service to Him and the kingdom, in such a way that it is in the very DNA and character of my grandchildren. That will need to be done by investing in the faith and upbringing of my girls, and investment in their lives, their marriages, and their children's life to pass on the character habits of God's people. Practically this plan needs to be thought out and prayed through to consider the education, finacial, and experiential aspects.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would reveal to me your ways, and your plans for raising my girls in a way which will reach my children's children. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

God's trans formative plan, works all things for good

God's trans formative plan, works all things for good

S- Romans 8: 28-31 (NASB)

28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

O - These verses bring me both comfort, strength, as well as hope for what God is doing in my own life. At times things seem to be going bad, even in ministry work, and then this verse tells me God causes all things to work TOGETHER for GOOD (... especially for those who love God (first commandment) and are call according to His purpose. Wow, that is awesome, knowing that the small and localized defeats God can weave together for his purpose and for overall good; all I need to to do is patiently wait on Him. The second hope in this verse is that for those the God called, and predestined, he justified and will glorify; He does this through verse 29 by helping the individuals become conformed to he image of Christ.

A - I sense this is affirmation of God's plans to transform us (me) his creation from broken and ineffective in His kingdom to restored, justified, and glorified through the transformative process of becoming more and like Jesus. He does this through the process of transforming our character in the process outlined in 2 Cor 1:5-8 "faith, moral excellence, knowing God, self control, patient endurance, godliness, love for other Christians, love for everyone).

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would continue to speak life and truth into my life, and help me continue to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slave of sin to slave of righteousness

Slave of sin to slave of righteousness

S - Romans 6:17-18,22 (NASB)

17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life

O - We are born slaves to sin, but are freed by Christ to be reborn as a new creation, transformed through a process of refining our heart from servant, to shepherd, and ultimately back to that of slave ... but this time a slave to righteousness vice sin. We become enslaved to God vice the world, and when we are at that place we are living a godly and righteous life, the benefit of which is sanctification and an eternal life with the Father.

A - The application for me is one of clarification of the process God has me (us) going through. That progressively he wants to free us from slavery to sin, and transform us to slavery to righteousness. This requires real character development, one that I believe is embodied in 2 Pet 1:5-8 , the progressive habits of effective Christians.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would give me the courage to be transformed completely from slave of sin, to slave of Christ. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tribulations to build character and hope

Tribulations to build character and hope

S - Romans 5:3-5 (NASB) 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

O - Tribulations bring out perseverance, a character habit that I know is important to develop, especially if I want to be effective in the work of the kingdom. What I am encouraged by this verse is the drill down of how tribulations build the character of perseverance (or patient endurance). It does so by showing us proven character, i.e., character that has been tested by circumstances to really test out how much of our character has developed. You see I can change my mind to be a more patient person, but on through trying circumstances will I see the actual change in my character. And the more I see that I am changing (not actually arrived yet) the more hope I will have in what God can actually change in me.

A - The application for me today is to understand that tribulations build perseverance and that while I may not rejoice inside me when they are occuring, my spirit must learn to rejoice and press in on building my endurance to not allow my flesh to respond. For me it is like practicing swimming underwater, the more I practice the long the distances I can swim before needing to get air. Each time I will run out of breadth, but if I practice enough I eventually will be able to swim the length of the pool without breathing, and perhaps even farther.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would continue to grow my patient endurance, revealing in to me the power of tribulations and trust in your power and grace in my life. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Basics of being effective: Love God and steadfastness in Christ

Basics of being effective: Love God and steadfastness in Christ
S - 2 Thes 3:5 (NASB)
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

O - Notice Paul's exhortation to the congregation at Thessalonica, that for the challenges they will surely face, that the Lord would direct there hearts back to love of God, and steadfast service to Christ. These to principles embody the great commandment and the great commission, as Paul directs them back to the basics.

A - The application for me is to recognize that as great of a leaders and evangelist, and Apostle as Paul was his teachings were basic, but profound. To be effective in ministry we must pray for and direct our hearts back to the love of God, and steadfast devotion to what Christ is calling us to do.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Restorative power of confession and transparency

Restorative power of confession and transparency
S - Psalm 32:3-5 (NASB)
3When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD";
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.

O - Confessing our sin is healthy and restorative. Holding on to sin, and burying it deep in our shame and hidden from others ultimately causes us to waste away. David's psalm reminds me of why I continue to want to try and be transparent with others whom I closely trust, and especially with God, in my daily walk with Him. I know that before Christ I held on to all my sins and burderns and carried them on my own, and that eventually the weight of that was to much for my physical body to handle, and it wasted away. Once I confessed my sins, my burdens to God, he began lifting them one by one, and restoring me.

A - The application for me is to continue in the practice of daily confession of sins and trangressions to the Lord, continue to share with those in my close inner circle, the burdens I am struggling with, and trust that through God and the people He has placed in my life. I am also called to be a witness to others whom need to hear this testimony of God's restorative power to those who acknowledge their sin, and do not hide from the Lord.

P - Dear heavenly Father thank you for today's devotion, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would continue your restorative ways in my life, and continue to use me as a witness to the power of transparency and confession of sins, and most importantly your love, grace, and restorative power in our lives. I pray this in Jesus, name, Amen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tithe justice, mercy, and faithfulness

Tithe justice, mercy, and faithfulness
S - Matt 23:23 (NASB)
23"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
O - I know Jesus was talking to the pharisee's here, but even I feel convicted by his words, that though I am a growing and faithful Christian who has learned the joy of tithing 10% of my income to the Lord, but do I often neglect the offering of justice, mercy, and faithfulness? I think I know the answer is yes, that I must offer up these things as well, and often act and feel that these are mine to hold on to and give as I choose, rather than seeing them from God's perspective, and realizing I must be willing to tithe them to the Lord for his use.

A- The application for me seems a little mechanical and calculated but that only appeals to the engineer in me. I need to set aside 10 % of myself that I allow God to use for whatever and wherever he wants to apply justice, mercy, and faithfulness, regardless of my feelings or inclinations. Practically I will do this by listening/seeking he voice throughout the day. Here is how it might look in each of the areas:

Justice - I might see someone at church doing an unjust act to someone else (gossip, mistreatment, harsh words, unloving acts, etc) and I must listen for God's voice on when to speak up on his behalf, even when unpopular. Much like Nathan, had the courage to speak truth and justice to David, after he had Bathsheba's husband unjustly killed in a battle, I must have the courage to carry out justice, even if it is to authority above me.

Mercy - Juxtaposing that I must seek the Lord's will to apply mercy and grace over a situation or a person, especially when an injustice may have been done against me and my flesh wishes to seek justice, I must be sure to be willing to submit my rights to the Lord as a tithe, and allow His mercy to flow through my words and actions.

Faithfulness - This one is all on me, I must be willing to be faithful to the Lord even when I don't feel like it. I know I get discouraged when I feel I have done my part and things don't work out, especially in ministry, but the Lord is asking me to be faithful in these times, because it is easy to be faithful in times of abundance and wealth, but neglect faithfulness in times of trial and scarcity. I must be willing to be faithful especially in these times.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your word, and your lesson today, may it be sealed to my heart. Lord I pray you would help me more faithfully apply and live a life of faithfull tithing of justice, mercy and faithfulness. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Realigning your marriage for oneness on the body

Realigning your marriage for oneness on the body

S - Matt 19:4-6 (NASB)

3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"

4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,


6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

O - I need an exhortation to the oneness of my relationship with my wife every now and again. Because just like within myself at time it feels as if there is a war within the oneness of the relationship, the connectedness can feel disconnected. The truth is God has joined my wife and me into one, and given us each a function in that body. The key is to maintain good communication and synchronization between the different parts of this marriage body. This is the challenge that I think most couples struggle to face, they sense that if there is not unity of direction and purpose in the marriage body that the body should be separated , rather than aligned. This is a falsehood, which we can relate to within ourselves. At times our heads desire one thing - good health, fit bodies, and exercise but our body parts feel weary and tired, and desire rest. The battle rages and because we can't align the too we end up not meeting either needs. It is the same for our marriage body, we can think two different priorities are in tension with each other, and that no solution can be found, and therefore we must separate and go our separate ways in order for both needs to be met. God's truth says differently.

A - The application for me is to recognize that I need to align my marital body with a common direction and purpose, one that meets all the needs of the body, without neglecting any one parts needs. Oh there need to be sacrifice, in order to be healthy and fit, the tired body part will have to exercise, and the weary body part will have to be given rest, but the key is to recognize God has brought the body together and when functioning properly (as God designed it to do ) all parts can be healthy and vital and more powerful as a whole than the sum of the individual parts.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord for wisdom and discernment on the area's of my marriage I need to help align and bring back into oneness with the body. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stop... seek God before making leadership decisions

Stop... seek God before making leadership decisions
S- 1 Cor 14:10 (NASB)
10David inquired of God, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? And will You give them into my hand?" Then the LORD said to him, "Go up, for I will give them into your hand."

O - I am so impressed how each and every time David went up against an enemy or faced a challenge he turned toward the Lord. At this point, he had already defeated Goliath, killed bears, lions, survived Saul's attempts to kill him, and been crowned King of all of Israel, and yet he had developed a close relationship and dependence on God and not himself. This is likely my weakness, is that in extreme circumstances I cry out to God for a solution to my problems, when all along I should have simply ask for God's guidance at the beginning , and would have avoided the problem from the start.

A - The application for me is to realize that I need to be the dependent leader David was, and take pause to seek guidance on decisions in which I am going into "battle" against an obstacle I am unsure if I will be successful against. For me, my personality is to see obstacles and want to bulldoze my way through them; however, I must be sure this is God's will and path for dealing with the situation. Like David , I must ask "Lord shall I go up against this ... [obstacle]", and then wait on the Lord's response, and act accordingly.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord you would send your spirit to prompt me when my flesh wants to charge forward and bulldoze, without giving pause to seek your guidance. I thank you for grace, over all my past, and pray for the wisdom to stop and seek you in all things. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.