Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The seed scorched by the sun

S- Mark 4:5-6 NASB

Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil.  And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

O - This is a parable that Jesus was telling to the people,  his disciples included.  Later on in Mark it goes on to explain that Jesus spoke in this parables so that the unbelieving (in Him) could not understand, later he would speak plainly with His disciples (and thus to us).  The seed is the word of God (more specifically the Gospel)  and the plant is Christ growing in peoples hearts.

A -  This seed is one that always troubled in a very personal way.  It represents me in the sense that if my root is not deep enough I tough can be scorched by the sun, or the worries of this world, the heat of the
daily worries of the  world.   It also represents my friends and family members of whom I am unsure of their relationship with Christ.  In almost all cases I am aware that they have been introduced to the Gospel but either it is an inward faith or I suspect when they heard they received and their faith popped up but due to no depth of soil the worries of the world scorched it.   I am particularly mindful of my parents who have told me of their understanding of Christ and his church and at times have leaned in on their faith but the worries of the daily life still consume them.

P - Dear heavenly father,  I pray for wisdom and discernment in this area of understanding my own ability to be scorched by the worries of the world.   Lord help me to shield my heart and fan the growth of Christ in my own heart, as well as understand who I might help others, even those who have already been scorched to replant their seed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hammering your own horn

S- Numbers 10:1-4 NASB

The Lord spoke further to Moses, saying, "Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out. When both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Yet if only one is blown, then the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall assemble before you.

O- The direction God was giving Moses was to create two trumpets to call and communicate with the nation of Israel  when to gather, and who should go.  It is hard for me to imagine what it must have been like to lead thousands of nomadic people in any direction.   Gods plan for Moses and His leaders gave them the answer to this difficult task. These hammered out horns would be very specific to the nation of Israel and would  carry a sound unique to the the hands that built it.   I love the fact that if only one is blown then the leaders assembled.  When both are blown the whole congregation moves.  It seems so simple but God truly knew what it would take to lead this at times surly bunch. 

A -  Pastor Wayne in his book DCAT , describes this process of each church following God first and foremost, but perhaps even gleaning principles from the DCAT book on how to "do" ministry.  However, each should hammer out their own horn.  The scripture and DCAT excerpts point to a few key principles:
1. Each church needs to hammer out their own special call to the people they are called to lead.  We are not to copy someone else's.  Though we can learn the heart and the art,  the hard work of hammering out your unique sound must be done.   God has called each local church to lead a specific flock he has planned for them to shepherd.  The hammering out process is the process you are clarifying who God is calling you to lead.  
2.  The process is to hammer out two trumpets one for the whole congregation and one to call just the leaders.   This is a deep leadership principle I have lived, learned, and observed in great teams.  The leaders know they need to gather, and align their leadership team in order to lead the entire flock.  Without alignment of hearts and minds, the sheep will feel the tension when the entire flock begins to move and leaderships are pointing in different directions. 
The application for me is the same for any team that I lead or coach.  Each is unique and the sound which will draw them in is unique.  The leadership team trumpet is always a key trumpet to hammer out, to move out too fast without this trumpet being loud and clear can lead to chaos and lost sheep.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for today's message may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord you would help  me to apply this principle in leading and coaching the teams that you have me lead, direct me to coach, or simply support.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My good shepherd

S- Psalms 23:5-6 NASB
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

O-Sometimes our souls just need a refreshing and release from all the tension this world places on us.  David in Psalm 23 likens himself to a sheep and say the Lord is my shepherd,   I am comforted by the one who guides and protects me,   he knows me and gives me rest and provision when I need it.   He leads me through valleys and mountaintops.   Understanding all of that David, who faced many huge life challenges as well as great victories say " My cup overflows",  not only in this life,  but the Lord has an eternal place for me and will be with me forever.   

A - My soul says "Yes"  to David's heart.   My body , and mind are many times weary , even when things are going my way, and I can sense alignment with God's shepherding of my life (less rod than usual).     I reflect on all that God has done already and find myself rejoicing and despite my physical tiredness,  excited and expectant.  Today's application is more of a reminder of thankfulness for my Good Shepherd and all he is doing in my life.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you God for all that you have shepherded me through.   Thank you for guiding me to green pastures,  for correcting me and leading me through the valley times, and for your plan for my future.  I love you Lord,  In Jesus name I pray. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Proclaiming the good news in bad times

S- Acts 26:2-3 NASB
"In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

O - A continuation of previous devotions on this topics, in Acts 26 we see Paul give King Agrippa his full testimony of his revelation of Christ, and his new found belief in the Gospel.   Not just belief but his calling to be an Apostle to the gentiles.   Here he finds himself in front of one of the most influential leaders in the region, and sharing with him a truth that will one day transform the region and the world.

A -  I continue to be encouraged by this testimony of Paul in sharing Gospel in this last part of his ministry.  The last part being imprisonment, but also the last part likely being the most influential and impactful in spreading the Gospel.    For me this means that I must be mindful and ready to follow the Holy Spirit where ever He leads, and to be ready to proclaim the truth where ever it lies.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your persistency with me.  I receive your exhortation and guidance through your servant Paul.   I am praying for discernment and boldness to know where and when you would have me act, and the boldness and clearness of words to communicate your truth to the people and organizations that you would have me speak into.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paul's continued opportunities to testify

S- Acts 25:21-25 NASB
But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar." Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I also would like to hear the man myself." "Tomorrow," he said, "you shall hear him."   So, on the next day when Agrippa came together with Bernice amid great pomp, and entered the auditorium accompanied by the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all you gentlemen here present with us, you see this man about whom all the people of the Jews appealed to me, both at Jerusalem and here, loudly declaring that he ought not to live any longer. But I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death; and since he himself appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him.

O - God's plan being weaved unknowingly by these Roman leaders has taken Paul from a testimony in Jerusalem where he faced certain death,  to a testimony to a Roman Guard,  to being in front of the Roman governor Festus who he proclaimed the Gospel,  King Agripa,  and an appeal to Caesar.    This is not to boast other than to boast in what the Lord can do with you if you submit your life to Him, not allowing the dark situations discourage you from following the Holy Spirit to testify your witness to man.     

A -  The theme continues to be spoken in testifying through Holy Spirit that I am to be ready to testify the Gospel and its transformative power in my life, and God's grace filled love to those I work with,  to my family, and those I encounter at Church.   

P - Dear Heavenly Father thank you for your continued strength and exhortation to be not afraid of the challenges that lie ahead, to confidently walk into them, and testify to what God would have me speak into.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Preserving your witness to give God the Glory (self control)

S - Acts 24: 24-26 NASB
 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you." At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him.

O - This is Paul's testimony to the Governor Felix whom he appealed to when the Pharisee's we seeking his death upon return to Jerusalem.  He was able to do so because he was  Roman citizen.   This testimony comes right after the Jews from Jerusalem came to testify that he was violating many of their laws and inciting a riot.  Despite these being outright lies,   Paul does not react to these accusations but follows the customs of the court and waits for his turn to testify.  He testifies and Felix likely recognized his innocence but cowardly just says to wait for the Roman soldier to come testify.    The amazing thing is despite what the Jews meant for Paul's harm, and what Felix did in passivity,  God design for the good.   Why do I say this... because later Felix arrives with his wife who is a Jewess,  and  Paul speaks directly to them about faith in Jesus Christ.    Paul was giving testimony to a high level leader about Christ and this likely played toward God's plan for that nation to hear of Christ.

A -  The application is quite simple and quite consistent through the bible,  "what man meant for evil, God can use for His Glory."   Whether it be Joseph,  or Moses,  or David and Saul,  or Paul,   we go through circumstances in which it appears bad things are happening and yet God has a plan,   I plan for our good, and not for our downfall, for those of us who are called according to His purpose.   I believe the Lord is saying to me personally that I must have this perspective when bad things are happening to me so that I may not respond in a way that would dishonor God,  or damage my ability to witness to the very people are inflicting the harm.   With this perspective I may be able to reel in my emotions, and my sharp tongue to prevent a reaction that does not honor God and all that he has done in my life.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for bringing back to journaling on what your word is saying.  I pray that you continue to sharpen me through reading, reflecting, and writing on what your word is doing in me.   I pray Lord that you would help me be quick to see your perspective on things, especially when challenged with people who appear to want to do evil, or  do harm to me.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.