Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick to listen, slow to speak and anger

S - James 1:19-20 (NASB)
 But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 
O-   This is an interesting passage from James whom I believe was Jesus' brother and whom became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He was not one of the original 12 Apostles but he did have much influence on the early church.  He speaks of authority and experience in walking out the new faith in Christ and leading a life according to the new testament.  In chapter 1 we find him laying out principles of growing in strength and character as a Christian.  Then he reveals this simple and penetrating truth on what we must do to continue to grow.  We must be great listeners, thoughtful speakers, and not let anger over ride our actions and the righteousness of God.

A -  This verse is for me a needed constant reminder to change the pace at which I do things instinctively.  I must allow myself to listen longer, to understand the meaning and intent of what is being said.  I must pause and process, to ensure in the context of the situation, the context of God's word, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I must speak truth in love, and this will all slow my anger and ensure my response is one that seeks to achieve God's righteousness.

P -  Dear heavenly Father,thank you for the things you are doing in my life.  Thank you for this refreshing season of restoration, and relief. Thank you for helping me endure the season of trial and come out on this side, still available to continue my path of seeking your will for my life.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Free myself from the temptation of control and money

S - Hebrews 13:5-6 (NASB)
5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert younor will I ever forsakeyou,"
6so that we confidently say,
"The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?"

O -  The message from the author is that we are not to get drawn back into the world, now that we have be saved and found a new place of contentment, peace, and provision.  But the world will tempt us again,  but if we trust in God's promises we never have to fear the changing sands of this world.

A -  The application for me is real and relevant today, and forever more.  Today I face the wind storms of doubt, and opinion, and conjecture and fear regarding my career.  Today I seek the opinions of others, those I trust, some in authority, and finally of my God who leads me.  I reminded gracefully that there is only one who can lead me through this season.  It is my Father who is heaven sitting on the throne; His son, who intercedes for me, and made a way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and guide my every step.

P  -  Lord I surrender all, today, now, and forever.  The path that wanders from you and is full of self reliance, and worldly distraction is one full of fear and doubt.  I seek to now to follow you and  your ways.  I pray Lord for peace and confidence to act in accordance with your will and to correct my behavior to that of peace and love for those you put in my life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Elders response and responsibility

1 tim 5:17-20 (NASB)
17The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning

O - In context Paul is giving guidance to Timothy who is leading a church that Paul and Timothy had helped found.  He has been giving Timothy guidance on the qualities and qualifications of Elders and members of the church, and help govern a Christ honoring local church.   Should an elder meet all the criteria of service and then let him serve and do not allow his service be interrupted by quarrelsome issues.  Paul speaks of how to handle quarrels against an elder, and similar to the gospel by Matthew he warns that two or three should be the basis of an accusation against an elder, so as to prevent distraction but maintain an accountability. 

A - I think of my own Pastors, Wayne Cordeiro and Rod Shimabukuro,  they are worthy of double honor and are working hard at preaching and teaching.  They should be afforded whatever provision the congregation wishes to bestow on them, and should be sheltered from the chatter of individual complaints, but rather be subject to accusation of two or three honorable elders.    For me I must seek to not be disqualified as an elder through my own behavior at work and at home.  I must continue to seek God and his truth for my life, and participate in the good work He is doing in my local church, at my work, and at home.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this gift you have given me of an opportunity to redeem my life for your purpose.  I pray during this stressful time that you would guard my heart and mind, and tame my tongue to ensure I don't lose the opportunity to serve you.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

God's abundance grace and mercy

S -  1 TIM 1:13-14 (NASB)
Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

O - Paul here confesses his past, even as a Pharisee' he sinned against God, and fought against God's plan.   Confessing his own unbelief and ignorance of the truth he helps us all understand just how great and abundant God's grace and love are. 

A -  The application for me is to recognize just how fortunate I am to have had God's grace.   I like Paul was confident in my beliefs and convictions when I was young and did not know Christ.  But now today I realize even more each year how short I fall.   I am both convicted and victorious at the same time today.  Victorious over what I could never win, convicted because I exceedingly want to please and obey Christ in me. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for continuing to do a good work in me , during this season of change and growth.  I pray for a cleansing of my old ways that lead me to sin against my fellow man and not witness your love and grace.  I pray that you would help me lead my wife and daughters well in this season.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Think of Excellence and Truth

S - Phil 4:8-9 (NASB)

8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

O -  Paul's exhortation in Philipians 4 is not only "be anxious for nothing"  but to do this through prayer and trust in God, and by focusing on Excellence and Truth.   The trials of this world, and specifically those trying to lead a life in Christ, has both resolution (Christ's completed work) and means to the end.  

A - I am thankful for these words of reminder to focus on what is excellent.  I throughout my life have fallen into deep pits of being anxious, and had God remind me to pray through them and trust in Him.   The second lesson I usually need to be reminded of is that I need to focus on truth and excellence.  When anxiousness takes over me,  I can often only see that which is not excellent in my life, and am very susceptible to untruth's perceived or received.   I am even reminded that when it is not me going through the anxiousness I must encourage other, especially my wife, to focus on the truth and the excellence in who she is.

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 truth and excellence into my life.  I thank you for the gift of grace, and forgiveness, I pray that you help me lead and guide my wife in this season well.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Feed your enemies

S - 

ROMANS 12: 9-21 (NASB) 9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20"But if your enemy is hungryfeed himand if he is thirstygive him a drinkfor in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
O - I know this letter is to the church at Rome, and therefore its audience is a group of Christians that Paul is exhorting to behave in a manner that honors and follows Christ example.   He is giving all of us a broader guidance to how we are to live the Christian life and behave in our local church, as well as interact with non-believers.   In summary this verse says behave the opposite of what your flesh and sin are prompting you to do,  in some cases, opposite of what you grew up thinking was right.  If your enemy is hungry - feed him.   That is the biggest paradox one can imagine -  an army at war with another whose supply lines are cut off and the opposing army is becoming weak with hunger.   What to do, feed them.   

A -  For the application we must understand the wisdom and uniqueness to God's solution to our behavior.  We must believe that first off He is smarter than us and that by feeding our enemy we somehow solve a problem that battling our enemy somehow would not.  The previous example when played out might look like this - your enemy is weak and aware of their circumstances - they likely will retreat and come to fight another day when stronger, or perhaps will feel trapped and desperate and therefore fight with ferver knowing they have nothing to lose.  This is our hungry, fearful enemy.  But should we decide to feed our enemies,    they may start to think, hey why am I fighting this foe of mine, when they have showed such kindness, and even if battle continues the ferocity of the battle will likely be tempered by the kindness.   I think this is the same for me, while I like to battle my enemies , it only seems to feed the fire at times that burns inside them,  but when I simply listen, or in rare occasions try and help, it always diffuses the situation allowing for  a partnership to occur that once was not there.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that your spirit would guide me to feed my enemies vice fan the flames of discourse and discontent.    I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.