Sacrifice to Grow

January 30, 2009

More on knowing…and doing.

As I’ve said, in my life God has given me knowledge (wisdom & understanding) after I was obedient in doing. Some of these things I would believe were good before I did them. But in others, I didn’t really see the value in changing the way I lived. Regardless, in all cases, as I submitted myself in obedience to this new way of living, I gained a real understanding that each of these things added up to a better way of life. God understands how He made us. He gives us these guidelines because He knows what will make us most happy and prosperous.

James explained it this way:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

This is not the way to get more love or acceptance from God. He loves us unconditionally and more than we can imagine. His acceptance of our shortfallings comes through Christ and nothing we can do will make that better. So we can gain nothing in His eyes, but if we want more for ourselves, there is a way… Read the rest of this entry »


Are you humble enough to follow God? (Mt 1:18-25)

January 29, 2009

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph was given a difficult pill to swallow. His fiancé was pregnant. In those days this was incredibly embarrassing socially as well as repugnant personally to believe that the woman he loved had slept with another man. But the Lord spoke to Him in a dream and told him that he should put all these things aside and trust that God himself had impregnated her. Mary certainly didn’t have it easy because everyone in town would have assumed she slept around which would have been humiliating, but to me it seems Joseph had to live and choose even more by faith.

I’m sure that the angel of the Lord was quite powerful in this dream. However, Joseph had to have an amazing faith and obedience to God’s will in his life in order to swallow his pride and go forward with this marriage. But because he was willing to go against what his flesh desired, humble his pride, and obey what God had planned for him, he was given the incredible blessing of raising the Son of God. He could not have dreamed of a more blessed life than what He was given. We are told Joseph was righteous, and so we know that he sought the will of God and then he followed it. And in this, he found the richest of blessings. Read the rest of this entry »

Your life is important in God’s plan (Mt 1:1-17)

January 29, 2009

Matthew 1: 1-17

The first half chapter of Matthew establishes the Messiah’s genealogy. From Abraham through Jesus, we see Kings and great men of God, but also screw ups who lived very far from God. We see Israelites, and we see Gentiles (those not members of God’s Chosen people). We see the mighty and the impressive, but we also see the nobodies whom time has forgotten.

Whether great or small, God used each of these people to contribute to who Jesus was. Each one of these lives was essential to the history of the world even though many of them did not live their lives knowing this.

God also knew that each of these lives would sire Jesus. It was all mapped out from the beginning. And yet, each of these were real people living real lives. Each was presented with tough decisions and each made his or hers, whether they knew God was with them or not. And God used them all. Each of their decisions was woven into the tapestry of the story of the coming Messiah that He was creating. Read the rest of this entry »

Stacking Stones: Mission Trip Excerpt

January 29, 2009

(TUESDAY – Reynosa, Mexico, 2006)

When I asked the lord where He would have me the next morning, Holy Spirit told me, “Construction.” It was strange because

ladder to Orphanage rooftop construction site

ladder to Orphanage rooftop construction site

he sent only two of us. So Mark and I spent the morning up there. We hauled cinder blocks from one pile to another. We enjoyed good conversation, about half of which, David joined us for.

It’s nostalgic for me to look back on this time, because since then, David has become a spiritual father to me. He lead me through not only this trip, but three more – with another on the way. He also married Kara and I just over a year ago. He’s an amazing man of God,and now that I think about – this was our first long conversation. We spoke of Israel, the Jews, their place in history and the future, and the Old Testament and many other things. As the morning wore on, I was struck by the fact that it seemed almost pointless to carry one brick at a time across the roof, but as we worked on, giant piles took shape. I imagined each rock as a soul, and each pile as a nation coming to Christ, one Soul at a time. Sometimes, the work we are doing seems small and insignificant, but if we follow God’s will for our lives, we can be assured that He is building something beyond our comprehension. And each little part is an important part of the whole. Of course, as we are trustworthy with the little things He gives us to do, He gives us more and more responsibility and opportunities to see Him move through us. Also, He doesn’t just want to use us individually, but together in unity. Read the rest of this entry »

Filled with Hunger

January 28, 2009

In the last post I discussed the idea that real wisdom and understanding come from doing.  Not from thinking about how something works.  But from doing it.  Jesus described this to the disciples:

If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:15-21

In the early days of my own spiritual journey, I was lead by my intellect.  I believed in the risen Son of God.  I first studied the lives of Jesus and His disciples as they led them 2000 years ago and all the prophecies that were made about His life before He had lived it.  Then I started studying the New Testament.  I was gaining head knowledge, believing that this was worth something, while in truth, it was all worthless.  Read the rest of this entry »

What Does it Mean to Know the Truth?

January 27, 2009

The Western world worships the intellect.  We prize rational thought.  We believe that we can come to know and understand anything through logic and observation.  This is directly the opposite of what Biblical writers meant when they spoke of “knowing” something.  To know something in the Hebrew culture meant to become that thing – to do that thing.  The idea that you could read someone else’s teachings and repeat them to show that you understood the teachings would have been preposterous to them.

In Jesus’ time, when a boy wanted to study under a rabbi, he would go and plead to study under him.  The rabbi would then test the boy to see if he was an acceptable candidate.  If he was, he would enter a long period of training.  The purpose of this training was not to simply show you could repeat back to the rabbi what he taught you to prove you had learned and mentally understood it.  It was to learn to be just like the rabbi.    Only through this experiential living, could he really know what the rabbi knew and understand what the rabbi was teaching. Read the rest of this entry »

A Blinding Light: Mission Trip Excerpt

January 26, 2009

(June 27th 2006 – Reynosa, Mexico)

Monday( even later that day)

When we debriefed after dinner back in the chapel where we were staying, we listened patiently as all the other teams Chapel at our base campdescribed their experiences.  We could hardly sit in our chairs.  Everything they described about their day was exactly as we had prayed for them.  With unbelievable accuracy, Holy Spirit had shared with us what each and every one of them was going through in whatever part of the city they were in.  When they were finished, we shared the things we had been praying for them and many were touched to see that God had given us the gift and direction to pray for them specifically.  Afterward, Rabbi David asked us to pray for the group.  So we huddled up and did so. There was power in these prayers beyond anything we, by ourselves, were capable of.  I have tried duplicating this type of prayer of my own power and I am not capable.  But He was with us. Read the rest of this entry »