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Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

God Pursues

As I continue to prepare for the upcoming series on spiritual practices, Practice Makes Perfect, I keep running across instances that remind me of God’s constant provision but my oblivion to that provision because of distraction – and possibly even my own disobedience.

Yesterday, I ran across a passage in Isaiah pointing to how God is always seeking a relationship with us.  Here is what is recorded in Isaiah 65:1-2:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
    to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
    pursuing their own imaginations—

God's Hands OutstretchedThe reminder I take from this passage is that God pursues us.  He stands “all day long” with hands outstretched waiting for us to notice.  But so often we are lost in our own pursuits.  We are distracted by our own imaginations.  I even fear that humanity has a tendency to take God-given talents and use them to create a false sense of independence.

Today, may we not walk in ways that are not good.  May we not pursue our own imaginations to the dismissal of God’s reach toward us.

Today, may we make time and space in our lives to hear God saying, “Here am I, here am I.”

 

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Creating Space

How are you making space for God today?  It is so easy to fill our days with important things and somehow leave out the most important.  Making sure we make time to spend with God should take the highest priority but unfortunately, the sacred often gets pushed back by the mundane.  It is not so much a lack of priorities but rather a lack of perspective.

We become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the mundane and step into the circular race that ends where it starts.  We give in to the pressure to perform and we know that God will understand if we wait until later to spend time with him.  So we justify in our minds the idolatry of productivity.  Before we know it, we have gone days or weeks without spending quality time with the creator.

But there is a very interesting truth that we often overlook.  The truth is this – we cannot be the best version of ourselves (that means even in the area of productivity) when our focus is on anything other than the Father.

But this focus takes intentionality on our part.  Focus does not just happen.  We must work at it – – constantly.  We must create space in our schedules and in our lives to allow God to work.  God provides the progression toward being more like Jesus but we must do our part.

I am excited that this Sunday we will begin a new series – Practice Makes Perfect.  If you are in the Corpus Christi area, I encourage you to make this series a part of your August plan.  We will be working through some habits that can make a real difference in your walk.

Create space today!

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No More

What holds you back?  What weighs you down?  Our past decisions have ways of wrapping their bony fingers around our ankles and dragging us back into a prison of guilt and regret.  Just when we think we are “through” something, here come the thoughts that have a tendency to leave us feeling worthless.

This morning, a couple of verses jumped off the page as I read.  Romans 8:1-2 say:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Paul reminds us that now, today, in this moment there is no condemnation if your trust has been placed in Jesus as the author and perfecter of your faith.  No condemnation!  Let that sink in.  When we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the Spirit breaks the chain of slavery to sin.  He frees us from the guilt of past decisions!

broken-chainsNo more fear!

No more guilt!

No more regret!

NO MORE!

This day, in this moment, remember – – as a child of God you are free.  You are a new creation.  The old has passed and the new has come!

Live into that freedom today!

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Choices

My commute to the office each morning takes me past several churches.  One of the churches along my regular route has a marquis with changeable letters.  Often this church uses this sign to make announcements of upcoming events.  But occasionally it is used for a thought provoking statement.

Yesterday I noticed one of those statements and it has circled back in my mind a couple of times since.  The statement read:

Life is full of choices, eternity only has two.

ChoicesThere is truth in this statement.  We are bombarded with options every day – pulled in multiple directions to make decisions regarding everything from what shoes to wear to what car to drive to what music to enjoy.  The truth is, it would be easy to make thousands of decisions in a day without once considering truly important issues.

Is it possible that the enemy uses all the options freedom affords to distract us from considering the most crucial choice of our lives?  Satan is known for taking what God means for good and distorting it into something completely different.

Life is full of options and choices.  But the most important – literally life and death – decision an individual can make is what to do about eternity.  We only have two options – an eternity with God or an eternity without him.  God gives us that choice – and we must choose.  While it is never too late to make that choice while we still draw breath, by putting off the decision we are making a choice.

The best decision you can ever make is to live this life for Jesus.  Don’t be distracted by all the other decisions you will need to make today.  Truthfully, if you make the ultimate decision first, it will drastically impact the remainder of the decisions you will make.

Choose wisely!

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A little over a week ago, I was blessed to minister to a group of ministers in Juarez, Mexico.  It is an annual event for pastors and their wives in the Juarez area.  We meet at a hotel in Juarez and for three days we get to fellowship and invest in the lives, ministries and marriages of these wonderful servants.

This year we were privileged to have thirty-eight couples attend the retreat (which is paid for completely by donations of individuals, churches and organizations here in the United States).  It is a huge blessing to the couples who attend each year and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve them, as well as for all those who give to make it possible.

This year, one of the most meaningful and moving experiences of the weekend was the closing worship service.  We celebrated communion at that service and it was special for our team to be able to offer the elements of the supper to those who normally serve but rarely get to receive.

My sermon that morning communicated the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to overcome whatever we face.  As the pastors and their wives made their way past the offering of the bread and the cup, they were also handed a small nail to remind them moving forward that Jesus’ sacrifice truly paid all costs.  In that moment, many were moved to tears with the reality.

My writing today is two-fold:

1) To offer a heartfelt thanks to God for making this event possible (our eleventh year) and for all those God uses each year to support this vital ministry.

2) I also write to remind each of us that regardless of what we are facing today, God’s grace is sufficient.

La gracia de Dios es sufficiente!

Jesus’ sacrifice is enough!

Live into that truth today!

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Breaking Free

There are so many things that hold us back in this world – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, poor decisions that lead to consequences.  In a fallen world it is hard to truly live the life God truly wants for us.  In fact, on our own, it is impossible to have the life God created us to live.

The biggest barrier to experiencing God’s best for us is sin.  Because of our sin we are enslaved and held back from all that God has for us.  But God created a way for us to have the life he wants for us.Bonds Broken

In John 8:31-32 we find that Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus came to teach truth and live that truth so that we could be free.

What is holding you back today?

Jesus offers truth and that truth brings freedom.

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Always At Work

This morning I found myself at my usual place at my usual time at my usual table.  I like to arrive early at the Town and Country Cafe on Thursdays – before the rest of the group gets there.  It gives me time to read, think and pray.  As I sat and read from the Gospel of John, I could not help but notice the routine activity going on around me.

One of my readings this morning was the last chapter of the Gospel of John.  The last verse of the chapter (and book) states that Jesus did many things that were not recorded.  In fact, if everything he did while on earth were recorded, “even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  The author of the Gospel was making the point that Jesus was extremely active.

I was reminded that Jesus is still active today.  Maybe his activity is not as obvious as it was when he physically walked the earth – but he is at work in the hearts and lives of people all around us.  We can see him in an encouraging smile.  We can hear him in the comforting words of friends.  We can experience his presence in the humble service others provide for us.

Just as I noticed activity in the cafe this morning, when we stop and look for him, we will see him at work.

Father, give us eyes to see you today!

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