Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why We Accept Everyone

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
Romans 15:7(NLT)

Guess what?

I’m not perfect.

That’s no surprise, but the fact is, we’re all a mess in some way.

But Christ accepts us, warts and all. He doesn’t care about our bank account, ethnicity, sex life, gender, circumstances or proverbial baggage. He welcomes us ‘as is’. Then through relationship He transforms our hearts. Agreed?

Now read today’s scripture again paying close attention to the tiny connecting phrases.

Did you see the words just as?

Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you. Didn’t we just agree that Jesus takes us no matter who we are or what mess we’re in?

Did you also notice so that?

We must accept everyone so that God will get the glory. They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, oh they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Sorry, I got carried away.

God gets the glory because the Christian community stands out. We love so differently from the main stream that it’s noticeable. People are attracted to us by our sincere welcome. And it’s authentic, without selfish motives, simply because Jesus has accepted us.

As a whole we are not doing this well yet, but it’s the goal.

One Christian at a time.

One warm welcome at a time.

Who do you need to accept just as Christ accepted you? Is it an individual or a group of people?

They’ll know we are Christians by our love. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #byourlove #acceptance

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Worth More than a Glance

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14(NLT)

Don’t skim.

I know. I do it too - glaze over the benedictions Paul uses to close his letters.

But I want you to understand this beautiful summary of the Trinity.

God is love, but what is love without someone to receive it? So God created us so He could love us and we could love Him. God’s love created relationship.

God’s love never faltered, but we sinned, preventing us from being in His Presence. What is relationship and love if we can’t be together? God remedied that problem by sacrificing His Son.

Out of God’s great love, He gave us grace.

Grace comes from Jesus whose blood washes away every single mistake we make and removes all guilt. Our sin is gone - doesn’t exist. In God’s eyes it never happened. Grace.

But that’s not all. Then God filled us with fellowship.

To me, fellowship refers to the time before or after the Sunday service when people gather and talk. What’s the real meaning of fellowship? You know me. I looked it up.

Among many definitions, fellowship means partnership, participation, sharing, communion (not bread and wine, but coming together as one).

It’s beautiful.

We are one with God through the Holy Spirit. (tweet this)

We’re in partnership with the Holy Spirit – or rather, the Holy Spirit partners with us, participates with us in the work of God, shares with us the meaning of scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:10 says “His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”

The implications blow my mind.

Can you even fathom the power in you because of the Holy Spirit’s fellowship?

#SeedsOfScripture #Trinity #fellowship

Monday, September 19, 2016

Being Unselfish, Humble and Other-Centered

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Philippians 2:3-4(NLT)

This verse reminds me of my mother.

Betty loved people. She focused on others. Whether you were meeting for the first time or were a long time friend, she wanted to know everything about you – your interests, your family, and where you were from. You felt like she cared and she did.

Betty listened. I know because the next time she saw you she’d want an update about the child who was sick or the project you were working on. Her friendliness embarrassed me.

How many people do you know who really listen?

We toss out “How are you?” but it’s just a way to say hello. Do we even hear the answer? Are we too busy to care? Are others not worth our time? Are our schedules more important? Do we only care about our own interests?

Read the verse again. Which part grabs your attention? Could you improve in that area?

How can you apply this verse to your life today?

Take time to engage and truly listen. Be other centered. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #beothercentered #listen

Friday, September 16, 2016

What is the Evidence of Your Faith?

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13(NLT)

“Prove it” taunt the hands-on-hips schoolgirls when I brag about my full splits on both sides.

“Prove it” think those who know I’m a Christian.

I don’t have to prove my salvation. I most sincerely believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died and was resurrected so I can stand before a Holy God completely forgiven. I’m free to live any way I choose with full assurance that my sins are covered.

However someday we will all have to answer when God asks “Why did you choose a life that you know displeases me? Didn’t you understand my teaching?”

We can’t earn salvation through works, but James calls for proof that we are wise and understand God’s ways.

As Christians we know something about Jesus’ teaching. Even new believers know about His love and sacrifice. If we fully understand what Jesus did on the cross, shouldn’t gratitude for God’s salvation prompt us to want to know and please Him?

The Greek word used for understanding means to have expert knowledge which comes from reading scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to its meaning. And wisdom is very practical - applying this truth to our lives in light of experience.

So wisdom and knowledge of God’s way means knowing His teachings and their spiritual implications and applying them to our lives. Hence, James says:

Our good works are evidence that we understand God’s way. (tweet this)

Proof.

God’s love can’t be earned. He loves you no matter what. May His love for you prompt good works.

#SeedsOfScripture #faithvsworks #gooddeed

Thursday, September 15, 2016

It's Not About Being Sorry

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it…I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance... Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
2 Corinthians 7:8-11(abbreviated from NIV)

Have you been paying attention?

If so, you know I’m not perfect. I’ve admitted to procrastination, struggling to prioritize prayer, and sometimes ignoring God’s whispers.

I’m not beating myself up - just being real. I’m sorry for these tendencies, but don’t wallow in regret. I’ve acknowledged my shortcoming and asked God to help me change.

Acknowledging our shortcomings is the first step toward repentance and change. (tweet this)

Jesus’ blood on the cross completely covers our shortcomings so we can confess and truly leave them in the past. We get a fresh start with a clean conscience to follow God in a new direction.

In an earlier letter to the Corinthians Paul reprimanded them. Being called out hurt. It really stung. But then it produced godly sorrow and repentance that produced all kinds of positive outcomes.

No matter our mistakes, God can turn us around. Without God’s grace we are weighed down with guilt, shame and regret. But His forgiveness frees us from those feelings.

Lysa Terkeurst quotes her pastor as saying “Jesus didn’t die so we’d be sorry. He died and then was resurrected so we’d be changed.”

What guilt are you holding on to? Will you repent and let God change you?

#SeedsOfScripture #repentance #First5 @LysaTerkeurst

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why We Shouldn't Love Tomorrow

Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.
Proverbs 27:1(NLT)

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16(NRSV)

God spoke with me today about tomorrow. It was a conviction, a reprimand.

You see, I’m a master procrastinator.

I’m inherently lazy, content to postpone tasks. Even as I write this post I’m allowing interruptions.

This morning I read Ken Weliever’s devotion that says “the boast of tomorrow often renders us idle, lazy and ineffective today. Tomorrow whispers for us to wait.” Weliever claims that Satan’s favorite word is tomorrow.

The Apostle Paul instructs us to be wise and make the most of our time. This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life or rest as needed. It’s that we shouldn’t waste time. And I’m good at wasting time (mostly on Facebook).

Diligence positions us to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. It leaves space for us to respond when God whispers “she needs encouragement”, “buy that homeless man lunch”, “call your friend” or “look at that sunset”. And we must not postpone these important directives by God.

It’s urgent that we remain diligent. Tomorrow may have new troubles or it might not come at all. God might have an important mission for us tomorrow and we need to be ready.

Satan’s favorite word is tomorrow. Live wisely, making the most of your time. (tweet this)

Are you a procrastinator? In what ways do you waste time?

#SeedsOfScripture #Procrastinate #Tomorrow

Monday, September 12, 2016

An Exact Imprint of God

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being. He sustains all things by His powerful word.
Hebrews 1:1-3(NRSV)

Jesus is the imprint of God. He is God in the flesh (John 1:14). That’s just pretty darn cool.

If we want to know God, we need to know Jesus. (tweet this)

So if you’re wondering where to begin studying the Bible, study Jesus as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We often focus on Jesus’ teachings, which are clearly important, but His entire life reveals God. Take careful note of His words and tone of voice, His actions and inactions, His friends and enemies, how He treats people, and His intentional and accidental encounters. They all reveal God.

Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s very being.

If God is speaking through His Son, what is He saying to you?

#SeedsOfScripture #Jesus #SonOfGod