Thursday, May 31, 2007

05 31 07 Remain Faithful

“Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)

The servant (oikonomos), or in this case the house manager, is required to be faithful (pistos; sure, true, trustworthy). The slave (steward) is subordinate to the master. He must give an account for which he carries out his masters orders.

We are simply God’s stewards of the things He has entrusted to us, whether it is our household, our marriage, our children, our finances, or the ministry He has designed specifically for us. We can’t change His will and what He desires to accomplish through us. We can’t short-circuit it, however, and stop the work by being unfaithful, disobedient, and unfit to do His work. We must be found reliable and trustworthy to carry out the task of our Master and Lord, as His slave and steward. We all will have to give an account of our deeds and intentions.

It is my deepest desire and prayer that I be found faithful in His calling upon my life to serve at-risk children and their families. Times seem so challenging recently and I can’t help but feel inadequate, even to the point of failure, as funds dwindle and the work suffers. Is it something I am doing that is unfaithful, or is it simply a test of my faith, to mature and strengthen me in my commitment to Him? I want my love and commitment to Christ to be superior to any other commitment or relationship I have, but yet I don’t want my family to suffer. I need to feel His presence, His comfort, His guidance!

“Then each one’s praise will come from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

As we do God’s work, we all must be careful to seek only His praise. The world will tell you and me that we are failures, not worthy, and incompetent to work for God, after all the terrible things we have done. At times the world will also build us up and have us believe we are more than we really are! His will and His ways many times will not make sense to anyone but Him and whom He is speaking to. I’ve learned over the years what it’s like to be popular, to be rejected, to be used, to be talked-about, to be falsely accused, to be well-supported, and then left alone. We (I) must be careful to seek His face, His truth, His praise! I, in particular, must realize that that may not come until I see Him face to face---and that’s ok! I must, however, REMAIN faithful.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

05 30 07 finish the race


But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself,
so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the Good News of God’s grace.”
(Acts 20:24 NET)

I just want to let you into my personal spiritual battles lately, if it’s ok. Perhaps it will help you in your struggles, or even to pray for me. I do cherish that, for sure! As I struggle with challenges these past few months, I am so burdened with many questions for the Lord. Why did You call us? Why is it so difficult? Why can’t I just concentrate on the work, the thing You called me to do? How long will the struggle last? How long must I be challenged to prove myself and our calling to others? How long will I be on the island of struggle and challenge? When will any sort of consistency come? Why---How---When?

Like Paul, the biggest thing for me is to finish the race my DADDY set me in as a missionary, but the distractions (month after month of letter writing, grant writing, fundraising, phone calls, and meetings) divert my attention too often. Rejections after rejection discourage me, but praise God, only for a brief time. The Holy Spirit, my loving wife, and encouraging friends keep me upbeat! I get a glimpse, small as it might be, of the challenges faced by so many who have gone before me. I must remember “Him who endured the cross---such opposition against Himself by sinners” and “not grow weary” and “give up, because I have “not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed” (Hebrews 12:2-4 NET) in my struggle against sin!

I read the following words today on the Purpose Driven Life devotional:

“Paul writes, ‘The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me — to tell people the Good News about God's grace.’ (Acts 20:24, NCV) To Paul, the most important thing we can do is to be on a mission to tell others about God’s Good News.

Telling people about Jesus is more than just a matter of life and death; it involves the eternal destiny of those waiting to hear about Jesus from you. God doesn’t want us to waste a precious minute of our lives doing things that don’t matter — if the most important thing we can do is left undone.

It’s never too late to move faithfully into your mission for God. You may think you don’t have any skills God can use, but the truth is that God would never send you on a mission without making sure you had everything you needed – including your unique shape – and the Holy Spirit active within you.



So what?

Take inventory through your spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences, God has uniquely shaped you for your mission. Take an inventory of your life and think it through: What mission do you see God has prepared you for?

Don’t waste God’s grace: the Apostle Paul writes, ‘but because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I'm not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven't I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn't amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.’ (1 Corinthians 15:10 MSG)”[1]


So what has God called you to do? Whatever it is, DO IT to His glory. If it is in missions, work! If it is in ministry, work! If it is a school teacher, work! If it is as a parent, work! Even if it is supporting the work of ministry, work at it! We all need to be better and more consistent givers! Don’t wait for the rewards. Work to the glory of God. If nothing else, there is a “well done” waiting for us along with a heavenly residence. We have not been promised a rose garden or even a Rolls Royce for that matter, rather, life, and life “more abundantly” (John 10:10). All God requires of His servant is to be faithful, in whatever we are called to do. So let’s finish the race!

[1] Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional, May 30, 2007, © 2007, Jon Walker.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

05 29 07 My Memorial

“…keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (NET)

As we celebrated another Memorial Day yesterday (May 28) I could not help but think of my greatest memorial, that which Christ did for me and every other sinner willing to accept Him, some 2,000 years ago.

As we remember friends, families, and even strangers who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom both here in the U.S. and throughout the world, I must remember the example was set by our Savior! The reason why we have freedom today and still fight for others to have freedom is because we are still a Christian nation (as of today!) and as Christ instructed us to lay down our lives and share our wealth (1 John 3:16-17) we indeed defend the rights of others, even fellow believers, around the world!

Without delving into the political arena, we must continue to do today what we’ve done throughout our short history as a nation: defend those whose freedoms are being denied, even their freedom to worship our God and Savior! If thousands have died to protect us (even on foreign soils), who are we to say we no longer have to help our neighbor?

It’s my prayer that my memorial will always be the cross and that I will never forget the sacrifice my Savior made for me. Anything I do in His name will have eternal value, whether it’s sacrificing for my wife and children, feeding the poor, helping a child, comforting one who is hurting, dying so a stranger could live, or leading someone to Christ.

Though I have done nothing memorial in my life to demand acclaim or applause, I applaud those of you who have! THANK YOU. Let’s all however, give the Lord His due respect and adoration, for His memorial, the cross! If we are careful to make sure all our work, all our motivation, all our plans point to the cross; we’ll be well on our way. All the medals, all the trophies, all the awards are really just dust collectors in the end; only what we do for Him will last!

Friday, May 25, 2007

05 23 07 Two Priorities

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind----love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’” (Mathew 22:37-40 NET)

Most Christians list three things when asked about priorities: God, family, and work. The first two are very good answers and Pastor Jeffrey Miller in his book, Hazards of Being a Man (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2007, pages 55-56) states that only the first two are actually biblical priorities. Though man must work, the priorities in life are God and others: relationships. We can further divide relationships into God, spouse, children, and so on. The who is important to God, not the what (job, career, status) or the object (car, house, computer, etc.).

We can make a small list: (this is mine)
God
Spouse
Children
Extended family
Church leaders
Church members
Ministry partners / Co-workers
Neighbors

Where is the job? It’s included in the relationships. My career lies within my relationships with God and with others. I am fortunate to be able to mix business with pleasure, because God has allowed me to work for Him. Everywhere I go I am doing His business in relating to others and there relationship with Him and others (particularly their families). It’s all about relationship!

So in life, everything hinges on two priorities: relationship with God and others. Jesus said it plainly. Everything hinges upon these two areas of life. You think we should take it seriously?
05 24 07 Rich in Every Way


“I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. For you were made rich in every way in Him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge---so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

Koinonia, the Greek word for union and communion, or fellowship with one another, was taught to me years ago by a fellow co-worker while starting his church which he named Koinonia Outreach Ministries. We thrived upon the fellowship we shared with several other believers within the Post Office and often discussed the meaning of this statement: “without fellowship, there is no real relationship”. I praise the Lord for my former postal brothers and sisters in Christ and continue to remember them in prayer, especially Pastor Alonzo Ouzts.

I am now (and have been for 14 years) blessed to have wonderful fellowship, koinonia, with practically hundreds of close family within my home church and other believers as well. I am encouraged, challenged, supported, corrected, and taught by them daily in one way or another. I truly thank my God, my Daddy, for YOU! He has placed me in places and relationships I could never imagine doing in my own power! When I look at my life, I really lack nothing and realize He has given way more than I’ll ever deserve! He is faithful indeed!

This REMINDER is simply to thank YOU for allowing God to place you somehow within my life and for adding to my joy. You probably won’t know until you get home to Jesus just how much you mean to me! To my wife, children, parents, pastors, ministers, friends, and other family: Let’s continue to celebrate our koinonia in Christ and with one another! I do thank God for each of you daily, for making me rich in every way through Christ!!!!
05 25 07 Vulnerability

“Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.
Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16)

While many scholars and even early church fathers debate whether this verse teaches the Christian to associate with those less fortunate or to seek humble lifestyle and duties (“associate with the lowly”; tapeinos in Greek; men of low estate [Young’s] and humble, of low degree, lowly [Strong’s]), but I think we get the point. Jesus taught us to associate with sinners to win them for Christ (as He did) and not to think too highly of ourselves. One problem most of us have is that once we are saved, we begin to disassociate ourselves with non-believers and hand-pick the believers we think are best for us to hang with. Then we tend to keep our problems quiet as if we have everything in control! No challenges…no chances…no vulnerability!

I am still learning how to balance the saints and the ain’ts; the redeemed sinners with the unredeemed; those who know and those who need to know! I can’t just neglect all those who do not know Christ, yet I can’t live 24/7 in the world He saved me from. On the other hand, I can’t simply choose to hang out with the super-saints, thinking I am above everyone else. I have to keep in mind where I came from and how easy it is to slip back, should I get proud and high-minded. Good thing Jesus knows me so well and has a unique way of keeping me humbled! I can never hide from me or my Savior!

I have developed some very good and challenging relationships simply by making myself available to others and learning to share my life. I have been helped by so many in millions of ways, and also been blessed to help others along the way. There is no way I could have the experiences I have had if I had chosen not to be vulnerable, risking friendships and reputation. It’s hard to go up to strangers, to the homeless, even to a friend at times when I don’t want to do so. I really have to purposely allow the Lord to use me at times, but the blessings are so worth it. I am still learning and changing to best allow the Lord to use me. I’m trying not to get in His way! The following passage helped me today:

"When we're in Christian community, we do a lot of things right, but we still have a lot to learn about being friendly with everyone. Many of us, particularly the guys, are not very good at developing deep, deep friendships. But that shouldn't discourage us, because we can do all things through Christ. As believers, we can be eternal optimists, and our relationship with Christ provides us with tremendous potential for developing authentic, transparent friendships. The fear in all this is that, in order to truly know other people, I must be willing to be known, allowing others to get close enough to see the real me. And that sounds a little scary, doesn't it? What if there are parts of me that I'm not proud of or need a lot of work? These fears are common to anyone, but Jesus is the answer to your fears. Did you hear that? Jesus is the answer to your fears." (Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional May 25, 2007)

Be encouraged---and challenged!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

05 22 07 Experience is the Best Teacher


“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down (humble).” (Daniel 4:37 NKJV)

Ignorance and Arrogance-------------------

Acceptance and Obedience-----------------

Boy have I learned and am still learning this lesson: I can be ignorant and arrogant (“hyperphroneo” or above-minded in the Greek), thinking that God needs to comply with my desires and fulfill my needs, because of what I’ve done for Him, or I can accept and obey His will for me and find true peace, contentment, and fulfillment. Experience is the best teacher, at least it has been in my walk with Christ.

As I grow (I do hope I am growing) I realize that I am indeed crucified with Christ and my success comes only as I allow Him to live through me. The more I allow the Spirit to control my thoughts, plans, and decisions, the more successful and happy (blessed) I become. The more I learn to be content with the things God allows for me, the more peace I find in Him and with others.

Paul warns each of us

“not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,
but to think soberly,
as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

I really struggle on both ends at times: feeling guilt in accepting the good things He gives to me (my wife, children, home, friends, and vacations), thinking I don’t deserve them and then asking “why Lord”, when the suffering, heartaches, and disappointments seem too unbearable. We were able to share a time of fellowship with a local taxi driver in St. Thomas (while on our anniversary cruise) and he shared a prayer card with us as we parted. It was such good timing (God’s timing) as the prayer concentrated on trusting God. The man had no idea the struggles we face, but God does. As part of the prayer states, “Therefore, I stand back and allow You, O Lord, to take over and take charge of my battles to bring me to an expected end-----I thank You in advance for my victory-----I rest in Your peace, knowing that You know how to deliver the righteous.”

May I allow the Teacher to give me the experiences I need to serve Him better and use them to allow others to see His grace, His goodness, and His love so they may also know Him and know Him more closely.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Marriage (part V)
Submit and Serve

“Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord-----husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.”(Ephesians 5:22-25)

It’s a very simple task to talk about the roles in marriage. Both spouses must be careful to treat one another just as Christ taught. Again, the marriage relationship is a reflection of the relationship between the Church and the Lord. The wife is to submit her will and desires to the husband as she would to Christ. This remember, requires that the husband is living in a respectable manner. She is not to submit to abuse and other forms of threats, of course. The husband has an even simpler task: love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” This verse rings clearly to me more and more each day.

A wife has to submit and respect. A husband has to love and serve. I can also put it into two simple words for both husband and wife: mutual submission, to Christ and to one another! You see, it’s ALL about our relationship to the Lord. How much do we love Him? We as men love to tell the wife to read about submission. Well, husbands, just worry about our part; “as Christ loved the church”! There is no greater submission than that! Wives are not even commanded to love us. The burden is on the husband to nurture, care, protect, beautify, and love the wife so the marriage relationship may be honorable and holy unto the Lord! God requires this of the husband.

I have yet to hear of a wife who would not willingly, respectfully, and lovingly submit to her husband’s wishes if he is truly living to honor the Lord. He will never be a perfect husband, but one who is willing to be Christ-like in all his dealings will no doubt please his wife. Even as we work out our personal salvation, we work out our marriage relationship as well. Be patient, as Christ is with us. Be submissive to one another, as Christ was to the Father. Be servants to one another, as Christ modeled for all of us! Be a model of God’s love to the world that they may know the Lord loves them just as He loves us!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Marriage (part IV)
A Safe Haven


“Surging waters cannot quench love; floodwaters cannot overflow it. If someone were to offer all his possessions to buy love, the offer would be utterly despised.”
(Song of Solomon 8:7 NET)

Love is patient, kind, and secure! (1 Corinthians 13) We find peace in God’s love for us. (John 14:27) We know without a doubt we are His and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-30). We know He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5) We are His and He is ours. When we place our trust in Christ as Savior, we become one with Him as He is with the Father. (John 17:21-22) The relationship between a believer and the Savior is to be reflected in the institution set forth by God way back in Genesis 1, marriage between a man and woman! If we think we can do it any other way and find peace and happiness, it’s a lie from hell!

Nothing should be able to destroy the walls of security in a marriage. Trials and testings prove to strengthen the relationship over time, fortifying the walls! No money can buy better love. No job can fulfill needs and desires like a loving spouse. The thought of a moment’s pleasure when compared to a lifetime love relationship should never enter one’s mind. The offer should be despised!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

Are we consistently patient and kind to our spouse, giving them a feeling of security? Do they have peace within their heart concerning our relationship? Do they know, without a doubt, that they are securely locked within our hearts and we would never entertain leaving or forsaking them? Are we truly one, showing the world what God’s love looks like as we live it out in marriage? There should be no fear within the marriage relationship. It should be a SAFE HAVEN, where each spouse can run to for emotional security, spiritual peace, and physical shelter. We are to be one another’s rock, counselor, helper, lover, and friend. Let’s make marriage a model once again to the world, of the love relationship God offers every believer. Lord knows it needs to be seen!
Marriage (part III)
Say it; Don’ t Assume Anything

“Oh, you are beautiful, my darling! Oh, you are beautiful!”
(Song of Solomon 4:1)

“You don’t bring me flowers; you don’t sing me love songs----” A popular song a while back described a dying and decaying love relationship between a husband and wife. What the man once did, he no longer thought of doing. He probably assumed the wife knew he loved her. Well, the fact is, we must say it and don’t assume anything when it comes to our relationship with our spouse.

Solomon writes very eloquently here to his Shulamite bride, describing her in very vivid detail. In his eyes, she is perfect, God’s gift to man. Isn’t that what our spouse is; God’s gift to us? Why then do we concentrate so much on faults then strengths? Why are we so quick to share how they can fix something instead of how they make so many things better? Why do we stop encouraging, edifying, and flattering our spouse? We must treat every day we share as an opportunity to show it and say it! Don’t assume anything!

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling! There is no blemish in you!”
(Song of Solomon 4:7)

As we read on, we see how delighted Solomon’s bride was in responding to his accolades! We all need to hear from our spouse how much they care for us, how much we mean to them, and how attracted they are to us. We also need to communicate it back to them; in words, in deeds, and in our everyday thoughts. We can’t be the hand-in-glove team God wants us to be if we don’t let one another know how altogether beautiful we are to one another! The world may think otherwise, but who cares!
Marriage (part II)
Belonging…

My lover is mine and I am His---)
(Song of Solomon 2:16 NET)

Husband and wife don’t own one another as a piece of property, but they are one another! They become one (basar in Hebrew); one flesh, one body. Man and wife are glued together, cemented by a holy covenant between God and the couple, not to be separated! Man and wife become a family all in itself, as instituted by God. Anything else is a mess.

This is exactly where the enemy attacks family today. We are raised to be independent and when we get married, we refuse to submit to one another, to become interdependent. We want mine and hers too (or his too). We want our own bank accounts, cars in our own name, and even separate vacations at times. Then we have children and all havoc breaks loose. Things are not the priority. Children are not the priority. Husband and wife are family all by themselves. There must be a sense of belonging---to one another---ahead of every other relationship except that between God and the husband and wife.

Are we willing to drop all we’re doing to care for one another? Will we put job over each other’s needs? Will we jump for the next phone call from a friend, but ignore our spouse’s call to help with the grocery bags? Will we place a higher priority on little league than date night? Do we hurt when the other hurts? Do we celebrate when the other succeeds? Is there a sense of oneness---belonging?

"This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; ---
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife,
and they become a new family (one flesh).”
(Genesis 2:23-24 NET)

There is always hope if we’ve drifted apart. There is always room to get closer. God desires for husband and wife to be family. He does not approve of man and woman to be shacked up, or for Adam and Steve, or Eve and Eva to raise a child. His plan is perfect and only His plan. Let’s take an account of our relationship and even our attitude toward marriage and make sure we are one: He is mine and I am his---and together we are HIS!! We have to identify with His word and His will to truly have a sense of belonging; to one another and to our DADDY.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Marriage

05 07 07 A Lily Among Thorns

“Like a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the maidens.”
(Song of Solomon 2:2)

Sorry guys, my wife is the most beautiful of all the women! I don’t care what you say! She was out of my league when I first laid eyes upon her in choir practice, and 10 years later, I still notice her as she stands out in the crowd! I still ponder that day when I thought to myself, “I’ll never even get a chance to say ‘hello’ to someone that beautiful”! Even with the help of our two young daughters, I didn’t stand a chance. If not for God’s mercy, His grace, and His provision within His imperfect will for us, I still will be incomplete. I thank God every day for His longsuffering toward me and how He has allowed me such a full life with my wife of ten years and the four children we share, as well as the many children and families He has brought to us in ministry (11 children in all, not counting our own).

My question is this: how often do we express our feelings honestly and openly to our spouse? Do we let them know they are still the one? Do we still bring them flowers, just because today is Monday? Do we still bring them their evening tea or make the milk shake just the way they like it (you may have your own favorite!). Are they still the apple of our eye, the lily among thorns wherever we go?

It’s time to go back to the beginning and recall all the effort we put into winning our spouse and stop thinking the work is over. There is still competition out there. If no one else is prowling, Satan sure is. He wants to destroy, kill, and trample our marriage and family. Let’s make sure our spouse knows where we stand, in our thoughts, our words, and our actions! Relationships take time, work, and planning. Nothing worth while comes easy. As we build and strengthen our family’s legacy, let’s never forget the foundation is not the children, but the relationship with our lover---our spouse--- our beloved!

May we say these words more often and live them out:

“O my dove----let me see your face let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely”
(Song of Solomon 2:14)

Friday, May 4, 2007

05 04 07 Treasured in Heaven

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:21)

This is a simple, yet very difficult phrase in God’s word for us to catch, especially for men. We tend to talk a good game; what we plan to do and what we know God would have us to do. Somehow, somewhere along the way, we get sidetracked, detoured, and find ourselves doing everything that we have no business doing and nothing we should be doing! Paul mentions this very thing:

“For the good that I will do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19)

Are heart must be set upon things of God! Is what we treasure on earth equal to the things that are treasured in heaven, or firewood in God’s eyes? What are our hearts’ desires? Can it be said that our heart is set after God’s very own heart?

It’s every man’s battle to do right; by God, by his family, by his church and by his employer. I believe it’s every man’s duty to have a few special people in our lives to hold us accountable to that commitment. Lord knows, when we look in the mirror, our vision tends to be somewhat distorted! Our spouse is a good measure of how we do day-to-day, as are our children. When is the last time we sat down with our family on a Saturday or Sunday evening and ask, “So how is Dad doing?” What a loaded question!

It does no good to make a list of home improvements, marriage improvements, or parental improvements, just to let the list sit on a counter. Share that list with a trusted companion. Ask him to hold you accountable to those commitments. It would help to give that list to the Lord as well, and give Him free reign to take control of what we can’t control (you get it men?).

I have realized that it does no good to isolate ourselves. People will always let us down, yet we are wired to need people. Isolation leads to desolation! Let’s accept people for who they are and share the sweet fellowship of God’s love and grace. Allow the Spirit of God to bind us together as a living body, both to strengthen one another and to draw a searching world into His love. Let’s begin to treasure the things of heaven; grace, peace, fellowship, submission, service, sacrifice and forgiveness. It’s sad, but true; what we spend our time doing is what we treasure. Good thing about, we can change! Are we willing to turn from this world and do the things treasured in heaven?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

05 03 08 Let God Know

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Paul writing from a prison cell is able to rejoice with the Philippians who have supported him over the years. He is able to express the peace of God, knowing He will take care of all of his needs, enabling him to live above his present circumstances. Worrying about things (being anxious) won’t help matters any, when ultimately God is in control. He knows our needs and desires, but He still delights in hearing our need for Him! Sometimes God is just waiting for us to ask of Him, and at other times He wants us to re-focus our desire on Him and His will for us, not our somewhat selfish desires.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on---for all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

No doubt Paul had this passage in mind as he wrote to the Philippians from prison. Though God knows our needs and we may be wondering how the mortgage will get paid or when the car will be repaired, we still must be focused on God first, not me. I realize it’s hard to say “Your will be done” when the mortgage is already late. I experience this almost every month! But whose house is it anyway? I understand the cost of feeding the family and juggling between food money and gas money, but Who was it who fed 5,000 with one kid’s bag lunch? While we plan to take care of our personal needs and the needs of our family, God’s agenda must be our priority. As we meet His requirements for our lives, He will give us what we need! That’s peace!

Let God know our heart. That’s how we get to know His!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

05 01 07 Family One-ness

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

We are all very familiar with this passage, as Jesus pondered His future, expecting the suffering about to take place. It impacts me every time I read it, because Jesus went to the cross knowing the pain He was going to suffer! I wonder what life would be like if we could just endure a little more uneasiness and yes, maybe a little more pain for the sake of others, especially for our families’ sake!

Last evening I woke up from a dream of a father and son violently arguing on a neighborhood street corner, physically and verbally going at it. For some reason, in the dream, I came out of my house talking loudly above their voices, telling them this was not how the Father intended for a father and son to get along. I even remember sharing about Christ and His heavenly Father and our relationship to Him. To my joy, the father and son in my dream calmed down and prayed with me to receive Christ as did a few who were listening in the gathering group of people. I only wish this dream to come true in more than one family, as I am sure you do too!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

God has had it on His mind that everyone be saved from the grasp of hell and for this reason Jesus came down from His royal position at the right hand of the Father to save each of us ( John 3:16). The Holy Spirit seals every believer for the Father as we ask Him to forgive our sin and repent. From the beginning, there was unity within the Trinity ---family oneness.

“I can do nothing on My own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me.” (John 5:30)

The Son obeyed the Father. The Father was consistent throughout His relationship. Jesus sought to please His Father. Many of us today believe it’s our daddy’s fault for everything; our education, our personality, our relationships, you name it. Perhaps we may have a little responsibility too! Even if Dad wasn’t around God was! Has He become so personal to us that we can lovingly call Him DADDY? Do we seek to please Him in all we do? Do we seek oneness with Him?

“The glory You gave to Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one---I in them and You in Me---that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that You sent Me, and You have loved them just as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)

The good news is that despite our family situation, we have hope! We may be in a single-parent home; our father may have neglected or abused us, we may not even know our father or mother for that matter. Nevertheless, Jesus had us in mind just before the cross. He prayed that all believers would one day be one, just as He and His Father are one. That’s family oneness. What can we do to improve the oneness of not just our family, but the church family as well? It begins with my relationship with the Father! We all must be under His will, not mine! Then real family one-ness can begin.

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...