Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

To You Oh Lord

the things my eyes have seen
the stories they would tell
my life the Lord and Savior saved
from beyond the depths of hell

to you oh Lord I put my trust
to calm and ease my days
you promise me your loving touch
if I look upon your gaze

I plead my Lord to keep me close
as I look into your face
forever more I'll spend with you
by your eternal grace

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blinded By Self Sufficiency

This post isn't for those who choose to be faint, for those who want to be nominal, or for those who desire to remain proud. It is for those who are ready to quit playing church, stop relying on yourself, and be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus.

Being a disciple of Christ is a life changing calling. It requires one to look at where they are in their life, at where they are going, and decide, "Which direction do I want to go?" In America we make becoming a Christian an event that looks something like this... It is the end of the service and the preacher just finished a nice talk about how much God loves us and wants to bless us..."Bow your heads and close your eyes. Now if you feel God is speaking to you today raise your hand. Thank you, I see you over there, yes I see your hand... OK, open your eyes. Everyone who said yes to Jesus today we have a table in the back where you can let someone know that you became a Christian today. Bless you, have a great week!"

I have read my Bible for many years and I am still trying to find the part where Jesus, or any of the disciples for that matter, called people to say a "sinners prayer" and they will be saved. Jesus says that being a disciple will be costly, difficult, and may even take your life. We have put our spin on the Christian faith to look more like a social club rather than men and woman being sold out for Jesus. It concerns me that there may be millions of people who have said the "sinners prayer" and continue to live their normal American dream life and have the idea that they will one day be in Heaven. Jesus tells the people in Matthew that those who hear His words and put them into practice will enter the kingdom of Heaven. And those who don't... well, you read the verses and see for yourself. (Mat 7:21-27)

If you are a Christian today who gave your life to Jesus and you don't live for Him, I suggest that you rethink your "Christianity." Paul tells us in 2Cor 5:15-16 that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ. And Galatians (Gal 2:20) tells us that we have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ in me. There are dozens of verses that I could share, but I think the Bible makes the point extremely clear that a follower of Christ lives for the Glory of Him not for the uplifting of one's self.

2Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 2Cor 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (emphasis added)

The church of Laodicea had a similar problem as today's typical American church. (Rev 3:14-22) They were blinded by their own self sufficiency. They had money, they had it all together, and they needed nothing. Not even God... What was the response from Jesus for this lukewarm group of Christians? He spit them out of His mouth. He tells them to purchase His gold and wear His garments, and cleanse their eyes so they can see. Many people I encounter who call themselves Christians have really nice homes, great kids, beautiful furnishings, a plump 401k, new cars, and haven't stepped foot into a church for many years. They declare how blessed they are! "Blessed?" Having a bunch of nice stuff isn't a blessing, it is a burden. It keeps us from seeing our need for Jesus to come in and radically transform our lives. This isn't being blessed, it is being blinded by self sufficiency and thinking it is from God.

Self sufficiency is a sin. Many words can be used for this, but one stands out to me the most; PRIDE. Prov 16:5 says: ​​​​​​​​Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. It is an abomination to God to be self sufficient. Self sufficiency is reliance on one's abilities and taking credit for one's efforts. It is being a friend of the world and an enemy of God. One day your joy will be turned to gloom and your laughter into mourning. Turn to Christ, become humble, and He will exalt you. (see Jas 4:4-10)

Jesus told the rich man in Luke 12:18-25 that he knew the commandments and the rich man agreed that all of these he has kept. When Jesus heard the man tell him that he has kept all of the commandments, Jesus told him this: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The man went away sad. He didn't realize that the treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, doesn't hold a candle to the treasure he would build up in Heaven by being obedient to Jesus.

Following Jesus is costly. It isn't about making a one time decision and having the golden ticket to get you into heaven. It is about being willing to listen to the Holy Spirit of God and following what He tells us to do. Sometimes it is to give up your family, sometimes your possessions, and always He calls us to give of our life. It is about picking up your cross and following His lead in your life.

Matt 16:24-28 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

I truly believe it is time to get the American way of life out of Christianity and especially out of the church. In my post "Have You Been Transformed" that I wrote a couple of months ago I touched briefly on this topic. I made mention to the fact that doing good things and living a good life isn't what being a Christian is all about. The non-Christians do that every day. It is being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and everything we do is a reflection of Him. If we want to be a Christian nation we need to be a nation filled with Bible believing followers of Christ.

So here is my challenge to you. If you have made a decision to follow Christ and your life looks no different than the guy next door who isn't a Christian, I challenge you to open your heart up to what God would have for you. Pray that the Spirit of God would speak to you today and continue to pray and listen over the next couple of weeks and months. Be open to what He would be telling you. In addition, start reading the Word of God every day. And if you haven't been connected in fellowship for awhile, get into contact with "That one person..." you know the one I am talking about. The man or woman in your life that you know is on fire for Jesus. Call them today and tell them you want to radically change your life for Jesus and in doing so you want to begin to impact those lives around you.

I know, it is a lofty challenge, but Jesus never said following Him would be easy. He said it would cost you everything. Don't let the blindness of self sufficiency keep you from experiencing the blessings of God. Be willing to give it all up for Him should He ask you to. Be willing to serve in ways you never imagined. And be willing to lay your life down for Jesus.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Marriage Wreckers... Part Two - Unkindness

In this series "The Marriage Wreckers" I am taking the verses from 1Cor 13: 4-13 and turning the positive of God's Word around to the negative and seeing how it affects our lives in the context of marriage. In the last post, Part One - Impatience, I talked about the sin of impatience. This post I will move onto the next part of verse four and take a good look at unkindness.

1Cor 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Here is how the dictionary defines unkindness:


Lacking kindness; inconsiderate or unsympathetic.
2. Harsh; severe; cruel:

Love is patient and kind... Kindness in love is like the sweetness to honey. It is an essential part of what makes it so delicious. But what happens when we say we love someone but the characteristic of kindness looks more like unkindness? Can we really then declare that we love them?

Unkindness, just like impatience, is a sin. It is an offense to God and to the person we have chosen to spend the rest of our lives with. Lack of kindness often occurs when we have lost our patience and decide to take matters into our own hands and react to a certain situation. Patience, or long suffering, results in kindness. Impatience, or being short tempered, results in unkindness. Kindness is a fruit of the spirit that God desires for each one of us. Every spouse needs a dose of it every day.

Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.

We have all been around someone who is unkind. And I am certain each one of us has a story or two of a time when we were unkind to our spouse. I remember a time in my marriage only a few short years ago where I said and did some pretty unkind things towards my wife. Not only did I reap the shame and guilt from my ungodly behaviors, but the level of trust was lessened and her and I had to spend a bit more time breaking through barriers that would have not been placed there had my actions and heart displayed kindness rather than being harsh and cruel. Unkindness is more than an action and behavior. Often times it becomes a way of life and the detriment is far reaching. Not only is the spouse affected, but the kids and other family members are seriously affected as well.

When we look at the definition of unkindness it can be quite sobering. Words such as harsh, cruel, and unsympathetic come to mind. On your wedding day did the thought run through your mind, "Geez, I think I want to live a harsh, cruel, and unsympathetic life with this person for the rest of my life?" I think not!

So how do we break the cycle of unkindness in our marriage and learn how to live in the fruit of kindness? The first step I have found is to remember that kindness is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(emphasis added)

There is no man or woman on this planet capable of mustering up true Biblical kindness. Oh sure we can act nice to one another for a bit, but when we begin to lose our patience that unkind spirit flows right back like the waters of the Niagara and we soon find ourselves going down the same old waterfall.

Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

So to have a marriage that is filled with patience and kindness it doesn't start with going to a marriage counselor, it begins with each spouse making a conscious decision to walk in the Spirit of God. Walking in the Spirit, as stated in Gal 5:16 means that we are intentional in listening to what God is saying to us every moment of the day and responding to each situation as He would direct us. It doesn't mean going to a church service on Sunday and living selfishly the rest of the week. It requires that we dive into the deep end of God's word and swim around daily until you have made it such a part of your life that gratifying your sinful desires is as foreign to you as learning a new language.

It is possible for the Christian to grieve the Holy Spirit. Earlier I shared a verse from Ephesians telling us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving. Just before that, verses 29-31 instruct us to take those qualities of one who walks in the spirit a little bit farther. Not only the do's, but a lot of the do not's as well... And right in the middle of it all Paul tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit in our life.

Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

When we act this way, and I am saying in this post especially toward our spouse, we grieve the heart of God. Bitterness, anger, filthy speech, bitterness, unkindness, and the like are all byproducts of waking in the flesh and not in the Spirit. All born again believer's possess the power to walk in the Spirit. (Eph 1:13; 2Cor1:21-22) It isn't something that is for the special or super Christians... It is for you and for me. In order to hear the Spirit, we need to be tuned into the right frequency. That is where reading the Word and prayer come into play. Walking in the Spirit means that our life is tuned into the things of God and we spend time daily listening to Him.

I encourage you today to begin walking in the Spirit as to not gratify the desires of your flesh. In this case, unkindness. I am certain that if you make kindness one of the key building blocks in the foundation of your marriage, your marriage will be much stronger and able to withstand the attacks that come at it. Being married can be tough! So let's make things just a bit easier on us and sow seeds kindness toward one another and reap the harvest of our marriages rather than tearing down one another and reaping the detriments.

Here are some practical ways we can start showing kindness toward our spouse:
  • Speak words of encouragement
  • Listen intently and patiently
  • Forgive one another quickly
  • Love without conditions
  • Do something out of the norm to show appreciation
  • Give of yourself to your spouse
  • Put the needs of your spouse before your own
Blessings to you as you walk in the Spirit of kindness toward your spouse, and those you encounter each day.

image courtesy of http://www.heartlight.org/

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beatin The Streets of Downtown Portland

Last night (Halloween) a team from Calvary Chapel South East went to beat the streets of Portland to share the Love of God with those He put into our path. With a team from Horizon School Of Evangelism - San Diego, we numbered around 100 or so. It was a night of worship, prayer, and sharing not only the Love of God, but a few donuts, sandwiches, and coffee as well. Rather than just setting up camp as one large group and waiting for those with a need to come to us, we formed small groups and set about the streets, to address basic needs, loaded with treats of many types.

The group God blessed me with was pretty diverse, ranging from a young recently married couple, two "20-something" young ladies, my friend Barry and myself - The old guys. We hadn't walked forty feet from our base in Pioneer Square before we spotted a man in shorts and a t-shirt. "Would you like a sandwich?", I asked. It seems he couldn't say "Yes" fast enough. Curious about the shorts and t-shirt, I had to point out the obvious... "You aren't from around here are you?" I asked. He stated he was a transplant from Arizona (thus the shorts and t-shirt). Barry had brought a heavy winter jacket for just such an occasion. The man was quite thankful for the food and the warm coat. After we prayed with him and shared God's love, one of the gals gave him a book of John and we moved on looking for others God would place into our path.

As the Holy Spirit would have it, our little group encountered many people on our walk. Some were veterans of the street life and several newbies as well. They all appeared to share common statements; they were hungry, tired of living this way, and all had their own story. I believe that is what spoke to me the most: Hearing the stories of the men and women who used a piece of cardboard as their bed and called a shopping cart, home. It was heart wrenching and eye opening at the same time. It had been twenty years since the Lord had provided me this type of opportunity, so I had forgotten the stories I had heard so many years ago. Different time back then, but very similar stories.

Two specifics really stick out as I think about this. The first is the plight of a woman who had been kicked out of her home, we learned, and apparently her husband would have nothing to do with her. Her statements quickly made it obvious she was on the verge of suicide and wanted very little to do with the ladies from our group. Still, the Lord moved them to share their love and the Love of Jesus with her. However, after some discussion, she walked away into the darkness of the park. Our little group stopped on the sidewalk overlooking the Willamette river and prayed for this woman.

The next amazing story came from a man named Doug that actually walked up to Barry and me after we had returned to our base at Pioneer Square. He stated his age as 40, but looked as if he was in his mid to late 50's. Although homeless and on the streets for years, he has a small place apparently due to some form of assistance, but only enough money to pay rent and power. As the love of Jesus was shared with Him while he picked up his sandwich, we came to realize he had a fairly good knowledge of the Bible. Cutting to the chase quickly, since time was getting short, we asked him what a most pressing need was and, how could we pray for him.

He shared at length his story of a life of struggle and pain.... In a nutshell I will also try to share bits of it as well. For two decades his addiction to heroin had made him tired of fighting it. That there hadn't been a week in that period of time in which he hadn't stuck a needle in his arm. He then asked a question many of us have asked in our lifetime; Why God would allow him to suffer in this way when he would love to be free of the dependency and serve God. To which we could offer nuggets of hope from what we knew of God's Sovereignty. We shared with him 2Cor 4:16-18 and he was in agreement that heaven was going to be a much better place. He said he prays often that God would free him from the bondage of sin and take him right now! The next statement that he shared was a stunner. That he had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Barry and I, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were blessed to pray and minister to this man in ways I know none of us will soon forget. God's love and provision never ceases to amaze me.

Last night the Lord provided wide open opportunities to meet people, feed them, and share HIS love. Not only for myself, but for nearly one hundred people young and old alike united with one purpose, to glorify Jesus in everything we did.