Tag Archives: Focus on Jesus

DAILY QUIET TIME.050816

Hands Praying on Bible            Luke 9: 23 says, “If anyone would follow me (be my disciple), let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  The point I want to focus on right now is about our daily habits. We can’t go many days without eating (and we certainly like to eat every day); we cannot live more than a few days without water; we have to sleep regularly, mostly every night. If we don’t go to work or school every day, we won’t last long in those endeavors. If we don’t do these things every day, we will languish, and diminish, and die.

I submit that if we don’t focus attention on our spiritual lives every day we will eventually wither and die spiritually. Because God wants so much to have a personal relationship with us, He gives us many, many extra chances to choose Him, so we won’t die forever (2 Peter 3:9). If we want to have a vibrant relationship with God, we must do it daily. We have to choose, this day, to serve Him. (Joshua 24:15) If we don’t eat daily, we won’t grow and develop properly physically; and if we don’t seek God daily, then we won’t grow and develop properly spiritually.

If anyone wants to draw near to God; if they want to develop a personal relationship with God; then they must focus their attention on God every day. The best times I have getting to know God better are the times when I take the time to: 1 Read the Bible and a devotional and let it soak in a little; 2 Read the prayer requests that I have received and think them over; both about the physical needs requested and about the spiritual needs that are represented by those requests; and then 3 kneel and talk to God; tell Him how much I want Him and how much I need Him in my life; about how thankful I am that He loves me and is taking care of me; about how much I love Him and how much I want to be more like Him and less like me, how I want to die to myself so He can live His life in me; and then I 4 wait; (and while I’m waiting),           I try to 5 listen for God about the needs in the prayer requests and how they relate to the Bible passage and the devotional. .
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CONSISTENCY.040516

Open Your Heart Concept

“Consistency is the crutch of small minds.”  Tex (from a letter to my kids)

Some people said Jesus was inconsistent because He said people should abide by the law one time, and the next time He said people should be led by the Spirit, and be merciful to lawbreakers. Even in the Old Testament, God said He’d rather have someone with an obedient heart than sacrifice, even though sacrifice was according to the law.

Over and over in the Bible, it says that God looks at the heart.  Somehow or other it should be the way we look at it too.  I’m sure people ought to do what they say they will, but you don’t have to do the same way ever time. Different situations require different responses.

And this isn’t situation ethics either.  It is just realizing that we ascribe to a higher law, which is layman’s terms is being true to God and the people that God puts you with, above being true to man’s law or any dogmatic principle.  (How do you know which is is right?  If you’re seeking God, you’ll know.)  Like it says in the Bible, “This is the first and great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the fulfillment of all of the law and all of the prophets.  If you love God, you will keep His commandments; if you love your neighbor, you’ll treat him right.

My experience has been that if you abide by these two commandments, you won’t always appear consistent to the world, but you will usually do the right thing, and you will be consistent to God and in your heart.

KARMA. 102216

mountain path uphill to the sky at sunsetI thought Karma was like Gal. 6:7-8, “Reap what you sow.”  But the Hindu man on the plane explained Karma to the preacher.  He said, “Karma means that you get exactly what you deserve, based on what you did in your life.”  The preacher answered, “I don’t get what I deserve, because Jesus died for me on the cross and His blood redeemed me from all that I have done.” So there really is “No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, to those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.  We don’t have to pay for all the bad things we’ve done! We are free!!!  We’ve been delivered from sin and death.  (and from the “wheel of existence”, as the Hindus might say.)  
‘Course I guess you might say that Karma (as the Hindus perceive it) applies to your ‘natural’ life, in the sense that there are consequences for our actions.  We end up being responsible for the things we do, whether we like it or not.
But in the spiritual realm, Jesus has provided us a way to be delivered from the sin that so easily attacks us.  If we trust Him, Jesus will (and DOES) deliver us from sin and death.
Just between me and you, I think God lets that deliverance seep over into our (us believers) ‘natural’ lives as well.  “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

EVERYTHING’S CHANGING.110715

past lifeAt my house we have a 66-year-old husband, a 55-year-old wife, and a 17-year-old son.  Everyone is involved in more than we can say grace over.  And though we have each other; for which we are all very grateful; we daily shake our heads and strain our brains to maintain stability.  Our church got a whole new pastoral staff this summer, and there have been multiple collateral changes.  For one thing our son and I have been involved for several years in a close working relationship with our youth director who’s been here for 11 years and is now, just this month, moving on.  Most of the kids we have worked with for 5-6 years have graduated from high school and gone off to college.  The few that are left are struggling to keep the program together.  As we look to the future, things are shifting. Seems like almost every week there is an announcement of another change in the leadership. Sometimes we almost lose heart.

But not for long.  Do you know that if you trust God, you can have peace in your heart, in spite of all the crazy stuff that’s going on?  Philippians 4:6-7.  Continue reading

IF IT’S GOOD FOR PAUL AND SILAS, IS IT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME? 110615

Two young girls having conversation in the park

You’ve heard that old song, “If it’s good for Paul and Silas, it’s good enough for me.”  There’s lot of stuff from “the good ole days” that IS good enough for me.  I mean not from ‘their’ era, but from the days of my youth.  Good ole Gospel singing.  Billy Graham preaching.  Maybe even a tent revival with preachers speaking the truth of God, and the people truly rising to the occasion and meeting the Spirit with their hearts.  It’s been a long time since I experienced the movement of the Spirit like that.

But as it applies to ‘making disciples’, what I experienced when I was young fell short of what I now perceive as God’s will for our lives as disciples of Jesus.  Even now-a-days I find much of the teaching in churches about discipleship is pretty dry and academic.  I hear about programs for college kids where they spend the summers working at jobs and spending all their ‘free’ time walking the beaches talking to people about Jesus.  High intensity training in making disciples. In six to eight weeks each kid gets to talk to several hundred (200-300) people.  People are getting saved, making a commitment to Jesus.  Their lives are being transformed;  the kids (the evangelists) as much as their contacts.  No matter what they do for God in the future, it changes their whole perspective on what it means to “follow” Jesus.  Continue reading

SHARING YOURSELF.103015

drinks, communication, friendship and people concept - happy young women with cups sitting at table and talking in mall or cafeAwhile ago we started talking about what it means to be a “Practicing Christian”.  We suggested that a “Practicing Christian” is one who practices the fundamentals of Christianity, which include focusing on God every day; making Jesus the Lord of your life; having a quiet time which includes reading the Bible and some devotional, praying, meditating and listening to God (every day); and sharing yourself, your life and your knowledge of God with others, through prayer and share, Bible studies, Church and Christian activities (every day).  You notice I’m stuck on the part about ‘every day’.  That’s what Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would follow Me [be My disciple, My student, My follower], let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me.”

So today we’re talking about sharing yourself.  After you’ve spent a little time focusing on God and doing the things that are listed above, you’ll see that your relationship with God is beginning to develop, and without even trying you start feeling the urge to say something to other people about what’s happening to you in your heart.  (It’s that change that the Greeks call metamorphosis, sometimes translated into English as “transformation”.)  It’s the same thing that happens when a caterpillar changes from a worm into a butterfly.  That’s us, when we start to spend time focusing on God.  Paul talks about it Romans 12:2. Continue reading

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN 7: Daily Quiet Time, Part 2.Devotional.102715

Surprised woman using laptop in parkI started reading the Bible pretty regularly fairly early in my life (maybe age 35-40) It was quite a bit later when I started reading a devotional every day.  In fact it was in 2000, after I went on a “Walk to Emmaus”, in my weekly ‘Reunion Group’ they would start their meetings by reading that day’s devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.  Someone gave me a copy, and I started reading it (every day).  I’d write down what it meant to me.  Then I’d compare my daily Bible verse from my list with Oswald’s point(s), and I’d try to figure out what God was trying to say to me from those two sources, taken together.  I got some amazing revelations from Him in those little sessions.  I’m still doing that, 15 years later.  But now I’ve started including two or three additional daily devotionals from various writers, like Brennan Manning, or Charles Stanley, or Max Lucado, or Alistair Begg, all of whom I respect as committed men of God.  In my journal I write down the most important point from each one’s post for that day, and then compare them to see how they fit together.   Again, major revelations appear from those short readings and comparisons.  Continue reading