16: 50 Days Freed

There are those around us in bondage to sin who feel that what they have done forfeits any chance of redemption. Freedom is a dream that is for the righteous and you could imagine what they have done. How could God even look their way? They let this eat them up and fester to the point of bitterness, becoming a way of living, angry at God for His double standard which doesn’t exist created by them to ease the guilt of what they have done.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16
Paul, formerly Saul, was in every modern term a radical extremist. Before his acceptance of Christ, Saul hunted believers with the intent of stoning them if they would not recant their newfound faith. Judge, jury and executioner, he was ready at all cost to wipe out this new belief system that was changing the way people experienced God. I am sure if you had the ability to talk to any believers back then they would know who Saul of Tarsus was. Saul was locked in his bondage of sin and religious dogma, he had been brought up with the law being the only thing he knew.
One day unlike any other for Saul, he was heading to Damascus to seek and confront believers there. What happened on that journey can only be described as divine intervention. Jesus himself met Saul on the road and gave him an ultimatum. But the choice He gave Saul was one to one to discover who He really is. Jesus didn’t provide a choose me or die approach. He simply asked Saul ‘why are you killing my family’. Saul then asked Him who he was in which Jesus told him ‘go into the city and I’ll show you’. Then to drive the point home so Saul wouldn’t dismiss this as a daydream, Jesus struck him blind. This made Saul realize that he must then rely on this Jesus if he ever wanted to see again. Was this a trick of Jesus to coheres Saul to accept him? I don’t think so, it was more of a way for Saul to realize how truly blind he was to what he was doing and what he was missing out of.
Summing it up Saul meets a believer who Jesus had prepared for Saul’s visit. Although scared that Saul might arrest him he obeys none the less. Saul is healed and receives the freedom that Jesus offered, changing his name to Paul as an outward sign of his change. Paul knew he didn’t deserve the love of Jesus. His action towards believers could be what some call unforgivable sins. But Jesus doesn’t have a list of sins that He doesn’t forgive. He doesn’t have a list of unforgiveable people. No matter what we have done we have a loving God who sent His Son to give us grace.
Today are you living a life where you feel that Jesus could never forgive you for what you have done? Paul described himself as beyond redemption, yet Jesus met him where he was on his journey and showed him grace. You may be on your journey, doing things that are separating you from God. Jesus wants to meet you on the road and show you who He is. He may not be audible like He was with Saul, yet He may be speaking through someone who is inviting you to join them at church or ALPHA. You may think those moments are odd and irrelevant, but they are moments where Jesus is asking you ‘why are you running from me?’. He loves you, even if you don’t love Him. He died so that you can experience freedom in Him. You don’t have to live this life any longer in bondage to the sin that will lead you to an eternity separated from God. Will you take some time today to pray ‘Okay Jesus, show me yourself’?
Father, if we want to experience freedom we must accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I pray for those who feel that what they have done cannot be redeemed. I pray that hey will come to the moment where you show them that your love is bigger than their sin. Meet them right where they are at. Send someone into their lives to be a witness of Jesus love to them, let them see you for who you are even today. Use your children to share your love with all who need freedom. Amen
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Day 10: 50 Days of Passion

Apathy, malaise and laziness are all symptoms of something much deeper. When you come to realize one of these or any combination have started to creep into your life it becomes time to react to the it. Now we may have bouts of laziness because we are just so busy in life and just need time to unwind, not what I am talking about. Paul had every reason and opportunity to just sulk and do his time in jail. He could have gone deep into depression focusing on the why me. But he didn’t.

 

I am going to keep on being glad, for I know that as you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is all going to turn out for my good. Philippians 1:19

 

Here in jail Paul was determined to continue on, excited for Christ. He never threw in the towel and give up. He also knew that he could not endure this situation alone.

 

Our lives are not meant to be lived alone. When we isolate ourselves and close ourselves off from other people it is very easy to become aphetic to the world. The ‘whatev’ attitude can become a theme. We were not meant to live a life where we sign along to ‘Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.”  Paul knew this and put his joy not in his own strength but understood that his joy came from two sources, the Holy Spirit and those praying for him.

 

First, he had people praying for him. Why would this give Paul gladness or joy? When you have someone praying for you it tells you that you are important to them, that you are worthy of their time and care enough to petition your needs before God. Paul would have made his situation know to his friends so they knew what to pray for. He didn’t keep everything to himself, he asked for help. If we keep our needs to ourselves and don’t ask for pray or a helping hand how can we expect to deal with life that is overwhelming us?

 

Second, he acknowledged that the Holy Spirit was there with him. Jesus told us that he would send someone to comfort us. To be comforted we must first be uncomfortable, now I think being in prison would be very uncomfortable. But I believe the Holy Spirit is already with all believers. We were living an uncomfortable life before we met Jesus, on the day we gave our lives to him he sent the Holy Spirit to live with us. Many believers don’t know he is there and don’t take the time to build the relationship that Christ has provided. To have a relationship with God is to have one with all three parts of his being, Father, Son and Spirit. To only communicate with Father and Son is to miss out on the Spirit that is ready willing and able to work wonders in your life.

So, if you are feeling any of these symptoms today and maybe you have continued further down the path into depression, I would suggest the first thing you need to do is pray. Ask God to show you who the Holy Spirit is in your relationship, ask him to reveal Joy in your life. Next tell someone what’s going on, your Pastor, your mentor, your family, a close friend, someone who can begin praying for you. Then with them find someone who can guide you properly, a consoler or Christian therapist, who can work with you to root out what is holding you down.

 

If you want a renewed passion in life I pray that apathy, malaise and laziness will become things of the past. A passion like the one Paul has in prison will ignite our cities if we will allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. We must start praying for one another, lifting up the needs and calling out for the Spirit to move. Passion beings in prayer, revival starts in our heart, our love for Christ must overflow and reach this world.

 

Father, we need a renewed passion. We pray for those who are feeling depressed, either full borne, or on the road to. Jesus send the Holy Spirit to those people and show them the path they are on so they can ask for help. Let us gather around them, encourage them, love them, show them that they are important. We pray that you will move in their lives and ours. Let you love overflow us so that we can reach those in our communities who don’t know you and need to meet you. Give us a Joy that can’t be explained. Amen

Day 4: 50 Days of Passion

If we ever wanted to look at a man who should have been missing passion for his faith it was Paul. Stuck in jail for who knows how many years just for sharing the gospel of Jesus. Yet from ever letter we read from Paul we don’t get a sense that his passion has faded at all. He is committed to his trust and love of Jesus and the mission.

 

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6

 

To his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul takes the time to thank and encourage them in the way they are over coming adversity. The church would have been under attack from the local roman government, and many others who opposed the truth they were speaking.

Here in his letter we see Paul telling them that he is consistently praying for this church family. He has not stopped daily lifting them up to the Father with words of encouragement and hope. He sees that the work they are doing for the kingdom is the true mission work and understands his prayers will help fuel their passion. Even though Paul is not physically with them he is integral to the mission that is going on in Philippi.

Are you praying for the work being done by others? Are you encouraging other organizations in prayer, praying for strength, vision, and opportunities? Just like Paul we can be integral in the life of churches and missionaries who are in places we may never be. Praying for others doing the work of God will help ignite our passion. Our relationship with God is not just about us but our relationships with others in the family as well. Building them up and asking the Father to empower them and use them makes us part of the family.

So, who are you praying for today? Does your church have missionaries you could be praying for? Is you church associated with any parachurch organizations like Village of Hope or Samaritans Purse? Maybe there is some new church plants in your city, state or country you could be fortifying with your prayers. Praying for others will refuel your passion tank.

 

Father, all to often we focus our prayers on what we have in our circle of life. We miss praying for those who are off in other areas doing your mission. I pray that you will reignite us as we pray for others. Help is to be an encouragement to those who need it, to be the prayer in the perfect timing. I pray that your mission will expand and that many will come to know you personally. Let me be a witness to those around me, a light in the darkness. Let my passion overflow. Amen

Day 15: 50 Days of Impact

Lately if you have been reading my posts you will have seen a trend of making an impact in our world through sharing the truth about sin and salvation. I am hoping that this is connecting with you and motivating you to move forward in sharing your faith. The amazing thing about this avenue is I have no idea who may be reading this and how it may be showing them the truth. Wouldn’t it be awesome for one day when I am walking on the new earth to have somebody come up to me and tell me that they are there because of something wrote. What you do effects so many people, will what you do be positive and work towards leading them to a relationship with Jesus, or will it hinder them from finding him?

 

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”

1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT

 

We sometimes come into a place as Christians where we have been so comfortable in our salvation that we forget or overlook that we were once sinners in need of a saviour. Then we become complacent in our sharing the love of Christ with the list, and become pew sitters.

 

Many of our eyes are blind to the lost people around us. We know their lost but for some reason, apathy perhaps, we don’t care. The calling to reach those who are lost needs to be our life focus, not with a sense of guilt leading it, but a genuine passion to share Gods love with this broken world. The joy that comes when someone receives Christ for the first time is unexplainable, the roar of rejoicing in heaven echoing in our hearts.

 

Dear Jesus, I need a passion for the lost. I am failing in the great commission and want to turn that part of my life around. Holy Spirit give me words to speak, help me past my pride and ego to share your love. Amen
How can I help you today? Do you need prayer? Do you have questions? I would love to help.

Day 14 : 50 Days of Impact

Have you ever talked to someone who is so opposed to Christianity that it makes them hard to be around? We begin to wonder if they will ever be freed from the sin that oppresses their lives. Sometimes we write them off as lost causes, so far gone that even a miracle seems hopeless. Yet we know that even the hardest case isn’t lost when it comes to Jesus. Saul is a perfect example of opposite person accepting what he was fighting and becoming new. So new in fact he even changed his name to Paul.

 

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

 

So lately some of my posts have been focused on reaching the lost and our mission set forth by Jesus himself to go into the world and make disciples. Why is that so important to me right now? I think the question we need to be asking us why isn’t it important?

 

Outside of North America in places that we call the mission field, people are joining the faith in massive numbers. The amount if people they estimate to be converting everyday is something I find unbelievable and yet amazing. Why? Because I look around and don’t see hardly anyone coming to know Jesus where I am. How come people are flocking to Jesus elsewhere but not here in North America?

 

I don’t have the final answer. But one thing we need to do is repent for not following our mission. We as a church have become lazy in our mission. We give to missions, technically hiring others to reach the lost, and forget about the lost right outside our doors. Now not every Christian is doing this, but in general most are. I was one of them, I am working to change that.

 

To do this I am working at apply scripture such as the one above, my life motivator, a call to arms. I find I have opportunities but my body is weak and the pride I have holds me back. Not wanting to look stupid or say something to offend. But the fact is the cross is offensive to those who are lost. The devil does not want us sharing our faith with the lost.

 

The truth of Jesus’s saving grace may seem bitter at first, but it becomes sweet to those who believe.

 

Dear Jesus, forgive us as a whole and individually for not following your command to reach the lost. I don’t want to ignore those in need of a saviour anymore. I want to open my lips and speak the truth to others no matter what they think of me. Easier said then done, but with the Holy Spirit by my side I pray that I put my pride aside and move forward sharing Jesus with the lost. Amen

 

How are you impacting the world around you? I would love to hear your stories of reaching those who are lost. This will help encourage others to fulfil the mission.

Day 21: Original 50 Days of Pray Revisited

Thoughts on Day 21: If in reading my works you haven’t already picked up on it; I believe that no marriage is hopeless. We need to be teaching our children as well as demonstrating to them through our marriages that it is worth fighting for. Never give up on your spouse, we fell out of love is not an excuse but a cop out. There are extreme cases, but outside of those, we need to work at our marriages to keep them alive and fresh.

 

5 March 15

 DAY TWENTY-ONE
Romans 8: 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 5 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

How much should we love our wives? Ephesians 5:25 states just as much as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. How much does Christ love his church? Romans 8:38-39 tells us the love that Christ has for His Church.

Let that sink in for a minute. Do you love your wife that much? Wives do you feel that love?

Husbands if you feel that this kind of love is something you can’t offer, you are wrong. Marriage is not marrying the one you love but loving the one you married. Don’t stop working at your increasing the love for your wife.

Wives, if you feel unloved in your marriage, work on bringing love back. Do what ever it takes to rekindle your love, go on dates, turn the TV off, reconnect.

Together you can have this kind of love just like Christ has for the church. He doesn’t give up on the church, nor should you give up on your spouse.

Dear Jesus, we live our lives sometimes as fast-moving trains, we buzz past the problems and miss our stops. But God, we need help slowing down and rekindling the love that You want us to have for each other. The same love that You have for Your Church. Instill that in our hearts today. Amen

Day 22: 50 Days of Change

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As a father of four children I understand where this verse is going. ‘You never let us have any fun’ is a phrase that I hear on occasion.  I feel the connection because we as a society here have come through a generation where children were give almost absolute freedom to do whatever they wanted. Parents pushed hard to be the ‘cool’ non rule making parent and tried to be the friend. They didn’t want their kids resenting the rules and them like they did towards their parents. Somewhere along the line they got the notion that rules and limits didn’t make for good parenting.

A child will tell you that eating candy for breakfast is what they want to do, but a parent should know that it isn’t good nor beneficial for the child. Letting them watch endless hours of TV and electronic time on the internet are both things that require moderation. It goes the same for us as adults, we have things around us that are ‘allowed’ but it still doesn’t make them good and beneficial. 

Watching pornography is ‘allowed’ but there is no benefits or goodness as it demoralized someone’s daughter. Smoking is ‘allowed’ yet it destroys your body, and those around you. Just because something is allowed doesn’t always make it right, and participating in them doesn’t always make you a ‘bad’ person. It should make you question your motives and why you are participating in these things that harm the body and the mind, do they follow the teachings of Jesus. 

Are the things your doing good for you? Are they harming you physically? Mentally? Spiritually? What are you losing out on from doing them? Do they help you in sharing the love of Jesus with others? If it is something hidden would it cause others to lose respect for you if revealed? If anything has popped into your head as I am doing but maybe I shouldn’t be I pray today that you ask Jesus to help you stop these things. It may not be easy but with the Holy Spirit by your side everything is possible.

Jesus, thank you for revealing so much in your word. Thank you for daily showing us your love and guiding us. Today we pray tha if we are doing things that are not acceptable and are holding us back then show us and free us of these chains. We may truly enjoy these things, replace them with something good and pleasing, remove our desire or addiction for them. Let our lives reflect who you are to the world around us. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Help us to see the world the way you do and that the people matter to you, so they should matter to me. Amen