Day 21: 50 Days of Passion

We read about people petitioning for peace or hear of people striving for world peace, but I come to wonder what it is that they are actually looking for? Do they even really understand what they are striving for? Is it even possible?  With all the turmoil in the world today one could wonder if it is really an option.

 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

 

 

This verse gives us a taste and a formula on how to experience God’s peace in our lives. I take from here that peace is a confidence that you are walking with Jesus, that he has you no matter what life might throw your way and your okay with that. So here is my break down on how one might experience Gods peace.

  1. You must be living in Christ Jesus – a relationship with Jesus is essential, accepting his sacrifice on the cross. This is paramount, for with out this nothing else matters.
  2. Thanksgiving – be thankful for your life, and everything in it. The good times and the not so good times. God has already done so much for you, life itself.
  3. Pray – ask God for what you need, and pray for others. Nothing is to small or insignificant for you to ask him.
  4. Don’t worry- this can be the biggest challenge as we tend to be concerned all the time on how things will turn out. To let it go and trust God is key to receiving peace.

 

It is only when we as humanity find peace with God will we then be able to finally have world peace. I look at the bumper sticker and wonder how much truth is in those simple words.

‘No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.’

We can’t expect those reading a sticker to understand but as believers we need to be open and willing to share our faith and help people know who Jesus is. It isn’t just knowing about Jesus either, it is about surrendering and truly knowing who he is.

 

I pray that even today you will apply these to your life, and will experience God’s peace in your life. That will protect your heart and mind from the enemies’ attack, and that you will have confidence to boldly share the peace and love you have received in Jesus.

 

Jesus, thank you so much for everything you have given us, your blessings are more then we realize. As we apply this scripture to our lives we ask that you protect us from the attacks of worry and restlessness and provide us with peace. Let us walk boldly in your peace and work to share your love with those around us. They matter to you so they matter to us. Amen

 

 

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Day 20: 50 Days of Passion

Have you ever had anyone call out your faith? They are looking for anything they can do to disprove that your faith is real. Are they doing this out of spite? Out of jealously? Or are they looking for an excuse not believe? We need to be strong in our faith as to be a witness to those around you.

 

“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practising the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

1 John 1:5-10 NLT

 

When it comes to being Jesus to those around us let me tell you something that you might already know. If you are a Christian expect those around you to be watching you, they will be looking to see if your version of Christianity is as ‘hypocritical’ as they have thought all along.  We are being watched, judged on our actions, words and lifestyle.

 

That is actually a good thing, I know it is hard to believe but it is. We can become powerful witnesses of our faith if we work at showing the light that we follow. No, we don’t have to be perfect, and yes we will do things that contradict our faith, but it is in those moments the way we deal or handle it is how we will be seen.

 

In this section of 1 John, I read it saying your not perfect, but that’s okay, Jesus is there to help you get through it, to grow towards the life he has for us. I don’t think those around us watching us are expecting perfection. They want to see someone real, experience something real. We can be that with Jesus, we can show that we are just normal people saved by grace.

 

How we live our lives will reflect who we are in Christ as well. We need to be mindful of what we are doing, because our actions and words can help or hinder our witness. The bible has boundaries we should look at maintaining, and I am not going to go into them that is your responsibility to ask God through the bible. These boundaries are not to keep us from having a ‘good’ time or from experiencing life, God gave us these boundaries to keep the evil out of our lives. If we commit to staying inside the boundaries we will start to recognize sin more easily, and it makes it easier to avoid.

 

Today I challenge you to be a light for your faith, be real and don’t just put on a show that will eventually crumble at the first sign of trouble. Invite someone to church to experience what you believe. Share your faith.

 

Jesus, forgive give me for my sins, cleanse me anew today. Let me be a light to my coworkers, my friends, my family and to anyone I come in contact with either in person or online. Jesus let me be real in my faith, I want to reach others and share your love and mercy. They matter to you so they matter to me. Amen

 

 

Day 19: 50 Days of Passion

To many people live their lives with the attitude of “only if”. Only if I had a better job, only if I had of married someone different, only if I had of not done that, only if I had more money, only if….. They are hoping that if things would only go their way things would be better. Peter a disciple of Jesus, knew what it meant to put his life in someone else’s hands. He left everything to follow Jesus, he saw the hope Jesus was providing to the people and then followed him. The bible reads that Peter followed Jesus with out asking any ‘only ifs’. We would expect him to have asked I will follow only if you tell me where we are going, only if you let me pack my bags up, only if you let me say goodbye, only if you let me find a replacement worker for my dad.

 

 

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”

1 Peter 1:13 NLT

 

We place a lot of hope in many different things. Some of them may not be that bad, but God is looking for us to put our hope in salvation. He wants us to rely on him for our needs and the like, when we put out hope in the next lottery ticket or our hope in the next elected leader it shifts our eyes of God and salvation.

 

So to be able to put all your hope in God it requires us to prepare our minds. As children and teenagers we prepared our minds for life by attending school, communicating with adults and study/observations. As Christians we need no less, we must communicate and fellowship with other believers who can build us up. We need to study God’s word either personally or in group/educational settings. Observing the actions of other believers can be useful such as reading testimonials of faith or seeing Christians in action can be encouraging and push us to do the same.

 

We also read the word exercise in this verse, exercise self control. Exercise is a discipline that must be done purposeful to be effective, so to exercise self control is a purposeful practice, taking the time to correct ourselves when we make a mistake and getting stronger in spite of it. These two actions of preparing your mind and exercising your self control work side by side. If you watch any amount of TV you may need to cut back (self control) and spend more time with Jesus(preparing). Replace the word TV with whatever activity you do the most.

 

Let use to prepare our minds for action, and exercise self control, as to be effective in the mission of reaching the lost. Don’t use the only if excuse to keep you away from accepting gift of salvation.

 

Jesus, let us not be caught up in the daily activities of live, let our hearts and minds focus on who you are and the call to reach the lost. Let us not miss the moments but be sharp and ready to share your love to whomever needs to hear it. Let us not make excuses on why we can’t so love to others. They matter to you so they matter to me. Amen

 

 

Day 15: 50 Days of Passion

Ever have someone tell you that you are missing out because you are not participating in an activity or habit that they enjoy? As a military member I have heard so many times that I need to start drinking as I am missing out. Or the challenge that they will have me drinking soon enough. Time and time again I will just laugh and say sure that’s not going to happen and I thank God that I never went down that road. But unfortunately, there are many who have succumb to the lie that they are missing out on something.

 

 

 

But whatever happens to me, remember always to live as Christians should, so that whether I ever see you again or not, I will keep on hearing good reports that you are standing side by side with one strong purpose—to tell the Good News fearlessly, no matter what your enemies may do. They will see this as a sign of their downfall, but for you it will be a clear sign from God that he is with you, and that he has given you eternal life with him. Philippians 1:27-28

 

 

If only there was a book out there with simple and hard fast ways for a person to live as “a Christian should.”   Well fortunate for us there is, it is called the Bible. It doesn’t give us examples exactly how in our current era, but it gives us the basic principles of what it means to follow Jesus. To live a life as a Christian should is not boring, it is actually quite exciting. If you want a dangerous life look at Paul, he ended up in jail for sharing his faith, he was killed for loving Jesus.  You may not live in a place where your life is at stake for following Jesus, but God will use you for amazing things.

 

How then according to the bible should a Christian live? Jesus told his followers that they should ‘love one another’, he said to “go to the ends of the earth and tell others about him making disciples of all nations’ as well as “go and sin no more”. Paul tells us to “pray with out ceasing” and “to tell the good news”.

 

Not all believers live as Christians should, maybe that’s one reason their passion is low. These are not to be confused as rules that once broken God hammers down on them punishing them for their disobedience. Completely opposite, God in his fatherly love for us works to draw us back to him with love, promptings and grace. God never removes himself from us, it is us that move away from him. He is always there with arms wide open.

 

We can’t expect the non- believer to live as Christians should. This is one hinderance that those outside the church see as a turnoff to the faith. But they are watching us and seeing how we react to one another, what love we are showing those we call “family”. If we are not walking side by side with our they will see it and it will not be something that draws them in.

 

So are you ready to live as a Christina should, explore your bible, see what it says. Ask God to reveal areas that may be a hinderance to your faith. Ask for a renewed passion for sharing the good news to the lost. Let your life be an example of the love of Jesus.

 

Father, we come to you today asking for a renewed passion. We pray that if there is anything in our lives that is holding us back, show us so we can give it to you to remove. Forgive us for not being untied with our fellow believers. Let our words match our actions. Set a fire in our hearts to reach the lost. They matter to you so they matter to us. Amen

 

Day 12: 50 Days of Passion

Choices are not always a bad versus a good. Sometimes we have two good choices and we just can’t have both or maybe can’t have both right now. It may be the job opportunity, the family vacation, Christmas plans or a plethora of other things. It is in these moments you need to carefully weight out the choices before, praying and ultimately deciding what is best for you and your family. We make hundreds of choices everyday, those seem to come to us quickly, it is the major life choices that can change everything.

 

For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying—well, that’s better yet!  But if living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don’t know which is better, to live or die! Sometimes I want to live, and at other times I don’t, for I long to go and be with Christ. How much happier for me than being here! But the fact is that I can be of more help to you by staying! Philippians 1:21-25

 

Paul here in prison is not a man contemplating suicide. He is verbally or in writing weighing out what it means to make his choice to either just give in to his situation and the result would mean death, or to live. As a follower of Christ, he knows that once life ceases here it does not just cease to exist anymore, he understood that to be absent from this body on earth was to be with the God he loves. So, in his circumstance to go from a stank prison cell to the presence of God was looking pretty good.

As we read we recognize the passion in Paul’s heart for other believers. Not just other believers but opportunities to reach the lost. He saw the big picture and how his life, even in prison, was impacting others to grow in their faith. In these few verses we see the though pattern of Paul as he weighed out his choices and quickly the obvious came clear to him.

If you like me you have seen many believers in much better circumstances then Paul who look in rough shape. They are free yet there is bondage that has them in a prison of their own making. Maybe it is doubt, a poor self worth or something holding them down. They have a choice to make, live in that prison and eventually die, or live a life of encouragement, passion and love.

Maybe you need to make a choice like I made, no matters what the circumstance I am going to praise God. The passion I desire may not be bubbling up inside like I desire but I know that things are shaking up and will explode soon. I need to keep pushing forward in my faith, keep praying, reading, seeking God and the Holy Spirits power. I know that if it never explodes, I am founded in the hope of Jesus, I have a relationship with the Creator God. No one can take that from me.  No one can take it from you once you have submitted your life to him and started a personal relationship.

Father, like Paul we have a choice to make, lay down and die or live with expectations. We want to be like Paul passionate about reaching others, being used to love our brothers and sisters in the faith. Let your love overflow our hearts, give us a fresh passion for reaching the lost. We want our lives to reflect you and be a light to the world around us. Amen

 

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