That’s Compelling!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I received an offer in the mail from Chevrolet yesterday for $3800 off a truck. I want a truck and I’d really like to justify getting one. But even after $3800 off, it’s still over $40,000. I want, but I’m not compelled to spend.

What compels me has changed over the years. Maybe I’m old, or I’ve grown up.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

Paul says what compelled him was Christ love in him. The King James says the love of God “constraineth us.” It’s interesting language, as it means love holds us together. Without it we would cease to exist, immediately. We would fall apart!

But more than that, Paul says it is Christ’s love, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection life that compels him to live as an ambassador for Christ. As such, he lived as a minister of reconciliation – compelled to share Christ and see others come to know and experience the forgiveness of sins and mercy of God in Christ. He gave his life to it, because he was so consumed and compelled by the love of God for him.

May we be compelled today by the gift of Christ’s love and offer it to one another.

#10 – A Potent Presence

Monday, March 18, 2019

“And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” Mark 1:27

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi…and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” Mark 2:14

As you start your Monday, remember that there is One present within you who is more powerful and potent than anything or anyone anywhere, ever.

Consider this, the God who spoke life into existence, the God who spoke and called a deadman from a tomb, and the God who spoke but a few words and men followed him is present to you, now.

David Benner says: “The potency of Jesus’s teaching and the fact that others recognized him as carrying astounding authority came from his presence and the way it bore witness to the truth of his being. The power of his presence – not rhetoric, manipulation, hypnosis, or any other source of influence – is the basis of the most powerful natural authority and source of influence we will ever encounter.

Jesus is with you, in you and able to do abundantly more than you ask or think. Take on Monday full of His love and potent presence and let His glory shine.

Saint Patrick & the LUCK of the Irish

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day. You are free to celebrate with green beer if you want, but Saint Patrick did not bring beer to Ireland. He did however bring the Irish LUCK. 

Patrick was first in Ireland as a prisoner (4th Century). He was taken captive by Irish pirates long before he was a believer in Jesus Christ. He spent six years in captivity before escaping back to England. While in captivity in Ireland, Patrick came to faith. He wrote in Confession that his “time in captivity was critical to his spiritual development.”

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the LORD; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols. (Isaiah 43:6-8)

In the struggles of life he met the mercy of God. Patrick said: “The Lord had mercy on his youth and ignorance, and afforded him the opportunity to be forgiven his sins.” The captive was captured by the love of God, for the glory of God.  

Years after escaping and returning home, he had a vision to return and share Christ. At this time Ireland was lost and pagan. Legend has it he shared about the Holy Trinity using a three leafed Shamrock, using it to illustrate the teaching of three persons in One God.

The expression, “the luck of the Irish” is oft quoted around Saint Patrick’s Day. It actually has nothing to do with him or three or four leaf clovers/Shamrocks. You can research that saying on your own. 

What is clear is that God’s mercy and love set Patrick free. And Patrick, full of love, used his freedom to share Christ. In fact he did bring Ireland a sort of  LUCK – love, understanding, compassion and kindness. That is the LUCK that transformed Ireland. And indeed today it is love, understanding, compassion and kindness that we are called to celebrate and share with all. 

So – here’s to the God of Saint Patrick who breathes life, sets us free, and calls us to live out of the love, understanding, compassion and kindness of Jesus Christ.  That is luck worth celebrating.  

T.G.I.F.

Friday, March 15, 2019

It’s Friday and the week is near an end. You are free to celebrate that if you want. But maybe TGIF means more than celebrating the arrival of Friday. What if we took it to mean Thank God I’m Free? 

God’s freedom carries more weight and more hope than the end of a weeks work.

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him,  

“If you remain in my word, you are my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 

These followers responded:

“We are of Abraham, we’ve never been enslaved to anyone”                                   (they had forgotten their history – 400 years of slavery in Egypt).

Jesus replied: 

“Sin enslaves everyone who practices it and the one enslaved to sin will not remain in the house (God’s house). But if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. (paraphrase of John 8:31ff)

At the end of the day you will be “free” of the work week. Free to take off a day or two. Free, because we live in a free society, to do almost anything we please and that will please you. BUT, what if true freedom is more? What if it is a lot more than the freedom to indulge, satisfy, please and cater to ourselves?

Jesus says later, “if you understood your freedom you would love me” (John 8:42). And as the gospel unfold he says, “if you love me, you will love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

Our freedom is not so much a freedom for self, but a freedom from self? Freedom from ourselves is the freedom to love and serve God and one another. Freedom from our sinful passions and desires releases us to a deeper love, a more fulfilling love.

Today, thank God you are free and choose to live in and out of the love with which you have been love. This is freedom worth celebrating, today and everyday. TGIF.   

Day 7 – The Joy of Life

Thursday, March 14, 2019

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ. John 17:3

I’m thinking about life today. It may be because it is my daughters birthday. I am so incredibly grateful for her life and the joy I have in knowing her. Seeing my little girl grow-up and spread her wings and fly is this father’s dream and delight. Even more, knowing her and experiencing her personality, her peculiarities, her power, her perseverance and her love is my joy and gives me life.

Jesus came to give us life and joy. What’s more, he said knowing God the Father is eternal life. Eternal means forever. Life forever is found in knowing God. Knowing means having a connection that runs long and deep and intimate – well beyond a few superficial facts. Knowing the depth of God’s love, a love that would sacrifice his son for you and me, is humbling. Knowing that He is for us through thick and thin is radically encouraging. Knowing that our heavenly Father delights over us (Zeph.3:17) is motivating. Knowing He has planned good for us even though trials will come (Jer.29:11),  is comforting. Knowing God gave His Son’s to reconcile us to himself and secure us in His love, forever, is profoundly amazing. He gave us life that we might enjoy Him – forever.

What if today you asked God to let you know His love more deeply? And from that knowing allow yourself to enjoy Him.  The God who gives life and love in abundance desires your joy in Him to be full – will you welcome that today?

Hump Day Determination – Day 6

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – Day 6 of our 40 Day Journey

We are midway through the week. Maybe you’ve had some challenges or bumps along the way.  Maybe you’re discouraged by the humps you have to get over and the pot holes you’ve hit. They are not fun, but maybe they are good.

Matthew tells us after Peter’s powerful confession of faith;

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”                                                Matthew 16:21-22

Jesus was describing the journey. A way of struggle, hardship, and suffering. It’s the reality that the narrow road is at times a hard road. It’s the truth that the hard road is the road to glory.  Is there some suffering on your journey?

Peter did not want the Lord to suffer. Who wants a friend to suffer? Who wants to suffer? I don’t. I am with young Peter, I’d rather it never happen to you or me. But this same Peter, later in life, said:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1Peter 5:10

There is more to say about suffering, but Peter who initially stood firm against it had come to realize that suffering is part of the journey to eternal glory. It is part of how we grow and mature. And we can fight it (as young Peter did) or we can look for the Lord in it. Lord, how are you restoring and confirming, strengthening and establishing me through the struggles and suffering of this week.

Today, would you be willing to welcome whatever the Lord brings your way? Would you open yourself to his love and presence and trust that he is working for your good, even  through the difficulties?  Determination to meet God in your difficulties and persevere with Him.

Day 5 – A Secure Life

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Do you ever wonder what you’ll need for a secure life? A good education, a great house and job, a partner with bunches of money in the bank? Would that make you secure?

Jesus said:

Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. John 6:37

and then the Apostle Paul said:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans 8:38-39

The reality is, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, YOU ARE ALREADY SECURE.

Coming off of the madness of a Monday in the broken world – maybe you could use a reminder of the security of your eternal life in Kingdom of God because of the power and love of Jesus for you.

You will never be a cast away and never separated from the most powerful and satisfying love in the universe. Today – risk living in and out of that love – and take on the day with bold confidence in your security.