Saturday, August 25, 2007

Helping Each Other Through Change

by Rick Warren
Daily Devotional Purpose Driven Life

“I hope you will be patient with me ….” (2 Corinthians 11:1a, NLT)

In order to manage change, you must remember five things –

Love each other

The first mistake most people make during change is to focus on what they’ve lost, instead of what has been gained – and that creates fear. The antidote to fear is love: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear ….” (1 John 4:18 NKJ)

It’s impossible for love and fear to exist in the same environment – If we’ll focus on loving each other, then we’ll break out of the self-centeredness that often emerges during change. The love that conquers fear involves thinking about others instead of focusing on your own needs – and the more you love, the less you fear.

Listen to each other

During transition, we must be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry ….” (James 1:19 NIV) If we get the first two right (quick listening, slow speaking), then the third (slow anger) will become automatic. It reflects the concept of “seeking to understand” before trying “to be understood.”

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” (James 1:19 MSG)

Level with each other

We must speak the truth in love to each other if we’re going to walk together through change. It is human nature to avoid confronting someone directly, but then we fall into problems – even gossip – by talking to other people about the person we need to confront.

We can’t get close to each other until we deal honestly with our fundamental differences. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)

Liberate each other

Finally, we need to show each other grace – “cut each other some slack” – during transition. Liberating each other means letting go and treating someone else the same way Jesus treats you.

In other words, we shouldn’t lean into legalism or lording mistakes over others. People will make mistakes, and our response should be to recognize that these things will happen. The goal is not to make those who make mistakes feel bad, but rather to let them get over it and move on.

Friday, August 24, 2007

God Spoke You Into Existence

by Jon Walker
Daily Devotional Purpose Driven Life

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NLT)

Dear one, you were started as an idea in the mind of God! Wow! You exist because the God of the universe thought you up.

The God who spoke the world into existence, the God who hung the moon and the stars, the God who set the sun in the sky – this creative Creator thought about you, was pleased by his thoughts and so he spoke you into your mother’s womb in the same way that he spoke the world into existence.

As my friend, Rick Warren, says in “The Purpose Driven Life,” you are not an accident. You were created by God at just the right time, in just the right place, with just the right SHAPE to serve God in this moment (“… For such a time is this …” Esther 4:14, NIV).

You are NOT a product of God’s assembly line; rather you are a unique creation, like a priceless painting from a grand master: “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

So what?
  1. God’s selection – You were made unique by God. He carefully and lovingly selected your eyes, your hair color, your nose, your intellect, your personality. None of that is an accident. If you have been rejecting God’s design (of you), talk to him about your concerns, disappointments, or confusion. And when you are ready, thank God for his design of you.
  2. Not an after-thought – You were not an after-thought of God’s; in fact, you were a fore-thought of his infinite love and grace. God accepts you; he even likes you.
  3. Just in time – You have been born at just the right time to fulfill your unique role in human history. There will never be anyone else like you, and no one else is competing with you for God’s will for your life.
  4. What will be your life? -- Ask God to give you a clear and present vision of your purpose in life, and then ask him to be your strength and wisdom as you live it out.
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

Sharing Your Life Message

by Rick Warren
Daily Devotional Purpose Driven Life

“Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10a GW)

“Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word .... The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore – you’re the message!” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)

When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17b NCV)

Your Life Message includes your life lessons. These are insights you’ve learned about God, relationships, problems, temptations, and other aspects of life. David prayed, God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.” (Psalm 119:33 MSG)

Sadly, we never learn from a lot that happens to us. Of the Israelites, the Bible says, “Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned – until finally their sins destroyed them.” (P 106:43 MSG) You’ve probably met people like that.

While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. There isn’t enough time to learn everything in life by trial and error. We must learn from the life lessons of one another. The Bible says, “A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable than … jewelry made of the finest gold.” (Proverbs 25:12 TEV)

Write down the major life lessons you’ve learned so you can share them with others. We should be grateful Solomon did this, because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned from each other’s life lessons.

Mature people develop the habit of extracting lessons from everyday experiences. I urge you to make a list of your life lessons. You haven’t really thought about them thoroughly unless you’ve written them down. Below are a few questions to jog your memory and get your started:

So what?

  1. What has God taught me from failure?
  2. What has God taught me from a lack of money?
  3. What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
  4. What has God taught me through waiting?
  5. What has God taught me through illness?
  6. What has God taught me from disappointment?
  7. What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, my small group, and my critics?

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Pure Heart

by Jon Walker
Daily Devotional Purpose Driven Life

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Oh God, create in me a pure heart ...
A heart that won’t run with lust after physical pleasure,
A heart that obediently refuses what you’ve rightly and wisely fenced away as sin,
A heart of love that never insists on its own way (1 John 2:16).

Oh God, create in me a pure heart ...
A heart that knows no greed when it looks upon worldly treasures,
A heart that thinks of others, and not itself,
A heart that argues for love instead of fairness.

Oh God, create in me a pure heart ...
A heart that never boasts about what it has or what its done,
A heart that walks humbly, not trying to appear more important than it is,
A heart that takes no pride in the flesh.

Oh God, create in me a pure heart ...
A heart that chases after you,
A heart that looks to you for its provision,
A heart that trusts that you are at work in others,
A heart that does not manipulate people or circumstances,
A heart that looks upon the things above and not the things below.

Heavenly Father, renew a steadfast spirit within me ...
A spirit committed completely to you,
A spirit that is not double-minded,
A spirit that is focused, and single minded on your purposes,
A spirit resolved to know Christ and Christ alone.

So what?

Start from the top of the devotional, and work your way down.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pass It On

by Jon Walker
Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional

“… The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore—you're the message!” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (MSG)

God expects you to intentionally work at reproducing the life of Christ in others. You have this Jesus-deposit in you, and so God wants you helping others to become more like Christ.

Consider this: The mission is so vast, and your role is so critical, that he really wants you to be in thousands of places at once. Now, you may be thinking that’s humanly impossible and that God isn’t likely to defy his laws of nature to somehow place you in several different places at once. But God’s strategy is so simple, we might call it common sense.

He wants to work through you with his supernatural strength, guiding you to just the right places at just the right time to meet just the right people, so you can train them so thoroughly in God’s great truths that they will become living, breathing examples of Christ.

The Jesus-deposit in you transfers to them, and then they transfer it to others. In a sense, you are now able to teach simultaneously all over the globe because “Christ in you” is now “Christ in others.”

Some scholars call this the ministry of multiplication; it is the New Testament model for spreading God’s Good News rapidly through the intentional discipleship of believers. As the people you disciple, or lead to the Lord, share their faith, the Good News ripples across the global pond.

This is how the early church grew. The first followers of Christ welcomed with joy the message given by the Holy Spirit, and so they became a model to all the believers—their faith in God became known everywhere (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8). These were ordinary people, passing on the message they’d heard and received to the people around them, and then to the people beyond their own provinces.

Jesus compared this to the way yeast works, multiplying exponentially. In this week’s Bible verse (2 Timothy 2:2), Paul says he passed the message on to Timothy, who was to pass it on to other faithful believers, who would, in turn, pass it on others—that’s four generations of multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2)!

From now on –

· You are part of the equation. God expects you to multiply the Jesus-deposit he’s placed in you. You do this by intentionally passing it on to others, helping them to become faithful believers who will pass it on to others.

· Teach others, who can teach others, who can ... “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NAS)

· Question: How would your life be different if others had not worked to reproduce the life of Christ in you?

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved

Monday, August 6, 2007

Great Commission Eyes

by Rick Warren
Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional

“If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours.” Psalm 2:8, NCV

Rick Warren joins us for the next few days --

As we’ve been discussing, the opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in short-term international missions are now literally limitless. It’s never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation. The only barrier is the way we think. Your perspective and attitudes must shift – so that you develop Great Commission eyes --

Shift from local thinking to global thinking -- God is a global God; he’s always cared about the entire world (“God so loved the world ….” John 3:16, KJV). From the beginning he’s wanted to call forth, from every nation, the people he created.

The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. (Acts 17:26-27, CEV)

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing and much of what you ate today were produced in another country. We are more connected than we realize.

These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now than ever before. Paul was right: “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours.” (Colossians 1:6, NLT)

One of the best ways to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country! There’s simply no substitute for hands-on, real life experience in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave us a pattern for involvement: “You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem , in all Judea, in Samaria , and everywhere in the world.” (Acts 1:8, CEV)
His followers were to reach out to their community ( Jerusalem ), to their country (Judea), to other cultures ( Samaria ), and to other nations (everywhere in the world). Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. While not everyone has the missionary gift, every Christian is called to be on a mission to all four groups in some way.

So what does this mean?
  • Become an Acts 1:8 Christian -- Set a goal to participate in a mission project to each of the four targets: your community, your country, other cultures, and other nations. I urge you to do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible. It will enlarge your heart, expand your vision, stretch your faith, deepen your compassion, and fill you with a kind of joy you have never experienced. It could be the turning point in your life.
  • Watch the news with Great Commission eyes -- Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the Good News now than ever before.
  • Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world -- People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness, for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers.
  • Begin praying for specific countries -- World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. Also, pray for missionaries and everyone else involved in the global harvest. Paul told his prayer partners, “You are also joining to help us when you pray for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:11, GW).

The Five Priorities of a Godly Husband - Part II

Jay Sklar, Ph.D.
Two Becoming One

In Part One of this series on the priorities of a godly husband, we considered the priorities of loving God and loving our wives. We saw that loving God above all else is the greatest command in the Bible (Mark 12:30) and serves as the foundation for our lives and our marriages. We also saw that we are to love our wives in the same way that Jesus loved the church, namely, through self-sacrifice. We now consider three more priorities of a godly husband.

Third Priority: Manage Your Family (Ephesians 6:4)

Parents are exhorted to bring up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7a the Lord commands: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children." Fathers in particular are commanded to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

This last verse contains an important contrast: exasperating children vs. bringing them up in the instruction of the Lord. Yes, children are supposed to obey their parents (vv. 1-3). "But fathers," Paul says, "do not make this difficult for them!" (v. 4). Godly fathers are not dictators who need to prove their authority by constantly giving orders and commands and making new rules. Instead, godly fathers focus on helping their children to understand who the Lord is - they want their children to know that God's ways are good ways and that his commands are for their good.
  1. Since God is the perfect Father, one of the most practical things we can do is get to know God better. What is his character like? How does he respond to us as his children? As we grow in our understanding of who God is and how he relates to us, we will grow in our understanding of how we are to relate to our children.
  2. A second step to take is to seek out the counsel of those who have gone before us. Søren Kierkegaard once said, "We have to live life forwards, but can only understand life backwards." The trick, then, is to find someone whose "backwards" is your "forwards"! Seeking out a godly father for wisdom and advice is invaluable.
Fourth Priority: Provide for Your Family (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

The importance of providing for our families should not be missed: "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat'" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul is not talking here of those who earnestly desire work and have been laid off or are struggling to find a job. He is talking about those who are lazy. Thus he continues: "We hear that some among you are idle ... Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat" (vv. 11-12).

Providing for our families presents at least two different challenges. On the one hand, some of us find that our jobs can be unenjoyable and frustrating. On the other hand, some of us choose to let our jobs take a higher priority than our wives, families or even God himself.
  1. The first thing we need to do is recognize that we are called to be faithful servants of Christ in whatever job we have. When Paul writes to Christians who are slaves he gives this advice: "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does" (Ephesians 6:7-8a). Even if we don't enjoy it, we need to be faithful to God in the work that he has provided.
  2. If we are letting our jobs take a higher priority than our families and God, we need to repent. Of course there will always be times when our jobs demand more of us than at other times, but many men make the mistake of feeding their egos and ambition through their accomplishments at work at the expense of their wife, children and relationship with God.
Fifth Priority: Be Involved in a Local Church (Hebrews 10:25)

My wife, Carolyn, and I have some good friends who live in England. For a while, things were a real struggle in their married life. The turnaround began with two things. First, the husband began to cultivate his relationship with God. He is a corporate lawyer, and very busy, but loving God was so important to him that he began meeting on a weekly basis with another brother to pray. Second, he and his family got involved in a good, Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. This was very instrumental in his growth as a husband and in the growth of his entire family in the Lord.

The practical step to take here is quite obvious: get involved in a good local church that believes in the Bible and teaches it well! Involvement in a local church is not an option for the Christian: it is a command. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). This is absolutely essential to the spiritual well-being of your family.

(c) 2003 Christian Family Life