Discipleship. At the core of Jesus’ message, in everything He did, and in everything he taught, Jesus wanted . . . no . . . called his followers’ loves to reflect his. Disciple means follower. Christian means little Christ. I hope these messages call you to connect the dots between what you say you believe and how you live. Jesus wondered aloud to his disciples if He would find faith on the earth when He returns. Will he find you, living for Him, regardless of the cost?
As new year pokes it’s head up from the eastern horizon, my fresh calendar’s blank pages carry a deep promise of new hope. Today, in the middle of a Michigan winter, the sky is blue and the temperature is soaring to 55 degrees. A new president has been sworn in. Christians and even some political voices prognosticate good things. Rising tides lift all the ships in the harbor.
Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.
By: Nancy Guthrie, Tyndale House Publishers, 2009
In his work The Problem of Pain, prolific Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  For some reason, much of the contemporary Christian world has forgotten God’s purpose of pain, or maybe we’ve never learned it. Into this gap between success focused, performance centric worship and the reality of pain and suffering experiences by many Christians, Nancy Guthrie speaks. Drilling down into eleven specific circumstances, Nancy challenges her readers to find God rather than run from Him when they experience pain, suffering, grief or unanswered prayers.
Prayer is a conversation with God, two way communication where we enter into God’s presence and listen to his priorities and learn about his heart as well as tell him what is happening in our lives. It’s not that God doesn’t know about our lives. He does. But the most important part of prayer, and maybe most neglected, is when we take time to listen. Check out these scriptures, and tell me what you think in the comments below.
“Father, I pray that they’re all one.”
On Tuesday mornings, I meet in a coffee shop for Bible study with five friends. In addition to the energized conversation over Scriptures and authors, this bakery prepares one of my favorite treats. Their Danish pastry ring has light, flaky crust topped with apple, cherry and cream cheese frosting, drizzled with confectioners glaze, and coffee in a dozen different flavors. As the six of us wrestle with the Scriptures, the coffee shop lattes and pastries are an illustration of our differences. We often argue about what’s important in a particular passage, even debating our understandings of the central doctrines. Yet we’re all growing. We’re moving toward the same goal – a deeper revelation of Christ in us and through our lives.
In the past six months, I’m hearing a lot about Grace, and to tell you the truth, I’m confused. Maybe I’m in a bubble, but I don’t understand how or why ministries are developing the message of grace into a subculture of the gospel. Most of these ministries and their preachers are presenting the truth of the gospel (more on that later) because grace is essential, no, the core of salvation.
During the past few decades, religious thought and public discussions about how personal faith influences public life have been relegated to the kids table. When the “grown-ups” in the room discuss ‘more important adult’ issues, including politics, education, ethics in leadership and social building blocks, those who want to influence our culture do not want to be troubled with the ideas of immutable, unchanging, or inconvenient truth.
I’ve walked with Jesus for over three decades. The road isn’t always smooth, but I’ve learned these two simple truths.
- God is always faithful.
- His Word is always True.
Yet when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to, how often do we blame him and doubt his faithfulness?
Our prayers can be hindered by our own, internal selfish desires, attitudes, character or emotions. Our prayers can also be hindered by spiritual forces we can’t see, and yet they affect our lives none the less. Because of every life’s uniqueness, God doesn’t give us a One-Size-Fits-All solution to a weak or stale prayer life. (beware of those who do)
Spiritual warfare is as real as the sunlight and rain. Sometimes spiritual war appears through the unknowing actions of others. Sometimes spiritual warfare is in our own minds, bodies or attitudes. Just like Satan’s temptation of Adam and Even in the garden, spiritual war is designed to take our eyes off God’s promises and blessings, and put our focus on our own desires, lusts or ambitions or fears.
Nothing blocks our lines of communication with God like our own stubborn heart and selfish attitudes. God’s love for us never changes. We don’t earn his grace or attention by the quantity or volume of our prayers. Yet when we hold onto our will ahead of God’s, we stand in the way of God’s ability to answer our prayers. Our own will is at the heart of our hearts when we are displaying the works of the flesh, such as sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambition, acts of rage.