Devotionals For Leaders: Where? What?

Devotionals For Leaders (2)

It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. Hebrews 11:8

Obedience Is The Key.

Where do I need to be and what do I need to do? I have struggled with those questions often throughout my time on earth. You may have too. They are very important questions. However, I’m finding this to be true over and over again; God is more concerned about my obedience than my location.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that God has specific places for specific people. This does not negate the fact that God carries those people there. He sends those people there. He somehow manages to get those people there as would be the case for Jonah and the great fish.

Who I Am? vs. Where I Am?

The issue with God is not can He use me where I am or where He’s taking me. The issue is who I become along the way and through the situations. God’s greatest ambition is conformity to that of His Son. There is none who was or is more obedient than Jesus. Obedience is a benchmark of Jesus, even obedience unto death on a cross (Philippians 2).

God seems to have a greater concern about developing me into a certain person than taking me to a certain place. How does He do this? No other way than through the revelation of Himself. So often, I want God to reveal His plan instead of Himself. I want to know the in’s and out’s, the details, the lowdown but God does not cave into my desires. He instead fulfills me with Himself. For me to become all that God wants, I have to stop looking ahead and start looking up.

Which Way Do I Go?

Abraham went out not knowing where He was going but He knew Who he was going with. He was going with God. I wonder how many times I have gone without God…knowing where I was going but oblivious that God was not with me? The knowing of the Christian walk is not to a place but with a Person, the person of Jesus Christ. As we walk with Him we become. We move forward at times but we move inward all the time. Obedience is an inward job and the only way to accomplish it is to obey.

Maybe God is not sending me anywhere except to Himself? Maybe that’s the ultimate destination?

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Observations Of A Prodigal #4

Prodigal

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ Luke 15:17-19

Centless And Senseless.

When he came to his senses. Why is it that sometimes it takes losing a whole lot of dollars to bring us to our senses? And not just dollars but opportunities, relationships, and friendships? It’s not surprising that the boy came to his senses, I mean they should have all been working well: the sounds of pigs squealing, the smell of manure, the feel of mud in-between his toes, the sight of a pig pen, the taste of humble pie. Sometimes the only way God gets our attention is when we begin to pay attention to our surroundings. It’s been said often, either change your environment or your environment will change you.  We must muster the courage to really look and admit that we are not where we want to be, need to be or were created to be!

This boy was the heir of a wealthy man. He was not made for this. And neither are we! We are heirs to the King of Kings, yet often we live like pigs. We live for so much less than what we were created for. It’s time to quit the nonsense! Maybe that’s it, you have no sense: no sense of direction, purpose, meaning in life. Maybe the joy, the pleasure of the Father’s house is a distant memory. What has to change?

At Last Will.

Well, his will was where he started. He asked for the father’s last will and testament but now it was his. He had to “die”. He had to lay aside all the earthliness and become one with the earth: a servant. He was willing to identify with the meekest, humblest, of His father’s employees, just to be back in his father’s care. How much more for us? It’s easy for me to think that I can or will only serve God in certain ways. But this is not the case. One who is a servant has no say in what, when, how, where, things get done. They just simply follow the wishes of the Master.

Back To The Beginning.

He went back to where he started. There are times when this is impossible but when it is possible, I think it’s very important! Go back to where you started off wrong. Figure out why you went down that path and make the necessary adjustments so you don’t do it again! Backtracking can be a great tool to keep us from backsliding! I’m sure as the boy traveled back home, he remembered certain parties, women, “friends” that helped lead him astray. The trip home was a lesson in remembering how much he lost. He grew from this time traveling back home. He became wiser, more mature, and turned his loss into gain.

Don’t Pay Out Without A Payoff!

I must admit that I have wasted invaluable lessons by not taking time to learn the necessary lessons God had for me. Let me encourage you that in each difficult time you pass through, make note of the mistakes; no sense in paying twice! You wouldn’t do it at the store, why do it in life? Turn your pain into gain. He came to his senses and made his mistakes pay off!

EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE (2)

Can you think of a time when you made a serious mistake? Do you remember how you felt? What you ate that day? What you were wearing? What you were listening to? What you were watching?

How about now? In a place you don’t like? What senses is God using to reveal that to you? What senses is God using to reveal Himself to you?

Does anything make sense to you right now? How much nonsense do you have in your life?

Where do you want to be? Need to be? Where are you created to be? Has God’s sense revealed that to you? If so, why have you not obeyed?

How much of your will is still alive? Why not let your last will and testament be to please God in everything?

Have you ever died to your flesh and sinfulness? How do you die daily? Are you more dead than alive?

How have you changed your environment for Christ? Has your environment adversely affected you? How does your environment reflect your current standing with God? Do you think it does reflect your standing with God?

If you could go back to the future, where would that be? What mistakes would you fix? What do you need to take a mental journey back and take note of? What lessons can you pass onto someone else?

Is there any way that you are paying twice or three times for something? Why not end the trend now? How can you make your mistakes pay off? What will you do with it?

Am I Missing The Mission?

AM I

Where there is no revelation [or prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint… —Proverbs 29:18

Carrots?

A vision is given to drive me beyond myself. Pushing and compelling, a vision holds a proverbial “carrot’ just out of my reach. The vision is meant to force me to know God and know myself and keep the priorities right: God first. It’s impossible to have a  real vision from God until I have a real vision of God Himself. Until I see Him clearly, every other “vision” is about self.

My efforts and exercise of faith cannot be found in my own strength but only in Christ. Placing my faith, hope, trust and love in Christ alone will keep the vision right in front of me and continue to compel me to the greater things God has for me and wants to do through me. When God gives a vision of Himself, I will see myself clearly as Isaiah (Isaiah 6) did and proclaim “Woe is me! I am undone”! It is then that I will hear God’s voice and know what it is He wants me to do. It may not even be a direct command per se but simply overhearing God’s heart and desires as I have seen Him.

Knowing Is Not Enough!

Even knowing the vision is not enough. I can know Who God is and what God wants (through His word), but until I understand that the vision God gives is not meant to just be a mission for me to accomplish but meant to also accomplish something within me, I will fail. Jonah is a great example of this as He was God’s selected prophet to go to Ninevah. Yet Jonah chose to try to escape the mission God was trying to work in his own heart by thinking that God would just send someone else or perhaps just save the people because He was a God who was “slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness” anyway.

I can clearly see from Jonah’s example that God is not content to give me a vision for someone else. The vision is meant for me; to work in me. The vision is to help me see that I have my own sin to grapple with whether it is in forms of racism, elitism, or just being a “complainer” all of which Jonah seems to suffer, or some other innate spiritual malady. Moral alignment is not all God is looking for. God is looking for people to love Him and obey Him out of love not a sense of duty.

Beyond Me.

God doesn’t put things within my reach…They are just beyond me. This is not taunting by God but compelling me to continue to seek His face, His wisdom, His goals and not my own. When the vision itself becomes the goal, I can become perfectionistic and fail to remember that God is the One I need to chase after. God is the One perfecting me and the vision. He is not concerned so much about the vision, as though it rested solely upon me. He wants me to KNOW Him. He is most concerned that I have the right vision of Him, knowing that He alone is the One I am reaching for. When God alone is my goal, I will practice discipline and restraint because of Who He says I CAN be and become all He MADE me to be. The right vision will give me the right mission and if that vision is anything other than God, I am missing the mission.

Devotionals For Leaders: No Clones Allowed

no clones allowed

As leaders it’s vitally important that we encourage people to be like Jesus and not try to make them “like us”.  God has created each person as He likes and gifted each one uniquely and differently. This means that each and every person is not only a one-of-a-kind but created with intention and purpose. And that purpose is not to be like you or me but like Christ. God is not into making clones: No clones allowed.

Be careful of putting demands on people that God doesn’t place on them. As leaders we push people toward Christ, not pull them toward us. We compel people with Christ, the real Christ, not our version of Him. People become like Christ when we lift Him up and not ourselves. People don’t want to hear or see us; they want and need to see Christ. As the Greeks said in this verse: “Sirs, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

When Jesus was dealing with “sinners”, His command was simply “go and sin no more”. Jesus never gave them a list of things to do to feel or become more spiritual. He simply told them to go and live life to the glory of God. Jesus’ way of life was far beyond a spiritual discipline. Jesus is the only standard by which any of us should measure.  Just because someone doesn’t do life with God the same as I do, does’t mean they are not right with God. As a leader, the goal is not that everyone become like you but that everyone would be like Christ. And Jesus was more concerned about loving God and loving others; serving them and modeling a relationship with His Father than the rues of the Pharisees.

Our goal as a Christian leader needs to be seeing Christ formed in those around us. Yes Jesus had “spiritual disciplines” which He did consistently, but did Jesus ever give any other other “discipline” outside of loving God with our heart, soul, mind and strength or neighbor as ourselves? Sure the disciples prayed and went to temple and they knew Torah but these were not requirements to following Him. These were not even things that made His disciples, His disciples.  In fact, several of the “disciples” failed out of the religious school and were sent back home. Jesus didn’t call His disciples to follow Him into a routine of spiritual disciples. Rather He introduced them to routinely seeing God at work among them. His call/command was to follow Him and He would make them what they were meant to be, i.e. “Fishers of Men”. Jesus will do the same with our followers but we must trust God is making them and not we ourselves.

There is liberty that comes from obedience. Helping others know and understand the word of God is part of our role as a Christian leader. However, we are not to weigh people down with this kind of “yoke”. Jesus told people to take up His yoke as opposed to the yoke of the Pharisees because His yoke was “easy and light”. (Matthew 11:28-30) What did Jesus mean by this? I believe His intention was relationship. As they walked with Him, they would learn. They would grow in relationship not in or by rules. They would become like Him and not like the Pharisees. They would hence know God instead of trying to become god.

Helping people grow in love and wisdom is better than teaching a set of dogmatic rules. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul admonishes them to do all things with love, otherwise it benefits them nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Presenting truth can be done without demanding people that people learn it or apply it the way you do. Our opinions as leaders may be important but we should never become so caught in them that we forget to demonstrate grace along with “truth”.  Christ has commissioned us to make disciples but this is not the same as making “clones”. God is not looking for clones or even “converts”. He is looking for “little” Christs.

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church . . . —Colossians 1:24

The call of God is not something we manufacture ourselves. We cannot take our own spiritual practices or disciplines and conjure up God’s calling for our lives. God will find a way to grab our attention for sure…He used a burning bush for Moses, a blinding light for Paul, He knows how to grab our attention! It may be through a unusual experience that we gain that clarity or a crushing painful moment that seals our hearts on His purpose but either way, God will communicate to us His desired call for our lives.

As Jesus’ body was broken and His blood poured out by the hands of people who did not know Him or love Him, should we expect any better treatment as we follow in His steps? He was bruised and crushed in order to bring new life to us, willingly accepting God’s choosing of how and where this would happen. If I am to become as broken bread and poured out wine, I cannot argue with God’s timing or choosing of how or when.

God has a plan. God has a call. I cannot argue with what means or ways He chooses to train me, ready me, prepare me, or use me for His  purposes. God may use things that seem completely out of line, from left field and without any continuity in His breaking of me. It is not up to me to choose my cross or my Golgotha; I simply choose to bear it.

God is seeking to make me a sweet wine offering but this cannot happen without being crushed and squeezed. Grapes contain the sweet wine that comes only when crushed beneath someone’s feet. Bread that feeds others only does so when broken and torn. But how filling when it is eaten!

God uses many different hands and fingers to tear us down, squeezing us out and giving us away to others. It may seem like an unfair or unjust issue in your life but don’t be surprised if it isn’t just the way that God uses you the most. Jesus fed over 5,000 men with a couple loaves of bread that were broken.
For more on this topic, read My Utmost For His Highest

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

. . . for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16

God’s call on our lives is not always easily explainable. It’s much more of a supernatural yearning.Revealed in God’s own personal way to each person, a life calling radiates a light about a person’s demeanor that is certain and definite. Sometimes the calling may take years to mature and bear fruit nonetheless it is affirmed by God and others alike.There is an overwhelming sense of purpose, aching to accomplish a certain goal that God places deep within the person whom He is calling. In that moment or over the long haul the realization that God is saying “I chose you” for this moment, a time such as this, comes into focus.

God’s choice of you is not based upon your worthiness or holiness. It is singularly due to God’s good pleasure. He chooses whom He desires for His own reasons and purposes. God has a call for each purpose that is deeper than our own ideas or plans will take us. We can dream our grandest dreams and feel a sense of accomplishment because of them and still miss the mark of God’s call on our lives. God’s call may or may not result in our name being well-known but it will most certainly bring God the most the glory. Don’t chase your calling but case after God. When we chase Him, our calling will be fulfilled.

God’s call on a life is about God’s plan and agenda. His Will will prevail. When God calls a person, there is a sense of “must” that accompanies them, a compelling and driving force that is inexplicable aside from God. To the called, the waters rise and fall, the seasons of life change, yet onward they go, never questioning the circumstances because they know the Creator. The called cling to the Rock of their salvation and live with a deep-seated peace even in the chaos around them for they know the One who has called them is faithful and He will do it.

For more on this topic, read My Utmost For His Highest

 

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two—Matthew 5:41 

The things Jesus calls me to are impossible without His Supernatural Spirit alive and at work within me. Christ is not calling me to simply act out something but further; He is calling me to become someone different and “otherworldly” that I am not apart from Him.

When wronged, Christ expects me to do right. When hurt, Christ expects me to forgive. These are not natural responses. A smile on my face cannot cover the anger in my heart. The only thing that will persuade me in those times to act/ behave/believe in a Christlike manner is a deeply rooted personal relationship with Christ Himself.
Life will quickly become disillusioning and disorienting without a laser-like focus on Christ.

The principles of Christ, the manner in which He lived, can only be lived by Christ. His nature must be within me and I must submit to His Authority if I ever hope to become like Him. The cruelties of this world will most certainly disillusion anyone who is not focused on Christ alone. That focus of accomplishing God’s will must be the hope and life for the Christ-follower, for Christ was killed even at the hands of “good people”.

It is essential to remember that we are chosen by God in Christ. God’s grace begins His work and He alone will complete it. God will ask us to do things that are beyond our natural ability to complete. He is not interested in puffing us up to feel good about our accomplishments. Instead, He is interested in is making disciples who are fit to do His work of grace and grace is all about the cross of Christ. The cross I bear will be one Christ places me on not one that I choose for myself. Then His grace will empower me to carry it.

For more thoughts on this, read My Utmost For His Highest