Draw Near

Draw Near
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. —James 4:8
There must be action on my part to know God. That action, though from God Himself, requires my obedience and action. I have a response-ability. God doesn’t tell me to do things that I simply can not. He may call me to do things I cannot do apart from Him. But with Him all things He calls me to do are possible. Anything that I choose not to do is not because I cannot but because I “will” not. Actions of faith must come from a place of my will and belief in God, not myself. When I look to myself, I “will” not but looking at Christ, He “wills” me to places I would not otherwise.
Living the abundant life happens through acts of my will, not trying to satisfy my flesh. The selfish side of me absorbs and consumes “life” but when I yield myself in death to self, I find the life that is restorative and abundant. God/Jesus are always inviting me into life. The question is will I join them? Drawing near is nothing more than simply obeying the call of Christ to come. When I do, He meets me right where I am.
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Devotionals For Leaders: A Beautiful Collision

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…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree… —1 Peter 2:24

The cross was not the place where Christ lost but rather won. It was there at the intersection of the Cross where God’s Wrath was met by the powerful blood of His Holy Son and became the Beautiful Collision.

This collision of sin and Savior was not about death but life…life for all. Jesus surrendered and sacrificed Himself to purchase the right to life for all Mankind. This wasn’t a coincidence or a mistake but a well-thought-out plan to redeem and secure Mankind. It was Jesus’ intention all along to die for us and on the cross is where it happened, once and for all, Christ bore up our sins in the ultimate and consummate offering of Himself to his Father.

The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh…” from “…He made Him…to be sin for us…” (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both. Oswald Chambers

Jesus our leader, demonstrates the powerful act of giving Himself to The Father. We will never be able or even asked to give ourself for Mankind. We are not the Saviors (nor should we try to be). But we will be asked to give ourselves fully to the mission and the plan of God. As leaders, it is essential that we remember taking up our cross will cause a collision of sorts in our own lives: relationships, jobs, futures, and even other lives could be at stake based on decisions we choose to make as a leader. So make them carefully, prayerfully and wisely.

Taking up our cross and following Jesus is not about “dying” as much as it is “denying”. In some cases, especially as we see happening around us lately, many people are dying for their faith in Christ. However, the death that Christ calls us to each and every day is a death to self or a self-denial. Perhaps the real collision is the “death to selfie”: all the images and pictures we have in our own minds of all the great things we would accomplish for God and embracing the daily worship of God through “menial” service and love of others around us? Are your dreams for your life the same as God’s? Do you think that Jesus’ death on the cross was a success or failure as perceived by people of His time? The point is that what God may be asking you to do may not make any sense at all to those around you, as was the case for Jesus and His disciples. We must be about obedience not logic or what makes sense.

Philippians 2: 8 And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

The Beautiful Collision happens for leaders when we are are able to say “He must increase and I must decrease”, like John said in John 3:30. It’s imperative for leaders to remember that our first task is to please God and then to serve Him and His purposes. This may mean making hard decisions about what to do, where to go, whom to serve and how that serving will be done being that you only have so much time and only one life to give. Jesus gave His life to His Father’s plan and God was pleased with that. As a leader, give yourself to God once again today and allow His plan and your life to collide. Regardless of what happens, your understanding or perception of it all, in God’s eyes, it will be a beautiful collision.

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

Jesus answered and said, ’I thank You, Father . . . that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes’ —Matthew 11:25

Obedience is the key to my relationship with God. I am either obedient or not. It is really that simple. Obedience is the conduit through which communication and blessings flow. Disobedience, conversely leads to Darkness rather than Light.
Having the right mind and attitude toward God’s Word and Spirit will deepen my relationship with God beyond anything I could dream. I must approach with the mindset to obey what God says. God will reveal more and more of Himself as I walk in obedience.

The Holy Spirit will teach me all things, not by my careful study but by my careful obedience. Revelation doesn’t come through time but strict adherence to listening and obeying God in all things. Regardless of the size of the task, great or small, God expects complete obedience. It matters not how important I deem a project, God will not relent until I obey in the smallest of details and tiniest of tasks. As I once heard: “partial obedience= complete disobedience”.

For more thoughts on this read My Utmost For His Highest

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

. . . present . . . your members as instruments of righteousness to God —Romans 6:13

I’m pretty much bankrupt on every level of life. It doesn’t matter what I work at or even master, my efforts are undeniably short of the perfection that’s needed to satisfy God. The scripture is clear when it says that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and I make several proofs of that each day. Try as I may to save myself, discipline myself, correct myself, adjusting my mind, thoughts, and way of living, I’ll never be able to completely perfect the life that God desires for me.

The grace and love of God is made manifest through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross, which completely satisfies God’s requirements for sin and miraculously saves me. I have to live in this reality. Remembering that it’s not about my accomplishments rather it is all Christ accomplished on the cross is what not only gets me through a day but through this life unto the next. What I have to do is to believe the right things. I have to not only take God at His Word but allow God’s Truth to sink deep down into my soul and radically change me.

My theme this year is LEGO, as in the building block. The idea is that in becoming the building that God desires, I have to Let Go and Let God. He is the Master Builder, after all. I cannot hold on to the plans that I have, nor try to construct my own set of blueprints. I cannot pour another foundation and try to build my life upon my own set of spiritual disciplines and “goodness”. Being “holy” through my own efforts leads to spiritual pride and is full of self-satisfaction.

However, being MADE holy is an entirely different thing. Christ is building upon His own foundation. He is tearing down, building up, and restoring things as He desires. He is making me holy as He is holy. Sure I work WITH God as He moves, quickens, convicts and teaches but it is all based on Christ and not my own sense of self-worthiness. I must be deconstructed and Christ reconstructed (John 3:30); there always has to be a letting go in order to take up.

God is constructing a dwelling place for Himself and it is within me. With this being the case, there is no room for any “self”. God wants full residency, not to just be a guest. He wants to have full say in the construction and remodel. All I need to do is comply and enjoy the delight of God in what He is building.

Jesus made an atonement for my sin and now He desires for me to live in complete obedience to His call. As I live out God’s leading in my life, I make the work of Christ evident in my own life. God is glorified in me when I completely obey Him. My obedience reveals my trust in His handiwork and ability to construct a home (life) within me because of the atonement of Christ alone. My efforts as swallowed up in His.

G.Lockhart

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:57-62

 

Dead people have no feelings. Are you dead to yourself and alive in Christ? The Lord’s remarks are not meant to just “hurt” but to heal. As a surgeon may inflict pain to remove cancer or to fix a bone, so the Lord may hurt one in order to bring about healing for a soul. If one is ready to follow the Lord, be prepared to hear some hard things. Christ’s intention may feel cruel but He knows us better than we know ourselves. If He says something, it really is because He knows what is in us that will eventually erode and rot our souls. Heed His words.

Following Christ must be done with such a resoluteness that regardless of who comes in or out of my life, Christ is the One to whom I cling. I will be tempted to make myself comfortable but God’s intention is Christ-likeness and I must remember the Christ did not even have a place to lay His head. This is not to say having things is wrong or bad but just that I need to be willing to let them go for a greater good if Christ should compel me.

There needs to be a sense of definitive loyalty in my relationship with Christ. Often Christ takes first place in our speech about Him when in reality He is last place in our lives with Him. Many things compete for first place in our lives but Christ demands first place for the follower. Loving Christ doesn’t mean “hating” our family per se, but it does mean loving them less than we love Christ. He is to be the ultimate love of our lives.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with saying goodbye. However, it can be an excuse to put off the call and command of God. When Christ calls He expects immediate obedience. Living with a sense of loose attachments is what is needed. There are many people who have made “plans” but never followed through because of something else they felt they “needed” to do first. What God expects from His follower first is complete allegiance and obedience. When God calls you then you’d better get up and get going. Otherwise, don’t say you’re ready to do whatever the Lord wants. Have your bags packed and be ready to move… and make plans to keep moving whenever He says, if you want to be a disciple.

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am . . . . I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master . . .John 13:13, 16

Jesus is not interested in me learning some good principle or teaching. What He is interested in is developing my character and life until I am just like Him. Jesus wants to be more than my Guide through life as He is also the Source of life.Having a master and teacher means that I am continually under instruction. The Lord is not one to take instructions but He will not force His way into my life. He will patiently wait for me to realize that I am lost and then lead me if I am willing to heed His teaching.
Jesus wants me to follow Him out of love and obedience because I trust Him. He is not desirous for me to be in relationship with Him if it’s out of obligation or a sense of compulsion. No one wants that! A relationship like that is simply miserable. Often in our society we look at obedience as a word to be despised, yet Jesus Himself “learned” obedience and poured out His love because on a loving relationship with His Father.

Jesus was the role model and example of every character quality trait in its perfection. If I want to learn anything about character or human relationships, I should be willing and desirous to learn from the very best.

For more on this topic read My Utmost For His Highest

 

Prayer and God’s Will

George Lockhart

God doesn’t lead us just to take us through something but allows things to happen to put something within us. Instead of praying to get out of problems or circumstances, be mindful to pray about what God is working into your life through them all. God has not ignored your prayer; He has given an answer and that answer is “learn”, “trust”, “wait”, “endure” or any number of other words that do not often meet our prayers for “deliverance”.

Even with the cross of Christ, Jesus prayed for another way and yet submitted to the Father’s Will (Matthew 26:39). Philippians 2:8 tells us that Jesus became “obedient to death, death of a cross”.  This knowledge reveals that in my own situation, there may be times when I cannot fully comprehend the outcome and would perhaps even be prayerful of other ways and means, yet have to submit to the Fathers will just as Christ did. God desires full identification with Christ, nothing less.

God is not compelled nor under any bond to give us all we want. God’s “yes” answers will lead to an identifiable Christ-within-us-outcome. God could say “yes” to you but to another say “no” for the same prayer request. How is that? God gives certain answers and outcomes that are for each individual alone.  A “yes” for one person and a “no” for another can ultimately lead both to God. Trust His answers to YOU.

George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves on staff at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA as the Creative Arts/Mission Pastor.