3 Thoughts From My Time With God

39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:39-40 NKJV

1) Don’t misunderstand what Jesus says. The people thought he was talking about the physical temple building but He was talking about Himself. Think about all the things that happen as a result of misunderstandings. Do your best to get all the right information. Ask questions. Seek for the Truth. Look for the spiritual things beyond the physical things. How have you misunderstood what God is doing lately? Is there something you need to get clarification about?

2) If Jesus would have saved Himself, He wouldn’t have saved us. We have to get away from selfishness. Jesus was the most selfless person ever. He wasn’t trying or focused on saving Himself. How has self-preservation been your focus? In what ways have you been selfish?

3) If you are…sounds much like the temptations from the Devil in Matthew 4. The people thought if He would just come down from the cross that would have proven He was all that He said. Jesus wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. He had a mission and He accomplished it. Don’t get caught up in trying to be or do something to prove yourself. Do what God wants and created you to do. How have you been trying to prove your worth to God? Or others?

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.

Quiet Time Reflections: Galatians 2:20

Quiet Time
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… —Galatians 2:20
Jesus is not asking me to do anything less than to identify with Him on the cross. When that happens, He will identify Himself through my life. His Spirit comes alive when I willingly lay down my “self”. Daily dying to self is what is required of those who want to be used by God and embody Christ. As with many things in Christianity, the paradox of finding life in losing it is found in a verse like this. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”.
Being crucified with Christ doesn’t mean I wear a cross but rather the cross wears me. When I surrender myself to Christ and His cross, I become alive and His life is found in me. This life that flows from the cross is a life of faith in Christ alone, not my dying ability, not my act of self-crucifixion but in Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. Christ gave Himself out of love for me and He is not looking for me to come to Him for any other reason than out love either. Love gives. Love dies. Love conquers. Love remains.

Reflections from Quiet Time: Hebrews 11:6

Quiet Time
For quiet time, I often read Utmost For His Highest. Today’s verse was Hebrews 11:6. These are a few of my own thoughts sparked from what I read. Maybe they will help or inspire you as well.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him… —Hebrews 11:6
God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith.God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith. Faith doesn’t make sense. Faith is uncommon sense that leads to an uncommon life. If I have an ordinary common life, it is because I have chosen to not live by faith. Faith is an unrelenting reliance upon God in all of life, changing everything that is “common and ordinary” into an opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness. Too often I make faith about myself instead of about God. Faith is actually only faith when I trust something outside of myself to meet my need or carry me through.
God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith. (1)
I have to expect my faith to be tested if it is ever to become strong. The harder the tests, the stronger my faith. Perhaps I am weak in my faith because I never risk believing God for what I need or want? When faith is found in myself, I will always be weak because I know myself. When faith is placed in God, I can become strong if I will fully trust Him. God doesn’t call me to comfort and ease; this is the path to self-indulgence. Faith in God will always lead to self-denial. If I try to limit my need to live by faith then I will limit the way God shows up in my life. God honors faith alone.
The fight of faith is a real one, not just for the new believer but for all believers. God is not resting from challenging His children to greater heights and deeper depths of faith. The question for me is how far am I willing to go? Real faith in God is limitless as God is limitless. How have I been limiting God by my lack of faith?

…You Know… Who?

You Know Who-

Sometimes when we forget someone, we say “…you know… who?…what’s his face?” I’ve had this happen a lot actually, even with people that I know very well. There are times when the brain just doesn’t work the way it should!

But there are a lot of times when I simply don’t recall a person’s name or remember who they are because we have no relationship together. It’s kind of like running into someone from your high school at Walmart. You both see each other, know that you know each other, but the panic sets in because you can’t remember each other’s name.

Is this not how it is sometimes with GOD? We have forgotten His name because we haven’t spent time around Him? We don’t recognize His voice because it has become unfamiliar? I know that when I talk on the phone, and especially to someone I really want to hear from and love, it won’t take long for me to recognize their voice. How much more with God. All we have to do is stay connected.

Take some time today and reflect on some of the names of God. Get to know Him by sitting still for a few minutes in a conversation: catch up with each other.

Make a calling plan with God in order to stay connected to Him. Set up a time when you will give Him a call tomorrow. Do the same thing for the next day. Keep this appointment as you would any other one.

Take a trip to Walmart and see if you run into anyone you know. Who knows? You might even run into Jesus!

Devotionals For Leaders: Avoiding Burnout

burnout

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? Exodus 3:1-3

It’s easy for us to get caught up in what we want to do for God. We can dream our dreams and make our plans and those things can become our driving force. We can become so caught up in what we want to do for God that we miss God Himself. This is a huge danger for the leader.

As leaders it’s vitally important to remember that God has entrusted visions and dreams to us. But we must submit them back to God. We cannot allow the vision or dream to consume or overwhelm us. Our ideas of how things can or should be accomplished can become all-consuming and eventually lead to burnout. This is not God’s desire: that anyone should “burnout” for Him. How does God get glory from a person who is no longer able to serve or who no longer is able to contribute?

Remember the burning bush that God used to communicate to Moses? It says the bush “burned but was not consumed.” What can we learn from this bush to help us avoid burnout and fulfill God’s dreams for our lives?

1) Be rooted in God.

This bush was planted on “holy” ground. It became holy unto the Lord when the Lord inhabited it. The same is true for us. We can easily take roots and identity in our “work” which is not what God intends. Our roots and identity need to be in God alone. When the Lord enters into a heart, He is the One who makes us holy and crafts us for His work. Our task is to simply grow in Him first and foremost. Don’t become caught up in burning for God…grow in God. Then when the time is right God will set you afire.

2) Be available to God.

Sure there were other bushes around but God chose this one. God has chosen you for certain tasks and jobs. Don’t try to do what God has called others to do. And don’t just assume that because something needs to be done that you are the one to do it. As leaders this is very difficult. It’s really important to not overload ourselves with tasks and things that God has not “called” us to do. In so doing, we are not available to do the things that God HAS called us to do. Busyness crowds out availability. This bush burned because it was consumed with God. When we as leaders are more consumed with God than stuff or schedules, or even our own ideas of timetables and plans, we will burn and not burnout. A servant simply waits in availability until the Master says “do”.

3) Be set apart for God.

This bush was the one God chose to use to speak to Moses. We don’t really know why or if there was any particular reason other than God chose to. The last point is to be set apart for God’s use so that God can use you when He is ready. The word “holy” essentially means that: to be set apart. Even though it has the idea of purity and righteous, it’s core definition means to be set aside for a particular use. God wants us to consecrate ourselves and to be set apart for His use. When we begin to set aside time, carve away our schedules, and even seek to be alone and away from others, we will begin to burn for God from a deeper place. Our passion becomes for God and not the “things” of God. Our love becomes for Him and not just ourselves looking good by accomplishing things for Him.

Final thought: God wants you to burn but not burnout for Him. Don’t replace activity for God for intimacy with God.

New Zombies: Abel

new zombies

With it being Halloween, I thought I’d kick off  new blog series called New Zombies. I’ve been wanting to write about this for close to a year now. And since “The Walking Dead” had it’s premier on October 31, 2010 (Days Gone By), I thought enough days have gone by for me. Here’s the first installment. Hope it’s helpful and challenging.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4 NASB

Did you know that Abel never had a word of his recorded or written down for anyone to read? When I realized this, I was surprised. I was struck by the fact that in the short time that he lived, God decided to include him in the “Hall of Faith” not because of anything Abel said but because of how he lived. In fact, it was his life that “spoke”.

Read the story of Abel here:

Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel.

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:1-12

You have probably heard this saying before: your life is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear a thing your lips are saying. Or maybe you have heard it this way: your talk talks, and your walk talks but your walks talks more than your talk talks! In both cases it is clear: what you do matters more than what you say. Abel understood this as well.

The Main Idea:

Your LIFE speaks LOUDER than your WORDS.

Are you ABEL to have such faith? To trust God to use your life and the way that you live as opposed to trying convince people through your arguments, debates and even conversations? Not that God can’t use your words but how much more your life? And a life that is consistent in words and deeds is much more potent!

Abel’s story has outlived his life. His impact lives beyond the grave. How can we obtain a life of such influence?

The Breakdown:

Bring Your Best

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Notice what is written in the passages above: Cain brought “some”. It was just something Cain wanted to give. He gave what was “leftover”. God wasn’t happy with less than the best. If we are going to give unto the Lord, (and the Lord requires we give) what we give needs to be of our best and the very first.

By Faith

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts… Hebrews 11:4

Anything not of faith cannot please God. Hebrews 11:6 is clear on this matter:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. NLT

God accepted Abel’s gift not because it was “better” than Cain’s but because it was offered “by faith”. What’s interesting to note is that God gave Cain another chance to offer. All Cain had to do was to admit that he had not given the best by faith. Sadly, he didn’t want to do the right thing.

God rewarded Abel because it was given in faith. Cain was dejected and jealous. The sin grew and lead Cain to commit the first murder in recorded history. Side-note: doing the right thing may get you killed. Living by faith may cost you your life.

Bounded?

Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4 NASB

Our influence is not bound by space and time. Our message and stories can out live us. We can impact people even from the grave as is evidenced by God’s mentioning of Abel in Hebrews 11. It takes great faith to live for something that will matter after we are gone but that is what this life is all about: investing in a Story much bigger than our own.

The Application:

How do your words and life match up?

Do you give your best to the Lord? Or do you give “something”?

Are you living for yourself or for God?

What do you do “by faith”?

Would you risk doing the right thing even if it would cost you your reputation? Your life?

How has God given you another chance to “do the right thing”?

Final Thought:

You will be remembered for something, the question is for what?

 

George Profile George Lockhart is the Creative and Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA and the President of Vision 2 Ministries.