Monday, January 17, 2022

Giving It All

“Giving It All”

Romans 12:1 NLT

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.

We often have the tendency to give the very minimum effort in different areas of our lives.  There are areas we find ourselves giving the just the bare minimum so that we can just get it over with and get on with what we really want to do.  Some of us have done this in school with assignments, projects and tests.  Perhaps we struggled through these and we just did what we had to do in order to get a passing grade. 

Maybe we have done this in past jobs we’ve had.  We go to work and just do what it takes to get a paycheck.  Sometimes we don’t feel like going above and beyond to really make a difference in the work we have done. 

In the situations in which we have just done enough to get by and move on, we should stop and think about what life could have been like and what the results could have been if we had put in more effort and gone above and beyond.

We could all find different times and situations in which we’ve just done enough to get by for various reasons.  Sometimes we just don’t feel like giving more or giving our all because we’re focused on something else we really want to do.  We have all been there and done that in some way or ways.  We’re all guilty of it!

I cringe at the fact that so many of us have done this and are often still doing it in our relationship with God.  We don’t want to give our all because it can become inconvenient.  I definitely struggle with this often!  We don’t want to put the work in anymore than we have to.  We want to be held back from other things we’d rather do in life.  However, giving it all is exactly what God calls us to do. 

Paul is very blunt in saying that we should be giving it all every day with everything we have.  This is really the way to worship, when we’re truly giving life our all!  When we surrender it all and allow God control over everything and not holding anything back.  It’s real and it can get very messy.  However, it is all worth it because of how God can and will use us in the Kingdom to do amazing things.

Are we really giving it all?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Way More Than We Ever Deserve

“Way More Than We Ever Deserve”

Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.  It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!

As we closed out 2021 and begin 2022, I need this passage and reminder that I have way much more in my life that I will ever deserve.  For so many of us, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that since we’ve worked so hard, we deserve “this” or “that”.  We often feel like people owe us something more if we work harder and harder.  We feel like we should have more because working harder means we should get more, right??

I find myself getting caught up in this mindset a lot when I try to accomplish things in my life and get better with something or several things.  Somehow, I convince myself that I deserve more than I have and should have more.  It’s a bad mindset, especially if I’m try to become more Godly and set a good example for my family, co-workers and friends. 

I know that I daily need to be reminded that I really do not deserve anything I have.  God has blessed me way beyond anything I should have and has lavished so much grace, mercy and forgiveness upon me.  When I get in the mindset that I’m entitled to certain things, I need His humble reminder of what He has done for me and how so little I deserve any of it.  This should bring me to my knees daily in complete surrender being so thankful that I have what He has given to me.

We will NEVER fully comprehend what all He has done by going to the Cross to die for our sins.  It is just beyond what we can ever understand.  As we embark on this New Year, let us daily be reminded Who we serve and what all He has done and all He continues to do for us. 

We should daily be brought to our knees in humility and surrender with a grateful heart for all that we have.  Perhaps we need to make a list of all the blessings we have in our lives so that we can focus more on what He has done and continues to give.  We all often need these visual reminders of what we do have and not focus on what we don’t have. 

I want to encourage all of us to remember God’s amazing grace, mercy and forgiveness every single day and to give Him sincere thanks to keep us humble as we live in this self-centered world. 

Happy New Year to everyone and be thankful daily for His abundant blessings!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

I Will, I Will

 “I Will, I Will”

Psalm 89:1-2 NIV

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known throughout all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

“I will, I will”.  This phrase came out of my mouth more times that I can count when I was a kid.  Whether it was to my parents, brother, friends, other family, teachers, etc., I remember using this phrase when I was asked to do something.  However, it didn’t stop getting used when I grew older.  I find myself saying still to this day, and even with my kids.  And, wouldn’t you know it, my kids say it, too! 

We say this phrase a lot, don’t we?  No matter where we are or who we are with, we find ourselves giving this so-called promise to others too often.  Often times, we are focused on something that we feel is very important and then we use this phrase to temporarily get the person to stop bugging us.  And it usually follows with very little intention of actually doing what we say we would do. 

It’s easy to use this phrase and not think much of it at all. I find myself hearing my kids say this so much and I think and sometimes actually say out loud, “You always say that, but you aren’t doing anything!”  It’s easy for us to get frustrated with our kids when they say this, but then show no intention of carrying it out. 

Kids and adults alike are bad at saying this and I can’t help but think how we so often treat our relationship with God like this.  We tell God we will do this or say this or treat this person better or make things better in some way.  We tell God so often that we will do something, but then the intention falls away. 

As I consider this phrase, I pray that a different mindset will come alive in us as we live out this passage.  Instead of saying we will and then failing to follow through with things, we should not only follow through, but also make sure we are singing praises to God through our days as well.  This passage is written with intention. “I will” sing.  “I will” make.  “I will” declare.  Those are bold and intentional statements! 

Instead of us using this phrase to blow others off, we need to be reminded it should be a statement of intention to not only follow through, but to be intentional in our faithfulness to serve.

I pray that as we move closer to beginning a New Year, we would consider how we can say “I will, I will” with great intention as we strive to follow God wherever He leads us and do whatever He leads us to do. 

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Our Constant Hope In A World Of Variables

“Our Constant Hope In A World Of Variables”

Psalm 33:20-22 NLT

We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

A few weeks ago for Black Friday, I joined some of the guys from my wife’s dad’s side of the family for a full day of high school championship football games, which is Prep Bowl, at US Bank Stadium.  I started attending with them a few years ago knowing they’ve had this tradition of going for many, many years.  It’s a very long day, but it’s fun to watch the talent of so many high school guys playing the game. 

As I sat there that day watching these games, it reminded me of all the times I’ve watched football games and now this sport is so full of varying factors.  I’m not an expert regarding football and probably never will be.  I just really enjoy watching and seeing the many different scenarios that can take place during a game.  Things can change so quickly and without any notice at all, which often makes the games very interesting and tense!  My wife and daughters will often get on to me for being so loud when watching football and yelling at the TV! 

As I think about football, there are so many variables to this game and many other sports that you have to expect the unexpected.  As I thought more about the games that day that I was watching and football in general, I thought so much about how life is like this.  We live each day not knowing at all what is going to happen.  We so often put our trust and hope in earthly things and people and they always somehow fail us because we are not to put our hope and trust solely in them.  As football has so many variables, so does life.  Life often takes us by surprise and we’re so often not ready for those changes. 

The only constant thing about football and sports in general is that things are constantly changing.  The same is true about life and we all know this, but so often we don’t deal that well when things change.  We want consistency.  We want to know things will go a certain way, but often they don’t. 

I find great hope and trust knowing that God is always consistent in His love for me even though life is so unpredictable.  When life gets me down, I have to remind myself that God is still there with me and is guiding me through all of the challenges and frustrations. 

I hope this serves as a reminder to us all that we need to put our total trust and hope in God while we live in a world of constant variables. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

The Son Makes All The Difference

 “The Son Makes All The Difference”

John 15:5 NIV

I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I try to usually go on walks outside during my morning and afternoon breaks at work each day.  In the summer, I usually don’t have much of an issue getting out to enjoy the weather on my walk, provided it’s not raining.  When it gets to later in the Fall and Winter season, it gets a little more tricky.  Some days are nicer than others, of course and I’m usually watching the weather conditions on my phone to see what the wind chill is and if it’s decent enough to go out for a walk. 

There are some days when I see the cold temps and notice it’s sunny and decide to give it a try.  I’ve recently found myself being amazed many days when I’m prepared for a cold gust to hit me, but instead find a soothing feeling when the sun hits me as I walk outside.  It’s still chilly, but I quickly think, “The sun is making all the difference”.  Without the sun shining down, it would be colder and not as pleasant of a walk. 

I cannot help but think of our walk with Christ and how life would be like if we didn’t have the Son in our lives each day.  Just as the sun shining on a cold day can really make a surprising difference when going on a walk or just headed out for work or errands, we need to be reminded daily that if we didn’t have the Son in our lives, we would be in a constant state of bitterness in our spiritual lives.  Life is challenging enough in general and I cannot even imagine how unbelievers find comfort and strength through hard times. 

Having Jesus in our lives truly makes all the difference in the world.  He’s with us wherever we go and no matter what we are doing.  When times get tough, He’s there to comfort.  It’s a simple concept, really.  However, are we sharing this with other people so that they can come to experience that the Son really makes all the difference in the world? 

Jesus is our true vine, we are the branches.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  When we are staying connected to Him, He makes all the difference.  When we are apart from Him, we cannot thrive and cannot survive long doing our own thing.  We eventually get swallowed up in the bitterness of this world and it grows dark. 

When we remain connected to Jesus, He truly makes all the difference!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Don't Copy Cool

“Don’t Copy Cool”

Romans 12:2 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about working with computers is using the copy code.  I’ve used this so many times through my life and it saves so much time from having to write things out each time.  I can just copy and paste.  I’m sure many of you as well really enjoy using this feature.  I have used it many times with various jobs I have and I use it daily in my current office job. It is so convenient just copying the info I want to move to a different place instead of taking the time to type everything out all over again.

While this copy feature is amazing, I cannot help but think how this carries over into my life and walk with God.  I have so often become so accustomed to copying so much over into my life that seems way easier than doing what God asks me to do.  I see so many things in life that look way cool and I just copy and paste it into my walk with God.  However, many of these things He does not like.  I tend to copy a lot of customs and behaviors from the world into my life that I shouldn’t. 

I find myself so often copying what the world does and then I wonder why my walk with God doesn’t improve.  This is a daily challenge and I’m sure it is for so many of you as well.  It is so much easier to just copy what the world does instead of going against the flow and being transformed as God wants us to be.  We all know it is much wiser to do what God wants, but our flesh often wins over and we slip the customs and behaviors of this world into our daily lifestyle.  We do what we shouldn’t do, go where we shouldn’t go and say things we shouldn’t say.  We just blend right in and we copy the world’s version of “Cool”.

Friends, we are called to not copy the “cool” of this world, but instead being transformed and set apart.  We cannot just mimic what the world does because it’s more convenient to fit in.  God wants our lives to be dramatically different than the world.  Our lives need to look totally separate from the rest of the world. 

As much as I like the copy and paste feature of computers and it brings much efficiency to my daily work, this should never flow into my walk with God as I’m so often tempted to just copy and paste the worldly values and fit in. 

Don’t copy “cool”.  Instead, be transformed and renewed. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Running With A Purpose

“Running With A Purpose”

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NLT

All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 

This past Sunday in our small group Bible study, we were discussing how we need to be missional in life and get things done instead of just talking about doing them.  It was a powerful lesson we all took in and as we read this passage, I was focused on the part of ”So I run with purpose in every step”.  I thought about all the things I do each and every day and why I do them. 

I thought about all I do each day from the time I get up in the morning to the time I lay down to go to bed at night.  What is my purpose behind each thing I do and each place I go?  Am I living to just get the day of work over with to get home to be with my family?  Don’t get me wrong that it’s great to look forward to being home with my family each night.  But, there’s more to each day of life.  Whether I am at work, at home with my family or going somewhere, I am called to live and run with a purpose. 

I used to be a cross-country and track runner and I remember how focused I was on doing the best I could.  I remember the pain I often went to in order to get my body in shape.  It was so challenging, but I was determined to stay in shape so that I could run my best.  I needed to stay determined and committed so that I could run the best I could.  I ran with a purpose to do my best and achieve my best. 

Friends, this is why we need to train each and every day to be the best God wants us to be.  We are living and running each day from this to that.  Do we ever really stop to consider what we are doing and why we are doing it?  I sure hope so.  And, if we’re not….we need to START! 

I want to be missional in my life to not just live each day in a normal routine.  I want to be the best God has asked me to be and take advantage of every opportunity to do what He has called me to do. 

Are you and I living and running with a purpose?