Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Feeling ineffective?

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Peter 1:8
The adventure of life comes from knowing that we are participating with God. He provides everything. So why do we sometimes feel ineffective and unproductive?

Second Peter 1:5-7 lists eight qualities that will keep us from being ineffective if we continue to grow in them throughout life.
  • Faith (what God reveals) - God reveals things to us, not necessarily unique to us but things that are to be shared.

  • Goodness (the stuff we do because of what we believe is true) - Faith without goodness is just a dream that goes nowhere.

  • Knowledge (more than an opinion) - God provides resources to learn. Without adding knowledge, faith becomes weak fiction of our imagination.

  • Self-control (thinking before acting) - God must lead. I must follow otherwise the things God reveals take the path of human reasoning.

  • Perseverance (sticking with it) - Our own determination won't keep us going. It's easy to quit if its just about me and what I want. To be effective, we must accept the struggle of self-control.

  • Godliness (all the characteristics of God) - It's God's character that makes any effort productive. Self-control and perseverance bring about godliness. We can't impress others with who we are for very long. Godliness draws people to God.

  • Brotherly Kindness (working as a family) - This is the natural mentoring that happens between siblings. Appreciation, respect, care and working together for the sake of the family name.

  • Love (considering the best for others) - Love draws people to each other and is the source of strength for every other quality in this list: love of God, love for God, and love for others.
Basically, being effective in work and life comes down to this: God reveals, we respond and draw closer to him - causing others to experience faith.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What if...

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. ~ Luke 4:1-2
Jesus had just experienced the Holy Spirit descending on him in bodily form and the voice of God (possibly audible) proclaiming his relationship, love and feelings towards his Son.

How would our life as followers of Christ be different if we went away for 40 days after a believer's baptism to attempt to grasp the relationship, love and feelings of God. What if this were a normal part of our culture? What if employers expected this and had learned that those who do this return to work more productive?

How might this look in your life today? Maybe it's not a desert. Maybe it's not solitude for you. How might the Holy Spirit want to lead you in conditioning yourself to live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord? (Luke 4:4 and Deuteronomy 8:3)

What if this generation paved the way for this to be normal?

Monday, September 21, 2009

What should we do?

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

"What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay." ~ Luke 3:7-14
John was speaking to the Jewish people: God's people chosen to reveal Christ to the world. It is interesting that John doesn't tell them to go out baptizing others for the forgiveness of their sins - which is what he is doing (v 3). But he very strongly instructs them to "produce fruit."

There is a lot in these few verse but here's a bit of what I got excited about:

Being a child of God...
  1. is up to God (v8 God can raise up children out of stones if he wants)
  2. is an active role, not a seat or position (v8 being able to say "I'm a child of God" is not the point)
  3. indicates that we produce fruit or get out of the way (v9 trees w/o fruit will be cut down and burned up)
  4. is a natural part of everyday living (vv10-14 crowd - share basic necessities of life; tax collectors - be fair, not greedy in your work; soldiers - don't use your position inappropriately, be honest, be content with your pay)
So, what should we do to reveal Christ to the world?

What are you doing to prepare the way for the Lord to draw people to himself? What paths are you helping to straighten? What valley in another person's life can you fill in?
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'" ~ Luke 3:4-6
I think baptizing and discipling those who don't yet know Christ will follow naturally when we, as children of God, follow John's advice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First, seek the Kingdom

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' ... your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:31-33
This verse came to mind recently after praying for physical healing using the Vineyard Prayer Model.

Through Vineyard teaching, I have discovered the fascinating truth that Jesus taught us to pray for God's kingdom to come right now, for his will to be done right now just as it is in the heavenly realm right now. For whatever reason beyond my human comprehension, God chooses to make that happen through his people.

I used to think praying for healing was like asking God for a favor. Then I progressed into the determination that God heals so that people will see he is God. I'm now seeing how bringing his kingdom to earth is the ultimate desire of his heart.

In God's kingdom there is no sickness, no hunger, no sorrow. When we pray and seek to bring God's kingdom into our current circumstances, all these things are a natural part of that kingdom.

Are you seeking the kingdom when you pray? It's much more exciting than asking for a favor.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Operation Freedom

I wait for your salvation, O Lord, and I follow your commands. Psalm 119:166
My husband has inspired me to watch his favorite series, Band of Brothers. Earlier this week I attended a deployment ceremony for the 16th Engineer Brigade, Ohio Army National Guard. Perhaps these activities are why the verse above created a picture of a military unit in battle, ready to engage at the word of the commanding officer.

According to New Bible Dictionary (3rd edition, IVP), salvation's "basic meaning is 'bring into a spacious environment' but it carries from the beginning the metaphorical sense of 'freedom from limitations' and the means to that; i.e. deliverance from factors which constrain and confine."

One of the speakers at the deployment ceremony pointed out that every one of those men and women who were headed for Iraq had chosen to enlist or re-enlist since 9-11. Their goal is Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most likely none of them were born in Iraq or have any natural relationship to those who are suffering there. Yet they have volunteered to limit their own freedom for the purpose of providing "freedom from limitation" to the people of Iraq and ultimately the world.

I can't help but picture Jesus in the same way.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
Thank you to all soldiers - current, past, and future - who being in very nature a US citizen, did not consider your liberty here something to cling to, but made yourself soldiers and being found in appearance as such, subjected yourself to a potentially brutal death for the sake of freedom for all.

Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to be our commanding officer in Operation Humanity Freedom. May we each do our part to bring justice - freedom from limitations - both in the natural and supernatural world we live in today.
the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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