Devotion, freedom, Friendship, peace, Personal Growth, relationships, Series, Uncategorized

Day 7: “Peace. Not People.”

Photo: Caique Silva

God gives us family and friends for community, support, encouragement, wisdom, fun. He wired us all differently and we each come with our own opinions, experiences and expectations. Navigating relationships is tricky on the best of days. What God means for good, the enemy loves to use to bring division, conflict and pain to our lives.

“He made me do it. It’s her fault. If only THEY would cooperate.” Blaming bosses, spouses, friends, or neighbours for your emotions and problems only gives your power away to someone else. Accusations and criticism don’t bring resolutions. You allow other people to rob you of peace and they don’t even know it. While they rest happily in their ignorance, you are tormented, angry, unforgiving. You play scenarios and pretend conversations around in your head like a bad playlist on repeat.

You might be struggling in some of your relationships right now. Your goal: to be understood, heard, loved, appreciated. Communication may seem difficult and you either can’t find the words, or your words are misconstrued, further complicating the situation and your life.

Discord is a thief to your peace.

Unfortunately, many times, resolving issues with others can be out of reach. You just don’t see eye to eye. Or, you’re so different in your approach, finding common ground is impossible. You can become discouraged and even so hurt that you withdraw, allowing yourself to miss out. Your expectations are unmet, you feel ashamed. You even question God when you’ve tried everything in your power and you just can’t find a resolution.

God wants us to live at peace; with others, yes. Ultimately, with him. You must learn to have a Godly perspective regarding people in your life, viewing them through a lens of understanding. This doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. It means you know where they might be coming from – their pain and past hurts, their dysfunction. Hurting people hurt people.

When you feel your peace is being threatened by a relationship, you must seek God for his wisdom and pursue his ways. Remember, peace is the personhood of Jesus Christ. Keep him close and allow him to mediate the conversations in your head. He will bring clarity if not resolution. He can help you to love those who have hurt you despite their unwillingness to budge.

*Today, write down the names of anyone in your life who is causing you pain. Ask God to show you if there’s something you can do to find common ground. Forgive them. And give them over to God. He will deal with them on your behalf. The battle is not yours to fight.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
 if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:17-21 (NIV)
Contentment, Fasting, Prayer, Series

Day 3: “A Beautiful Exchange”

photo: starfishjourney.tumblr.com

Reciprocity is the law by which most of you live. Give and receive. Sow and reap. Work and be paid. Pray, fast… and, ahem… what’s there to gain? It’s the question on your lips; or at a minimum, in the back of your minds. What’s in it for ME?

Our expectations guide us through life. Treat others well and you’ll be treated well. Karma. We see a good person achieve something great and we say “they deserved that!” A bad one gets his due and we celebrate justice. This is why unmet expectations can throw us for a loop. They can derail us, cause us to lose faith, resent others, become bitter.

You may have entered into this time of prayer and fasting with a list of expectations, maybe even a bit of an ultimatum with God because you’re so desperate to see something shift in your life. Your hope lies in a formula with an acceptable rate of return on your investment over these three weeks.

Can I encourage you to put aside your predictions today and solely seek peace through the PERSON of Jesus? Rest at his feet and to allow yourself to receive his love and mercy as the ultimate gift, not because of anything you’ve deposited into your spiritual bank account but because of who HE is.

We are going to explore, over the coming days, areas of blockage to our peace.

But, it won’t be possible if you don’t first understand that peace isn’t a status quo to be obtained. It’s not a place you’ll suddenly arrive if you do and say mostly all the “right” things. Peace is not obtained if everyone around you cooperates a little more. It’s not even found in answered prayer or miracles.

The Prince of Peace is a person who is with you always. If you look closely at the page of your written words and requests, you’ll find him staring back at you, longing for you to trust him with your heart’s desires. No matter how major your hurdles, your peace guides you directly into your purpose and prosperity. Stop waiting for the stars to align perfectly in order for you to take your next step on the journey with Jesus. He is inviting you to come NOW.

A disciplined spiritual life, an authentic faith walk, isn’t one sans problems or difficulties. It’s not led by a Christian who never stumbles or sins. You can’t add up 2 good deeds plus 1 act of forgiveness minus 2 stuff ups and get 1 perfect life.

Jesus promises you ONE thing: in this life you WILL have trouble but he also promises you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

Matthew 6:30-33
Contentment, Devotion, Personal Growth, Series, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Can You Slow Down?”

slowResting sounds good in theory; however, slowing down could make you realise some struggles you can’t seem to overcome. A cluttered mind helps you avoid that which is uncomfortable. Busy-ness allows you to sweep your pain under the proverbial ‘rug,’ denying Christ’s gift of rest. Your condition is clogged – your heart, hardened.

Consider the writer of Hebrews’ words: “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NIV).

What hinders you from an encounter with The Living God? He’s nearer than ever, watching over you, loving you, yearning for you to cast off whatever holds you back so you can stay on the course he has mapped out for you.

Are you insecure and unsure of your worth?

Have you fallen into the comparison trap?

Is it fear?

What about anger or un-forgiveness?

Can you slow down long enough to inspect your heart? 

We all have tender places of struggle. That’s not bad. We get into trouble when our compulsions consume us, our transgressions taint us, our shortcomings strip God’s truth right out of our hands.

Over the next several days, let’s pause, take an audit, and then believe God for breakthrough. Ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on any darkness that has caused a blockage in your walk with God. Don’t be afraid of what you discover. The very area you might be avoiding could be the key to freedom and peace – true rest.

“So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul” (Hebrews 3:12-14 MSG).

 

Devotion, Faith, Fasting, Lift Church, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day TWENTY-ONE

As our Lift Church corporate fasting draws to a close for 2015, I leave you with the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:12-19)

Dear Lord, thank you for speaking to me and answering my prayers over the course of the last several weeks. I ask that you help me to continue the good fight of faith and that you give me strength to withstand whatever trials may come my way. I put all my hope in you and commit to walking with you everyday. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion, Fasting, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day TWENTY

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Everyone loves the smell of a new car, the feeling of stepping out in a spiffy new pair of shoes, having a fresh haircut, or a embarking on a new opportunity! What joy we experience when we gaze at a precious baby, the miracle of brand-new life so tangible.

We can easily appreciate what’s unblemished in the world around us, but we forget that being born again as Christ followers is actually better than anything money can buy.

We, in all our messy mistakes and silly shortcomings, are considered NEW CREATIONS in Christ! Everything we ever did to fall short of perfection no longer has a grasp on us because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The blood of Jesus has washed us white as snow.

Unfortunately, the world we live in taints us and this newness can wear off if we aren’t careful. Our salvation might be secure, but the pressures of the world can cause us to drift. The Apostle Paul is imploring us to be reconciled to God, meaning we must continually come back to Him.

God, I am so very thankful for the gift of salvation and the fact that I’m a new creation in Christ. As our time of prayer and fasting is coming to an end, I’m totally committed to reconciling myself to you each and everyday. Help me to never lose sight of the miracle of my salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Kids, Leadership, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day NINETEEN

Read 1 Timothy 4

As parents, we know we have a responsibility to teach and train our kids in certain areas. We train them to eat with cutlery and use a toilet when they are little. We teach them how to obey and respect adults. We make them go to school for their education and often put them in extra-curricular activities like sport and music to develop other skills in their lives.

As Christian parents, we must not forget to invest in and train our kids spiritually. In order to do this effectively, our kids must see us training ourselves. That’s why daily time in the word, prayer, and even disciplines like fasting as a family are invaluable. The Apostle Paul is reminding his young follower, Timothy, that exercise is valuable, but a disciplined life in God makes us fit for today and forever.

Whether we have children under our roof or we are just influencing those around us, it’s our life that speaks volumes – through our words, actions, love, faith and integrity. We must cultivate and immerse ourselves in these matters, placing higher value on them than physical exercise or secular education.

Practically, you can ask your kids to read a scripture with you and discuss it. When you correct and discipline, bring it back to a Godly principle and pray for forgiveness, asking God for help going forward. Have daily times when you thank God for your many blessings and train your kids to have a grateful spirit. Pray with them before school and before big moments in their lives, teaching them to lean on God in every situation.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for reminding me of the importance ongoing spiritual education is in my life and the lives of the young ones in my care. Help me to make it a high priority each day. I pray that the fruit of my investment would be plentiful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Contentment, Devotion, Faith, Fasting, Inspiration, Series

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day EIGHTEEN

Read Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG)

A new year causes us to both reflect on last years wins/losses as well as plan for the year to come. How can we get ahead? Earn more money. Ensure our kids have a good year in school. Lose weight. Pay off debt. Buy a house. Grow our church! Stay on top of schedules, school work, housework! Cook healthier meals. Keep closets organised. Make new friends. And the list goes on…

We must not turn all this planning and forward thinking into WORRY. Jesus reminds us to focus on today and encourages us to look around at how well he takes care of the birds and flowers. Don’t we matter much more?

When we spend all our time preoccupied with “getting,” we miss out on God’s amazing “giving.” The more we get to know God and the way he works, the less we should worry about the future. God is at work in our TODAY. Beauty and blessing all around. Learning to BE in the moment with our families brings honour to God. Finding rest in our crazy lives means trusting Him with our tomorrow. Turning our focus outward instead of on ourselves and our problems shines the light of Christ in a dark world. God is doing his best for us, working on our behalf. Let’s allow this to be enough for today.

Jesus, you bring great perspective and wisdom to my situations and worries. Thank you for reminding me that you’re in control of my life and that you WILL provide everything I need. As I set goals and look toward the future, help me to trust YOU ultimately and receive what you’re giving each day with gladness. You’re the giver of all good things and for that I am grateful. In Your Name I pray, Amen.