Jesus, Our Supply

I wish we could just eliminate bad days. No matter the effort we put in, there are still days when everything seems to go wrong. It’s unavoidable. There are seasons in life where struggle prevails. I am grateful for the seasons of growth and the seasons of harvest, but why must we also have seasons of loss and seasons of drought?

We cannot always control what season of life we are in. The weather changes regardless of our actions, however, our actions are not determined by the weather. In the midst of bitter cold, I can put on my warmest jacket and head out to work. If I don’t then I’ll likely lose my job. In the same way no matter the season of life you find yourself in, you can choose to keep spending time in prayer and in the Word of God.

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Often when faced with adversity and challenge we tire of the drudgery of devotion. It is not uncommon in those seasons to feel as if God is distant. Suddenly prayer seems a chore and our motivation wanes. When we are not seeing the fruit of our prayer efforts, we want to quit praying.

That is a choice we sometimes make, but it is the wrong choice. We must continue sowing the seed of prayer, especially during the difficult seasons. We must water our prayers with tears before the Lord and earnestly pray for His purpose to take root in our hearts. As we remain steadfast in our pursuits, allowing His Word to consume our hearts and minds, even in the drought we are being fed like a tree planted by the stream.  We can be confident that fruit will be produced in its proper time.

We feel each season. We dance during seasons of joy and produce. We weep during seasons of heartache and pain. We endure seasons of frustration and dryness. Yet, the work of the Lord continues within us, so long as we stay rooted in His word the waters of His Spirit are preparing us for a new season of produce.

I wish I could tell you that it was all sunshine and that we would never endure hard times, but the Bible ensures us that hard times will come. However, we are also assured that even through such great challenges our God stands with us. He is on our side. He is fighting our battles. We are not abandoned to survive on our own. He is our strength and our shield, our place of refuge.

Let us never abandon the good fight, but when difficult times come let our resolve become ever stronger, fueled by the very presence of God. We are not among the weak that we may give in and cease our pursuit. No, we are among the strong, the relentless ones who charge forward knowing that God is on our side and no weapon can stop us.

So long as we stay rooted in His word, His presence and His church there is no season we will encounter that He has not supplied the strength to survive. If you are going through a hard time today, I encourage you do not despair. Look to His provision. Open His word and read. Do not tire in praying. Reach out to a fellow believer to join you in the fight. Pray together. Let God be your supply. In all seasons, He is our source of strength. Our source of endurance. Our very source of life. Every victory comes from Him alone.

You are not forgotten, this season will end.

Trust in God.

 

Becoming a Disciple

Imagine you won an incredible opportunity for you and a friend to play in an NBA game with your favorite team! You call your friend up and he’s thrilled! You go the day of the game and you can hardly contain the excitement. You’ve got on the uniform, the crowd is screaming, the lights of cameras are flashing, you feel like you could take on the world.  Then the game starts.

The one aspect you overlooked on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

You are playing basketball with professionals.

Guys who have been working hard, training and practicing everyday for years and it turns out you’re not as good as you thought. If this was me it would be quite embarrassing, we would lose the game by a lot and it would be my fault. My friend is now ashamed to be seen with me.

We know we are called to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:19), but the first step in making disciples is becoming a disciple ourselves. The key to becoming a disciple is found in a word that everyone loves, discipline. In fact, the root word of discipline is disciple. Too many Christians are attempting to follow Christ without the daily discipline of devotion.

As 1 Kings begins an aging David intends to make Solomon the next King, but another Son decides to make himself King behind his father’s back. Verse six says this:

1 Kings 1:6 (NLT) Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?”

Wherever there is a lack of discipline, problems arise. In the context of parenting and leadership we know that there must be discipline, or else things can spiral out of control quickly and our children or employees won’t grow in the direction we want them to grow. More important than helping to discipline others is the art of self-discipline.

As a child we learn to associate discipline with punishment, and that is true to an extent. Self Discipline can feel like self punishment, but truthfully it isn’t punishment. It is simply choosing to do the things that will benefit us most, rather than the things we want to do most.

We have no problem waking up early to do something we want to do, go fishing, take a trip to Disney or some other special activity, but when it comes to spending time with Jesus, “I’m not a morning person.”

I get it, I get it, you’re really not a morning person. No problem, do you have a consistent time and place you meet with Jesus daily no matter what? If so then great, if not then I promise you are not growing spiritually to the level God desires for your life. At some point you will feel frustrated because you aren’t seeing the results you want to see. When we lack spiritual discipline, our struggle with sin is greater, we develop attitudes towards situation and people. We often have great desire, but are not seeing it fulfilled.

I hope you feel my heart today, I’m not saying any of this to make you feel bad, like you’re not a good Christian. I tell you this because for years I had horrible spiritual discipline. My devotions were erratic at best. I spent years stuck spiritually spinning my wheels, and it wasn’t some supernatural moment at a conference that transformed my life. It was when I finally decided that enough was enough and I needed to discipline myself.

When we don’t spend daily time with Jesus in prayer and study of His Word we are robbing ourselves of great joy, blessing and breakthrough. I’m not suggesting we should beat ourselves up in guilt and condemnation if we miss a day, no! Simply start anew the next day, God isn’t angry demanding you make up the time you missed. He just loves us.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT) 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.

Is it always a JOY making time for Jesus? No, The morning of this writing was actually one of the most challenging mornings for me to get out of bed. I felt full zombie when my alarm went off and I actually hit snooze which I rarely do, but when it went off the second time I knew that I need to do what’s right, not what I want.

It’s not about your comfort, it’s about your character. Growing in the Lord often means sacrificing something you would rather be doing to invest in what you need to be doing.

Today I want to encourage you, if you’re still reading this devotion then I know you have a heart to grow in the things of the Lord. Don’t give up. Don’t let the devil make you feel like a failure of a Christian because you’ve had a lack of discipline. Simply start new. Everyday is a new chance to spend time with Jesus and He is always eager to hear from you.

Spiritual Fruit

We’ve come to the end of our second week together. Once again I’d like to close this week by evaluating our Spiritual progress. Last week I briefly made mention of the fruit of the Spirit. This week I’d like to take a closer look.

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

There is good news and bad news. Would you like the bad news first? If the answer is no then skip this paragraph. These are all spiritual qualities that we are incapable of producing in our own ability. No matter how hard we find, there is no true joy or peace unless the Spirit produces it in our lives. Sure we can find worldly substitutes, worldly joy, worldly peace, but such peace only lasts so long as our present circumstance. Spiritual joy lasts no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The good news, because we cannot produce these qualities in our own ability we don’t have to freak out about not having enough of one of them. We can simply go into our prayer closet, shut the door and get alone with our Father. As we grow closer to God many of these fruits will automatically become more apparent in our lives. The Spirit produces them.

If you’re like me and you find yourself struggling with some of them from time to time, you don’t need to panic. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you are really struggling to speak kindly to a specific person for whatever reason. You don’t panic and say, “I thought I was a Christian, why am I not more kind?!”

You simply go and pray, “Lord, I am struggling to treat this person with kindness, please produce this fruit in a greater amount in my life. Help me to speak to them with kindness, help me to show them kindness with my actions, so that You might receive glory.

That sounds simple, but like many simple things it isn’t easy. Many times we feel they deserve the attitude we are harboring for them, and maybe they do. However that doesn’t change the fact we need to treat them with kindness.

I challenge you to find some time today and reflect on each of these fruits and ask yourself if you  are truly displaying them in every area of your life.

Start with love. This is the most important one for me. I believe that as we grow in Christ, our love grows in correspondence. The more spiritually mature we are, the more love we have, not only for the people in our lives, but for the world. Our compassion for those in need is increasing as well.

Joy and Peace. I know they’re not the same thing, but similar thoughts come to my mind. These are difficult to have in challenging situations. I think they may be the best tool we have in evaluating our spiritual life. If we are living in the Spirit, I believe we will have sufficient joy and especially peace. When times come and we find ourselves lacking in this department, it’s time to evaluate. Ok Lord, where have I stopped living in the Spirit and started living in the natural?

Patience is also a challenge! How many times do we act impulsively instead of waiting on leading from the Lord?

Kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. These qualities are so vital to us as Christians and we should display them in every situation. Are we always kind? Are we always good? Are we always faithful? Are we always gentle? No, but everyday is an opportunity to grow greater fruit.

Self-control is last, and I am sure it is by design. The ability to truly control oneself in every way is a true test of maturity. This is our goal, to be completely spirit led, to surrender every ounce of control and let the Spirit have His way. To not act in every situation, to hold our tongue on when needed. Yet also to act boldly and speak truth as the Spirit leads. This should be the goal of every believer.

If you’re reading this today, I just want you to know that you’re gonna make it. You’re not forgotten and you haven’t made too many mistakes. Today is perfect day to determine in your heart a renewed determination to live for Jesus, to develop spiritual fruit and display to the world the love of Christ.