Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Power of "I'm Sorry"

A good friend of mine told me that the biggest difference between her and her co-workers who are not Christians is that she apologizes a lot more than they do! She struggles with things in her life, just like you and I do. But she is willing to say, "I'm sorry," and God is changing her day by day. I'm convinced her apologies are witnesses to the power of Jesus. 

Have you recently lost your temper with a co-worker, told a lie to your manager, or deceived a customer in some way? If so, your conscience probably hasn't stopped bothering you, and that’s good. When our own sin doesn’t bother us, we are in a very dangerous position. A prickling conscience is one way God prompts you to take advantage of his offer to forgive you and purify you; all you have to do is confess.

Maybe you’re wondering how you could ever be a witness for Jesus since you know you've failed and others know you've failed and what's more, you may fail again. But everybody struggles with failure, and those who are not Christians have no good way to deal with the guilt that often accompanies failure. One of the best ways to witness is to own up to our own failures, make restitution where necessary, and share that God is a forgiving and restoring God.

I can remember when God used a specific failure on my part to help a struggling Christian co-worker understand that God would forgive and restore him when he failed. I really blew it in front of him, and I didn't want to go back in that office. But God clearly told me to go back and be very honest about my failure, which is what I did. 

Obviously it would have been better not to fail, but isn’t it great that God uses even our shortcomings? Don’t let some failure or fear of failure keep you from being a bold witness for Jesus.  Remember, he can turn your ashes into beauty, if you will let him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                                                                                                                                1 John 1:9

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Zero Budgeting" Our Lives to Fit God's Plans

In business and in government we hear the term "zero-budgeting,” a process that starts each yearly budget at zero. Everything is the budget is up for scrutiny and reconsideration;  each budget item must be justified. For example, if you had a budget last year for travel, you may or may not have it next year.  Before the money will be approved, you must demonstrate a need for it.

At the end of his ministry, Jesus was able to say that he had completed the work the Father gave him to do. That's because his agenda was always the Father's agenda. Time and again he said "I do what the Father tells me to do." 

For us to be able to finish the work God has for us to do, we need to start at point zero and say, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" We also need to ask ourselves some penetrating questions, such as:

•Is there anything I have I said that I would never do? Is that my agenda, or God's?

•Are there any areas in my life where I keep saying,  "Hands off—don't touch this, God"?

•What assumptions do I have about what God wants me to do, or not to do? Are those assumptions from God, or are they my own?

Zero-budgeting may lead us to some radical changes, or it may confirm for us that we're to stay where we are, doing what we're doing. But when we give God permission to set the agenda, then we have tremendous peace and freedom and we can say with Jesus, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

                                                                                                                                                John 17:4

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Limping Along

Are you limping along today, spiritually speaking? Does it seem like God is far away, and that your prayer time is unrewarding and dead? Does your mind wander when you read the Bible, and do the words run together on the page? Does it seem like a dry history book rather than a love letter to you from the Lord? Has your desire to be involved in ministry grown cold, and are you going through the motions out of a sense of duty? 

If so, you've got a spiritual limp. We all get them, and we need to be prepared to deal with them.  Most of us want to leave the race when we start limping, don't we? We figure we just can't keep going, so we give up and sit on the sidelines or start down another path which looks a little easier. But that's not how we should deal with a spiritual limp. 

Tightening your and staying on the right path, regardless of how you feel or whether you are getting results, require discipline. The first verse of that 12th chapter of Hebrews tells us we must run with endurance the race marked out for us. We may even run the race with a limp, but we must not sit down or get sidetracked.

Let me encourage you today to keep running in the right race, even though you're limping along. If you'll keep doing what you know you should do, even without feelings or visible results, your limping foot will recover, and pretty soon you'll be running strong again.

So tighten your loosening grip and steady your wavering stand. Don't wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse.

                                                                                                                Hebrews 12:12-13, Phillips

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Becoming Gentle and Assertive

This gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth to God, is not intended to be limited to women only.  We know that because the same words were used by our Lord to describe his own spirit. In Matthew 11:29 he said: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your soul." The words in these two passages are the same, both in the original and in the translations.

Frequently Jesus treated people with gentleness and compassion when others were condemning and intolerant. For example, the woman taken in adultery, the Samaritan woman he found at the well, and Zacchaeus the hated tax collector. It takes more strength to be gentle and quiet than it does to always say what we think. Gentleness is much more demanding and requires greater discipline and self-control. 

But please keep in mind, Jesus' gentleness did not prevent him from being assertive. Jesus was frequently bold and assertive in his words and in his actions. For one example, think of how he threw the money-changers out of the temple, when they were misusing God's house for their own personal gain.

Gentleness and assertiveness can comfortably coexist in the same person. What we have to do is pray for wisdom to know when to use a gentle approach and when to be more verbally assertive. Jesus had that kind of wisdom and since we have his Spirit in us, and we have the mind of Christ when we are born from above, we can confidently ask for his wisdom in these kinds of situations.
Gentle and assertive.  It’s a wonderful combination.  Ask for it; it can be yours when you are a daughter of the King.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

                                                                                                                                              1 Peter 3:3-4