Tag Archive | Lord

Put Your Faith Where Your Action Is!

 

Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth 
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead – (James 2:17, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I remember a time, back in 1993, when I was swept up in the whimsical world of wedding planning. Every detail mattered. I was excited to be marrying Brad Smith and I wanted our wedding day to be a magical springboard to a life filled with amazing adventures and deep years of God-centered love. From the cake choices – to the dress choices – to the music choices – to the guest list choices – to the bridal registry choices: I was all about the business of wedding prep!

The bride of Christ is purposed to be all about the Father’s business – to prep for eternity by making choices to bring Him glory throughout our days; to intentionally worship the Lord through our service. As daughters of God, we are called to connect our believing to our behaving; our convictions to our conversations; our lip-service to our life-service.

The Biblical mandate for each believer is this: put your faith where your action is. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).

Hear me out here. Service is not the key to gaining salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Christ alone (Romans 10:9-10). Service is, however, essential for the believer as a response to her salvation. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

No matter who you are or what your platform is in life, the truth remains that whatever you do and say is being watched. Everyone emanates something. A radiant Christian woman – a radiant bride of Christ – emanates the saltiness and light of Jesus through her life; displayed through the things she does and doesn’t do. Through things she says or doesn’t say.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV).

Today, I pray that you are spurred on to be a woman of action for Christ – no matter what the circumstances of your life or the complexities of your relationships may be. From your word choices – to your tone choices – to your television choices – to your music choices – to your service choices – to your activity choices … be all about your Father’s business. Go in His strength, and put your faith where your action is.

Let’s Pray 
Holy Father, I pray that You will help my actions to line up with Your perfect will. Help me to be Your hands and feet to those around me. Shine through my actions so others might be drawn to Your healing hope.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 
What does your life radiate? What are your actions saying about your faith? Are you salty for Christ in what you do and say? Spend a few moments reflecting on this and then spend some time in prayer.

How can you serve someone today? Perhaps God is leading you to bless someone in your household … or someone in your church … or someone in your neighborhood.

Could you reach out to a single mom, a family member, a widow, or a hurting friend? Ask God to direct you to opportunities to put your faith into action in the lives of others.

Got some great ideas about this? I would love to hear about them! Visit my Facebook page and tell me all about it: http://www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

More from the Girlfriends 
Trust me, friend, in no way am I trying to place the burden of “you-must-do-more-things-in-order-to-please-God” on you. I just want to encourage you to make the most of every choice and every action. If you are drained and weary and can’t imagine being able to give anyone anything right now, get alone with God. His presence and His Spirit will strengthen you for each moment.

NEED HELP in putting your actions where your faith is? Gwen’s book, Broken Into Beautiful, will take you by the hand and shows you how God delights to transform lives. Yes. Even yours!! To order the book, go to Amazonor visit the store on Gwen’s website: www.gwensmith.net.

 

Creation—an argument for faith

 

‘Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.’ Jeremiah 32:17

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 107:23–32

My brother in Christ, you are greatly troubled are you? It is a common lot with us all. And so, you have nothing on earth to trust to now, and are going to be cast on your God alone? Your vessel is on her beam-ends, and now there is nothing for you but just to be rolled on the providence and care of God. What a blessed place to be rolled on! Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! On some few occasions I have had troubles which I could not tell to any but my God, and I thank God that I have, for I learned more of my Lord then than at any other time.

There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends. But when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nothing, he flies into his Father’s arms, and how blessedly he is clasped there! So that, I say again, happy trouble that drives you to your Father! Blessed storm that wrecks you on the rock of ages! Glorious billow that washes you upon this heavenly shore! And now you have nothing but your God to trust to, what are you going to do? To fret? To whine? O, I pray you, do not thus dishonour your Lord and Master! Now, play the man, play the man of God. Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you. Show rich men how rich you are in your poverty when the Lord God is your helper. Show the strong man how strong you are in your weakness when underneath you are the everlasting arms. Now man, now is your time to glorify God.

For meditation: Do you take refuge in the Lord (Psalm 73:25–26; Proverbs 18:10)? When God gets his hands upon them, even bad experiences eventually turn out for the believer’s good (Psalm 119:71; Lamentations 3:27; Romans 8:28) and the blessing overflows to others (Genesis 50:20). That is the story of Good Friday (Isaiah 53:10–11; 1 Peter 2:23–24).

Sermon no. 462
27 July (1862)

 

July 25 Transformation Garden

 

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23
King James Version

EXPLORATION

How God treats despised sinners.”

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.”
Luke 19: 1, 2
N.I.V.

“Life is filled with meaning as soon as Jesus enters it.”
Stephen Neill

INSPIRATION

“One could view the whole life of Jesus from first to last as a single continuing exploit in breaking down the walls that separate people.”
Harvey Cox

When I was a child, I learned a song that went like this:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.
And when the Master passed his way He looked up in the tree.
And He said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today.’”

There were all kinds of hand motions we did as we sang this song about a despised tax collector who became a devoted follower of Jesus.

To understand why Zacchaeus was such a despised person, we need to look back into the historical setting in which he lived. Luke 19 tells us that Zacchaeus was a Jew.  And he wasn’t just any tax collector – he was the chief tax collector. Tax collectors or publicans are referred to 22 times in the gospels. These men were wealthy individuals who paid for the privilege of collecting taxes in certain localities. Often people like Zacchaeus employed other Jews to do the actual collecting of taxes and tolls for them. What made these people so despised was that they sold their services to the Roman government. They represented the country that dominated the Jewish nation – Rome.  Often their methods of getting money could be shady to say the least. These tax collectors many times overcharged the people and pocketed the surplus. In writings by some of the Rabbis, they are referred to as “robbers.” They were looked upon by most people as “renegades, who sold their services to the foreign oppressor to make money at the expense of their own countrymen.”

Jesus’ acceptance of these despised humans, even including Matthew, a tax collector as one of His twelve disciples, infuriated the religious folk of the day. Matthew 9: 11 gives a record of the Pharisees questioning why Jesus would “eat with tax collectors and sinners?” A guilt by association accusation.

And then, the icing on the cake came when the chief tax collector, a man we learn was extremely wealthy, decided he wanted to meet Jesus.

We will never know what first drew Zacchaeus to want to learn more about Jesus. I like to think it may have been the fact that this wealthy man realized no amount of money was enough to fill the empty place in his soul. And when He heard Jesus talk about calling, “sinners to repentance,” this message of acceptance hit a responsive cord in Zacchaeus’ heart. The cords of love that Jesus wrapped around this man with money began to pull him toward a new life.

As the Bible tells us in Luke 19, Zacchaeus, who was short, heard Jesus was coming to Jericho, so he climbed into a tree to watch Jesus pass by.  But Jesus didn’t just keep walking. Instead, He stopped, looked up into the tree, and told Zacchaeus to come down. Then He invited Himself to lunch at the tax collector’s home.

Luke 19: 7 says, “all the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’”

What happened next is one of those “WOW” moments in the life of Jesus. Luke tells us, “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’”

I like the thoughts Martyn Percy shares about this encounter in his book, Sensing the Crowds:

“In Christian memory and tradition Zacchaeus is portrayed as either fraudulent or as a collaborator with the occupying Roman government…The reaction of the crowd bears this out. They all “murmured” that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ Zacchaeus, meanwhile, has responded to Jesus’ visit by giving half his goods to the poor. Then comes the hidden sting in the story, for he adds that if he has defrauded anyone of anything he will restore it fourfold. That ‘if’ must be one of the most important two-letter words in the Gospels. That Zacchaeus is despised by the crowd is not in doubt. But nowhere in the story does it say that he was dishonest. He is simply hated for what he does…

“What then does Jesus’ action signify? Simply this: that in the midst of a crowd bestowing their adulation he refuses to side with their base prejudices. Zacchaeus is affirmed for who he is…Consistently, Jesus sides with the ostracized, the rejected, the unclean, the impure, the (alleged) sinner, and the half-breeds. He is no crowd pleaser, he is their confounder. Even before the palm branches are stripped from the trees, and the cries of ‘Blessed!’ are heard, Jesus is a disturber of crowds. He does not want their praise; he wants their commitment.”

It was the commitment that Zacchaeus gave to Jesus. He went from being despised to devoted. A devotion that wasn’t just lip service but heart service. A devotion that reached not only into this wealthy man’s heart but into his pocketbook. How did Jesus treat despised sinners? He loved them. He regarded them. He welcomed them. And he offered them a better life. A new life. A life that filled them to overflowing.

For Zacchaeus, giving half of all he had and more meant little in return for the fullness he received from Jesus. In the words of H. A. Ironside, “No one ever lost out by excessive devotion to Christ.” And you can count on Zacchaeus saying “AMEN” to that!

“Lord, make me according to Thy heart.”
Brother Lawrence

AFFIRMATIONS

Godly Curiosity

“Praiseworthy to a high degree
Is Godly curiosity;
To search the Lord, above, around,
If happily He may yet be found.
Short-sighted reason, dwarf desire,
Are faith and zeal when lifted higher.
Then on the Tree of Life sublime
With hand and knees devoutly climb;
Catch mercy’s moments as they fly,
Behold! The Lord is passing by.”
Christopher Smart

“Open my eyes that I may see.
Incline my heart that I may desire.
Order my steps that I may follow.”
Lancelot Andrewes

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

 

From death to life

 

‘The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.’ 1 Samuel 2:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 14:4–11

I heard the other day a trembling woman—I hope she will yet be rejoicing in the Lord—I heard her saying she was afraid she never should be saved, and I told her I was afraid so too, for she would not believe in Christ, but was always raising questions, and doubts, and peradventures. Well, she said, she did not know whether the Lord had begun a good work in her. I told her I did not know that either, and that I did not enquire about it; I knew what the gospel said, and that was, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ But she said, perhaps it was not God’s time.

I said, ‘Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’ Ah! she said, but she could not believe. I asked her why she could not believe. Could she not believe what Christ said? Was he a liar? Could she dare to say that she could not believe her God? Well, she did not exactly mean that, but then there were her sins. But, said I, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’ Well, she said, she hoped she should have the strivings of the Spirit, and that one day she should get right. ‘My sister,’ said I, ‘I charge you before God, do not get any hope out of that; your business is to come to Christ and to come to Christ now; but if you stop anywhere short of that, in any sort of feelings or experience, then you will never get to your journey’s end.’ A believing sinner’s business is with Jesus and not with the Spirit’s operations. The Spirit works salvation in him, but he is nowhere bidden to look to the Spirit for salvation. No man can come to the Father but by Christ.

For meditation: The fact that we cannot ‘save ourselves’ but have to ‘be saved’ is no excuse for anyone to sit back and hope for the best. God has revealed to us the way to be saved—by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; John 3:16–17; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8) —and that step of faith is commanded, not suggested (Acts 16:30–31).

Sermon no. 523
26 July (1863)

 

Islands of Clarity

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. PSALM 27:13

Barbara and I have long enjoyed the benefits of carving out time together as a couple. It was something we committed to early in our marriage. Even with six kids and all the natural activity that ensued, we pretty much stuck to our guns, and everybody reaped the benefits.

For us, these became islands of clarity—stolen moments when we chose to set aside the rush, distractions and noise of life long enough to reflect and hear from God. Here are three tips for finding uninterrupted time to help you regain perspective in the midst of the family circus:

Do it daily. The mere fact that you’re reading this book tells me you understand your need for at least a few minutes each day to square up and seek the Lord together.

Do it weekly. I’ve been telling people for years about Barbara’s and my selecting Sunday night as our sacred time to grab a booth at our favorite cozy little restaurant, The Purple Cow, and sync up our schedules. We have seen God supply answers as we talked about the children’s school needs, various discipline issues, major purchases and other elements of our marriage relationship.

Do it twice a year. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but we found that squirreling ourselves away without the kids helped us clear our heads and renew our sense of partnership and purpose. Many couples use the Weekend to Remember as an annual getaway to refresh and refuel their relationship.

Marriage often resembles a shootout between Siamese twins—two people joined together at the hip but fighting to control the direction they go. Islands of clarity are good places for the two of you, not just to sign peace treaties, but also to chart a course for the future and build romantic fires as well.

DISCUSS

What has been your favorite getaway as a couple? What made it so memorable? Schedule your next one.

PRAY

Pray that God will help you never to lose the ability to set aside some time away together as a couple to seek Him and one another.

Unglued Mama Mornings

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV 1984)

As the new school year approaches I’m making a bold commitment: No more unglued mama mornings. I want our mornings to go better this year with less frustration, yelling, and chaos.

I started thinking about this last spring when we had a string of really hard mornings.

One day, as I pulled up to the school, the atmosphere inside the car was thick with tension. Not wanting the last words spoken to my daughter to be harsh, I tried to change the course of our conversation before she headed into her day. “Listen, I love you. I’m sorry we had a rough morning.”

“We always have rough mornings,” she shot back before slamming the car door.

Nothing quite makes a mom feel more successful than a little dialogue like that.

As I rubbed the stabbing feeling in my chest, I thought, “Something has got to change. Each day I promise myself I won’t yell at the kids. But each morning something triggers me and I just lose it.”

Ever been there?

It’s not like we wake up in the mood to get frustrated with our people, right? I mean honestly, I usually wake up in a pretty good mood. But then the stress of getting everyone ready and to school on time makes the crazy creep in.

This one can’t find her shoes. That one needs a report printed and we have no ink. The bread for sandwiches is still at the grocery store because I forgot to buy it yesterday. And to top it all off, I have no cash to give the kids so they can buy lunch at school.

The whining. The complaining. The feeling that I can’t ever get it all together. It all escalates and sends me over the edge.

Well, I want this school year to be different. I want to be like our key verse today describes: “made new in the attitude of my mind.” The Greek word for “made new” is kaino. One of its definitions is uncommon. I want to be an uncommon calm in the midst of chaos and an example of peace for my kids in a world of pressure. For that to happen, I came up with a plan:

Tell the world to wait.
When I wake up, my mind is like a dry sponge. What I soak up first will saturate me most deeply. If I don’t want to be consumed with the stresses of my day, I must soak up what will renew my mind instead — God’s Word. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, I’ve got to put the world on hold until I’ve checked in with God.

Remember I’m managing blessings.
If I want my attitude to be made new, I must keep things in perspective. While my frustrations seem big, things like lost shoes and less than perfect lunches aren’t big problems. They are small aggravations that come with managing blessings.

Let my kids own their ‘irresponsibilities.’
My kid’s irresponsibility will not become my emergency. I need to communicate my expectations so they know they’re going to have to own the consequences of their choices. For example, if they wait until the last minute to print their report and the printer has no ink, they’ll have to print it at school or turn it in late. Either way, I can’t own this situation and let it throw me into frantic, fix-it mode. I can let the consequences of my kid’s choices scream, so I don’t have to.

All of this is going to take some intentionality and I seriously doubt I’ll do it perfectly. But I’m excited about trying. I’m excited to “put on my new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Which is a fancy way of saying I’m excited to have less unglued mama mornings and a lot more peace this school year.

Dear Lord, thank You for the grace You give me every day. I don’t want to live in the same pattern of coming unglued anymore. Lord, help me put these principles into practice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
What is the Lord showing you about your role in your relationship with your children today?

Which of the following action points can you put into practice tomorrow?
1. Tell the world to wait.
2. Remember I’m managing blessings.
3. Let my kids own their irresponsibilities.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV)

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Groundbreaker

by: Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of July 22, 2012

“The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for Him!'”  -Mark 1:6

Has God ever spoken to you to step up and do something outside of your comfort zone? You may have said, “Yes, Lord,” only to find yourself alone in the journey? Did no one else understand what you were doing or what you were going through—when you were in the midst—except you and God? Was the assignment difficult? Did it even look and feel impossible? Did you have to press forward against the odds? Did you endure persecution? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you could be a groundbreaker.

Groundbreakers are more than influencers. They are transformers through the power of God. They run ahead of the pack. They are forerunners, spiritual bulldozers. They clear the path for others to enter. They confront giants on battlefields and co-labor with God to do the physical work, even when no one else shows up.

Groundbreakers are tenacious people who intentionally choose to step out in great faith for the Lord. They are the people who love God so much they will do anything for Him. They are the ones God assigns to His new movements to get the job done. They are carriers of God’s vision, purpose and commitment. And, by God’s enduring grace, they can handle the aloneness and the burdens of the mission.

Groundbreakers receive revelations and understand that others will see God’s vision manifested in His time. They move forward in obedience and confidence unto the Lord. They work unto Him, not man. And they know their rewards come from God.

Modern day groundbreakers look like entrepreneurs, inventors, church planters, missionaries and other ordinary people who are assigned by God to do powerful ventures. They take new ground, pressing through resistance, witnessing God’s extraordinary miracles and manifestations on earth as it is in heaven.

Probably one of the most obvious groundbreakers in the Bible was John the Baptist. God chose John to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry on earth. John was Jesus’ cousin and champion, the quintessential forerunner. God consecrated this man—who had a heart for Jesus on a blood level—and enabled him to handle the aloneness journey, as is evident by his desert existence. I wonder what exactly happened to John when he leaped in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41). We know he was filled with the Holy Spirit, as was Elizabeth; but what would he have shared with us if he could’ve spoken about this very early and extraordinary encounter? John was destined for great exploits, commissioned for God’s assignments, a great adventurer, one who could handle solitude.

The Bible is full of groundbreakers. Consider Moses, who led a nation out of slavery. Consider Abraham, who entered into the unknown and became the father of all nations. Consider Joshua who reclaimed the Promised Land, battling giants so that others could be reconciled and live peaceably.

Getting inspired? How is God using you? What is God calling you to do? To love Him with all your heart, soul and strength (Luke 10:27)? To love your neighbor as yourself? To go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)?

You can begin right where you are. Choose to trust God. Surrender your life to Him. Invite Jesus into your heart. Choose to keep Him first in your life. Ask Him where He would like you to go and how He would like to use you to build His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He will take you to new heights and lead you to new adventures. He will issue you assignments that will feel bigger than you. And the Holy Spirit will help you complete them His way. The rewards will be far better than you can choose to accomplish alone. Are you ready to step out more for God?