28 Days 2014

28 Days - Day 26

Paul recognizes his place in relation to God as just another in a long line of clay pots to be used by God.  His newfound perspective and identity is evidenced by his spiritual character.

Humble…2 Cor 4:7

It is about God and not about Paul.
It is God’s doing and not our striving.
It is His power at work in us and through us.

Humility is not about us being self-effacing but it is about us glorifying God.

 

BUT CONFIDENT…2 Cor 4:8

Paul is transformed in his thinking that allows him to face adversity and shortcomings.

  • • He could face pressure and not be crushed because of Christ.
  • • He could be at his wit’s end but he would not lose faith and despair because of Christ.
  • • It might look like he was at the brink of defeat but he was not defeated because of Christ.
  • • He might be facing hard times but he was not alone because God was with him.

Paul was able to have this outlook because of his encounter with Christ and because of his continual pursuit of encountering God daily.

Our encounters with God should build our faith and confidence.  In Christ we are made strong.

SELF-SACRIFICING…2 Cor 4:10-11

He was willing to sacrifice his life for the cause of Christ.

Paul is saying…“suffering is a purposeful sacrifice that results in the power of God being unleashed in our lives.”  

That is transformation because  that is not a human response.

FRUITFUL…2 Cor 4:12

All this sacrifice and suffering should lead to fruitfulness in our lives.  Our encounter with Christ leads to transformation that makes us more like Christ and helps us to fulfill the calling of Christ – to go make disciples.

Any encounter with God should lead us to fruitfulness in our mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere.  

 

Is transformation taking place in your life?


28 Days - Day 25

2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

I know today we are looking at the change that took place in Saul the proud to where he became Paul the humble.  When he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus Saul chose to become a disciple of Jesus and one of the ways he changed is that God's agenda became Paul's agenda.  

As I was reading, however, I was reminded again in verse two of have we can have ongoing encounters with God.  When we take time to come together with God's people to worship, fast and pray we find ourselves much more attuned to the Holy Spirit who calls us, directs us and gives us God's heart for our lives.  I beleive that fasting, worship and fellowship with believers must be priorities in our lives so that we can walk in step with God through the Holy Spirit.  They are the daily encounters we must seek. 

God's desire is not a one-time experience with you but an everyday, moment-by-moment communing with you.  The more that we allow for those times the more we will find that we encounter Him and we are transformed as a result - made into His image and likeness.

I truly believe that out of this month of prayer and fasting and as some of you make these disciplines a regular part of your life, the Holy Spirit will call you and set you apart for the work to which God has called you.  There is destiny in the making as we seek to encounter God and allow Him to change us.  Go deep!


28 Days - Day 24

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.  Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

Encounters with God should always lead to transformation!

Saul came face to face with Jesus and it brought about immediate change.  The first was that Saul realized that Jesus was alive.  Of course, the believers had been saying this, but Saul had refused to accept their testimony. If Jesus was alive, then Saul had to change his mind about Jesus and His message. He had to repent, a difficult thing for a self-righteous Pharisee to do.

Saul also discovered that he was a lost sinner who was in danger of the judgment of God. Those discoveries led to Saul becoming a believer and a follower of Jesus.  That decision led to even more changes and transformation.  Having become a believer in Jesus the Messiah, he identified himself with Jesus’ followers by being baptized.  Then he began sharing the good news with people.  He embraced a life of sacrifice and suffering so that he could preach that good news.  His priority in life became that of proclaiming the gospel to everyone.  

Our encounters with God should lead to a change of direction, putting down our agenda to embrace God’s plan for us. 
Our encounters should make us bold enough to publicly identify with Jesus, willing to follow Him no matter the cost. 
We want to be God worshippers rather than people pleasers. 
No more jumping through hoops for an outward show of religiosity but now there is a relationship with Christ that is cultivated by time spent with Him in prayer and in reading and studying His Word.

Are you being transformed?


28 Days - Day 22

When you look at Saul on the road  you see a very zealous man who actually thought he was serving God by persecuting the church.

Had you stopped him and asked for his reasons, he might have said something like this:

"Jesus of Nazareth is dead. Do you expect me to believe that a crucified nobody is the promised Messiah? No! His followers are preaching that Jesus is both alive and doing miracles through them. But their power comes from Satan, not God. This is a dangerous sect, and I intend to eliminate it before it destroys our historic Jewish faith!"

In spite of all his learning, Saul was spiritually blind and did not understand what the Old Testament really taught about the Messiah.  Like so many people, he stumbled over the Cross because he depended on his own righteousness and not on the righteousness of God.  

Many self-righteous religious people today do not see their need for a Savior and resent it if you tell them they are sinners.

Take some time to pray for people you know who need to realize that they are sinners in need of a Savior, ask God to give them an encounter that will bring them to salvation just like the kind of encounter and life change that Paul had.


28 Days - Day 20

When we are repentant (broken and contrite) and we ask God for forgiveness we are assured that He will forgive us.  David is convinced of of God’s ability to forgive and of His willingness to forgive.  Look at  David’s response to his forgiveness.

Because he has been forgiven he wants to tell others that they too can be forgiven and they can turn back to God.  
Because he has been forgiven he will worship God by singing of his righteousness and declaring God’s praise.
Because he has been forgiven he can offer up sacrifices to God that are acceptable because they are coming from a clean and a pure heart.  The clean heart is necessary before the outward actions are acceptable.

For us who have been forgiven we need to respond in the same manner as David.  

Forgiven people should be so joyful that they tell others about God’s forgiveness in order for them to experience the joy of salvation as well.
Forgiven people should worship with passion and abandon because of the great love of God towards us.  We are undeserving of His grace yet still He gives it to us.

Make it a priority to share God’s love with someone so that they too can experience the joy of His salvation.  


28 Days - Day 19

Confession and repentance.  Two things that are necessary for us as children of God.  Truth is that there are times when we go against the will of the Father - we sin.  We choose our way over His way.  When that happens the Holy Spirit convicts us of that sin and we must respond.  If we dont respond then God ramps it up and sends someone to confront us.  Hopefully by then we will listen.  But when we listen what should be our response?

I believe that David realized his error the moment he made it, but he kept hiding it.  That is exactly what satan wants us to do - hide our sin, because as long as we hide our sins he has control over us.  After Nathan confronted him David could have denied the sin, but thankfully he chose not to.  Instead he confesses his sin.  He confesses it to Nathan, acknowledges it before God and the rumors whispered around the palace became the truth.  It was out in the open.  Believe it or not the fact is that confession brings freedom.  David mentions it when he wrote Psalm 32...

  • Psalm 32:1-5 (NIV) 1  Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2  Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah 5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

 God knows our sin and shortcoming but He wants us to admit to them and bring what is hidden to light.  Confession is the first step of repentance.

Repentance entails confession and forsaking.  We admit our sins and then we turn around and go in the opposite direction so as not to do that again.

Take time to confess your sins to God and ask for forgiveness.  He will forgive you and the joy and freedom you will have is beyond measure.


28 Days - Day 18

  • 2 Samuel 12:1 (NIV) 1 The LORD sent Nathan to David.

God was not letting David get away with this sin, He loved him too much for that, so in his right timing He sent the prophet Nathan to David.

It had to be Nathan.

  • Nathan was someone who was close to David. 
  • He was trusted by David and had the ability to have an audience with the king. 
  • Nathan was a man of God and it was known.

Sometimes the way we come face to face with God is through close, trusted, godly  friends and advisors.

We encounter God through the godly, trusted men and women in our lives

  • who are brave enough,
  • obedient to God and
  • wise in how they confront.

Imagine Nathan’s predicament.  How do I tell the king without incurring his wrath?
He will have me executed.
Yet still he went because God had sent him.

Too many of us are asking God to show up and He does in the form of the trusted people in our lives and we are not responding to them and in turn not responding to God.

We are looking for an encounter, for an answer, but when we answer comes we reject it because it is not what we want to hear or it comes though someone we discount.  Allow the Nathans of our life to help us come face to face with God.


28 Days - Day 17

Sin.  Disobedience to God's commands always has a negative effect on us.  Sin happens because we come to believe that God is holding out on us, that we know better that He does as to what is best for us.  Sin reveals that we don't trust Him or trust that His commands are for our protection.

This is what Satan hinted to Eve and in that moment of seeing the fruit and desiring it she forgot about who she was and who God was.  She fixated on the pleasure of the moment and lost perspective and in so doing believed the lie of the serpent.

The moment she ate she knew that she had done wrong and instead of keeping it to herself she involved someone else.  That is always the problem with sin, it's borders are every increasing. The consequences of our sin does not just affect us it affects so many others.

Adam and Eve immediately did what all of us do when we sin and realize it, we try to cover it up and to fix it on our own.  We immediately hide from God.  We think that we can fix the situation and so we hide till we can figure out a way to fix it.  But that day will never come because we cannot fix this mess.  Hiding only makes it worse.

I like the picture of God who comes seeking Adam and Eve.  God already knew what had happened, but He didn't leave them in their mess - He came seeking because He knew they stood no chance without Him.  God has demonstrated that love for us over and over again.  God so loved us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  He loved us so He sent His Son who moved into our neighborhood so that we can be restored.

At some point we must quit hiding from God and run to Him.  He will not condemn us but He will forgive us.  A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.  Run to Him today and confess your sins to Him, He will forgive and restore you.  Run to Him because He is seeking you out.  It is not as difficult as you may think!


28 Days - Day 13

In brokenness we are reminded us that God is sovereign and as a result we must prepare ourselves for blessing and adversity

Job says it, God is God and He can do as He pleases. 

  • What we can rely on is the fact that He will use everything for His good.
  • What we can count on is that He is good and compassionate even in the midst of the most painful situations.
  • What we must hold fast to is that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
  • Isaiah 55:9 (NIV) 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

So our response in the middle of the brokenness and pain should be to draw near to God.  To say,

  • God I trust you. 
  • I don’t know why I am going through this. 
  • If there is something I can learn from it show me.
  • I believe that it will be for your glory so I will run to you. 
  • Hold me close.  Deepen me.  Change me.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?

 


28 Days - Day 12

Jesus knew who He was, where He came from, what He had and where He was going and this knowledge affected how He behaved. What He knew determined what He did.

He knew that the Father had put all things into His hands and yet instead of picking up a scepter first He picked up a towel and basin in order to do wash His disciples' feet.  His humility was not born of poverty but of riches.  He was rich yet He became poor so that the Father's will could be accomplished.
The sovereign became a servant.  The Rabbi served His disciples and it didnt make Him less a person but rather it made Him greater.

The practice of this is important.  We are children of God, we have been forgiven and set right with God and one day we will live with Him in eternity.  These things should determine how we live. Choose to emulate the life of Jesus who served others, who humbled Himself so that the Father's will may be accomplished.

If we truly desire to know God and to do His will then we must follow Jesus in humbling ourselves before God and serving others.