Archive for March 2013

Little Things for God

Whatever you do,
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17, NIV)

We search and trouble ourselves to learn how to love God.
Yet it is so simple.
It is not necessary to do great things for God.
We can do little things for Him.

Do you have small, menial tasks to do?
Are they sometimes unpleasant?
Do them for love of God, as a personal service to Him.
As you work, look to God.
Talk to Him.
Ask for His help.
Then when you complete the task, thank God for the grace to work.

Don’t tire of doing little things out of love for Him.
The littleness of the work does not lessen the value of the offering,
for God regards not the greatness of the work,
but the love that prompts it.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: I’ll Sing of You
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Peter’s Denial

Peter insisted emphatically,
“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
(Mark 14:31, NIV)

Big boasts.
Bold promises.
Good intentions.
Peter sincerely wanted to,
and intended to,
follow Jesus all the way to death.

But he didn’t realize his own weakness.
“The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38b, NIV).

He neglected prayer.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Mark 14:38a).

As a result, while Jesus stood firm in the face of imminent death,
Peter crumbled in weakness and fear.
He denied not only Christ
but everything he believed and
everything he was.

Lord, I’m like Peter.
I have no strength in myself, and
I don’t know what lies ahead.
I need You every moment in every way.
Help me to remember my utter weakness,
to watch and pray,
to hide myself in You.

Betrayal

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money.  So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
(Mark 14:10-11, NIV)

Judas had lived with Jesus for three years. Yet he took the initiative and went to Jesus’ enemies and offered to hand Him over.

As sensitive as Jesus was to relationships, imagine how this must have hurt Him. Part of His suffering was to be sold cheaply by one of His closest friends.

What could have happened in Judas that he would do this? John 12:6 says he was a thief. Though he lived with Jesus every day, he had lost sight of what Jesus was all about. He had lost the heart.

Jesus, it’s easy for me to live with You intimately day by day, yet let my heart wander to selfish interests. Even as I serve You, my thoughts easily turn toward personal gain. When I pursue my own interests in Your service, I betray You, Lord. I dim Your glory in the eyes of those around me and expose Your precious work to scorn and loss.

Lord, keep me looking to You alone, seeking only You, loving only You.

See the Future

“Father, glorify your name!…Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:28a, 31-32, NIV)

The world was about to see Jesus’ enemies
arrest,
try,
condemn,
humiliate,
execute, and
bury Him.

But looking at the same events, what did Jesus see?
He saw all the powers of evil
judged,
condemned, and
driven out of our world forever.
He saw Himself high and lifted up, and
our entire race streaming to Him.

Do we see what Jesus saw?
Not yet,
but the battle has already been fought and won.
God’s love has already secured for us a bright and glorious future.
We are enjoying its first fruits even now!

Imagine Jesus Christ the first of a whole new race of human beings,
a race completely free from the curse of sin, death, and the fall,
holy and glorious as He is,
children of our Father in the fullest sense.

 Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Alive in You
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

What Is Beneficial?

“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:12, 19-20, NIV)

Father, guide my lifestyle and shape my habits by these verses.

Everything is allowable to me, but which things are beneficial? Which are truly beneficial to me? Which are beneficial to You, Father, and to our relationship? Which will be beneficial to those I influence?

Those things that are not beneficial, things that bind me, things that hinder our relationship or Your work or Your people, help me to set them aside. They are not fitting to encumber Your ministry through me.

Cleanse my life of them, Father. Take each one away. You know that I need Your help with this, but as You lead, I will obey.

I am Your temple. I am bought with Your blood. I am not my own. Lord, help me to glorify You with every part of me, with everything I do and say.

Creative Communicators, Make Prayer a Priority

If you are a creative communicator in any sense of the term—artist, writer, pastor, teacher, parent—remember this key fact: the only thing you will ever have to communicate is what you personally know of Jesus Christ.

If Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him is the substance of your life, then start right where you are, today, this moment, and make prayer a bigger part of your daily life. Many years ago God challenged me to do that, and nothing…absolutely nothing…has been as vital or as fruitful in my life as prayer.

Your opportunities for prayer will vary in the different seasons of your life. Don’t be discouraged by what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do. No matter how tight your time, look for the opportunities your schedule affords and take them. Ten minutes in the morning. Your drive time. The quiet moments when you first wake up and after the lights are off at night. Pray for opportunities to pray!

Whatever prayer time you set apart, it’s even more important that you turn to Him throughout the day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Nurture the habit. Let every concern draw you to Him. Immediately bring each need and anxiety to Him. Immediately thank Him for each joy and blessing, including little daily blessings: each meal, each conversation with a friend. The more you love Jesus, the more you will want to share your life with Him. You will want to stay in touch with Him through the day. You will be drawn to Him by hunger, not driven by guilt.

Remember, whatever happens or doesn’t happen in your life, through time and eternity your greatest joy will always be the pleasure of enjoying Jesus Christ in the present moment. Don’t let anything rob you of that treasure.

The Meaning of the Resurrection

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes. (Job 19:25-27, NIV)

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22, NIV)

Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19, NIV)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory”. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 54-55, 57, NIV)

If we simply trust Christ, death is no longer our destination. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and we are following where He is leading: into new life, with new bodies, in the very presence of the Father, permeated with the eternal glory of a holy God.

This new life has already begun. The fellowship you now enjoy with the Living Christ will go on unbroken forever. You are in His presence, and You will walk with Him throughout eternity. We are right now growing into “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). He has already begun doing within us “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (3:20).

For the believer, the truth is beautiful. Reality is wonderful beyond description. Praise Him! Rejoice in His goodness and His love! Every day is Easter for the child of God.

Death, with all its threats and intimidation,
cannot restrain the life of God—
not in Christ, and not in us.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Christ Is Alive! We Live in Him!
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

For Creative Communicators

Whatever your creative bent, whatever your area or outlet, if you are a believer, prepare to serve. God’s love is forever reaching out, drawing people to Himself. He wants to reach out through you. He wants to draw people to Himself through you.

For your part, the more you know Him, the more you will love Him, and the more you will long to show everyone just how wonderful He is. 

As we are called and driven by God’s love, we become creative communicators of the gospel. Individually and together, we use our God-given personalities, abilities, experiences, inclinations, and opportunities to glorify Jesus Christ and draw other people to Him. 

As a creative communicator, remember this key fact: the only thing you will ever have to communicate is what you personally know of Jesus Christ. Biblical knowledge is important, but personal knowledge is central. People don’t just want cold information. They want to know if what you are saying is real…or at least if it is real to you. People can smell what is stiff, canned, or artificial. They can hear it in your voice and in your words. People want reality. They want truth, honestly, clearly, sincerely communicated.

There is a place for language that is objective, intellectual, and detached, but it’s not in personal communication. The truth about Jesus Christ is the most intimate, wondrous, meaningful, and personal thing in all of life. Don’t relegate it to coldly factual language. Speak from experience. Speak from your heart.

As a hymnwriter and as a child of God, it is my goal to be fully responsive to the truth about Jesus. That includes being fully responsive emotionally. No, I don’t have to be emotionally effusive. Many of us are not. But whether we are speaking or writing or acting out our faith, our love for Jesus Christ and our joy and delight in Him need to shine through.

To be fully responsive to the truth about Jesus, nurture your personal relationship with Him. As a communicator, it’s easy to turn into Indiana Jones. When we come into God’s presence, we look around for something to sell, something to write or teach. Instead, focus on Him. Want Him. Need Him. Worship Him.

Focus your life, not on your ministry, but on Jesus Christ and living every moment in Him.

A Servant’s Prayer

Lord, even as Your son, Your servant,
I catch myself grasping for
what I cannot attain.
I find myself coveting
the ideal job,
a chosen area of service,
financial security,
personal recognition and esteem,
or sometimes,
just escape from here to anywhere.
Looking up to You,
I long for these as if they were
Your best blessings,
Your finest gifts,
my rightful inheritance as Your child.

“Why doesn’t He answer?” I wonder.
“Maybe He just doesn’t respond to me . . .
or maybe I’m not worthy.”

But as these feelings arise,
I am reminded that even in that moment,
I am with You, my God.
In the awesomeness of Your presence
I step back.
I bow to Your wisdom.
I quiet myself in Your love.

Lord, this is my one prayer:
In Your mercy,
align me with Your purposes.
Give me a place to serve You
in utter humility and
selfless gratitude.

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me . . .
not grasping for You for what I can get,
but simply resting in Your presence,
enjoying the warmth of Your love.

My God, You are my hope,
now and forever.
(Psalm 131, NIV and para.)

The Triumphal Entry

Rejoice greatly…Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9, NIV; see also Luke 19:28-40)

If you knew exactly where, when, and how you would die, how would you approach that place and time? Notice what Jesus did.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had refused to openly proclaim himself Messiah. He had commanded those He healed to say nothing.

But now, the place and time of His death had come. He was entering Jerusalem to be handed over to His enemies, thoroughly humiliated, and killed as a criminal. Before the week is out, He will be dead. How does He enter? He comes as a conquering hero, as a mighty deliverer, in plain fulfillment of the messianic prophecy. His followers were now hailing Him as King and shouting His praises. Instead of silencing them, Jesus said that if the people were silent, the very rocks would cry out in praise.

To Jesus, His suffering and death were the crowning point of His mission to earth. He was about to be “lifted up” so that He could “draw all men” to himself (John 12:32). He was facing death as a conqueror.

Read John 17:1-5. Nearing His most difficult hour, what was Jesus’ prayer for himself? “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (v. 1).

Jesus knew that His greatest trial was also His greatest chance to glorify the Father. Facing horrendous pain, the Father’s glory was Jesus’ prayer and concern. In His suffering and death, He would shine the light most clearly on God’s love.

That is often true of us as well. Our hour of trial is our special chance to glorify God. That’s when others will see the full reality of God and His powerful love.

Father, during difficult times my prayer is this: no matter what happens, glorify Yourself.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Who Is He?
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

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