Monday, September 24, 2012

A dwelling...

Week 39:

Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

For the past few years I have been led to learn more about transformation. God has been transforming me since I first accepted Jesus as savior and was buried with him in Baptism. And, as I have walked in Him through the years; I have looked back and seen periods of growth. However, lately, I have really been aware of my transformation and watching the transformation of others.  

This passage is just another of those re-enforcing pieces of that walk through transformation for me. Looking at the context of this passage, I see that Paul is talking to Gentiles. That means me and most of the people I associate with. This passage is a partial reminder of what God is doing in my transformation process from the old me to the new creation He set in motion.

Notice that we are a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Without God dwelling in us both through his Spirit and in the form of Jesus his son; there is no transformation process. This passage shows me two things about the dwelling.

First, I am to build myself into a dwelling place for God and his Spirit. I am to be continually working on my heart and my actions to be a place for God to dwell. Many times, I feel that I am stuck where I am, stagnate. At times, that may be true. However, I find that when I reflect back on where I was and where I am now, I see that God has been doing transforming work in me; just not at the pace that I may like. The indwelling of his Spirit has carried me through to where I am now. One way I am able to see my progress leads me to the second part of the dwelling, community.

In this passage, Paul is talking to a group of Gentiles. In Christ, we “are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Community is important for transformation. Community holds us accountable, allows us to share, edifies, gives strength in numbers, comforts, sharpens, and allows for authentic Christ-like living. I would not be a transformed person had it not been for my community of believes. When we see the indwelling of the Spirit of God in others, it inspires us.

To continue the transformation process I must be continually working on myself and do so in a community of believers. In both places, I am building a dwelling place for the Spirit of God.


1. In what ways have you been building your dwelling for God’s Spirit?
2. In what ways do you need to improve your dwelling?
3. How much of a factor has your community played in your transformation? Why or why not?
4. Do you need more community work or more personal work? Explain.
5. This week, spend some time in reflection about where you have been and where you are now. Make note of change made by your personal work as well as what your community has done for you.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To love Jesus...

Week 38:

John 14:23-24 23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and he will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

It is this simple…to love Jesus we are to obey his teaching. How do you know if someone loves Jesus? He/she obeys his teaching. How do I know I love Jesus? I obey his teaching.

Can it be that simple? I believe so. When looking at following Jesus and making him Lord of my life, it ties to knowing his teaching and obeying. We had a preacher who would not call us “Church” or even “Christians”. He would call us “Disciples”. I believe this was more fitting to what we are. To love Jesus is to obey his teaching. To follow Jesus as a disciple, we are to follow his teachings and commands. Over the years, I have observed Church members and Christians alike carry those labels without the commitment to Jesus a disciple requires.

How do we obey the teaching of Jesus? I want to be careful here and not journey down a path of legalism. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, Church members and Christians have put into “law” what following Jesus looks like. To obey the teachings and love Jesus is not some magical formula and/or a list of dos and don’ts. There are fundamental truths that we are to follow. The rest is looking at Jesus’ teaching and applying it to daily life.

Every time I examine where I am in following Jesus; I am compelled to go back to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. For me to go back to that set of teachings is fundamental. The passage is Jesus explaining how God intended life to be in the Kingdom. The core of what Jesus worked from is in the Sermon on the Mount.

The other side to recognize is in verse 24. Not only did Jesus tell us how to know someone loves him; he showed us how to know if someone does not love him. I do believe that Jesus is talking about overall character here. Obviously, we cannot follow every command at every moment. We will fail and sin. Many passages in the Bible talk about the heart. As we follow the teachings of Jesus, and do work on our heart, it becomes more and more obvious to us those people who do not follow the teachings of Jesus. It comes down to a question of character.

Our challenge as we strive to love Jesus is to build his teachings into our character. Obeying his teachings may not feel very loving at times. However, as I grow older, I realize that love is more than just an emotional response. Love asks for commitment, emotion, perseverance, and in the case of following Jesus…obedience.


1. What is your initial response to love requiring obedience to Jesus’ teaching?
2. When you understood that loving Jesus means to obey his teaching, in what way did you start thinking in terms of a legalistic mindset?
3. When you understood that loving Jesus means to obey his teaching, in what way did you find it freeing?
4. This week, examine your life and take an inventory. Where are you in integrity with this passage and where are you out of integrity with this passage?
5. Spend some time in prayer and ask Jesus to reveal to you parts of your life where you are following him and places you need work.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

I don't know...

Week 37:

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

As I grow older I am finding that it is okay to say, “I don’t know.” For so many years I felt inadequate when I did not have an answer for someone’s question. I don’t know what it is that makes me feel that way. Maybe it is the people pleasing side of me and I feel that a person would think less of me if I don’t have an answer. Maybe I feel that I will look incompetent and therefore a person will not want to continue in relationship with me. Whatever the reasons, it has bothered me for years to not know an answer. Not as much now, but it still is there for me.

Of course those things are not true about me just because I do not know an answer to a question. I have heard this phrase several times through the years: “the older I get, the less I know.” Now, of course, that is not true…I know more now than I did ten years ago. However, the older I get, I do realize how little I know. This passage, as simple as it is, gives some clarity to why I know so little. There is so much we cannot understand because God, the Maker of all, has not revealed it.

As we look at the passage and read what it says it appears that through modern science we know a little more about the wind and what happens in the mother’s womb than Solomon did. But our proof that we know little spans much larger than the two examples that Solomon gives us. We cannot understand the work of God. We still do not understand why someone has to die young, or tragically. We cannot understand why the bumble bee flies even though aerodynamically it’s not supposed to be able to fly. There are so many more examples. There are some answers we will not find…at least not until we are with God in glory when he makes all things new. Even then, we may not know.

Also, as I grow older, I realize that I don’t want to know the answers. Sometimes knowing the answers is painful. In Ecclesiastes 1 Solomon talks about that with much wisdom comes much sorrow. There are times now that I would rather just be clueless.

Finally, it is okay for me to refer to someone who is an expert in the area that I do not know about. I may not be gifted in a certain area, therefore, I need to send my inquisitor to a source that has more information than me. Furthermore, there are times where I just have to accept the fact that God is the only one who holds the answer and He will answer in His time and in His way...or, he may not answer at all...He knows what is best.


1. How do you feel when you do not know an answer?
2. Where do you think that comes from for you?
3. What do you typically do when you do not know an answer?
4. Pay attention this week to areas of your life where you feel you just don’t know an answer. Fight the urge to come up with an answer and just accept that you may not know. Also, ask God for some sort of revelation whether it be an answer or just the comfort of not knowing.

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Friday, September 7, 2012


Week 36:

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

We have all we need to function in the Kingdom of God. It all starts with God’s grace. God is able to make all grace abound to us. This gives us the ability and power and strength to do good work in the Kingdom. In verse 6 it says, “…Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also rep generously.” From the grace that is given freely to us, we have a choice to sow sparingly or generously in the good work that we attempt to accomplish.

I have to ask, “What is it in me that thinks I need to be at a certain point in my life; I have to have a certain salary; I have to have ‘X’ amount of knowledge; I have to be a ‘spiritual giant’; in order to step out and advance the Kingdom of God?” I get tied up in looking far off to something bigger in the Kingdom without really looking at what is right in front of me. I need to be reminded about the things right in front of me. I need to pay attention and be present for what is happing now. I have all I need to do good work. The far off things may be something in store for me however I need to take care of the here and now in order to be prepared for the far off.

I have a sign in my office that reads, “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.” That statement can be based on this passage. “…in all things at all times, having all that you need…” God’s grace equips me for my circumstances. What I have experienced, what I know, where I have been, who I have dealt with, all prepare me for the here and now. I have a good work in front of me…I need to draw on God’s grace to abound in that work.

Now, it is okay to dream. Vision is a good thing. I believe that a vision for things to come and work to be done in God’s Kingdom is planted by God. We may have a vision and even an idea of how to make that vision come true. However, we may not take the path we thought to fulfill that vision. It is our day to day walk, the here and now that prepares us and walks us through that vision. Could it be that the fruition of said vision is partially accomplished through “…in all things at all times, having all that you need…”? It is also okay to not have a vision. I appreciate those who live daily in the grace of God and they are content with where God has them.

Recognize that God has you where you are supposed to be right here and right now. Know that what he offers is all you need to do work in His Kingdom. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”


1. In what way(s) have you been looking forward and not seeing God’s work in your present situation?
2. Do you have a vision that is still unreached? If so, what is it?
3. What is your interpretation of this passage?
4. Where do you disagree with my interpretation of this passage?
5. This week, find someone to share with both your vision and your current work in the Kingdom. Pay attention to his/her feedback to what you have shared. The lord may be speaking some clarity through him/her.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Current state...

Week 35:

This week will be a lengthy passage with a set of questions/challenges to follow. Read the passage and reflect on its content.

Romans 1:20-32 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NIV)


1. List the parts of this verse that are prophetic and relevant to today’s Culture.

2. Where are some specific areas in our culture where you see this going on?

3. How related are these things to the “depraved mind”?

4. How does it make you feel that God gave them over to a depraved mind? Why do you think God would do such a thing?

5. Chapter starts out talking about passing judgment about these people and that we would be passing judgment on ourselves as well. From the above passage, what parts of “list” can you own about yourself?

6. What has to change in order to move away from the life/lives described above?

7. What can you do to make a difference in our current culture?

8. Ask God this week to reveal to you a vision or plan to make a difference in our current culture. Keep in mind the first few verses of chapter 2 as you look for ways of making a difference.

9. Although this devotional thought tends toward the negative, in what way can God be glorified through what has been learned today?

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