Faith Rocks

imageWhenever I go hiking and come to a stream blocking my path, I immediately begin looking for rocks I can step on to help me cross without getting my feet wet. Likewise, in life, we can expect things to come our way that initially appear to be blockades to our path. They cause us to pause our progression and even threaten to leave us all wet.

Thankfully, our faith supplies various stepping stones in our life to help us successfully cross any obstacles that comes our way:

Respectfulness: Reverence and respect for God are powerful components to our faith. For without respect for God, what would our response be to His word, His people and His purposes? We would begin to pick and choose tenants according to our preferences and desires, rather than His, and sadly, this is what some do. However, when we respect what He says is true and act accordingly, we begin to experience the supernatural power His presence provides through all kinds of weather (Isaiah 41:10).

Thankfulness: God doesn’t need our thanks. He does what He does because of His grace, mercy and love for us, but He does know a grateful heart is a healthy heart. Therefore, our faith leads us to be thankful in all things, trusting He lovingly allows all things for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purposes (Romans 8:28). This gratitude then spills over into contentment and through contentment, we experience fulfillment, fulfillment fuels praise, which circles back to propel our thankfulness which helps us meet any challenge confidently and courageously.

Mindfulness: Being mindful is to be attentive and aware. Thus, this component of our faith helps us realize we live in a dangerous world, filled with temptations and distractions. So, we are to be on guard. Much like a football player who suits up and expects to be hit during the game – he doesn’t act surprised when tackled. For he knows the hits will come and after they do, he gets back in the game, ready to score. Likewise, may we be mindful to suit up, expect the hits, and then quick to get up, always ready to go for the goal (Ephesians 6:11).

Application: “Cross-Walk” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Faith is not living by sight, but by what we know to be true. This means we don’t go by feelings – for they waiver and can’t be trusted, but God never waivers and can always be trusted. Therefore, the greatest rock and foundation we have in this life is Jesus Christ. He fuels our faith through His Spirit and helps us meet any obstacle that comes our way. For all we have to do is look to cross to remember who He is, what He did and what He continues to do today.

Breaking Boundaries

imageBoundaries can function to keep good things in and bad things out. For example, we may fence our yard to help keep our pet from wandering away, while at the same time, keep strangers out. However, when it comes to our heart, our temptation to build boundaries can lead to unintended consequences.

For protection reasons, some may put a guard up in order to prevent people from getting too close to them. Then others, for selfish reasons, may elect to close-off their heart to keep themselves from getting too close with others. Either way, by keeping our potential to love fenced-in and others’ love fenced-out, we inadvertently limit Kingdom opportunities. This doesn’t mean we throw caution and discernment to the wind, but it does mean we consider the reasons we might be living fenced lives. Thankfully, God can expand our hearts and as a result, our perspectives so that we can genuinely love and effectively minister to as many people as possible:

Blood: These are our relatives. We have no control in choosing them, and they can be either the hardest, or easiest to love. Interestingly, Jesus teaches us to look beyond just our blood relatives as it relates to family (Matthew 12:50). This for many of us isn’t natural and can be very difficult to grasp. However, isn’t this what godparents represent? Even though not as popular today, godparents were often friends so close, they were trusted with the spiritual and physical care of another’s child in the event something happened to the parents. So, here’s the tough question – do we limit our boundaries to only include blood relatives, even when they may not be the best examples and role models in our lives?

Body: These represent fellow Christians, who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ. They aren’t perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but they are repentant and sincere seekers of The Lord. How close do we allow ourselves to become with them? Do we keep a safe distance, or truly embrace the opportunity to connect? This is also difficult in that we can be let down, and flaws will be revealed when we get close. However, when we allow ourselves to love and be loved, we are better equipped to be the encouragers we’re called to be, rather than just church critics, or acquaintances (John 13:35).

Broken: These are those broken from Christ and the church. Those who have rejected Jesus, or do not know Him. How do we love and accept love from them? Do we intimately intertwine our lives with theirs? After all, some of these may also be our blood relatives. Thankfully, God teaches us through His word that our response is to pray and be a positive contribution. Meaning, we are to impact their lives by reflecting Jesus in all we do – never conforming to their standards, but transforming our surroundings through God’s standards of reliable stewardship, trustworthy servitude, generosity, gratitude and consistent prayer (1 Peter 2:12).

Application: “Wide Open!” – 1 Chronicles 4:10
The prayer of Jabez has been studied by respected Biblical scholars, and I definitely can’t add anything new to their commentary. However, I can share it has taken on a powerful new meaning to me recently. As Jabez prays for God to enlarge His borders, I now share his plea with more clarity and sincerity. For my borders have been the borders of my heart. Oh, how I pray for God to break down these borders and empower me to love as He has called me to love. So that I may live out my time without boundaries, but with a heart wide open and always devoted to Him.

Invest For Success!

imageWhat makes a good investment? Clearly, it’s a great return. For if we didn’t think we could increase our overall financial position, why would we make a monetary sacrifice in the first place? Similarly, God seeks a return on His investment in each of us. For He sacrificed His Son and invested His Spirit so that we too may result in an increase to His Kingdom. Yet, distractions can often cause us to drift from this purpose and lead us to begin investing His treasures for the advancement of our kingdoms over His. Thankfully, there are helpful habits that can help us keep this from happening:

Loyal To Long-Term: When we lose sight of our long term mission, we tend to focus on our short term distractions. This causes us to begin squandering the talent, time and treasures we have been entrusted to serve our purposes over His (Matthew 6:20). However, when we surrender our desires for His, our long term vision is restored and we are empowered to begin investing His resources according to His word. As a result, we soon discover His ways work far better than our own in promoting His purposes and providing for our needs.

Integrity Fueled Intentions: We can not serve both God and money (Luke 16:13). Yet, so many times we confuse our career, bank accounts and paychecks as our sources of provision instead of God. However, it is God who provides us with the ability to work our jobs effectively in order to earn a paycheck in the first place. Therefore, let us consider our intentions and devotions. Are we divided in our priorities, placing work and/or money over God? Do we consider time with God optional, while our time at work is mandatory? Let us not forget – we are held accountable for our actions to both, but there is only One worthy of possessing our highest prioritization and devotion.

Commit To Contributions: Where the majority of our time, money and attention goes, typically reveals what we’re most committed to (Luke 12:34). Where do God and others rank on our list? For as it’s been correctly stated, the key to true satisfaction is pursuing J.O.Y. in our all priorities and considerations – Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last.

Application: “Living Large?” – John 15:8
Good investments yield high returns. Therefore, let us consider – how is God’s investment in you and I doing? Are we yielding high returns for the Kingdom, or seeking them instead for ourselves?

Treasure Treks

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The lure of treasure has captivated people for centuries. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of discovering an overflowing bounty of priceless riches? Similarly, God relishes the pursuit of lost treasure.  However, unlike us, His is not a material interest – it’s us. In fact, God reveals several insights in His word concerning His passion and reaction to such treasure treks:

God Cares: God cares to save us from the dangers He knows exists in the world. Because of sin, bad things happen, and even though God may allow them, He doesn’t cause evil. Sin is temporarily permitted to destroy, distort and damage God’s creation.  However, His power of restoration overrules all things and empowers us to live a life free from fear. After all, God’s deep love for us is the reason He sent His Son to rescue us from the dangers of being lost (John 10:29).

God Cherishes: When we cherish something, we place high value on it (Matthew 6:26). I recall during one trip to the beach, one of the diamond earrings I gave my wife fell between two wooden planks along the sand. Because of the value she placed upon that earring, she nearly ripped the planks off to get it back. However, it wasn’t the monetary value that held the most importance. It was the emotional and sentimental value. Likewise, God cherishes each of us and does everything possible, short of forcing our response, to restore us back to Him.

God Celebrates: Then of course, God and all of heaven celebrates every time one of His precious children is saved (Luke 15:10). Although, Jesus lived a passionate life filled with painful sacrifice, He also celebrated, rejoiced and smiled every time someone was rescued from sin, as He continues to do today.

Application: “Lost And Lonely?” – Psalms 68:6
Thankfully, we do not have to settle for loneliness, and we don’t have to feel lost in this world without purpose. Yet, many continue to struggle in these key areas. For some, we foolishly wander off course thinking fulfillment can be found in other ways. Yet for others, life throws us such a heavy blow, we stammer to recover. As a result, we may find ourselves battling with depression, dependencies and doubts. However, we can be reassured and confident knowing our loving Father is actively pursuing us to comfort and heal our pains. He puts the lonely in families and through Christ, restores life to His people.