Monday, October 10, 2016

Look Alive!

One of the things I love about my Fitbit are the multiple silent alarms I can program.

One in particular I have set for 3:16 PM each day - named after the verse full of amazing news that we often recite without passion, excitement, or much reflection because we have heard it so often. Yet still at 3:16 my wrist vibrates to not only remind me of this Good News, but unintentionally Fitbit was programmed to remind me of such in a very beautiful way! "Look Alive!" it reads ... look alive ... :) ... because I am ... too often it happens when I am not looking very alive ... can't think of a better way for it to remind me of such a message ... 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Challenge for "That" Day

So as I walk through the two letters from Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, I thought I'd pause and share some of my thoughts in writing. I often wander away from any series I tend to start on my blog/journal as I don't like to keep God in a box, but I think sometimes it's also important to finish an idea that I start. So in an attempt to finish said idea, I had a few things that I thought I'd share this week from his letters ...

This is Day 5: Click for day(s): 123, 4

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV

God's judgment is not something many people like to discuss. I'm not naive in understanding the general reason why people don't like to discuss it as it may feel uncomfortable and judgmental to a humanistic worldview.  Though just because something makes us/some feel uncomfortable we choose not to discuss it?  To some it's the ignorant understanding that because I believe God judges others that it must mean that I dislike, hate, condemn, or judge them myself.

Today however I'm not going to defend that. Today I'm not going to go down a path of what Hell is, looks like, or who I think is going. I just want to talk to my Christian family today and simply ask two questions:
  1. Have [I / you] thought about eternal separation from God?
  2. What [am I / are you] doing about it?
I don't think there is a greater fear of mine than to be in need and know that God is no longer with me. That I am separated from Him - forever. Game over, pieces put back in the box, victory/defeat declared - done.

There are two days in my calendar: This day and that Day.

- Martin Luther
Can you ponder that for a moment?

I light of that - if we believe what we profess to believe - what are you doing about That day, today?

Matt, what do you mean?

Well, we plan diets, exercise routines, vacations, career paths, errands, educational pursuits, purchases, etc. Some of us even plan our day around movies or television shows. The list could go on and on for what we actually take time out of our day for to make tangible plans.

Well ... a much more important Day is coming. Any plans?

I seem to defend this each time and I suppose I can again. I know we can't earn our salvation, and it's free by Grace, but if we really understood what we earned - eternal salvation - wouldn't a natural knee jerk reaction be to show our thanks? When we meet Him face to Face I don't think our reaction will be to respond in pride that we didn't do much and spent more time focusing on our own life because we knew that He saved us by Grace. Just a guess ... I don't think it's going to go like that ... much more likely like Isaiah.

So anyway ... what are you and I doing to prepare? What required work cool thing have you done for God today? What required work blessing have you been to someone in need today? How have you been the required works hands and feet of Christ today?

Anything on your agenda?

It's just a question.

While they are great things, and foundational things, I would challenge you if your answer to me is that you go to church, study, and read your devotional. Great ways to grow and know God for sure, but we are His Hands and Feet, not just a reflective mind.

My loving and supportive wife would likely tell me that I am doing a lot ... I would disagree, but even if I didn't, most of my serving and giving is routine now. I think the more we are churched the more we need to stretch - else we don't grow. I want to do something more - not out of guilt, but out of love and even nervous excitement because I know how exciting it can be to see Him work through me!

Some people wait until that doctors visit to get serious about their health. Some people wait until they are behind on bills before they realize their financial plan isn't working. Some people wait to take their car in until that little noise turns into being broken down on the road. Some people wait ... until it's too late ...

In some of those things we may not have a choice (or know) ... but we do with this.

So my challenge to you (and myself) is to put something on the agenda for today (or tomorrow depending on when you ready this) but it should be tangible ... and let it be a stretch too! Let Him stretch you! It builds our faith ...

Then come back and share how God used you ... I'd love to hear as it would be a blessing and encouragement!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Measuring Sticks

So as I walk through the two letters from Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, I thought I'd pause and share some of my thoughts in writing. I often wander away from any series I tend to start on my blog/journal as I don't like to keep God in a box, but I think sometimes it's also important to finish an idea that I start. So in an attempt to finish said idea, I had a few things that I thought I'd share this week from his letters ...

This is Day 4: Click for day(s): 123

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 ESV
This list of final instructions from Paul is a great measuring stick for us today. I sometimes lay my head down on my pillow and think over my day (a period of time that I used in exchange for this gift of life I've been granted). Some people consider the worth of their time when pondering various activities.

I know how to change the brakes on my car, but with the heat, my schedule, having to run to the store, is it really worth the savings I would gain or should I just take my car in for service somewhere? What is my time worth?

Yet each day when you get up, you make a decision on a much more important reality ... what will you choose to give up in exchange for one more day of your life? How much is one day of living on earth worth to you? If your view of life is temporal, this may make you squeamish to even think about. My anxiety can make it difficult too, but I choose to ask the question nonetheless. It's a great measuring stick.

We are saved by Grace, but that doesn't mean we should not set goals - eternal goals - for our day.

Paul's exhortation leaves us with questions. Today, did I:

  • Admonish the Idle?
  • Encourage the Fainthearted?
  • Help the Weak?
  • Be Patient with All of the Above?
  • Seek to do Good (both with the body of Christ and outside)?
  • Rejoice?
  • Pray?
  • Give Thanks?
  • Quench the Spirit (or did I fan it into Flame)?
  • Hold Fast to Good?
  • Abstain from Evil?
If you are a Christian you have undoubtedly had days where you laid your head to rest, and in peace and joy (not pride) were pleased with how you let God work through you that day. You were pleased with what your life transaction that day returned. Don't you want to feel like that more often? Don't you want to feel like that every day?!

Perhaps this simple list (Hey, I didn't make it up) is here for a reason *gasp* ... maybe it applies to us even today!? *gasp* ... so perhaps you ... and I ... can sit alone with God tomorrow morning (or right now) and simply ask where He wants you to go. Let us stop trembling in fear of where He will take us when we know He is a trustworthy Leader.

One more note. This is not a measuring stick to be held against others or used to compare yourself to them. We all know some amazing Christians that have it all together. However I got a little secret ... They don't - they're messed up too!

So let's just look to God ... stare at Him ... not others ... and see where He calls us.

And then ... move!

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