Bible Devotions


2005-11-15

1.It all starts with God


For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible,… everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him
(Colossians1:16)

Years ago I read Rick Warren’s book – “The Purpose Driven Church.” It was a very helpful read. When “The Purpose Driven Life” came out, I knew it would be worthwhile and it was.

There have been some who have criticised it as gimmickism and as shallow theology, but I have found the book to be extremely helpful. It does not replace the Bible and regular worship, or want to be the only spiritual roadmap around. Neither does it attempt to claim to be any of these things.

Those who have read it with open hearts and minds and have ignored the pile of commercialism (Purpose Driven diaries, journals, bracelets, t-shirts, stickers, etc.) that the publishers released with it, have found the book to be a very helpful revision tool in the basics of the Christian Life.

Over the next 40 devotions I am going to provide a 100-120 word summary of each chapter and highlight one of the Scriptural passages that brings the message home.

It will be a shorter devotion than you are used to, but this is probably not a bad thing at this busy time of year.
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It’s not about you.

The purpose of life eludes many because they start at the wrong place – themselves. Things are created with purpose, and we are not creators!

Self-help books urge us to find purpose by clarifying values, setting goals, and achieving dreams. This can lead to success, but success and purpose are not the same thing.

There are two ways to find purpose: speculation or revelation.
The Bible reveals:

1. Identity and Purpose come through a relationship with Jesus.
2. God’s purposes for us predate and are greater than our choices.
3. Our purpose is part of a much bigger cosmic plan.

It is not about me!


2005-11-16

2.You are not an accident


My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalms139:15-16)
You are not an accident.

Long before we were conceived in the mind of our parents, we were conceived in God’s mind and He specified our physical and environmental attributes according to His purpose.

He has created us with love and placed us where we can grow into His purpose with His loving guidance. Because God _is_ love, we can be sure that He didn’t create us because He needs our love but because He wanted to share His love.

We are created in a broken world and this means that we sometimes have disabilities or harsh environments, but God has created us to overcome and grow through these challenges.


2005-11-17

3.What drives your life?

13 I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians3:13-14)=============================================================
Reducing this chapter to 120 words really strangled the meaning from it. Below is a longer, more helpful summary with an amazing quote at the end… Then there is a short summary just to prove my point!
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Everyone is driven by something. Five common drivers:
1.Guilt: Manipulated by memories. Products of the past. But God can turn it around – e.g. Moses (was a murderer)
2.Resentment and Anger: Never get over hurts – clams up or blows up. Forgiveness can heal bitterness.
3.Fear: From trauma, over-controlled childhood, or unrealistic expectations. “Play it safe” becomes a prison – need faith and love to escape.
4.Materialism: Drive to acquire, but possessions only provide temporary happiness. Self-worth and net-worth are not the same thing. Our security comes from a relationship with God.
5.Need for approval: We are eager to plese and trapped in the expectations of broken people. But we can’t please two masters.

The above results in “motion without meaning.” There are five benefits to a purpose driven life. Purpose:

1.Gives life meaning.(Jeremiah29:11-13)
2.Simplifies life: Helps you evaluate what’s on the agenda. If you can’t fit it all in, you are doing more than God planned for you!(Isaiah26:3)
3.Focusses life: Light can be scattered or a laser. Many people are aimlessly distracted. Should be focussed.(Ephesians5:17)
4.Motivates us: Purpose produces passion.(Nehemiah 4:6)

5.Prepares us for Eternity: An earthly legacy is a small goal. We have to give an account: “What did we do about Christ?” and “What did we do with our lives?”(Romans14:10-12)

QUOTABLE QUOTE:
George Bernard Shaw: “This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

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Short Version
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Everyone is driven by something. Five common drivers are Guilt, Angry Resentment, Fear, Materialism and the Need for Approval.
These results in “motion without meaning.”

There are five benefits to a purpose driven life. Purpose:
1.Gives life meaning (Jeremiah29:11-13)
2.Simplifies life: Helps you evaluate what’s on the agenda. If you can’t fit it all in, you are doing more than God planned for you! (Isaiah26:3)
3.Focusses life: Light can be scattered or a laser. Many people are aimlessly distracted. Should be focussed (Ephesians5:17)
4.Motivates us: Purpose produces passion. (Nehemiah 4:6)
5.Prepares us for Eternity: An earthly legacy is a small goal. We have to give an account: “What did we do about Christ?” and “What did we do with our lives?” (Romans14:10-12)


2005-11-18

4.Made to last forever


God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes3:11)This life is not all there is.

Life on earth is the dress-rehearsal for the real production. This life is a “tent” while the next life is a “house.” (2Cor5:1) There are two kinds of people: Those who say “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says “All right then, have it your way.” (C.S.Lewis)

When we live in the light of eternity, character and relationships become more important than fame, wealth, and other distractions. Death is not a termination but a transition.

If this life had a gestation period of 9 months, imagine how awesome the next life is going to be if this life is the pregnancy!

If this life is preparation for the next, how should I live today?


2005-11-22

5.Seeing life from God’s View

Don’t conform yourselves to the world’s standards, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God. (Romans12:2)The way you see your life shapes your life.

What is your life metaphor? (Race, Dance, Battle, Game?) There are three metaphors that the Bible offers: Test, Trust, and Temporary Assignment. We’ll look at the first two:

God watches how we handle everything that happens as a TEST of our character. He tests our _faith_ through problems, our _hope_ through how we handle our stuff, and our _love_ through people. He wants us to pass the tests and even gives us the equipment to get through (1Cor10:13).

Life is also a TRUST. We have stewardship of our lives: our time, talents, and treasure. God entrusts these to us. When we do well we receive God’s affirmation, promotion, and He brings us to celebration.


2005-11-24

6.Life is a temporary assignment


Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeting away. (Psalms39:4)Life is a temporary assignment. According to Scripture, life is a mist, a fast runner, a breath, a wisp, and as transient as a shadow. Compared to eternity, this life is short and temporary.

We are aliens, pilgrims, foreigners, strangers, visitors, travellers, and ambassadors in enemy territory. It is very tempting to betray our Homeland for the “foreign country” of this life. We easily forget what this life is about.

Sometimes life is harsh and sad, this teaches us that the world is not our home. We are never completely happy here because we were not meant to be! We’re created for something better!

When we get to heaven, we will be embarrassed at the temporary nature of some of the things that occupied our attention!


2005-11-25

7.The Reason for Everything


Everything comes from God alone.
Everything lives by His power,
and everything is for His glory. (Romans11:36)
It’s all for Him.

Everything is made for God’s glory. His glory is the essence of His nature, the weight of His importance, the radiance of His splendour, the demonstration of His power, and the atmosphere of His presence. And it is all around us.

John17:4 says Jesus glorified the Father by completing His work (fulfilling His purpose.) There are five purposes for our lives and the rest of the book is about this. The five purposes that glorify God:

1.Worship: A lifestyle of enjoying, loving and giving ourselves to God and His purposes for us.(Rom6:13b)

2.Loving others: Others are made in His image, when we love them, we are loving God.(Rom15:7)

3.Becoming like Jesus: Developing a Christ-like character is our sincerest form of adoration.(2Cor3:18)

4.Using our gifts: God has made us who are are and equipped us with gifts. He is glorified when we use them.(1Pet4:10-11)

5.Telling others about Him: This is our greatest privilege: He puts His reputation in our hands!(2Cor4:15)


2005-11-29

8. Planned for God’s pleasure


You created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created. (Revelation4:11)You were planned for God’s pleasure.

God _chose_ to create us. Eph1:5 says God chose us to be His children before the creation of the world. God created us in His image and He experiences grief, jealousy, compassion, love, delight, and pleasure from us!

Worship is bringing pleasure to God – not just music. Anthropologists note that there is a universal urge to worship: it is what we are created to do.

Worship is not for our benefit but a way of life in which we glorify God in everything we do.

“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.” (Rom.12:1)


2005-11-30

9. What makes God smile?


More than anything else, however, we want to please Him, whether in our home here or there. (2Corinthians5:9)The Smile of God is the goal of your life.

“Figure out what pleases God and then do it.” (Eph5:10)
Noah was a good example of this.

God smiles when…
(1) we love Him supremely.
(2) we trust Him completely.
(3) we obey Him wholeheartedly.
(4) we praise and thank Him continually.
(5) we use our abilities. Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

How can we please God when we are not perfect? God is not an unpleasable parent. He knows we are but dust (Ps.103:14)

“The Lord looks down from heaven on all humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who want to please God.”(Ps.14:2)


2005-12-01

10. The heart of worship


Give yourselves to God…
Surrender your whole being to Him to be used for righteous purposes. (Romans6:13)
The heart of worship is surrender.

This is not a popular word in our competitive society but when we understand His love and mercy properly, sacrifice is a natural response. (Rom12:1)

We call it consecration, making Jesus Lord, taking up our cross, dying to ourselves or yielding to the Spirit. Basically God wants all of us.

To do this I must let:
-trust in God’s goodness overcome fear,
-my awareness of my limitations overcome my pride,
-my understanding that surrender good overcome my confusion

Too often we are confused about surrender: It is not being mindless, spineless, or personality-less. Surrendering to God is
– obedience to God’s Word
– trust in God’s guidance so that we aren’t always “in charge”
– escaping the grip money has on us.

Jesus is the best example of surrender: “Your will be done.” This was not easy – He sweated blood.

There are blessings to surrender: peace, freedom, power, and the joy of being useful to God. We all end up surrendering to something: opinions, pride, lust, money, resentment, or ego. It is much better to surrender to God.

Remember you are a living sacrifice – they crawl off the altar.

“Surrendering your life is not a foolish emotional impulse but a rational, intelligent act, the most responsible and sensible thing you can do with your life.”(pg.83)


2005-12-02

11. Becoming best friends with God


Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all becuase of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. (Romans5:11)God wants to be your best friend.

Although God is Creator, Lord, and Saviour, He _wants_ to be our close and intimate friend. He has made this possible through Jesus and has prepared us for it through all we are and have. There are six secrets of friendship and the first two are Conversation and Meditation.

Conversation is an _attitude_ by which we _choose_ to include God in all we do with short “breath (or arrow) prayers.”

Meditation is to reflect on His Word throughout the day. Instead of mulling over our problems we mull over truth…

“Prayer lets you speak to God; Meditation lets God speak to you.”


2005-12-05

12 Developing your Friendship with God


Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James4:8)(Stunning Awesome Amazing Brilliant Chapter!)

You are as close to God as you choose to be.
Four more secrets: (Ch.11 had Conversation and Meditation)

3. I must be HONEST with God, sharing all my emotions, even when it feels like I’m wrestling Him.

4. When I risk in faith to OBEY Him in faith, I deepen the friendship.

5.The more I know Him, the more my VALUES, likes and dislikes, will align with His.

6. When friendship becomes a driving PASSION then I grow closer. Jacob: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – God loves it when we do that! God will allow pain to wake us – He is not mad at us, He is mad about us!


2005-12-06

13 Worship that pleases God


Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and all your soul
and all your mind
and all your strength (Mark12:30)
(SWALLOW – gulp! This chapter does some real straight talking about worship! — Good stuff!)

God wants ALL of us. Our motives and our surrender are vital.

Worship must be ACCURATE (not sentimental) in describing God and Scripture is our guide.

We must be AUTHENTIC: Jesus asked us to worship in spirit. This means that it comes from our innermost being: Heart and Soul. Remember that different people worship differently.

THOUGHTFUL worship is creatively loving God with our minds instead of mindless repetition.

True worship is PRACTICAL – we use our bodies in acts of care, offering, humility, and other meaningful acts.

Worship deals with our self-centredness. It is all about enthroning Him in our lives.


2005-12-07

14. When God seems distant


The LORD has hidden himself from His people, but I trust Him and place my hope in Him. (Isaiah8:17)God is real no matter how you feel.
To mature our friendship, God will test it through seeming separation.

He is omnipresent but we feel He is distant.

New Christians are given the “warm fuzzies” to help them grow. To be mature is to have faith rather than rely on feelings.

How do we cope? Learn from Job:
1. He expressed his feelings.
2. He remembered the truth about God: He is good, loves me and is with me.
3. He trusted God to keep His promises.
4. Finally he remembered the good things God had done. We should remember all that Jesus went through so that we will never really be alone.
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Rick Warren identified five main purposes for our lives:
1. You were planned for God’s pleasure
2. You were formed for God’s family
3. You were created to become like Christ
4. You were shaped for serving God
5. You were made for a mission.

We have come to the end of purpose#1.
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This will be the last devotion for


2005 – we will pick Rick Warren up again in

2006.
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To recap:
We have seen that God created us for His pleasure. We find fulfilment in bringing a smile to His face. The heart of worship is surrender and we become best friends with God by Conversation, Meditation, Honesty, Embracing His values, and being passionate about Him. This leads us to Worship and Warren gives an amazing definition. Finally we remember that we go through times when He feels distant, but God is real no matter how we feel.


2006-01-10

15. Formed for God’s family


See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children, and we really are! (1John3:1)========================================
Happy New Year!
We start our daily devotions again today with the second main purpose in Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life.”

To recap:

We have seen that God created us for His pleasure. We find fulfilment in bringing a smile to His face. The heart of worship is surrender and we become best friends with God by Conversation, Meditation, Honesty, Embracing His values, and being passionate about Him. This leads us to Worship and Warren gives an amazing definition. Finally we remember that we go through times when He feels distant, but God is real no matter how we feel.

I will once again try to give you 100-120 word summaries of each chapter.
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We are formed for God’s family because God is ultimately relational.

To get into His eternal family we must be reborn. This results in us having the family name, likeness, privilege, access, and inheritance.

Our inheritance is eternal life, Christ-likeness, the end of suffering, rewards for our labours, and a share in His glory.

Baptism is the rite of initiation which marks our public allegiance to the family: We declare our faith, we share in His death and resurrection, and we celebrate our inclusion in God’s family.

We are precious! We belong to a special family!
This is Life’s greatest privilege (“being included in God’s family is the highest honour and greatest privilege you will ever receive!”)


2006-01-11

16.What matters most

No matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I am bankrupt without love. (1Corinthians13:13)Life is all about love. As God is a love community, our most important lesson on earth is to learn to love in community. Christians are particularly called to love each other, because this reveals Jesus to the world.

Life is ultimately about love. The summary of the commandments boils down to love. Life without love is worthless because it is love and relationships that matter at the end of our lives and God will evaluate our lives on our love for others.

The best way to spell love is T-I-M-E and the best time to love is NOW.


2006-01-12

17.A Place to Belong


You are members of God’s very own family,
citizens of God’s country,
and you belong to God’s household
with every other Christian. (Ephesians2:19)
The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints – we are called to membership of a local church as an organ belongs to the body. Becoming careless about fellowship is the first sign of spiritual decay. Six reasons to belong:

1. We are identified by our love and church provides the base for giving and receiving love.

2. Church is a place where we look beyond ourselves in love.

3. It is where we mature and grow.

4. We are given gifts that can only be used in the Church.

5. Jesus reaches the world best through the church.

6. Finally, through discipline, encouragement and accountability we are kept from backsliding.


2006-01-13

18 Experiencing life together


Each of you is part of the Body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. (Colossians3:15)Real fellowship is experiencing life together and includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting and more.

This happens best in small groups. Real fellowship is marked in
four ways:
* Authenticity is honest, “masks off”, gut-level sharing that is
courageous and humble enough to confess sin.

* Mutuality means building reciprocal relationships based on accountability, encouragement, and service.

* Sympathy is our willingness to suffer with people, allowing ourselves to feel deeply and journey with them.

* Mercy means that mistakes are rubbed out and not rubbed in. This shared life is a vital part of being in community.


2006-01-16

19. Cultivating Community


They committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. (Acts2:42)The Spirit creates real fellowship through our choices and commitment. We need five things to build community:

Honesty means we care enough to tell the truth, confront sin, and correct error with great love.

Humility, which is not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less, is the bridge between people.

Courtesy is respect for our differences and people’s feelings, being patient and understanding people’s history.

Without confidentiality the group will not be a safe environment and gossip must be confronted.

Frequency and not convenience is the key to meetings.
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When joining a group commit yourself to the following: Sharing your true feelings (Authenticity), encouraging each other (Mutuality), supporting each other (Sympathy), forgiving each other (Mercy), speaking the truth in love (Honesty), admitting weakness (Humility), respecting our differences(Courtesy), not gossipping (Confidentiality), and making the group a priority (Frequency).


2006-01-17

20. Restoring Broken Fellowship

All this (being a new creation – having the old gone and a new beginning) is from God who reconciled us to Himself in Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2Corinthians5:18)Here is is… It wasn’t easy and it’s a bit like a telegram, but it _is_ an excellent chapter… Very useful for counselling people who have to resolve conflict.

Relationships are always worth restoring.

Restoring relationships is part of maturity. If you want God’s blessing on your life and want to be known as God’s child, you have to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers are rare because it is hard work.
There are seven steps:

Firstly ventilate vertically: pray for yourself and them.

Then take initiative – don’t wait, don’t make excuses – even if you are the one who is right.

Thirdly: Listen more than you speak – help them unload.

Then be ready to confess, asking “Am I being unrealistic, insensitive, or over-sensitive?”

Fifth: deal with the problem and not people.

Remember: it will cost our pride and self-centeredness but we must co-operate!

Finally, it is more about reconciliation than resolution.


2006-01-18

21.Protecting your church


You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together this way. (Ephesians4:3)(Slightly longer today…)
It is your job to protect the unity of your church

Unity is the soul of fellowship and a high priority for God. It is our responsibility to protect our churches. There are six ways to do this.

1. We need to focus on our commonalities and not the differences – God wants unity not uniformity.

2. We must be realistic in our expectations: Longing for the ideal while criticising the real is evidence of immaturity.

3. We must choose to encourage rather than criticise, for a critical spirit costs us fellowship with God, exposes our pride and insecurity, sets us up for divine judgement, and hurts the fellowship.

4. Gossip is not an option and should be rooted out.

5. We should practice God’s method for conflict resolution: going to see the person, then going with witnesses and then taking it to the church if necessary.

6. Our leaders should have our support, not our criticism.

If we get these right and our church is a warm caring place, we will have to lock the doors to keep people out!


2006-01-19

22. Created to become like Christ


For those God forknew He also destined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. (Romans8:29)Having looked at Purpose#2 which was being formed for God’s family. We now move to purpose 3 – “We are formed to be like Christ” and will explore this in the next 7 chapters.
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Brilliant excellent chapter! Needs to be read once a month!!!

God wants us to resemble Jesus. His focus is character and not comfort. We should not be surprised when life is hard, earth is not heaven and hardship brings growth.

It’s called Sanctification and the Spirit does it in us. We co-operate in faith by letting go, transforming our thoughts, and by putting
on new selves. God will use His Word, His people and circumstances to mould us.

It’s a slow process. God is more interested in who we are than what we
do. Many Christians focus on narcissistic comfort – God desires Christ-like character which is ultimately discipleship.


2006-01-20

23. How we grow


Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him
who is the head, that is Christ. (Ephesians4:15)
God wants us to grow up – many grow older, but they don’t mature.

Maturing takes intentional commitment – it takes words like “want”,
“decide”, “effort”, and “persist.” This is what discipleship is.

Commitments are vital – they define our destiny. We’re afraid to commit and are half-hearted. We must realise that God works in us by the Spirit, but that we work out(ward) what He has done in(ward) us. This means reprogramming our autopilot rather than trying to override it.

It means moving our thought processes along Biblical tracks from immature self-centredness to a mature outward focus.


2006-01-26

24. Transformed by Truth


People need more than bread for their life;
They must feed on every word of God. (Matthew4:4)
The Truth transforms us.
Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth.
Sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) requires revelation.

“God’s Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the Devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptation, infuses hope, release power, cleanses our minds, brings things into being, and guarantees our future forever!”

It is described as our milk, bread, solid food, and desert (honey)!

We need to abide in God’s Word by:
1. Accepting its authority
2. Assimilating its truth (receive, read, research, remember, reflect)
3. Applying its princinples – each reading should result in a personal, practical, provable outcome!


2006-01-26

24. Transformed by Truth


People need more than bread for their life;
They must feed on every word of God. (Ephesians4:3)
The Truth transforms us.
Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth.
Sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) requires revelation.

“God’s Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the Devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptation, infuses hope, release power, cleanses our minds, brings things into being, and guarantees our future forever!”

It is described as our milk, bread, solid food, and desert (honey)!

We need to abide in God’s Word by:
1. Accepting its authority
2. Assimilating its truth (receive, read, research, remember, reflect)
3. Applying its princinples – each reading should result in a personal, practical, provable outcome!


2006-01-26

24. Transformed by Truth


People need more than bread for their life;
They must feed on every word of God. (Ephesians4:3)
The Truth transforms us.
Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth.

Sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) requires revelation.

“God’s Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the Devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptation, infuses hope, release power, cleanses our minds, brings things into being, and guarantees our future forever!”

It is described as our milk, bread, solid food, and desert (honey)!

We need to abide in God’s Word by:
1. Accepting its authority
2. Assimilating its truth (receive, read, research, remember, reflect)
3. Applying its princinples – each reading should result in a personal, practical, provable outcome!


2006-01-27

25. Transformed by Trouble


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2Corinthians4:17)God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. Jesus didn’t guarantee a problem free life. Scripture warns us to expect trouble.

God is close to the brokenhearted. We will never know that God is all we need until He is all we have.

“Everything that happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and He intends to use it for good even when Satan and others mean it for bad.”

How do you know when silver is pure? A silversmith replies: “When I see my reflection in it.” When we’ve been refined by trials people can see Jesus reflection in us.

Jesus has been where we are. He understands our suffering.

We need to
– remember that God is good
– rejoice and give thanks
– refuse to give up


2006-01-30

26. Growing through temptation


Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love Him. (James1:12)Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.

Temptation simply provides a choice. Satan wants to destroy us through temptation, but God wants to develop us.

Life is all about us becoming like Jesus and bearing fruit. Fruit develops when we are tempted to do the opposite. We learn to love when we choose not to hate an unlovely person.

Temptation follows a four step plan:
1.Satan identifies a Desire _inside_ us that he wants to twist to evil purposes. (Temptation begins in the mind)
2. Then comes Doubt. Is this really so wrong?
3. Then comes Deception. Some way of making it right in our own eyes and then in other’s.
4. Disobedience. We finally do what we shouldn’t.

How to overcome it:
1.Refuse to be intimidated. We will always be tempted, but not beyond our limits. Temptation isn’t sin – giving in is.
2. Recognise patterns – in what situations am I tempted? Avoid them!
3. Request God’s help. He understands our temptations. Instead of giving in or giving up, look up to God!


2006-01-31

27. Defeating Temptation


Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. (1Corinthians10:13)God always helps us overcome temptation.

There are 4 keys:

We need to refocus: We can’t outwit temptation. Resisting it reinforces it – when it phones don’t argue, hang up! Don’t try and see how strong you are – it’s OK to run from temptation.

Secondly, share your struggle with a friend or a group – don’t repress it, confess it. If it is a secret, you will never overcome it.

We must also resist Satan by accepting salvation and having the Word in our hearts.

Fourthly, we need to be constantly aware of our vulnerability – cockiness will lead to disaster!


2006-02-01

28. It takes time

I am certain that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus returns. (Philippians1:6)SUPER HELPFUL CHAPTER!

Spiritual maturity takes time.
It is a journey that involves believing, belonging, and becoming because God wants strength and stability not swiftness. It takes long because we are slow learners and we often have a lot to unlearn. We are afraid to face the truth about ourselves and change is scary. Habits take time to develop. Even when we don’t always feel it, God is at work in us. Keeping a journal is helpful and we should be patient with God and ourselves. Do not be discouraged: Look how far you have
come, not how far you must go!


2006-02-02

29. Accepting your assignment


For we are God’s workmanship (or masterpieces) created for a life of good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians2:10)We have now finished purpose #3: Created to become like Christ
and…
We move to purpose #4: Shaped for _serving_ God

We were not made to receive from life, but to contribute to life. God has created, saved, called, and commanded us for Service. We have been uniquely created – each of us shaped and gifted according to the role we can play.

We are saved for service not because of our service. We are called to serve in the church playing our parts which are all equally valuable. Jesus commands us to serve and we stagnate if we don’t – Impression without Expression causes Depression.

We will account to God for our willingness and service, and service is the only pathway to signficance.


2006-02-03

30. You were shaped for serving God


You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous. (Psalms139:13-14)You were shaped to serve God.

The Bible calls us God’s “workmanship” – the word comes from a word which means “poem”. We are custom-designed, handcrafted. one of a kind – and original masterpiece.

The acrostic SHAPE helps us identify our God-given purpose and shape.

S=Spiritual Gifts
=================
We all have Spiritual gifts – God-empowered abilities that only believers can have (ie not just a talent – but a talent on steroids) We all get them for the benefit of others. Discover them! An unopened gift is worthless! Beware of GiftEnvy and GiftProjection!

H=Heart
=======
In Scripture my heart is the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections I have. The source of my motivations and what I care about most – the real me. Passion.

We’re to serve God with all our heart. When we are doing what we are created for, our hearts respond with enthusiasm and we do the job effectively.

A, P, E on Monday…


2006-02-07

31. Understanding your shape


You shaped me first inside, them out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. (Psalms139:13)Only you can be you. If you don’t make your unique contribution to the Body of Christ, it won’t be made.

In Ch.30 we looked at S (Spiritual Gifts) and H (Heart/Passion) of the acrostic SHAPE. Today we look at the rest.

ABILITIES are the natural talents that we are born with. These are talents and abilities. They come from God, can be used for His glory, and He enjoys it when we do. (e.g. Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) “God made me fast and He smiles when I run!”)

PERSONALITY: God uses extroverts, introverts, sanguine(Peter), choleric(Paul), melancholic (Jeremiah) We need to find the best fit for our personalities. It isn’t comfortable for a extrovert who likes variety to do a never-changing backroom job.

EXPERIENCES are God’s shaping instruments. While He is not the author of all our experiences, He will use even our failures and disappointments to better shape us for ministry. We can comfort others with the comfort we have been given.


2006-02-08

32. Using what God gave you


See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.
(Colossians4:17)
God deserves your best.
Don’t focus on the talents and gifts you don’t have. Get on and do what you _can_ do.

We need to have a “sober estimate of our abilities” (Rom12:3b) We need to know our SHAPE.

But How?
1. Assess your gifts and abilities. Rather than the gift workshops and questionairres, just get stuck in try various areas of ministry until people confirm that you are where you should be.

2. Consider your heart and personality. People or things? Routine or Variety?

3. Examine your life experiences and determine whether you have been prepared for anything specific.

Then enjoy your place of service, recognising your limitations and setting boundaries so that you don’t get overloaded.

Finally beware of the temptations to compare or conform yourself to others.


2006-02-09

33. How real servants act


Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. (Mark10:43)We serve God by serving others.

Jesus is interested in service not status. Service is more important than SHAPE – God will sometimes push us to serve in areas outside of our giftedness: Shape reveals ministry while service measures maturity.

Servants do:
1. make themselves available to serve – are willing to be interrupted.

2. pay attention to needs, picking them up before they disappear.

3. the best with what they have. Not slaves to perfectionism, but they do their best while God does the rest.

4. big or small tasks with equal dedication. e.g. Jesus washing feet and Paul getting firewood.

5. finish their tasks, complete their commitments and keep their promises. They are faithful and dependable.

6. maintain a low profile. They understand the difference between prominence and significance.


2006-02-10

34. Thinking like a servant

My servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely. (Numbers14:24)Service starts in your mind.
God is more interested in _why_ we do than in what we do. We should not be like Amaziah who “did what was right… yet not with a true heart.”(2Chr25:2)

Five attitudes needed:

1.Think more about others than yourself.
Don’t let servanthood become manipulative self-serving where we fish for compliments or look for affirmation.

2.Think like a steward not an owner.
It’s not _my_ time, _my_ money, _my_ talents – it all belongs to Him and He lets us use it all to His glory. How we think about money is the crucial issue here.

3.Think about your service and not about other’s service.
Don’t compare, criticise, or compete with other servants. God will judge us. We’re unique and uniquely called our goal is to glorify God not ourselves.

4.Base your identity in Christ.
Because we are rooted in Christ’s love, acceptance, and call on our lives, there is no need to be insecure. Only secure people can serve. Insecure people use service to manipulate. Security is found in Christ’s acceptance.

5.See ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation
Serve the Lord with gladness!

Imagine what a difference could be made if just 10% of Christians got a real heart for service.


2006-02-10

34. Thinking like a servant


My servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely. (Mark10:43)Service starts in your mind.
God is more interested in _why_ we do than in what we do. We should not be like Amaziah who “did what was right… yet not with a true heart.”(2Chr25:2)

Five attitudes needed:

1.Think more about others than yourself.
Don’t let servanthood become manipulative self-serving where we fish for compliments or look for affirmation.

2.Think like a steward not an owner.
It’s not _my_ time, _my_ money, _my_ talents – it all belongs to Him and He lets us use it all to His glory. How we think about money is the crucial issue here.

3.Think about your service and not about other’s service.
Don’t compare, criticise, or compete with other servants. God will judge us. We’re unique and uniquely called our goal is to glorify God not ourselves.

4.Base your identity in Christ.
Because we are rooted in Christ’s love, acceptance, and call on our lives, there is no need to be insecure. Only secure people can serve. Insecure people use service to manipulate. Security is found in Christ’s acceptance.

5.See ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation
Serve the Lord with gladness!

Imagine what a difference could be made if just 10% of Christians got a real heart for service.


2006-02-10

34. Thinking like a servant

My servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely. (Mark10:43)Service starts in your mind.
God is more interested in _why_ we do than in what we do. We should not be like Amaziah who “did what was right… yet not with a true heart.”(2Chr25:2)

Five attitudes needed:

1.Think more about others than yourself.
Don’t let servanthood become manipulative self-serving where we fish for compliments or look for affirmation.

2.Think like a steward not an owner.
It’s not _my_ time, _my_ money, _my_ talents – it all belongs to Him and He lets us use it all to His glory. How we think about money is the crucial issue here.

3.Think about your service and not about other’s service.
Don’t compare, criticise, or compete with other servants. God will judge us. We’re unique and uniquely called our goal is to glorify God not ourselves.

4.Base your identity in Christ.
Because we are rooted in Christ’s love, acceptance, and call on our lives, there is no need to be insecure. Only secure people can serve. Insecure people use service to manipulate. Security is found in Christ’s acceptance.

5.See ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation
Serve the Lord with gladness!

Imagine what a difference could be made if just 10% of Christians got a real heart for service.


2006-02-14

35. God’s power in your weakness


I am with you; that is all you need.
My power shows up best in weak people. (2Corinthiansr12:9)
God loves to use weak people.
We all have flaws – the big issue is how we handle them.
A weakness is not a sin or vice or character defect that we can change. A flaw is something we cannot change and we should remember that God puts His great power in ordinary containers.

We should follow Paul’s example:
1.Admit your weakness.

2.Be content with it because it:
– causes us to depend on God.
– prevents arrogance
– binds us together because we identify with and need each other
– gives me compassion for others.

3.Share your weaknesses – be vulnerable. Pretentiousness repels, authenticity attracts.

4. Glory in your weakness. “I am going to boast only about how weak I am and how great God is to use such weakness for his glory.” (2Cor12:5)

Vance Hafner: “Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic!”


2006-02-15

36. Made for a mission


The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life
and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs11:30)
We come to the fifth and final purpose that should drive us. To recap:
We were made to:
1. love God
2. be part of His family
3. become like Jesus
4. serve Him
5. go out in mission.
————————————————–
God is at work in the world and He wants you to join Him.
We have a ministry in the church and a mission in the world.
“Mission”: From Latin – “sent out.”

Our mission is important:
1. It is a continuation of Jesus work. There are 5 clear commissions that Jesus spoke – Mt28:19-20; Mk16:15; Lk24:47; Jn20:21; Ac1:8

2. It is a wonderful privilege. God calls us co-workers. We represent Him.

3. Telling others about Jesus is the greatest gift we can give them.

4. Telling others has eternal significance. Will the consequences of your job last forever?

5. Fulfilling our mission makes our lives meaningful. There are some people that only I can reach!

6. We hasten Christ’s return when we go with the gospel.

But fulfilling God’s mission will cost us!
“Give yourselves completely to God – every part of you… to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for His good purposes.” (Rom6:13)


2006-02-16

37. Sharing your life message


Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word… The news of your faith in God is out! We don’t even have to say anything anymore – you’re the message! (1Thessalonians1:8)God has given us a life message to share.
There are four ways to do this:

1. We share our Testimonies.
This is us telling the simple truth about how God has changed our lives. We are witnesses, not attorneys. We don’t have to prove the case or swing the jury – all we do is tell our story!
It’s effective:
– people see preachers as salesmen but non-pastors as satisfied customers.
– personal stories are easier to relate to than principles.
– humble testimonies bypass intellectual barriers.

A testimony contains 4 parts:

a) What my life was like before I met Jesus.
b) How I realised I needed Jesus.
c) How I committed my life to Jesus.
d) The difference Jesus made in my life.

2. We share our life lessons.
When a difficult time stretches us or our sin trips us up, we learn lessons about life, ourselves and God. These lessons may be helpful to others.

3. We share our Godly Passions.
When we are excited about something, it is infectious. When we develop a passion for a need (Bill Hybels calls this Divine Discontent) it often reflects God’s heart. Seeing God’s heart reflected in people’s passion is a powerful message.

4. We share the Good News.
There comes a time that over and about our testimony, life-lessons, and Godly passions we must also share the nuts and bolts of the salvation message, challenging people to accept Christ.

Of the five purposes (Loving God, being part of His family, becoming like Jesus, serving Him, and going out in mission) the last one can only be done on earth. We cannot do it in heaven.

What are you waiting for?


2006-02-17

38. Becoming a World-Class Christian


Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. (Psalms67:2)The great commission is our commission.
We must chose to be “Worldly” or “World-Class” Christians.

Worldly Christians look for personal fulfilment in a self-centered way. World-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for mission.

We can be part of the greatest cause in “HisStory” – His Kingdom.

We live in a shrinking world where the only remain barrier is how we think.

How do I think about like a World-Class Christian?
1.Shift from self-centered to other centered thinking.
One of the best ways of softening your heart is to practise praying arrow prayers for the salvation and growth of every person you interact with every day.

2.Shift from local thinking to global thinking.
Think multinationally. Again prayer is a good place to start. Get a world map and begin praying for the world. Pray for opportunities to witness, courage to speak up, for those who believe, the rapid spread of the message, and more workers.

3.Shift from “here and now” thinking to eternal thinking.
Don’t major on minors and differentiate urgent and ultimate. Store up treasures in heaven.

4.Shift from excuses to creative ways of fulfilling mission.
Here Warren repeats his strong challenge that all Christians should go on one cross-border missionary outreach. It will change our lives forver.


2006-02-21

39. Balancing your Life


Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do. (Ephesians5:15)Blessed are the balanced; they shall outlast everyone.

Life is a pentathlon of five purposes to keep in balance.
“These purposes were practiced by the first Christians in Acts2, explained by Paul in Ephesians4, and modelled by Jesus in John17.”

The five purposes are found in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
1.Love the Lord with all your heart (WORSHIP)
2.Love your neighbour (SERVICE/MINISTRY)
3.Go make disciples (EVANGELISM/MISSION)
4.Baptise them into… (FELLOWSHIP in the body of Christ)
5.Teach them… (DISCIPLESHIP/BECOME LIKE JESUS)

A great Commitment to the great Commandment and the great Commission will make you a great Christian!

But how do I keep the balance??
1.Be part of a caring fellowship group.
2.Examine your life regularly – do a spiritual checkup.
3.Track your progress in a journal
4.Pass on what you learn to others


2006-02-22

40. Living with Purpose


Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs19:21)
Living on purpose is the only way to REALLY live. Everything else is just existing.

Living with a clear purpose answers 3 questions:
1. Who am I? (Identity)
2. Do I matter? (Importance)
3. What is my place in life? (Impact)

“Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you _do_ them.” (Jn13:17)

How do find my purpose and stay on it?
Write a Life Purpose Statement.
– It summarizes God’s purpose for your life.
– It points the direction of your life.

– It defines success for you.
– It clarifies your roles.
– It expresses your SHAPE.

A good Life Purpose Statement answers the five great questions of life:
1.What will be the center of my life? (Worship)
2.What will be the character of my life? (Discipleship)
3.What will the contribution of my life? (Service)
4.What will my life’s communication be? (Mission)
5.What will my life’s community be? (Fellowship)

Take time to draft a meaningful purpose statement (There are many helpful hints in the chapter.) Then write it and use it to guide you through life. Then you can be like David who “served the purposes of God in His generation.”

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