Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day Five - How’s Your Faith?

“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27
One of my favorite movie scenes is when Indiana Jones is chasing after the Holy Grail and the only way to save his father's life is to traverse the three traps or tasks.  Indiana is standing on a precipice looking into a bottomless gorge and he has reached the final trap or task called “The Path of God.”  He has one clue that states, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.”  Indiana takes a moment to dwell on the words, does some introspect thinking and praying and clutches his chest. This is the moment where he takes one step forward, the leap, from the edge of the precipice.  
This is a picture of faith.  
He took this step into the gorge trusting in something he could not see.  Little did Indiana Jones know, there was a bridge of the same color and texture below his foot when he placed it down. He releases a gasp of air and pushes forward on his task. He passed.
Notice the first part of the passage, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.”
We we start following Jesus, it is going to require faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines it as, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Many times I hear, if I only knew what God had planned for my life. Where’s the faith in that?
Now that we are following Jesus, can you imagine being on a boat in the middle of the storm? That’s where Jesus lead his disciples. Don’t you think Jesus knew bad weather was in the near future.  
Maybe you have been through your own storms on dry ground, metaphorically speaking.  We face trials, tribulations, or situations either due to our own choices or others choices around us.  Why do we face them? Ephesians 6:12 tells you and me, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  We live in a fallen world.  It is not the world God intended you and me to live in, but sin entered the world and its what we live in today.
Storms are going to come, but how are we going to respond to them? Is our faith big enough to trust Jesus with our life?  These grown men cried out to Jesus. His response, he scolded them. He slapped their hand. He put them in timeout. Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” turned out and calmed the storm. WOW!
Four major things in want to point out:  
Jesus calls you and me to have BIG faith, even in the storms.
Jesus hears our prayers and He answers them.
Jesus is the overcomer of all things, including death.
When Jesus delivers, people are in awe and amazed at what He has done.
Are you following Jesus with all that you are? How’s your faith today? Are you completely trusting Jesus in all that you are doing even in the storms?  When He answers your prayers, what is your response?  Are you telling others about how Jesus delivered you?
May we have the faith Christ has called us to have.  May we continue to go wherever Christ calls us. May we trust completely in Him today and forever.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Day Four: Why We Press On

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:8-15

Endurance is so important in our faith.  God’s word does NOT say, it's going to be an easy journey. Sometimes it includes suffering and chains.

I started a workout plan one time recently.  I stayed on it for three days.  I was feeling good!  I took a break on day four, I said, I pick it back up on day five.  Day five was a Sunday...I bet you can guess, I didn’t pick it back up.  I had built a little bit of endurance and then found myself giving up.

I know many people who start ministry and give up.  For numerous reason, they start out strong, but find themselves burnt out, burned by someone or just looking for a different vocation.  Ministry is tough.  We must have endurance in the word of God.

Paul is encouraging a young pastor in 2 Timothy.  He is encouraging you and me the same way.

Our goal is sharing what we already know, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why?  So that others will obtain their salvation.  Talk about important.  That’s our call as believers in Jesus Christ.  Keep pushing forward and telling others about Jesus.  

May we encourage one another.  Present ourselves today, fresh and approved to share God’s word.  Unashamedly share the love of Christ and what He has done for you and me.  With wisdom, accurately handle God’s word, conveying His love, grace and forgiveness for all who hear it, believe it and proclaim it.

Let’s build our endurance for Him and press forward in the faith.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Day Three: Wise Decisions

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-16‬

How are you and I walking today?  It has been a busy few days already.  We might be a little sore.  We might be a little tired.  That happens when we put our walking shoes on and start walking for Him.

God has called us to walk wisely in Him.  We need to continue to walk in Him, even if we are sore and tired.  Live out His word - love Him with all of you and love others.  That is how God called us to walk wisely.  When we love Him and love others, that wise living help you and me share the Good News of Christ to those around us.

We need to focus on our words.  James‬ ‭3:10‬, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing...”  In our time here on the island, we can use it wisely or unwisely.  May we take every opportunity to speak life into someone as we go about His work today.

Consider our time we have life, some people say, “time flies when you are having fun.”  We have experienced it before.  You will likely experience it on this mission trip.  We get so busy doing this and that - life, that sometimes we forgot how valuable our time is and how little of it we really have.

We have 24 hours in a day. We spend about 8 hours sleeping. Another 8 hours working. Possibly 2 hours commuting to work. How do we spend the last 6 hours of our day?

Let us walk wisely, use our time wise and accurately share Christ love today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Day Two - Running the Race

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

As an athlete in track, Coach Winn helped me become a better runner.  The first part of becoming better at track included daily practice.  We would run long distances and short distances.  We would practice our hand-off’s to one another.  We would race against one another.  All of these helped us get ready and even improved our endurance.

If we would have jumped into our first track meet without training, we would have likely failed.  Following Christ is a long distance race.  We need to have the endurance to keep on keepin’ on.  It takes willingness to keep pushing forward and willingness to not give up.  Not only is this important for you and me to understand about our own walk, but it is important to understand how we can encourage others to keep pushing forward.  Getting into the word daily, fellowshipping with believers and spending time praying helps build our endurance.  It draws us closer to Him.

Another area Coach Winn encouraged me to do was pick a point at the end of the track above the finish line.  Once I picked the point, he said, “don’t take your eyes off it.”  Coach Winn wanted me to focus on that point so I might have better running form; it would keep my eyes on the goal and head in a static position.  If I didn’t pick a point focus, my head would bobble around aimlessly and decrease my running speed.

We need to maintain our focus on Christ on our journey.  As I mentioned before, it requires endurance and it as requires focus.  This focus on Christ, our Savior, helps you and me push forward in our faith.  If we aren’t focused on Christ, we might find ourself aimless in our faith.  Christ wants you and me to remain focused on Him; fixing our eyes on Him.  He is Lord and sits at the right hand of the Father.

While we are on the island, we need to build our own endurance.  We need to help build other people’s endurance.  We need to focus on Christ.  We need to encourage others to focus on Christ.  

May we press on in our faith and fix our eyes on Christ today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Day One: Get Your Mind Right

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  Romans 8:6

According to Nursing Assistant Central, “A world champion memorizer, Ben Pridmore memorized 96 historical events in 5 minutes and memorized a single, shuffled deck of cards in 26.28 seconds.”  The mind is a very powerful organ in the human body.

We are in Day One of our Mission Trip on San Andres Island.  Maybe you are thinking about loved ones back home or you are thinking about the laundry you forgot to wash.  These aren’t bad things, but they can hinder your service.  

Our thoughts will either help or hurt our service unto the Lord; not just today, but in the future too.  According to scripture, our mind set on the flesh equals death.  We need to begin to learn how to take our thoughts captive.  We need to surrender our thoughts to the Holy Spirit.  
How do we surrender our thoughts to the Holy Spirit?  Die to self.  Die to flesh.  

When we believe in Christ, we are made anew in Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Part of the transformation of following Christ includes being made anew in Him.  In Ephesians we are encouraged put off the old self, the flesh, and put on the new.  I have to put off Jeremy’s desire and put on Christ’s desire.  He calls us to love Him with all that we are (including our mind) and love others.

When we decide this morning to allow Christ to rule and not our flesh, than we will have life and peace.  This is what we want to share with all those we come in contact with.  We have two choices: flesh - the old self or in Christ - life and peace.

Where will you allow your mind to be today?  Will you effectively convey love, life and peace? Or death?  

May we go would and accurately share the love of Christ today, by reflecting Him.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Day Zero: Some First Things

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

Even before we hit the mission field and the island, we are called to be His ambassadors.  An ambassador represents someone.  The United States has ambassadors all over the world.  While in country, their job as ambassadors is to speak for the nation.

Because of what Christ has done for the world:  born a virgin birth, lived a sinless life, taught you and me how to live, died on the cross for the whole world, but didn’t stay dead, and now sits at the right hand of the Father; we are called to be Christ’s ambassador or representative wherever we go.

God has called His people, who believe in Him and proclaim it, to go.

In John 20:21, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Wherever we are: home, work, local story, international airport, or San Andres Island; our job as believers is to represent Him on all fronts.  Words, actions, countenance, and love should all reflect Christ to anyone we come in contact with. Galatians 5:22-23 comes to mind, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

May we begin by understand that it is a high calling to be Christ’s ambassador - wherever and whenever we go.  Reflecting Him to a world that desperately needs His grace and love, should be our primary objective.