Their Lord and Ours

IMG_3196I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2   (NLT)

Scar was a Thunderbird. He’d passed all the requirements and now had his patch. It had been a long year. “Hey, you guys, let’s celebrate. How ‘bout a beer?”

“Sure, Scar. Besides that’s the tradition when someone gets their patch.”

A burly, tattooed man with long scraggly red hair sat down beside Scar at the bar. “You gonna ride with us to the creek tonight?”

“Sure, wouldn’t miss it.” Scar took a long swig of his beer and then thumped it back on the counter. He looked toward his brother. This was a brotherhood, a family of sorts and Scar felt honored to be part of them. He knew they’d protect his back as he was expected to watch out for the other members.

Scar had been recruited. That’s something like being given an invitation to join. He felt special because he knew that not all who were invited made the cut. He had, and now he belonged. God calls everyone to join His heavenly family but not everyone heeds the call. When we do, by accepting Christ’s death for us on the Roman cross, we earn the right to be called sons or daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

A personal invitation makes a person feel wanted and special. We are “called to be Holy” which means that God personally invites us to become citizens of heaven, His eternal kingdom. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the only one who can bring us into this glorious kingdom because He is the only one who removes our sins. Sanctified means that we are chosen, set apart by Christ for His service. We can accept God’s invitation by accepting Christ’s work on the cross for us.

Father I do feel privileged to be part of Your family. I know that my purpose is to serve Christ, become more like Him each day, and to Honor and glorify You in all I do. I pray that I will not disappoint You and that I will reflect Your love to all I meet. Amen

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Grow in Grace

IMG_3190Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18  (NLT)

Sunburst sidled toward the man who’d claimed her since the day she’d inadvertently walked into the clubhouse three years ago. He was the president so her position within the membership was higher than any of the other girls. Sunburst did everything she could to remain there. It offered her some semblance of protection. “Hi Gem. Want to take a break?”

“Not now. Go visit the girls. I’ll get to yak later.” Gem went on with the planning meeting he was conducting. Sunburst puckered her lower lip in a provocative manner but knew she’d better not push her luck. She sashayed through Gem’s office door. “Hey gals let’s ride.”

“Who died and made you boss?” A tall brunette stood beside the table where the other girls were seated. “I think it’s time you and I had a talk…sort of.”  The brown haired beauty took a step toward Sunburst. This was not the first time that Brenda had challenged Sunburst’s position in the club. Brenda envied the attention Sunburst got from the others and wanted to be where Sunburst was.

The world is like that. If we are not studied up and prayed up, there are many who will challenge our knowledge of the Bible, our interpretation of scripture. We need to know the truth of scripture, be able to differentiate an inquiring mind and one that just wants to argue. We need to know what The Word says to back up our answers.

The most important step in refuting false teachers is to know Jesus Christ, to grow in that knowledge and become confident in the truth of scripture. The world will always challenge our faith no matter where we are in our spiritual journey. If, every day, we find some way to draw closer to Christ, we will be prepared to stand for truth in any and all circumstances.

Father, Your truth will pass any test. No matter what people try to interpret as contradictory or hateful speech, Your truth can stand the test. When people have tried to disprove Your word, they’ve come to believe instead. Help me know You and Your truth so I too may stand firm. Amen

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Mature Understanding

IMG_3239So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. Hebrews 6:1 (NLT)

“That’s it.” Bonner bellowed, loud enough for all the members of the Thunderbirds to hear. “Travis, it’s time you took some responsibility.”

Travis twisted his body on the bar stool, leaned back against the wood counter, and leered toward the president of the club. “You talkin ta me?” He smirked, a sure sign that he was very comfortable in his surroundings.

Ya I’m talkin ta you. You’ve been a fully fledged patch wearer for six months now. It’s time you acted like it. No more of this pussy footing around. I need yak at make a run for me. Now.” Bonner handed Travis the sack and walked toward his office door. “Don’t get caught.”

Travis had learned the basics of becoming a Thunderhead. He’d proven he was capable of all they expected so he’d earned his patch. Now he was being asked to act as the others did, long time members who didn’t need the boss to tell them what to do.

Growing Christians are like that or should be. Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to open your heart and mind to deeper truths, to act as the mature person God knows you can be. You’ve learned all about repentance, Salvation, and restoration in Christ. Now it’s time to understand Grace, Propitiation, Sanctification and other deeper truths as you confirm the basics in the life of a new believer.

We put into practice what we know so that our capacity to understand the things of God with more depth grows. Like any vessel, once it’s full, if you don’t empty it (build into the life of a new believer), there is little room for more.

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Everyone Wins

IMG_3240Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!                    1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT)

Derk twisted the handlebars of his motorcycle this way and that, making sure the bike was ready for the race, a quarter mile down the dirt track in front of him. He checked his gauges to make sure they also were in the best operating condition. Then he gave the bike, his pride and joy, one last wipe to show off the paint job to perfection.

He hopped on, placed his right foot on the foot peg, and then waited for the lights to indicate the race had begun. His opponent began to rev his engine as soon as the light tree began its descent toward green but Derk chose to wait until the last minute. He watched, intent on the color change. Just before the green light signaled go, he reved the engine. The tires began to smoke. Derk released the brake. He raced toward the finish line.

Motorcycle drags take a lot of preparation. The motorcycle has to be in top shape. The rider has to know exactly when to do what and how to keep the bike upright at faster than normal speeds. Special tires have to be purchased and repairs on the bike have to be performed in a timely manner.

For any race, the person who wins is the person who devotes the most time toward training and such. It’s the same with the race toward heaven that we are all involved in. The Bible, words from God, challenges us to run the race to win. Winning requires purpose and discipline.

Paul uses this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self denial, and grueling preparation as we run toward our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. The Christian life is participatory, not just observatory. Are you a participant or an observer?

Father I want to participate in the race toward Your Kingdom. I want to work hard, study well, and never succumb to the temptations from the enemy to quit or to slow down the steps needed to make me more Christ-like. Please help me keep focused on the finish line. Amen.

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Change the Way You Think

 

IMG_3201Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2  (NLT)

Cody staggered through the front door. Betsy wiped her hands on the clean dish towel she’d grabbed when she’d heard his bike roar into the driveway. She shook her head. Cody had changed. He was not the man she married three years ago.

Hey woman, game a beer.” He slumped into the easy chair in the living room in front of the television.

Betsy yanked the fridge door open, grabbed a cold can of beer, and stalked into the living room. “Cody, this has got to stop. I am not your servant. Ever since you hooked up with those bikers, you treat me as if you own me. I deserve your respect.”

“Yah right. Just give me the beer and quit year yakking.” Cody grabbed the remote and turned the television to his favorite channel. “I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I pay for yak at live here, don’t I?” He chuckled.

Cody had changed. Hanging around men who showed complete disrespect for their wives affected his thinking. He swore and cussed more often than at any other time in his life. He also drank more. Cody had been transformed and not in a positive way either.

That’s what happens to us when we filter what goes into our minds by allowing God to transform our thinking. We become more Christ like when walking at His side on a daily basis. We don’t feel any different but the people around us know that something is different.

Walking with the Lord does not just mean that we forsake the value system of the world. We can still act proud, covetous, and selfish while not participating in the world’s sinful pleasures. God wants us to go farther by transforming our thought processes to coincide with His thinking, to value people as He does, and to think pure thoughts about people while we are content with what we have.

Lord Jesus, thank You for allowing me to soak up You, to absorb the way You see and treat people. Thank You for caring about me and wanting only what’s best for me. Amen

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His Own Holy People

winter in a graveyardI am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2   (NLT)

Scar was a Thunderbird. He’d passed all the requirements and now had his patch. It had been a long year. “Hey, you guys, let’s celebrate. How ‘bout a beer?”

“Sure, Scar. Besides that’s the tradition when someone gets their patch.”

A burly, tattooed man with long scraggly red hair sat down beside Scar at the bar. “You gonna ride with us to the creek tonight?”

“Sure, wouldn’t miss it.” Scar took a long swig of his beer and then thumped it back on the counter. He looked toward his brother. This was a brotherhood, a family of sorts and Scar felt honored to be part of them. He knew they’d protect his back as he was expected to watch out for the other members.

Scar had been recruited. That’s something like being given an invitation to join. He felt special because he knew that not all who were invited made the cut. He had, and now he belonged. God calls everyone to join His heavenly family but not everyone heeds the call. When we do, by accepting Christ’s death for us on the Roman cross, we earn the right to be called sons or daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

A personal invitation makes a person feel wanted and special. We are “called to be Holy” which means that God personally invites us to become citizens of heaven, His eternal kingdom. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the only one who can bring us into this glorious kingdom because He is the only one who removes our sins. Sanctified means that we are chosen, set apart by Christ for His service. We can accept God’s invitation by accepting Christ’s work on the cross for us.

Father I do feel privileged to be part of Your family. I know that my purpose is to serve Christ, become more like Him each day, and to Honor and glorify You in all I do. I pray that I will not disappoint You and that I will reflect Your love to all I meet. Amen

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Grow in Grace

IMG_3251Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18  (NLT)

Sunburst sidled toward the man who’d claimed her since the day she’d inadvertently walked into the clubhouse three years ago. He was the president so her position within the membership was higher than any of the other girls. Sunburst did everything she could to remain there. It offered her some semblance of protection. “Hi Gem. Want to take a break?”

“Not now. Go visit the girls. I’ll get to yak later.” Gem went on with the planning meeting he was conducting. Sunburst puckered her lower lip in a provocative manner but knew she’d better not push her luck. She sashayed through Gem’s office door. “Hey gals let’s ride.”

“Who died and made you boss?” A tall brunette stood beside the table where the other girls were seated. “I think it’s time you and I had a talk…sort of.”  The brown haired beauty took a step toward Sunburst. This was not the first time that Brenda had challenged Sunburst’s position in the club. Brenda envied the attention Sunburst got from the others and wanted to be where Sunburst was.

The world is like that. If we are not studied up and prayed up, there are many who will challenge our knowledge of the Bible, our interpretation of scripture. We need to know the truth of scripture, be able to differentiate an inquiring mind and one that just wants to argue. We need to know what The Word says to back up our answers.

The most important step in refuting false teachers is to know Jesus Christ, to grow in that knowledge and become confident in the truth of scripture. The world will always challenge our faith no matter where we are in our spiritual journey. If, every day, we find some way to draw closer to Christ, we will be prepared to stand for truth in any and all circumstances.

Father, Your truth will pass any test. No matter what people try to interpret as contradictory or hateful speech, Your truth can stand the test. When people have tried to disprove Your word, they’ve come to believe instead. Help me know You and Your truth so I too may stand firm. Amen

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Mature Understanding

IMG_3250So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. Hebrews 6:1 (NLT)

“That’s it.” Bonner bellowed, loud enough for all the members of the Thunderbirds to hear. “Travis, it’s time you took some responsibility.”

Travis twisted his body on the bar stool, leaned back against the wood counter, and leered toward the president of the club. “You talkin ta me?” He smirked, a sure sign that he was very comfortable in his surroundings.

Ya I’m talkin ta you. You’ve been a fully fledged patch wearer for six months now. It’s time you acted like it. No more of this pussy footing around. I need yak at make a run for me. Now.” Bonner handed Travis the sack and walked toward his office door. “Don’t get caught.”

Travis had learned the basics of becoming a Thunderhead. He’d proven he was capable of all they expected so he’d earned his patch. Now he was being asked to act as the others did, long time members who didn’t need the boss to tell them what to do.

Growing Christians are like that or should be. Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to open your heart and mind to deeper truths, to act as the mature person God knows you can be. You’ve learned all about repentance, Salvation, and restoration in Christ. Now it’s time to understand Grace, Propitiation, Sanctification and other deeper truths as you confirm the basics in the life of a new believer.

We put into practice what we know so that our capacity to understand the things of God with more depth grows. Like any vessel, once it’s full, if you don’t empty it (build into the life of a new believer), there is little room for more.

Lord, we know the basics. Provide a way for us to use what we know so we can begin to understand in greater depth, the truths that You have for us, the truths about You, Your Grace, and Your working in our lives. Amen

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God’s Calling

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I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14  (NLT)

Doug, a.k.a. Leather, walked quickly past the bar where many of his old cronies hung out. He sneaked a sideways glance toward the front door but no one stepped through the dilapidated frame. Doug sucked in a long breath, relieved that he managed once again to avoid them. He wasn’t ready.

Today was one year since Doug had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. “Mandy, I hope you don’t mind but I need to stop at the park for a moment.”

“Sure, Doug. I’ll go with you.” Mandy had been Doug’s steady girl for about six months. They’d met in church and she knew all about Doug’s past. They were to be married in another 9 months.

“No, I need to do this alone. The Lord and I need to talk.”

“Okay, I’ll just wait on that bench there and when you’re done, we’ll go on to the church for our counseling session.” Mandy sat down, opened her purse and pulled out her Bible, She knew that if Doug wanted to converse with the Lord, she needed to pray.

Doug had a past. It drew him like a magnet every time he walked past the bar where, for so many nights, he and his friends had partied. His eyes however, were focused on his new goals and he wanted God to be part of every success and every failure he experienced. This time it was a success but Doug was afraid that without the Savior, he’d fail again. Prayer and a close conversation always helped him get his eyes back on his goal – to become like Jesus.

In the Bible verses above, the Apostle Paul is talking about his goal to become more Christ-like on a daily basis, to put the past behind and forge ahead toward his heavenly goal. Paul had a lot to forget, just as Doug did. Paul had held the coats of those who stoned Stephen and had been instrumental, as Saul of Tarsus, in condemning many Christians to the lion’s den. As Saul, his goals to wipe out believers took all his attention and now as a Christian, Paul focused on the goal to become like Christ.

We should not let anything take our eyes off this goal either. With single-mindedness, as if we were in training for the Olympics, we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that might take our mind off being effective Christians. What holds you back?

Lord Jesus, I seek to become like You, to treat people as You do, to face temptation like You did, and to listen to the Father as You always do. Help me walk with single-mindedness toward that goal as I lay everything harmful aside to focus on You, Lord. Amen

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Changed Way of Thinking

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And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2  (NLT)

Ben threw the cigarette he’d just lit to the ground, stomped it out and shivered in disgust. The mere smell of the thing bothered him. “I don’t know why I did that,” he muttered as he walked into the beer garden set up at the rally.

“You did that out of habit. Beer and cigarettes go together.” His friend and cohort, Jangle, stumbled along beside him, clearly a little under the influence already.

“I guess. I never really thought about it. Gimmee a beer.” He shouted over the loud raucous laughter and the music emanating from the bandstand. “That music is sure loud. The words are kinda weird, don’t you think?”

No and you used ta not think so either. What’s with you?” Jangle tipped his newly acquired beverage.

“It just gives me a head ache is all.” Ben took a long swig of his beer. “Yuck, must be some bad beer. Hey you, this is foul. Give me somethin else.” Ben reached for the new bottle and tipped it for a long refreshing drink. “Yuck.”

“What, you don’t like beer anymore either? You’re getting to be a drag.” Jangle walked away shaking his head.

Ben had become a Christian just two weeks before. He devoured everything biblical he could lay his hands on since then. Nowhere did it say in the Bible that he shouldn’t drink or smoke so when Jangle asked him to attend the first rally of the season, Ben accepted the invitation. He figured that as long as he didn’t participate in any of the other stuff, listening to the band and having a beer would be okay. However, the Holy Spirit had been at work and Ben’s mind had been renewed as the Bible says. The things that used to excite him no longer held any pleasure at all.

God has good, pleasing and perfect plans for us, His children. He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds. Our purpose for living should be to honor and obey Him, setting aside the behaviors and customs of this world as we refuse to conform to the world’s value system. But we must go even farther. Refusing to conform to the world’s values must be firmly planted in our minds. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds are we truly transformed.

Father, I want to be transformed, to have a renewed mind filled with the purpose of honoring and obeying You. Holy Spirit lead me down the paths of your reeducation plan. Redesign my value system so that it conforms to God’s plans and not my own. Amen.

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