By Topic

Acceptance

Friday

April 7, 2017

Is There Another Way?

Read

Luke 22:42,   “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Think

When was the last time you felt so distraught that you starting sweating blood? We cannot even begin to comprehend just how overwrought with sorrow Jesus was knowing what He was about endure. No other human has ever felt such an intense desire to be spared from God’s will, nor has anyone shown as much humble obedience and faith in the Father’s will. Like us, Jesus naturally wanted to avoid pain and suffering and proved that it’s okay to ask God for deliverance. Then He modeled the perfect godly response by saying, “Let Your will be done”. The purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will and align our will with His.

God never promised us a trouble-free existence, but He did promise us His presence to guide us and help us weather every storm. Jesus said to follow Him no matter the cost. This means He’s not asking us to do what He’s unwilling to do or has never done Himself. That’s why we look to Jesus as the “author and perfecter of our faith”. Obedience to God’s will—no matter how difficult it is in the moment—will result in growth, blessing, and added strength. And we know that “in all things He works for our good” and His glory!

Pray

Pray for yourself and those around you to be open to God’s will.

Act

Be inspired by Jesus’ passion by reading the full account of His last night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

Friday

March 10, 2017

Leading Past the Likes

Read

Hebrews 13:7, “Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

Think

We all like to be liked. We like receiving likes on Social Media. We often seek approval and respond well to praise. But likeability and lead-ability do not always go hand in hand. Great leaders understand that their motives, strategies, abilities, and decisions will be questioned. Hence, when an opportunity arises opposition awaits. When we try to make everyone happy, no one ends up happy including ourselves. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus”. This means it’s more important to take people where they need to go than where they want to go. Had Nehemiah worried about his opposition, he would’ve never completed the wall. If Noah had paid attention to the ridicule and mockery he faced, he wouldn’t have completed the Ark. If Moses had succumbed to the children of Israel’s constant berating, whining, and complaining, he never would have gone atop the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments or deliver two million people out of slavery to the brink of the Promised Land. If Jesus had tried to please and appease everyone during His three years of earthly ministry, He would have never made it to the Cross and we would be facing eternal separation from God! Leaders do what is right despite the fight, outwork the opposition, continue casting vision, and remain focused on God’s plans and purpose.

Above was the information, so here’s the application. When facing criticism, always consider the source, and critique the opposition. Look at their underlying motives and the spirit behind their aversion. We cannot afford to think our critics are always correct and question ourselves to death. Conversely, we cannot assume that every negative voice is wrong and that we are always right. No, we must remain humble and seek wise counsel. In addition, we never forget to look to the book—the Bible, and pray for the wisdom and discernment to make the right choices. Remember, the loudest boos usually have no clue about effective leadership. So, we keep on leading past the likes knowing that following God will take us to the greatest heights.

Pray

Today, pray through the four C’s: Acknowledge the CHARACTER of God, CONFESS your sins, show CONFIDENCE in God’s promises, and stay COMMITTED to being part of the answer.

Act

As a leader for Christ, invite someone to church; knowing if even if they don’t want to go, it’s where they need to be.

 

Thursday

March 9, 2017

Tragedy to Triumph

Read

II Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Think

We like to root for the underdog. We love happy-endings and amazing accounts of overcoming the odds—going from tragedy to triumph. But victory is the endgame and only made possible by the preceding struggle, tragedy, loss, betrayal, or sickness. The greatest leaders often face the greatest pain, because they take people where they need to go versus where they want to go. God’s man Moses, experienced numerous tragedy to triumph moments. He carried the weight of 2 million people on his shoulders, because he bore the brunt of every struggle and uncomfortable situation the Israelites faced. How could they have been so blind to God’s provision? How many miracles did they have to witness? But before we get too critical, we must stop and ask ourselves the same thing? Where are we in the process, who are we blaming, and do we trust God with the outcome?

Let’s take a closer look at the memory failure, nearsightedness, and distrust within the children of Israel as well as the mental beating Moses endured after delivering them out of Egyptian slavery. God personally escorted them day and night to the edge of the Red Sea. They witnessed the waters part, crossed on dry ground, and watched as the water came crashing down on their enemy. They sang and danced praising God until they grew thirsty and then blamed Moses. God provided. When they grew hungry—it too was Moses’ fault. Evidently, they missed sitting around eating pots of meat in captivity. Once more God provided and they witnessed the glory of the Lord appear in a cloud over the desert. They journeyed on and again were in need of water. This time not only were they angry with Moses, they considered stoning him! With frustration mounting, he said, “Don’t tell me, tell the Lord!” So God led Moses to produce water from a rock—and even still they questioned His presence. You see, without playing the blame game, we’ve got to trust in our great and faithful God who’s never failed us and never will. Remember, Jesus’ death looked like the most epic failure of all time until He burst forth from the grave with supernatural resurrection power forever defeating death. And with Christ in us, hope prevails every time we pass from tragedy to triumph.

Pray

Father God, thank You for working through all things for my good. I know that no matter what I face, You are in control. I love You, trust You, seek You, and want to please You! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Reflect on the major obstacles you’ve overcome since knowing Christ. What are you facing that seems as if it will never bring about any good? Today, how can you trust Jesus to lead you through tragedy and into triumph?

 

Wednesday

March 8, 2017

Jethro Jolt

Read

Exodus 18:17-19, “Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him.’”

Think

We like to be right. We don’t naturally enjoy being told what we’re doing is wrong. So what about when it comes to receiving advice—not unsolicited opinions—but insightful observations? Jethro was the priest of Midian and was well versed in effective leadership. No wonder he was taken aback by the futile and time-consuming methods employed by his son-in-law. Moses had gone slow-Mo and needed a jolt from Jethro to pick up his Mo-mentum! Speaking the truth in love, Jethro offered some great wisdom and perspective. Moses could have taken it as an insult, but fortunately he had a teachable spirit and showed great humility in receiving the advice. Wisdom is a quality of the soul, and within this exchange, Jethro pointed Moses back to God’s calling for his life.

In this series, we’ve talked a lot about the necessity of skipping within leadership, but one thing we should never skip is constructive criticism. Accountability emerges from affinity. Who are you listening to? Usually the people with the most experience have the most to say within a climate of critique. The moment we stop listening is the precise moment we stop leading. Learning is a lifelong process, and great information lacking application is an abomination. Proverbs 16:20 states, “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful”. Are you teachable and adaptable? Or are you in need of a Jethro jolt? Because when we land on good advice, we will soar to places we never dreamed possible.

Pray

Father God, melt away any stubbornness from my heart. Help me to be humble and open to wisdom and critique. Thank You for placing people in my life who care enough to speak the truth in love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Read the prologue in Proverbs 1:1-7. Then commit verse 7 to memory: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 

Tuesday

January 10, 2017

Trin-I-D

Read

Ephesians 1:4-6, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves."

Think

A revolution takes place when we understand our identity, and our identity is found in the Trinity: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Godhead, 3 in 1 and 1 in 3, is something we'll never fully grasp on this side of eternity. The Bible does, though, explain the implications of our relationship with each manifestation of God. In Ephesians 1:4-6, the apostle Paul details three aspects to understanding our identity in God the Father; we are chosen, adopted, and accepted by Him who spared His own Son to make our relationship with Him possible.

God chose you! Right now, say it loud and proud, "God chose me!" That's right! And it's not as if one day He decided to pick you out of a crowd. No, He chose you before He laid the foundations of the earth. He knew what you would look like, He knew your name, He loved you, and He gave you a very specific purpose. But He also knew that you would be born outside of His family. We were born into a fallible and fallen world. Sin separated us from entering the presence of a perfect and holy God. Through His Son, He made a way to reconcile us to Himself. Thereby we were reborn of His Spirit and adopted as His children. So, God chose you, He adopted you, and He has accepted you. God knows you are a work in progress, but by grace He now looks at you and sees the righteousness of His beloved Son. Remember, you are a child of God, chosen, adopted, and accepted—it's who you are—it's your Trin-I-D!

Pray

Thank God for choosing you, for calling you His child, and accepting you as a work in progress.

Act

Read Ephesians chapter 1 in the Message (MSG) translation.

Monday

January 9, 2017

A Perfect Fit

Read

Ephesians 1:1-3 (NASB), “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”.

Think

Isn’t it true that we sometimes try way too hard to fit in? Throughout our lives we have been drawn to various groups that seemingly have it all together. We think if we can win their approval, then we’ll have finally made it. But upon further inspection, are they truly who we want to be? Because, apart from God we’ll never be as together as we’d like everyone to think. Our lives can only peak with maximum potential when we stop playing to the crowd and play for an audience of One—God.

As Christians, our identity is solely found in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We are forgiven by the Father’s gift of unmerited grace through the Son. Then, the moment we accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in our hearts. From this we gain a supernatural confidence with God in us. We fit in with Perfection! Why? Because we know we’re here on purpose for a purpose—to glorify the name above all names, Jesus Christ.

Pray

Thank God for His forgiveness and acceptance of you. Ask Him to lead your steps with the knowledge of both who and Whose you truly are.

Act

Begin developing a solid understanding of your identity in the Trinity.  Continue reading Ephesians chapter 1 in the NASB translation.

Tuesday

November 8, 2016

Speaking the Truth in Love

Read

I Corinthians 16:13-14, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love".

I Corinthians 13:13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love".

Think

When a child misbehaves a parent might say, "I love you too much to tolerate that kind of behavior". And as grown ups, there are times we have to deal with certain personalities that we find almost intolerable to be around. Unfortunately, now we are even saying that about the current presidential candidates. But the word tolerance has far greater implications than any specific behavior or characteristic. It is the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs different from our own. As believer's, we must accept everyone. Why? Because, we will never lock eyes with anyone that Jesus didn't die for. Everyone matters to God.

In today's culture—a world sinking in a sea of moral relativism—truth is subject to individual feelings and proclivities. Everybody must not only accept everyone else's beliefs but approve of them and celebrate their differences. However, we cannot confuse acceptance with approval. Hence this faux tolerance contradicts exactly what it espouses. Those who are so emphatic about the approval of all lifestyles claim that anyone who speaks to the contrary is being intolerant. But aren't the 'tolerance watchdogs' being just as intolerant? It's crazy, so what do we do? We accept everyone, but we don't have to approve of their actions. Remember, Jesus loved the religious elite enough to call out their blatant hypocrisy. Thus, we aggressively love one another enough to speak the truth in love.

Pray

Pray for our country in the midst of the current divisive political climate. And yield to God as you pray for His sovereign will to be done.

Act

Every vote counts! So if you haven't voted yet—today's the day!

Monday

October 24, 2016

Forgive and Forget

Read

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more”.

Hebrews 8:12, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”.

Think

Why is it that we inevitably forget what we need to remember? We can remind ourselves for over a week of an appointment on the upcoming Monday at 10:00 a.m. Then just as we sit down for lunch on Monday that—“Oh No!” sinking feeling of forgetfulness sets in and steals our appetite. At other times our forgetfulness is less innocuous like forgetting why we walked into a room. However, when it comes to the things we need to forget and forgive ourselves of—the very things God has chosen to forget—they echo resoundingly in our hearts. In these moments we must remember that it’s the enemy who’s broadcasting our past mistakes in the forefront of our mind. Why, then, do we keep castigating ourselves for what only the devil wants us to remember?

We must be mindful of what God calls us to be mindful of. He chose to preemptively forgive us, and when we surrender our lives to Him, He remembers our sins no more. How great is our God? He could have said, “Too bad, so sad” and left us to fend for ourselves in a Christ-less eternity—but He didn’t! Since He’s chosen to forget, He wants us to do the same. And thanks to Jesus, we are free to live our lives anchored in hope, faith, forgiveness, and love.

Pray

“Father God, I praise You for loving me enough to send Jesus to die for my sins. And I ask that You remind me of what You have chosen to forget when I fail to let go of self-condemnation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Act

What is it that you just can’t seem to let go? Are you carrying any blame or shame in your heart? Are you unable to forgive yourself or someone else from the past? Spend a few moments in your prayer journal writing whatever comes to mind. Then ask God to help clarify who or what needs to be remembered, forgiven, and forgotten.

 

Wednesday

October 19, 2016

Gospel Bound

Read

Acts 20:23-24, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace".

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose".

Think

At some point in our lives we have all felt bound or incarcerated by something. Maybe it's worry, fear, addiction, unforgiveness, financial stress, or spiritual bankruptcy. Well, no matter the situation or circumstance we can rest assured in knowing that God works through—not some things or things with conditional clauses—but ALL things for our benefit and to His glory. However, sometimes His plan unfolds in unexpected ways.

The Apostle Paul longed to visit Rome. He yearned to proclaim Jesus’ name in the largest and most influential city in the known world. God, though, prevented him from going until due time. Paul eventually did make it to Rome—but not in the manner he imagined. He went there as a prisoner. As God's ambassador in chains, Paul continued to preach fearlessly under Roman guard for two years and wrote the majority of the New Testament.

As a great reminder of spiritual ambition, we must remember Paul's devotion despite his harrowing and likely miserable circumstances. He could have quit. He could have complained about life being unfair. He could have grown bitter towards God—but he didn't. He remained ‘joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer’. We can all take a page from the apostle's book to push past our own opposition or discomfort and carry out God's sovereign plan and purpose. So the next time we undergo hardship, we must not ask God, "Why me?" And instead ask, "Why not me?"  Remember, what binds us physically might just be what spiritually sets us free.

Pray

Pray for a renewed desire, a new spiritual ambition to see God's will be done no matter the circumstances. And ask God to grant you the necessary patience to wait on His perfect timing.

Act

Throughout the day assess your attitudes, ambitions, and motivations. And consider your willingness to avail yourself to accomplish the work God has prepared for you to do.

 

Thursday

September 22, 2016

Know to Grow

Read

2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen”.

Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.

Think

Once we receive the preemptive work of forgiveness Jesus did on the Cross and surrender our lives to Him, we are reborn into the family of God. As spiritual infants we are still susceptible to the attitudes and actions of our former self. We have yet to really grasp Scripture. And, we don’t immediately mirror Christ and reflect His teaching to the world. There is a definite learning curve and life is a continuous lesson. To grow in Christ we cannot merely sit back and expect to soak in His wisdom through osmosis. Like tending to a newborn baby, we can’t place our spiritual infancy in a crib and say, “Alright, I’ll see you next month. Take care now, bye!”

How can we reap the full benefits of what a life with God has to offer? We invest in His best. We nurture and protect our development. We align our priorities and commitments with the Bible. We develop a taste for the fruit of the Spirit by feeding on the Word, because the more we know about God the more we grow like God. We seek intimacy with the Father through prayer. We commit to serving and sowing in the local church. And, we literally become the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out to the lost by sharing what He is doing in our lives.  When we consistently cultivate our faith and put it in action, we will see the fruit of our labor. As we flourish and grow, God will bless us and use us in ways we never dreamed possible. Remember, we reap what we sow.

Pray

Ask God to show you areas of stunted growth or spiritual laziness. Then in stillness, listen for His voice.

Act

Read the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8:4-15. What kind of soil are you? Do you have any thorns choking your spiritual growth? What actions do you think Jesus wants you to take in response His teaching?

 

Wednesday

September 21, 2016

Righteousness by Faith

Read

2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”.

Romans 1:17, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous shall live by faith’”.

Think

Martin Luther, one of the greatest theologians of all time, was a markedly intense person. He zealously refused to accept one of the most important tenets of Scripture—that by faith we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Instead of focusing on what Jesus secured for us on the cross, he took the performance route. Therefore, as an outward display of repentance he deprived himself of sleep, refused to use blankets in frigid temperatures, and literally beat himself up. Why? He felt it was the only way to prove his devotion to God. Well, to be such an accomplished scholar, it was out of sheer ignorance that he felt the need to attempt the impossible. Nothing he could ever do or not do would make him righteous in God’s sight.

Luther spent hundreds of hours scouring Scripture and developed a special distaste for Paul’s theology. He even said he hated the phrase ‘The righteous shall live by faith’. Wow, hate was an awfully strong word for a man so terrified of God’s wrath. After years of erroneous thinking, he had a sudden epiphany. As an act of compassion God removed his spiritual blindness while he was reading Romans 1:17, the very verse that had haunted him for so long. God’s Spirit boldly brought his attention to the word ‘faith’, and it clicked. His life was forever changed. He then understood his need to be comforted by Christ and realized that when God looked at him He didn’t see Martin Luther the sinner; He saw the purity of Christ. He was finally free from years of mental, physical, and spiritual bondage. Sound familiar? Although not to the same extent, we too have a tendency to self-condemn and beat ourselves up with guilt when all we need to do is work it out in daily prayer. Remember, we are incapable of perfection, but we are made perfect in Christ Jesus.

Pray

“I thank You, God, that you have loved me enough to accept me as a work in progress. Today, help me to remember who I am and to model Christ to all I encounter."

Act

Read Acts 9:1-19. How is Martin Luther’s conversion similar to the Apostle Paul’s? Knowing the truth, what belief or action do you need to let go of in order to experience the ultimate freedom found in Christ?

 

Wednesday

December 10, 2014

A radical love

Read

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17

Think

God has a plan for everyone; He has a purpose for us all. At Fellowship Church, we believe that purpose starts with one four letter word: LOVE. We love radically, because we have all been loved radically.

We accept everyone, no matter where they are in life or what they have done. Our hope at church is that everyone who walks through the doors feels welcomed. We know that God loves us all with an everlasting love. It is our job to help others experience that love in a way that transforms their lives.

If you have experienced the love of God, are you doing all you can to help others experience it as well?

Pray

Thank God for His unending, unfathomable love for you. Pray for the opportunities to help others see and experience it as well!

Act

One of the greatest ways to show someone you love them is to invite them to be part of the community that has helped you the most. Make sure you not only tell others about the love you experience, but that you also invite them to experience it themselves this weekend!

Wednesday

November 12, 2014

God Loves You

Read

"But whoever loves God is known by God."  1 Corinthians 8:3

Think

Everyone wants to be accepted. We all want to know that others appreciate us. But the truth in life is that not everyone will. There are going to be people in our lives who simply don’t like us. Too often, though, we waste a lot of time getting those who don’t like us to like us and accept us. And we put too much weight into what the wrong “they” say.

But have you ever considered the words you speak to yourself? Often, we can speak badly about ourselves because we’ve heard those same things from others in our lives – from the wrong “they.” God, though, has something to say that many people may never tell us. His message to us is simply, “I love you.”

God accepts you just the way you are. Don’t base your sense of self-worth on what the wrong “they” tell you. Instead, find acceptance and love from God first. Because then you’ll discover a foundation that life can truly be built on.

Pray

Thank God for His perfect love in your life. When you begin to hear words of rejection from others, pray for His strength and peace to invade your life so you can discover a life of acceptance from above.

Act

When someone in your life rejects you in any way, don’t focus on the rejection. Instead, lean in on God’s acceptance of you. And pray for His strength to see you through.

 

Tuesday

November 11, 2014

Who are you hearing?

Read

“When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, ‘What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ A man who lived there answered, 'And who is their father?’ So it became a saying: ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’” 1 Samuel 10:11-12

Think

One of the greatest fears we face is the fear of rejection. We all want to be accepted. But the thought that someone may reject us sometimes causes us to cower in the corner. Saul dealt with this fear, and he let it control his life. He continually worried about what others were saying, and he allowed the voices of others to dictate his life far too many times.

To overcome the fear of rejection, one of the biggest things we can do is refuse to listen to the voice of the wrong “they” in our lives. After all, “they” always have something to say. The question is, which “they” are you listening to? We should surround ourselves with the kind of people who point us to God’s truth rather than those who continue to point us to their own opinions. Who are you listening to?

Pray

Thank God for His truth in your life. Pray for the strength to ignore the wrong “they” in your life and to instead focus on what God has to say about you.

Act

Make a list of the right “they” in your life. Reach out and thank them for who they are and what they mean in your life. And for a great resource about the right “they,” preorder Pastor Ed Young’s new book, Fifty Shades of They.