Friday, January 27, 2012

Faith's Resting Place

On days like today, I am so thankful for the influence of godly young men on my life. The fellowship of bringing our requests to the Lord and bearing one another's burdens is such a blessing. I'm certainly not the most diligent person when it comes to getting up early (mostly because the night before isn't planned in such a way as to start the morning early), but it is such a delight to spend time with a brother in the Lord in prayer early in the morning. God meant fellowship and communion with Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ to be a joyous thing.

I was reading this morning in 1 Corinthians 2 and Paul's intentions jumped out to me in verses 3-5.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
It is so important that our words and actions are honoring to the Lord, but God cares even more about the depths of our hearts... our intentions... our motives. We can say and do all the right things and not glorify the One who gave us the ability to do those things. As Jesus says, "They have received their reward in full." We are constantly in need of the grace of God to convict of sin and righteousness and judgement so that we would see the depths of our heart and act in such a way as to cause other people's faith to rest not on the wisdom of men... my cleverness or ingenuity, but on the wisdom of God. This is a good challenge for me this morning... to proclaim Christ today in such a way that others would forget the channel of the message as they see the infinite glory of Christ. He must increase, I must decrease.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Letter

God has been blessing so much at work. We had a school district client of ours that purchased something like 15 or 20 scanners without consulting with us first to make sure that it was compatible with our software. I worked on it off and on in the last couple days of the week and I was able to get it to work, but it was really not the way I should have done it. I kind of just wanted to prove that it could be done with this "hacky" way of writing the code and then see if I could actually do it the "right" way. Anyway, after being stuck on this issue for quite a while, I took it to the Lord in prayer and just started typing. I'm so thankful for intellisense... for the non-programmers out there, this is basically auto-complete... but better. It gives you a list of all the things you can choose from. For example, if you had an object called, Person, you might have options like last name, first name, middle name, date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. Well, I started typing... and God was gracious in allowing me to find the solution to this issue that had stumped my boss and myself. It was a simple three lines of code. God is so good! It was a great reminder to me not to trust in my own strength or creativity, but to rely fully on Him.

I was reading in 2 Timothy 1 this evening and thinking of different individuals in my life who have been an encouragement to me to "take the next step" in my relationship with the Lord. Sometimes I wish that they would send me a letter... just take 10 minutes out of their day and point out the blind spots that I have and encourage me to be wholly submitted to the Lord. The reality is that I am that guy in some instances. I don't mean this in any kind of "stuck-up" way... I mean it in a sobering responsibility kind of way. God has entrusted me with some influence on the lives of others and I really feel that I need to do a better job in using that stewardship from the Lord to encourage others in Christ. Take a look at this example from Paul to Timothy.
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
I would love to receive a letter like this... who wouldn't? In order to encourage like this, we must model it. Paul wasn't asking Timothy to suffer for Christ because he [Paul] wasn't willing to do it himself. No, Paul was leading the way and saying... hey, Timothy... I know this is hard, but I'm in it... and it's so worth it!

I am encouraged by Paul and his example. Paul probably had no idea that I would exist someday or that I would read this letter or that I'd be encouraged by it. I love the mystery and infinite wisdom of God. He doesn't tell us how much He is intending to use us for His glory... He just does it! May He give us the grace to lead by example and encourage those around us to do the same.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Blessing of Boldness

God has been challenging me in the area of boldness this year. I cannot take any credit for the boldness that I have had for Him as it has come completely from Him. He has been so gentle and kind toward me. He sees my weakness in this area and as a loving Father, He encourages me in even the smallest progress that He sees in me. There have been several events lately where God gave me the courage to be just a little bold and God has turned those times into incredible blessings. I am continually floored! I took a small step of boldness in talking with a lady at one of our client school districts about church... and then God used the God-honoring type of gossip in their office to spread this to others in the same office.

It was the most joyous and refreshing time talking with one of the people about the Lord today. Here we were, standing in this public district office amongst all her co-workers, talking about the Lord and His goodness. Teachers don't have the freedom to talk about Him to their students (in most cases) and yet God used just the smallest hint of boldness to open a door to talk with someone above all those teachers about Him... freely! I was rushed for time and skipped my lunch, so I was able to use some of my lunch time for that conversation. God is so amazingly brilliant! I couldn't have thought that one up if I was trying to. I was so encouraged by her and by the Lord.

I echo the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 6:19.
Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
God has blessed some of the smallest attempts at being bold for Him... but He doesn't want me to stay there. He wants me to be a light with words as well as with actions. How can they believe in whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher? My life can demonstrate Christ-likeness, but what is that if they don't hear of Christ? They think I'm a nice guy... that glorifies Daniel, that doesn't glorify Christ. They must hear of Christ in me, the hope of glory!

God, help me be bold for You in 2012.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

It Never Will Get Old

As a child, I thought heaven might get boring after a while... and then I realized that living on earth is probably significantly more activity deprived than living in heaven. Since I haven't been bored here since I was like 5 years old, I don't think boredom will be an issue in the presence of the Creator of all things. I have been enjoying reading through Paul's letters again to start off the new year and was reminded of this as I read in Ephesians 2.
Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
We lose contentment when we lose a heart of thankfulness. I believe this is one of the many reasons that God gives us so many commands throughout scripture to be thankful. It's such a blessing that we have Thanksgiving each year where everyone (for the most part) determines to find things to give thanks for. What a great, Christ-honoring thing for us to do! It's one of those times of year where there really isn't a secular part about it to "fight against"... not that we should ever let our guard down, but truly, being thankful solves so many heart issues.

The thing that I am most thankful for is Christ. Remembering where I came from as an enemy of Christ... born in sin... gives me great reason to rejoice in the gift of Christ. Without Him, there was and still is no hope. But Christ has conquered all dividing walls through His death and brought me near to God by His own blood.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer; but, this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.

Thank you, Lord! May my heart of gratefulness never grow cold for all that You have done. May the love of Christ control my every thought and action.