Leadership Lessons From David

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 30 and Psalm 31.

One of the things I love about writing for Bible Journal is it really makes me take a step back and ask myself what God is teaching us through Scriptures where I may have easily glanced over it during a quick read. Today, I was blown away by 2 great leadership examples through David in 1 Samuel 30.

First, we see in 1 Samuel 30:6 David “strengthened himself in the Lord His God.” How did David do this? He came to Lord in prayer, asking for wisdom as to what to do, and then he took action by following the Lord’s direction pursuing Amalekites. Let’s not glance over how terrible it looked for David. His town had been burned and his family was gone leaving him not knowing if they were dead or alive. David faced trouble with Saul, but I often think of the people always loving David due to his victory over Goliath amongst others, but apparently it was still a “what have you done for me lately world” back then because we also read in verse 6 the people talked of stoning him. Psalm 31 gives us a prayer by David which is likely very similar to what David prayed during this time. We know in Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” God doesn’t care if you haven’t turned to Him in the past and if it took things getting really bad before you turned to Him for the first time or again in some cases. He just wants your heart..now.  He wants you to believe fully that He will pull you through it trusting in Him. What challenge are you facing today you don’t think you can handle or rebound from? “Strengthen yourself in the Lord” by praying for wisdom and guidance…then trust in Him and act upon His direction.  This is what David did and his family was safely returned through he and his people’s victory over the Amalekites.

The second lesson we learn from David is when things are going great and the Lord gives us victory, we give the glory to God. For it is Him who does these things through us. How easy is it to be prideful in thinking…”look at what I did”….when things are going well. We are all guilty of this. Psalm 31:23 tells us that is not a good thing to do. Those who went into battle did not want to give their winnings to those who stayed back, but David says in 1 Samuel 30, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us and given into our hand the hand that came against us.” David immediately recognizes in the presence of others this victory came from God and gives him the credit.  I love the quote, “Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less.”  Why should we think less of our self and that we are not capable or that God doesn’t have big things planned for us? Psalm 139:13 tells us we were created by the Almighty God and he “knit” us together. Thinking less of our self essentially means thinking less of God then since He created us, doesn’t it? But, in being humble, we DO think of ourselves less, and we give to those around us just as David models in 1 Samuel 30:24. We must think to ourselves, “For it was not me who did this, but God through me.”  David realized not everyone is meant to be a mighty warrior and go into battle.  He shared with those for whom God had a different role.

Both leadership lessons of strengthening ourselves in the Lord by trusting in Him through prayer, believing He can pull us out of any situation no matter how impossible it looks because our confidence is in Him, not our self, and then giving the glory to God are summed up by Paul again in Ephesians 3:20-21.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Let us move forward today in confidence and give him the glory!

The Power of Prayer

Today’s Reading:  Jonah 2; Proverbs 28

Image result for power or prayer

Jonah 1:17: And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.  And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 

Wow!  Have you ever wondered why something has happened to you?  How are you ever going to get out of a predicament?  Being swallowed by a great fish, is some kind of predicament!  Jonah realized he needed to rely back on the Lord.  He was in trouble, even under sin and in God’s displeasure, he still prayed.   Jonah 2:1-2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried and you heard my voice.”

There are many times within a day, lets be real I’m a mom of a 7 year old and 3 year old boys, a junior high teacher and living in this crazy society.  There are definitely many times within a day I need to pause and PRAY!  I am not perfect, I am trying to live out a life the best I can to be like Jesus, but it is far from perfect.  Take a moment to pause…PRAY and even bring out pain, suffering, or struggles by our sins.  God knows our sins and imperfections.  The Lord will welcome us to the throne of grace, just like He did with Jonah.  It is not easy, we live in the picture-perfect world through social media.  No one wants to admit their imperfections.  It is so easy to get caught up in a world that does not live like Jesus did.  Whether it is your workplace, family, or friends; how are you going to show others the love and grace that Jesus has shown us?  Stop and pray for the mom at the store whose screaming child is throwing a huge fit or a friend who is struggling with a relationship.  No matter the struggle big or small, God is here for us we just need to take the time to pray.  What better way to show Jesus’ love then the power of prayer.  Don’t just say “I’ll pray for you” actually pause and do it!  At the end of the day, Jesus is the judge of us all.

Jonah shows us that no matter where you are, even at the bottom of the ocean in the stomach of a fish, we can too pray because God is always with us.  He walks with us and alongside us in the crazy place we call life.  Pause, take a moment to PRAY, and most of all thank God for all He does for us.  He is a miracle worker and we are so undeserved of everything He has done for us.  Praise be to God!  Jonah 2:10:  And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.  Miracle worker?  I believe so!  Pray and trust in God!

Jennifer LaFrance

Psalm 145

Our reading for today is Psalm 145, and after reading it through, it is simply perfect for the day after Christmas. Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise, written by David to his Lord:

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord preserves all who love him, but the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145)

In this psalm, David lists several reasons why God is worthy of our praise: He is great. His greatness is unsearchable. He does mighty and wondrous works. He is abundantly good. He is righteous. He is gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. His love is steadfast (I love this one! – It reminds me of the picture of an anchor). He is good to all. He has mercy on us. He is powerful. His kingdom is everlasting. He is faithful and kind. He upholds the fallen. He is a provider. He satisfies our deepest desires. He is near. He saves. He preserves all who love him. That’s quite a list, right?!

David’s response to all of who God is is simply this: praise. David will meditate on God’s works, and in response, David will declare God’s greatness and sing aloud of His righteousness. David says that he will extol God, and that he will bless Him and praise His name forever. David praises God for the work He has done in David’s life, and for who He is.

Perhaps this is a good time, as we near the end of 2017, to take some time to write out your praises to God. Consider what He has done for you this year, and praise Him for the times of blessing and the times of stretching and growing. Consider His attributes, the aspects of His character, and praise Him for those. And consider that when we praise Him, we link arms with those around the world who are doing the exact same thing. We join in that chorus of praise. Merry Christmas!

We are speaking to the creator of the universe!

This is my last post for 2017 so I’m reflecting on the past year along with Psalm 141, a Psalm of King David.

Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
 Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
 and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:1-2)

Note the exclamation points and the direct manner by which David starts out speaking to God. This is from the heart, passionate, and urgent. We should all pray like we mean it… we are speaking to the creator of the universe! He doesn’t need our empty words or empty promises, he wants our hearts! Lift up your hands and cry out to him right now. I triple dog dare you. Yes, ’tis the season to go straight to the triple dog dare.

Consider the urgency of Jesus as he prayed on the Mount of Olives, praying so hard that his sweat was like blood.

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

I’ve seen God move in mighty ways this year, no doubt as a result of crying out and the faithful prayers of friends and family. When I say that I’ve seen God move, I don’t mean that he’s answered every prayer in the way that I wanted him to answer it. He also moves through saying no, not yet, or revealing a completely different plan. While it is easy to say right now that I’m thankful, there have certainly been times of frustration, sorrow, fear, and doubt.

Sitting at my favorite place to write inside, I am thinking about the people, habits, or events that had the biggest influence on my life this year.

  • Absolutely the greatest influence on my life in 2017 (same with 2016) has been writing for Bible Journal. This habit and responsibility causes me to look for the Holy Spirit in all events and to constantly be thinking about God’s ways over my ways. It teaches me to see others as who they are: first and foremost, children of God, loved by God, and therefore I must love others. After completing one post, it is time to start praying about the next one, asking for wisdom and for God’s will to be done. There are so many stories going on in all of our lives, and this journaling habit brings the stories closer to my heart. I am so thankful, humbled and honored to be part of this community.
  • Words of encouragement. Do not underestimate the power that our words have on other people, positive or negative. I’m thankful for those who have lifted me up and challenged me in a way that is pleasing to God.
  • Grace. I spent a few minutes thinking about all that I’ve been given this year that I didn’t deserve. Sit quietly and ask God to show you a glimpse of what you’ve been given this year. I believe he wants all of us to see this so that we may give him, the ultimate giver, the thanks he deserves.
  • Surprises. Meeting new people, especially those who are humble and joyful.
  • Seeing my sin as what it is: unacceptable in the eyes of God. This one stings but let’s not sugar coat it. I’m thankful to have a savior who gave his perfect life in exchange for my all too often wretched life. I’m a sinner in need of a savior. Thank you Jesus.

Not Alone

“You will fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” – Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” – Mark 14:27-30

Today’s Reading: Mark 14, Psalm 138

The struggle is real! How many times do we declare our faith and fall short? Jesus knows our earthly struggles. Peter was told by Jesus that in the very same day he would disown Jesus three times. God has seen humans fall short since the Garden of Eden. As I read through Mark 14 even in the presence of the Lord, the disciples fell short in submitting to God’s will.  There are times when we do as well. But in these stories of the disciples falling short, Jesus leaves hints of how to stay connected to Him. His word is packed with promises for today and tomorrow.

The visual I see of sheep scattering is a perfect image of what I can be like sometimes when trials come my way.  A quick reflex, eyes wide open,  with arms flailing  in an opposite direction, possibly stumbling, trying to get up so I can get away.

Jesus lets us know He goes before us.  That even Peter, who believed he would never deny Him, did so in the same night.  That we can’t rely on ourselves to get through hard circumstances. We have to call on Him and trust.

Jesus provides us some reminders as we read Mark.

Prayer – Mark 14:35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”     All things are possible through prayer.  All things can be included in your prayer life.  Most days I will pray to be more prayerful? It’s when I think I have I have it under control the Lord has His way of saying, Why are you not asking me?

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Psalm 145: 18:19 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

  • Stay Awake – It’s easy to get caught up in schedule that has you looking into the end of the week as we worry about the things to be wrapped, this gift to find, the party you have to attend, or these things at work that need to be done.  It can be the problem that still hasn’t been solved that is now growing and leaving you half-minded. Be aware of God’s presence right now in your life, waiting for you to call Him.

Mark 14:41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

Hebrews 12:1-2 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, 2 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.

  • Don’t do it alone –  Having and realizing God is with us all the time is amazing. It  God always being with us, do life with others.  I think of our small group and how many circumstances in our lives we have walked through together. I think of the many brothers and sisters in Christ I have been able to talk with and hear timely words of wisdom from when there was no way at all I was going to figure out that problem. Sharing your struggles with others can provide you with the additional blessings and strength you may need.  Same with you and others, we supply that same blessing and prayer.  Together we provide strength and growth towards Christlikeness.  Thank you to all of you that have made such a difference in my walk with the Lord.  Please always know I’m here for you too.

Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


God wants us to stay close to Him, instead of falling asleep or denying Him, draw closer. We celebrate and praise the birth of a Savior who came for us, and who loves us.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Bible Journal Family and Friends. David, Jennifer, Jackson, Marshall, and…7/11/18:)

Psalm 138:7-8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.



Faith to Move a Mountain

Today’s reading is Mark 11 and Psalm 135.

Mark 11:24 reads, “Therefore I tell you whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” If this is true, then why don’t I have the Lamborghini I’ve been praying for?! In all seriousness, I think this is a verse that many Christians struggle with quite frankly and one that many non-believers use as evidence that God does not exist.” If there is a God, why doesn’t he answer my prayers? It says here He does, but He hasn’t answered mine.”

I can remember my Mom saying at a young age that God does answer all prayers, but just not directly in the way you ask and think is best. Why? We are sinful humans. We don’t know what is best. He does. If we did, then we would be God, and we are clearly not. Most of our prayers have some sort of a selfish nature wanting us to receive the glory and not Him. Isaiah 55:8-9,“ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ “Reading this in Isaiah makes me thankful He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way I ask. He knows what is truly best. I don’t. I just think I do.

Mark 11:23 also says we can ask a mountain to move and it will. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even seen a pencil move when I asked it to! Does this mean there is no God or these verses in Mark are not true? James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” I’m embarrassed to say that even though I know God made the Earth and Heavens and everything in them, not only do I doubt He will do certain things, but if I really get deep and reflect I even question if He can do certain things. Do we really believe God can and will heal our loved one from the illness he or she has? Do we really believe He can and will heal our marriage like we’ve been asking? Do we truly believe He can and will move that mountain if we asked Him to? Maybe if we truly believed He would and could,  He would actually in fact do it. God knows the true condition of our heart and maybe Mark 11:23 is not just a metaphor, but He truly would move a mountain if we asked and truly believed He would.

As we move forward in this next week let us pray this together….

Lord, please create in me a pure, clean heart. Please help my prayers not be for selfish ambition and for my glory but for yours. Help me to know and believe you can and will answer my prayers. When I truly believe you can and will move that mountain I’m facing in my life, I know you will.

Among Us

Today’s Reading; James 4 and Psalm 26

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1)

Among you” is translated by some scholars as “in you“. When I reflect on the many battles in my life this would be a consistent one. I understand that some of the many struggles we can face are not always visually seen by others. These struggles are faced “in you” and can internally impact your mind and heart.  These struggles can take away the joy you can fill into others. Our earthly desires, worries, and fears are tucked back in our mind and the wrestling match of external, desires are grappling with our internal thoughts and heart. Leaving us questioning within our heads and walking through this earthly life half-minded.

James pastoral counsel can lead us back to place of love, grace, and peace.  Personally, as I start back to the school year with much excitement. In my mind, my earthly demands, desires, and fixed mindset moments can make room for questioning thoughts and actions. My thoughts can be like a thief that robs me of being truly “in the moment” by wondering what is to come. It can be hard to be at peace with anyone else when you are not at peace with yourself. That’s what makes being in the word so valuable.   I’m reminded, we need to turn to our Father who provides all the peace we need. That God is with us all the time and I need to stop trying to do things my way.  Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

As we continue to read through James we are reminded to simply ask. Call on Him at any and all times. In addition, when we pray we are to pray with the right motives.  James 4:3 We pray with faith and according to God’s will not ours.  This will detangle the internal mess that can leave you walking through our day with this internal struggle.  Here are a couple complimenting verses that God’s living word provides for us to pray through.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1John 5:14).

But when we ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).

It’s easy to get caught up in everything going on day by day, minute by minute. My prayer is that we not let our external worldly desires distract our internal mind and heart knowing that God has an eternal place waiting for us.  Be encouraged and don’t rob yourself of who we belong to. Steal back the moments God desires us to enjoy. James reminds us that the time is now to let go of these worries and fears.

“Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”    (James 4:14).

Today as I read one of daily devotionals Jesus Calling had this perfect reminder.

Trust Me in the midst of a messy day. Your inner calm- your Peace in My Presence- need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity. When you start feeling stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you. Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My Peace.

Seek God’s Face, and He will share His mind with you, open your eyes to see things from His perspective. The peace I give is sufficient for you.  

Dear God,

Thank you for all our writers and readers. We celebrate and praise your living word and understand how your words breathe through us. Please continue to encourage us to look to you at all times and not fall into the half-minded living of the world. You call us son and daughter, salt and light.  Help us to trust your word always and share this good news with everyone. God we ask you to help us break the chains of  inner struggles and help us to know we can walk in victory with you always. Amen


Jesus Calling August 26th ~ Sarah Young

David Jeremiah Study Bible

The Village Church App August 2017 ~ Marked by Matt Chandler

Logos Bible ~ James 4



Colossians 2

Last night, I was cleaning out some old books and journals, and I came across a prayer journal that I had purchased but never really used. I had thought it would “work” for me – I even filled out a few pages – but it just didn’t. Nonetheless, I saved it, thinking that of course I would use it “someday”. Well, someday came and went, and I haven’t used it. But as I flipped through the pages last evening, I noticed a section I had missed before. For each month, the author had put together a list of daily prayer points. And for one month, the list was based on the book of Colossians. The list is titled “Seeing the Lord: Personal Prayers From Colossians”.* Several of the prayers are based on Colossians 2, our text for today.

I read through those prayers quietly, and I remembered all over again why Colossians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I love how the Lord led me to hose prayers last night, as He knew that I would be writing this devotion today. The prayer that resonated with me the most on this list is based on Colossians 2:7. The prayer reads, “Cause me to be firmly established in You, with a heart of gratitude.” This seems to be a central verse in this chapter. Paul begins by stating that he desperately desires that the followers of Christ would be strengthened in their faith. He says “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you…” (Colossians 2:1). Paul continues, explaining why he wants their faith to be strong. He knows that when our faith is strong, our “hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love” with the “full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” (Colossians 2:2-3) With the strengthening of faith comes encouragement, love, understanding and knowledge. What an amazing gift!

Paul also knows that our strengthened faith enables us to stand firm when we are faced with the temptations of the world. Clearly, worldly temptations existed when Paul lived, just as they do today, and Paul knew how difficult it can be to discern truth from falsehood. Paul says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) When our faith is rooted firmly in Christ, we can discern God’s voice from among the other voices clamoring for our attention. When we are strong in our faith, we can stand strong in our world. We will stand firm for what Christ stands for.

My prayer for us this week is this: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

May we be both rooted and thankful today.

* “Personal Prayers From Colossians” by Terry Gooding

Keep Watch

Today’s Reading: Mark 13

I found myself on the interstate last week during a heavy snow.  The danger was clear.  Drive too fast and you will careen out of control into the ditch, or worse.  I witnessed it happening all around me.  I also understood that my own efforts were not enough to control the risk.  Other drivers pose a threat to me.  Extra vigilance is required.  My focus intensifies.  This intense focus is true in the broader picture of our lives too.  Here are a few things that we regularly keep watch on:

·      Finances ·      Children
·      Leaky basements ·      Maintenance schedules
·      Fuel levels in our gas tank ·      Calendars

By watching these things in the present, we minimize the future cost.  The risk, of course, is when we fail to keep watch, or as Jesus says, we “fall asleep” (Mark 13:36).  What do you have difficulty keeping watch on?  How are you most likely to be found “asleep?”   Additionally, remember that others around us can amplify the risk.  As a culture, what is America not paying attention to?

·      Sobriety ·      Pornography
·      Idolatry ·      Selfish Ambition
·      Media –  Internet, TV, music ·      Community
·      Personal responsibility ·      Demystifying God

To be honest, I wrote a few things there that I did not want to.  Take sobriety, for instance.  When I hear that word, my mind races to an image of an unfit father who neglects his responsibilities.  This picture allows me to quickly dismiss it as, “not me.”  Look closer.  Consider how well do you “keep watch” after one glass of wine.  How about two?  Three?

Pornography is another issue that I would rather not address. But, I read a startling statistic this week that is worth sharing.  It says that 70% of all 18 to 34 year-olds are regular viewers of pornography.  And, on average, they started viewing it at age 11.  Do you hear danger?  I do.  James Emery White explains the consequences in this blog post.  It’s worth reading.  As I look around, however, I can’t say that it’s surprising.  Sexual images and viewing invitations are everywhere.  I am fully desensitized.  As Jesus puts it (Luke 22:46), I am sleeping!

Before you start losing hope, let’s look back at the promises of God.  He gives us the equipment we need to keep watch both offensively and defensively. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10.  It tells us to build a defense with “the breastplate of righteousness.”  This defense looks like integrity, holiness, and purity.  Where do they come from?

·       Prayer Matthew 26:41 tells us to watch and pray
·       Submission Hebrews 13:17 explains that our leaders are watching over us too. We should, therefore, listen to them
·       Community Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be in prayer for all believers, everywhere.  We are in this together!

I have a harder time summarizing Our offensive posture, so I am going to rely on N.T. Wright.  In his book After You Believehe describes how we must, as Christ-followers, make the hard decisions and take the hard actions that run counter to our flesh.  These are our offense.  Through them, we “develop, in the present, the character which will truly anticipate the life of the coming age.  …. Sooner or later, preferable sooner, each individual Christian must make the key choices to “put on” the things which genuinely anticipate, in the present the life we are promised in the future, the life we have already been given in Christ.  And, having made those key choices, each Christian must acquire the habit of making them over and over again.”

As you can see, keeping watch isn’t hard.  Keeping watch on the most important things – the things that affect our souls – requires focus and intensity.  My prayer today is that something here shines a bright light in your eyes causing you to awaken from your sleep.  I also pray that the darkness will forever be gone, replaced with the eternal light of love, made available to all of us through Jesus Christ.


Looking for Jesus

I try very hard to look for Jesus in the midst of my daily life. Yet, I often struggle with looking for Him in the wrong places, sometimes even with the best intent and a good heart. Too often, I make finding Jesus much too complicated. Can you relate?

Our culture is one that idolizes other people quickly and easily. Entire magazines, shows and blogs are dedicated to the lives of people considered worthy of our attention. We look to people and products for a little “high” of excitement, for fulfillment, and even for guidance. We quickly jump around from thing to thing, and the next big thing seems to always be calling our names just as soon as we get what we wanted a minute ago.

Even as Christians, it’s quite easy to fall into this cycle and look to other believers we admire, sermons or podcasts, or well-known Chrisitan authors to provide us the amount of Jesus we need in our day to day life. While these things can be helpful and inspire us to grow, they do not come close to simply experiencing Jesus Himself.

Maybe we need a little wake-up call. Thankfully, in Matthew 11, we see some other early believers needed one, too. For a long time, this group of people had been looking to one man for their teaching, for their spiritual growth, and for gaining wisdom. This one man was John the Baptist. Yet, even John himself knew that he was not to be the be all end all of their spiritual walks. John knew that his role was to simply prepare their hearts for the One who was coming. Despite warning his followers that he was not the one who could truly fulfill their hearts, the people still gravitated toward what was right in front of them. Even when the Messiah Himself began His ministry by speaking to crowds, the people who had grown used to following John had to realize something: What their hearts really were longing for had finally come. Fulfillment Himself was there, just waiting for them.

Perhaps this week you, like me, need to shift your focus directly to Jesus Himself. We are incredibly blessed to live in a culture where we can readily find Him in Christian books, on our favorite Pandora music stations, in online sermons, and we can always learn from the lives and examples of other believers. Yet, it can be easy to exhaust ourselves by trying to feel Him and find Him in these sorts of places and forget that He’s already revealed Himself to us.

Just as in Matthew 11, Jesus was waiting for John’s followers to realize who He was and simply turn to Him, maybe today, Jesus is waiting for you to stop trying to find Him in things and simply seek Him alone.

The fact that verses 29-30 are at the end of Matthew 11 is not a coincidence, and I love that. Finding Jesus does not have to be some complicated game or an exhausting process. Today, I encourage you to just look to Jesus and remember that He alone is what can fulfill your heart. He’s already there, waiting for you.