Measure of Stature

This last week, I read day thirty-three of our On Purpose study, and the phrase “measure of stature” from Ephesians 4:12-16 was unpacked. It made me go to my basement, where we have our three children’s marks on the wall to measure their height the last few years.  It is truly a blessing and excellent to see your kids grow in front of your eyes. (Always way too fast.)  

Ephesians 4:12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

The connection between Day 33 and our reading for today in Romans 5-7 is that Paul reminds us how we are saved from our sinful nature. Paul goes on to remind us of how we should live once we have been saved. Now for me, that divine transaction occurred back in May of 2014.  The physical showing of surrendering my will for His.  I wish I could say that from that point forward, I was submitting to Him daily. I have had mountain top experiences and many valleys.  The reminder for me in today’s readings is that this transformation does not equal perfection.  Our transformation is a lifelong process until He decides the day He will bring me to my eternal home.  

 I had a recent conversation with a colleague about our physical life: she recently went to the Dr where they said she had a heart problem.  We talked about the shortness of life and God’s timing/purpose for everything. While this conversation was sad, it helped me remember the importance of how we live every day. 

I know and understand that more important than their physical growth is their spiritual growth. For myself, I know that my spiritual growth will have an impact on others as well. Paul embarks on an excellent discussion of the doctrine of salvation by grace through the work of Jesus. 

Romans 5:10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

It is exciting to see my kids when they stand against that wall.  Making a mark and showing them where they were and where they are today is incredible. How much more awesome will it be as we grow daily closer to God?   What if I stood against that wall and measured my spiritual growth? Where would I be? Have I grown? Like I tell my children what it takes to grow physically, do I equally or more stress the importance of consuming what it takes to grow spiritually? 

I know my recent measures are not where they need to be. Where would a measure look like for you today?  I can make excuses about things that can get in the way, or I can grow closer to Him each day. 

Romas 6: 1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Mars Hill

Athens was a city that was spiritually lost.  As I read about the city of Athens and the Athenian council called Areopagus, I read how, at this time that Paul was on a second missionary journey where there were around 10,000 people.  The hard part to believe was there were twice as many idols as there were people.

16 While Paul was waiting in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:16-18)

Paul is amazing.  He is brave. He saw the situation he was surrounded by and took action.  Paul inspires me to want to draw closer to God.  In our world that have idols surrounding us always.  I’m convicted and repent for the times I take my eyes off God and focus on the idols of the world.

The Lord was able to show Saul what a genuine relationship is with the only true God we have.  Paul did not hold back the truth.  There are moments when we need this ourselves.  Often we need, even though it is not always warm and fuzzy, to have accountability partners.  After Saul, who was living life for himself, became Paul, who then lived his life for Christ, he understood God’s purpose for his life.

Eternal life will not be measured by the length of time; the quality will measure it. Paul saw a need and said something. I’m sure there were mixed reviews.  Some kept following idols.  Some found eternal life that day.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:24-25)

I pray that we will all draw closer to the Lord this week.  That we will grow in our love and knowledge of Him so that when we are standing on the hill, we can share the gift of eternal life.  We can set aside the idols of the world and look to the one who is standing by our side always.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 This is what the Lord says: ”

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Live eternally today.

 

You are not Alone

This past weekend I was able to attend a funeral for the mother of my youngest sister Dakota.  This celebration of life for Sue was in the hills of Avoca, New York, near the same place where my father, Ronald LaFrance, was buried many years ago. At the service, the pastor referenced Psalm 89 that reminds us how short our lives are.  He also connected Psalm 23 and the comfort we can find in the loss of a loved one.  In the less than 48 hours I had with family, we literally and figuratively experienced mountaintop and valley moments.  Conversations included physical and spiritual loss.  On the other side of these conversations, we experienced moments of hope and trust in the hope in the Lord. Special prayers for the family of Sue Johndro.

Today’s Reading of Acts 1 and 2 made me think of these conversations in addition to the On Purpose study we are focusing on at Eastview Christian Church. The Apostle Luke writes the book of Acts.

Acts 1:1-2 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

I was once asked what my ministry was? I’ve reflected on this question often.  The conclusion I come back to is to finish the work God has called us to.  The book of Acts reminds us that Jesus began this work, and through giving us the Holy Spirit, we get to finish it.  Sharing the hope we have in the Lord is living On Purpose.  Jesus has given us everything we need to do this.

These connections the Holy Spirit helped me to see this last weekend pointed back to the following;

  • Evaluate my time. How am I spending it? 1 Peter 1:17
  • The time we have is short. Psalm 89:47
  • Maximize the use of our time.  Ephesians 5:15-16
  • We don’t know when He is coming back. Luke 13:32

Live life On Purpose every day. Finish what the Lord began. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide our days. Our life testimonies share what we have seen, heard, and felt. Go to the ends of the earth and share today. 1 John 1:1

Thank you to my family and brother in Christ Chet who made this visit possible!

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Click here to start or continue your journey on purpose.

Psalm 23  – People & Songs

Buckets or Fountains

Today’s Reading: John 7

John 7 is another glorious invitation that Jesus provides to the people. There was probably not a single day that went by where Jesus didn’t invite people to salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.  If you go back to John 4, He invites the woman at the well.   “ The water that I give you is eternal or living water. Drink of this water, and you will never thirst again.”  Chapter 6 Lynden talked about the “bread of life.” 

As I read about the importance of small things from Lynden yesterday, I love how he highlighted the importance of bread.  Today we are going to talk about the simplicity and necessity of water.   Did you know that over 60% of your body is water?  That over 70% of your brain and heart is made up of water.  As adults, it is recommended that we drink 2.7 – 3.7 liters of water daily.  How much are you drinking? 

 

John 7: 37-39 reads, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’  

Are you thirsty? Have you ever been dehydrated? Research shows how madness can set in when you have not had water after some time.  I connect this with not having Jesus in our lives as not having water.  Think of where you might be?

Three verbs stick out in this invite.  When you think about evangelism, it makes sense.  

  • Thirst – Recognizing your condition.  Realizing that you are apart from God, you will always want something to drink. 
  • Come – trust in Him, abandon sin and turn towards God. 
  • Drink – live with Him each day. Surrender daily. 

The last awesome part that convicts me in this scripture is the last line that reminds us that from our innermost being will flow rivers of living water. 

This is where my picture connects.  There are many days that I’m just like the bucket taking it all in and just sitting there—just getting my fill.  Jesus wants us to be a river sharing the living water with others just like He did every day.  

Who will you share with the Living Water with today? 

Have a blessed day!

 

Pride vs Humility

Pride. I can sometimes have a problem with pride. My pride can get in the way in many/all areas of my life. For example, my kids are not doing what I exactly want them to do and how I want to do it. Another one could be a conversation with my beautiful bride doesn’t go how I imagined it and according to all my standards.  At work, when something doesn’t go the way I had planned it. Or a response by a group of people that wasn’t the same kind of response I wouldn’t have had can leave me close-minded. All these situations can make my blood rises, my temper gets shorter, and words or actions come after faster than I wish. 

My pride can get in the way, and this predominant force can lead to sin. 

Anger, rudeness, shortness, yelling sarcasm can all fall into this category. Do you have any pride issues? In today’s reading of Luke 17, three verses focus on humility. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and His disciples. Pride can impact us all! 

“Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen!”

  1. Refrain from offending others. Verse 1

“So watch what you do! “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

2. Be ready to forgive

 

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith greater.”

3. Recognize your weaknesses. 

Jesus calls for total humiliation. Here are a couple of additional verses that can increase our faith. Help me with complete surrender—humble my prideful self. 

“Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭

“He has no use for conceited people but shows favor to those who are humble.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:34‬ ‭

“In the same way, you younger people must submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭

“But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭

“No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.” ‭‭Micah‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭

Proverbs 6 is very clear. 

“There are six or seven kinds of people the Lord doesn’t like: Those who are too proud or tell lies or murder,” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:16-17‬ 

Father, thank you for Your truth. I have a problem, and my only answer is total surrender to you. Search my heart and help me to humble myself to my selfish desires. Amen

Going Fishing

I need Jesus. If I’m sincere, I need him a lot more than the amount of time I spend with Him now. I can’t quite figure out which one of the many human flaws keeps me from this daily surrender? ( Romans 3:23)  I’m grateful for His living word that can pierce my heart and draw me home. Hebrews 4:12

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

Verse 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Why did Simon say this? In reading comments on this verse, it shares how Jesus had spoken previously to Simon and Andrew. (John 1:40-42) They had heard and met Jesus previously but were too distracted by their business of fishing. ( I recall scenes of this in the series The Chosen- I would recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet) For myself, I connect with the start of school and getting everything ready. I think about worldly distractions that can come when you have young kids involved in various activities and two working parents in education—distracted by the world, distracted by focusing only on our jobs. Simon and had forgotten about the miracles that Jesus had performed. Still, Jesus pursued them and got their complete attention by filing their nets.

Have you been distracted lately? Have you forgotten the miracles Jesus has already performed in your life? I have at times. Thankfully, Jesus never stops pursuing us.

Verse 10-11 Then Jesus said to Simon, “ Don’t be afraid; from now on, you will fish for people”. 11 So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed Him.

The journey we all take closer to Him is incredible. Luke 5 reminded me of His miracles in my life and my lack of focus at times when the call of the world distracts me. Lord, I’m so grateful for every blessing you have provided in our lives. Let these miracles draw us closer to you. Thank you, Lord, for always pursuing me and helping me to become a fisher of others.

What’s your Yeast?

Daily prayer is for obedience.  We keep an index card with Romans 12:2 written on it from a small group activity years ago.  The world has so much to offer.  An achievement-focused lifestyle can pridefully lift you to where you feel like nothing else matters.  In this breath of life until you realize our eternity.

Today’s Reading: Mark 8 (verse 15 & 34-37)

15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

The world can infect and change your heart and mind.  The same pridefulness that the Pharisees and Herod held can be seen in our world today.  So I ask myself, do I provide lip service and merely admiring the truth?  Or am I singing praises and obeying the truth?  Pastor Charlie Welke rechallenged me this weekend as he talked about our “Domesticated Faith.”  I reflected on the finite nature of our world and the infinite power of God.  Am I allowing any yeast of the world to enter into my life? I prayerfully ask the Lord to search my heart, see if there is any offensive way, and lead me. Psalm 139:23-24

Author MaryLu Tyndall writes about the World system vs. God’s Truth.

The world says it’s all about you. God says it’s all about Him. 

The world says elevate yourself. God says to put others ahead of yourself. 

The world says grab as much power as you can. God says to be a servant. 

The world says to eat, drink, and be merry, for this is all there is. God says you are an eternal being, so be wise with your time. 

The world says the ends justify the means. God says the means will be judged in the end. 

The world says outward beauty is everything. God says those with inner beauty will shine at the end. 

The world says gather as many things as you can. God says only your treasure in Heaven will last. 

The world says truth is relative. God says I am the truth. 

The world says to be tolerant.  God says to call evil, evil. 

The world says it’s all about personal happiness. God says it’s all about personal sacrifice. 

The world says death is the end. God says death is only the beginning. 

 

Just as Jesus will warn us what to stay away from, he points us to the truth.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

God Bless your day!

 

You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

Enter His Gate

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. 

As we read Matthew 6-7 for today, I pray you will pause and see where God wants you to reflect and seek what God wants you to make clear to you on your journey closer to Him.  Jesus provides so much wisdom in these chapters that leave me thinking and praying for continued transformation.  Topics in these chapters include:

  • Giving
  • Prayer
  • Treasures
  • Worrying
  • Judging

These topics are all sections in my Bible underlined, highlighted, and have notes in the margins.  In prayer for open eyes and ears for today, I landed on a few verses that, for some reason, there was nothing.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

In the middle of one of the storms we had recently, it took my wife forty-five minutes to make a five drive.  As Jennifer drove back and forth, she ran into roadblocks and flooded streets that lead to some tears and fear.  Eventually, they made it home safely down a side street that led to home.  (prayers for everyone impacted by these recent storms)

What road or path are you on?  There are times when  I think I’m going in the direction, and I need to stop.  It seemed safe, and it wasn’t.  I follow the crowd and realize I’ve gone the wrong way.  God has a path laid out for you.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 
  • The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way. Psalm 37:23 

The road seemed wide and perfect, but it led to a dead-end, just like Jennifer the other day.  God provides the perfect directions. The road that leads directly to Him.  Will you seek His path today? This world offers a path that can lead you in many directions.  Our Lord offers us one way.  I pray we are all seeking the narrow road that leads to Him.

Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Picture Source: St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church

A Psalm of Instruction

Today’s Reading: Psalm 142

When I was a child, I used to run from our neighbors, the Anderson’s to my house.  It was in the country, and you had to pass by some woods and often a cornfield before you made it home. ( I once snuck downstairs and watched a part of a movie my older brothers were watching, Children of the Corn, bad idea…) I would literally run full sprint for 3/4 of a mile screaming for our dog to meet me halfway. In addition to pure fear, I felt alone and afraid.  As a boy, I would often feel alone as I hung out with friends who seemed to have their home life together as I witnessed our household fall apart. Even as an adult, I can speak of a time where I was afraid, alone, and a little insecure about what the future would hold.

We can all feel loneliness at times. David was feeling this way as he stayed in a cave hiding from Saul.  I think there is a difference between being alone and loneliness.  Alone can be more of a physical state of being, where loneliness can occur even when you have others around.  Have you ever felt this way? Deserted, depressed, defeated? David shares some instructions here on what he did to work on healing.

  • Cry aloud to God. Let Him know how you are feeling.  I’ve realized through the years I can’t fake it all the time and pretend everything is all good.  I’ve also realized the answers I’m looking for don’t come from any of my ideas.  They are all His.  He is the One who knows us best.  (Verse 1-2)
  • Remember that He is watching over us! The noise of the world can muffle the Lord’s voice.  Everything wants our time and attention. The world can give out a beating on your emotional state and leave you struggling.  (Verse 3)
  • Allow Him to be your Refuge. David was being fearful, abandoned, and feeling like he had lost everything. Still, God is above it all and
  • Remember – Problems will fade in His Presence. God will show us his Goodness just like he showed David.  (verse 7)

Are you dealing with feeling alone? Depressed? Feeling imprisoned by your surroundings?

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.

Take a moment to refocus on Him.  Take the cares, worries, and problems and turn them over to Him. Heavenly Father, help us turn to you when our emotions get the best of us, when we feel alone, afraid, imprisoned, or scared.  You will grant us comfort.  Please help us to trust in your plans for our lives.

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.”

Have a blessed day!