Who’s the Boss of You?

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.” 1 Peter 3:15a (NLT)

 All of us have systems of leadership that we have placed ourselves under in some form or fashion. We live under systems of government that have laws and rules for everything from taxes we must pay to when we can and cannot water our lawns. We work for employers who have rules and expectations for what time to be at work, what constitutes productivity, and what clothes you can or cannot wear. We engage in recreational games with rules for who is declared winner and what you can or cannot do in the course of playing the game.

The truth is that in the midst of all these systems of leadership, most people are most interested in themselves. In an effort to make ourselves comfortable, profitable, and entertained we will bend, break and manipulate laws, rules and expectations. Though we want the citizenship, paycheck, or trophy… deep down inside of us there is something that cries out, “Nobody is going to be the complete boss of me!”

Today’s passage lets us know that this way of thinking will not work when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we understand and submit to Jesus being the Lord of our lives, this means He is the boss over every aspect of our lives. It means Jesus knows and we know that unless His agenda is taken on in our lives, our lives will be incomplete and unfulfilled. When we are embracing and pursuing the Lordship of Jesus, He is free to lead us to incredible things. While Jesus came to give us eternal life, He also came to give us life abundant as we live out His purposes in this world.

In this devotional moment, are you worshipping Christ as Lord of your life? When is the last time you told the Lord you want Him to be the boss of every part of you… every action, every word, every attitude, every decision? This Sunday, as you go to church, will you go with a desire for the Lord Jesus to lead you to a next step, or will you go out of duty and ritual? Talk to the Lord about ways your agenda has taken over His, and submit to His Lordship in these areas.

Predictable vs. Expectant Worship

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.”Matthew 26:17-19 (NIV)

But God, that’s not the way we have always done it!

The Passover was a God established tradition of celebrating the last of the plagues that God used to free the Israelites from Pharaoh during the days of Moses. A special meal was served, each part a reminder of the story of God’s power to deliver his people. The meal was shared with family, but since Jesus and his disciples were traveling without their families, they shared this special meal together.

The story, meal and the eating of it were scripted. There were specific things to be eaten and specific things to be said at specific times. Each of these men had probably been through the routine dozens of times. Jesus was about to take something that was a time honored tradition, which God established hundreds of years before and turn it into a new tradition. The Passover reminded them that God spared his people from physical death through a lamb. This new “Lord’s Supper” would remind them that God spared his people from spiritual death through the Lamb of God.

There is much about what we do in church that is “predictable” in that we have done it pretty much the same way for a long time. God has used all these things we do to reveal Himself and change lives, so we are at peace with doing them. While familiarity in this case might not breed contempt, it very often breeds a spirit that is not expectant. 

What are your expectations for worship, whether corporate worship with the church or private worship, just you and God? Is it predictable or do you expect that God is going to do something incredible? Do you need to ask God to forgive you for treating worship so predictably and not expectantly? 

The Primary Objective

“We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.”Romans 15:1b-2 (NLT)

What is the primary objective of the church? Though it could be stated in many different ways, in a nutshell, the primary objective of the church is to accomplish the will of God. We know that generally speaking that means we will worship, fellowship, disciple, minster, and tell others about Jesus.

Unfortunately, many of us act like the primary objective of the church is to accomplish our own personal will. We each have ideas about the who, what, when, where and why of things going on at church, and when what is going on fails to match up to our ideas it is not uncommon for us to quit coming, quit giving and quit serving in the body of Christ. 

What if you woke up next Sunday morning and there was a note on your pillow from God. In that note he told you that this coming Sunday there would be a special and specific way He was going to use you to bless the life of someone at church today. Since you didn’t know the details of what was going to happen, you would probably be very in tune with God and very in tune with people. You would not want to miss whatever it was God wanted to do through you. You would be much more in tune with God and others and much less worried about yourself.

That is the attitude we ought to carry every Sunday with us to church.

Ask God to help you identify ways you are more interested in pleasing yourself at church, than you are pleasing Him and helping or building up others. As He does, ask Him to forgive you for making church about you and to empower you to make your main objective each Sunday to please Him and serve others.

What Christ Has Done

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.”Philippians 3:7 (NLT)

When we embrace a proper perspective of Jesus Christ, things change.

Everyone has a past. We all started somewhere and grew up somewhere. We all were a part of people groups that influenced our decision making including our families and friends. We all lived through the consequences of decisions and choices that we made and that were made for us by others.

At any point in our past there were things that became important to us. It may have been ideals, possessions, or people that we were so important that we felt we didn’t want to live apart from them.

When Christ intersects a life, He does it just as we are. Christ reveals Himself to us in the midst of all the ideals, possessions and people we think are so valuable, even though many of those things are contrary to all that He stands for. As we come to know Him and embrace what we know, our value systems change. The more we come to know Him and embrace those things, we continue to change. This know…embrace…change process is one that is at work in us all the days of our earthly lives.

Dawson McAlister used to say, “No change, no Jesus. No Jesus, no change.”

How have you changed in your life’s journey? How recent is your changing? Is the change in the direction of the things of Christ, or away from Him? Celebrate your journey with the Lord today. Thank Him for the changes He has made in you so far and pray for the courage to know Him more and embrace Him more so that you will continue in His life changing process.

One Step at a Time

“Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.”Proverbs 12:14 (NLT)

If you have ever had a problem that really was getting the best of you in some way, you probably were desperate enough to go ask someone for help. Many times when we ask for help, we are hoping that the person can tell us the one “magical” thing to do that will solve our problem completely. Unfortunately that rarely happens. Usually, a good friend or counselor will help us see the big picture and then will help us see the several steps that it takes to solve the problem if we are willing to work at it. The bigger the problem, the longer and harder the work is usually.

Work brings rewards whenever we are willing to do it. Whether it is school work, working on a relationship, or the job we may have, working hard at it will have some great payoffs. We can get discouraged with work when we only focus on one part of the payoff and we don’t see progress in that area. For example, we might work hard at our job and are discouraged because we didn’t get a raise or the raise in wages we were hoping for. But we might fail to see the rewards that have come in other areas such as the greater appreciation that our co-workers have for us and the increasing competencies we have for performing our jobs now.

Joseph, from the Old Testament, found that hard work brings rewards. His resume was a mess:

  • began as slave
  •  worked up to #1 position in Potiphar’s household
  •  fired and imprisoned
  •  worked up to #1 position in prison
  •  became #2 in power over all Egypt

Joseph didn’t know where he would end up, but he did now that if he was a hard worker and honored God wherever he was, God would take care of the rest.

How about you? How’s your attitude about the work you are having to do at school, at a job, or on a relationship? Are you working hard, or are you living for the moment and pouting about what you don’t have? Talk to God and thank Him for wherever you are today. Ask Him to help you work hard and trust that He has an amazing plan for your future and amazing ways that He may want to pull it off.

Immeasurably More

“But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.”Luke 24:1-3 (NLT)

On the Sunday after Jesus death, some women who loved Jesus very much wanted to take spices to the tomb, much like someone today would take flowers to the grave of someone they loved. They planned, prepared and were ready to do something to honor Jesus.

And then they were surprised!  Though Jesus had told them it was coming, they somehow never embraced the idea that Jesus would not stay dead. They came to the tomb, found it empty of Jesus body but occupied by two angels who reminded them what Jesus had said. What they had prepared to do for the Lord was changed as they exchanged their expectations for God’s reality.

You and I can be just like these ladies. We can know that Jesus is still in the business of changing lives, healing the sick, comforting the brokenhearted, providing for the poor, and doing that which is immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine… yet we can walk through life really not expecting it to happen. 

While God is sovereign and it is His will that determines the who, what, when, where and why of the “immeasurably more,” it is important for us as his children to be expecting it and recognizing it when it happens. Just as the women took what they saw and reported it to others, God wants us to recognize and report His “immeasurably more” activity to those around us. When we are faithful to do this, we help them to see that God is a God who is alive, available, and interested in a dynamic relationship with all people.

Talk to the Lord about these things. Have you been lulled to sleep in your expectations of what God might do today in your life, in your relationships, in your church or in your world?  When God does do something amazing are you ready to interpret it for folks so they might recognize that it is God at work? Let the Lord know you still believe He can do amazing things and that you want to be someone who sees them and interprets them for folks around you so they might be led to experience the living, life changing Christ Jesus.

Show Your Appreciation

When David saw that the LORD had answered his prayer, he offered sacrifices there at Araunah’s threshing floor.”1 Chronicles 21:28 (NLT)

King David had committed a sin that resulted in terrible consequences for the nation. In an effort to stop the punishment, he offered God a sacrifice and called out to God. God honored the sacrifice and prayers by calling for the punishment to cease. In response to answered prayer, David worshipped God.

David teaches us a great lesson that many of us forget about prayer. While it is important to run to God for help in time of need, it is also important to express our appreciation to God for the ways in which He answers our prayers. 

Jesus experienced this when one day He healed 10 people, who all ran off excited about their healing… all except one person who came back to show his appreciation.

How has God answered prayers for you lately? Did you take time to express your appreciation for those answers? It’s not too late to say thanks!  Remember the admonition found in Colossians:

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Celebrate the Journey

“The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.”Job 17:9 (NLT)

Living life “in Christ” is a journey, not a destination.

Here are some thoughts about this journey from today’s passage…

  •  This journey is a righteous one, not because of our ability to choose right but because of Christ’s ability to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
  • This journey is always beyond any place that we currently find ourselves. The journey is one where we can celebrate our newest moment in Christ, yet always know that our greatest moment is still ahead and we will only see it if we keep moving forward.
  • There is a journey that gets harder and harder because what we choose to carry is not conducive to the destination. As the writer of Hebrews put it: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

If we are willing to move forward with clean and unencumbered hands, we will find ourselves getting stronger and stronger in the journey the Lord is calling us to.

Spend some time with the Lord evaluating your current place in the journey. Have you started, or are you still thinking about it? Have you come to a standstill, trying to recreate a moment from the past that has grown cold? Are you trying to make the journey with the extra baggage of sin or spiritual hindrances? If you find yourself in any of these places, recommit yourself to the journey and move forward. Confess areas that need to be cleaned and ask God for the strength to start moving again.

Celebrate today where Jesus has brought you this far in the journey, and declare to Him your expectancy for the steps of the journey that are to come!

Your Part

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT)

The church is a God ordained group of believers in Jesus who are called to come together for worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. 

Several times in scripture, God points out that a church is very much like a human body. The human body is made up of many unique yet integrated parts. When one part becomes dysfunctionally inactive or overactive, other parts of the body can suffer greatly. Physical health is when all the body parts are functioning in their intended way.

The church, too, is made up of many unique, yet integrated parts. Church health happens when people willingly take their place in the body and each person begins to function in his or her intended way. God has called you to be a part of a local church, and He has amazing things He wants to do through that body of believers. If you fail to show up or show up infrequently, your church will suffer. If you fail to discover your place of service in the body, or you discover it but are not willing to serve, your church will suffer. 

Take some time to really think about your church and the part that God has called you to play in it. Are you frequent? Are you faithful? Are you appreciative of others in the church and the roles they play that are very different from your role? Remember, there is a huge difference in attending church and joining a church. Commit to discover and fulfill your God ordained roles in the church, so God can do all the amazing things He desires to do through the church.

Shaped for Ministry

“There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!” So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.” Acts 9:36-39 (NLT)

If the Lord called you to move to another city or even if He called you to heaven today, on what levels would you be missed?

Tabitha was someone who was missed on many levels after she died. We can assume that the people in her home were grieving but as you look at the passage you will see that her church family grieved because of the role she played in the church. She made clothes for widows, and did other kind deeds and helped minister to the poor. Tabitha was a vital part of God’s work and people realized it. I am also sure that those poor people in the community who were used to seeing Tabitha’s smiling, caring face were grieved when they heard the news.

Tabitha had some great talents, gifts and abilities and she used them for the Lord. Her willingness to use these gifts in her church alongside others magnified what she was able to do and the name of the Lord Jesus, the one she was ultimately doing these things for. 

To make a difference like Tabitha, you need to know how you are SHAPEd and you need to be willing to let God have your SHAPE to use for His glory, not to bring glory to yourself.

Talk to the Lord today about your SHAPE…

S- What Spiritual Gifts do you possess?
H- What people do you really have a heart or passion for?
A- What abilities or skills do you have?
P- How does your personality lend itself toward working with others?
E- What experiences have you been through that could help someone?

After honestly talking to God about the answers to these questions, ask God to show you ways in the body of Christ that He could use you to minister to others and when He does, be faithful to serve in those areas of ministry.