Monday, August 31, 2015

The Lukewarm Church


Scripture:
Rev. 3:14   “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:
Rev. 3:15   “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.  16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.  20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.  21 To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  22 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

Observation:

The story of this church in Laodicea may be the most famous of the seven churches. They are warned about being lukewarm and the nauseating idea of this putrid and impure water literally wants to make one vomit. The people of Laodicea knew this water, for it was their water. The River Lycus would dry up in the summer and the water they did receive via aqueducts came from two sources, one very cold and the other boiling hot. The problem was that the distance the water needed to travel resulted in stagnant and unhealthy lukewarm water which could easily make the residents sick. They knew this water all too well and the analogy to their spiritual lives would be all too clear as well.

The people of Laodicea were proud of what they had accomplished. They were the center of finance and banking for their region and were recognized for their wealth. The school of ophthalmology was likewise famous, bringing in students from around the region who learned how to treat eyes and eye conditions. The medications which were mixed in Laodicea were well-known. Finally, the type of sheep raised in the region resulted in a very fine wool which could be used to produce beautiful clothing. Therefore the warning, “You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” No, they didn’t know this was a problem because they were wealthy, beautifully clothed and had their eyes treated in the material world — but that wasn’t enough! They were spiritually blind, poor and naked because they were not trusting in the Lord. They had allowed their faith to cool down to the point of contaminating and making others sick.

Finally we come to the verse which many of us have read and/or heard since our childhood. There is the famous picture of Jesus standing at the door and knocking and we have heard this is Jesus knocking and waiting for us to open the door so he can come in and have a personal relationship with us. But in this context it means something different. Jesus is the master of the home and has simply been out engaged in his mission in the world. When he returns home the servant is to be awake and ready to open the door to allow him to come back in. Only in this case, the servant may have fallen asleep and so the master may need to knock loudly - again and again — simply to get back into his own home!

When the door is opened to the master he promises to come and eat with those inside. The master who goes out about his kingdom business returns home to the church where the family of faith partakes of the wedding supper of the lamb together — when he is present!

The lukewarm church is missing out on all that the master would like to provide.

There is sight for the blind.

There is financial provision.

There is clothing.

And there is the open door — coming and going in the kingdom of ministry — and the celebration around the table at the end of a long day.

Application:


The Warner Sallman painting, “Christ at Heart’s Door” is the image which often comes to mind when we think of Jesus knocking. However, today I have a new image of a church that has grown lukewarm and in which the servants have fallen asleep. The doors of the church are locking out Christ and those inside are sick. The church has no vision for the future, no financial resources and the building itself is falling into disrepair. Behold — Jesus is standing outside knocking.

Dear church — let Christ back in! Open your doors and become engaged in kingdom ministry together with Christ. The church can never survive by going into a protective mode. Instead, the church must allow herself to become vulnerable to the movement of the Holy Spirit in her midst. Only then can the master come and fellowship with his people, the church be truly alive, and the water healthy.

Prayer:

Lord, may we, as your people, open the door to your movement among us. Amen.

Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Open Door


Scripture:
Rev. 3:7    “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
                          These are the words of the holy one, the true one,
                               who has the key of David,
                                     who opens and no one will shut,
                                        who shuts and no one opens:

Rev. 3:8   “I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  9 I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lying—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.  10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.  11 I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.  12 If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.  13 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Observation:

The church in Philadelphia — the city of brotherly love — was praised for her work and ministry. They were living out their name within their community. God had placed before them an open door — an open door which led into the work of the kingdom. Jesus had opened that door to the kingdom and it was one that no one could close. This church had figured out how to walk in and live into that kingdom.

A few years ago I visited Philadelphia and there is very little left of any ancient church in that city. That part of the world has been hit numerous times by earthquakes and so often you find abandoned ruins when finally the people could no longer rebuild. There are just a couple of pillars of old arches which are left standing in that city where the church used to be.

Interestingly the church in Philadelphia, living into the kingdom, is then referred to as a “pillar in the temple of my God.” This church which was built in an area prone to earthquakes was to become a stable pillar in the new Jerusalem. Their faithfulness in walking through the open door and living out their faith in the new kingdom would transform them from an earthly church prone to destruction, to a heavenly church established for all of eternity. Walking through the open door changed everything and in that moment they gave up the temporal and gave all for the eternal.

Application:

This church in Philadelphia gives us hope for not all the churches had lost their first love, nor fallen asleep. Instead here is a church which understood the realities of the open door which stood before them.

The open door stands before all of us. Jesus has accomplished all that needs to be done for the door to be opened. This is the portal into life in the kingdom of God and all are invited into that place. The problem is that too many of us, and even many churches, don’t really want to step into kingdom life. The material world in which we live provides us with a temporal sense of security as we want to be able to see, touch, and smell the things around us. The church in Philadelphia had figured out that those things were temporal. Maybe it was because they had so often lost the material through earthquakes that they could trust in the eternal of the kingdom. But is that what it takes?

Unless the church and God’s people are willing to step over the threshold of the open door and live in the kingdom her works will be temporal. By faith we are challenged to step into kingdom life and daily living. Let the things of this world crumble, but live and minister in the eternal. Only in this way can we join the church of Philadelphia in becoming pillars in the new Jerusalem.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the open door. May I have the faith to walk and live in the new kingdom daily. Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277



Saturday, August 29, 2015

It’s Time To Wake Up


Scripture:

Rev. 3:1   “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

 “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead.  2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God.  3 Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  4 Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.  5 If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels.  6 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Observation:


The church in Sardis had been vibrant and alive but something had happened. Somehow the people had been lulled to sleep by by their wealth and comfort. The city of Sardis had a reputation of being lulled into complacency. Their acropolis was considered unconquerable. So much so that there was an ancient saying about their acropolis that basically meant something was impossible. But at the same time eventually their acropolis was overrun five times, twice by simply not guarding the place because they thought it was impregnable.

This same thought process had evidently infused the minds of the church. They had loved the Lord and been alive and vibrant in their faith but then they began to believe that they had built the best church there could be and nothing could destroy it. They had grown complacent and now, in their ignorance had no comprehension of the dangers which lurked outside while they slept.

The word to the church in Sardis was, “Wake Up!” You might look good on the outside but there is no growth on the inside. Passion for the faith and evangelism had evaporated and even maintenance of that which they had fell behind. There was no outreach beyond their own walls, no service to others and no unity nor love. The church was overcome with sounds of snoring as she napped herself into oblivion.

Application:
One of the things that we enjoy in our tradition is the Sunday afternoon rest — or fondly referred to as, “the Nazarene Nap.” My problem with naps on a Sunday afternoon is that they tend to result in a very deep sleep with crazy, vivid dreams. Sometimes, in my dreams, I have a hard time separating the dream from reality. I am so heavily asleep that I’m not sure whether I’m awake or not. There have also been occasions where I have realized that I am asleep and I am fighting hard to wake up. It feels as if I am in a very deep, dark fog and it takes power and concentration to finally awaken. I want to get back to reality!

The only way the church can wake up from napping is to realize she is actually asleep. The church in Sardis received this news that they were asleep, but whether or not they accepted that news is another story. We don’t know. But what if we are receiving the message today to “wake up?” Would it not be prudent to examine ourselves and determine whether or not we are in our Sunday afternoon semi-comatose state? 

This is the time when God’s people need to be wide awake and alert. We don’t have the luxury of napping. There is too much to do for the kingdom and that means reaching out beyond ourselves and ministering to others.

An awake church is one that touches the community and ministers beyond their own walls. 

An awake church brings the transformational news of Jesus Christ to the people and doesn’t expect the people to come to them. 

An awake church ministers to their own neighborhood in ways that would make the neighbors grieve if they ever left.

Wake up! We are not safe sitting behind our walls, but must be vigilant, awake and in active service to the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord, help me be awake and alert in service to you every day.  Amen.

Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Friday, August 28, 2015

Loving is Doing


Scripture:

Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  5 Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Observation:

The church in Ephesus had been a prime example of the kingdom of God at work in the world. Paul’s missionary work had resulted in a large and thriving ministry in this previously pagan city. Now, there was praise for the Christians of Ephesus but there was also rebuke. They were good people and they were trying to keep the organization together and functioning but this may have been taking too much of their time.

This church is remembered for having “abandoned the love you had at first.” In Ephesus the church had had forgotten her first love.

Of course we think first and foremost that their love and passion for Jesus had cooled. This does seem to happen with those who come to Christ. There seems to be a time of initial passion and exuberance about following Christ which becomes tempered as time goes on. However, I’m not quite sure that is exactly what is being said here. It’s not just about the passion for Christ which seems to be lacking, but the resultant activity in the name of Christ. Love for God is connected with doing “the works you did at first.” Therefore the loss of love was not just love of Christ, but love of others. “When hate for the practices of those who err becomes hatred of those who err, Christians depart from the redeeming love of God in Christ and pervert the faith.” (New Bible Commentary)

The faith had been perverted by a strong church which may have become focused upon self-preservation instead of ministry. Jesus constantly brings us back to love of God and love of neighbor. These were to be the two identifying characteristics in the lives of his people and they should be the characteristics of a healthy church.

The removal of the lampstand would mean that the church would cease to be effective. When a church becomes more concerned with its organizational survival she will abandon her first love and ultimately will cease to be effective. Loving God must result in doing, in actions which become channels of God’s love in the world.

Application:


Love for God and neighbor must characterize our behavior or we, too, will be guilty of having lost our first love. The lampstand will be removed and we will cease to be effective. There can be no ministry, no love for God that does not reach out and love others. This is especially true when it comes to loving those who are not like us.

The church has touted the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” for a long time. Could it be, however, that we have focused on “hate the sin, love the sinner” and in effect, gotten it wrong for a while. Actually, maybe forgetting about the love part because we have been blinded by the sin? This may very well have happened for the church in Ephesus and they were being protective of their church to the point of becoming ineffective.

Forgetting first love is revealed in our behavior. Loving is doing. Love for God will be revealed by our love for others.

Prayer:

Lord, may love for you overflow into my actions on a daily basis.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Morning by Morning


Scripture:
Psalm 143:8     Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,    for in you I put my trust.    Teach me the way I should go,    for to you I lift up my soul.

Observation:

David knew what it was like to suffer through long, dark nights. More than likely he was hiding out from his own son, Absalom and with a father’s broken heart was crying out to God. He was desperate to hear some good news in the morning, possibly awaiting a messenger who could give him an update on the situation. But David was really in a no-win situation with his beloved son, and any earthly news would more than likely be bad news. Therefore David was clinging to the good news he experienced afresh every morning.

God’s steadfast love, always present, fresh every morning was that which would sustain him. When the news from the world was nothing but bad, the good news of the kingdom awaited him every dawn. The anticipation was not for the absence of trouble, but of the presence of God. David’s very heart yearned to soak in the steadfast love of God. Morning by morning, he longed to be in God’s loving presence. He trusted God in the midst of all his difficulties and knew that God would set his feet in the right direction; every day, every morning, longing and trusting.

Application:

It’s a new day — a new morning and I have the joy of watching things come to life around me as I spend time with the Lord. Here on a beautiful tree covered hill the squirrels meander and stir. The students next door begin heading out, one by one, for their day. The lights from the strip mall at the bottom of the hill filter through the trees as the businesses begin to open and very soon the line-up of cars for parents bringing their children to the school at the ends of the street will begin. There is life which is visible morning by morning from my living room window and it’s easy for my mind to become caught up in the things of the day. There is usually a full calendar and hourly reminders of the things that I am to be doing. Some days will bring good news, others — not so good news, but my prayer is that I would join David in my heart’s desire.

Morning by morning, may the longing of my heart be for God. No matter what the day may bring, God remains the same and we can put our hope and trust in him. When we ask him to lead us and teach us where to go, he will be faithful, guiding and directing us! We were created with a need for God, so his presence nourishes us and fills us with sustenance for this day and morning by morning.

Prayer:


Lord, thank you for your presence today.  Amen.

Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Troubles in the Church


Scripture:
3John 9   I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church.

Observation:


The Elder had sent another letter to this church but Diotrephes didn’t think anyone needed to know about it, so it was not read. He didn’t recognize the authority of others, but put himself in the place of leader, making decisions about people and whether they could be a part of the church or not. He was single-handedly destroying the reputation of the church and corrupting others along the way.

Application:

Hilary of Arles writing long ago suggests that there may be a limit to our patience. We are to “bear the abuse of those who insult us” but there are times when “we have to protest it because if we do not do so, these people will corrupt the minds of those who might otherwise have heard something good…” (Hilary of Arles, Introductory Commentary on 3John) We don’t want to hurt this man and we are never to desire to hurt our accusers. Our desire should be that those like Diotrephes would know the salvation of Jesus Christ. We should also be prepared to suffer the fact that there will be those who attack us and we should be willing to endure those attacks for they will make us better people.

Therefore we endure what people do to us personally but there comes a moment when we may need to protest. Bede writes, “Nevertheless there are times when we have to protest, because those who spread evil stories about us may corrupt the minds of innocent people who otherwise would have heard nothing but good about us. This is why John objects to his accuser.” (Bede, ON 3 JOHN)

What’s the solution to the problem? It comes in the next verse. 3John 11   “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” Our responsibility in the midst of trouble, is to do good!

The church suffered under the overbearing leadership of someone who was trying to control everything. Diotrephes was not imitating what was good. God was not seen in him nor in his actions and others were being hurt, therefore something had to be said about this leadership. The reputation of the church and her ability to minister were at stake.

There will be times of trouble in the church and there will be those who will try to use their power of influence to take authority. There is a time and place in which this is tolerated, but then there is also a time for action. When the behaviors of this individual reach beyond you personally and begin to hurt the community, then it’s time to step in and speak up, just as John did here in this letter. But in the meantime, remember that we must be accountable for the way in which we live our lives and we are to live in daily obedience to God, living and imitating the good.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the lessons from those who have gone before.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Walk In Love


Scripture:

2John 5:5 But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another.  6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.

Observation:


The story is not a new one. Christ-followers are to be marked by their love for one another.   This is a gentle reminder about what’s important in life. God’s people are to love one another and then, as if there needed to be a definition John explains himself. Love is when we walk “according to his commandments.” Love is active — it walks!

Application:

Resting in the love of God is how we begin that walk in love. I can’t walk in God’s love if I don’t learn to rest and relax in his love for me. Only when I slow down long enough to experience his love can I walk in and take his love with me in my life.

Next, I am challenged to love fellow Christ-followers. The body of Christ is to be marked by unity and love for one another. Sadly, this is far too often not the case and the world looks upon our disunity and wonders who we are!

Walking in God's love transforms the way in which we view everything. We begin to see people and circumstances through the eyes of Christ. We actively take his love to the places where he wants to go and the world is touched by the love of God.

The gentle reminder to the dear lady is for us. Walk in love today.

Prayer:

Lord, may you empower me so that your love will revealed in and through me.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Monday, August 24, 2015

Taking the Place of God in Your Life


Scripture:

1John 5:21   Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Observation:


John’s entire epistle is a reminder about the one, true God and understanding this in light of Jesus. With great affection he tells his followers, his little children, to keep themselves from idols. He wants them to bear in mind that worship belongs to God alone and that they are to guard themselves “against everything which occupies the place due to God.” (Vincent) Nothing false is to take the place of God in the lives of Jesus’ followers.

Application:

The truth has been made clear to us. We know who Jesus is — and now we are to decide what we will do with that information.

John Wesley encourages us to take this understanding and live a life in which we sink deeply into the love of Christ. We are to desire nothing more than him, nothing more than knowing and living in service to God. Evil is to be avoided as all focus is placed on God in our lives.

It’s a very simple little line. We are God’s dearly loved little children and we are susceptible to distractions. Life comes at us with a powerful ability to turn us back to idols.

Today the stock market will tumble wildly. No one really knows what tomorrow holds. But God is still on the throne. The things of the world are not our idols and nor should they take the place of God in our lives.

Little children — dear friends. The world is rough. Jesus is not. Let God remain God in the midst of all the turmoil. “Keep yourselves from idols.”

Prayer:


Lord, please help me to live faithfully as your child today.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Sunday, August 23, 2015

For Some the Word of God is Foolish


Scripture:


1 John 4:6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Observation:

John and many other followers of Christ had become united with him. Being united with Christ meant that they identified with him and with God. They had become God’s people and were living in him, lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through years of sharing the word John had learned this particular truth. Not everyone was going to listen to what he had to say. Some people would think that his preaching was sheer foolishness. The response of those around him led him to discern a spirit of truth and spirit of error. Jesus, the incarnate word has always challenged us to change our behaviors. We are not supposed to be just like the world and so the call is to live like Christ, in ways which are counter-cultural, and this is the spirit of truth.

Application:


Being a follower of Jesus Christ is becoming less popular these days and maybe that’s a good thing! You see, being a Christian was never supposed to be the popular thing to do, but instead was to be the challenge that would put us at odds with culture. The less popular Christianity might be the greater the challenge to truly be like Christ. No longer is there the option of being a half-hearted Christian. Either you are truly sold out to Christ or not. The world is to look upon Christians as being foolish…but for the sake of Christ.

Now, let me clarify that a moment. This is to be viewed as foolish when it comes to the imitation of Christ who in his love reached out and ministered to the poor, hurting, sinners and tax collectors. There are those who make themselves fools — but not really for Christ’s sake. Somehow they fail to see that Christlikeness is the goal and they will protest and try to argue in ugly ways to a needy and hurting world. No, being a fool for Christ is more about having an attitude of servant leadership and being willing to humble ourselves in service to a needy world than about arguments about faith. It’s giving up the lucrative position to serve others. It’s choosing to give away our funds instead of buying that new car.

We are being called to know God on an intimate level and then live as Christ did in this world. It’s a holiness lifestyle that is all-encompassing, one that screams our testimony because we refuse to buy into the materialism of our world. This is foolish as far as the world is concerned and they have no desire to listen.

Nope, some people just won’t get it. That doesn’t matter. We don’t give up and we keep living in imitation of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Prayer:

Lord, may I be a fool for you.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wrestling With My Brothers


Scripture:


Psa. 118:29        O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever.

Observation:

This is the doxology of the 118th Psalm. The Psalm is one in which we are reminded of the mercy of the LORD. We are to continually give thanks to the LORD. His nature is good and his ongoing love or mercy is extended to us for all of time. Along with the Psalmist this ought to make us rejoice day in and day out. God is good!

Application:

I have three big brothers and I’ve often been asked whether I was spoiled by them. I respond that they did not see fit to spoil me, but rather, to teach me to fight! They enjoyed wrestling and what I used to think was, picking on me. One of my brothers would take my hands and make me slap my own face — thinking this was quite funny. When wrestling (and of course I would be losing) — they would tell me to “ask for mercy.” I’ll be quite honest — I really didn’t know what they were talking about. What was mercy? But eventually I figured it out — it meant that I was ready to admit that my fate was in their hands and I was willing to submit. Now, albeit this was done quite reluctantly, but I learned that I could not win and I needed to ask for mercy.

God’s mercy is not quite this type of mercy, but then again there may be some similarities. We wrestle with God because we want our own way. We fight because we want things to turn out the way that we want them to turn out, even if it can lead to personal harm. Finally crying out for mercy the wrestling stops. It is in this moment that the steadfast love of the LORD can finally consume us and we may realize that life doesn’t have to be a wrestling match.

We are called to submit to the authority of God in our lives and when we finally do we understand the joy of the Psalmist. The mercy of God is extended to us and we experience his steadfast and ongoing love in our lives forever! God wants us to experience his goodness and his love, but at some point we have to cry “mercy.”

Prayer:

Lord, I give you thanks and praise for your steadfast and undying love.  Amen.
 
Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Reality of Jesus


Scripture:

1John 1:1   We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—  2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—  3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Observation:

John was an eye-witness to the life of Jesus Christ. He had survived longer than any other disciple and had watched as the good news of Jesus had spread. The story of Jesus was not some distant message that he had heard, but rather he had experienced living life with Jesus first-hand. He understood that the good news of Jesus was to be transformative in the lives of all those who encountered him, even now, through the written gospel. And yet, the written gospel was to reveal the real Gospel. Jesus was and is real, and our lives are to be a living testimony that can be seen, heard and touched. This is the reality that touches the lives of others and produces great joy in the life of a disciple.

Application:

The reality of Jesus will only be experienced by others when our lives becoming living testimonies to the risen Lord.

I’m afraid that I rarely run into people these days who seem passionate about sharing Jesus with the world around them. There is great interest in personal spirituality but it doesn’t often seem to bring folks to a point of boiling passion for those around them that don’t know Christ. This was not true when it came to John. He loved Jesus dearly, but his love for Jesus drove him to encounters with others in which he presented his experiences with Jesus in a desire for them to know him too. This is what brought John great joy and ought to bring us great joy as well.

Today we will encounter people who may never have heard about Jesus. Only through us will they have the opportunity to see, hear and touch him. The reality of Jesus will be seen in you. Go and be a living expression of the reality of Jesus in the world today.

Prayer:


Lord, may my heart be filled with joy in serving you.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

But What About Them?


Scripture:

21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”  22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”  23 So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Observation:

The conversation of restoration between Jesus and Peter was drawing to a conclusion. Jesus had spoken prophetic words over Peter’s life but suddenly Peter, in stereotypic Peter fashion blurts out, “Lord, what bout him?” There are a number of interpretations of this conversation between Jesus and Peter. The reality is that John was close-by at the time of this conversation. He was the one who had been reclining at the table when Peter had so vehemently stated that he would never deny Christ. From the very beginning John, another fisherman had been part of that close inner circle of Jesus.

Lest we become too harsh with Peter, maybe he was wanting to be inclusive of his friend John. They had been a tight-knit community and maybe he was wanting John to be included in the conversation. Surely Jesus had plans for John too!

Jesus’ response, however, is deeply personal. The conversation with Peter had been personal — “Peter do you love me?” John wasn’t needing to be brought into that conversation for this was about Peter and his denial of Jesus Christ. Peter was to be restored and I’m guessing the discussion had become personal and emotional. Maybe the question about John was a way to move on from what had made Peter uncomfortable. It was the distracting question.

Jesus wouldn’t allow the question to become a distraction to the main point. He was dealing with Peter and he would finish with him. It wasn’t time to worry about John — it was time to worry about Peter. This conversation wasn’t about anyone else — it was about Peter. Jesus wasn’t asking for a communal response this time — it was about Peter alone and his willingness to be obedient.

Application:

We are often tempted to ask the Lord, “But what about them?” And usually it’s in that intimate moment when the Lord is dealing with something in our lives that we want distract him. We don’t need to be asking about anyone else. That’s not our business.

God wants to do business with us and this requires us to be obedient to what he is asking of us. It doesn’t matter what someone else may be called to do in the kingdom. We have to be personally obedient!

When God is working in our lives, give attention and allow God to continue to do this work. Don’t create distractions from God’s intended desire or we will never move on to be formed in Christ’s image.

Don’t worry about what God is doing in the lives of others. Don’t ask, “But what about them?” It’s not our business when God is in the business of working on and forming us.

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to keep my eyes off of others.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.




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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Epilogue


Scripture:

John 20:30   Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Observation:

The gospel had been written and John concluded with this epilogue. Here is the takeaway from this book and it is a connection between faith and life. This book was written to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, and this to lead us into a transformational faith, which provides us with eternal life through the name of Jesus. We are challenged to read and believe!

Application:

I always find epilogues interesting to read. They bring you up to date on the story which you have just read. In this case, the up to date information is confirmation that this gospel record can lead us into a transformed life. The epilogue is possible because by the time this gospel is written down there would be enough testimonies to prove that this is true. In fact, there are too many testimonies, too many stories to tell.

The reality is that the epilogue continues to be written. As we believe in Jesus Christ, our Messiah we are transformed. Our stories are a part of the epilogue. The gospel is not yet finished for that can only come at the end of time. The miracles continue to be performed and lives transformed.

Just this last weekend I was privileged to be in Kenya. After one of the services a young man slipped me note. His note was an epilogue, confirming the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.

I am pleased to relay the message of thanks to God and Nazarenes for the work you are doing. I am a 2 month old Nazarene, saved from the streets of Rengai, life lived by drugs and alcoholism and having no home — but everything is okay now. Jesus has cleansed me out of filth and addiction and so to speak, he is son of God, and he came to save the perishing. My reference is Dr. Cindy North. (She is the chaplain who reached out to this man!)
If you could see this young man, you would be amazed. Never would I have imagined that just two months ago he was on the streets.

You and I are invited into the story. We are to write a paragraph in the epilogue. What will you add? 

Prayer:

Lord, thank you that the story continues.  Amen.



Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.




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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love One Another


Scripture:

9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.  10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:12   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.  15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.  16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Observation:

Over and over again Jesus speaks of love. He commands us to love. We are to abide in love. Love is to be revealed in and through us every single day of our lives so that we will bear fruit. We are to go and bear that fruit, carrying the love of Jesus among ourselves and into the world.

Application:

Jesus’ love is contagious. It reaches out to a very needy world through you and through me. We are to be infused with his love in such a way that it becomes transforming to those with whom we come into contact.

This is God’s mission for the world — his children sharing his love into a needy world.

I often think about the who woman suffered for so many years with the “issue” of blood. In true biblical thinking she should have made Jesus unclean but the result was that his holy love cured her. This is the beauty of the love of Jesus — it pours out and transforms. Jesus calls us into his love so that it can be spread throughout his world.

Think about it today and every day — love one another!!!  Then, take that love out into the places where it is needed the most and let Jesus' love change the world.

Prayer:

Lord, let me love with your love.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Actions Speak Louder Than Words


Scripture:

John 14:15   “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Observation:

Jesus was talking to his disciples and explaining to them that he would be leaving and going to the Father. The Advocate — or the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. Their lives in Christ would be evidenced by their actions, not just their words. The love of God is revealed in Jesus’ love for the Father and that he would send the Holy Spirit to his disciples. The disciples would be empowered to follow the commandments because the love of God would indwell through the Holy Spirit.

Application:

When you love someone, you act like it! My husband has been showing me the most incredible acts of love lately through all that he has done for me. We are in the midst of moving into a house on the campus of the Seminary. We have been living in a small one-bedroom apartment on campus for a year and a half. The window of opportunity to move happened when I had no free time. I’ve been tied up in meetings for the last couple of weeks from early morning until late at night — and yet, my husband has been working hard, moving all by himself to get us settled. He loves me and has been doing more for me than I could have ever imagined — unpacking dishes and setting up furniture and hanging my clothes in the closet. He’s been grocery shopping, and getting the car cared for and going to the bank. Then, when I finally come home he’ll go on a long walk with me and listen and chat as we talk about where God is leading in our lives.

If you truly love Jesus — you’ll keep his commands for this will come out of your heart to please him. John Chrysostom in the 4th century put it his way:

At all times it is works and actions that we need, not a mere show of words. It is easy for anyone to say or promise something, but it is not so easy to act on that word or promise. . . . “If you love me,” Christ said, “keep my commandments.” . . . I have commanded you to love one another and to do to one another as I have done to you. To love me is to obey these commands and to submit to me, your beloved. (Homilies on the Gospel of John 75.1)

If we are not submitting to Jesus today then I would question whether he is truly your beloved! Seek him — get to know him — fall in love with him — and allow his love to transform the way in which you live each and every single day! Then your actions will speak louder than your words.

Prayer:

Lord, may your love be revealed in my actions today.  Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Refusing Medical Treatment


Scripture:

Jer. 8:22     Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?

Observation:


The Israelites were in a terrible state spiritually. They had refused to follow God and his leadings in their lives. Instead they did everything that they wanted and went the way of the world. The result was their destruction and loss of everything that was dear to them.

In his grief Jeremiah expresses his frustration. The people are sick and dying from the sin which has so entangled their lives but there is a cure! Jeremiah knows that the doctor and the healing balm exists to cure their disease. But they are not healed, nor is their health restored, for they refuse all treatment.

Application:

When you or I don’t feel well, we generally go to the doctor. If one of our children might be ill, we try and take care of things right away. We realize the need for prompt and accurate treatment so that there will not be any lingering and/or on-going effects of the illness. If we ignore what’s going on in our physical bodies we will bear the consequences.

The Israelites had ignored their spiritual symptoms for far too long — and we may be as well. We may be refusing the very spiritual treatment that will bring us life and health simply because we don’t want to face the doctor.

Okay — I’ve been there too. I don’t like going to the doctor for one very basic reason — they weigh you! Who wants to go through that :) Or, of course then there are the obligatory screening tests — some of which come annually, some once a decade, but all the same, not pleasant. But if we ignore what is offered to us, we may find ourselves terribly ill and the treatment devastating.

There are some who have wandered far away from the faith and are living with the damaging consequences. Some have been terribly hurt by what they have faced in this world and yet refuse to get help. There is a balm in Gilead — there is a physician who wants to bring healing — but only if we accept the treatment.

Prayer:

Lord, may your healing balm flow to those in need today. Amen.

Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Monday, August 10, 2015

Subject to the Slavery of Human Opinion


Scripture:

42 Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;  43 for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Observation:

People were believing in Jesus Christ but there was immense pressure coming from the authorities. Following Jesus meant the loss of privileges. Pharisees were excommunicated from the synagogue if they dared to proclaim Jesus. Obviously there were those who were trying to follow him in secret, but only in secret, for they feared human opinion. They were far too worried about what others might think and the ramifications for their lives. The result was that they sought the acceptance of others more than the salvation which came from Christ. Chrysostom tells us, “So then, they were not really rulers at all but slaves subject to the utmost slavery [of human opinion]. “
   
Application:

Christians have always been faced with the challenge of being in the world but not of it. There have been times in history when Christianity has been more favored, but the converse is also true. It’s easy to be a Christian when “everyone” is a Christian. It’s easy to be a Christian when Christianity has a favored status within a nation. But what happens when Christianity goes out of vogue? When it becomes radically counter-cultural?

We may discover that we become slaves of human opinion and that’s when we need to take the time to examine ourselves and our motivations. Being a Christ-follower has been a call to a counter-cultural life. Jesus said that we were to take up our cross and follow him! This is not a life that will garner the praise and/or approval of the world. It means that we may be thrown out of the elite inner circles when we expose what it is that we truly believe. However, unless we are willing to confess that we serve Jesus — and that he is our Lord — then we become slaves to human opinion.

To be set free in our spiritual lives we must let go of human opinion and live into Christ. What others think of us will never bring us peace nor eternal life. Therefore let’s shake off what the world or others think of us and stand firm in Christ. Live the life of faith that radically reveals Jesus to our world.

Prayer:

Lord, may I live in the freedom of following you. Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wise Use of Time


Scripture:

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.  10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”

Observation:

Jesus and the disciples had heard that Lazarus was gravely ill and there was a conversation among the group regarding their upcoming travels. After a couple of days Jesus suggested that they head back to Judea and the disciples reminded him that people there wanted to stone him. Jesus responded with this conversation about daylight and walking during the day. Somehow this response seems to be a bit disconnected, and yet it is not.

Jesus is the light and he knows that he will only be walking on this earth for a brief period of time. Just as the people of Jesus’ time knew that they had to accomplish their work during the hours of natural daylight, so he knew that he had to accomplish his work during his light. Until the end came, he would go about his mission. All travelers knew this — you traveled as long as there was light so that you could go as far as you could. You didn’t stop while the sun was still high in the sky and for Jesus the night of death had not yet come, so he pressed on.

The disciples were afraid of going to Judea. Why would Jesus be afraid? The sun was still shining, it was still the daylight of his journey and it wasn’t time to lay down and quit. If it was still daylight, then he would keep on working, making the most of all the opportunities that God laid before him. He was safe in his Father’s hand and so he went without fear traveling in the daylight of his ministry and into the land of his enemies.
   
Application:

We are given time — our own daylight. It is in the daylight of our time that we are to do all that we can for the kingdom. We are not to quit early, but we are to press on as long as we have been given the light. But the light must be that which we receive from the Lord. If we walk in the way of our own heart, if we follow our own course, then we will fall into temptation. Wise use of time is when we follow the light of his leading!

There will be enemies who will attempt to snare and distract us from the light of Christ. We are to live fearless of the enemies, working until the very end and trusting in the one who can shield us until we have finished his work. Jesus knew that he had to keep pressing on as long as there were opportunities.

So must we.

We are given the gift of time and opportunity — use it wisely. Go and walk in the path illuminated by the light of Jesus. It’s still day!

Prayer:

Lord, may I continue pressing on in your light today. Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Friday, August 7, 2015

Pure Speech


Scripture:

Zeph. 3:9        At that time I will change the speech of the peoples
        to a pure speech,
    that all of them may call on the name of the LORD
        and serve him with one accord.
10     From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
        my suppliants, my scattered ones,
        shall bring my offering.

Observation:

The peoples’ speech was a problem that was revealed at Babel. They had been sent abroad and scattered as a result of their behavior. The prophecy here speaks of a new day in which everything will change. What happened at Babel will be transformed at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit is poured out and the people called to pure speech, a speech which is understandable to all people. The result will be God’s prevenient grace reaching out to all of humanity with a call to unity within the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Unified worship of God will be the sign of this action.

Application:

If our lives and worship were to be examined would they reveal the unity which is prophesied in this text? There is to be a very real transformation in our lives when we live in the daily presence of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. No longer is our speech to be divisive, but it is to be uniting. We are to be a people who seek unity and not a people who create divisions or barriers. Our uniting speech is a way in which God can work to bring the world to him. When we allow our differences to divide us and create huge rifts, even among God’s people, we establish barriers to the working of God’s Holy Spirit.

The miracle of Pentecost was in language. The confusion of Babel was cleared and people were able to hear the good news of Jesus clearly. The presence of God’s Holy Spirit in the lives of his people is to create this kind of clarity. With pure speech we are to declare the good news of salvation. This is the joy of being a Christ-follower and the gift of the Holy Spirit. All things are made new — and most especially our tongues.

Prayer:

Lord, may my words be a sign of your presence in my life. Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hate


Scripture:

John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.

Observation:

Jesus’ disciples were coming up with a game-plan for him. They wanted him to come to Jerusalem and make a big splash. It wasn’t what Jesus had in mind. He knew what his responsibility was in the world — to be faithful to his Father. The world did not like what he had to say. He wasn’t trying to become a public figure, but he needed to speak the truth. For this, the world hated him. He could not condone the behavior of those in the world and their anger and resentment of him was very real. He knew where all of this would lead and that was, to his death.

Application:


Jesus’ comments to the disciples here are interesting. The world doesn’t hate them because they may still just have a bit of an attraction to what goes on in the world. The world is unhappy with Jesus because people don’t like anyone telling them that what they are doing may not be right.

In the 5th century Cyril, the religious leader of Alexander wrote:

For the world loves sin. The Lord is a corrector of those who do not act rightly. And correction must often be attained by reproof. For the mere calling of a sin a sin is already a rebuke to those who love that sin, and the reproof of iniquity already lays blame on those who have that iniquity. And so, when necessity calls for the teacher to administer reproof, and the mode of cure requires it to happen in this way, and the one being instructed by such a rebuke against his will is exceedingly angry, then the ills of hatred must surely arise. Therefore, the Savior says that he is hated by the world in that it cannot yet bear exhortation with rebuke when it really needs to do so in order to profit from it. For the mind that is in bondage to evil pleasures gets quite angry with the advice that would persuade it to shape up. And the Savior says these things, not altogether saying that he will not go to Jerusalem or refusing to give the reproofs that may be profitable to the sinners, but minded to do this too and everything else at the proper time. (Commentary on John)

Jesus is not a lover of the things of this world and his counter-cultural life is offensive to those around him. He is hated by the world.

Christianity has experienced a period of time in much of the world in which it has been accepted and been a part of the very fiber of life. It depends on where you live and you also see that Christianity has also been hated by the world. But look very closely at this scripture — Jesus didn’t hate the world. God so loved the world that he sent his son who was reaching out in holy love to draw the world back into a relationship with the Father. The root of the hate was from the world against the Lord.

The word “hate” is thrown around a great deal these days and often against Christians. If there is to be any “hate” may it come from the world against Christians who are trying to love with the holy love of God. Even though Jesus knew that the world hated him, he never gave up. He was not unkind. He went into their midst and continued preaching, teaching and healing. He loved them and did everything he could to bring them into a relationship with God.

This is a challenge to those who are Christ-followers. We are called to be like Christ in the world, loving, preaching, teaching and healing…and even though that may sound good to us, don’t always expect people to like it or us. But never give up. Reach out in holy love and may the word hate not be used to describe the actions of God’s people.

Prayer:

Lord, please fill me with your holy love and passion to reach out to the world around me. Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.





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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Respect for the Younger Generation


Scripture:

2Chr. 34:1   Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem.  2 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.  3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a boy, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the sacred poles, and the carved and the cast images.

Observation:

Think about this young boy becoming king. He was only eight and ruled until he was thirty-nine. In all his years he worked hard to transform the country. He didn’t wait all that long, beginning by seeking God at the age of sixteen, and planning major transformational projects when he was just twenty. This young leader was able to help bring about the spiritual reformation of his country.

Application:

As every generation ages they have trouble handing over leadership to the younger generation. I know that there is concern that they will not know how to lead properly and will not have the respect for the institutions which we may have helped to build. At the same time there are some Josiahs out there — young people whose hearts are right with God and may be able to bring about a greater spiritual revolution than we may have ever imagined.

Josiah had something going for him — he was king! The people were supposed to obey their king so one might think that it was easy for him to bring about the reforms. At the same time, if we read about the history of the people of God, they didn’t always follow their leaders. They were quite notorious for turning and going in different directions even when leadership was trying to be of assistance. What we recognize is that even though he is young, he is effective.

But where did all of this begin? He was a young person who earnestly sought the LORD. He wanted to get to know God and it was out of his personal relationship of knowing God that he was able to  reform the country. It didn’t matter his age — it was the power of God at work in him.

Next, he lived into his faith and was willing to be counter-cultural, making major shifts in the lives of his people. He was young, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t know what he was doing.

We have young people today who are passionate about serving the Lord. Some are speaking up and trying to help lead and guide us as a people of faith. Just because they are young doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. God can use anyone of any age, if they will seek his face. Let’s respect fellow Christ-followers, no matter the age!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the young voices who are speaking into our faith today.  Amen.



Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.





http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Monday, August 3, 2015

What Do You Really Know?


Scripture:

John 5:39   “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.  40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 

Observation:

The religious leaders knew the Torah for they had studied it in-depth for years. The problem was that they had become satisfied with knowing the scriptures but refused to know the one to whom they pointed. They had incredible amounts of head knowledge, but it had not led to heart understanding. The scriptures were the written word, but before them stood the word incarnate and they refused to believe.

Application:

There are plenty of brilliant people in this world who have all kinds of head knowledge. I have met those who have studied the scriptures and theology in depth and yet they do not know Christ. There is a difference between knowing about Christianity and knowing Christ. We may have the ability to articulate our particular position on a controversial topic but what does that mean if we don’t know Christ!

We should not take pride in our Bible Studies, nor our degrees, nor the number of books on our shelves. The call for us is to know Christ and this is a deeply intimate calling. The question is not how much do you know, but do you reflect the one that you are getting to know?

Prayer:

Lord, may I know you more and more each day.   Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.




http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What Feeds You?


Scripture:

John 4:31   Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”  32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”  33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”  34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.

Observation:

Jesus had just been speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well. His disciples had gone off to find food and were returning with a snack. They were encouraging him to eat, quite sure that he would be hungry. However, after his encounter with the woman at the well, he was no longer hungry. He was filled with the food of accomplishing the Father’s will. Jesus’ life and ministry revealed that he was hungry for the salvation of the men and women whom he encountered.

Application:

In our call to Christlikness we are also called to Christ's passions. What fed Christ should also feed us. We are to be hungry to take the good news to those who are lost. There truly is nothing much more exciting than ministering to people in the name of Jesus.

While serving in the former Soviet Union we often had groups come over which are called, “Work and Witness teams.” For a concentrated period of ten days to two weeks these individuals would come to do physical work on a building or project of some kind, but also engage in intentional outreach. The energy that our guests received from doing this work was quite astounding. Doing the work of the Father filled them!

Jesus found great satisfaction in helping people find their way back to God. No, this didn’t substitute for his need for physical food, but it fed him in other ways. We can be fed by the joy of service to God when we follow Christ out to the harvest fields. Unfortunately I don’t hear many Christians talking these days about their passion for the harvest. We seem a bit caught up in our own busyness and it may be that the result is a lack of passion for Christ and the lost — and a dissatisfaction. We are left hungry and empty for we are not being fed.

I hear that people leave churches because they are “not being fed.” Jesus wasn’t fed by others, he was fed by doing the work of the Father. If we are waiting around for others to feed us we may just be getting it all wrong. What feeds us should be doing the Father’s will and following him to the needy corners of our world. It takes getting your hands dirty and reaching out to those who desperately want to hear about him.

What will feed you today? An expectation that someone will bring you food — or will you be fed by the joy of telling others about Christ?

Prayer:

Lord, may I be fed by the joy of your service.   Amen.
 

Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.




http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hope and Refuge


Scripture:


Psa. 62:5        For God alone my soul waits in silence,
        for my hope is from him.
6     He alone is my rock and my salvation,
        my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7     On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
        my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Observation:

David knew where his hope would come from. God was his refuge and he could put his trust in him. When everyone around him seemed to be against him, he could trust in God. He awaited God in silence, for he needed to hear that still sweet voice leading him to deliverance. David was a powerful warrior, but he knew where his strength really came from and he would trust in God.

Application:

Everyone needs a place to find hope and refuge. We may be tempted to seek out places of safety created by human hands. David had already learned that he needed to depend upon God, and so do we. I believe the secret of this entire passage is found in verse five where he lets us know that he waits in silence for God. This powerful warrior slowed down enough to allow the voice of God to speak to him. He knew the voice of God and would then follow.

We are called to do the same. For us to experience the hope and refuge found in God we must slow down and wait in silence for his direction. Our hope comes from him! God alone is our hope and salvation, but when we stand firm in him, we will not be shaken.

Prayer:

Lord, I trust in you and your leading today.   Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.




http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=9780834135277