God will be God tomorrow

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Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)

What we see when we look at the birds is not a lesson in laziness.

Birds dig their worms and snatch their bugs and pad their nests with strings and leaves. But Jesus says it is God that feeds them. What we see when we look at the birds is a creature who does not act as though God is only a merciful provider for today but won’t be tomorrow.

Birds don’t anxiously horde things for the day of God’s demise. They go about their work as though when the sun comes up tomorrow, God will still be God.

How much more, then, should we reckon with the reality and mercy of God tomorrow, since we are not brute birds, but children of our heavenly Father? The biggest difference between a disciple of Jesus and a bird is that we have the capacity of honoring God by our faith. And God values the exercise of our faith more than he values birds.

So we ought not to be anxious, because the birds have taught us that God can be counted on to work for us tomorrow just as much as today.

Jesus came, lived, died, and was raised from the dead, in order that he might reign as King over an anxiety-free people. So come to Jesus. Forsake all other allegiances. Take your vow of loyalty to the King of kings. And seek first in all you do to make known his kingship over your life. This and this alone is the way to freedom from anxiety.

©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Find many other free resources by John Piper at desiringGod.org

Josh Garrels Benefit Concert Friday 4/25

Show Details

April 25 – Portland, OR
Imago Dei
1302 SE Ankeny St.
Portland, OR 97214
Josh Garrels with Josh Harmony
Benefit Concert for Skatechurch PDX
Door 7:00 – Show 7:30
ALL AGES
$16 General Admission

Get Tickets Here:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/josh-garrels-josh-harmony-benefit-concert-for-skatechurch-pdx-tickets-10964941435?aff=es2&rank=1&sid=b9fab15ec0d111e3862d22000a9f3045

http://www.joshgarrels.com

Evangelism at work

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Workplace evangelism gets a bad rap sometimes. People assume that when you do it, it’s going to be tactless, awkward, and disruptive in some way. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can do good work, make your faith known, talk to your coworkers about their lives, and invite them to meet other Christians – and it can be as natural as becoming friends.

An ambassador of the kingdom of Jesus should be wise and winsome.

She should look for opportunities to make it known that she’s a follower of Jesus, but she doesn’t need to be arrogant or obnoxious about it. She should take advantage of openings in conversations and be willing to defend her faith when necessary, but do so in a way that attracts people rather than repelling them. Wise and winsome is worth pursuing.

Unfortunately, Christians often seem to equate “wisdom” in any given situation with “being quiet.”

“Oh, it wouldn’t have been wise for me to speak up there,” we say. Or “Oh, I don’t think letting myself be known as a Christian would have been the wisest course there — too much potential for offense to be taken.” And in time, we find ourselves being “wise” like that in our jobs for a decade — to the point that our coworkers would be shocked to find out we regularly attend church. An innocent bystander might mistake “wise and winsome” for little more than “worried and wimpy”!

They say the better part of courage is wisdom and discretion. That’s true, but so is the reverse. The better part of wisdom and discretion is courage.

If you’re an ambassador of the King, you simply have to let that fact be known. You have to talk about it sometimes.

Yes, it can lead to some awkward moments and weird conversations. Every ambassador deals with awkward moments and weird conversations. When you declare yourself to be a follower of King Jesus, you’re making a declaration about King Jesus’ claims over everybody in the room. Everybody knows that’s what you’re doing, so there’s no getting around it. You’re saying that King Jesus rose from the dead and that He saves sinners – and that nobody else in the universe does that. That’s not exactly cocktail party banter. If your definition of wise and winsome is “only speaks about Jesus when there’s no chance of offending anyone,” you may as well hang it up. You won’t find one of those.

Think about it. God may have deployed you in your particular job with all the potential for awkward conversations precisely because He wants you to handle it. So be wise and winsome, but don’t morph into worried and wimpy.

Speak about the King, even at work. After all, He’s already promised to be with us to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

* * *

Excerpted with permission from The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger & Greg D. Gilbert, copyright Zondervan, 2014.

Your Turn

Are you ready to face offending others to be an ambassador for Jesus? Are you ready to brave awkward moments? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about workplace evangelism! ~ Devotionals Daily

SAVE 30% OFF: The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger & Greg D. Gilbert; foreword by David Platt

Find God’s vision for your job. Reclaim God’s vision for your life.

Many Christians fall victim to one of two main problems when it comes to work: either they are idle in their work, or they have made an idol of it. Both of these mindsets are deadly misunderstandings of how God intends for us to think about our employment. In The Gospel at Work, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert unpack the powerful ways in which the gospel can transform how we do what we do, releasing us from the cultural pressures of both an all-consuming devotion and a punch-in, punch-out mentality – in order to find the freedom of a work ethic rooted in serving Christ.

You’ll find answers to some of the tough questions that Christians in the workplace often ask: What factors should matter most in choosing a job? What gospel principles should shape my thinking about how to treat my boss, my co-workers, and my employees? Is full-time Christian work more valuable than my job? Is it okay to be motivated by money? How do you prioritize – or balance – work, family and church responsibilities? Solidly grounded in the gospel, The Gospel at Work confronts both our idleness at work and our idolatry of work with a challenge of its own – to remember that whom we work for is infinitely more important than what we do.

Your life God’s way

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, my church – Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida – rented a billboard near a busy highway. We were looking to attract people to what God was doing in our world. The ad featured an image of me (which made sense because the invitation was coming from the church, and well, I’m the pastor) with these words emblazoned across the ad:

Your Life, God’s Way

Despite the blinding vibrancy of my lime green golf shirt, we got a great response to that billboard. Lots of people visited Celebration for the first time and made it their home. Why? I seriously doubt it was due to my friendly-yet-penetrating gaze as drivers made their daily commute to work each day. No.

What drew people in was that the ad offered a different approach to the one thing everyone is concerned about and probably mulling over on their way to work: my life. Imagine the thoughts of those drivers. It’s not hard because we’ve all had them at one time or another, maybe at this very moment:

My life is a mess.
My life is going great.
My life doesn’t matter.
My life is about to change.
My life is falling apart.
My life has no purpose.
My life is too busy.
My life is depressing.
My life is over-the-top amazing.
The billboard reached all these people behind the wheel – all with different plans, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and so on – and offered them one more lens through which to view their life: God’s way.

Adding these two words has a way of changing our perspective. It forces us to pause and consider that there may be a completely different way of doing life than how we are currently doing it, one we may never have considered. I’m sure more than one person drove by that billboard and thought, “God’s way,” huh? What does that look like? It’s gotta be better than the way I’m doing it.

When I first started thinking about my life in terms of God’s way, three life-altering, game-changing realizations came to mind. And speaking now as a pastor, let me add that these apply to anyone.

God has a “way” for our lives. Most people think God is not at all interested in the details of our lives. But He is.

He doesn’t sit in heaven simply watching our lives from the nosebleeds. God wants to be fully involved in your life, and He has a game plan, a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you (Psalm 37:23). As you make Him the first priority in your life, you’ll witness firsthand just how much God wants to be present and active in your life. You will experience His presence on a whole new level.

We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone. Life is challenging, and the cares of life are heavy, but God doesn’t want you to carry the burden alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with Him while He does the heavy lifting (Matthew 11:28). When you put God first, you begin to live in response to Him as He shapes your life. Rather than striving to manipulate and control every outcome under your own strength, you will find that God is standing close, ready to help lighten the load.

God’s way is better than ours.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening (Psalm 19:7-8). I don’t know about you, but my way usually isn’t any of those things. Amazingly, God’s way is not only all those things, but it also meets us wherever we are.

When you feel like your life…

is a mess, God works all things out for your good (Romans 8:28).
is going great, God has greater things in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).
doesn’t matter, God ascribes incredible value to you (1 Peter 1:18-19).
is about to change, he will be with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5).
is falling apart, God is your strength and deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2).
has no purpose, God’s purpose for you will prevail (Jeremiah 29:11).
is too busy, God’s peace guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
is depressing, he is the giver of joy (Romans 15:13).
is over-the-top amazing, there is a place to direct your gratitude (James 5:13).
God’s way for your life is the best possible way you can live. This is the God-first life. It’s the life God intends you to live.

* * *

Your Turn

Are you living God’s way for your life? Are you living the God-first life?

Now is the time to strengthen your faith

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How do we stay on course so we keep spiritually strong and aren’t diverted from the path to Heaven that God has for us?

The time to deal with spiritual danger is before it happens, so be on the alert. You’ve probably heard the old adage “forewarned is forearmed.” This is also true spiritually.

Think about how different King David’s life would have been if he had guarded against the temptations of middle age. Instead his life became a downward spiral of irresponsibility, adultery, murder, and heartache (2 Samuel 11–12). The Bible says, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Strengthen your commitment to Christ — now. Don’t wait until the storms of temptation, or sickness, or old age threaten to blow you off-course; now is the time to strengthen your faith.

The stronger our relationship is with Christ, the stronger our defense against the devil’s temptations. Jesus said, Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40).

Learn to commit every situation to God, and trust Him for the outcome. God’s love for you never changes, no matter what problems you face or how unsettled life becomes. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and He can be trusted to do what is best. The Bible says, Trust in the Lord forever (Isaiah 26:4).

Finally, strengthen the relationships God has already given you. Strengthen your relationship with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your fellow believers. When we’re isolated or think we don’t need others, we become much more vulnerable to temptation and compromise. Everyone has temptations, but some people entertain them.

Finally, take your eyes off temptation and put them on Christ — and remember how Jesus handled His temptations. With each one, He responded to Satan by quoting the words of Scripture, It is written.

Rely on the Word of God to strengthen you and keep your feet on the straight path.

* * *

Excerpted with permission from The Heaven Answer Book by Billy Graham, copyright Thomas Nelson

Your Turn

Do you feel yourself being tempted? Are you heading straight towards temptation? Are you relying on the Word to build your ability to withstand temptation? Take a moment to pray over this issue and ask God to strengthen your faith!

This is why He came

Get up, we must go. Look, here comes the man who has turned against Me.

The words were spoken to Judas. But they could have been spoken to anyone. They could have been spoken to John, to Peter, to James. They could have been spoken to Thomas, to Andrew, to Nathanael. They could have been spoken to the Roman soldiers, to the Jewish leaders. They could have been spoken to Pilate, to Herod, to Caiaphas. They could have been spoken to every person who praised Him last Sunday but abandoned Him tonight.

Everyone turned against Jesus that night. Everyone.

Judas did. What was your motive, Judas? Why did you do it? Were you trying to call His hand? Did you want the money? Were you seeking some attention?

And why, dear Judas, why did it have to be a kiss? You could have pointed. You could have just called his name. But you put your lips to his cheek and kissed. A snake kills with his mouth.

The people did. The crowd turned on Jesus. We wonder who was in the crowd. Who were the bystanders? Matthew just says they were people. Regular folks like you and me with bills to pay and kids to raise and jobs to do. Individually they never would have turned on Jesus, but collectively they wanted to kill him. Even the instantaneous healing of an amputated ear didn’t sway them. They suffered from mob blindness. They blocked each other’s vision of Jesus.

The disciples did. “All of Jesus’ followers left him and ran away.”  Matthew must have written those words slowly. He was in that group. All the disciples were. Jesus told them they would scamper. They vowed they wouldn’t. But they did.

When the choice came between their skin and their friend, they chose to run. Oh, they stood for a while. Peter even pulled his sword, went for the neck, and got a lobe. But their courage was as fleeting as their feet. When they saw Jesus was going down, they got out.

The religious leaders did. Not surprising. Disappointing, though. They were the spiritual leaders of the nation. Men entrusted with the dispensing of goodness. Role models for the children. The pastors and Bible teachers of the community. “The leading priests and the whole Jewish council tried to find something false against Jesus so they could kill Him.”  Paint that passage black with injustice. Paint the arrest green with jealousy. Paint that scene red with innocent blood.

And paint Peter in a corner. For that’s where he is. No place to go. Caught in his own mistake. Peter did exactly what he had said he wouldn’t do. He had promised fervently only hours before, “Everyone else may stumble in their faith because of you, but I will not!” I hope Peter was hungry, because he ate those words.

Everyone turned against Jesus. Though the kiss was planted by Judas, the betrayal was committed by all.

Every person took a step, but no one took a stand. As Jesus left the garden, He walked alone. The world had turned against Him.

He was betrayed.

Betray.  The word is an eighth of an inch above betroth in the dictionary, but a world from betroth in life. It’s a weapon found only in the hands of one you love. Your enemy has no such tool, for only a friend can betray. Betrayal is mutiny. It’s a violation of a trust, an inside job.

Would that it were a stranger. Would that it were a random attack. Would that you were a victim of circumstances. But you aren’t. You are a victim of a friend.

A sandpaper kiss is placed on your cheek. A promise is made with fingers crossed. You look to your friends, and your friends don’t look back. You look to the system for justice – the system looks to you as a scapegoat.

You are betrayed. Bitten with a snake’s kiss. It’s more than rejection. Rejection opens a wound; betrayal pours the salt. It’s more than loneliness. Loneliness leaves you in the cold, betrayal closes the door. It’s more than mockery. Mockery plunges the knife; betrayal twists it. It’s more than an insult. An insult attacks your pride; betrayal breaks your heart.

As I search for betrayal’s synonyms, I keep seeing betrayal’s victims. That unsigned letter in yesterday’s mail, “My husband just told me he had an affair two years ago,” she wrote. “I feel so alone.” The phone call at home from the elderly woman whose drug-addicted son had taken her money. My friend in the Midwest who moved his family to take the promised job that never materialized.

The single mother whose ex-husband brings his new girlfriend to her house when he comes to get the kids for the weekend. The seven-year-old girl infected with HIV. “I’m mad at my mother,” were her words.

Betrayal… when your world turns against you.

Betrayal… where there is opportunity for love, there is opportunity for hurt.

When betrayal comes, what do you do? Get out? Get angry? Get even? You have to deal with it some way. Let’s see how Jesus dealt with it.

Begin by noticing how Jesus saw Judas. “Jesus answered, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’”

Of all the names I would have chosen for Judas, it would not have been “friend.” What Judas did to Jesus was grossly unfair. There is no indication that Jesus ever mistreated Judas. There is no clue that Judas was ever left out or neglected. When, during the Last Supper, Jesus told the disciples that his betrayer sat at the table, they didn’t turn to one another and whisper, “It’s Judas. Jesus told us he would do this.”

They didn’t whisper it because Jesus never said it. He had known it. He had known what Judas would do, but he treated the betrayer as if he were faithful.

It’s even more unfair when you consider the betrayal was Judas’s idea. The religious leaders didn’t seek him; Judas sought them. “What will you pay me for giving Jesus to you?” he asked. The betrayal would have been more palatable had Judas been propositioned by the leaders, but he wasn’t. He propositioned them.

And Judas’s method… again, why did it have to be a kiss?And why did he have to call him “Teacher”?  That’s a title of respect. The incongruity of his words, deeds, and actions – I wouldn’t have called Judas “friend.” But that is exactly what Jesus called him. Why? Jesus could see something we can’t. Let me explain.

There was once a person in our world who brought Denalyn and me a lot of stress. She would call in the middle of the night. She was demanding and ruthless. She screamed at us in public. When she wanted something, she wanted it immediately, and she wanted it exclusively from us. But we never asked her to leave us alone. We never told her to bug someone else. We never tried to get even. After all, she was only a few months old.

It was easy for us to forgive our infant daughter’s behavior because we knew she didn’t know better.

Now, there is a world of difference between an innocent child and a deliberate Judas. But there is still a point to my story, and it is this: the way to handle a person’s behavior is to understand the cause of it.

One way to deal with a person’s peculiarities is to try to understand why he or she is peculiar.

Jesus knew Judas had been seduced by a powerful foe. He was aware of the wiles of Satan’s whispers (He had just heard them Himself). He knew how hard it was for Judas to do what was right. He didn’t justify what Judas did. He didn’t minimize the deed. Nor did he release Judas from his choice. But He did look eye to eye with His betrayer and try to understand.

As long as you hate your enemy, a jail door is closed and a prisoner is taken. But when you try to understand and release your foe from your hatred, then the prisoner is released, and that prisoner is you.

Perhaps you don’t like that idea. Perhaps the thought of forgiveness is unrealistic. Perhaps the idea of trying to understand the Judases in our world is simply too gracious.

My response to you then is a question.

What do you suggest? Will harboring the anger solve the problem? Will getting even remove the hurt? Does hatred do any good?

Again, I’m not minimizing your hurt or justifying their actions. But I am saying that justice won’t come this side of eternity. And demanding that your enemy get his or her share of pain will, in the process, be most painful to you.

May I gently but firmly remind you of something you know but may have forgotten?

Life is not fair.

That’s not pessimism; it’s fact. That’s not a complaint; it’s just the way things are. I don’t like it. Neither do you. We want life to be fair. Ever since the kid down the block got a bike and we didn’t, we’ve been saying the same thing, “That’s not fair.” But at some point someone needs to say to us, “Who ever told you life was going to be fair?” God didn’t. He didn’t say, “If  you have many kinds of troubles”… he said, “When  you have many kinds of troubles…”

Troubles are part of the package. Betrayals are part of our troubles. Don’t be surprised when betrayals come. Don’t look for fairness here – look instead where Jesus looked.

Jesus looked to the future. Read His words: “In the future you will see the Son of Man coming.”

While going through hell, Jesus kept His eyes on Heaven.

While surrounded by enemies He kept His mind on His Father. While abandoned on earth, He kept His heart on home. “In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, the Powerful One, and coming on clouds in the sky.”

I took a snow skiing lesson some time back. My instructor said I had potential but poor perspective. He said I looked at my skis too much. I told him I had to. They kept going where I didn’t want them to go.

“Does it help?” he asked.

“I guess not,” I confessed, “I still fall a lot.”

He gestured toward the splendid mountains on the horizon. “Try looking out there as you ski. Keep your eyes on the mountains and you’ll keep your balance.” He was right. It worked. The best way to keep your balance is to keep your focus on another horizon. That’s what Jesus did.

“My kingdom does not belong to this world,” Jesus told Pilate. “My kingdom is from another place.”

When we lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I learned what it was like to long for home. We loved Brazil. The people were wonderful and the culture warm – but still it wasn’t home.

My office was in downtown Rio, only a few blocks from the American embassy. Occasionally I would take my lunch to the embassy and eat. It was like going home for a few minutes. I would walk in the big door and greet the guards in English. I would go into the lobby and pick up an American newspaper. I’d check the box scores or the football standings. I’d chuckle at the cartoons. I even read the want ads. It felt good to think about home. I would stroll down one of the large corridors and see the portraits of Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington. Occasionally a worker would have time to chat, and I’d get caught up on things back in the States. The embassy was a bit of the homeland in a foreign country. Life in a distant land is made easier if you can make an occasional visit to home.

Jesus took a long look into the homeland. Long enough to count His friends. “I could ask my Father and He would give me… twelve armies of angels.”  And seeing them up there gave Him strength down here.

By the way, His friends are your friends. The Father’s loyalty to Jesus is the Father’s loyalty to you. When you feel betrayed, remember that. When you see the torches and feel the betrayer’s kiss, remember His words: “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”

Answering Jesus’ prayer

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John 17:20-26

Deuteronomy 6:4-9; John 13:31-35; John 3:11-24

Gary couldn’t wait to get to church every week. His pastor’s teacher inspired him, while the friendliness of the people drew him into the life of the church. Although he was just a new believer, Gary understood the importance of gleaning everything possible from his pastor and other spiritually mature people around him. Less than a year later, however, Gary’s spiritual world fell apart. One Sunday the pastor announced his resignation, explaining that he and the church’s leaders couldn’t agree on the direction in which they wanted the church to go. Disillusioned that the men he trusted and admired as spiritual mentors couldn’t get along, Gary never again entered a church.

Sadly, factions, church splits and leadership conflicts can drive a stake into the heart of the body of Christ, the Church. The damage that results from these experiences can sometimes drive people away from both God and the church.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus spent some of His final hours on Earth praying that His remaining followers would be known for their love for each other and that their relationships would resemble the kind of unity he shared with His heavenly Father? God the Father glorified Jesus because He loved the Son. In return, Jesus made the love of the Father known to everyone. Together they enjoyed a mutually loving and self-sacrificing relationship.

Of course, only God can answer prayer. But when it comes to unity in the Church, we can take some practical steps toward being a part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer. We can start by praying for unity in our own churches and among Church leaders. We can also encourage and promote understanding when we see Christians getting caught up in disagreements. Further, we can pursue love and practice self-sacrifice in our own relationships.

When the body of Christ doesn’t work to build unity, the world sees a sick and weakly Church. But when we join together in unity, the world sees the power and glory of Jesus shining through us.

In Other Words

“The only separation the Bible knows is between believers on the one hand and unbelievers on the other. Any other kind of separation, division, disunity is of the devil. It is evil and from sin.” – Desmond Tutu

Your Turn

How does the relationship between Jesus and His heavenly Father provide an example of unity? Jesus said that His disciples would be known by their love for each other. What steps can you take to become a more loving person? What can you do to develop a more loving heart? What immediate steps can you take to encourage unity in your church?