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  • How important are your routines to you?

    There was an old Jewish theologian who once said, "Routine makes us resistant to Wonder." 

    First let me say that routines "in general" are good, like eating healthy foods, exercising, getting enough sleep, setting aside time for personal Bible study and prayer, meeting with other Christians often, making time for your kids, etc. Where we lose the wonder and joy of life so often though is when we let what once were general routines become very specific and rigid schedules that, if interrupted, throw your entire day off.

    If you have an active and growing relationship with Jesus, he will definitely invade any strict and regimented routine you establish. He's not against human consistency but he is against human rigidity. You will miss the wonder of how God works to accomplish his own plan that includes all the moving parts of people, time and geography, if we don't look up from a rigid routine long enough to see them. And, heaven help us if we try to stick to "me-centered" routines that do not include God...oh my that's when our lives become the Devil's playground!

    Be AVAILABLE, be FILLED, and be USABLE. After all, when you became a Christian, you stopped living for yourself anyway, right?

    Proverbs 16:9 "The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

    - Sam Guilliams -

     

  • Clouds Without Rain

    I love the beautiful language used by Biblical writers. You see it a lot in books like Psalms or Job, but you’ll also find it in hidden places like Jude 12. The author is warning people about not being fooled by false teachers who are like “clouds without rain” and like “autumn trees without fruit.” 


    It made me think of my friend, Mark, who lives in the mountains near Chattanooga, TN where for the last several weeks, wild fires have raged coming within a mile of his house. How many times has Mark looked toward the sky hoping just one of those worthless clouds up there would drop some rain? 


    I hope you realize the people you work with and interact with on a daily basis are watching you for signs of hope from above too. Whether you realize it or not, you play the role of prophet and ambassador for someone in your life right now. They look to you as the “Jesus Expert.” Maybe you are the only Christian they know or the only one they trust. Either way, we need to make sure we are not clouds without rain when someone in our life is looking for relief from above. We are to be ready “in season and out of season” to be the Jesus they need when they need him.

  • Reading through God's Word together

    2 Peter 1:3-4 "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

    Did you read that carefully?...just in case you didn't catch it the first time, read the last sentence again just to make sure you got what Peter said. YOU can share in the divine nature of God. Now, that doesn't mean we all get to take turns being God and running the universe for a day, but it does mean we get to be just like God in at least some ways right? How do you get to share in divine nature?

    Read the next part... "Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.”

    The first step in being like Jesus is by treating people like Jesus does. You cannot follow Jesus authentically until you decide to give up all your rights to be angry with the people you walk through life with. Treat them like Jesus would treat them; using patience, self-control, brotherly affection, and love.

  • The Burden of a Mediator

    Philemon 10 “I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.”


    Paul knew both men and could relate to both of their situations. He had history with both of them as the man who led them to Christ. He didn’t choose sides, but at the same time, was not afraid to speak the truth in love. For Onesimus, he convinced the man do the right thing and go back to the one he had wronged. For Philemon, Paul made a clear case for why he should forgive Onesimus and treat him like a true brother in Christ. 


    Paul may have been the only hope Philemon and Onesimus had for building a better relationship. Without Paul’s intervention, Philemon could have wound up bitter and Onesimus could have wound up dead! Notice how far Paul was willing to go to reconcile his brothers. The letter tells us that Paul was even willing to pay Onesimus’ debt himself if Philemon still demands it. For the mediator of any conflict, the cost can be high for intervening, but it’s worth it.


  • Tired of being tired?

    Ever hear someone say this about another person? "If that guy spent as much time working as he does trying to avoid work, he'd be a millionaire!" Did you know that's actually a Biblical way of thinking? Paul writes to the Thessalonian Church about some folks who apparently struggled with laziness. We get the impression that some of them thought, "Well if Jesus is coming back any day now, why would we bother wearing ourselves out?" Paul makes it clear that a good work ethic is important within the Christian community and that the type of work you do matters too. He says in 2 Thessalonians 3:13, "And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good."

    It's not enough to just stay busy. As Christians, we need to busy ourselves doing good. That's the formula for success in life. If you focus on doing the right things for the right reasons, you really don't have time to do anything else.

    What makes you tired? Our goal is to get tired "while" going good. That's the best kind of "tired" there is!

  • The Bible is a book of DO's not a list of DON'Ts

    The day you realize this is a liberating day. You no longer live afraid to make mistakes. You live eager to make contributions. 

     

    Colossians 2:13-14, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” 

     

    God knew the only way we could be free to live a life worth living is to remove those parts of us that were dead or dying. For the non-believer, God’s laws are a mountain of rules that cannot be lived up to, but for the Christian, God’s laws are simple…”Just act like Jesus.” (Luke 10:27) 

     

    Jeremiah prophesied a day would come when the Lord would “…put my Law in their minds and write it in their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33) Every sin you have ever committed has already been paid for. You just need to live each day as a “thank you” to Jesus for giving you the freedom to live it.

  • Treasures in Jars of Clay

    2 Corinthians 4:7-12 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."

    Do you ever wonder why God put his soul-saving message in a weak container like you? There is no greater treasure than a ticket to heaven, and somehow God saw fit to entrust you and me with the instructions how to get the ticket! I suppose he did it to make the Gospel more accessible. I mean think about it. If you are walking around a flea market and see a clay jar you're interested in buying, you wouldn't hesitate to go pick it up and look it over. "That'll look great in my dining room!" But, if that jar were made of solid gold with a ring of jewels around it, you'd hesitate. "That jar is too rich for my blood! I don't even want to get it dirty." I suppose in the same way, a sinner has an easier time hearing about a ticket to heaven from a person he can relate to than someone we looks like they have never been dirty before. Your scars and your stains make you more approachable.

    There God goes again...turning weaknesses into strengths. 

    - Sam -

  • Temptations

    1 Corinthians 10:12-13 “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

    Does this passage make you feel encouraged or ashamed? Does it encourage you because you know you can handle any temptation or does it make you ashamed because you haven't faithfully avoided a particular temptation? You have access to strength from the Holy Spirit to survive any temptation Satan can throw at you…but once you become the Devil’s accomplice, that strength is gone. If you put Satan on trial for killing your innocence, prepared to be named as a co-conspirator. We have the power to choose. Do we use the Holy Spirit’s strength to nurture purity or do we conspire with Satan to to murder it? It’s your choice, and it’s one you make every day. Thanks be to Jesus for the strength he left behind for you. That’s strength you and stand on!

  • What are your Qualification?

    To say that 1 Corinthians 1 is my favorite chapter would be an understatement. When I first began in ministry, I printed out versus 18-31, put a frame around it and hung it on a wall right in front of my desk where I could see it everyday. I hung it there first because it reminded me that God doesn’t call the qualified to serve Him. Rather, He qualifies whom He calls. Secondly, I hung it there to remind me that if I ever feel truly qualified to serve, I’d better watch out because pride is creeping in. I hope this verse encourages and challenges you the same way it always has me.

    “26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

  • Paul in Athens

    Interesting background about Paul's encounters in Athens from author, Ray Stedman...

    As the apostle walked around the city he saw the gods of Athens, the idols that were being worshipped. One of the ancient writers tells us that at this time there were 30,000 gods in Athens! Many of these statues have survived and you will find copies of them everywhere as samples of ancient art. Paul recognized that these were not merely objects of art, but were actually gods being worshipped by the people of Athens. Peterronius, one of the ancient historians, said that is was easier to find a god in Athens than a man! With 30,000 of them, you can see why this would be true.

    Luke tells us that Paul's spirit was moved when he saw this. He was provoked. The Greek word is the word from which we get out word paroxysm. Paul felt an intense paroxysm of the spirit, a storm within, as he saw the city given over to idolatry. Each idol revealed that these men and women of Athens had a great capacity for God. They knew there was something beyond man, and they were seeking for it. But each idol also revealed a twisting, a distorting, of that capacity, a sabotaging of it. So, as the apostle went around the city, his spirit was greatly troubled to see men and women blasted by this prostitution of their human powers through the worship of false gods.

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