Conquering Whoville

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In my quiet time today one word changed everything. Below is what I wrote today. Perhaps it will be a means of setting you free in the love of Christ…

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ?…. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” -Romans 8:35a, 37

I was easily going to write only about verse 37. But as I read the passage again before writing, one word caught my attention – “who.” Consider the list of things Paul gives that cannot separate us from the love of Christ: affliction, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, sheep to be slaughtered. These are “what” things, not “who.” It is entirely possible that it is a means of personifying these things, but what if it really is a “who” in these things?

People can be behind each of these calamities. Therefore, nothing that they do to us, including this list and more, can separate us from the love of Christ. What if the “who” are those passing judgment on us for being in these situations? Their opinions, nor our perception of their opinions, can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ: not the things we may suffer, not the people who inflict such on us, not the opinions of others, not our perception of what others think of us, nothing. No thing can separate us and no who can separate us from the love of Christ, even if the “who” is my own condemning thoughts! Love reaches, keeps reaching, pursues… relentlessly.

Papa, I cherish such an unbreakable love. Help me to do likewise…
JT

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The 90 Day Challenge Day 90 – Ready For Clear Directions

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“The Lord told him, Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying” -Acts 9:11

I cannot get over how explicit these directions are from the Lord to Ananias! He tells him he wants him to go somewhere. He tells him whose house, what street he lives on, who is there and where he is from. And if all that is not enough, God tells him what this man is doing at this home! I know, I know, this is God’s calling on the future Apostle Paul- missionary, church planter, teacher, and the man who provides a substantial part of the New Testament. Nevertheless, the Lord gives him detailed instructions. I’m sure this was not a daily ocurance in Ananias’ life, but it also appears not to be a shock to him either.

What comes to my mind as I read this passage are the words of Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” While it may not be a daily experience to receive this kind of explicit direction from the Holy Spirit, there must be occasions when such leading is there for us as well. Most times I have a sense of direction from the Spirit. Some times I am given one step at a time. But I must believe there are times when detailed directions can still come from the Spirit. The question is, am I in a place spiritually to receive such leading? Ananias was ready for this kind of leading. He regularly sought God, to grow in Him and to hear from Him. I must do the same to hear His “voice”.

Father, may I always be ready for Your leading, whatever form it may take: impression, the next step, or detailed guidance. Help me to listen for Your voice.
JT

The 90 Day Challenge Day 89 – Be Strong

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“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” -2 Timothy 2:1

We all know we need to be strong. We view being strong as a choice, a frame of mind an attitude. But strength has a foundation. One can choose to be strong just on hope, or self-reliance, or luck… The follower of Jesus is invited to build strength on grace. How can grace make me/you strong? It is grace that gives me life. Grace places me where I am in life. Grace has led me into the truths of God in the Word. Grace has brought people into my life that have made my life better. Grace has even brought me through pain, sorrow, and suffering. Perhaps most significant, is grace has forgiven me so I do not have to be forever defined by my sins or past. Grace and grace alone allows me to live free – free from the weight of guilt.

Father, make me stronger in the grace of Jesus.
JT

Readings for Day 90 – Acts 7, Acts 9:1-19, Exodus 1:8-21, Luke 24:1-12, Habakkuk 1-3

The 90 Day Challenge Day 88 – Contagious Pursuit

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“But, you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” -1 Timothy 6:11

There is a vast difference between wishing and pursuing, or ignoring and pursuing. I am working on a table. The center section design needs planing, but it is much to large for my surface planer. Sanding, no matter how much you sand, will never yield a completely smooth surface. So, I researched, studied, and came up with a plan to make a sled planer for the project. I had to pursue it to get there….

This verse calls the follower of Jesus to pursue, not just hope for or wish for a lifestyle like Jesus. Too often, we can become content with things as they are; to be content with salvation and go only a little further. But, God calls us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. We are to pursue becoming more like Jesus. We are to pursue becoming better people than if we just let life take its course. Righteousness and godliness cover two sides of one issue – holy living. Righteousness call us to rely on Christ to empower right living and rest in His forgiveness by giving us His righteousness. Pursuing faith invites us to believe God can and will change us, even when it seems impossible. Endurance inspires us to not give up, to not lay down and quit. And gentleness keeps us humble. Gentleness means the life changes God is making in us are lived out with others in a gentle rather than arrogant or condescending way. Gentleness will invite others to want to become more like Jesus too.

Papa, embolden my pursuing of being more like Jesus and may love and gentleness be the thread tying it all together that others may see You in me and want to become more like You too.
JT

Readings for Day 89 – 2 Timothy 2, 2 Timothy 4:1-18, Matthew 26:6-13, Acts 6:8-15, Ecclesiastes 10-12

The 90 Day Challenge Day 87 – Applying Discipline

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“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer.” -1 Peter 4:7

Prayer is widely talked about, emphasized, and believed in by followers of Jesus. Prayer is our communication line to God. Prayer is our comfort during times of hardship. Prayer is our means of interceding for ourselves and others. Then why is it so easy to forget the tie between prayer and discipline?

If I want to go fishing, I have to have the discipline to get up early enough to go. If I want to remain healthy it requires the discipline of exercise. Prayer, too, takes discipline. Far too often we can let other priorities crowd out our praying. Oh, our intention is to pray, but we then choose to allow things that must get done today to come first. We think we will get to it later and before we know it later didn’t happen. The discipline of prayer can take different forms. Some will need the discipline of a specific time of day. Others may choose the discipline of a specified length of time (that they choose to extend as the discipline becomes a habit) each day. Whatever, the method it take discipline. Discipline means I do it whether I feel like it or not because I need it. Discipline in prayer is making a statement to God that He is crucial to my day and not just a 911 call. And my experience, in almost every form of discipline is I’m always glad I followed through after I am done.

Papa, refresh the discipline of prayer in my life, to not only connect with You but to change lives.
JT

Readings for Day 88 – 1 Timothy 4:6-16, 1 Timothy 6, 2 Timothy 1:1-12, Ecclesiastes 7-9

The 90 Day Challenge Day 86 – Leading Toward Maturity

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“We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” -Colossians 1:28

Sometimes I can accept the gap between the goal and reality. Other times, not so much! I have my goals on distance and sometimes pace when riding my bike, but reality can be different. My time may be limited; the wind too strong; or I’m just not feeling as good. I’ve learned to deal with those realities, while still setting goals that push me. When it come to ministry it is a bit harder. This verse reminds me the goal is to present everyone mature in Christ. I might wish it said most, but it says everyone. I can’t say I have succeeded (in reality) with this goal. Oh, it is still my goal to assist everyone in becoming mature in Christ. But I have not led everyone there. Some have not even attempted. Others go so far and stop. A few press on. What am I/we to do with this impossible goal? Go for it. I must keep seeking to help everyone move to a more mature place in Christ. The rub is, every person I encounter has their own will and choice. No matter what I/you do to help some people mature in Christ they can stop, slow down, or even go the wrong way. I must pray for them, encourage them, point to the path of a devoted follower of Jesus – but I cannot choose for them. So, I keep on pursuing what will move people to maturity and place my trust in God’s timing. I’ll confess, that is not easy, nor without its heartaches – but it is the life, to which, a follower of Jesus is called.

Papa, make me more effective in leading others to maturity in Christ…
JT

Readings f0r Day 87 – 1 Peter 4:7-19, 1 Kings 6:19-21, Psalm 139, 1 Timothy 1:12-20, Ecclesiastes 4-6

The 90 Day Challenge Day 85 – My Hiding Place

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“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.” -Psalm 62:8

We all have our “escapes.” We all want or need to get away at times. Our escapes can be the beach, the mountains, a vacation, the lake. Our escapes can be food, or a program on TV or a movie. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. And, there is nothing wrong with getting away from the pressures of life at times. The problem comes when I/we allow these things to become our place of refuge rather than God. God is our refuge.

As our refuge, we can pour out our hearts to Him. Too many pour out their hearts on social media. A person gets offended, or hurt, or angry and there it is in living color on facebook. Facebook and attention from others is not to be my/our source of refuge. God alone is my refuge. When we consistently escape in one form or another, we are in essence saying we trust this “escape” more than we trust God! A dangerous position indeed.

Bottom line – God is my refuge. I am to pour out my heart to Him. He is my place of protection and rest and recovery. To follow through on this means I must ruthlessly look at my “get aways” to discern where is my trust – in Him or just getting away?

Papa, I trust you enough to be my refuge, and every get away will be only to hear You more clearly…
JT

Readings for Day 86 – Colossians 1, John 6:60-71, Acts 17:1-26, John 17, Ecclesiastes 1-3