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

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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 82 – Oh, To Be Known For…

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“A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man WHO WAS POWERFUL IN THE USE OF THE SCRIPTURES, arrived in Ephesus.” -Acts 18:24

Notice what Apollus is known for… What do I want to be known for? What would I like my reputation to be? There are many things that come to mind. Most of us want to be known as loving, a good friend, husband, father, son… We want to be known for loving Jesus and living for him. The list could go on…

And yet, one thing needs to be added to the list. This one thing will need to be high on the list. In fact, this one thing will improve anything else I might list. Like Apollus, I want to be “powerful in the use of the Scriptures.” Such power comes from study, time with the Lord, and the leading of the Spirit. It comes from confidence in the Bible as God’s Word, and that God keeps His Word. It comes from a life of prayer seeking such power. Yes, being powerful in the use of the Scriptures needs to be added to my prayer list…

Father, may Your Spirit so work in and through me that I become a person who is powerful in the use of the Scriptures as I share them with others.
JT

Readings for Day 83 – Psalm 138, Luke 13:6-9, John 15:1-16, Colossians 1:1-6, 2 Samuel 19-21

The 90 Day Challenge Day 81 – The Call To Be A Slave

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“Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.” -1 Corinthians 9:19

Sometimes we need harsher words to face reality. Admitting I was wrong is different than admitting I have sinned. Telling someone I am sorry is different from asking for forgiveness. In this verse the HCSB Translation uses the word “slave” instead of “servant”. While both words are accurate, the term “slave” implies more.

In my seeking to reach others to faith in Christ I am to be a servant. To be a “slave” to those around me is more self-sacrificing, more humbling, more others focused. I can serve others but look after my interests. As a slave, my interests come second. As a servant I can try to find time in my schedule, when it is convenient, for others. As a slave, my time is not my own. The translation of that one word exposes my self-centeredness and how it can get in the way of winning “more people.”

Papa, guide me in living more humbly, more like a slave in order to win more people.
JT

Readings for Day 82 – Acts 18:24-28, Romans 10:14-17, Acts 26:1-11, Acts 3:1-17, 2 Samuel 16-18

The 90 Day Challenge Day 78 – Hearing & Being His Voice

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“As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” – Acts 13:2

How trusting are we, of the leading of the Holy Spirit? A group of men are gathered to worship and fast and pray. These men are all “prophets and teachers.” In the course of their time together these spiritual leaders are told by the Spirit to set apart Paul and Barnabas. Who did the Spirit speak to? All of them at once? One person speaks up and the Spirit confirms it in the others? We really do not know. My best guess is God spoke to these men about Paul and Barnabas. Certainly the lives of these two men were already headed in this direction. But other men became the affirmation of the Spirit.

Which leaves me thinking, How comfortable am I with the Spirit speaking through others about the direction and course of my life? Am I willing to trust the Spirit to speak through others? Like Paul and Barnabas, when the Spirit speaks through others on the course of my life, it is most often an affirmation of what the Spirit is already doing and speaking into my life.

On the flip side, I must also be willing for the Spirit to speak to and through me to others about what He wants to do in and through their lives. My words can be God’s means of affirming the direction of the life of another.

Papa, keep me open to receive from Your Spirit through others, and to be Your voice into the lives of others for Your glory.
JT

Readings for Day 79 – Joel 2:18-32, Ezekiel 36:22-30, John 16:5-15, Psalm 131, 2 Samuel 7-9

The 90 Day Challenge Day 76 – Choosing Gentleness

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“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted.” -Galatians 6:1

When someone is caught in any wrongdoing our reaction is often quite different than what is said here. If the wrongdoing is “serious” enough the typical response is anger, in word and/or action. At the height of spiritual pride we may even assume our “righteous anger” is what God would do. Or we might just cut them off. When we do so we forget the goal is restoration, not punishment. The goal is restoration not the waging of a purity war. After all, is not the cross gentleness on full display? Jesus remained on the cross by choice to save us from our sins. Yes, that is grace and mercy. It is also being gentle. Jesus was gentle with the woman caught in adultery. He was gentle with Peter’s denial of Him.

Being gentle does not allow me to excuse or overlook sin in our lives, or the lives of fellow believers. It means our goal is to restore them to a deeper relationship with Christ. God’s call on me is not to be angry with the sinful choices of others, but to be loving and gentle in helping them to see their wrongdoing, to give room for the Spirit to convict them and lead them to repentance (Notice I said it is the Spirit’s role to convict), and a renewed relationship with Christ. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness…

Papa, please use me as a gentle persuader in the hands of Your Spirit.
JT

Readings for Day 77 – CATCH UP DAY
Readings for Day 78 – Acts 13, Psalm 130, Acts 15, 2 Samuel 4-6