Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

This has been a verse that my wife and I have been talking about alot lately . . . its is who we want to be. God has chosen us, and set us apart, and dearly loves us, and He wants our lives to be full of the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience that He has shown us. Romans 13:14 reads “. . . clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. We have Colossians 3:12 written on a dry erase board in our kitchen because just as we wear clothes everyday, we want everyday to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Under the verse Iwrote, ‘get dressed!’ One of the reasons is that I find myself walking around and interacting with people and lacking these attributes . . . I want to put these things on.

My wife and I laid down in bed, frustrated with our children last night. We laid down frustrated with oursevles. Raising kids is a rewarding, amazing experience, but it is also the hardest, most frustrating, humbling thing that I have ever done. As we laid there I began to pray out loud, praying for our kids, and repenting for things I needed to do better as a parent. I then feel asleep. I woke up and said something to my wife about clothing oursevles with Christ, and my wife shared some thing that I thought was pretty awesome. She said that as she prayed silently the night before, it had come to mind that she had the task of clothing our children in the morning. She said that she sets out our four year old’s  clothes for her, and although she knows that they are there, she will walk out of her room in her pjs and  has to be told to go back in her room and  put them on. After she gets dressed, many times she has to be told to go and put the shoes on that were right next to her clothes.

My wife said this is like us spiritually. We know we are supposed to put on compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience, but we often don’t. We need to hear from God, just like our 4 year old needs to be reminded to get dressed, and not forget her shoes. We need to wake up and listen to the Lord, so that we are clothed with what we are supposed to be wearing. When I don’t listen to God I end up forgetting what I have been called to be clothed in. We may clothe ourselves is some of these attributes, but later find ourselves having to be reminded to put on one that we have forgotten.  I go out and loose my temper with someone, and then get convicted that I’m not wearing pateince and need repent and go back and get dressed in pateince.

She then said think about the baby. I take our one year old’s clothes off, and she tries to run off naked. She said that she has to grab her and hold her to get her clothes on her. She is completely dependent on us to change her clothes. She would just run around naked like a savage if we didn’t make her put clothes on, or she would just wear the same thing everyday. I then chimed in, yeah we are that dependent on God! We can’t dress ourselves! John 15 calls us to abide in Christ, because without HIM we can do nothing. Without Christ I can’t produce these things. I need to be clothed in Christ. I need Christ to clothe me. We realized today, really were reminded today that we need to be constantly listening and depending on Christ or we end up walking around wearing sinful things. I mediated on Colossians 3:12 today. I texted it to my wife. I prayed Colossians 3:12. I sang it in a song singing patience, patience, is what i long for . . . patience is what I need . . . patience, patience is what you want from me . . . and prayed that the Lord would work it into my life. Then I sang compassion, and kindness, and so forth.  I sought to abide in Christ, knowing that just as my kids get dressed because they live with us, I get spiritually dressed when I live close to Jesus.

Lord I thank you that you are a parent to me. I am reminded by the dependency of my children on my wife and I to bath, feed, and clothe them, that I am completely dependent on you to feed me spiritually, bath me spiritually, and clothe me spiritually.  Help me to live close to you. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

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Do feel overwhelmed? Like there is more on your back than you can carry? That your knees may buckle with this next step? Go ahead and fall to your knees and stop trying to carry these burdens in your own strength! As Christians we have a Heavenly Father that never grows weary, and with whom nothing is too hard, that commands us to cast our cares on him, because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Our Heavenly Father, ” . . . gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).  Humility stops pretending that we can do it on our own, and says, “Daddy, I can’t do this anymore! I need you! I have been trying to do things on my own and I need you to carry me and my burdens!” We need to stop trying to do life in our own strength, and depend on Him instead of ourselves. It takes a very humble person to admit I can’t do my life.

John Elderidge says that men have a warrior mentality and are constantly asking themselves, “do I have what it takes?” Many men struggle and feel like failures because life has beaten them down and made them feel like failures! The load was too heavy and they fall. God’s invitation is, “You need might? You need grace? I give it the humble.” There is a song I really like right now. It says, “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be. I give up! I’m not strong enough! Hands of mercy won’t you cover me? Lord, I’m asking you to be strong enough for the both of us.” Matthew West is the artist.

God wants us to depend on Him. We don’t boast in our strength, getting good at doing life and saying, “Look at me! Look at me!” Our testimony can be, “My load was to heavy! If you see me pulling this thing off its because my Father is carrying me!” He is the ONE  that is to get the glory! The strong one, the delieverer gets the glory (John Piper). Let’s glorify Him by letting Him carry our load. Unload on the Lord, let him hear your heart and frustration, and then admit you can’t carry the load. Humble yourself and hand Him all your cares . . . let Him carry them . . . when you mess up, or when you realize you can’t do this thing . . . don’t despair . . . HE CAN and HE wants to.

So many marriages don’t make it. People promise forever to someone, only to later say something like, “I just don’t want this anymore” or “I don’t love you anymore”, or “this just isn’t working”, and they walk away from their marriage. In the last month I have heard of four marriages where one of the people has walked away, or said they want to. When someone says, “I just don’t want this anymore”, my response is, “It doesn’t matter what you want.” 

If you belong to Jesus then you are supposed too have crucified the sinful nature with it’s passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Christians have been crucified with Christ, and no longer live, but Christ lives in them and through them(Galatians 2:20).  This says that anything that I desire other than what God wants is to be nailed to the cross. I no longer live . . . but Christ lives in me. I still have a sinful nature that often desires something other than what the Spirit desires, and the way to combat this is walk in the Spirit, rather than the sinful nature(Galatians 5:16-18). This will be a battle till Christ comes back.

Faith is believeing that God exists and that He rewards those that earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) . Faith says, “Even though I am attracted to doing something other than what God wants, I am convinced that following God is more rewarding!” John Piper says, “When I choose the fleeting pleasures of sin over Christ, I always choose against my joy.” If someone as given themselves to Jesus, they become new people who desire what Jesus wants even when it is hard. They so want what God wants that, they wage war against every desire they find in themselves that is contrary to Christ.

Jesus prayed in the garden before He was to be crucified and it can be found in Matthew 26:31-46. Jesus basically prayed that he would not have to die on the cross. Then Jesus prayed, “not my will, but your will be done.” In other words, ” I don’t want to do this, but Im saying no to what I want and obeying the Father.” In Hebrews 12 we find out that Jesus went to the cross for the sake of His joy. Jesus didn’t want to say yes to the cross because it was going to be a nightmare, but He also knew that if He said no it would cost Him the joy of pleasing the Father and saving us from Hell. Sometimes our joy and God’s will is on the other side of something that it would much easier to say no to.

So when you know what God wants for your body, your finances, your marriage, your parenting, your job, your time, your future, your mind, your mouth, your eyes, etc, and you desire something else and do it for whatever reason . . . you make a step in the opposite direction of finding joy. You grab a hold of a mouse trap and say no to abundant treasure. You will be inticed by things, but faith says, “I know it is a lie, because God told me not too. I am blood-purchased and I don’t have the right to do what I want to do. Jesus owns me! (1 Corinthians 6:20). I have died to my will, and am alive to His will. It doesn’t matter what I want! It only matters what He wants! If people lived like that in their marriages, churches, and work place, they would all be alot more like heaven. I beg you Christian to deny yourself and follow Him for the sake of your joy. I beg you non-Christian to repent today and recieve Christ as Lord and Savior, and die to your kingship in your life and submit to His.

 That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] . . .2 Timothy 1:6.  Many of us know what it is like to be, “on fire” for the Lord. We also know what it is like for everything in your life to feel like it is pouring water on that fire. Ten days into the New Year and I feel burnt out. I’m tired. I was not even in the mood to write. The fire that God has put in us must be fanned, must be stirred up.

 We have a fire pit in our back yard and we like to roast hot dogs and marshmellows in it. Sometimes we have a little trouble getting a fire started. . . and when we get it started . . . keeping it going. We usually end up using lighter fluid to get it started. We also take litte things that we know are gonna catch fire easy to get things going. We then make sure that we have enough logs on the fire to burn awhile. These longs eventually need to be poked and stirred up, and also new logs need to be added. We have a strategy to keeping the fire lit.

Our spiritual fire is like that. You ever wonder why you get on fire for Jesus when you are at a camp or retreat? God’s ordained way of stiring up your flame takes place. Along with that the water is dammed up. We turn into an inferno of love and worship. Granted alot of people just get hyped up at camp because of the enviroment, many of us have our faith catch on fire.  Then we step back into everyday life, and it is like the fire department just turned one of those big water hoses on you. We also stop feeding the fire when we get back into our routine.

So what does God want us to do to keep our fire lit? Well one of those ways is to spend time in His Word and prayer. Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). If you want to die, stop eating food and you will starve to death. If you want to die spiritually stop eating (reading, meditating on, applying) God’s Word. A fire needs food, and to be on fire for God you need to throw logs on that fire, you need to give it fuel and something to burn on. We also need to die to ourselves and submit to the Spirit, who is the fire in us, constantly being in prayer, listening, keeping in step and not letting our selfishness, pride, and lust, spray water on that fire. When we allow the Spirit to have free reign in us he lights us up with fire for God.

A second way to keep our fire lit is to spend time with people who are on fire. If I want a log to catch on fire, throwing it into the already burning logs is the best way I know how. We are not supposed to do this Christian thing on our own. We are a Body. We are to gather together and stir each other up. Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I remember in 2006 a practice that I had that caused me to burn hot. I was a youth minster in Enid,OK. There was a young man who helped lead the youth group, by the name of Isaac King. Isaac and I would make it a point to get together once a week . . . all alone . . . at the church . . . late at night . . . with the only goal being to hear from God, and challenge each other to walk in obedience.

We would spend hours reading scripture, sharing struggles and victories, preaching to each other . . .  we would just get up there and say, “God meet with us and we allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way, and He lit us on fire.  I remember very well our first meeting. We planned to meet together to talk about the youth group. We were frustrated by their apathy and disunity. The first meeting was to pray for these kids to get right and wake up. Half way through the meeting we realized that we didn’t need to be frustrated with them . . . we needed to be broken for them. We realized that we had been preaching, and Isaac had been leading worship but . . .  had we been radically loving and serving these kids? Isaac said, “Maybe it us that need to wake up!”  We heard from God what we needed to do, and we did it. From then on we met once a week so that we could keep each other awake and stir up the fire in each other. Isaac was contagious, and when I spent time with Him I caught fire for Jesus Christ, and he caught fire from me.  Take the time to get with other believers and take inventory of your spiritual lives and let God move in you thru each other!  

Lastly, find out what fans your flame and do it. For me going on prayer runs, or playing spiritual basketball(i will explain this in an upcoming devo), or listening to Christian rap, writing devotions, preaching, and many other things fans my flame. What gets you excited for Jesus? Based on this devotion, Im gonna get off of this computer right now and go get in the Word with my wife and pray together. I probably will take my ipod to work with me so I can listen to some Lecrae, and I need to call some of my hardcore freaks for Jesus buddies and talk. I love you readers, and pray that these devotions fan the flame in your life. Im out!

Our family is sick right now. Seems like we have been sick alot lately. We stayed home from church and eventually made it up for breakfast and watched some preaching by David Jeremiah on TV. This man has often encouraged me, and edified me as I listen to him often on the radio. This morning he was talking about a man who took his little girl on a daddy-daugther date. He decided that before they dug into their pancakes that he would tell this precious little girl how much that she meant to him and his wife. He leaned in and filled her little ears with sweet words of encouragment and love and appreciation. He then picked up his fork to eat. His daughter spoke up and said, “Daddy more.” So he leaned in to talk to her some more about how special she was . . . believing her tank was full, he grabbed his fork again and began to put food in his mouth,when she said, “Daddy More”. He didn’t eat much that morning, but  his daugther went home and said, “Mommy, I’m a really special daughter . . . Daddy told me so!”

This really struck me for two reasons. First, as most of you know, I’m the father of two little girls. My girls need me to refresh them, and encourage them and build them so desperately. They need to know they are loved and worth my atttention.  I have also been reading, “Raising Up Girls”, by Dr. Dobson. He speaks alot about how little girls need to get a feeling that they are special, and captivating, and worthy attention from their Dad. I need to give them attention, and then communicate that I am captivated by who they are. This refreshes them, and builds them up, and teaches them that they have a Heavenly Father that is nuts about them.

The second reason that this sermon really struck me is that he said, “No one ever says that I am too encouraged.” People are walking around with sick hearts, and empty tanks that can only be filled with the truth and love of God. Proverbs 13:12  says that, ” hope deferred makes a man sick, but a longing fulfilled is tree of life.” So many people have sick hearts and need a deep longing of feeling special, and loved, and needed to be filled. Proverbs 12:25, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” We are surrounded by people who are wieghed down that need our kind words! As we are struggling to keep our head up, and keep following Jesus, and getting overwhelmed, remember those around you need encouragement probably even more than you do.

 Oh how I want my wife, daughters, extended family, friends, and enemies to say of me, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, Joseph, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” Philemon 1:7). I Thessalonians 5:11 and Ephesians 4:29 both talk about, building each other up. The people around us need to be built into bold, loving,compassionate, faith-filled people, and we can be used by God to build this into them with our words and actions. Think about how the words and actions of others have built your faith and hope. Can you also remember how low you get when you find yourself in an encouragment drought, when you can’t remember the last time anything built you up, and seems like everything is tearing you down. Many times I have seen the church’s job as a war to build people up while everything else in their lives is tearing them down. Ephesians 4:11-16 speaks of the body functioning in teaching truth in love so that the Body grows into Christ who holds the church together, and grows it up in love as each member does its work.

I work for a vending company, and we have a very sophisticated satillite system that tells us information conerning our vending machines. One of the things that we are told is when the machine is getting empty, so that the machine can be scheduled to be filled quickly. Oh how closely these machines are monitored, and oh how quickly are these machines scheduled and filled. We go to the machines and fill the empty spots with new food, we build it back up to par. You know we need to be so concerned with filling the people in our lives with truth, love, appreciation, joy, peace, and other good things. Are the people around you running on empty and need to be built back up to par? Lets open our eyes and tune into the Holy Spirit and let Him use us to fill people up. Think of some people that need your attention and encouragment, and then go bless their socks off! You will most likely be shocked how much they needed it.

 

I was at a softball game a long time ago when I was a youth minister at a church, and was approached by some of my youth. They were concerned about a friend. Their friend had said that she could not believe in God because the world was such an awful place, were such awful things happened. My heart broke. I knew that this was a person that had been hurt deeply, and desperately needed the hope of God in her life.  This is not an unusual thing. Many people have lost hope in life, because life has done nothing but kick them in the gut. It is hard for many people to believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God when this world is so messed up.

As I got to share way back then . . .  I want to say tonight that the fact that this world is so messed up increases my faith rather than destroys my faith in God. The Bible tells us in Genesis 3, that when Satan tempted Adam and Eve. . . and they  sinned . . .  that the world fell . . . that mankind fell. Sickness, and death, and sin entered into the paradise that God created.  The world is just what the Bible says that it is. Mankind is just who the Bible says that they are. Jesus stepped down into this dark world  to destory the works of the devil(1 John 3:8), and to rescue us from this present evil age (Galatians 1:4).

Every problem that this world has . . . Jesus is the answer! Politically this world will not be right until Jesus is King. Our sin has us headed to hell, without our Savior dying in our place to save us. All the problems in the world are solved in Revelation 20. This part of the Bible tells us of Jesus making everything right when He returns for good. John, the author of Revelation, writes, ” . . . I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . . Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was on the throne said, I am making everything new!”

We still live in the old order. The Bible says that this is a time of death, mourning, crying, and pain. It is a time when God is invisible to us, and we are required to walk by faith rather than sight. But soon our faith will become sight! When Jesus comes back this order will be done away with . . . Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes . . . and make all things new. This new order includes us being given glorified bodies, and finally not struggling with sin as our hearts are made completely new. Jesus will be visible to us, and we will live with Him forever.

See! The Bible tells us why the world is like it is, and it also gives us the hope that this is a temporary order and that our Jesus is gonna make things right. In the words of an old minister I once knew, “For lost people this world is as good as it gets . . . But for us that know Jesus, this world is as bad as it gets!” I end this with a big smile on my face singing The Ambassador’s lyics, ” I got that ho-ho-hope! ho-ho-hope! I got that hope man, I got that hope man!”

Two of the things that Jesus talked the most about was money . . . and Hell. Not exactly the easiest things to hear Jesus talk about. Probably the last thing most people want to hear about. Something hit me today. Square in the face. Hell is real. I know it theologically, but do I believe in it to the point that it is real to me. When I get a real picture of what Hell is, my heart shivers and I want to explain it away!  I desire very much not to believe in it. When I talk about Jesus coming back with my wife we get excited! But one night she broke my celebration with the words, “Can we ask HIM to wait?” I responded, “What do you mean baby? Its gonna be awesome!” Her response, “Many of our loved ones are not ready to see HIM!” A feeling of terror and sadness came over me.

The Bible teaches that we, “have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23) . It also teaches that this sin has earned us death(Romans 6:23). Revelation  teaches that, “the lake of fire is the second death. All whose names were not found written in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Are the names of your co-workers written in that book? Are the names of your family members in that book? Is your name in that book?

There is only one way to get in the book.  John 3:16 says, “That God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him, will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:36 say,  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” This word doesn’t just mean believe he exists, but it is a believing on Him, and trusting in Him. It is a Noah like faith, a running into Jesus like Noah got into the Ark. It is a repenting of sin, and entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world . . .  And those who have recieved HIM as their only hope, and made Him their Savior and Lord, are in that book . . . because Jesus took the penalty for their sin . . . but everyone not in that book will pay the penalty for their own sin.

Wow. Now lets let this really hit home. Let’s insert the name of someone we know in the following blank, that is not washed in the blood of Christ. Revelation 20:15: “____________  was not found in the book of life, and was thrown into the lake of fire” Wow. Let that become real to you. Listen to these words from hell in Luke 16, . . “have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire . . . ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,  for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Wow, words from a man who is spending eternity in hell, with no way out and no way to witness.

We can witness though! We are called to be Christ’s Amassadors! Listen: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). 

Hell . . . a place that if we really believed in, the words of Spurgeon would be our lifestyle! Listen:  “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for” (Charles H. Spurgeon) and “God save us from living in comfort while sinners are sinking into hell!”(Charles Spurgeon).

I apologize to my lost family and friends. I apologize to my saved family and friends. I apologize to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I apologize that I have not lived like hell is as real as it is. I have not witnessed as hard as I should to lost people. I have not been a good enough example of an Amassador of Christ to other believers. I have not been going hard enough on the mission that my Lord gave me. Thank you for your forgiveness and grace Lord, and fill me with a burning in my heart to reach the lost. In Jesus’ Name Amen.