The Greatest Blessing

During a recent breakfast conversation, the question arose; “what is the greatest blessing you can receive in this life?” The answered varied depending on each person’s journey through life. Some answered “a large family,” another “financial independence,” yet another stated “totally in love with one awesome person.” Each person’s answer typically reflected their complex value system. For most of us though, the answer was the “one thing that would truly make us happy for the moment.” Yet would it?

The answer that grabbed my attention though was one that has taken years for this disciple to realize. In one of our recent small group meetings, one of the men (grandpa many times over) made the statement that he never realized until recently what life could be like living in a personal relationship with the living God. He grew up in a rule-oriented culture and didn’t experience the grace-based, life-giving life style until several years ago. Now looking back, he is amazed at the quality of life that fills his insides and expresses itself from the inside-out. For him life is not about the physical toys or accomplishments anymore (that is how he measured his life in the early days). Today it is about a personal relationship with the living King of Kings.

Yes the greatest blessing one can receive in this life is a personal relationship with the living Triune God. Yes, the same God who created the heavens and earth; implemented a plan for human redemption; and has big plans for humanity in a new age. A relationship built not on a contract but a commitment. Theologians like to name it a covenant. But a covenant is simply a committed promise between a faithful God and a double-minded mankind. God always fulfills His side of the promise no matter how many times we fail on our side. But more than his promises, the joy of knowing Him and Him knowing us is greater than any promise. Knowing Him is better than heaven, eternal life, or salvation itself. When one begins to enjoy hanging out with the living, Triune God for no other reason than the joy of the relationship, than one truly experiences the greatest blessing that this life has to offer. Anything else doesn’t even compare.

OUR PRAYER

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Holy True God, thank you for being true. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for designing our life to experience you more and more each day. Help us to become more intimate with you. No matter the circumstances, help us enjoy life the way you have created it to be. Help us to focus more of you and less of us each day. Whenever the circumstances may stink, help us truly to be grateful for life. You are always good. Let your goodness rub-off on us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, however we think, let it bring you glory. Let your blessings bless others. Help us to truly enjoy all of you forever and ever. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Faith-Building Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

The Suffering God

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8

Suffering in many cultures is typically looked upon as if the person is doing something wrong. In some faith-communities, suffering is typically viewed as the result of personal sin. Yet when one views the spectrum of the entire Bible one learns that is not true.

First there is Jesus Christ. As the writer of Hebrews states: Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. Jesus of course never sinned. In the beginning of his ministry, he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he suffered physical exhaustion from lack of food and water. His suffering was not the result of sin, but the deliberate choice of obeying His Father. In his last days, he suffered death on the cross. Again, not because of his sin, but his deliberate choice to fulfill the Godhead’s plan of redemption.
Jesus stated in John 9:1-3 that a certain blind man was born sightless not because of sin, but for God’s glory. The Book of Job 1:1,8 states that God considered Job blameless (sinless) yet his entire world came crumbling down. He suffered physically, emotionally, and financially. Yes, many other religions and faiths have difficulty in believing God knows anything personal about suffering. Yet the Incarnation demonstrates what Jesus learned through suffering.

There are those in the Protestant ranks who emphasize the cross without an image of Christ because of the resurrection. However, those in the Catholic faith maintain a statue of a suffering Jesus on the cross as a reminder of the crucifixion. Both images are correct. Yet one-side likes to focus on one side of the spectrum and ignore the other. The fact is joy and suffering is a part of life.
To enjoy life in Christ is to admit the reality of suffering. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:24 that his suffering is for the benefit of others in the Body of Christ. Yet even in suffering, Paul rejoiced in the Spirit that lived in him and help him through the pain. In I Corinthians 12:26, Paul writes that when one suffers in the Body of Christ, the entire Body of Christ suffers. Also, in Acts 9 Jesus is speaking with Paul (then Saul) asking why is Paul persecuting Him? Paul was persecuting believers, the Body of Christ, not the physical Jesus; yet Jesus’ reply was he was taking the pain personally when the Body of Christ is being attacked. Isn’t it the same when one member suffers within the Body of Christ? When one suffers, isn’t Jesus already there in Spirit? Doesn’t he recall what it was like walking in his physical temple? And as our mediator with the Father, doesn’t he groan with the Spirit working out what is best for all parties involved?

Yes, God created life to be enjoyed. Yet when one realizes that joy comes from the Spirit, not the physical surroundings that we live in, the more comforting it becomes to continue the journey knowing Christ is with us, empathizing in our suffering, and providing the means to move through the pain where God will be glorified and we will be acknowledged by our Creator for the faith we exercised in those moments of truth.

OUR PRAYER

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Our Great Empathic God: thank you for experiencing humanity in person. Thank you for knowing what pain and suffering is all about. Thank you for mediating between heaven and earth. Thank you for always walking with us through our suffering. Help us to have the courage and conviction to always trust in you. You have made everything possible through your life, death, and resurrection. You are victorious and triumphant in your ways. You learned obedience through your suffering. Help us to likewise learn to trust you and follow your lead no matter how ridiculous the decision is in the eyes of others. Help us to walk through our suffering and learn from it. Help us walk through our pain and glorify you through it. Help us baffle those around us by allowing your Spirit to reside in us full of joy and the fruit of your divine nature. No matter the circumstances, no matter the challenges, and no matter the results, help us enjoy everyday life in you for your glory. Forever and ever. Amen.

 

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Faith-Building Study, Check Out My Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

The Flourishing God

Have you ever met a person that exudes confidence with humility, love with justice, and strength of character with a compassionate attitude for others? I personally haven’t yet met such a human in my walk through life. But, as we read the Bible, commune with God, and witness His work in our life and in others, we become more amazed at someone such as this. The story of Jesus is such a person. What the writers of the gospels reveal about Him leaves us with an awe of wonder. He not only amazes us, but also gave us a glimpse of who the Father is like. When we look through the frosted lens of our glasses, we then truly realize why He is God and we are not.

Another attribute that astounds us of God is His life-giving nature. Wherever God goes, whatever He touches, it flourishes. There is a character in the “Lord of The Rings” series (book version, never made it into the movie) that the author portrayed him as a person who made everything around him to flourish. The Newsboys sang a song several years ago (that made it as my ring tone for the iPhone) entitled “Wherever We Go” whose words showcase how life blooms wherever they went: the grass grows greener, the stock market goes up, the sun shines, and the birds sing joyfully. The imagination only limits what the God-Life must be like.

Our narrow view of God limits us in our understanding of a life that flourishes. Typically in the western world we associate flourishing with personal material gain. Though it is a part, it is a small part. For God, flourishing involves so much more. It is an outer expression of His internal divine nature. It is the standard of who He IS. When he asks humanity to live up to His ways, it is because that is how he lives. It involves healthy, mutual submissive relationships; it emphasizes community along with the individual. Its basis is real love that sacrifices for the sake of others. It emphasis is not what is in it for me but how can I participate with God as He continues His work of completing His plan for humanity.

God wants us to flourish. However, he doesn’t want us to perish along the way. For most of us, we are like a rebellious teenager that wants to learn how to drive a car, but still lacks the maturity, responsibility, and accountability for his actions. As parents we want them to enjoy more, but providing gifts to early in one’s growth may quickly turn deadly for that person and others. Therefore, it is best to wait until the proper time. God is no different with us. His nature is to bless and share His world with others. Yet many of us are just not yet ready to handle a life that flourishes. But through time, discipline, and obedience we prove to Him that we are ready. Yet when we are ready, we have most likely matured at a level that it isn’t important for us any longer. We are thankful that God in His wisdom knows what is best for us at the right time.

OUR PRAYER

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Our great Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for allowing us to know you. As we walk with you, open our eyes, heart, and mind to participate you as you bless others. As you bless us, in small ways and large ways, help us to likewise to bless others. Let you river of life continue to pass through us and into the people we meet. Let everything we do, say, and think bring glory to you and your kingdom. Let whatever we touch, magnify you. Let whatever we become involved with prosper for your name sake. Let this life flourish for your glory. Amen.

 

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

The Enjoyable God

The more our Triune God reveals Himself to us, the more we bow down in awesome amazement. The theme running through my mind for the past several years is simply how much life exuberates from His Being. Growing up in an Eastern European family (my parents immigrated from what is now Poland & Ukraine after WWII), life during and after the war was no picnic for either of them. Though they survived, the scars of battles, death, and prison camps carried with them for most of their lives. Of course, as parents it eventually rubbed off on the children even though they tried their best to shelter us from their pain. Most of the time is was duty, responsibility, and work that was the number one topic of discussion. It was a rare sight in our household to see laughter and joy fully expressed.

So when God invited us to join Him on His redemptive mission, we enthusiastically accepted without truly knowing the cost or sacrifice required. All we knew was what we were doing wasn’t working. In life’s journey, we began to grow in Christ’s grace and knowledge. We began to unlearn old in-grain beliefs and replace them with God’s truth. We discovered a new Spirit within us that was never there before. It was our introduction and now assurance of God’s work within every believer through the Holy Spirit. As we explored and discovered more about Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the more we witnessed a change in attitude, behavior, and confidence not in self but in the Triune God.

What happened over time was basically a miracle of transformation. This person changed from an introverted, quiet, reserved personality to an opened, expressive character that can’t seem to stop expressing the love, joy, and faith of life in Christ. The inner life that God’s Spirit influences has become like an unstoppable river that flows without limitations. The more that comes out and is shared with others, the more remains on the inside. It is like a bottomless churn that continues to flow without any physical laws that explains its methodology.

Why am I so excited about this? Simply because the more we hang out and walk with God, the more His attitude, beliefs, character, and divine nature is pressed upon us. The one character trait that I marvel more about God than others because of the struggles in my life, is simply the way God enjoys life. From creation where He said everything He made was “very good,” to the resurrection of Christ where the angels rejoiced over the victory of death, sin, and Satan, God enjoys what He does. Jesus himself enjoyed eating and drinking as he was accused for partying with the socially undesirables of his day. How much joy does He express when one of His children returns home from their wandering ways? Jesus portrays in the parable of the Prodigal Son a Father than came running to meet his “lost” son and threw a party in celebration of the event.

When we wonder through life and see “God Events” in the routine, mundane circumstances that we are confronted with each day, we are reminded of God who created everything as a gift for us to enjoy. He speaks about Joy in His word; the fruit of God’s Spirit includes Joy; and Joy is one of the attributes of who God Is. Most of us take joy for granted; not I any longer.

OUR PRAYER

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Joyous Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for living in us. Open up our hearts and minds to see the wonders of your life. Help us to fully express your joy through us. Though circumstances may stink at times, help us continue to keep our eyes and hopes focused on you. Do not let us down. Instead, glorify your name through your servant. Let your joy impact those around us. Let your joy lead others to you. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for your joy in our life.

 

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

 

BLESSED AND BROKEN

For many of us, our journey through life contains moments of high satisfaction along with times of painful struggle. The shock that many young people graduating from school this year will eventually receive is realizing how unprepared they truly are to face the reality of life. For many, life is still a fantasy watched through a video screen. Movies and film clips that are programmed and reprogrammed until the scene is perfect becomes a blind standard of expectations. The “why not me” mentality confronts many self-reliant individuals who want more from life than an “average” existence. For many, happiness is the goal and money is the prize. Yet for others, survival is the norm and hope is the plan. Like many who have chronologically gone before us, life’s future challenges and obstacles are not included in our journey’s plan toward success.

Someone once told me at an early age that life consists of blessings and brokenness’s. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but looking back now, I have to totally agree. Like the caboose on the train track, we are traveling down a path anchored by two rails on both sides of the track. On our left side are the blessings. On our right side are the brokenness’s. (Or for others the sides may be switched, but the results are the same). As we travel through life, on any given day, we experience the joy and thrills of victory, meaning, and love. Yet on the same day and possibly even moments apart, we may also experience pain, sorrow, and fear. There is not a person I haven’t met who has denied it. Some people may emphasize the blessing more than the brokenness and others focus on the brokenness more than the blessing, but if they are honest they will admit that both exist at the same time.

As we are all human, made in the image of God and yet negatively impacted by our alienation from God, we all experience godly and ungodly moments. The real question is which side are we going to emphasize in our life? For most of us, our human condition wants to control the environment around us instead of trusting a living God. Therefore, we focus on trying to manage (plan, organize, and control) the broken side of life. Others though have come to learn to place their brokenness into the hands of a living God whose divine nature is to redeem, restore, and bless others. The broken-side treats others as the enemy. The blessed-side relates with others as God’s children hidden in Jesus Christ but blind from ignorance and unfriendly spiritual forces. The broken-side uses and manipulates others for their personal agenda. The blessed-side paints a vision of options and lets others freely decide which is best for them and their community. The broken-side takes all they can get for themselves. The blessed-side gives to others without any expectation of a return. The broken-side pities themselves while blaming others. The blessed-side graciously thanks their Provider and prays that others may come to know Him. Through all of life’s journey, the blessed-side eventually realizes how blessed we truly are because God carries us through our brokenness. We have learned to acknowledge our brokenness and allow God’s Spirit to regenerate us. We know who our Savior is. We don’t deny or hide from our brokenness. Instead we like Paul acknowledge that when we are weak, then God is strong in us. For that we are thankful and realize how truly Blessed we are.

How about you? What ways has God taken your brokenness and blessed you or others through it?

OUR PRAYER

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Blessed Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for your gracious blessings. Many of them we take for granted. Yet we acknowledge that you are the author and giver of everything that is good. You are our Healer, Redeemer, and Restored. Help take our brokenness and turn it into your blessings. Make our weakness your strength that is glorified to everyone we meet. Let your blessings flow through us and touch the people in our world. Let everything we say, think, and do be a blessing for others and for you.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

Thievery Against Marriage

Marriage has been under attack from day one. Since Adam & Eve, when Eve began to spend more time listening to the serpent rather than commune with Adam and the Lord, the temptation of grabbing the non-compliant fruit eventually turned into a path of alienation from God and a broken life.

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Jesus himself stated that in the beginning, God created the marriage relationship: one man with one woman (Mark 10:6-9). Yet mankind with his stony heart couldn’t understand and comply with God’s intent for the marriage relationship. So through the Bible He reveals how mankind is to behave toward Himself and others for our own sake.

The marriage relationship itself pictures the relationship between the church (you and me) and Christ. In addition, the marriage relationship bonded by love, mutual submission, and a lifelong commitment of faithfulness pictures the same relationship that Father God, Son, and Holy Spirit have with one another.

In many ways, the marriage institution provides a safe haven for two people to experience the abundant relational life that God Himself enjoys. However, if two people are simply in a contractual arrangement, than marriage becomes nothing more but a business enterprise; two people satisfying each other needs in exchange for services rendered. Which type of marriage relationship do you want?

God reveals the type of behavior and attitude that leads to a prosperous marriage relationship. His Word highlights what builds-up and what breakdowns the marriage relationship. They include external and internal factors.

Some external factors that break down the marriage institution includes: adultery, incest, same-sex relationships, pornography, and fornication. Internal factors includes non-submissiveness, selfishness, and ungodliness. All these factors are thieves of marriage blissfulness. The main text in the Bible that highlight marriage responsibilities and relationship builders include: Ephesians 5; 1 Corinthians 7; and Hebrews 13:4.

Marriage is the ideal place for two people joined together to experience the same relationship that the Triune God enjoys. Yet, as always, mankind wants to take shortcuts that benefit individuals at the expense of the community. God’s way may hurt a few upfront in the beginning of the process, but eventually leads to long term success and riches for the majority as well as the few.

It takes trust to know that the eternal values of God always leads to the best outcome in the long run. Marriage is no different. So if we want to enjoy a rich relationship that marriage brings, than let us begin by personally standing up as a committee of one and voice our disapproval whenever we notice thievery against marriage.  How? By simply witnessing what marriage pictures in our daily lives and if necessary, use words.

OUR PRAYER

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Holy Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for marriage and its solid foundation for a society. Thank you for your Word that explains how to make marriage a copy of your relationship with humanity and yourself. Thank you for your grace and mercy when we fall short of the ideal. Enrich us with your character, your attitude, and your heart in our marriages. Help us live and experience your life through our marriage. Thank you for everything.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

 

Who Do You Trust?

Trust is built within relationships. Without relationships, trust wouldn’t matter. Trust is important because it brings two or more parties together toward a mutual destination.
If you ever been on a team, or served in the armed forces, than you know the importance of building trust among others. If you are in a serious relationship, husband/wife, parent/child, or employer/employee, than you also have tasted the fruit of trust. The fruit may have tasted sour or spoiled at times, yet in between we have also tasted the sweetness of a trustful relationship. Most likely there is or was one person in your life that allowed you to experience the savory joy of trusting another. However, during that time there were probably many others that caused you to distrust and keep others at an arm’s distance away from the heart.
For most of us, learning to trust our Triune God is a time investment that requires commitment and obedience without focusing on immediate results. The Book of Hebrews (Chpt. 11) summarizes many people of the faith journey who held on in trust of God without receiving a reward in this bodily life. In fact, many of them lost everything including their life in a hideous manner. Yet they trusted God to the very end.
When someone asks me today how do I measure success in this life, my reply is one word: Trust. Real success is not how much toys one accumulates in this life; it is not how famous or important one becomes in the eye of others; it is not experiencing life’s good things like a blessed marriage, career, or meaningful relationships. At the end of our life, Jesus is going to review our relationship with Him. Our life is either going to exemplify trust in our self or in Him. He is simply going to evaluate through the trails, tests, and moments of truth how much we trusted Him, sought Him, and followed Him. He will accordingly reward us. He is also going to measure how well we submitted to the Holy Spirit’s lead in our life, and likewise reward us. Yes we are saved by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. However, the Bible also teaches that we are rewarded by how much we maturely grow in our daily interaction with each other and with Christ.
So the next time someone asks you how do you measure success in life, let your answer always humbly remain the same: Trust in Jesus Christ.

OUR PRAYER

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Our Heavenly Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for committing yourself to our redemption. Help us to partner with you in following you in your work and in your plan to restore creation back to your original intent. Help us in our vain attempt to trust you. Shower upon us your steadfast love so we may experience and build a deep, trusting relationship with you. Help us to invest the day with you in everything we do. From arising, breakfast, commuting, work, lunch, gym, school, dinner, and playtime, help me to live in your presence and look for what you are doing in our little world.
Help us to help others in learning to trust you in everything we do. Amen. Amen.