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.

It Will Take More Than A Moose to Change Our Direction

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Have you ever denied someone that you are a Christ-follower? Maybe out of fear, or rejection, or possibly even being physically harmed?

We know the story of Peter denying that he was a follower of our Lord. Not just once, nor twice, but three times in a single night. Most likely, you or I would have behaved in the same way.  But later, when he is brought before the courts because of his witnessing for the Kingdom of God, he doesn’t deny Him. He speaks up about Him. And gladly accepts a physical beating to speak up about Him.

I remember a backpacking trip with two friends the month before we had to return to college. It was a dreary, raining day. We had been walking single file for over three hours with my turn to lead. We each had over 60 pounds of weight on our backs, covered with a hooded rain poncho, our heads looking down on the trail with each step, our feet in rhythm with each other and with the rain. The trail was narrow, muddy, and slippery. It was raining so hard that with your head bowed down and eyes narrowed to the ground you could only see two to three feet in front of you. As we walked, I came to a sudden and complete stop. My friends couldn’t stop in time and both crashed into each other and into me. Fortunately, I was able to keep standing in place while leaning backward to prevent myself from crashing into the largest moose that we have ever seen. He stood over eight feet tall, antlers wider than the trail, and his face with nose snorting and eyes questioning my sanity looked me face to face. There was less than one foot that separated his bodily presence from mine. If he took one step forward and turned one of those antlers in my direction, it would more than hurt. What seemed like an entire freshman year in college, I yelled “Moose”, then “Backup” while stepping backwards and pushing my friends to reverse their direction. (Its amazing where one finds strength in a time of emergency.) When everyone realized what was happening, we all stepped backwards in unison. Step by step, inch by inch, foot by foot, until we were a safer distance from our new found friend. After discussing the situation we realized that it would take us twice as long to turn back and take a different trail. Therefore, we decided to take our stand and wait. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long. Our friend took a few steps towards us and then turned off the trail and proceeded on his lonely way. I felt like a prisoner released from jail. I knew somewhere, someplace this experience would teach me a lesson for life. And it has. When you believe in something strongly, don’t back away. Stand up to your true self. However, there comes a time when you may have to back up for a better perspective of the situation; a time when you need to view the forest above the trees; a time to evaluate the situation before moving forward.

As we grow older we realize that life is such that we may not only take three steps forward and two steps back in our journey, but sometimes its two steps forward and three steps back. But as long as we know our destination and our purpose for living, each struggle, each step, each obstacle is only a temporary delay of the inevitable. Our life is a learning process preparing us for eternity.

There is a time to step back. There is also a time not to step back. However, when it comes to living a life as a disciple of His, are you going to step back or are you going to fully accept His calling?

OUR PRAYER

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Almighty Dad, we thank you for always being here, for always being with us, for always guarding our steps. Help us always to walk with you. To allow you free access into our heart, mind, and soul. To allow you to lead us down paths where no matter what troubles or problems are ahead, we know you will help us through.

Help our unbelief to diminish. Help us to be strong. Provide us with directions each and every day in how we can best serve you and those you have given us to minister. Again, thank you. Amen.

Dr. Mike

Who is Your Most Intimate Companion?

 

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“…but I have called you friends,…”

John 15:15

When you walk with God, you have the ultimate companion. You have someone who is always there when you need them. Someone you always are able to depend on. Someone you know is your friend independent of the situation.

When you follow Christ though, you quickly come to realize that you are not the most popular person in the world. You are not a rock star, or basketball superstar, or a famous Hollywood movie star. You are unique. And your uniqueness turns many people away from you because you are not acceptable to world standards. Yes, the righteous will find you uncomfortable to walk with. The rich will find you a stumbling block. The powerful will find you threatening the status quo. The experts will question your credentials. The elders will find you rebellious. The sinner will accept you as one of them until they realize your abhorrence to sin. The naive will consider you their messiah until they find that you preach acceptance of personal responsibility for your actions. The minority will push their agendas on you until they realize you have no distinction between races, sexes, or political affiliations. The right wing will consider you a liberal while the left wing insists you’re a conservative. Your pastor thinks you are uncommitted. Your family says you’re a little strange. Your neighbors love you but can’t seem to accept you as you are. Your coworkers respect you but wonder when you are going to become normal. Your children honor you and accept your eccentricities as part of the aging process. And you wonder how come your companions are few?

Jesus selected twelve disciples that where the closest to him. Of the twelve, three where the most intimate with him, Peter, John and James. Jesus didn’t have a physical wife or children of His own. His companions consisted of those who walked with Him on Kingdom’s mission. He ministered to them while they ministered to Him. His companions came to Him by His Dad to start the work that He was prophesied to complete. Not everyone was excited about the Kingdom of God. Only those people whose passion towards the Kingdom came alive did Jesus bring dose to His bosom. and one of them was going to betray Him. Many of them didn’t even capture the real vision of the Kingdom during His ministry. Yet Jesus chose them, ministered to them, taught them, loved them, played with them, and worked with them, giving them the best years of His life including the ultimate, life itself.

The best companion we all have is Jesus and the friends He brings to us while sharing the gospel of the Kingdom. Our companions are few, but true.

Dr. Mike

IS IT NOT EASIER TO DRIVE FORWARD THAN IN REVERSE?

A DISCIPLE’S PRAYER:

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Our Faithful, Heavenly Dad:

You are a faithful Father. You are committed to your plan. You are committed to your relationships. You are committed to your work. You are committed to your Word. And you are committed to me.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for giving me the gift of faith. But help me in my disbelief. Help me with my doubts. Remove any obstacle that prevents us from have a totally committed relationship. Always be the first and center in my life. Help me put the effort and time in our relationship. Let there be nothing that ever comes between us. Let your Faith live powerfully in my life. Let it flow from me and touch the lives of others. Let you be glorified in all my actions, thoughts, and deeds. Help me be totally committed in our relationship. Help me make the time to walk with you, to pray with you, to study with you, to meditate with you, to fast with you, to party with you, and to play with you.

Thank you for everything that you do. But more importantly, thank you for being you. As always we ask and pray these things in our Lord’s Name. Amen.

 

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But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

 

 

      In today’s language, we would say that the kingdom of God requires total commitment.  It’s faith in action. It’s total abandonment. Anything less is a road to failure.

It’s like driving down the freeway at 70 mph. But instead of focusing your eyes in the direction you are driving, you keep your eyes glued to the rear view mirror. How long do you think you could drive before causing a major accident?   It  requires total commitment. One of those action character words that everyone knows is required to be a winner in life. In our day and age that word seems to have become like the relic bones of a dinosaur. We take the few bones that we have from a dinosaur, and put them together by how we think they ought to go, not absolutely sure because no one was there to take pictures for us. So whatever we come up with is just as good as the next guy’s.

We know the “C” word, most  of us know how to spell it, pronounce it, and use it in a sentence. But to apply it in everyday life is another story. We see people enter relationships with the attitude that when it starts to take work, then we shall depart. We see people start a diet, but when the effort takes work they then resort back to their old habits. We see people start a new job, a job with great  pay, benefits,  and work  environment.  Most of  us  would consider it a dream job. But when the job requires further education, self-improvement and personal changes, then they throw up their hands and quit. It’s not worth the effort. They would rather return to their old job that pays half as much and float through life without having to change. To be totally committed in your pursuit of a worthwhile goal takes effort, work, and sweat. To persevere, until the end results are achieved, most of the time seems to take more than we can muster. This is where faith comes in. A faith not based in self-confidence, in family and friends, or in the system, but an action faith in a living God. A faith that says, “GOD IS!”

A faith built on hearing God’s word and acting on it. A faith built on living God’s word and experiencing the fruit. A belief that is built on walking with God and discovering His true character. Without faith, total abandonment looks reckless. With faith, total abandonment is the high adventure and thrill of pursuing God’s kingdom. It’s like driving down the freeway of life with the knowledge that the road was built by God, the vehicle was developed by God and the police patrolling the road are servants of God. So that no matter what obstacle may come your way, you have faith that God is in control.

So tell me, isn’t it easier to drive forward than in reverse?

Dr. Mike

 

 

HOW OFTEN DO YOU LOOK BACK?

A DISCIPLE’S PRAYER:

Our Gracious Dad,

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            Thank you for the privilege of being a disciple of Jesus. Of all the occupations in this world, I can’t think of one that provides the challenges, fulfillment, and rewards than being a committed disciple of our Lord. We have no regrets for making the decision years ago. Our only regret is that others have not yet captured your vision. Help me live a life worthy of discipleship. Help me live a life that glorifies you.

 

            Again, thank you Jesus for clothing me with your righteousness. Thank you for being my elder Brother, Lord, Savior, and Friend. Thank you for opening the doors to have a relationship with all of you.

            Again, we thank you for you. We ask for your continual blessings in our Lord’s name.   Amen.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mathew 22:14

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Can You Truly Say”There Is No Going Back Now?”

 This is one of those scriptures that always puzzles me.  Jesus states, after His parable on the wedding feast where a man  is thrown  out because he was not properly dressed, that “many are called, but few are chosen.” I have heard many interpretations of this scripture and they all seem feasible. But the one that stands out and grabs me more often relates to personal commitment.

truth 12“Many are called” refers to the millions who have heard the message of the kingdom of God and to have an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Dad. “But few are chosen,” means that not all who are called are allowed to take part in the entire Christian celebration because they are not properly clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The wedding garment pictures the righteousness that comes outside of our keeping the law which includes any work or activity that we do to make ourselves right before God. When we realize what the entire sacrifice of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection truly means, we humbly accept His authority into our life. Yet to totally surrender your life to Jesus, to trust in His salvation takes faith and a personal commitment to keep moving forward no matter what happens in the process.  Jesus Himself stated that no person who looks back at what he has given up for the kingdom of God is worthy to accept His calling (Luke 9:62).

       My father emigrated from Poland via Germany to the United States after WWII. When he stepped over the boundary of Poland into Germany he left behind all his earthy possessions: his farm and blacksmith business, family, friends, and everything else we as humans cling to in this life. He stepped over the line realizing that he was never going back and that whatever he left behind was not worth what lied before him. He immigrated  into the U.S. and never regretted it. He was more blessed in this country compared to what he gave up. He made the commitment to accept the choice and pay whatever price he had to when he crossed over the line. We likewise made the decision to step over the line; the line that separates God’s Kingdom from earthly powers; the line that separates Christ-centered discipleship from church membership,  the line that separates total surrender from self-gratification. The line has been drawn. We have to make the final decision whether or not we are going to take the step. If we don’t, then we will never become a disciple of His. If we do, we have His promises, His commitment, and His future to secure us. The decision may be initially difficult to make, but when made, it brings a sense of peace and challenge into one’s life. It gives you the peace of Christ which supersedes all understanding (Phil 4:7) and the greatest challenge this life has to offer  – To be a disciple of His.

How committed are we to keep moving forward rather than look back at what we gave up?

Dr. Mike