Graceful Love or Legalized Affection

LOVE 8

Love is one of those expressive words that has been overused and underperformed in the 21st Century.Typically, if you asked 10 people for a definition of love, you would probably receive as many remarks.They would include such catch phrases as:

an emotion that makes one feel good

a decision to act

a sexual encounter

a worshipful moment

an exhilarating experience

an intimate friendship

a temporary relationship

a hookup

an act of giving

There are other statements you have heard that you could also include on the list. Yet, at the end of the day isn’t the best standard of love the source itself: the Triune God. We witness that love in the relationship between our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Both sides totally giving of themselves for the other. Not a 50%/50% partnership. But 100%/100% of total sacrificial blessing toward the other. Totally unconditionally as exemplified through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for humanity. He died for us while we were still rebelling against him. A graceful love is a totally, unconditional, freely given sacrificial expression without any strings attached.

On the other hand, how often have we experienced the legalized affection that some label as love. We have all witnessed that love somewhere in our lives. For example:

The parent that denies their emotional praise unless the child behaves according to specific demands.

The boss that manipulates others with a caring facade for the purpose of achieving their objectives; if not accomplished according to their desires, you end up in their dog house with no option for restoration.

The politician that kisses each baby in exchange for your vote. (every see a politician kiss a baby after the election?)

The wife or husband who refrains from sexual activity unless their mate meets their specific demands.

The little female princess that behaves accordingly to get what she truly wants from her Dad.

The neighbor who forcefully smiles across the fence at you yet internally mutters that life would be better off if you simply dropped dead.

The list is endless. The bottom line is we exhibit loving affection as long as others live up to our level of expectation. But the moment our standards are not met, we want to throw the bum out.

Legalized affection is “playing nice for what we want out of the relationship.” Graceful love is sacrificing ourselves for the betterment of the other with no other conditions except that God is glorified in the end. When God is glorified, Love gracefully wins. Which do you believe is the one God wants us to live?

OUR PRAYER

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Holy Father, Holy Lord, and Holy Spirit – thank you for revealing to us what makes love work. Help us out of our ignorance, pride, and lust. Let your heart manifest our actions, thoughts, and words so that you are always glorified. Whatever we lack physically, mentally, socially and financially, provide us with the means and the resources to bless others as you bless us. Thank you Jesus for showing us the way. Amen.

Yours In Christ,
Dr. Mike
Consultant, Coach, Encourager
If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

How Does Preaching Effect Us?

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Faith comes by hearing the Word. That is how God made it.  Preaching is a gift God bestows on certain people to expound the Word with more power than just plain teaching of the Word. Teaching explains the Word, but preaching personifies the Word.

To be preached up means that we have taken the Word to a personal level today. Personal means as it applies to us and not our neighbor, nor what we write in preparing a sermon or chapter in a book. Today means today. Not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today. Today, we have been filled with the Word till it is brimming over in our actions, thoughts, and deeds. Yesterday, we learned from life, and tomorrow we shall plan for life, but today we live life.

There are days when we only preach to our self. There are days when we listen to Christian music preaching His word in song. There are days when we walk with nature and just  listen to His creation. There are days when we are corrected by non-believers. There are days ministers of different denominations expound His word via the airwaves hammering home a specific truth that applies to us at that moment. And of course, there are days when just reading the Word in prayer that enlightens our mind and heart. But of all the ways, there is nothing like agood, old-fashion, Bible-believing, faith-building, spirit-filled sermon by a brother of the cross. There is something good about hearing God’s word from the mouth and heart of another believer. Maybe it just reassures that what is happening in us is not strange but happening in the lives of others. Or maybe, it just restores our faith in the universal church.  Either way, there are many ways to be preached up.

As a student of His we always want to be ready with an answer to those who ask. Sometimes we are not. There are moments when the words come out of our mouth that is proper for the time. Then there are times when nothing comes out. Even when we pray for a quick answer, nothing comes out. We hope and pray that the silence at that time is the answer. Like all His disciples, we want to be faithful stewards of His word. And in today’s highly, informational driven society, we need to be more effective than ever to expound His Word in a more personal and effective manner. It’s easier to preach the Word when we are preached up ourselves. When we are preached up, our cups are overflowing and we can’t help but preach the Word in season.  Lord, keep your Word coming!

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 21

Our Faithful Dad, thank you for your wonderful plan of salvation and allowing us to be a part of it. We also thank you for your Word, the Bible. We thank you for allowing us to come to understand its applications and Truths in our life. We thank you for Jesus, His life, His sacrifice, and His intervention in our life each and every moment. We also thank you Holy Spirit for being involved in our life each and every moment. You are one fascinating, heavenly Being.

Help us each day to focus on your teachings, principles, and Truths as it relates in our life. Let them be real to us. Let them be effective in our life. Let them come alive in everything we see, think, and do. Let your Word be a living example in our life.

Thank you Jesus as we pray in your name. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

 

We Owe! We Owe! Off To Work We Go!

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Are all our financial  obligations paid  up to date? Are all our other obligations paid up to date? Do we owe anyone anything?

The Bible states that we need to owe no one anything except our love. In which case, whom do we owe our love to? When it comes to the gospel of Christ have we done everything that we are capable and responsible for at this time?  To say yes is a peaceful and content state of mind and heart. To say no is unsettling. To say we are not sure is closer to the truth.

There are moments when we feel like champions after fulfilling our obligations as a Christ-follower. We either hung in there long enough to see God produce His fruit or we plowed full steam ahead until the job was done. Another project accomplished for the cause of Christ.

Yet those moments pass quickly as we struggle with the unsettling accounts and obligations that we realize we may never be able to accomplish nor fulfill. While we are serving our local church a call for help comes from the community food shelter, immediately followed by a call from the a senior housing project. Meanwhile as we open the mail, requests come from several organizations that need our financial support. The list is endless with all the opportunities to serve. But where do we draw the line? When is enough, enough?

This is why whenever we feel all our obligations are taken care of for the moment we thank God for the privilege and opportunity of serving. Though God is unlimited in His resources, our faith and resources are substantially smaller. We have learned not to overextend our self and trust that God will give us the wisdom to select our opportunities for service without destroying what He has already built.

Whenever our heart disturbs us, we then deal with the issues. But if our heart doesn’t disturb us, then we pray thanking our Lord for allowing us to serve Him in our small capacity. We have come to learn that service doesn’t have to be a national or community project to pay dividends. The best return of our money and time has come in small events where someone personally has benefited from God’s grace.  As His disciple, we are thankful for His grace and mercy. Because of it, we gladly work to fulfill all our responsibilities in Christ and allow room for those extra situations when the Lord works through us to make a difference in the life of another.

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OUR PRAYER

PRAY 8

Our Awesome Dad, you are our reason for living and breathing. You have given us life and the power to create. Like yourself, you have given us the ability to freely choose our paths in life. You have given us every tool at our disposal to live a productive and rewarding life. Thank you for your generosity and graciousness.

Yet we need your wisdom, strength, and character to proceed in life. There are days when we feel beaten, discouraged, and dismayed at our situation. Yet we wait on you and you deliver us in your typical, low-key manner. You are always with us and want us to be successful in everything we do for your glory. We thank you for the opportunity. But we need your help to succeed.

You have taught us that money is not the answer. You have taught us that power, status, fame, and whatever is also not the answer. You have revealed to us that Jesus is the answer that we need. Our problem is only asking the correct questions. Help us Dad to focus on the major issues and not waste time on the minor ones. Bless us with your riches: both spiritual and physical Let all our needs be taken care for and help us to enjoy even the finer moments of life. But also help us to give to others less fortunate than ourselves. You know who they are.  Thank you Jesus. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

Investing in Spiritual Treasures

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Do we have a spiritual rainy day fund?  Today’s experts suggest that we keep at least six months of income in reserve for physically emergency purposes. Spiritually speaking, Jesus gave the parable of the man who demolished his barn and built a larger one to store all his possessions. The problem was not building a larger barn, but not also being rich to God.

Our heart and attitude determines our motive. If our motive is pure and holy with God, almost anything is possible. If we have no care or concern of what matters to God, how do you think He will relate to us?

How does one store up a spiritual, rainy day fund?  Is it even possible? We could probably invest more time in prayer, Bible study, fasting, serving, and in the other disciplines of a Christ-follower, but is that enough? We could invest our time to serving the Lord in full time vocational ministry, but is that enough? We could do more of whatever, but is that enough? Most probably, it is not.  The important thing is to have our physical house in order where it doesn’t become the number one priority in our life. Didn’t David write in the psalms that he didn’t want to be rich, nor poor. The middle of the road is the most balanced. We all need emergency reserves to help us in our physical life. It also allows us to give to others who are less fortunate. And it also gives us the luxury to focus on the more important aspects of life.

Likewise, when our Lord is the number one passion in our life, everything else seems to fall into place. By walking with Him on a continual daily basis, we don’t have to have an emergency supply around when He seems to disappear from us. The reason is that He doesn’t leave us. We leave Him. He is always close to us. We sometimes build walls to keep Him away from us because we do not want to deal with an issue or sin in our life. But He is faithful. He has called us to a life transforming process that doesn’t happen overnight. He works daily with us, leading us to follow Him and depend on Him in everything we do. It’s only when we become independent of Him that our trouble begins to follow us.

The best way to store up spiritual reserves is not to. It’s to have your meal and walk with our Lord every day. It’s to live our life in His presence every, single minute. It is to remember that our citizenship is in heaven. Likewise, we need to remember that our treasure is kept in heaven. We do not have to worry about our return on investment or worry about robbers. Our crown is being kept in preparation for our wedding. Everything we do for the Lord is in heaven. Our reward awaits us.

As a disciple of His our calling and election is sure. Our faith is being built-up in hope and love for eternity. Everything we have learned in this life is ours to keep. Everything we have experienced is ours to keep. Everything is ours and will be kept in heaven until our resurrection. That is what we are storing up.  We are not accumulating physical wealth, but instead, spiritual treasures. Invest wisely.

OUR PRAYERPRAY 21

Our Faithful Dad, thank you for always being with us. Thank you for caring about each one of us each and every minute. Thank you for being concerned about our health and welfare. But help us when our unbelief confronts us.

Remove all doubt and hopelessness from our life. Always, always, help us to keep you as the center of our life. Let nothing come between us. You know our service, our heart, and mind. You know who we are and what we do each and every minute. Let us not fool our self in believing anything that is not true. Let your presence always be with us. Help us to trust you and invest in your Kingdom each and every day.  Your way is the passion that drives us each and every day. Let that passion always be channeled towards you in service and in the relationships in our life.  Help us to invest the time and opportunities in this life for the greater good of all.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

 

In Pursuit of Spiritual Excellence

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Have you ever noticed how most people would like to experience the thrill of excellence without paying the personal price? Yes, if the price is money that we possess, than there is no problem. However, if the price is personal sacrifice, than we put reins on ourselves. It amaze us how some people dedicate their life for a political cause, or even a personal hobby with such intensity that nothing but the best outcome matters. Yet, when it comes to following Christ, they are satisfied with unfruitful results.

Paul described this way of life as a spiritual, Olympic race that we should all run seeking the prize. Again, he describes this life as warfare that we should pursue with only victory in mind. We don’t know about you, but this kid knows that when it comes to running with the intention of winning takes sacrifice, time, and intense focus. It doesn’t just happen by itself. It takes regular practice. It takes training in every area of the total person. It takes disciplining the mind, the body, proper eating, rest, and the list goes on. It just doesn’t happen.

One has to wonder if most people are satisfied with mediocrity in their spiritual walk because they don’t know what spiritual excellence looks like. Or maybe they believe one could never be like the saints we read about or hear about? Or maybe, they believe it takes some personal, innate abilities rather than the power of God to change them. Whatever the reason, now is the time to change and accept nothing else but the best. If we are a disciple of His, don’t we want to be the best in Christ eyes?

How many of His children have been lied to over the ages and have grown up believing lies to be true? In our society, we are bombarded with so many lies that we develop a defensive wall to protect us from the poison darts that are thrown our way. As children, we accept everything as the truth. But as we grow up, we discover that our parents have lied to us. Our teachers have lied to us, our coaches have lied to us, our political leaders have lied to us, our bosses have lied to us, advertisers have lied to us, and the list is as long as you want to make it. The point is even our church leaders have lied to us.

We have been deceived to accept mediocrity as the high standard of faith. Because the majority of church members are spiritual powerless, biblically ignorant, and culturally influenced, we accept that as the standard of faith. We believe that the people of the Bible are the example of the few and most of us will never attain such a spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Dad, so we don’t even try. We are a people who have lost, or maybe never even caught, the vision of the Kingdom.

Have you ever noticed a struggling student discover a worthwhile goal in life to pursue? All of a sudden he is more able to see how the pursuit of excellence in his studies will help him accomplish his plans. The level of motivation jumps to the top of the chart. Nothing seems to matter anymore but the attainment of his goal. Everything he does is a part of that passion. He becomes enthusiastic. He becomes purposeful. He becomes contagious. He is not satisfied with just getting by any longer. Now he wants to know everything there is to know. He wants to be in the center of it all. And in the process, he soon begins to excel in everything he pursues. Life has meaning and purpose.

Likewise, when a disciple discovers the Triune God’s plan and how he is a part of that plan, his motivation grows. With the best Teacher and the best Coach in the entire universe working with him to prepare for the accomplishment of that plan, life takes on a new purpose and meaning. The everyday frustrations that trap most people are nothing more but building blocks towards the attainment of the goal in our life.  We no longer accept other people’s standards of spiritual success. Our standard is Jesus Christ. Our goal is the Kingdom of God. Our passion is to be the best for the glory of God. We want all people to succeed. We want all people to have a deep, personal relationship with our Creator Dad. We will only settle for second best if our Heavenly Dad desires it. Otherwise, we are running the race for the prize.  We are fighting the war to win. We will give it our all because Jesus gave it His all.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 8

Our Great, Awesome, Wonderful Dad, Help us to capture your vision and plan for mankind. Motivate us to pursue with a passion the goals you believe are ours to attain. Let nothing prevent us from living this life in full glory of you. Let us be and do our best for you.  Thank you Jesus. Amen.


 

The Spirit of Christmas

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Two of my most favorite movies to watch during this time of year is A Christmas Carol and christmas 4How The Grinch Stole Christmas. In both, we witness how the Spirit of the season renovated the heart of a self-centered person. We can relate to both characters. As we have grown from childhood to adulthood, our view of Christmas has changed. In the early years, it was about the gift giving. In the middle years, it was the festivities of the season. Now in the later years, it is more about the reason for the season.

Yes Christmas originally began as a pagan festival where people exchanged gifts with one another. But like the Spirit of Christ has done over the years, we take what is broken and mend it to pay homage and worship to Him who makes all things possible.

To realize that the Spirit of Christ becomes more impactful and noticeable during this time of season, is one of the best presents anyone can give and receive. To remember that the second person of the Trinity chose Himself to become a human being is mind-bending. Through this one act we witness the Spirit of humility, meekness, and servanthood.  We come to learn that it is not about giving, but more of sharing. Jesus Christ came to share the life that He has with our heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit with us.

When we witness the uplifting festivities, the display of lights, and the time with family, we behold the life that Jesus Christ came to share with all humanity.  He didn’t come to start a religion, but a movement of the Spirit. A newness of Life. A Spirit that rejoices with Christ. A Spirit that comforts us in our times of distress and pain. A Spirit that we have come to know as the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit expresses the fruit of God’s life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control. These are the gifts that the Spirit bestows upon us each and every day.  We don’t have to wait until this time of year to experience the life that the Triune God gracefully shares with others.

Contrary to the two main characters from the above mentioned movies who are & were oblivious to what God is doing in the world, we can allow the Spirit to have His way with us. We can share the eternal abundant life with others.  In my opinion, He is the reason for rejoicing this season and every season. Unlike Mr. Scrooge and Mr. Grinch who didn’t publicly acknowledge because of political correctness that the one true bridge of the Spirit’s influence is the Triune God, you may openly share your story with family and friends in what Christ is doing in your life.

Will you join me this Christmas and share the story of God’s plan of redemption for all humanity with others?  What other gift lasts a lifetime plus?

OUR PRAYERPRAY 9

Our Triune God, thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you Heavenly Father for developing the strategy and implementing your universal plan of adoption of humanity into your eternal circle of life. Thank you Jesus Christ for displaying real life with us.  Thank you Holy Spirit for empowering us to experience the same life that you, Jesus, and the Father live each and every day. 

Help us to live fully for you.  Help us to start with enthusiasm and finish with greater enthusiasm in everything we do for you.  Let nothing come between us.

Help us to keep  focused on what is always important each and every day.  Let each day begin and end with you.  Let everything sandwiched in between be lived with your approval.  Let us be true to you and honest with self in our pursuit of your kingdom.  Help us to rejoice and celebrate real life with you and others. Let your glory live in us forever!  Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

 

Would You Negotiate At The Table of The Enemy?

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You may notice the title does not say “do not eat at the table of the enemy,” or “do not spend time at the table of the enemy.” All it asks is would you negotiate with the enemy. In other words, are we to love our enemies or negotiate with them? Yet how are we to spend time serving them and prayerfully dealing with them if we are not at their table? Are we to totally avoid them because they may cause us great harm? Doesn’t Jesus require us to love them as He loves us?

Yes, we are not to allow their influence, their arguments, or their ways to change our commitment to serving our Lord first. We are not to compromise our position in Christ. Everything else though is negotiable, but not the Word, not our faith, not our belief, not our relationship with God. One writer summarized it like this, “First Things First.”

When we find ourselves at the table or house of the enemy, we need to be cautious. We need to be “as harmless as doves but as wise as serpents.” We need to see into the heart of the enemy. We need to realize what he is attempting to accomplish and with the Spirit of God confront it. We are not to compromise our crown, but lead like the servant King Jesus did when confronted by Satan. He was tempted, but he didn’t negotiate. He didn’t accept any part of the offer from Satan, but turned it all down by placing His relationship with His Heavenly Father first. He didn’t trade His future for immediate gratification. Instead, He reiterated God’s position on each confrontation. By stating God’s position on each temptation, He didn’t allow Satan any room to influence his stand.

As a disciple of His, you will find yourself likewise confronted by Satan. He will do everything possible to negotiate a spiritual surrender in his favor. He will try to buy you, he will try to steal you, or he will try to weaken you with gifts. He will do everything for you to try to negotiate with Him. He knows when we start negotiating with him, than he has us. We will lose. Like Jesus, don’t even start negotiating with him. Focus on your relationship with your Heavenly King and ask Him for the wisdom, words, and strength to be the ambassador of the Kingdom of God as a witness for Satan and the world to see.

Don’t ever forget who the real enemy is. It is not the people or the world’s system per say. They are just the pawns of Satan. They have been deceived and lied to over time that they may even believe they are doing God a  service. When in reality, they are blind, wretched, and poor. They need to be introduced to the real Jesus and experience the real changing power of the Holy Spirit. You may be the source that God chooses to bring the good news to them. Don’t negotiate, stand firm in the armor of God, and watch His power change lives.

OUR PRAYER

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Our Life-Sharing Dad, thank you for revealing your Truth to us. Thank you for opening our eyes to see the enemy. But now help us to live more victorious for you.  Help us to put the enemy to shame. Help us to reveal his strategies and tactics. Help us to call on the power of Heaven to dismantle the enemy’s strongholds. Help us to nip temptation at the bud by relying on your Truth, Strength, and Hope.

Everything we seek involves you in some fashion. Help us to be your ambassador of the Kingdom. Let all people come to know you and the joy of your salvation.  Thank you Jesus.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God