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Confidence Under Construction

I didn’t write yesterday, but did finish Zephaniah. Today we’ll start Philippians. Four chapters. Four days. One more entire book of the Bible read.


Philippians 1

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Philippians 1:25-26, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION

Where’s your confidence? What are you absolutely certain of? In Philippians 1 Paul says there are two things he’s completely confident of:

  1. Verse 6 – He’s confident God will complete his good work in you.
  2. Verse 25 – He’s confident God will continue his good work through him.

Think of it like this, right now God is at work writing the story of your life. All that seems missing, all that is incomplete, all that anxiety you feel because of fears and failures, He’s working out all these things in you and through you so that your life in him will one day be complete. Your life is a story still being written.

He’s also working in you to bless others. It’s part of his design for us to need one another. There are things you know about God I will never know until you speak up. You have skills God wants to employ for the benefit of others. You have been entrusted with resources that can help someone else as God completes his work in them.

God intends to complete the work he started in you. God has included you in his plan for how to complete that work in someone else.

Receiving and giving. Being completed and helping make complete.

APPLICATION

Be confident today. Those areas of your life today that seem out-of-place, broken or incomplete are places where God is at work. It’s your life, under construction. Trust him. In his time and his way he will knock off the hard edges. He will sharpen who you are. He will strengthen your knowledge and abilities. He will increase the influence you carry. He will provide the resources you need. He will complete the work he has begun in you.

He’s doing this for a reason. It’s because you are part of his plan for someone else. Be confident today. God will use you to encourage someone in their faith. He will use you to challenge them to take their next step of obedience. He will ask you to be generous with your time, your skills and your resources because someone nearby needs what you have. He will employ you to accomplish his will and empower you to fulfill his purpose. You are part of his story for someone else. In their story you may be the character that changes eternity for them today. You may be the one that says just the right thing at just the right time so the lightbulb finally comes on and they finally get what God’s been trying to get them to hear all along. You may be the anonymous benefactor that puts just the right amount of cash into someone’s mailbox just when they need it most.

It leads to a statement and a question.

  • God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you.
  • How will you use who you are and what you have for the benefit of others?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working to complete the good work you started in me. You have forgiven my sin, now you work to make me whole and make me holy. Give me the patience to trust you as you create in me a clean heart, and as you give me the skills and knowledge I need to accomplish your purpose. Thank you for employing me to encourage and challenge others. Show me how I can use who I am and what I have for the benefit others. Today, do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Good is Not Enough

be goodHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 10

SCRIPTURE

Romans 10:1-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Paul expresses the same heart for the people of his nation that I have for the people of mine. I wish they would ‘get it’. I’m surrounded by passionate, committed and capable people. Our nation is filled with smart people, many who try daily to live a good life. They actively try to create more value than they consume. They are enthusiastic but with misdirected zeal. They misunderstand God’s way of making people right with himself. They refuse to accept God’s way. They cling to their own good and reject the work Christ has already accomplished for them.

APPLICATION

What do people see of the work of Christ in me? Do the people around me hear my good intentions, see my good works, experience my good deeds and assume all this happens because I’m a good guy? Or do they understand there’s more to me than meets the eye? How will they know. It’s good to be good. Everyone wants to be liked and feel good about the choices they make. Good is good.

Through the power of Christ we can be so much more. We can be godly.

Good is not enough. Good is average. It’s normal. It’s mundane. Is that what you really want? It’s really worse than that. Good is satisfying. It’s anesthetizing. It makes you feel like you’re all right. Until things get so bad you realize things aren’t really all right. Then you’re left wondering what went wrong. We were good. It was good. But it never moved beyond that.

Good is not enough.

God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you. It’s bigger than that – God want’s to do something in you and through you that you will NEVER be able to accomplish on your own. He wants to move you past good to make you godly.

Sincerity won’t get you there. Practice won’t help you overcome. All the education, information and inspiration in the world could double every second and still we’ll never go beyond good on our own. That takes something more. It takes the power of Christ in us.

This statement affects our life and our afterlife. It’s not just about heaven. It’s about the hear and now. Stop trying so hard to be good. Don’t settle for average. Trust Christ, follow him and discover the grace, mercy and power of life the way God intended.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thanks for surrounding me with good people. Thanks for allowing me to do good things. But I pray that we would go beyond that. Show us what it means to be godly. Give me the wisdom, courage, and strength to trust and obey you. I pray that my life would be unexplainable apart from you. I pray that my life would encourage others to be dissatisfied with good. Give me and those I influence a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Help me show people the value and reality of faith in Jesus Christ. Deepen the faith of our nation. Thank you for already completing, through Jesus, everything we need for life and godliness. Do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Build the House

Build the HouseHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 4

SCRIPTURE

Romans 4:20-21, “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises (NLT)”

OBSERVATION

As I read this passage I was reminded of other verses in the Bible.

  • Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
  • Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Abraham’s story is remarkable. God made Abraham a promise that Abraham wouldn’t begin to see answered until he was 100 years old. It’s a promise God later tested by asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son. It’s a promise that Abraham, in his lifetime, would never see fully filled. Yet Abraham’s confidence in God continued to grow. He was fully convinced that God was able, that God was trustworthy, that God would keep His Word.

APPLICATION

Faith is the confidence that God can be trusted.

I am blessed because of the faith of others. Their confidence in God has shown me the value of patience and challenged me to hold on, to remain faithful, even when things are at their worst. Their stories have taught me that God’s promises are personal. When He made these promises He was thinking of me. He will keep His word to me. Their stories have also taught me that God’s promises are bigger than me. In His time and for His purpose He will complete every promise. I may live to see it or the conclusion may come after my life is over. Either way, God will keep His promises and I will experience the benefit here or in eternity.

It causes me to ask questions – How’s my confidence in God? Do I trust Him? Can I learn to trust Him more? If He’s kept or is in the process of keeping all of His BIG promises – like salvation, forgiveness, and abundant life – what personal, ‘small’, promises is He keeping for me right now?

In those moments of doubt I need to remember that God isn’t finished yet. Building a house takes time. Plans are drawn up. Loans are made. Contractors hired and scheduled. Skilled craftsmen work to transform a rough outline on paper into the rooms and art that will contain our lives. One day it will be the perfect home for me and my family but right now it’s in process. It’s a home that’s being built.

Some of God’s promises are like this. He is the skilled craftsmen working to transform us by building the rough outline of His Word into the practical reality of our lives. And that takes time…

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for keeping Your promises. Thank you for the examples of faith we see in Scripture. More specifically, thank you for the people in my life right now who display an uncommon confidence in you. Their example challenges and encourages me. Bless them today with Your favor and allow them to see Your promises come true! Help me understand where I am in Your process of ‘faith’-building in my life. Grow my faith. Let my story be one that inspires faith in others.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

Front Row Seat

frontrowseatHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 3

SCRIPTURE
Romans 3:3, “True, some [people] are unfaithful; but just because they are unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? (NLT)”

Romans 3:22, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (NLT)”

OBSERVATION
Paul continues the history of salvation by focusing his attention on the relationship of the Jews with God, the law and with non-Believers. God’s chosen people were unfaithful. They did not live up to the covenant He made with them. They did not share the good news with the rest of the world. They knew right things, but they didn’t do right things. It’s a classic case of hypocrisy.

It leads to a natural question, “What good is a promise I am unwilling or unable to keep?” More than that, “If God’s people can’t or won’t follow His Word, what good are His promises?”

Paul also makes clear that the Jews are not alone. We stand right there with them in this hypocrisy. Romans 2:10-12, ““No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” Like Eve in the garden, non-Believers are deceived into disobeying God. Like Adam, the Jewish people knowingly choose disobedience. Either way, through deception or deliberate choice the affect is the same. Regardless of God’s desires we have broken our relationship with Him.

But God has made a way for this relationship to be restored.

APPLICATION
How faithful are you? James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good but does not do it, to him it is sin.”

I believe faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God. Faithfulness in our marriage opens the door for the fairy-tale ending of happily-ever-after. Faithfulness to our children allows us the privilege of seeing them grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Faithfulness in our career and finances allows us to grow success and satisfaction even when the economy is uncertain and taxes out of control. Faithfulness to others creates friends that stick closer than a brother.

The essence of faithfulness is our ability to hold on: to hold on when circumstances are unfortunate, to hold on when things don’t go our way, to keep moving forward when the odds are stacked against us, to hold on through the disappointment and even when we don’t see how this can possibly work out to our favor.

When we hold on our faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God. But this passage makes it clear – most of us don’t hold on. We’ve been unfaithful. Most of us don’t have a front row seat to all the promises of God. We sit in the nosebleed section watching from a distance, wondering if these tickets were worth the price of admission privately thinking we should have just stayed home and watched the game on television publicly giving people reason to doubt whether our participation in this whole God-thing has any real value.

That’s one reason this passage is encouraging. God is faithful even though we are not. He has given us the law to light our way. He has given us Jesus to make a way. He has kept His promises and will not fail to hold on to me and you no matter how we kick and scream and reject and rebel – if only we would put our trust in Him.

PRAYER
Heavenly Father,

Thank you for keeping Your promises to me even though I don’t keep my promises to You. Thank You for making the effort to restore and repair our relationship with one another. When someone hurts me or breaks a promise to me help me remember the way you have responded to me even though I was unfaithful. Grow in me the capacity for forgiveness and the gift of repentance. Please give me the strength, courage, wisdom and endurance to hold on. When my faith is tested let me be found faithful.

Let my life give others reason to have confidence in You.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

Epic Stories; Epic Quotes

Shall we play a game?

Can you identify the epic stories these famous quotes come from? Extra credit if you can tell us who said it.

  1. “In a day and night of misfortune, Atlantis sank into the sea.”
  2. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”
  3. “Say hello to my little friend.”
  4. “My precious.”
  5. “How do you know she’s a witch?”
  6. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
  7. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
  8. “I’ll be back.”
  9. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If it’s money, I haven’t got any. What I do have is a particular set of skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. So you can let her go now and that’ll be the end of it. Otherwise, I will hunt you down. I will find you. And I will kill you.”
  10. “Go ahead, make my day.”
  11. “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and slip the dogs of war!”
  12. “I feel the need, the need for speed.”
  13. “Be the ball.”
  14. “Attitude reflects leadership.”
  15. “Toga! Toga! Toga!”
  16. “The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading. There is no parking in the white zone.”
  17. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  18. “You can’t handle the truth!”
  19. “There’s no place like home.”
  20. “It take a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

I’ll post the answers tomorrow, but I’m guessing some google-crazed player will be able to get them all! Use the comments section to play. BTW…there’s a hidden movie quote somewhere in this article. Can you find it?

While you consider these quotes let me make an observation and ask a question. I’m guessing some of these quotes you answered almost immediately. I wonder how much time you spent ‘memorizing’ those lines. Another guess, but I’ll bet you didn’t try at all. For one reason or another simply know. You never sat down and tried to memorize them. You didn’t make it your goal to remember who said, “Live long, and prosper.” But for some reason you do. I can tell you why.

It’s because of familiarity. You’ve heard it so many times and in so many ways, you just know it.

I believe familiarity is the key to Scripture memory. Something else I know for sure about the Bible – we can’t live it if we don’t know it.

It makes taking the time to know what it says and what it means critical to the story of our faith. You can’t live it, if you don’t know it.

Remember that verse that say, “God helps those who help themselves.” What about the verse that says, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”?

You may remember those words, but they’re not actually in the Bible – unless someone recently added the books of First & Second Opinions. You see, when we don’t know what the Bible says it’s hard to do what the Bible says. Worse, it’s easy for someone to trick us into thinking they know what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to be fooled into doing something we shouldn’t.

People make the best decisions they can based on the information available at the time. If only someone had taken the time to write down the wisdom of God so we could learn His thoughts, His ways, His intention for our lives. It would make the choices we face so muh easier.

Wait.

Someone did. You see my point. Knowing God’s will, doing God’s will starts with knowing God’s Word. Knowing His Word – memorizing it and understanding it – isn’t something for the brilliant only. It’s for anyone. It’s for you. You can memorize God’s Word. Memorization isn’t about ability. It’s about familiarity. How can you become more familiar with God’s Word today? What can you do to keep it in front of your eyes, fresh in your thoughts and an ever present help in times of trouble?

You can become familiar with God’s Word. Start with a plan to read it regularly. Write down those verses that seem particularly helpful to you. Review those words that encourage you or challenge you or cause you to think. Become familiar with what He says and the examples He gives. One day soon you’ll look back to discover you know things you didn’t know before. You’ll remember the words of faith that will guide you through times of decision and difficulty. You’ll find your decisions informed by God himself. And suddenly, when the time for difficult decision making finally comes, you’ll just know. You’ll know God’s way because you’ve memorized His Word, not because you’re brilliant or skilled, but because you’re familiar with what it says.

Your life will become the epic story filled with epic quotes inspired by God.

Maybe you could start with words like these —

“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11