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Archive for July, 2012

God, for whom and through whom everything was made,

chose to bring many children into glory.

And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering,

a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

                                                                        Hebrews 2:10

 John C. Maxwell, world-renowned leader, teacher, pastor and author with more than 60 books published on leadership often acknowledges that the foundational principles he teaches come out of examination of the life of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.   One of those lessons I have had reinforced multiple times from Maxwell’s teachings and God’s word is that no organization, no family, no couple—in fact, no relationship—can succeed if there are two leaders competing for control; two heads makes something abnormal, not able to function properly. 

Ephesians 5:23 reminds us that Jesus Christ is head of His church, and since my body is to be a holy temple, that means Jesus Christ should be the leader and head of this “church”—my life.  Oh, I struggled with that for years!!! I wanted control.  I wanted independence and not to be “told” what to do by another.  This attitude leads to competition in my marriage, rather than partnership and a constant struggle in every relationship. 

How has that attitude worked for me?  Not so well.  Fighting for leadership in my own heart or in relationships with others means I haven’t always chosen God’s best for me, but rather what I thought was best.  Equally, it has meant I haven’t led others well.  After all, I can’t be an effective leader unless I first learn how to follow.  Those I lead must also see that I am willing to submit myself to the mission of another (ladies, this is the definition of submission), and when I fail to submit to Christ’s leadership, I lose credibility in my testimony with others. 

It is easier to identify the leadership of Jesus Christ in writings and to acknowledge my need to submit to that leadership than it is to take the action steps in my heart that will assure Jesus Christ is the leader of my life.  So, today, I acknowledge that struggle and will seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to give me the strength to take the steps to submit and acknowledge with my actions and words that He is the leader of my life. 

How about you?

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Advocate–to speak out in favor and in support of a cause, policy or individual.  

 

One of the names in Scripture for Jesus Christ is advocate.  Reflecting on that name, I am overwhelmed with the memories flashing past of so many times Christ has been my advocate.  Today, as I waited for medical results, He was present with the doctors advocating for my best interest…when I sought God’s mercies for family members, I knew through the power of Christ’s love for me and for them, He too was advocating for mercy and grace.  So many occasions when I needed His advocacy…so many times when I couldn’t speak for myself because of the heaviness in my heart…He was and is always there.

 

Just as when Jesus Christ stood at Lazarus grave and sought God’s mercy on behalf of His friends, Jesus Christ is present to advocate for you and for me.  That doesn’t always mean our prayers will be answered the way we believe they should be, but we can be assured that our prayers will always be answered with God’s best for our lives because Jesus Christ is our Advocate.

 

Micah 6:8 is a clarion call to all of us to be an advocate for those less fortunate, just as Jesus Christ as advocated for us.  May your day overflow with His mercy and grace as you reach out to others to advocate in His love.

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I have been known to be very cynical about our legal system and the justice people experience in the courts. But there is one judge who doesn’t take into account the political system, the dynamics of the relationship he has with those appearing in front of him, or the precedent set by prior courts and decisions.  Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, is not only culturally and politically “blind” but He metes out truly unbiased judgment.  I John 2:1 reminds us that He is the ultimate lawgiver and judge.

Today, whether or not I face the legal system or just my family and friends, I am well aware that I not only need Jesus as my friend, but as my advocate and judge.  He is the One I need to examine the facts in my life and extend grace and mercy–oh, do I need His mercy today.  I need to hear “your sins are forgiven”…a more powerful phrase than “not guilty” or “case dismissed.” We are reminded that God remembers our sin no more and sends them as far as the east is from the west because of the Gift of Grace Jesus Christ gave us on the cross of Calvary.  Even with a not guilty verdict or dismissal, there remains a permanent legal record of the case, but not so when Jesus is my advocate and judge.

This week I want to dialog with you about Jesus my friend who advocates for me and is a far more fair judge than any court in the land.  Please share with me your stories of how you have experienced Jesus advocating for you.

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This past week has been all about Jesus as the picture of hope!

~He is the perfect reflection of God Almighty.  (Hebrews 1:3)

~ Jesus serves as our God-appointed mediator. (I Timothy 2:5,6)

~He is our hope of true glory, not glory as the world defines it but glory as God defines it in fullness of relationship with Him.  (Colossians 1:27 and 2:9)

~Jesus is the hope that brings us confidence for today. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

~And today’s blog?  Not only does He give hope for today, but He gives us confidence for our future!

 

“…being confident of this,

that he who began a good work in you

will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 1:6

 

This life on earth isn’t all there is for us. God wants our eternal life to be spent with Him in heaven, enjoying life and relationship with Him.  And so He invites you to let Him begin a “good work in you” through salvation.

 

If you have never placed your trust in Him, if you have never accepted Christ as your God-appointed mediator between you and God, now is a really great time to do it!  It is simply a matter of acknowledging you have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standard of behavior and accepting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin when He died on the cross.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  (Acts  16:31)

 

If you have already placed your trust in Jesus Christ, but have not been experiencing the hope that He wants you to have because you have been focusing on things other than God, now is a great time to turn around and come back in to His loving arms of hope.

 

We can be confident that the God of all hope who began a good work in us will carry it on throughout eternity!  Thank you, dear God!

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Hope requires a degree of confidence for the potential of a positive outcome. I hope my child will get potty trained soon. I hope I can find a close parking spot.  I hope the car will be able to get fixed.

But in my spiritual life, in the eternal calling God has given me, hope requires a degree of confidence that honestly sometimes feels just out of my reach when real life hits me full force. I hope I can represent Jesus Christ today with this difficult person in my life…but I just know I am going to lose my cool.  I hope I can have the words to communicate what Jesus really means to me to my coworkers…but what if I say something stupid and offend them.  Fear of failing God often lurks in the corners of my mind.

Paul and Timothy, while knee-deep in their ministry, wrote the following powerful words to believers in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6a:  “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”

Where are we looking to find confidence?  What is the source of our hope?  Is fear keeping us from grasping on to His confidence and stepping forward?

If Paul and Timothy, spiritual pillars of our faith, looked to Jesus as their hope and confidence in their calling, should we not also follow their example today in our own calling?

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There is wishful thinking and there is hope.  They are not the same thing. This is made abundantly clear when life takes a turn and we are faced with deep sorrow or trials.

 

My Dad recently watched his best friend of many years pass away from stomach cancer.  My Dad sat by his bedside every evening for the last couple of weeks of his life here on earth, partly to give the wife a break and mostly to spend quality time with a friend he would soon be saying goodbye to for a while.

 

They spoke of many things, my Dad told me, but their favorite topic was of the ministry they have shared here on earth and of their future good times together in heaven.  After all, my Dad would not be too terribly long in joining him as he is getting on in years too and suffers from poor health.

 

Their tight friendship was special before the cancer hit, as they teamed up in travel and ministry and social functions with the wives, but the way they ended their earthly relationship was absolutely victorious… because Jesus has conquered death!

 

Jesus Christ gives real hope (not wishful thinking) for our eternal future because of the power of the resurrection and the promise of life after our physical death here on earth.

 

Where , O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

…But thanks be to God!

He gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:55, 57

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Whether it is in the political scene or in the workplace or on facebook, people who seek their own glory are…annoying!  Yet there is an undeniable yearning in each of us, a desire for significance that often takes the mistaken form of self-seeking and hopeless bids for attention in empty pursuits that hold no eternal worth.

The Bible provides the answer to our hopeless dilemma:

What is the true hope of glory?

Christ in you!  …God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

How do we get access to this hope of glory?

Faith in Christ Jesus!  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord…  Colossians 2:6

What results from this hope of glory?

Rescue!  For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves…   Colossians 1:13

Forgiveness!  …in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.  Colossians 1:14

Fullness!  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  Colossians 2:9,10

Are you looking in the right place for your hope?

 

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