Monday, October 28, 2019

Construction Zone

I was driving down I-71 recently and got stuck in the inevitable traffic due to the ongoing construction.  It got me thinking about how putting up with some temporary inconvenience is tolerable if the payoff is worth it.  If an added lane makes getting downtown a 30 minute drive instead of 50 minutes (on a good day) then I’m all for it.  If it makes the roads safer for me and everyone else, then I say keep digging! But if the supposed benefit is unclear or not that great then why bother with all the fuss of the construction?  Maybe Philippians 1:6 offers a glimpse into what’s going on with the construction project God has undertaken in each of our lives and let’s see if the end result outweighs the aggravation (spoiler alert – it does!)

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Things to think about:
·      Have you been stuck in traffic recently and gotten frustrated?  Have you been to LaGuardia Airport recently – it is the mother of messes!
o   Do you tend to get irritated with construction projects or are you more go with the flow?
·      Thankfully God has the interest, the resources, and most of all the patience to take up a project like me.
o   Why would He want to work on somebody like you or me?
o   Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
o  Ephesians 2:7 – “in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
§  Salvation is the beginning of the project, the foundation of the work to be done, not the end result.
·      What are some of God’s tools He uses during the construction project?
o  The example of Jesus
o  The Holy Spirit acting in and through us
o  His Word
o  Prayer
o  Pastors, preachers, teachers, mentors
o  Discipline
o  Our mistakes
o   What else has God used in your life?
o   How is God using any of these in your life today?
·      What does the finished project look like?
o   Phil: 1:9-11 – “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ…”
§  Your love may abound more and more
§  You may be able to discern what is best
§  You may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
§  Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ
·      And the whole point of the project isn’t about you or me, it is about Him and them
o   Phil 1:11b – “To the glory and praise of God”
o   Eph. 2:10 – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
How does today’s study make you think differently about your calling and God’s work to fulfill it?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength

(credit Pathway Church)

In Mark 12:30, Jesus answers the question about which is the greatest command by saying that we should, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your mind, and all of your strength.”  In reading Ephesians 1:17-20, Paul offers a prayer for the believers in Ephesus that mirror these four aspects of loving God:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

Things to think about:
·      God made us multidimensional beings with each aspect contributing to the whole.  Each part needs to be nurtured in order to grow and perform its ordained role.
·      Let’s look at each of these individually and consider how they apply for both the present and the future.
·      I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may know Him better.
o   We need a teacher to help us understand the things that are beyond our ability to comprehend.  God is infinitely beyond our mortal grasp yet Paul’s prayer says He can be known with the help of the Spirit.
o   In what ways does the Spirit give us wisdom and revelation?
·      I pray that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which He has called you
o   Hope resides in our hearts.  We need God’s light (love and truth) to shine into our hearts to give us hope in a hopeless world.
o   How have the eyes of your heart been enlightened to know this hope if you compared yourself to your pre-Christian self or even a younger version of yourself?
·      The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people
o   Life isn’t over when we breathe our last earthly breath.  For those who have put their trust in Him, there is a glorious inheritance waiting for us.
o   How do you envision the riches of the glorious inheritance God has waiting for you?
·      His incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty power He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead.
o   We can’t try hard enough to live up to His holy standard but the very god news is we don’t have to go it alone.  The same power He provided when he did the impossible, raising a dead man to eternal life is amazingly available to us now.
o   How have you experienced His power in your life that could only be attributed to Him?