Loving God More

Luke 14:26 If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. NLT

This is a hard passage to understand. In the NIV it reads this way: Luke 14:26 – If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Either reading is tough.

I have a wife and three daughters and I never imagined I could love anyone more than these four – that was until my six grandchildren came along. I have a seventh due soon and my love will multiple again. I have a game I play with one granddaughter. I tell her I love her. She tells me she loves me. I say I love her more. She says she loves me 100 times more. I say I love her 1000 times more. And we keep going until she says something like – I love infinity times more and I say – you win. We hug and laugh.

We’re a tight family – and we miss our parents greatly. Family is very important to us. Yet here is the Bible – even the words of Jesus Himself – telling us that our love for family needs to be so much less than our love for Him – that it is almost like we hate them in comparison.

Maybe this is what the church is missing these days. The church seems to put self and even family above Christ at times. If the family has something to do – ball games – picnics – late Saturday nights – etc. – at times we will put our public worship of God on the back burner. I mean – I’m not even dealing with where we put our daily devotions and our prayer life when it comes to sporting events – the news – our favorite TV shows – etc.

Read more: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/03/31/lent-2021-loving-god-more/

Building to Last Forever

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

11 Jesus Christ is the Stone on which other stones for the building must be laid. It can be only Christ. 12 Now if a man builds on the Stone with gold or silver or beautiful stones, or if he builds with wood or grass or straw, 13 each man’s work will become known. There will be a day when it will be tested by fire. The fire will show what kind of work it is. 14 If a man builds on work that lasts, he will receive his reward. 15 If his work is burned up, he will lose it. Yet he himself will be saved as if he were going through a fire.

When a high-rise building goes up in my city of Atlanta, Georgia, I think about all the construction involved. Underneath is a grid of steel and concrete giving strength to all the floors stacked overhead. In a similar way, we need a firm foundation to build a life with purpose. Jesus lays that groundwork for believers when they receive His salvation.

Christ’s saving grace gives His followers a new life. Sins are wiped away so that we have a clean “work site,” so to speak. Empowered by Jesus’ strength and wisdom, we can build on His foundation. The decision that needs to be made is whether to shape our eternal legacy with God-serving activities and habits or selfish ones.

Paul separates spiritual construction material into two categories: durable metal and dry kindling (1 Corinthians 3:12). A grass hut is easily destroyed by fire, but at the judgment, we want to greet the Lord from a sturdy structure, built with gleaming bricks of godly service and a diligent application of Scripture.

The life we create is useful to God only if it is consistent with Jesus Christ’s foundation. You might say that He is the architect and the Bible is the blueprint for successful living—and it’s in our best interest to follow those plans.

10 More Helpful Comments from Mentors Helping Me Find God’s Will

By Chuck Lawless

As I think today about knowing the will of God, I’m reminded of advice I’ve received from pastors and mentors over the years. Two years ago, I wrote a post, “8 Nuggets of Wisdom When You Can’t Figure Out God’s Will.” Here are some additional nuggets I’ve received over the years.

  1. “Get some prayer partners as you seek God’s will.” Prayer is a cry for God’s help, and prayer partners can help us hear God’s voice more clearly. Pray particularly for wisdom.
  2. “Don’t overcomplicate it.” To put it simply, the Bible already tells us much about how we’re to live. If we get these things right, we won’t wrestle as much with the unknown details.
  3. “If you’re not daily listening to God and speaking to Him through spiritual disciplines, don’t assume you can hear him properly today.” Too many people turn to the Bible and prayer only when they need to know God’s will. Doing that is like trying to hear the voice of one with whom you haven’t had a conversation in a long time.
  4. “Be godly now as you seek wisdom for tomorrow.” We’re called to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:15-16). If we aren’t being faithful to what is clearly revealed in scripture, why should God trust us with information about the unknown?
  5. “Be faithfully involved in a local church.” God creates His local church in such a way that all of us need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-31). To try to determine God’s will as a loner is a mistake.

Want more ideas? Go to: https://chucklawless.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=1f66ea30867c3c2882f0eae77&id=23ccff8eb2&e=e8a5edc6f6

It’s Time to Grow Up!


We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:11-14

Well now, isn’t this an interesting thing to say?  Let’s bear in mind that our author has been talking about Jesus as our great high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, but he hasn’t discussed Melchizedek yet, he’s only made a reference to him. He has teased us with a contrast between the Old and New Covenant priesthood, and by extension the very nature of the two covenants, and then he diverts his discussion here and gets into the issue of maturity. I really hope that we can avoid the temptation to think that his readers must be very much the immature ones; that we are somehow in a better position spiritually than they were.  If the truth were really to be told, we are not much different today; in fact, we might just be worse off than they were.

I hope, dear reader that anyone who has the courage to keep reading, will take this as an opportunity for some serious reflection and self-examination, as I am doing as I write this; it is a serious matter.

Continue: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/03/30/its-time-to-grow-up-3/

Seven Critical Challenges for Living in This World

Seven Critical Challenges for Living in This World (A Study of I Peter 2): Good Riddance!

Some of you are aware that I’ve been engaged in a daily Bible reading program with my friend Frank in New Jersey for a couple of years or so. We choose a book of the Bible and read the same chapter each day for a week — then move on to the next chapter after that. Our procedure is quite simple and is explained here.

Well, I’ve started a small group of four men who are doing this kind of daily Bible reading and we’ve worked our way through Philippians and I Timothy, and are now going through I Peter. We drop each other a short email on Sunday about something we’ve learned in our reading together.

In reading through I Peter 2, I believe there are seven critical challenges that Peter gives us that are particularly relevant for us right now in our world. Here’s the first —

Continue at: https://larrydixon.wordpress.com/2021/03/27/seven-critical-challenges-for-living-in-this-world-a-study-of-i-peter-2-good-riddance/

Love Picked Us So Grace Could Use Us.

Bob Goff: Love Picked Us So Grace Could Use Us.

by tindalfamily

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”

ACTS 10:34–35

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

Every year when I was in school, we were required to go to “athletics,” better known as gym class. I always hated it because there was a possibility we’d play kickball or dodgeball or pretty much anything that required a ball. This meant there would be team captains to pick players. It is a time-honored tradition that picking teams in gym class starts with the best and goes to the worst. I often hoped God would make the bell ring forty-eight minutes early because I knew what was about to happen again. I wouldn’t get picked. I was huge. I almost blocked the sun. This was good. But I was clumsy, which was bad.

It was a terrible system, leaving me and all the other uncoordinated guys stranded on the sidelines looking at each other in our gym shorts and T-shirts. It was clear who was cool and got picked and who wasn’t. I’m so glad God doesn’t chose who will be with Him the way the guys in gym class picked who would be on their team.

If I ever teach a gym class, I’m going to draw a big circle in the middle of the group and say, “Everyone is in.” That’s how God chose us. The Bible says God loved the whole world, every person in it. Not just the cool ones or the knowledgeable ones or the ones who believed all the right things or made all the right moves. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer, and He doesn’t want anyone to feel alone. He doesn’t want anyone to go through life without Him, and He doesn’t want us to spend eternity without Him either.

We don’t have to burden ourselves by wondering who’s in and who’s out, because God already told us: He wants us all. If you’re someone who knows about God’s extravagant love, you’ve let grace find you. Once He does, the question is what we’ll do next. Love picked us so grace could use us.

Reflect on God’s unconditional love for you today. What comes to mind?

When God Was Determined

from David Jeremiah

Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up.
Acts 2:23-24

There’s no word higher, greater, or possessing more authority than that of sovereign. Notice the last five letters: REIGN. The prefix, sov, means “super” or “above all.” In his Pentecostal sermon in Acts 2, Peter stressed the sovereignty of God in matters related to the crucifixion of Christ. The Jewish leaders weren’t in control of the events. Pontius Pilate wasn’t the determining power. The Roman soldiers weren’t in charge. None of the civil or religious powers wrecked the plan of Almighty God. Jesus was delivered to death “by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.”


Notice the power of the word determined. The death of Christ was a determination made in heaven in order to provide the world with forgiveness of sin and eternal life. From eternity past, our Heavenly Father determined to love you, to save you, and to give you an eternal inheritance at the cost of the blood of His Son, whom He then raised from the dead.

Nothing is outside of God’s determined sovereign rule, and that should make us feel very secure!

Behind Calvary’s cross is the throne of heaven.
James Stewart

The Restoration of Prayer

Psalm 51 O God, favor me because of Your loving-kindness. Take away my wrong-doing because of the greatness of Your loving-pity. Wash me inside and out from my wrong-doing and make me clean from my sin. For I know my wrong-doing, and my sin is always in front of me. I have sinned against You, and You only. I have done what is sinful in Your eyes. You are always right when You speak, and fair when You judge.

See, I was born in sin and was in sin from my very beginning. See, You want truth deep within the heart. And You will make me know wisdom in the hidden part. Take away my sin, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and happiness. Let the bones that You have broken be full of joy. Hide Your face from my sins. And take away all my wrong-doing.

10 Make a clean heart in me, O God. Give me a new spirit that will not be moved. 11 Do not throw me away from where You are. And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Let the joy of Your saving power return to me. And give me a willing spirit to obey you. 13 Then I will teach wrong-doers Your ways. And sinners will turn to You.

14 Save me from the guilt of blood, O God. You are the God Who saves me. Then my tongue will sing with joy about how right and good You are. 15 O Lord, open my lips, so my mouth will praise You. 16 For You are not happy with a gift given on the altar in worship, or I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt gifts. 17 The gifts on an altar that God wants are a broken spirit. O God, You will not hate a broken heart and a heart with no pride.

18 Be pleased to do good to Zion. Build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will be happy with gifts given on the altar that are right and good, with burnt gifts and whole burnt gifts. Then young bulls will be given on Your altar.

There’s something refreshing about a cool shower after a hot, humid day spent working outside. All the filth and sweat is washed away, dirty clothes are replaced with clean ones, and you feel like a new person. Imagine having this kind of experience spiritually every day when you bow in prayer to confess your sins and receive cleansing. The weight of guilt is lifted, and you come away restored to the joy of your salvation.

Last week, we learned about David and Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession after having sinned against the Lord in connection with Bathsheba. In Psalm 32, which scholars believe also stemmed from this transgression, David speaks of the physical and spiritual turmoil he experienced when he tried to hide his wrongdoing and refused to acknowledge his sin (When I kept quiet about my sin, my bones wasted away from crying all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was dried up as in the hot summer. Psalm 32:3-4). After he finally humbled himself in repentance, the Lord forgave and cleansed him and removed his burden of guilt and shame (I told my sin to You. I did not hide my wrong-doing. I said, “I will tell my sins to the Lord.” And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5).

Confession is a privilege and a refreshing spiritual “shower” that renews us in our relationship with the Lord. We come away cleansed of sin, relieved of guilt, renewed in our love and commitment to Christ, and filled with joy and hope.

Loving God More Than Anything

by raymcdonald

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. I remember when I was a little fellow – living in the country – walking up and down […]

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The Priority of Prayer

Luke 11:1-4 Jesus had been praying. One of His followers said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John the Baptist taught his followers.” Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, Your name is holy. May Your kingdom come. What You want done, may it be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the bread we need everyday. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not let us be tempted.’”

Prayer is not optional for a Christian. In fact, Jesus considered it essential, even for Himself. Though He was God’s Son, He still took time to be alone with His Father in prayer. His disciples saw this and asked Him to teach them how to pray. The prayer Jesus taught them is a model for every believer. It shows us how to:

•  Come with a focus on the heavenly Father. When you praise the Lord, your mind lets go of earthly concerns and centers on His desires and glory.

•  Surrender to Him as Lord and King. The goal of prayer is not to get God to do what you want but to align your desires and requests with His will. Such prayers are the ones He promises to answer.

•  Approach the Lord with a humble, dependent spirit. Recognize that He is the one who provides for your needs and sustains your life.

•  Seek His forgiveness and protection from temptation. Ask God to uncover anything unholy in your life and replace it with righteousness.

Developing a consistent prayer life takes commitment. Daily activities will crowd out time with the Lord unless you reserve a segment of each day to pray.