Rule of Life Series: Trust

Luke 16:1-15

Read verses 10-13 a few more times. Pray through them, and reflect on the words of Jesus.

To live a life of trust, both trusting and deserving of trust, is a mark of a life of integrity.

God wants us to trust wholly in Him, and He desires for us to be trustworthy as well. This means that not only do we trust, but we must also be able to be trusted. We must be vulnerable and transparent with God, as we should also grow in transparency with others.  Building up trusted, honest relationships and communities is critical to a life of following Christ. We cannot succeed on our own. We need support from others and from the Holy Spirit to help push us forward, moving in the direction of grace.

To be a trusted individual you must be honest and live a life of integrity. The ancient philosopher Socrates described integrity like this:

…credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

What he means by this is that once you break your trust with a person your integrity begins to drop. You begin to lose credit with others, and the more you do this the more challenging it becomes to gain their trust. I love the last sentence of his advice here, “…endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” In order to be you must do. In order to be a Christ follower with integrity, and appear as one, you must live out what you believe and say. James 1:22 calls for us to be “doers of the Word, and not hearers only.”

It is hard for people to trust someone who is a hypocrite, someone who doesn’t live out what they say and believe. Christians must live a life of integrity and honor so that they can gain the trust of others. It is true that no one is perfect and we all fall short. This should not stop us from pushing forward and seeking forgiveness.

God desires for us to trust him, putting aside all of our fears and worries. He is present with us, walking with us every day. We have no reason to be anxious with God by our side.  God also desires for us to be trustworthy. We should be a light and comfort to others as well. We need to build up communities of integrity so that we can be transparent with each other, working through life together.

Are you a trustworthy person?

How can you regain the trust of others?

How do you live a life of integrity?

How is God honest with us?

Are you honest with God?

How will living a life of integrity transform how other view you and treat you?

 

Want More:

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Proverbs 3:5-6

Isaiah 43:2

Matthew 6:25-34

Colossians 3:9-10

 

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Rule of Life Series: Sanctification

Galatians 2:20—“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

To be sanctified is to be holy, or set apart.  It means that we have accepted to follow Christ, and we are choosing to pursue his will for our lives. Frederick Buechner describes sanctification like this:

In “Beauty and the Beast,” it is only when the Beast discovers that Beauty really loves him in all his ugliness that he himself becomes beautiful.

In the experience of Saint Paul, it is only when we discover that God really loves us in all our unloveliness that we ourselves start to become godlike.

Paul’s word for this gradual transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse is sanctification, and he sees it as the second stage in the process of salvation.

Being sanctified is a long and painful stage because with part of themselves sinners prefer their sins, just as with part of himself the Beast prefers his glistening snout and curved tusks. Many drop out with the job hardly more than begun, and among those who stay with it there are few is any who don’t drag their feet most of the way.

But little by little—less by taking pains than by taking it easy—the forgiven person starts to become a forgiving person, the healed person starts to become a healing person, the loved person starts to become a loving person.  God does most of it. The end of the process, Paul says, is eternal life.

This is a great image of what it truly means to be sanctified by God. Now read Romans 6 to get the full picture that Paul paints of sanctification. Read through this chapter a few times and reflect on the words that Paul says here.

  • What must you do to be sanctified?
  • How does this look from day to day?
  • What changes do you need to make today in order to better follow after Christ?

Take some time to pray and ask God to guide you in this challenging process.

Rule of Life Series: Learning from Jesus

Read Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus calls us to draw close and to learn from him. The word Christian means “Christ follower”. If we are truly Christian – Christ followers – then Jesus should be our model for how we live our lives. In order to know how Jesus lived, we must study and analyze his life and the full story that is in Scripture. We must not only study it, but we need to also live it out.

By being fully open to the Holy Spirit of God we choose to be shaped into the image of Christ. When we allow our identity to be found in Christ this changes how we interact with others and go about from day to day. The teachings of Jesus are difficult to grasp and to live out, but this does not mean we can just dismiss all of his teachings. The life of following Christ comes at a cost.

Take some time now to reflect on what you know of Jesus and his life. Think about the way Jesus taught, listened, and prayed. Think about how Jesus spent 3 entire years with 12 disciples that literally did everything with him. Reflect on how Jesus led, not with aggression, but by serving and becoming a lowly man. Reflect on how Jesus spent time with people, not rejecting them, but loving them. Jesus should be our example in everything.

  • How can you become a better learner?
  • What are some changes you need to make in your life to become more like Christ
  • Take time to listen to God.

Over the next few weeks we will continue in this series about a Rule of Life. This is the first rule because it is crucial to all other parts of this practice. Jesus needs to be the central focus of all of our disciplines. This week think about how you can become a better learner, a more dedicated Christ follower. Try to work through one of the Gospels over the next month and pay specific attention to how Jesus lived. You can also check out some of our past posts on the Sermon on the Mount, which is another great place to learn from Jesus (Matt. 5-7).

Allow the Spirit to transform you through this process.

Rule of Life Series: Intro

A Rule of Life is a combination of different spiritual disciplines that help to provide direction in a person’s walk with Christ.  It is an intentional list that helps to lead a person closer to God.  Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some different aspects of a Rule of Life that would be great to apply to your life in some way or another.  At the end of this series it would be great if we all have our own personal list that we will commit to follow.

In this series we will look at 14 different areas of our spiritual walk, and how we can grow in these areas.  Every person is unique and it takes time to find something that works well so be patient and experiment with some different disciplines.  This practice usually has a positive effect, and it will be a great next step for many of us as we transition from camp back into normal life.  The purpose of this practice is to take what we experience at camp or other spiritual retreats and apply it to our everyday lives.  It helps us to be Kingdom laborers, denying ourselves daily and taking up our cross as we follow after Christ.

Today take some time just to be still and listen.  Let God speak.  Spend a good amount of time resting in God’s presence.  Just be silent and listen.  Know that God is with you even if he seems to be silent.  Just BE.

Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”

A few weeks ago I heard a pastor preach on this verse, and in his sermon he broke down this verse in a profound way.  Check it out:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

BE.

Let God enter your life today.  Be at peace and trust in him.  Let the spirit of God wash over you and refresh your entire being.  Read through Psalm 23 and be still in God’s comforting presence.

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

During camp, our TAWG lessons covered the Fruit of the Spirit. But there were a few we didn’t get to. This week, we’re taking a look at the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit. We hope these posts give you some good “food” for thought.:)


Goodness is a difficult concept to grasp at times, especially in the world we live in today.  It is hard to know what is good when there is so much evil in the world today.  The world is in desperate need of God and His goodness.  God is good, and the Bible says “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28).  Those who love and trust God will experience His goodness, which may look much different than we expect.

I love the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. You should read all of them if you haven’t.  One of my favorite lines from the series comes from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

This conversation is about Aslan, who is a Christ-like figure in the novel.  It is so profound because we tend to confuse goodness with safety or an easy life.  God does work for our good, but that doesn’t always look easy.  Many times it is a great challenge, but it so worth the effort.

Take some time to read through Acts 27-28.  This is one of the most descriptive passages in the Bible, and it tells the story about Paul and his experience with God’s goodness.  If anyone has anything to say about goodness it would be Paul who was imprisoned and persecuted, yet trusted God and continued to serve Him wherever he went.

How does this story make you feel?

What does goodness mean to you?

What is God’s goodness?

How can you express goodness to those around you?

Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  This means that we must reject the evil that surrounds us and hold on to the good that does exist in the world.  When we reach out to others we must not hate those that are different, but it is ok to hate the evil that exists within a person.  This goes for us as well.  We should hate the evil that resides in us.  But it is crucial to hold on to the good as well.  Without doing this we lose hope.  There is good and it is vital to pull out the good in every situation.  Don’t let the media get you down.  It tends to only present the negative, evil things that are going on in the world.  Search for God’s goodness.  Show compassion to those around you no matter what.  Start loving unconditionally as Christ, and seek goodness.

Be encouraged today and hold on to God’s goodness.  Remember that He is working for the good of those that love Him, even though it may not seem so all the time.  We must move beyond the self and learn to live as Christ.  Remember that God is present and He is working.  Be filled with the Spirit, and trust wholly in God who loves you beyond reason.

Want More:

Psalm 23

Psalm 31:19

Galatians 6:10

Matthew 12:35

Acts 27-28

TAWG Reflections: The Great Commission

Matthew 28: 16-20

 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

At the end of the gospel of Matthew Jesus has a simple, yet complex command for his disciples.  He tells them to go.  And he tells us we must go as well.  This is a necessity for all people who follow Christ.  We are not meant to merely receive grace, mercy, compassion, and knowledge from Scripture.  We are also meant to go out and spread these things to those around us.

Not everyone is called to go a great distance.  Some are called to stay in the very place where they have been raised, while others may be called to go into rural villages across the globe to serve.  Both are important and necessary.  You can be a disciple-maker wherever you end up. And you should be.

Jesus not only says go, but he also tells us to make disciples.  This means we must make sacrifices, committing our time and resources to reach out to others, building them up in Christ so that they may also go out one day and make their own disciples.  Making disciples takes patience and persistence, and not everyone will do what you expect.  Listen and be compassionate.  Continue to seek guidance and make sure you are still being poured into.  And most importantly, do all for the glory of God.

Finally, Jesus encourages his disciples that he will be with them wherever they go.  He is not far off in outer space.  The Kingdom of God is near.  God is present.  The Spirit is moving among us.  Sometimes as Christians in the USA we forget about this and get caught believing in a God based on popular culture.  Know that God cares and that he is with you, always.  Let him bless you and transform you.  Be still, silent, and listen to him.  Listen and obey.  Go and do.

Read and pray through this final section of Matthew a couple more times.

What does it look like for you to “go” now?

How can you make disciples now?

What does it mean to baptize them?

What must you do to effectively pour into others?

Who is pouring into you? (If no one, I highly encourage you seek a mentor.)

Let the Spirit fill you.  Allow it to dominate, saturate, motivate, and activate you.  Live each day for God’s glory. And remember that God is not far off, but rather, he is with you every step of the way.

 

Peace.

Final Thoughts: Part 2

Matthew 7: 21-29

The concluding words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount are tough to take in.  He basically states that only those that work for the kingdom, doing the will of God, will enter the kingdom.  Many will come and say they did what they needed but in reality they were not living for God’s glory.

Jesus then goes on to state that those who hear his words and lives them out will be wise, like a man who builds his house on a rock.  It isn’t enough to just hear the words, and to have knowledge.  In order to fulfill God’s will we must also act.  It doesn’t really do much good to have all of the equipment and knowledge you need if you aren’t putting it to use.

Here is another passage to consider: Read Matthew 25: 31-46

These seem like harsh words, and they may even scare us.  To overcome this fear choose to live for God’s glory and not your own.  Try your hardest at living out the will of God in your daily life.  We will fall short time and time again, but that is no reason to quit.  Seek forgiveness and community, cry out to God, and keep on pursuing the will of God.  This is what God wants from us.  Live for his glory and you will experience the kingdom, even here and now.  God is not far off, but present with us, here and now.

This week consider how you can live your life for God.  What does that look like from day to day?  How will you carry out the Sermon in your daily lives?

Consider these following quotes from Brother Lawrence:

“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”

“Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.”

“Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave him not alone.”

Take time to reflect on these ideas. Pray about them.