Luke 12:37-40 3/4/16

IBS

3/4/16

Luke 12:37-40

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Lord what do you want to show me? Reveal to me the secrets of your word. Thank you for being my friend.

In these verses Jesus gives an analogy. He likens himself to the master as well as us to the servants. The idea is that as his servant, I need to be busy about the things of the Lord. I’m not just talking about just practical acts of service or love that can be observed, I’m talking about my intimacy with Jesus. Jesus says we should be awaiting his return. Revelation 19 speaks of Jesus return on a white Horse. It describes him as the one called Faithful and True. His name is The Word of God. In John 1, John writes “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and, the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word. He is coming back! The latter part of the verse explains how if the owner of a house knew at what time a thief was going to break in, the owner would do all he could to prepare for that time, as well as take every precaution to not allow that thief in his home. Then Jesus says, so it is with the Son of Man. He will come at an hour unbeknownst to us, one when we do not expect him. It’s so easy to be consumed by the things of this world and forget that the master is coming back any second! The demands of this world can cause stress and anxiety. Often times I get wrapped up in the emotional and physical demands of this world that I lose the joy of my first love. The joy that the Lord is in my life. I am alive. I am living in Guatemala studying the Bible everyday surrounded by others who desire to serve the Lord too. Jesus died on the cross for my sins. He has forgiven me for every wrong I have and will commit. He is in heaven preparing a place for me. He is coming back for me! That is the joy that I need to continue to remind myself of every day.

Application: Jesus is coming back for me. I need to be ready and watchful for his return. Thank you Jesus for the joy of my salvation. Help me grow in you. Remind me constantly of the importance of abiding in you as you are the vine and I am but the branch. It is from you that I receive anything.

How: Today, I will read John 15 to remind myself of the importance of abiding in the Lord.

 

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John 15:15 3/3/16

IBS

3/3/16

John 15:15

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you.”

I am a friend of God. Me. A filthy sinner. One whose mind often runs where it shouldn’t. One who acts in ways of my flesh. One who speaks hurtful words. Thank you Jesus what an incalculable blessing. As this verse says, I am not called servant. Though it is my duty as a follower of Christ to serve both him and others, I am no longer just a servant. This verse makes a very clear distinction on what a servant is compared to a friend. As it says in the beginning of the verse, a servant doesn’t know what the master is doing. The master doesn’t fill in the servant on all his plans and ambitions. But a friend, a friend of the master is one who the master shares with. The verse says instead of being called servant, or slave, Jesus calls me a friend because everything that he has learned from God the father he has made known to me! I am not in the dark about the Father’s business. He has made it known through His word. Through the quiet times that we share. Through words of encouragement from others. The Lord shares with me his plans and ambitions and allows me to take part in them! What an incredible blessing.

Application: The Lord calls me friend. Jesus has made everything that he has learned from the Father known to me. Sometimes I don’t feel like God’s friend. I feel like I am crying out to Him without reply, when in reality I am doing very little to actually seek Him. I hate that feeling. I am sorry Jesus. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you that you want to be my friend even when I neglect your friendship.

How: Because I have felt like death for the past week, my morning devotions have suffered. Tomorrow I will wake up at 6, without hitting snooze, to make the time to spend with the Lord.

Luke 17:7-10 3/1/16

IBS

3/1/16

Luke 17:7-10

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come alone now sit down to eat?’ Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

Lord what are you trying to show me through this verse?

Should a master thank a servant for doing his duty of serving? I think yes, but the point is, serving is his duty. He isn’t necessarily going above and beyond by serving, for it is his obligation.

It is my duty to serve the Lord, to serve others. In a sense, I’m not really going above and beyond by serving Him because as a Christian, it is my calling to serve the Lord. Now, thankfully I serve the greatest of masters. And I get the privilege of feeling him reassuringly smile at me from Heaven. It says in Matthew 25 the Lord will welcome in those who have served him faithfully saying, “Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom (speaking of Heaven) prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Now there is a duplicitous aspect of my service to the Lord. It is not just what I am called to do, it is a privilege to serve the Creator of all things. God doesn’t need me to further his Kingdom. Christ has been preached well before I was born and will continue to be preached after I am long gone (hopefully he comes back before than). It is a privilege that I have the opportunity to serve God. It is an honor that he allows me to be apart of His glorious master plan. Here is the thing also, because His work doesn’t need me, God is more concerned what I allow Him to do in me rather than through me. Because he doesn’t need me, but rather chooses to use me, the focus isn’t on what I can do on this earth, but how the Lord can work in my own life. I love that. It’s not about what I do. It’s about what I allow the Lord to do in me. And that will overflow into the lives of those around me in service to Him. I think of the verse Isaiah 26:12, “Lord you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” I absolutely love this verse. I have held on to it for a while. It is a beautiful reminder that it’s not about Sam. Everything that I have accomplished has been the Lord. Everything I will accomplish is the Lord. All I need to do is present my self to the Lord as an empty vessel ready for service. That is when the Lord will use me most. Not when I am focusing on all that I can do practically for Him, but as I grow in intimacy with Him, He will then open up opportunities as he sees fit for me to serve. If I can keep a healthy perspective of this concept, it is freeing. To release all control to the Lord is freeing, to not worry because God is sovereign. After telling us to not worry Jesus says in Matthew 5:27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” It is pointless to worry when I serve a God who always only has my best interest in mind. It’s not always easy to do though by any means. I am constantly having to remind myself of these truths. The focus should be on the Lord, not myself. With all that said, I will serve Him with all my heart and all my soul as it says in Joshua 22:5. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be apart of your work here on Earth. Please keep my eyes off myself, as it is from you all blessing flow. Please keep me humble in my service to you. Keep my focus on you.

How: Today during servant time, though I am feeling sick and exhausted I will serve with a smile, and without a complaint, keeping in mind that it is a privilege to serve the Lord.

John 12:26 2/29/16

IBS

2/29/16

John 12:26

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Thank you Lord for your Word. Please reveal to me what you want me to learn from this verse.

Well, the verse starts out by saying, “Whoever serves…” What does serve mean. It’s carrying out the needs of someone else. It is to esteem someone else before you, fulfilling the needs of that individual. Now the verse says, “Whoever serves me…” This is Jesus speaking. What does it look like to serve Jesus? James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So basically, caring for those who can’t care for themselves, and not becoming contaminated by the appetitive and carnal things of this world. What does it look like to serve Jesus in caring for those less fortunate? In Matthew 25, Jesus tells his disciples that, “… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” So, in serving those who are in need, you are serving Jesus. Now the next part of James 1:27, “not being polluted by the things of this world.” The opposite of being polluted is what? Being pure and undefiled. The only way to be presented as pure and undefiled is through Jesus Christ, because I am a dirty sinner. So the opposite of being polluted by the world is to remain pure in Jesus. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It is through the continual renewal of my mind that I am made pure in Christ. Back to the study verse; so serving Jesus is aiding others and seeking him rather than the things of this world. John 12:26 goes on to say that “Whoever serves me must follow me…” It is easy to get so caught up in ministry that you forget who you are ministering to. It’s easy to serve practically. But it is much harder to purposefully seek the Lord. So in a sense, I am saying it is easy to slip into a lifestyle of serving the Lord but forgetting to actually follow him. But Jesus is saying here, in order for that service to work to its full potential, the servant must be seeking and following Him. Jesus says in doing so, serving Jesus and following him, that the servant will be where he is. And where is Jesus? He is in Heaven! Here is another promise of heaven by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The verse finishes by saying, “My Father will honor the one who serves me.” That is pretty self-explanatory. Jesus wraps it up with a little bow for us. God will honor those who serve Him.

It is easy, in service, to grumble and complain because I see it as serving people. But if I look at it as serving Jesus, directly, my attitude shifts. It becomes much easier knowing that by serving whomever it is I’m serving, I am serving Jesus directly.

How: Today, in whatever service I am called to do, I will neither complain nor grumble, and do each task to the best of my ability, seeing out its completion, having in mind that I am not just serving man, I am serving God.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:12 2/24/16

IBS

2/24/16

Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Though, one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Give me insight Lord. Reveal to me the secrets of your Word. I want to be intimate in my relationship with you.

“There is strength in numbers” comes to mind as I read this verse. If you think about it logically, it makes sense. Is it easier to defend yourself alone, or with an ally? Obviously with an ally. Why would I go into battle alone if I have someone who can aid me? The next part of the verse gives a great illustration. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. What does that look like? So a cord, like a rope or string, is only as strong as it weakest strand. Now if it is only made up of one strand, there lies the problem. But, if the cord is made up of three, than it is much stronger. The pressure or weight is evenly distributed among the three as apposed to the one taking the whole of the pressure. I see this in my own life, with God and with people in my life. In my own life, if I operate in my own strength, it doesn’t work. The Lord has made that evident many a times. When I align myself with the Lord, that is when I cannot break. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are my three-strand cord. If I hold only onto my self, a one-strand cord, I am sure to break. But, holding onto the Lord, a three-strand cord, I will not break. That is the vertical aspect of it. For the horizontal, I have been blessed with a slew of incredible Godly people in my life who care deeply for me. I have been extremely blessed with the two people I can call my parents. They have helped me in countless ways, spiritually and physically. When I have cut them out of my life is when I have gone south. That is when I have handled situations wrongly and veered of the straight and narrow path. It is when I allow them into the deepest parts of life that the enemy cannot shake me. Because in using them to add strands to my cord, they have the Lord in theirs so I am even stronger than before! Another cord that adds strength to my strand is my best friend Sean. I was reunited with my brother about 8 months ago. Sean and me were inseparable growing up but after 7th grade, Sean left Calvary and homeschooled while I continued going to school at Calvary. We slowly lost touch and no longer were in each other’s lives. I had and still have great buddies from high school, but I wanted a brother. Someone I knew I could go to for anything. Someone I knew was seeking the Lord. Someone I trusted to give good advice. A brother that I never had. (I love my sister more than any human on this earth, but I’m not going to go to her with every little struggle I have) So, about the end of June, before I went to Montana for the summer, I got an Instagram message from Sean. It said, “Bro if you ever want to hang out or something, I got a lot of free time. Just text me.” And he gave me his number. I still have the screenshot of the Instagram message. Little did I know the brother that I wanted, was always in my life. The Lord gave me Sean at the perfect time. He is a strand that strengthens my cord. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Sean, whether he knows it or not, constantly spurs me on to get deeper in the Lord.

Thank you Lord for the strands in my life that strengthen my chord.

How: Today, I will pray for the friends in my life that I know do not have strands in their life to strengthen their cord. I will ask the Lord to bring those into their life to get them on the right path and strengthen them in the Lord.

Galatians 5:13 2/22/16

IBS

2/22/16

Galatians 5:13

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.

Lord help me see deeper than the overt meaning of this verse.

As a Christian, I am called to a life of freedom in Christ, instead of a life in bondage to sin and self. Now, freedom in Christ is more liberating than today’s average understanding of freedom. When most people think of freedom, they think freedom means they can do whatever they want. The freedom I am talking about is to see what is right, and have the ability to do it, rejecting the wrong. I have the capability, in Christ, to not do the wrong thing. I am literally free from the clutches of sin. The verse continues saying, “… do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.” Why would this verse contrast indulging the flesh to serving one another humbly in love. Well, when I do indulge my flesh, self consumes me and I am only thinking about myself. I am literally doing the opposite of serving others humbly in love. You don’t serve others when you are self-centered, you can’t love others when you are only thinking of your self. So when I use my freedom in Christ as a tool in His hands to help me defeat my flesh, only then can I serve others humbly in love. What does it mean to serve humbly in love? For me it’s really easy to serve others, but it is more difficult to do it with the right heart. It’s easy to serve people when others are watching because people will see. There is recognition. But that is the farthest thing from humble loving service. Its not Godly love to only serve when recognition is eminent. To serve others humbly in love is not just an act I can commit. It is a lifestyle I should strive to be living daily. Only through the Lord is this possible, as I have already explained it is way too easy to get wrapped up in my flesh.

Jesus, take my self-first attitude and throw it into the depths of the sea. I want to serve others humbly in love, even when it’s hard and there is no recognition, because that’s what you did.

Hebrews 13:17 2/19/16

IBS

2/19/16

Hebrews 13:17

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

The author of Hebrews is exhorting the Hebrews in this last chapter of his letter. He encourages them to be obedient to their authority because those in authority will one day have to give an account for those they had been entrusted with. He goes on to tell them to make their leader’s work a joy and not a burden. For what benefit is it to you if you make their work a burden? I’m going to go ahead and say this exhortation applies to everyone. Everyone has someone over them at some point in time, and if we’re being honest, it’s not always easy to submit to their authority. I have been hurt by a few leaders in my past and have a bit more of a trust issue in leadership than I would like to admit. I have seen the Lord working it out but its still been tough. Sometimes I have trouble listening to authority, not necessarily in the realm of obedience, but accepting what they have to say. Are they actually practicing what they preach? Are they doing what they tell me to do? Regardless, they are in authority in my life, and what does the Bible say about authority? God has placed them there. So, I am call to make their work a joy not a burden and trust that the Lord will take care of those in leadership positions. I shouldn’t worry about those in authority over me because what does this verse say? They will have to give an account! The Lord has entrusted me into their hands, so I should let God be God and take care of the treatment of those leaders instead of rejecting or refusing to follow in step with them.

Thank you Lord for those you have placed in authority in my life. Please give them wisdom and discernment on how to lead in a manner pleasing to you. And if you decide to place me in a place of leadership, help me do the same, for it is you who give and take away when you see fit.

How: Today I will thank Austin for his leadership in Ignite and follow him doing what he tells me purposefully with joy.

Ephesians 6:1/ Colossians 3:20 2/18/16

IBS

2/18/16

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Colossians 3:20

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”

Two verses, one theme. Obey your parents, for this is right, as well as pleasing to the Lord. Pretty self-explanatory if you ask me. I have been extremely blessed with the two people I am privileged to call mom and dad. Its ridiculous. How did I get them as my parents? I have two God-fearing parents. They are married and love my sister and me unconditionally. I realize that this is very rare and to say I am thankful is an overwhelming understatement. They are two of the three human beings that I love most on this earth. More than ever, this time away from them has made me even more thankful for them! I honestly don’t know what else to say but thank you. They leave me speechless. Thankfully they make obeying them relatively easy. I know, because of the way they have brought me up, that they love me and when they tell to do things its because they love me. Unfortunately I have chosen to realize this too late in certain areas of my life. The area that sticks out to me is “girls”. I was disobedient when it came to girls in high school. I wasn’t supposed to date. That was my parents ruling. I decided, that would be fine, I’ll just do everything I would with a girl as if I’m dating her and tell people we’re not dating. Good idea Sam, that worked out well. I made this mistake a couple times. Now in acting in this way, I was living in disobedience against my parents. Anyone who has lived in disobedience to their parents knows that this never turns out well. Of course it was awkward between my parents and I. They would bring it up and I would play it off as less than it was. They did what they could to help me, but I liked “my way” better. But, eventually I came to place where it was unhealthy to the point of where I just couldn’t handle it any more. But I was scared to come to parents. I thought they would be mad. I thought they would condemn me. Granted they have never acted in those manners in the past it was just a lie from the enemy. But finally, after I laid it all out on the table my parents were the greatest help in the situations I got my self into with the females. My relationships with the both of them grew exponentially. It was so foolish to think, number one, that I could live in direct disobedience to my parents and have it work out, and two, that they would allow anger to eliminate me from their help. My parents have done what they have, and continue to do what they do because they love me. They are my biggest fans! Because they seek the Lord in the ways they have raised me, it has always paid off to obey them. Thank you Lord for reminders in your Word to obey my mom and day. Please continue to soften my heart and help me honor my parents by being obedient to them.

How: It’s hard because my parents deserve a freaking island, but I obviously can’t give them an island. However, I believe that I can thank them just as effectively by sharing these feelings with them. I will write my parents a letter of thanks and appreciation doing my best to reciprocate the love they have given me all my life.

Romans 6:16 2/17/16

IBS

Romans 6:16 – 2/17/16

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slave of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

I really don’t feel like doing this right now. I’ve heard this countless times. Soften my heart Lord to hear what you have to say.

So, I’m a slave either way huh? I don’t know why I would want to be a slave to anyone. I want to do my own thing, do me. But most of the time, if I’m honest that doesn’t match up with what God wants. I am a sinful human being, made by a perfect eternal God. So if I’m not obedient to the Lord, who am I obeying? My flesh! And what does this verse say? Whoever you offer yourself obedient to, you are its slave. I am a slave to my flesh.

God why do I do what I don’t want to do and the things which I want to do I don’t do? Give me a heart for the things that you desire Lord. I’m sick of rendering myself useful in the hands of my flesh instead of your hands. Why is it so easy to say something and go live forgetting what was just expressed. It’s not what’s taught, it’s what’s caught. God help me catch what you’re trying to teach me. Help me grasp on and never let go. I want to be obedient to only you.

Father,

You know what I want
But it’s a struggle to follow
The precepts of your Word
Because my heart is hollow

I want Your filling
But, I’m filled with self
It’s hard to put what I want
Away up on the shelf

To fill myself with You
To become your slave
Seems impossible sometimes
But I want to praise Your name

If I’m not obedient to you
Who am I hearing?
The voice of my flesh
Sometimes is over bearing

What I want to do I don’t
But what I hate I do
What is this sickness?
Who should I listen to?

It’s easy to do me
It’s hard to do God
But one leads to death
And the other to the Father

Slave to sin
Brings only death
Slave to God
He gives life breath

God,
I need Your help I’m not grown
I want to follow Your will
And not live on my own

I want to be Your bond slave
Listen to Your words of life
I’m sick of relying on me
Self only brings strife

Give me strength, Father
Though the storm is raging
Though a struggle daily
Still you are unhanging

You say,
Instead of trying to fix yourself
Fix your gaze on me,
The lover of your soul

God wants my heart
And that means change
Change means pruning
And pruning means pain

I give me to you
Obedience vs. strife
Flesh vs. You
God, take my life.

How: Tomorrow, I will wake up at 6, to spend time with the Lord instead of obeying my flesh and rolling back over to fall asleep again.

 

Acts 5:29-32 2/17/16

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Acts 5:29-32 – 2/16/16

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.””

Observation/Interpretation: To give some backstory to better understand the context of these verses, the apostles had been healing all those who were sick and demon possessed in Jerusalem. Crowds were gathering all around the town so that even just Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he passed by. The religious leaders became very jealous of the apostles. Verse 17 says they “were filled with jealousy.” So, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the public jail. But during the night and angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought the apostles out. The angel told them to go into the temple courts and tell the people about a life with Christ. The apostles were then brought in to appear before the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders. The leaders confronted the apostles reminding them that they strictly instructed them not to teach in Jesus’ name. Now, come to our study verses, they are the apostles reply. The apostles go on to say that they must serve God rather than man. That when it comes down to contradicting orders from God and, in this instance the religious leaders, that God has priority. They then go on to describe the greatness of God. How he raised Jesus from the dead. How he exalted Jesus to “his own” right hand as Prince and Savior bringing forgiveness of sins. The apostles go on to say how they are witnesses of all that they have just expressed. Its not just some story or thing that they heard and now believe, no! They themselves are witnesses of Jesus and his ministry. His death and resurrection.

Application: After hearing the apostle’s statement, even if I had no idea bout Jesus or Christianity, I would still rather listen to God than a bunch of self-righteous leaders who think they have it right. I need to make sure I am listening to the Lord and Him alone.

How: I will wake up at 6 tomorrow to spend time with the Lord instead of listening to my flesh and falling back asleep.