Thursday, February 28, 2019


Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)

So often we walk through life without clarity on where we are headed. And when we set out without a clear course or trajectory, we rarely if ever find ourselves in the places we want to be. Especially as disciples, a life of discipleship requires true intentionality and clarity of vision. You and I will not stumble our way towards holiness or fall into a life of mature discipleship. While we are always led and empowered by the grace of God and His Spirit, we must still pursue Him in intentional and deliberate ways.

Do you have a plan for spiritual growth? As you look at your life in your current season, do you have a vision of where you’d like to be in a year’s time? As it says in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). An essential part of a robust and vibrant spiritual life is a clear plan for growth and maturity.

Your life may be filled to the brim with a steady flow of commitments and distractions, clouding your discernment and cluttering your vision, making it harder and harder to see a faithful way forward. Resist the urge to rush ahead and add something to an already overcommitted life, even a good and Godly thing. Instead, push the pause button and reassess your priorities and how you use your time.

Our use of time is a remarkable indicator of what we love and where we are headed. We as humans have an incredible capacity to say one thing and do another For example, I could say, “I love reading books in the evening.” However, if I look at my actual week and 5 out of 7 evenings are spent watching television, a truer statement is “I love watching Netflix!” Before putting too much trust in where you say you are going, reflect upon how you spend your days and see where you are actually headed in life.

To commit your way to the Lord is to build your life upon the values of His Kingdom. It is to bring your time, talents, and treasures into full alignment with his will and purpose. And as the Psalmist reminds us, committing our way to the Lord is an act of trust. We believe that he will meet us and guide us into a full and flourishing life lived with him. Trust today that life with God is the greatest thing you could ever give yourself to, and therefore run after him with all of your heart, mind, and strength.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A love that forgives

Love keeps no account of wrongs I Corinthians 13:5

Love forgives continually and it forgives comprehensively. Forgiveness wipes clean the slate of offense, thus it is freeing for everyone. Forgiveness is the heartbeat of Jesus. Some of His last words on the cross requested forgiveness from God for the ignorant acts of His offenders (Luke 23:34). Christ’s greatest act of love was the forgiveness He extended by His voluntary death on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). Jesus described His own act of love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus is the epitome of love and forgiveness; He owns the trademark and branding on love.

Forgiveness is the fuel for living a life free from the clutter of cutting words and unjust acts. A life without forgiveness is a lonely life locked up in the solitary confinement of sin. Forgiveness flows when you have been authentically and thoroughly forgiven. Half-hearted forgiveness is the destiny of those who have not tasted the tender touch of forgiveness, grace, and mercy that comes from the heavenly Father. Unless the forgiveness of God has graced your heart and soul, your capacity for forgiveness will be foreign and futile.

It is the grace of God and faith in Him that fuels forgiveness in followers of Christ. The job description of Christians is to love with forgiveness because we have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13). Think about the depth and breadth of your forgiveness. Ignorant acts, they are forgiven; drunkenness, it’s forgiven; lust, it’s forgiven; immorality, it’s forgiven; hate, it’s forgiven; ignoring God, it’s forgiven; unbelief, it’s forgiven. Love forgives because it has been forgiven.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Remember where you were BC (before Christ), and reflect on where you would be today without His love and forgiveness. Recall what it was like to be lost and bound up in your sin, and celebrate how far God has brought you. Love is extremely grateful for God’s goodness and redeeming power. Forgiveness is second nature and somewhat automatic for followers of Jesus who are consumed with Christ’s love. They are enamored with God’s love for them and others. When you have been forgiven much, you love much (Luke 7:47). Your capacity to love is directly tied to your willingness to receive Christ’s forgiveness. Accept the Lord’s forgiveness so that you can extend forgiveness. Let go of unforgiveness and replace it with His unconditional love.

Love looks for excuses to eliminate hard feelings, as it replaces resentment and bitterness with love and forgiveness. Love by forgiving your family member who may not even know they hurt your heart. Love by forgiving your friend who violated your confidence. Love by forgiving your father and mother who are preoccupied parents. Love by forgiving your child who is ungrateful and selfish. Love by forgiving yourself for stupid decisions. Forgiveness forgets the past, engages in the present, and hopes in the future. Extend forgiveness indiscriminately and receive it graciously. Delete any record of wrongs from the hard drive of your heart. Call, write, or initiate a freeing conversation of forgiveness. Reject the temptation for indignation and humbly receive God’s grace instead. Love liberally by regularly relying on forgiveness. Love forgives.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A living lesson

Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. John 11:43-44

When was the last time you found yourself playing a role in life that you didn’t want to play?

Perhaps you never imagined you’d be the parent of an addicted teen, the wife of an estranged husband, a cancer patient, a divorced man, the victim of abuse, the target of violence, the recipient of slander, or among the ranks of the unemployed.

I wonder if Lazarus ever felt the same when he was ill and not getting better. His life wasn’t supposed to go this way. He was Jesus’ friend, after all. Christ could heal him, and if He would only come to help, Lazarus would get up out of bed and be the man he once was.

But Jesus didn’t come—and Lazarus died.

We know from Scripture that God raised his friend from the dead, but in the middle of his messy trial, Lazarus didn’t know that would happen. All he knew was that he was sick and he wanted to be healed. He also didn’t know that Christ was using him in a story He was writing to glorify Himself so that others would be drawn to Him.

In John 11:14, Jesus told his disciples, “. . .for your sake I am glad I was not there [with Lazarus before he died], so that you may believe.”

When you find yourself playing a role in life that you’d rather not, could it be possible that just like God did in the life of Lazarus, that He wants to use you for His glory? Could it be that what you are going through could be a gift to others?

With this in mind, when you go through a trial, how will you respond? Will you dare to trust God and desire His glory? Or, will you be more concerned about your own comfort?

Before you answer that question, I invite you to think about what happens when God is glorified.

When He is glorified, emotions are healed, fears vanish, relationships are restored, hope flourishes, peace reigns, joy rules, love grows, and faith flourishes in people’s lives and hearts.

Could it be that your trial could be the very reason someone comes to Christ and experiences His love in a greater way? Will you allow Him to use you the way He desires? Will you let the light of Christ shine through you? Will you surrender to how He wants to use you in His story?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Love deeply

With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:2)

Marriage has changed me in many ways for the better. I am more organized and less scattered. I am more giving and less selfish. But one thing has liberated me in a way I would have never understood before I walked the aisle: being fully known but still being loved. This, more than just about any other experience of marriage, has helped me to experience inner healing from past rejection in a way I would have never thought possible. Being known but still being loved is healing for the human heart.

In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes:

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting, but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

Indeed, it can.

These words are true, not only for marriage, but for every kind of relationship. When we are fully known and others see our frailties and faults and love us still, there is a peace that comes into our souls and we are strengthened to deal with life’s difficulties.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

I know individuals who have struggled with addictions and sins, the result of Satan taking advantage of their wounded hearts that were abused at some point in their life. But I have seen victory come in their lives because of surrounding themselves with a support network to help them get free from the grip of sin as part of their recovery. What all of them discovered is that they are loved in spite of their sin, failure, and flaws. And this acceptance has given them the courage they need to beat their troubles.

They have overcome their addictions, and their sins not in spite of being known; they have overcome their addictions because they have been fully known loved, and forgiven.

It’s only when we are fully known that we can be fully loved—and being fully loved provides strength for our journey that we just can’t experience in life any other way.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Doubt and obedience

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."

In this well-known gospel story, Simon Peter is faced with a difficult decision. He finds himself pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, he is an expert fisherman who knows the waters well, and having fished all night to no avail, knows when to call it quits. On the other hand, Jesus, who presumably has little to no fishing experience or expertise, tells him it’s time to go fishing.  Though few of us still fish for a living, we in our own ways will likely face a moment in which our perceived expertise and the Lord’s leading come into conflict.

How do you respond when Jesus asks you to do something that you don’t understand? In this moment, Simon Peter could have responded in a variety of ways. “Jesus, you’re a preacher and a carpenter. In all humility, leave the fishing to the experts.” Or, after the boats begin to sink from the weight of the catch, he could have dismissed it as beginners luck or tried to explain it away. Yet instead of these quite natural responses, we see him take a step of bold and faithful discipleship.

In this moment, Simon Peter is filled with doubt and obedience. He expresses his uncertainty and hesitation with the plan, yet his allegiance to Jesus as “master” is greater than his fears, and so he is willing to follow and obey even in the midst of doubt. Can the same be said of you? Is your faith in Jesus able to endure very real moments and even seasons of doubt?

Like Simon Peter, we will face times in life when knowledge that once felt certain now feels elusive and up in the air. People we once thought that we could rely on will instead fail us and let us down. The church goes from being a place of safety and security to a place where you doubt that you could ever belong or trust again. In these moments, you and I need a trust in God and a faithful obedience that can weather even our deepest fears and doubts.

If you wait until every single doubt is resolved and question is answered, you will be waiting for a very long time. Instead of getting stuck in a spiral of doubt, Jesus wants you, right now, as you are, to join him on mission. Trust him as Master and Lord. Can you join your voice with Simon Peter and say to Jesus today, “if you say so, and throw your net in the direction of His word.”