Devos

Unity Needs A Foundation

I have these nice dress shoes I wear when I preach.  I think they are from Kohl’s.  They are anointed-with my sweat and fire!  I signed the bottom of them with my pastor signature, which is illegible according to my daughter.  How much do you think I could sell them for?

I also have a pair of Lebron James’ shoes worn during the final game of the 2016 NBA championship, anointed with his sweat, signed with his hand (ok, I am pretending).  How much do you think I could sell them for?

The first rule of value: an object’s worth is derived from its owner.  

The creator’s value is tied to the object’s value.  The object, by osmosis, inherits the value of its owner. A broken guitar, a sketch, a game ball, a baseball card.  None of these objects have much value unless their owner endows them with it.  A Jimi Hendrex burnt guitar sold for over 380K.  A Da Vinci sketch is priced at 16 million.  Mark McGwire’s 70th-homerun-ball is worth 3 million. A 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card is worth over $500,000.  Each is a piece of the owner; something that ties us to them and their greatness.

In Psalm 8 King David declares a foundational truth: “What is man that You are mindful of him….You have crowned him with glory and honor.”  Every person is created by God; every person is important to Him.  Why!?  Because they bear His image, carry His glory, and where His crown.  Glory and honor!  Human flesh wrapped in the beauty of God, showered with esteem from heaven, lifted up from dust to be given meaning and purpose.  Because of the Creator, the created has value.  If He is of infinite worth, inestimable value, then those whom He made in His image are endowed with, infused with, that value.  His is an inherent value; ours is derived. 

Because of the Creator, the created has value.

This truth is the foundation of all biblical ethics and commands.  From the first chapter of the bible, the foundation is laid in love.  The value of every person is the basis for love and love is the basis for all true human relations and societal laws.  Remove a human beings dignity and you open the door to atrocities, oppressions, injustices, and violence.

Our society, as a whole, has removed this foundation.  There is no solid ground to build upon.  But, as our Master Jesus, told us, “Not so among you!”  We know this truth; we delight in this truth.  Now we must be governed by this truth.  We are glad to be valued by God; now He is calling us to see the same in every person we meet.  Our eyes must see the glorious treasure inside each soul; our hearts must be drawn to their value; our words must voice their honor; our hands must protect their dignity; our lives must bring forth their purpose.

People sometimes ask me how to cultivate unity, or a diverse community, or an atmosphere of acceptance.  It is this simple: I endeavor to value and add value to EVERY person I meet.

So if you have never heard, or you wonder, or its been awhile: you are VALUABLE!  You matter to God and to me.  You are created in the image of God.  You are beautiful; fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your days are written in God’s book.  He thinks about you so much that his good intentions towards you are more than the sand of the seashore.  You are glorious.  You are not a product of random chance or natural selection or mutations.  You are the artwork of God.  The desire of His heart.  The apple of His eye. You are worth more than Lebron James’ shoes or Mickey Mantle’s baseball card.  You are worth the glory of your Creator.

Now go see it in others and speak it into their soul.  Now create environments charged with honor, where every person is valued and welcomed.

Undiluted

You gotta know who you are!  You gotta know what God has given you in Christ!  God says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.  I have found that when we don’t know, we are vulnerable to insecurities, fears, and even sin.  But when we know, the truth frees us, fills us with confidence, brings rest, and motivates and empowers us to live a life that pleases God.

Do you know who you are?  Do you know you have an inheritance in Christ?  In this message, you will see that you have an undiluted inheritance in Christ.  The same power, authority, blessings, and promises we read in the bible are your inheritance.  But if you don’t know, you won’t appropriate them to your life.  I pray you will blessed by this message as you see what is yours.  And I pray you would become solid in Christ as you come to Him with faith.

Enjoy!

A Voice For Unity

I recently read a news article that, in essence, claimed that the “experiment” of racial unity in churches was dead.  Well, not where I live!  

I recognize we have deep, historical roots of pride and  injustice.  I recognize we have lots of work still to do until we “all come to unity of faith and the knowledge of Son of God”; until we fulfill the prayer of Jesus, “that they would be one Father as You and I are one” on earth as it is in heaven.  But the “experiment” is not dead.  These “statistics” and “social observations” are non-scientific; these individuals see what they want to see.  They claim churches are homogenous.  Well, they haven’t been to my church yet!  We are far from our vision and far from perfection, but we are on the way and picking up the pace. I feel like we are becoming a church for those “in-between”.

During a motivational seminar, I was recently reminded of the “expectancy theory” that states, “whatever you focus on expands”.  Scripture presents a corollary principal: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  What we give voice to, influences our hearts and minds.  We plant words, like seeds, into our souls and those ideas produce fruit in our attitudes and actions.  Ideas become institutions; words shape environment; concepts mold culture, thoughts forms systems.

If we give voice to disunity, it will consume our society.  And no house divided against itself can stand.  It inevitably will fall.  If we give voice to unity,  it will heal our society.   As we learn from Galatians 6, we harvest the fruit of the seed we sow.  If we talk about unity, it will grow.

Negative voices are constantly bombarding us with the problems of race relations, division and such in our country.  There is place for this as it can, when executed correctly, bring awareness, stir holy indignation, and arouse action.  Like an accurate diagnosis of a disease can lead to a life-saving cure, examination of our social problem can lead to transformation.  But diagnosis without prognosis is only disappear.  To vent anger or spew criticism, leaves our “patient” with no hope.  There is a vast difference between, “You have a tumor, but if we act now we can save your life” and “You have a tumor, there is nothing we can do.”  The later is what the divisive words are sowing.  you mean well, you are making an observation, but you lack the sight beyond your experience, the hope beyond your world.  I refuse to stay there!

These divisive words are both the cause and the engine of our current state of division.  Rather than helping us move towards a cure, they are exacerbating the problem.  Our words, often on the news and in social media, are doing great harm.

I am committing to be a voice of unity; one who carries words of life on his tongue; one whose speech builds bridges.

I want to sow seeds into our culture that will both heal the wounds of the past and create the future we need and desire.  If we want a different future, we must speak different words.  I invite you, friend, to do the same.

Cut out sentences that contrast “us” and “them” and starting talking about “we”.  Elevate your generalities to specifics.  Who are “they” anyways!? And not everyone on the left or the right, the white or the black, the rich or the poor, the urban or the suburban are the same.  Transition from speaking about problems, to offering solutions. Criticism and cyncism are easy; strategic solutions require work, faith, and love.  Stop judging people’s motives while giving yourself grace.  You know what I mean; it sounds like, “They really want…”, “They don’t really care about…”.  Let’s be honest, we cannot see someone’s heart, we can only see their actions.  Take responsibility for your part–we cannot speak of another’s responsibility (i.e. “they should…”), without also speaking of our own. Cut out derogatory language–we never have the right to speak evil of or curse another person.  As God says, “Do not speak evil of one another” (James 4:11).

Speak words of honor about others.  Highlight the best in people.  Assume people have something to teach you; ask questions and actually listen and consider.  Emphasize our similarities, connections, and oneness.  Value differences–different perspectives, colors, gifts, and personalities.  Our differences can be the way forward; can be the weapon of unity rather than the weapon of disunity.  Share testimonies of those who are succeeding rather than failing.  Celebrate the victories, even small wins.  Have conversations about solutions rather than problems.

So, I declare that God’s vision for a unified church will become a reality; the prayer of Jesus will be answered on earth as it is in heaven.  And the church will become light again.  A hope to the world; a testimony of God’s brilliant, loving work of redemption.

I see leaders rising up with noble hearts, ready to serve the people rather than their own self-ambitions.  I see leaders who will lead the “streams” into one river, knowing that “all things are ours in Christ”.  I see walls of offense, fear and pride coming down.  I see a church that lives out the vision the Apostle Paul had when he called for “brotherly love” among rich and poor, slave and free, male and female, Jew and non-Jew.  I see a church on earth as it is in heaven: the redeemed of the Lord representing every tribe, language, people-group, and ethnicity, which implies an accentuation of our differences, a celebration of our uniqueness.  Singing, dressing, talking, relating in our own cultural flair–a unity in diversity, a beautiful mosaic of worship to our Maker, God and Father.

How is this possible!?  Honor is the key to unity.  I’ll have to talk about that in another devo because I am out of time.

Join me in being a voice of unity.   Let’s speak life and sow seeds into our culture that will both heal the wounds of the past and create the future we need and desire.

 

Kingdom Prayers

Through James 5:16-17, the Lord teaches us how to pray prayers that get results.  Many people think prayer is a like a coin toss or a roll of the dice.  “You never know what God will do”, I hear many people say.  But that is not what Jesus taught or modeled.  Its time we learn to pray Kingdom prayers and see Kingdom results.

If you don’t know what is yours in Christ, you won’t approach God with confidence and perseverance.  You can only appropriate what you recognize.  Discover who you are in Christ and what is available to you through Him; ditch wimpy prayers and pick up your weapons.

Enjoy!

Don’t Let the Devil Bully You

You can only appropriate what you recognize.  If we don’t know something is ours we cannot utilize it.  Too often we let fear and discouragement, shame and insecurity push us around, because we do not know who we are.

We need to know who we are in Christ and what has been given to us.  That is what Paul prays for in Ephesians chapter one and that is what the Holy Spirit is showing us in this message.

Beloved, don’t let the devil bully you any longer!  Rise up and fight.  Find out how in this message.

Enjoy!

Forever Changed

I was impacted by something so simple while reading the Gospels recently.  When people encountered Jesus, they were changed forever.  And what was their response?  Worship. So often we see people falling down and worshipping Jesus out of an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  He made such an impact!

The risen Lord is still in the life-changing business.  I may not be a leper, but I need healing; I may not be a tax collector, but I need forgiveness.  He is alive: still the healer, redeemer, savior, deliverer.

Everyone who encountered Jesus, was changed forever.  As you come to Jesus, He will change you.

Enjoy!

 

The Praise Breakthrough

Often just when we start making some progress, resistance comes.  Often after revival, comes backlash.  We can be tempted to be discouraged, but the Lord is reminding us that our victory is on our lips, that praise is the way to breakthrough.  So don’t worry; worship.  Don’t back down; Bless the Lord.  Don’t give up; give Him glory!

Be reminded through some powerful testimonies that as you worship, God is moving.  He is going before you, fighting for you, giving you victory.  Praise Him!

Enjoy!