Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walked Humbly

Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walked Humbly

There is a line in a song by Mumford & Sons called “The Cave”.

“Cause I need freedom now, and I need to know how, to live my life as it’s meant to be…”

The song as a whole seems to teeter on this message of struggle. Something anyone who is alive can relate to…for the most part. During Coffee with Jesus we have been in the book of Philippians and before that Ephesians, both these books written by Paul. Paul isn’t afraid to share about his life of struggle and difficulty. Yet through it he reminds us that often the struggles we face help bare witness to the hope that we have in Jesus.

His rally cry for us is in Philippians 3:12-14
“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”

Let me remind us yet one more time of my life verse, my motto, my heart beat: Micah 6:8
“He has shown you oh man what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The purpose of life isn’t to be chained down by the pursuit of worldly happiness but to be free in Christ to live in the present joy of knowing Him.

You are Loved,

cj

Frustration

Frustration

Frustration, we all deal with it. It is mostly those moments that we allow things outside of our control affect our emotions. For example, one Sunday i walked into the Church Youth Room (we call it “Not the Choir Room) and found the corner over taken by Christmas decorations, a broken pew (previously repaired) and the chairs i had previously set up, back in stacks. Frustrating? Yes. i muscled through. Fast forward to Thursday night…i walked into “not the choir room”, still Christmas, still a broken pew, chairs again stacked…frustrating? You bet!

Thursday night i was less able to muscle through and found myself struggling through the entire evening as my thoughts just went back to my frustration. i allowed, absolutely those outside influences to affect my emotional being and in turn it had an effect on the entire evening. i had to remind myself of the actions being taken by others to move and change…the processes are in motion to make the “Not the Choir Room” into the “Journey Student Ministry Room” for lack of a better name. We will have our stamp on it as the children’s ministry has done with theirs. Yet…

You know when you know something and yet it doesn’t matter how many times you remind yourself of the facts you still are frustrated? This was my state of mind, frustrated. That night i went home frustrated, sat frustratingly on the couch, and stewed frustratingly until…

We all have choices to make. Choices that will have influence on our lives emotionally and physically. i sat at a moment of choice. i could continue to sit in a frustrated sense of “woe is me” OR rise above the frustration, see the big picture and find a solution. i chose the solution.

Read Philippians 1:12-26 (below) This passage, i believe, is Paul choosing to not sit in a state of “woe is me” but rather find the good, find the solution and choosing to see the bigger picture. May we all in our moments of frustration, stop and look at the big picture and choose solution over frustration.

Philippians 1:12-26

12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters,[a] that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard,[b] knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers[c] here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message[d] without fear.

15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

You are Loved,

cj

Making the right New Year Resolution

Making the right New Year Resolution

Its that time of year again, time to make and break those New Year Resolutions. Did you know that you have less of a shot at actually keeping your “new year resolution” than you do of getting in a car wreck? But lets not talk about that…Here are the top 10 New Year Resolutions year after year:

1
Lose Weight
2
Getting Organized
3
Spend Less, Save More
4
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5
Staying Fit and Healthy
6
Learn Something Exciting
7
Quit Smoking
8
Help Others in Their Dreams
9
Fall in Love
10
Spend More Time with Family

i find most of these interrelated. For example, if you lose weight you will naturally be more fit and healthy 1 and 5 respectively. Enjoying Life to the Fullest would probably encompass the whole of this list really. So what is the best New Year Resolution? Or a better question might be is it a good idea to even make a New Year Resolution? i personally don’t see a problem with making a resolution to change or improve your life. But i do think that if we are going to be successful we need to look at the reason and the focus of our resolution.

Psalm 51:10-11New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit[a] from me.

 

Philippians 3:12-15New Living Translation (NLT)

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 4:13New Living Translation (NLT)

13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.
If you are on the edge, deciding whether to make a resolution this year or not or if you have already made a list, may i make one suggestion? That you make Jesus, your New Year Resolution. Make Him the focus of 2016 and everything else will fall into place. One last verse that really is all the resolution you need for the coming year…

Matthew 6:33New Living Translation (NLT)

33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

You are Loved,

cj

Unintentionally Ashamed

Unintentionally Ashamed

Throughout our lives there are times it becomes easy to unintentionally be ashamed of being a Christian. Situations arise and perhaps you over hear a conversation in which Christianity is being put down. And rather than defend it we quietly walk away. That isn’t always the wrong decision. However, more often than not i believe it is an opportunity to share our faith. Paul throughout his ministry finds himself in difficult situations. However, he found resolve in knowing that to, “To live is Christ and to die is gain…”

Let these words of Paul resinate in your hearts and minds this week as you find yourself in situations or opportunities to share hope, life and love to those around you.

Philippians 1:20-24 (NLT)
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

You are Loved,

cj

Life

Life

Life, fleeting moments sown together. Each of these moments, good or bad make up who we are and who we are becoming. Our family, our friends, our surroundings, these influence each moment. Each moment forms our opinions, our feelings, our personality. Who and what we choose to influence us is vitally important. In a day that see’s ever increasing persecution on Christians, even on the act of prayer we must be vigilant in our pursuit of Jesus.

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy…” Philippians 1:3-4

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You are Loved,

cj

He’s a Regifter!

He’s a Regifter!

Jesus is that one person who took a narrative of religiosity and reformed it into a relationship…He then regifted that gift given to Adam and Eve in the garden. That gift of personal relationship. As we eagerly unwrap Jesus in new ways, discovering new ideas in old truths let us also be eager to share it…to regift Him the greatest gift of all time, Jesus.

You are Loved,

cj

God is Strong

God is Strong

“Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit”…”Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy”…”Stephen, they found they couldn’t take their eyes off him-his face was life the face of an angel!” These verses found in Acts tell of an amazing moment of God’s Faithfulness through a man full of Jesus.

Ephesians 6 says this:
“God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way.”

What we know of Stephen is that he was living Ephesians 6. Without a doubt. As we head into Thanksgiving next week and then into the Advent season it is a good time to reflect. A moment of introspection in which we look at our lives, what we have to be thankful for and in being thankful living lives of thanksgiving. A life of Thanksgiving in which God is strong, because He is strong.

Because He is strong, we can live in faith that He will…
As we rely on Him, seek Him, rest in Him, He fills us with more of Him, His Holy Spirit…
The more we are full of the Holy Spirit the more our lives reflect grace…
Grace, when given fills us with power to change our environment…

This is Jesus’ heart for you.

You are Loved,

cj

Hope

Hope

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” i have said this often but wasn’t sure where it came from; so i did what everyone does when they want to learn new information, i googled it. You know what i found? An amazing poem written by Robert Burns in 1785. Here is the stanza in which this oft` repeated line lays:

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
The poem sheds light on the mental state of Burns, who at the time was only 26 years old. He had a lot going for him, popular, young, well respected, yet still in this and the closing stanza we find a man with a bleak outlook and little hope of change. The author of the biography that i read made this observation, “Not at all what one might expect from a young man of twenty-six, supposedly so popular  with the lassies, and with his whole life ahead of him, but nevertheless expressing sentiments with which many of us today can easily relate.” 

It seems that we do live in a world that in~spite of its many advantages, technologies, entertainments and beauty, we suffer from a lack of, for a lack of a better term, hope. Hope for a future that is better than ones present.

Let me encourage us with this, there is hope, life can get better, and our choice to choose joy and hope over sadness and despair is ours to make. Psalm 65:5 & 78:7 gives a look into true hope…

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.”

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”

Finally, Matthew writes, “And his name [Jesus] will be the hope of all the world.”

There is HOPE, You are Loved,

cj

Un~intended Conversations

Un~intended Conversations

i recently had a conversation with someone who i believe is a non-believer (actually i have many of those conversations but i want to single this one out a bit). In reality it wasn’t so much a conversation as it was a chat. Regardless, it will do well in making my point.

i made a comment, that clearly was sarcasm to anyone who really knows me. This individual did not. They read it and found it to be offensive, and they replied in part, “why must i shove my holiday on everyone…” i attempted, it appears in vain, to help the individual understand where my comment was coming from…with clearly no resolution. This person, however did go to my Facebook page, which is open for all the world to see, and then proceeded to make accusations based on the fact i am:
1. a Christian,
2. post often with Christian content,
3. do not share their particular social outlook. (based on posted content)

i realized something that is true for all Christians, in these days in which we live. We will be judged by the conduct of others calling themselves “Christians”. We will not easily persuade others to look at us in another light, than that tainted by our present culture towards Christians. We are sadly lumped into only two categories, liberal christianity; and conservative christianity…both lowercase on purpose because neither truly reflects the heart and nature of Jesus.

Here is the point i want to make, a desperate plea from my heart to yours, love. Love God with your whole being, and love people as you love yourself. Pray, pray for those that persecute you, spitefully use you, speak all kinds of evil against you. Live this life, don’t just talk about it, don’t just read about it, don’t just pretend when only certain people are watching.

These passages that we have been covering in coffee with Jesus really have been hitting home especially in light of this recent chat.

Ephesians 4:1-4; 30-32
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

You should read the whole Chapter of Ephesians 4, the whole book actually but you should get the idea from these two excerpts. In conclusion let me remind us of what Peter wrote: 1 Peter 2:12

12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

You are Loved,

cj

The Lord’s Prayer #7

The Lord’s Prayer #7

temptation and rescue…

a final look at, “Our Father in Heaven…Matt 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Temptation is all around us. It is nearly constant as we live in an age of hyper communication. Tweets, Facebook notifications, Instagram, and countless other social networks keep us connected, informed and tempted. There are images shared by friends that appear in my feed that are inappropriate and if i am not careful i can find myself entertaining the temptation it presents. But, its not just social media, its web surfing, watching TV, listening to music, even conversations with friends. Temptation, is the mode of operation used by the devil himself.

That is why it is critical that we seek the strength of the Holy Spirit within us so that we do not yield to temptation. In fact, Jesus, fully aware of the tempter and his ways, doesn’t just stop with praying for strength over temptation but “rescue” from the evil one.

How is your prayer life when it comes to praying for strength against temptation and rescue from the evil one? i fear it is easy to over look this in our daily prayer life. It goes to weakness and no one likes to be weak. No one likes to admit struggle but that is exactly what this prayer leads us to do. We need His strength to be victorious over temptation and to receive rescue from the grip of the devil.

Father, help us to not yield to temptation, rescuing us from the evil one, may we live for you wholly. In Jesus Name…amen.
You are Loved,

cj