Monday, November 26, 2012

LOL: Conformed

Memory/Meditation Verse: But I want you to be wise about what is good, yet innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. ~ Rom 16:19b-20 (HCSB)

Came across these verses in my quiet time the other day. Just couldn't navigate my mind away from from them. Another golden find for this time of my life. Another set of scripture to turn into a most powerful prayer!!

But whats the story surrounding this heavenly find? 

Paul is closing his letter to the Roman church. He is preparing them for his visit. He wanted to present the gospel and its implication to their present life and their life in eternity. He is proud of their spiritual growth and the spiritual fruits they have established for eternity. He is appealing his readers to work out their Christian faith in practical ways, both in the church and in the world. Read his words to the church again in the Amplified version:

I would have you well versed and wise as to what is good and innocent and guileless as to what is evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with you.

No other letter written by Paul so profoundly addresses the Christian walk. The Christian walk. This has really laid heavy on my heart and soul these past few months. The whole concept of living and breathing Jesus in our everyday, not just at home or at church where it tends to be easier but in the world.

Jesus lived bolding in the world. He didn't shy away from the sinners or even their places. He could be dab smack in the center of the Pharisees home and still not be one of them. That is want I want of my life. To be in the world but not of the world but clearly visibly belonging to Jesus.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. ~ Rom 12:2 (Amplified)

To be wise about what is good. This begins in knowing God and loving Him above all else. Beth Moore put it so well in her devotional book Jesus Day-by-Day:

"The exquisite beauty of loving Christ is that it makes it impossible to keep only one commandment. The Word tells us that the person who truly loves God will pursue the obedient life and be far more likely to persevere in trials. Loving God is the vital lifeline to all other commandments." (pp.65)

[And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope. ~ Titus 3:7 (Amplified)

Christ walked His journey here on earth so that we could follow in His footsteps. His grace and mercy through Calvary should empower us to live to do good in His name. It should become what our living is about. Can you say that? My living too often has just been about me. Waisted living. Once again, in these verses I hear His whisper on my heart...

But still, I want you to understand what is good and not have anything to do with evil.   Then God, who gives peace, will soon crush Satan under your feet. I pray that our Lord Jesus will be kind to you. (Contemporary English Version)

Seeking the good, staying away from evil. And the outcome? This is what is so awesome about these it in the Message version:

I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!

That is so calling out a victory dance!! That's the kind of victory I want to see in my own life-the peace of God coming down and stomping anything of satan right into to the ground!! Then to live to enjoy the best of Jesus. That's living conformed!

I want you to be wise about good things and pure about sinful things.  God, Who is our peace, will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the loving-favor of our Lord Jesus be yours. (NLV)

That's living conformed and living in His favor-enjoying the best of Jesus!! Let's make it a goal to live each day to enjoy the best of Jesus here on earth!!

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11 (NLT)


Monday, November 12, 2012

LOL: Copy-Cat Living

Memory/Meditation Verse: Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes...Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. ~ Eph 4:23; 5:1-2 (NLT)

Remember when you were little on the play ground at recess and you heard a squeaky voice shouting "Copy-cat! Copy cat!"?  It wasn't necessarily a good thing. Yet, as we have grown older, we still find ourselves wanting to copy others, usually for positive reasons.

Maybe you want to copy the recipe of a new dish you just tried at a church pot luck dinner.  It was popular at this event, maybe it will be just as popular for your next family holiday gathering. Or maybe you'll sing a new song that has been recently recorded and released. She sang it so sweetly but maybe your voice can reflect an even more tender version. Or maybe you are into success, climbing the career ladder and you want to achieve an outcome that was successful for your peer. It work for them so it should work for you, right?

You and I know it doesn't always happen that way. The recipe flops in the oven, your voice cracks during the chorus, and then the position you have worked so hard for is now being eliminated. Not all copy-cat living works out. It doesn't always reflect the original.

Living Out Loud does have a component of "Copy-Cat Living". God put people in our life so we can learn and grow from them. Have you ever known someone who seems to live life to its fullest? What is it about that person that draws you in and makes you want to copy them? Maybe it the joy they live out loud? The humility? The sweet, gentle, quiet spirit?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10 (NIV)

There is one person above all others that we should want to copy-cat our living by...Jesus. Did God not love us enough to give us His Son to be a living breathing example we can copy living by? It wasn't just the Christians that were draw to Jesus, the sinners were drawn to Him also.

"One reason people loved being around Jesus was that he gave the people around him breath, life, energy, peace, and joy. He came to restore our relationship with God and to put fresh air back in our lives." ~ Chris Hodges, Fresh Air  (pp.70)
I love how Chris Hodges describe Christ I yearn to be like Him. Someone who loves others like He did. Not the introvert that I tend to be but a compassionate, caring, humble person who doesn't center on her own needs before the needs of others.
" life message is to encourage people to draw closer to Jesus. That's because I know what it's like to move from a life-draining, exhausting, self-propelled faith to one that's life-giving, invigorating, and Spirit-propelled." ~ Chris Hodges, Fresh Air (pp.75)

I have lived a life-draining, exhausting, self propelled faith. It got me no where spiritually. It was definitely lacking in joy. It was a faith built on duty, grounded on rules. Paul spoke on this all throughout his letters to the churches (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians). Circumcised verses uncircumcised. Legalistic works verses obedience. Living faith out of a sense of duty vs living faith out of your relationship with God.

I choose a relationship. I chose to be a copy-cat of Jesus. Living to be life-giving, invigorating, Spirit-propelled. Living Out Loud Jesus. More than anything, I want to live like that. I want to reflect the original.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~ Ps. 19:14 (NLT)

Monday, November 5, 2012

LOL: the Jehoshaphat's Way

Memory/Meditation Verse: “In Him we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:28 NIV).

This verse crossed my path and captured my heart. It literally wraps up what Living Out Loud is based on-it is all about Him. Then I am reminded of one of my favorite Old Testament stories and today, I take you there...2 Chronicles 20. Read it here...every verse and then come back here.

Davids son Jehoshaphat understood what it meant to Live Out Loud. In the footsteps of his father, King Jehoshaphat included God in his everyday. Imagine living in that time. We are dealing with political battles, different parties fighting for what they think is right for our country. Not necessarily to the magnitude of Jehoshaphat's time. He was dealing with a political battle...a battle in which his enemies wanted his territory.

How did King Jehoshaphat respond?

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. ~ 2 Chronicles 20:3 (NIV)

His first response? He became alarmed. Any time someone is invading our space, or threatens something dear to us, we will react that way. King Jehoshaphat's men came to him with what they knew and He heeded the words of his men. He didn't brush them off. He wasn't too busy to listen or to care.

His second response? He turned to God and he gave it to God. He called on God in this most beautiful prayer, a prayer that confirmed his faith and trust in his God. A prayer that we should all use when we are feeling overwhelmed:

"Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They have lived in the land and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name and have said,  “If disaster comes on us—sword or judgment, pestilence or famine—we will stand before this temple and before You, for Your name is in this temple. We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver.” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:5-12(HCSB)

His third response? He reacted. He reacted in faith. He took the threat seriously. He knew on his own he could not stop his enemies. But he knew His God would react to him. He reacted by fasting.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”~ Matt 6:33

Though Matthew 6:33 had yet to be penned, King Jehoshaphats faith knew this.

Fasting is one of the most powerful weapons God has ever given us for our daily lives...Although fasting lasts for a short season, it brings long-term results, which sharpens us, enabling us to face the challenges of life in His strength ~Jentezen Franklin

Nothing was more important to him then being as close to His God as he could be. He knew God was bigger than him. Our passage reads on to show God coming through when His spirit came on a man in the congregation, Jahaziel, with these words:

This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. ~ 2 Chron 20:15b

The battle is not yours. If only we would recite this line every time we confront the invasion of the unwanted or the impossible. The battle is not yours. What a beautiful confirmation for King Jehoshaphat that his reaction and commitment to God was the right step towards this threat. But he didn't stop there. Even before the enemies were defeated, what did he do?

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”
~ 2 Chron. 20:21

He gave thanks. He praised God in advance for His work He would do. that's faith. That's trust. That's walking life with God. You know the rest of the story if you read this chapter like I asked you to in the beginning. I don't think the ending is so much about winning the battle as it was the result of God's action in their lives....

So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. ~ 2 Chron. 20:30

Peace. Rest. What a blessed reward. I believe this same reward awaits us is we live out loud as King Jehoshaphat did here in this chapter. When life hits you hard, live your faith out loud  by:
  1. Be alarmed.
  2. Resolved to seek the Lord.
  3. React
  4. Remember, "the battles is not yours".
  5. Give thanks and praise to God from the beginning.
Then rest in Him. Wait for His peace. Live Out Loud Jehoshaphat's way!