Jeremiah 27:22 Waiting In Babylon

‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares the LORD. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’ Jeremiah 27:22

God had chosen to move all the people of Judah to the nation of Babylon. They were moved as prisoners, because of their sin against God. As God moved them there, He told them that they were to live and serve the king of Babylon. This would not be a permanent move, but only for a time. They had to serve there for a set amount of time, before God would come to them and move them back to Judah. There would be a time of waiting.

Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, He still works in the same way with His people. There are times that God moves some of His people into an area that does not seem to be blessed by Him. It is not always the promised land.

This move is often just like with the Israelites, it is a move that is made because of disobedience or wrong choices. God has to get the attention placed back on Him, rather than on self.

During this time it can be very frustrating and fearful for a believer. Many feel that God has totally abandoned them and that He will never use them again. This is not true. God is there to build a person up and use them to for His kingdom. God is not out to destroy and kill.

You may be in this position right now. At some point you may have made some poor decisions and strayed off the path God has for you. God then moved you to another place. During this time you may feel abandoned. Jesus said that He would never leave you.

Focus your eyes and life on God. Find out what He wants you to do in the place you are in. While you are waiting in your Babylon, you can do the work of God. You can be a witness of who Jesus is and work at building His kingdom.

If God called you to do a work, that call is still there. He may have detoured you for a time, but He will move you into that call.

I pray today that you will know God’s will for your life; that you will obey God in everything He says; that you will trust God in your Babylon; and that you will be a witness wherever you are.

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Psalm 130:3-4 Destroyed Files

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Psalm 130:3-4

All over the world, hundreds of thousands of records are kept on file to remember many things. Some of these files are pictures to remember people and good things that have occurred in the past. Many are files of things done, such as paying taxes, to be able to later prove what was done.

Lawyers are constantly going through files looking for information. Some are searching for proof against a person, while others are searching for proof for the person’s benefit. These records can help or hurt a person.

One set of files that many people keep on record is those of sins that they have done. The devil, like the attorney, is searching through those files trying to prove they have done something wrong. He likes to remind the person of past faults. When looked at, that person does not have a chance to stand before God and serve Him. He is full of sin.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took every one of those files and nailed them to the cross. They were cast out as far as the east is from the west, so that they were no longer remembered.

At the point that you have believed that Jesus had done this for you, your files were destroyed. Jesus has chosen to forgive you of all of your sins. Those files no longer exist. Regardless of what the devil or this world may say, you are now clean before God.

When that file of sins in your life was full, you were not allowed to go before God. God cannot be in the presence of sin.  However, because of what Jesus has done for you, you now have the ability to go before God and serve Him.

Each day look to the forgiveness Jesus has given you. Rejoice in what He has done for you. Then seek ways to serve God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. God is for you, not against you.

I pray today that you will know the forgiveness Jesus provides; that you will know that Jesus has removed all sin in your life; that you will use your life to serve God; and that you will honor God with your life.

2 Chronicles 19:9 How To Serve

He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 19:9

As king, Jehoshaphat appointed various men to be judges in different parts of the nation. He also appointed the Levite priests to administer the law of God among the people. They were to work at settling disputes brought to them by the people. One of the orders he gave them was to serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of God. As they served they were to do it knowing God is watching them.

In ever workplace there are some people who choose to try and cut as many corners as possible in their work. When the boss is around, they will tend to work a little harder than when the boss is absent.

When no one is watching, it becomes very easy for a person to slack off on the work, or to cheat the system. It is then, that many people start taking money or things from the workplace, or cheating others out on what is rightfully theirs to make a personal gain. Others that are in leadership positions, will work the workers at an unnecessary level, just because of their position.

This can happen in the church as well. A person may lead a Sunday school class, but not really study for the lesson or put his heart into it. Others may use their position to shame another into doing something for the church.

Paul had said that whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord. Everything that you do is to be done faithfully and with your whole heart as if you were doing it directly for God.

Do not do things like the world does, unfaithful and as though God was not in control. Put your heart into your work, knowing that God is watching you at all times. He sees everything that you do and do not do. Everything that you have and can do is because God has given you it or given you the ability to do it.

Now serve faithfully and wholeheartedly for Him.

I pray today that you will know what God has given you to do; that you will work as though working for God; that you will serve faithfully in every area of your life; and that you will put God first in every area of your life.

Being A Viola–An Artist’s Calling

My oldest son wrote this article for Masterworks Festival. It is a four week school for people to pursue the fine arts calling in their life, while keeping God at the center of their life and ministry. Although this was written for those that do musical fine arts, it can be appreciated by every person and there is a great lesson to be learned in this for every believer in Jesus.

You may find the original article on their website at: Being A Viola–An Artist’s Calling

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So, you’re an actor, a musician, maybe a singer, but you’re also a Christian – What’s the connection? We talk a lot about doing everything to the glory of God as is commanded in 1 Corinthians 10:31, but what does that look like for an artist? Our talents don’t put food on someone’s table, build shelters for the homeless, or finding the cures to the world’s sicknesses, so what can we do?

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

As we all know, the viola and the violin look very similar, identical to an unpracticed eye. And yet, there are few things that will push the temper of either instrument’s musician more than falsely identifying which string instrument they play. These two instruments, while being nearly identical to the eye, are built specifically for fundamentally different purposes. The subtle differences between the two instruments are so specific that a violin will not fit in the case of a viola nor vice versa and if one tried to play the part of the other you would find the tool hopelessly inappropriate for the job.

Violins and violas are built to serve different positions.

Ephesians 2:10 says that God prepares good works for us to do in advance of our doing them. Jeremiah 1:5 builds on this principle.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

Before we are even conceived God has fully crafted the plans he has for us, calling us to be actors, musicians, dancers, singers, businessmen, parents, church leaders, politicians, or whatever He has specifically designated for you. You’re not a square being forced into the circular hole, you’re perfectly fitted into the hole God’s placing you because it was exactly fitted to your situation before you even came into being.

God is in the business of tailoring the suit before the customer even walks in the door.

The CSO, the New York Met, Broadway – these are some of the greatest accomplishments for an artist to be able to perform with. The Brooks Atkinson theatre is not in the regular habit of inviting pastors to come and offer a sermon to the cast of Waitress, but a Christian who has taken the years necessary to train their gifts to excellence may be invited as a performer, allowing them a unique window of opportunity for ministry. There they would have access into an entire mission field that no pastor or evangelist could get into. It’s a good work that God prepared in advance specifically for us, as artists, to do. A work that couldn’t be accomplished by just anyone, but was tailor-made to be completed by a trained artist.

Many times an untrained eye may say “Look at that curve, the shape, it’s a violin,” when the instrument in question is a viola. Similarly the world, and at times even the church, looks at us and says “You’re a Christian, so you must become a pastor or missionary.” But while we may be similar in some respects, we are called to a different purpose, just as a viola is built for a different use than that of the other strings. Our Great Composer and Conductor has a solo He has set aside for us alone as the sound only we could produce. Don’t try to force God’s calling for your life into a violin case, it was made for something bigger. Pray and look for what God has called you specifically to, it is sure to be far better than anything we could orchestrate.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Live To Please God

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Paul commended the people of the Thessalonian church that they were living in a way to please God. He then encourages them to do this more and more. They were not to stop striving to please God.

There are people out there that when they look at all of the ways that God wants a person to live and the perfection He is looking for, they don’t want to even try to live for God. Many will start out living for God and striving to please Him, only to give up later.

People often give up, because it is, in reality, impossible to become perfect for God…on their own. They look at all of their faults and say they cannot do it, which is true, on their own. It is only when they rest in Jesus, trust in the power of Jesus, that they can become more like Jesus.

It is in the aiming for, striving to please God, that God finds pleasure. If you are aiming for perfection, just to be perfect, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Your goal in life should be to please God.

Are you being a witness for Jesus?

Are you loving others? Including your enemies?

Are you serving others? Including your enemies?

Are you forgiving everyone?

Are you spending time with God?

Are you turning away from sin?

These and many other things are ways to please God. You may already be doing many or all of these things. That is great! Now Paul is saying do it more and more.

Keep working at pleasing God. Do everything as though you are doing it to and for God. Seek His Holy Spirit to give yo the strength and wisdom in what to do and how to do it. Living like this in the end will get you the “well done good and faithful servant”.

I pray today that God will reveal what He wants you to do; that your actions will please God; that your thoughts will be pleasing to God; that your heart will strive to please God; and that God will draw many to Jesus through you.

2 Corinthians5:15 Not Living For Self

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

In this world everywhere a person looks the views of most people are what is in it for themselves. Each person wants the best for his own life.

When a person goes to purchase a new car at a dealership, he is trying to get the lowest price possible. He is thinking about his own money, rather than thinking about the salesman who is trying to make a living for his own family. It is about himself, not someone else.

There are some wealthy people who give lots of money to some great organizations to help others. Although it looks good, often the purpose of giving the money is not so much to help others, but to get a tax write-off. Again, it is about self, not others.

When Jesus left the glories of heaven to come to earth it was with you and all others in mind. As He walked on this earth, He was focused on doing God’s will with you in mind. Ultimately Jesus died on the cross for you. Jesus died so that you might live.

Never once was Jesus living for Himself. His entire life on this earth was always about you and everyone else. His purpose was to save everyone.

Jesus died and rose again for you. No one can give or do for you anything more than He did. As a believer, you should live your life in the same way. You should be living to serve Jesus and others.

If you are living to serve Jesus, your whole purpose in this life will not be about yourself. It will not be about how much you can get or do. It will be about how many you can reach for Jesus. It will be about how many you can compel to follow Jesus.

When you are living for Jesus, He will provide for you. You will not have to worry about yourself. Your focus will be on Jesus, and His focus will be on taking care of you.

Die to yourself today, and live for Jesus, the One who died and rose again for you.

I pray today that you will know what Jesus has done for you; that God will show you how to live for Him; that God will reveal to you ways to reach the lost; and that God will build His kingdom through you.

1 John 3:16 What is Love?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

John had just finished telling you that you must show love and that if anyone hates anyone else, he is a murderer. The question may now be asked what is love?

In this verse that question is answered very simply. It is answered by showing an example. This example is in Jesus. He laid down His life for you.

Look back in the Gospels and see what Jesus said about His life. As Pilate was questioning Jesus, he told Him that he had the power of giving Jesus the death sentence or setting Him free. Jesus answered by stating that he had power only by what God gave him to do.

Jesus had stated that no one could take His life. He laid it down Himself. Jesus sacrificed His life so that you could have life.

You are to follow the example of Jesus. Your life is to be just like the life of Jesus. Everything that Jesus said and did you are also supposed to say and do. Jesus is perfect and you are called to be perfect also.

This is done by serving other people. You may not have to physically die in order to help someone, but you must be willing to serve others.

Your laying down your life for other people may come in the form of not doing something you want to do in order to help someone else. Or it may be in giving up some money or food to help. Or it giving up some sleep to help. Or turning off the TV or games to help.

Laying down your life is mainly giving something up for yourself for someone else. This can be either material possession or non-material things.

Today seek God in how to lay down your life today for someone else. Ask God for strength to help someone today. Live your life like Jesus did.

I pray that today God reveal to you what He has done for you; that God will open a door for you to help someone; that God will give you strength to give up your life for someone; and that God will redeem your strength and time as you work for Him to help others.