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Archive for October, 2015

Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest Biblical disciplines that strengthen your spiritual identity. Begin with this. Practice Sabbath rest. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord. All other spiritual disciplines begin and extend from a heart that practices the principle of Sabbath. More than a day set aside from usual and necessary activity, Sabbath is a deliberate time – without worry or hurry – to reorient your body, soul, and spirit with the Biblical practices that encourage and celebrate your faith. In Jesus, true Sabbath is found. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Prioritize quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Regular attention to the reading and meditation of Scripture is critically important. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Prioritize prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Prioritize Praise and Worship. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100 NIV. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT. Spiritual practices develop a life that abides in Christ, trusts His finished work on the cross, and celebrates your identity in Christ.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

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Image and Identity

October 6th, 2015

“You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11 NIV.

Inner tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess.

My thoughts and comments continue today about, “image and identity”

People often confuse image and identity; they may seem similar but are distinctly different. The first is an inadequate imitation of the latter. Image is what you project to others, what you prefer others believe about you. Identity is who and what you really are. Emotional and spiritual tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess. Any disconnect between image and identity creates confusion and dissimulation.

It is significant that at Jesus’ baptism before His public ministry began, the Father affirmed Jesus’ eternal identity. An audible voice from Heaven was heard, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV. Imagine the strength of the Father’s testimony when others would later dispute His identity and deny His authority.

Image confines you to less than you are; identity frees you to be all God intends. Sin and self conspire to substitute image for identity. They are not interchangeable to God. Jesus evidenced the freedom of identity and humility when He washed the feet of the disciples. John 13:1-17 NKJV. In four statements, John defines Jesus’ identity and the secret of His humility.

(1) Sure Knowledge. “Jesus knowing . .” Jesus had unshakable conviction of unchanging truth. When you know Who God is, you believe what God says.

(2) Sufficient Resource. “. . knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” When you do God’s will, you will have all you need to succeed.

(3) Sacred Origin. “. . knowing that He had come from God,” When you know where you came from, you can always find your way home.

(4) Secure Destiny. “. . knowing He was going to God.” Your destiny in Christ is irrevocable. Read John 14:1-3 NIV. When your future is sure you are freed to live life fully now.

As was the Jewish custom, a basin of water and towel were at the door when the disciples gathered for the Passover. Apparently, not one of them considered the basin and towel were there for their use. As Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter remonstrated against Jesus washing his feet. Was his refusal from pride or shame? Peter, like the others, never thought to wash the Messiah’s feet, let alone the feet of his fellow disciples.

Peter’s image of himself and his image of Jesus were radically less than the identity out of which Jesus ministered. “Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself . . to wash the Disciples’ feet.” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NIV. Humility is the byproduct of a Godly identity. Solomon’s wise counsel is this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will not settle for anything less than God created you to be.

Divine Servant , Max Greiner Jr Designs (c)

“Divine Servant”

Max Greiner, Jr. Designs (c)

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Identity Theft

October 2nd, 2015

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption.

My thoughts and comments today are about “identity theft.”

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, yet many people struggle with a confused identity. You will not discover your identity by looking in the mirror or recounting your achievements and accumulations, nor by the compliments or criticisms from others. Authentic identity comes from knowing who you are in Christ.

Identity theft is a growing problem in our increasingly technological society. Nationally, a new victim of identity theft occurs every two seconds. In 2014, there were 13.1 million victims resulting in thefts of $16 billion. As numerous and disconcerting as those statistics seem, there is a vastly more devastating theft of identity occurring within the hearts and souls of men. The enemy of your soul is relentless in trying to deface the image of Christ in whomever it is found. Nowhere in Scripture is the devil’s tactic to deface one’s God-given identity clearer than in the story of Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, invaded and conquered Israel. Please read Daniel 1. In the first of three invasions, he took young men of royalty and nobility back to Babylon, removing the best and brightest of Israel. Four attempts were made to ultimately remove and replace their Godly identity. Every move was strategic, changing their Godly identity by removing their Jewish heritage and practices while replacing those with the ways and worship of Babylon.

(1) Isolation from previous experiences – nation, faith, family, history, and spiritual heritage and practice. Vs 3. Separation from Godly reinforcement – family, Godly fellowship, church, and spiritual practices of prayer and God’s Word – initiated his devilish scheme to displace their previous dependence and trust.
(2) Indoctrination by replacing their beliefs, convictions, and language with “the language and literature of the Babylonians.” Vs 4. Be advised; culture today is a powerful tool of conversion, shaping your thoughts, desires, beliefs, behavior, standards, mores and morals.
(3) Influence by reorienting their appetites from kosher dietary practices to a “daily provision of the King’s delicacies and the wine he drank.” Vs 5. Jewish practice included a kosher diet. Babylon’s purpose was to create a new taste for what they could not provide for themselves, becoming dependent on the King’s good will and benevolence.
(4) Identity theft was the devilish strategy all along. The final scheme was to change their Hebrew names to foreign names attributed to Babylonian gods, discrediting who they were and persuading who they were meant to be. Vs 6-7. When I was a teen, I rarely left the house without my Dad reminding me, “Allen, don’t forget you are a Randolph.”

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. A devious king could not steal his identity. Daniel knew who he was because he knew Who was the Source and Sovereign of his life. Your identity cannot be confused or compromised if you know who you are in Christ. Read Ephesians 2:3-6 NIV. For all who are “in Christ,” your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Read Ephesians 1:3-9 NIV. “[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read Romans 8:37-39 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is assured and secure in Christ.

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Today’s EveryDay Life is a continuation of the previous devotional, “History and Destiny,” from a recent Sunday ministry. You can listen to that teaching at the following link by clicking on “Identity Theft.”

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