Instant Conviction

 

Action Word on Red Round Button Be ProactiveConviction is a very personal word to me. I have some deep convictions about lots of things. I don’t always share the same convictions as others. I do believe that the majority of the people of the world believe that murder is wrong. The scriptures speak against murder for sure. There are other convictions based on opinion and interpretation of scripture. I may have convictions that others don’t have. Some of my convictions of “thou shalt not” that I was taught as a kid, I can’t find support of in scripture. “Convictions are my beliefs set in concrete.”

The Pharisees and teachers of the law had some deep convictions. They had taken the Law of Moses and added their opinion and interpretation to it. Jesus spent much of His ministry dismantling some of their convictions and teachings.  Jesus changed people who came into His Presence. One man he met was a known sinner and he started changing before it appears that Jesus even said a word. Check this out…

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NLT)

Being in the Presence of Jesus changed this man and years of behavior was changed. Zacchaeus was convicted of his previous actions/business model. Tax Collectors worked for the Roman government and they got paid to collect taxes that were due. Any taxes over that amount, they would keep. They got rich pretty quick in that role. Zacchaeus was changed quickly and gave away ½ of his wealth and offered restitution to all he had cheated. I imagine when people saw this man’s changed life, they couldn’t argue about the Power of Jesus Presence.

I want to make sure that I live my life in His Presence. I want my convictions to be based on His Word and His call upon my life. I don’t necessarily want to follow rules that add to scripture like the Pharisees did. I want my heart to be profoundly devoted to Him and live out my faith daily. I want people to notice that my life is different and how I work is different. I want my life to display what I believe about the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Count The Costs

 

calculatorThis is something that is part of my job very often. If an inspection comes back with needed repairs, the buyers are trying to count the costs of repair. They will often ask the seller to contribute to the costs of repair because they didn’t see these issues when first looking at the home.  An inspector discovers rotten wood, issues in the crawl space or attic and these are often important issues to be fixed.

I made a decision at a very young age to follow Jesus and I’m still deciding to follow Him even today. I don’t believe that you make a decision to follow Him and then never revisit that decision. As I’ve grown in my faith, I discover more areas of my heart that have not been surrendered to Him. Jesus taught about counting the cost to a large crowd. I’m pretty sure the crowd got a bit smaller after His words about the cost of following Him. Check this out…..

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (Luke 14:25-30 NLT)

At first glance, this seems like an impossible teaching. Other places in scripture, we are taught NOT to hate one another, but to love one another. Jesus uses very strong language to speak about commitment to Him. I believe, He’s NOT asking me to hate my wife, children, mom, dad or anyone. He’s telling me that I must love Him first and I must love Him more than any other human on the planet. My goal for many years has been to expand my love for the Lord and expand my love for my family. I have learned that there is a lot of room to grow in this area. I believe that my love for my family and other is deeper and more expansive BECAUSE of my profound love for the Lord. I’ve learned to love from following the Lord.  He didn’t teach me to hate. He did teach me about commitment and responsibility.

I have counted the costs of following Jesus and it’s a no-brainer. The rewards for following Him far outweigh the costs. He also promises eternal life which is a promise in a league of its own.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Pursuit

follow your heart words holding by businessman's handI sometimes think of this word in negative terms. For example, when a car with blue lights is in pursuit of my car, I know I’m about to get a “safe driving award” for exceeding the speed limit. I’ve not been pursued like this in a good while and I’m thankful. I also try to think of this word in a positive way – pursuing hopes and dreams. I still have those for my life. I want to be in daily pursuit of my goals and ambitions.

I came across a story in the book of John that reminded me of the word “pursuit” even though it’s not in the scripture. Check this out…

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. (John 21:4-9 NLT)

I was immediately reminded of the event found in Matthew 14 when the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the night and a storm came up and they were struggling to keep moving. Jesus came up walking on the water and it freaked them out. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he said, “Lord if its really you, tell me to come walking on the water.” Jesus said, “Come”. Peter did just that, he got out of the safety of the boat and headed toward Jesus. In this story, Peter gets out of the boat and leaves his responsibility with the net and the huge catch of fish behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Peter is portrayed as a passionate follower of Jesus. He was used by the Lord to be a great leader in the early church. He seems impulsive and unpredictable. He was predictable when it came to Jesus – He wanted to be with Jesus wherever He was.

This simple passage stirred my heart to stay in a passionate pursuit of God with my life. I must make my pursuit the highest priority of my life. My pursuit of God begins in my heart and then is shown in my behavior. If I reverse this, it doesn’t work well. I grew up trying to “show” my faith with my behavior, while my heart wasn’t in it. I’m still learning that behavior follows the heart. The heart doesn’t follow behavior – it simply tolerates it. If I want to be in genuine pursuit of God, it begins with heart change.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Evidence

 

Magnifying Glass - FactsI used to be a big fan of Perry Mason, Law & Order, Matlock and shows that featured the court of law. The television shows were much more dramatic that most courtrooms. I was recently in court with a friend and couldn’t help by notice the procedural drama and what appeared to me as a lot of time wasted. It seemed to me, that by the time the facts were presented, the court was tired of all the other drama. I learned that the “wheels of justice” turn very slowly and very deliberately. If I were in trouble with the law, I’m sure I would appreciate this.

In a court of law a critical piece to the case is the evidence. This is “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid”. (Google) Evidence is also defined as “data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects”. (dictionary.com)

Jesus heals a man born blind by making mud for the man to put on his eyes and wash off in the pool of Siloam. When the man did as he was told, he was healed of his blindness. He was “blown away” and very thankful for sure. He told everyone! The religious leaders immediately got engaged because the day that this all went down happened to be the Sabbath. The religious leaders questioned the man who was healed and they didn’t believe the facts as he presented them. They even went so far as to question whether or not he was really blind since birth. Check this out…

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”

20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:18-25 NLT)

If evidence is ignored, it doesn’t change the evidence. I can choose to ignore the facts presented to me because my mind is “made up”.  I have been following the Lord for a long time. I have entertained doubts about God. I have had some very “frank” conversations with Him over the years. The evidence for God to me is overwhelming and conclusive. I can’t refute the evidence. I heard a great quote last week that says: “A man with experience is NOT at the mercy of a man with an opinion.” I have had my faith affirmed too many times to count. I believe in God. I believe that His Son Jesus came to earth, lived and died for the sins of the world. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present in me and with me as I walk out my faith each day. I can’t give multiple exhibits in a court of law, but the evidence in my journey is irrefutable and solid. I wish I could be more clear and precise – I know what I know and I believe His Word is true!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hard To Explain

 

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroomThere are things in life that are very hard to explain in proper words and perspective. I love watching planes fly and I understand the science behind aviation, but it still blows mind that an commercial jet, weighing nearly 1 million pounds can take off and fly through the air.

I’m also fascinated with the weather. Recently we “battened down the hatches” where I live because we were in the path of Hurricane Irma who left a path of destruction for hundreds of miles. When the hurricane arrived in GA, a cold front came in and totally diffused the storm. The meteorologist’s predictions were a bit overkill on that storm.

Jesus meets with a knowledgeable man and explains the Kingdom of God to a man who was well versed in the law and teachings of the law. The Lord gives a good explanation, but also challenges the current system. Check this out…

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)

I have followed the Lord since I was a young kid. I remember being baptized when I was in 3rd Grade. I didn’t understand all the deep things of God, but I believed that He made the world and that He loved me. Since that time, I’ve had some profound experiences that have affirmed my faith in God many times over. I have structured my life around my belief and convictions about God. I believe that He created the heavens and the earth. I believe that His One and Only Son is Jesus, Who came to earth and lived a sinless life and gave Himself to be the final sacrifice for all sin. When Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven, He promised us a Comforter, a Presence called the Holy Spirit of God. Upon accepting Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit shows up and gives guidance, direction, protection, wisdom and peace in every situation that comes my way. I can’t explain the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit, but I know He is here and He is with me. I’ve seen Him in others as well.

I wish I could explain clearly how the Lord has changed my life. It is really simple faith, but a complete life-changing, life altering perspective. I love deeper and live on purpose because of the Presence of God in my life. I wish everyone would get to know Him. I wish I could introduce the Lord more clearly and explain my faith journey more clearly. In the simplest terms, I trust in Jesus with my very life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

What Have I Done?

 

Why MeThis insightful question is one that I often know the answer to. I sometimes do things without thinking. (That is not necessarily a good idea.) Some of my bad habits seem to run on auto pilot. I could make some life improvements when my good habits and disciplines run almost automatically. My life is made up of the sum total of thousands and thousands of simple choices made daily. I can choose to be kind. I can choose to be mean. I can choose to be generous. I can choose to be selfish. What if there was a record of every single thing I had done since I was born. That would take up a lot of storage space, if it were written down. I can’t quite put my brain around that.

As I was reading another chapter of Johns revelation, I was struck by the thought that there is a book with all the works of my life and I am judged accordingly. Check this out…

11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:11-12 NLT)

After reading this, I began to immediately think about where does GRACE come into the picture. I just know that I know Jesus. If I reflect on just yesterday, there was sinful thoughts going through my brain and I’m sure there were sinful actions as well. My heart is still in pursuit of the Lord even when my brain goes down a side road.

I don’t know exactly what happens when a person dies. I don’t know if they are immediately in the Presence of God. I just know that the One Who created the universe and everything in it has this under control and in His Power. I’m not sure if He keeps a literal book or if He keeps the highlights of my life. It sure is a sobering thought to think of a diary of my life written by someone Who knows everything about me.

As I think about the judgement, I’m reminded that I have a personal relationship with the Judges Son. Scripture also teaches that to know the Son is to know the Father. I’m going to keep walking out my faith here on earth. I want the works of my life to reflect my hearts commitment to the Lord. I want to live a Christ-centered life NOT a “me-centered” life. I want to display my love for God, by loving and serving others. Write it down. One simple choice at a time ends up being a lifetime in no time at all.

Pressing On!

Dwayne