Sent

send buttonThere are times when I hit send on an email or text without really checking it out to make sure the auto-correct feature didn’t goof up something I meant to say. There are other times when I delete the email or text before sending because I’m a bit “fired up” and my words will cause harm instead of being productive. I often wish that I had the same editing privileges on my mouth. I have to watch my words carefully, especially when I’m upset about something.

I came across this passage where Jesus is sending out His disciples to warn the Jewish people that the Kingdom is near. He didn’t “sugar coat” His instructions. Check this out….

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:16-20 NLT)

 

This had to be a bit scary for Jesus’ disciples. The analogy of being sheep among wolves – they had seen firsthand what wolves do to defenseless sheep.  They were probably going to offend some very important people with their message. They were going to face arrest and prison time. This was not the type of “mission trip” that I have been on before for sure. The last part of these instructions really jumped out at me because I’ve experienced this personally…. “Don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.”  There have been times when I say something in response to someone else that after I speak, I realize that I’m not that smart or that spiritually astute. The Lord speaks through me when I slow down and press pause on my big mouth long enough to hear from Him.

He has sent me out to live out my faith.

He has sent me out to speak up about my faith.

He has sent me with His Word to deliver.

He is in charge of my life….my words and actions.

I’m praying that the words I speak and all that I do bring honor to Him. I feel responsible to Him because He sent me to be His hands and feet to everyone I meet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wisdom

 

wisdom, stupidity road signI do want wisdom. I’ve become a veracious reader recently. I feel like I’m growing and learning. I love learning and growing. One of these days, I will become wise! I think wisdom is acquired by learning AND experience. I believe older people are often wise because of their experience. I have seen older, experienced people who make unwise decisions. I’ve also seek young people who are “wise beyond their years”. They are learning, growing and gathering data to avoid many of the pitfalls their peers are experiencing. Many wise young people have wise parents and other adults pouring into them.

I love the story of the wise men coming to seek out Jesus. They felt called or compelled to come see this baby king. They were not secretive about seeking Him. In fact, King Herod became interested too – obviously for different reasons than them. Check this out…

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. (Matthew 2:7-12 NLT)

I think it would have been so cool to witness this visit from the wise men. These wise men were worshippers. They were gift givers too. Their posture reflected their heart. I would be wise to be a worshipper of the King. I would be wise for my posture before Him to reflect my heart. I would also be wise to be a gift giver too! He wants my heart before any of my gifts. He wants my obedience before any of my gifts. He wants to change my life from deep within. Worship is personal. Worship is intimate. Worship is genuine. There is great wisdom to be found in worshippers of God. People with a long-term relationship with the Lord have profound respect for all that He has done and is doing in their lives. They can’t keep from worshipping. They have such gratitude in their heart, they are compelled to worship. I can worship through giving. I can worship through a surrendered heart. I can worship through a song. I can worship through obedience. I can worship through work. I’m wise to worship the God Who gave me life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Straight Obedience

Teenage girl in trouble with parentsI will obey, but I might not like it. I remember letting my parents know if I didn’t like it. I have learned in my journey with the Lord that He really likes obedience. He wants me to obey without question. I can hardly imagine the obedience that Joseph was called too. His fiancé turns up pregnant prior to their marriage. She swears that she has remained pure. He has a dream. Check this out…

19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:19-21,24-25 NLT)

I believe that the Lord had rather have my obedience than any offerings or gifts I give. He would rather have my obedience than my worship. My worship is empty and meaningless, if I’m not walking in obedience. (I have been guilty of this for sure.) The Lord wants my obedience above anything I could offer or do.

I love Joseph’s obedience to the angel’s command. The world is different because of Joseph’s obedience. I’m sure that God would have found another way, but He didn’t have to. Joseph obeyed and honored the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Top Two Commands

love heart riffle targetI grew up learning all the rules of the Christian faith. There we lots of them. The church I grew up in was small and everyone knew everyone else’s business and short comings. I couldn’t “get away” with much. I remember the preacher once telling me that my Dad knew what I had done the weekend before. (I won’t confess it here.) I realized that my parents were a bit smarter than I realized. I learned to live within those rules that were taught as scripture. I learned later that some of those rules were “man-made” based on someone’s interpretation of scripture. As I grew older, I learned to search the scripture for myself. I learned that a lot of the man-made rules were more opinion and cultural than truth.  I learned that the Lord wants my devoted heart, because my behavior will follow. Jesus was teaching (mostly debating) the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and Saducee’s, when one of them made an observation. Check this out…

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NLT)

I had been trying to keep a ton of rules, where there are really two more important than all the others:  1. Love God. 2 Love Others.  These two “rules” are NOT optional. In fact, these are more important than attending church each time the doors are open. These are more important that “not cursing”. These are more important than giving. I believe that if I get the number 1 right, all others will fall in line, because of my heart change. External obedience can lead to heart change, but it’s the “long way around”. If I work on my heart first, then my obedience is with the right motive and insight. If I simply “go through the motions” of loving God, it will show in my actions and activities of my life. I am grateful that the Lord was patient with me when I went through the transition from being a “rule follower” to becoming a changed man from the inside out. I do love the Lord with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength. I love others too, because He showed me how.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Way I Used To Be

 

Life changesThere are lots of things about my life that are way different than they used to be. When I think back to the courtship of my wife 23 years ago things are different now. Our love for one another is much deeper and mature. It is fun to think back to how we once were early on in our dating relationship and early marriage. Relationships grow deeper and expand at a deeper level.

If I think back to my early relationship with the Lord, it was very vibrant and full of energy. I was young and excited to follow the Lord. When the “new” wore off, I found myself doing stupid things that hurt His heart. I wandered away from Him and went my own way for a season. He never left me. He showed great patience with me as I tried to figure some things out. I guess I had to learn on my own that when the sign says, “dead end” – it really is. I was warned about many dead-end decisions, but I tried them out anyway. He still was waiting patiently.

In the letter to church at Ephesus, He calls them out for forgetting their first love. Check this out…

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5 CSB)

I have returned to my journey with Him over the past several years. He has spoken volumes into my life through the steady study of His Word. I’m still steady and growing in my love for Him. I’m still trying to walk in obedience of Him daily. I want to live like He lived. I want to love like He loves. I want to push through the times of hardship and suffering. I want my life to reflect a faithful, consistent follower of Jesus.  I want to love Him more today than yesterday. I want to love Him deeper that yesterday. I want my relationship with the Lord to grow and grow with the roots of my relationship planted deeply in His Word.

I want to keep returning to the love I had for Him early on before being “tainted” by what the world offers. I want to be faithful to Him, He has been so faithful to me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Victory

Happy young latin womanI am reading a biography of Winston Churchill called, “The Last Lion – Keeper of The Realm” and Prime Minister Churchill is known for flashing the “V” with his hand for victory! He was a leader of leaders and he possessed a “never give up, never give in” spirit. He believed in his soul that the Allies must conquer the Nazi’s of Germany to have freedom and life.

I’m not a huge football fan, but I love it when the team I’m pulling for wins. I enjoy seeing them celebrate. If my team loses, then I change the channel to avoid watching the victory celebration. (I guess I’m a sore loser.)

As I finished John’s first epistle this am, he reminded me that victory comes through obedience. It’s very simple – follow the Lord’s commands. Check this out…

1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:1-4 CSB)

Obedience is not flashy but important. Obedience reveals trust. Obedience reveals faith. I don’t always understand what the Lord is speaking into my heart, but I’ve learned to trust Him. I’m learning that I reveal my faith through my obedience to His call upon my life. He calls me to love others. He calls me to serve others. He calls me to forgive. He calls me to be humble. Jesus’ life serves as an example of humble obedience to the Father. He doesn’t call me to go to the cross, but He does call me to follow Him with my whole heart. My life follows my heart. I must lay down some of the things I want, because they are not what is best. He provides for my needs. He instills deep hope in Him.

I can live a victorious life here on earth as a prelude to the big prize – eternal life.  My victorious life begins with simple obedience to His commands – the first is to love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne