Church: Love One Another as God First Loved You

A church is made up of imperfect people, like you and me. It doesn’t matter what position you hold or role you play in your church body or how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, none of us achieve perfection this side of the Pearly Gates. When a brother or sister in Christ fall, it can be tempting to ostracize them, ridicule them, or banish them from our lives. After all, we don’t want to go hang around sinners now do we? The problem is, we’re all sinners. Being saved and becoming a Christian neither immunizes nor incubates us from sin. Such is not the nature of the world we inhabit.

As a Christian, I’ve made a conscious effort to walk a different road than the one I ventured down before I encountered Christ. Having a relationship with Christ makes me think about sin and view my shortcomings differently than before I knew Christ on a personal level. Yet, daily, I find myself dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my way. I don’t want anything to come between me and God. That doesn’t mean that nothing will be vying for my attention. To the contrary, it seems like the opportunities to mess up and fall amp up dramatically the more pronounced in my faith I become.

There’s a reason that the Apostle Paul urges us to put on the full armor of God every day. He understood better than most that ours is a daily battle to pursue the righteousness of God versus succumbing to the vices and devices of the Enemy. There’s a reason Scripture instructs us to be careful about assessing judgment on the words and deeds of others. It’s no accident that the Word emphasizes us to treat others like we would want to be treated.

Ephesians 6:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

When a brother or sister in Christ falls, they need our love, not our condemnation. Who can they rely on to love on them in the hour of their greatest need if not us? This is what it means to be family. We love one another because God first loved us while we were yet sinners. God demonstrated that love through the atoning sacrificial offering of His precious Son, Jesus Christ and He continues to show that love through the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in us.

As a friend of mine once encouraged me: If you find a perfect church, don’t start attending. You’ll just mess it up.

In the meantime, cast no stones.

Peace be with you.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

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Celebrating Your 9 Favorite Posts of Summer 2018

Labor Day marked the unofficial close of Summer 2018. It has been a busy and eventful season in many respects and Sweet T and I continue to be blessed by seeing the Lord at work. T and I have already been busy discussing and preparing for the upcoming 2018 Operation Christmas Child (OCC) National Collection Week (November 12-19).  We’re excited to see what God will do in our 10th year of partnering with Samaritan’s Purse in this incredible ministry.

Our outreach at Union Gospel Mission Dallas continues to grow and produce blessings and fruit. Since joining this outreach ministering to the homeless 8 years ago, Sweet T and I have witnessed life change first hand. We are both grateful for our 4th Friday outreach team and their individual faithfulness to this powerful ministry. God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

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Writing and blogging opportunities and avenues continue to show substantial growth as well and I’m certainly grateful to see the readership blossom for this writing ministry that God has called me to pursue, especially through The Devotional Guy™, which is now in its 5th full year. I’ve been working on a book focused on prayer since the beginning of the year and hope to have it completed soon. My original goal was to have it completed by the end of this Summer, but God has taken me down some different roads to reveal, show, and teach me some additional things that I believe will influence the final product.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

With one season winding down and another starting up, I wanted to take a look at nine of your favorite posts that received the most traffic during the Summer of 2018. Please feel free to check them out and pass them along. Here they are:

Psalm Saturday: How is Your Prayer Life?

The Last, the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely Among Us

The Secret of Cultivating Gentleness

Taste and See the Lord is Good!

Are You Tired and Empty? Find Jesus.

The Seven Wonders of God

Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

Celebrating My Sweet T!

More of Him. Less of me.

Thank you to all of you who continue to read faithfully and share this blog with your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow blogosphere mates. Pass it on!

Happy Blogging!

Peace be with you.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

IMG_0767 Me and T Wild Horses 2 DVO GUY

TRIVIA: Did you know that Don Henley’s 1984 classic song “The Boys of Summer” features lyrics written by Henley and music composed by former Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell?

 

 

 

Listening to the Ocean’s Roar

Listening is a critical life skill. I’ve often heard it said the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should spend twice as much time listening as we do speaking. Listening involves more than hearing. I can hear something without paying much attention. Listening requires greater intentionality. In music, skillful players know how to listen to one another, paying attention to what fellow bandmates are playing, and figuring out when and how much they need to contribute at just the right time. Excellent bands consist of musicians who listen to each other. Our listening skills influence our relationships with God and with others.

How is your relationship with God? Are you actively listening to Him? We practice listening to Him when we invest time reading His word and spend time with Him in prayer. At first, reading the Bible may seem like a one-way conversation with God doing all the talking. But when we study and meditate on what we’ve read, we’re entering into a two-way conversation with the Ancient One. Scripture informs us of the Anointed One and reveals to us the Advocate we have in the Holy Spirit.

Like reading the Bible, prayer can resemble a one-way street with us doing all the driving and directing. As we develop and grow in our prayer life, we learn to do more listening and less talking. Prayer isn’t all about us talking to God. It’s more about us listening to the Lord.

oceans roar

What does your relationship with others look like today? The most important others in your life are your spouse, your kids, and your family. They are your first ministry. You will be accountable for how you stewarded those relationships. No one lies on their deathbed wishing they had more time to work. No one wants to stand at the foot of a loved ones bed thinking about what has been left unsaid that needs to be said. Yet, sometimes we find ourselves oceans apart from those closest to us.

Several years ago, my Dad had a massive stroke. The stroke left Dad without the ability to recall long-term memories or form new short term memories. Standing at the foot of his bed, I observed my Mom sitting next to him, caressing his hand. As Dad opened his eyes, he looked at Mom and then at me. As Dad stared at me, a puzzled expression permeated his face.

Looking me in the eye, Dad asked, “Who are you?”

My heart sank. My Dad didn’t recognize me. For all intent and purposes, the man I knew was gone, just like I had been wiped clean from his memory slate. In that moment, I also realized that any thing left unsettled and unsaid would remain that way. There were no more arguments to be had. No more discussions. No more debates. How will I make him feel loved? How can I help him remember me? Everything was settled between us now, the chips landing wherever they had fallen before he had suffered his stroke.

We can’t take the people we love for granted. We can’t assume they know how we feel or how much we care. Love is an action verb. It needs to be demonstrated daily, both to the Lord of Lords who loves us and to those we love.

Are we pouring into the lives of those God has put in our circle of influence? The people we work with during the week along with the people who worship with us on Sunday mornings need us to speak truth and love into their lives, give them aid and comfort, and share the ups and downs of life together. We should strive to put more in their bucket then we take out.

The above things require listening, not just with our ears, but with all of our senses and along with our hearts.  Listening is a skill that needs to be part of our toolset as Christians living in the 21st century. Otherwise, we might miss the beauty hidden beneath the ocean’s roar.

Blessings.