Day 60 – Be Done With Sin!

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, army yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin…”  1 Peter 4:1

The joys of life can often be overshadowed by the hidden sins we think we are hiding from God.  We think that if we act a certain way, or talk with just the right words, that we will fool everybody.  That may be true of people, but it isn’t true of God.  He sees it all, the good and the bad.  He knows us, and in that knowing He sees.  I used to be afraid of that “seeing”.  I used to think that this meant God was always spying on me and being intrusive…but that’s not how God works at all.  sin

Like a loving parent, His desire is for us to be rid of all kinds of sickness, and sickness of sin is the worst of it.  He despises sin to the point that nothing with sin can ever stand in His presence.  This Fatherly love, that is perfect and completely devoid of malice, desires the best for us.  He sees the potential in us even when we do not see that potential ourselves.  We might consider ourselves worthless or lacking gifts or talents, where God sees us in a whole different light – His perfect light which is true, pure and full of love for us.  He sent His one and only Son into this world so that sin and death would finally be vanquished forever – so that through Christ, we might experience true life!

redeemWhatever temptations you are facing today – God’s providence can sustain you!
Whatever sins you have been wallowing in for far too long, Christ can forgive and redeem you.
Whatever struggle you might see as impossible to overcome – The Holy Spirit will empower you and strengthen you to overcome and see victory!

Allow this to take place in your life.
Say yes to true living and turn from the trap of sin that leads to loneliness, sorrow and pain.  Hope awaits us all – let’s embrace God’s Light in our lives today more fully than we ever thought possible, with the power of the Holy Spirit within us!

Prayer:  Lord deliver me from ____________________(name it) today.
You know these struggles and these temptations.  Help me to fully embrace your will for my life.  Lead me in this day, deliver me from the snares of the evil one.  Thank you for seeing the potential in me and for guiding me on this path of holiness.  -Amen.

Dear Salvation Army – 5 Truths About Sacrificial Living…

We are an army that is non-sacramental – I  believe this, but we must actually embrace and preach/teach the necessity for real, authentic sacrificial living its soldiership.  Without this crucial component of sacrificial living, we will have not only rejected ritual observations of the Church by way of communion and other such practices, we will have neglected the true essence of Christ himself (who was without sin, yet suffered and died for us).  If we are to be Holy as He is Holy, we must become like Him in every way – which includes sacrificial living. The season of Lent is upon us, and although we do not practice much of the traditional Church practices within Lent, we would be remiss if we did not explore this extremely important topic of Sacrificial Living.

But First let us clarify what Sacrificial Living is not:
It is NOT:  
-A great display and sanctimonious actions for others to see you and know your piousness and holiness.
-A ploy for promotion or power play for position or status.
-A means to compete with other soldiers and prove who is “holiest”
-A means to fool the world – but you can’t fool God.

If any of the above mentioned motives for Sacrificial living exist within us, we must eliminate them from our hearts and reconsecrate ourselves before God!
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5 Truths About Sacrificial Living:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

  1. Sacrificial Living Requires Consistency 
    But Samuel replied: ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” 1 Samuel 15:22

    consistencyWe cannot simply declare that everything we do in the corps will be the place of my sacrificial living – NO!  It is all or nothing.  God doesn’t want our sacrifices in one area while other areas of our lives are still not surrendered.  That’s like saying to your spouse, “I will be faithful to you in this city, but I can’t promise anything when I leave this city.”  How can we love the Lord with all of our hearts when we compartmentalize our relationship to Him?  If we are to be soldiers of the faith who are daily living sacrificial lives, we have to subject ALL of our lives under the sovereign, perfect rule of Christ.   Consistency is not easy, and there will be constant struggles to bring these areas of our lives under control.  But rest assured we have One who is with us – The Holy Spirit!

  2. Sacrificial Living Takes Work
    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” –Romans 12:1.

    If we are to be consistent in our declaration of sacrificial living – we have to meansleeves2 what we declare – and this takes work!  We have to roll up our sleeves, so to speak, and intentionally, moment by moment surrender our wants and desires to God.  We have to declare Thy Will be done, instead of my will.  The work done on our knees in prayer before the Almighty will set the momentum going forward.  If we neglect this spiritual discipline of prayer, we will jeopardize our entire sacrificial existence.  This is a merging of our identities with that of Christ’s.  When we do this, we are essentially saying “I want to be Imago Dei” I am not just imitating Him, I want to be Him in every way.  There will be moments of stumbling.  We will experience great stress in temptation, because surely the Father of Lies will begin to see how dangerous His people will become to his devious plans on earth.  We will experience adversity, days of defeat, weakness – but these are only symptoms of us dying to our old-self.

  3. Sacrificial Living Is An Outpouring of Holiness

    “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” 
    -Acts 2:44-45

    When we declare our desire to be like Christ in every way, our crosses will be carried, and our path will be set.  It sounds paradoxical, but while we experience great sacrifice and discomfort, we will at the same time experience great peace too.  Sacrificial living is not the end result, no this is the outpouring of our longing for holiness in all that we are as Children of God.  This is more than just words uttered.  This is something on a molecular level – changing us from the inside out.  I believe something metaphysical happens when we make it our goal to be Christ in our holyhearts, minds and soul.   You know that when you have been married for a long time – you and your partner take on the mannerisms of each other…sometimes you even begin to resemble one another.  Holiness lived-out with the greatest of intentions and devotion will produce men and women of God who deeply resemble Christ in every way.  -This is what Sacrificial Living looks like and is the evidence of a commitment to Holiness on the deepest of levels.  Dare I say, but we as an Army have yet to even scratch the surface of real, tangible Holiness amongst its ranks.  We talk a good game, but I fear we are no where near it yet.

  4. Sacrificial Living Has No Room For Ego
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    “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.”
    -Acts 4:32

    There’s an old phrase that perhaps you know, it goes like this: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”…even in the Army there is a hunger for power, whether it be in our corps and local officer positions or the Corps Officer, Divisional Officer, Territorial Officer…and so on.  Power is a dangerous vice.  Authority is necessary in any Church, Movement or Mission, but the hunger for power and man’s authority can corrupt all of the above.  In fact, this is what Satan hopes will happen to any adversary of his: that they become bogged down by their own egos and blinded by their own ambitions and thirst for imagined power.  You might say, “but we are The Salvation Army – we have no power.” – every organization, movement or Church has many places of authority and assumed places of power.  What we do with those roles, how we conduct ourselves if we become stewards of such positions determines not only the course of our Army, but the depth of our sacrificial living.  There is no room for ego in sacrificial living!   “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” -Psalm 51:17.

  5. Sacrificial Living Must Be Evidenced In Our Soldiers & Officers!

    More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” -Philippians 3:8
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    If we are truly a Holiness movement – then we must act like it!  We must eliminate every element of back-biting, gossip, slander, ego, power-plays, Church politics that elevates one over another, personal vendettas and all other kinds of selfishness!  Somewhere along the way we left the call for holiness in a pulpit sermon and lost our way.  We will not move or correct any kind of mission drift that is egocentric if we are not really actively engaged in sacrificial living.  Let’s stop talking a big game, and putting on a big show as we tout our Holiness Movement member’s cards (I’m being facetious)…let’s drop the pretenses.  If we want to see an Army on the move and if we long to save souls, then we first have to start with our own.  I am not questioning our salvation, I am questioning our depth of Holiness and Sacrificial Living.  Let’s practice what we preach…and perhaps for some of us, we need to fall in love with God all over again in reconsecration.  I love this army, but without soldiers, officers and adherents who are living sacrificially, and committed to the great commission of saving souls and making disciples, we could face extinction a generation from now.

    Something more for our Army world to Ponder today.

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    *Disclaimer:  the thoughts and opinions expressed here are the writer’s thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.*

Day 59 -Finding Contentment

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Much of our struggles in life come from stuff and being discontent in life.
We long for that new cell phone that just came out and so we sacrifice to get it and when we do it’s nice for a time, but then it losing its shine.  We envy people who have “made it” professionally and so we covet what they have while we lose sight of the blessings we already possess.  We grumble and complain about situations and completely miss the little blessings God provides to us every day…or we take them for granted.

grumbleThis happened to me yesterday and it brought a humbling sense of God’s presence to me.  I was having a bad morning.  It seemed nothing I could do was good enough and so my wife and I went to get coffee at a local coffee shop.  While waiting in the drive-thru for what seemed like ages, I began to complain about that.  (Have you ever noticed that negativity breeds more negativity?)  I was criticizing the car in front of us for their choice of sports teams…and just being very discontent with the way life was going that morning.  But then it happened.  It was our turn to grab our coffees at the drive-thru window and pay.  I had my wallet out and I was ready.  When I finally got up to the window, still in a huff because of my day, the drive-thru employee informed me that the car in front of me had already paid for our drinks.  Wow…that was kind of like a slap in the face to me, as if God was trying to get my attention and remind me that my contentment doesn’t come from circumstances around me.  In that moment it had nothing to do with coffee or getting something free (although that was cool), it had everything to do with my attitude and response to the things around me.

Have you been there?  
grumpyHave you allowed negativity to rule your thoughts and actions?
I know from experience I am not fun to be around when this has happened to me…and I’m sure it’s the same with you.  No one wants to hang out with angry, sullen, sour people all the time.  If we are to be men and women of faith, who are fit to be called and Sons and Daughters of the Most High, we have to change this stinkin’ thinkin’ kind of attitude!

Where does our contentment come from?  It comes from the One who gives us strength to make it through whatever circumstance and situation – good or bad.  Through it all, He content1remains faithful and steadfast.  He is above any problem we might be facing or will face.  He stands outside of the troubles of life and He gives to us what we need in order to see the bigger picture – WE ARE KINGDOM PEOPLE – Not of this present world but the next!  We can live out His Kingdom now and live in holy contentment because of who He is.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to keep my attitude in check today.  Help me to see the bigger picture than the temporal problems that I am facing right now.  Give me your strength so that I might reside within Your holiness.  Lead me Lord and thank you for reminding me that You are there and You will provide!  -Amen.
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Day 58 – What’s Your Inspiration?

Read this passage:  Psalm 37:3-7

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

All other paths will not provide you the resources or inspiration to continue in hope and peace.  When we commit our way to God’s, he, as verse 6 says, “will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn…”

Have you been searching for a sense of purpose or fulfillment in your life?
How has that been going?
As that old country song once said, we are looking for love in all the wrong places…the same can be said of our search for purpose and meaning in life.  We can fill it with degrees, awards, professions, relationships…but at the end of all those things we might still find ourselves feeling unfulfilled and aimlessly searching for a deeper meaning to it all.

everestIf we commit our ways to the Lord, he will realign us and set us on the most meaningful journey we could have ever hoped for.  I am not saying it will get any easier, but the outcomes of such a journey brings a refinement of character, a honed purpose and spiritual discipline that aids us when difficult days come…and they will.  It is in those difficult days that we find strength and hope in the Lord.  Perhaps you are facing some of those days right now.  If you are, place all of your trust in the Lord and he will direct your path.  This is where inspiration even in the face of adversity comes from.

Prayer:  Lord I ask you today to give me a sense of your purpose in my life.  I have become discouraged and out of sync with you.  Set me on your path once again.  Be the lifter of my head and help me to see the beauty even in the thorns of life.  You have placed me on this path, help me to walk faithfully with you no matter what comes my way.  In your name I pray these things.  -Amen.   

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Day 57 – Discouraged

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19

I must admit that recently I have felt discouraged and drained.
This doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I feel my spirit become distracted, discontent and a little burdened.  It happens to all of us.  Perhaps it is at these moments that we require God’s presence the most and that of the fellowship of other believers to surround us.  We need to be reminded in those moments that, like Elijah, we aren’t alone…there are others who can understand what we are going through.
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Have you been here before?
Are you in need of encouragement today?
Let me reassure you that God’s presence is with us and that we can go to this well of Life for renewal and refreshment.  Going to God and seeking out these moments is not an indication of weakness, but rather a sign of great strength.

Do not be discouraged today.
The Lord is willing to remove those heavy burdens, and He longs to journey beside you today.  Be encouraged – You are not alone.

Prayer:  Lord hear my cry today.   Please see these heavy burdens in my life right now and I ask that you help me carry then.  Lord I need your light in my life today.  Shine into my darkness and remove that which is not honoring to you.  In your name I pray these things.  -Amen.

Day 56, What’s Your Name?

“Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”
John 1:42

There are many people in the bible who were given new names.
-Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah.
-Simon became Peter (the rock).
-Saul became Paul the Apostle.

Numerous people given different names in order to do God’s will on earth.
I wonder what if we require a new name in order to do God’s amazing will in our lives today.  Did those ‘new’ names give them more confidence?  Did they provide a title or commission by God?  How does that translate in our context and existence today?  What is your name and what does it mean?  I don’t mean the definition of you name in some genealogy or baby name book, I mean how do you see yourself in the mainframe of God’s kingdom?  Who are you?  What are you here for?  What is your purpose?

Each person mentioned above from the bible were given new names and they had a purpose.  Do you know what your purpose is?   It’s okay if you are still searching.  It is okay if you aren’t sure yet.  (does that help you to hear this?)  Sometimes I think we are so concerned with no finding our purpose that we become frustrated and want to give up even seeking it out.  Finding purpose in God is both simple and very complicated.  He wants to fellowship with us on a daily basis, but when we grow with the Holy Spirit’s help, we also are given more of a burden for others as well.

So how about it…who are you?  What’s your name?  What is your purpose?
Here is a reassurance:  You are a child of the Most High.  You have are fit to be called Son and Daughter.  He wants YOU to be the very image of Christ to the world around you.  This seems like a tall order, but let me encourage you that we have the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit within you!

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for giving me your identity and calling me your child!  I pray that today I might understand what that means.  Guide me on this path today.  I pray that you might strengthen me when I am weak and encourage me when I am downcast.  Be with me on today dear Lord.  -Amen.

Day 55 -Encouragement Required…

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

I was reminded by a Pastor friend of mine recently that I could be a source of encouragement to others.  His response caught me off guard because I had been complaining and feeling discouraged myself.  At that moment when I had felt defeated, he spoke words to me that was not only what I needed to hear, but it also took me out of the funk that I was feeling within my little pity-party.  This Pastor friend told me to look around and find people who needed encouragement, and to be that encouragement I was looking for in others towards them.  It got me thinking, how much different the world would be if we all were looking out for each other and going out of our way to encourage.

youWe might not know what THAT person is facing or going through, but just by being an encourager can make all of the difference!  A few kind words might be all that is needed.  Perhaps praying with them or for them will be your way of encouraging them.  Whatever it might be, do it…step out there and go out of your way to reassure someone that God loves them and you do too.  A little bit of love goes a long way.

Homework assignment today:  Look up.  Look out, and go to someone you may or may not know and encourage them in some way, shape or form.

Prayer:  Lord grant me your eyes to see the needs of those around me today and this weekend.  Help me to share your love with those I come in contact with.  Thank you for encouraging me, now help me to encourage others.  In your name I pray these things.
-Amen.

Day 54 -What You Do Isn’t Who You Are…

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

So many people worry about what they do.
Will I earn enough money.
Can I afford to go to school to become a doctor or lawyer. do
Our world has made certain professions a matter of prestige and of which to pursue and become.  But our jobs do not truly define us.  Sure, they can be an outpouring of our passion, but they are not the root identifier of who we truly are.  Many times I will go to special events and I will meet people and usually one of the first things they ask is – “So, what do you do?”  This one single question becomes the classifier of not just profession but an indicator of what kind of person you are.  It’s judgmental and assuming.

What do you say when people ask you this question?
Perhaps you could shock them by saying something like “I’m an ambassador of the eternal King” …just imagine the looks you might get then.  The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what the world around you thinks about you, and these kind of canned questions with the rehearsed and canned answers are all superficial and none of it truly speaks to WHOSE we are.

do2You are and I are sons and daughters of the Most High.
We are called to BE holy…then DO holiness in our practical living.
The Apostle Paul tells us in the above passage to recognize that we are all God’s temple.  I have this funny idea of these little steeple and temple running around, and bumping into each other at coffee shops…but the true reality is this:  we are God’s kingdom here on earth…and above all, we should live kingdom living before we even attempt the “doing”.  Today, may we all find God’s kingdom within us and through us.  May we recognize what we do is not as important as WHOSE we are.

Prayer:  Lord, grant me understanding of my purpose here on earth.  Help me to live for you and to stop worrying about my employment status in society.  Guide me in my day and lead me to live for you in all of my ways.  I love you Lord.  -Amen.

Day 53 -A Spiritual Spa…

“He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.”  (Psalm 23:2-3)

Have you ever come to the end, or even the beginning of your day and have found that you are unsure if you will make it?  I don’t meaning living, but I do mean the stresses of life.
We all find ourselves here.
We find ourselves running on empty and at times we lose forward momentum in our relationship with Christ.
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These moments of fellowship that we have with God are so vital to the whole self.
It can become a monotonous, even boring practice if we only consider it an obligation.
God doesn’t require our obligation…but he longs for our fellowship.  When we find ourselves burned out, stressed out and emotionally/spiritually spent may we find the wellspring of life again through this relationship with God.  He wants to refresh our souls.  He longs to take us from the dry land, thirsty land and into a spa for the soul…to restore us, to renew us and to prepare us for his fellowship and his holy service.

Do you need the restoration of soul today?
Are you tired and emotionally or spiritually spent?
Allow a time of refreshment to take place in your life.  Perhaps this refreshment will come through your prays today.  Perhaps it will come from listening to a song in your car or on your ride to (or from) work.  Perhaps this spa will take place in a moment during lunch today.  Pay attention.  Keep your eyes, ears, hearts focused on what God is doing in your life today.  He wants to bring you to a place of refreshing and restoration.  Let Him in, and allow Him to bring his  renewal to you today.

Prayer:  Lord I desire your fellowship today.  I long for your peace in this restless heart.  Restore me today, I desire to be yours and yours alone.  Amen.

Day 51 -God Given Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

There are certainly days when we lack the words to speak and the actions we ought to take.  Difficult days.  Days that leave us bowled over and utterly wishing we could just go back to bed and get a redo.  We’ve all been there.  When those days come can we ask God for help?  It might seem trite, but His presence with us is very real and evident if we pay attention.  For those who are Christ-followers, it is promised that wisdom will be given and given generously.

Can we seek God in the midst of our redo-seeking days?
Can we fall to our knees and make our day – His day?  God desires our fellowship and our love.  He will never force us to accept Him, or invite Him in, but when we do allow Him access in a manner of humility and love He will always provide us what we need.

Can you place your day, all your agendas, all your plans and to-do lists before God today?  Allow Him in and receive His provisions to your set-apart life!

Prayer: Dear Lord, I commit this day to your service.  I want to live for you in all that I choose to say and do today.  Lead me and I ask that when my words and wisdom fails, provide for me your wisdom and your words. Thank you for your blessings and provision!  In your name I pray these things.  -Amen.

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