Vocatio

Vocatio = Your Calling

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART ONE OF SIX

This week we are going to be working through your calling.

I wrote previously that I believe a life of pursuing Christ can be simplified to four things: loving God, loving others, looking for opportunities to share the gospel (which shows both love for God and others), and finally, a personal mission, or your calling (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/cotidie.blog/643).

What is a personal mission or calling? It is no accident that you have the gifts and talents you have. God gave them to you to further His Kingdom. Ultimately our calling has to do with building and filling the needs of the church (both Big C and little c). And the Lord might give us several different callings or missions during our lifetimes. But I am not here to tell you what the Lord has or has not called you to do; that is between you and Him. You might already know, but just have failed to take action on it.

Henry Blackaby said, “He chose us, called us, and prepared us-But he didn’t do that for us to just sit there.” So what has God chosen you, called you, and prepared you or is preparing you to do? What has He given you that is bigger than you? What dreams has he given you?

This week we are going to be examining just that: what has God placed in your heart that is bigger than you? What talents has He given you? We will be looking at a vision, developing a dream, and your calling.

Just for today, read Mark 9:14-29.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Song of Sunday 7/12/2020

Poems about Jesus.

Each Sunday, I plan on taking a break from devotional-type writing to share an original poem.

FAMOUS

The One whose name is famous

He healed me first

Now He is much renowned in my home

The Jerusalemites had great thirst

They have been quenched

There, He is of great standing

The Judeans were in need

Their sin was outstanding

In the region at present

His name is that of great repute

The Samarians were hungry

In need of spiritual food

The gospel they were fed

Jesus, currently there, has great reputation

May continued fame His name receive

To the end of the earth; in all nations.

Bought With a Price

Vincere = Bought with a Price

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART SIX OF SIX

Many times we are our own biggest enemy. But if we figure out how to conquer ourselves, we can conquer anything in this world.

We have been doing just that this week, talking about how to conquer ourselves in several areas: our heart, our mind, our tongue, and our actions. But as we progress forward, we must first take a step back.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

This passage is a principle and a command for sexual purity among Christians. If you were bought with the blood of the lamb; just remember, anything you do to your body can contaminate the temple of the Holy Spirit. However, this principle applies to more than just our sexual conduct. We have no right to abuse or be wasteful with what rightly belongs to God. Our bodies should be used to glorify God, in every situation. Charles Spurgeon said, “Your body was a willing horse when it was in service of the devil, let it not be a sluggish hack now that it draws the chariot of Christ.”

What can empower us more than knowing that God Himself lives in us through the Holy Spirit? We have power over the flesh because of this and should take great comfort in this truth. Our body is a temple. We draw the chariot of Christ.

Another thing we need to see is, since we are not our own, there is no such thing as a “private life,” apart from our life in Christ. My good friend Joley Vineyard shared a powerful post on Facebook this week called That’s What Christians Do, written in 1999 by Don Wildmon. Here is an exerpt:

“In 1973 The Supreme Court said it was ok to kill unborn babies. Since then, we have killed more than the entire population of Canada. And it continues. A woman’s choice? Half of those who have died in their mothers’ wombs have been women. They didn’t have a choice. It is called abortion. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.

First it was in dingy, dirty theaters. Then, convenience stores. Then, grocery stores. Then on television. Now it is in the homes of millions via the Internet. It is called pornography.

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.

They called it no-fault. Why should we blame anyone when something so tragic happens. Haven’t they already suffered enough? Half of the marriages in America end this way. The children suffered. The family broke down. It is called divorce.

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.”

This is exactly what I am talking about; we must not compartmentalize our lives. Therein lies the problem Wildmon was talking about. I cannot live for Christ from 9:00am-noon on Sunday morning and sometimes on Wednesday night and expect to effect the culture and turn the world upside down. There cannot be a Sunday morning Phil Jones that is different than the Friday night Phil Jones that is different than the Monday morning Phil Jones. No one will want to know his testimony or why he follows this Jesus. I was bought with a price. My body is not my own. I am not my own. My Sunday morning , and my Friday night, and my Monday morning, and everything in between has to belong to the Lord and reflect Him.

I must seek permission for everything I put into and do to my body. I must seek the will of God for every decision I make. I must not compartmentalize my life as I am to seek to serve the Lord at all times. If we do not submit to the Lord, we risk becoming a hindrance instead of a help to His Kingdom work. We can, though, daily submit our temple to the kingdom work going on around us.

When we understand this, we can allow God to take hold of heart, our mind, our tongue, and our actions. After all, they do not belong to us anyway. This realization is how we conquer ourselves; we let the Lord Almighty do the conquering. Glory to God for conquering me. I hope you can say the same.

Just for today, be conscious about glorifying God in your body.

Tune in tomorrow for Song of Sunday.

Actions (W.W.J.D. anyway?)

Vincere = Actions = The Will of God

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART FIVE OF SIX

W.W.J.D. What would Jesus Do? If you were paying attention in the mid-1990s, you are well aware of the W.W.J.D. craze that was happening. Youth and children all over the place were wearing bracelets that read W.W.J.D., as well as t-shirts, hats, you name it.

In doing a little research, I found that there is a lot of criticism out there regarding this movement. People disapproved of the consumerism involved. Some said it was flawed in its theology. Is not it impossible to know what Jesus would do, after all?

We have been talking about conquering ourselves this week. We started with conquering the heart, then the mind, then the tongue. But now it is time for action; or lack thereof in many cases. Softening our hearts, taking our thoughts captive, and bridling the tongue are the first lines of defense for our actions. If we have those three in line, our actions should follow suit. But what if we are still tempted to take a sinful action? How do we handle this?

We should always seek to be Christlike in every situation. However, asking W.W.J.D. is a little problematic. We are not God and we cannot compare our feeble minds to His. Remember Paul’s writing, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).”

Also, some people wearing the bracelets really did not know who Jesus is to begin with. It was just a cool thing for many to do. But you know what? If my children came home wearing a W.W.J.D. bracelet, I would not mind at all. There are some teaching moments that could be found and I would take it as a desire to want to follow Christ better.

Additionally there is an ethical problem when comparing our ethics with Jesus. There is a fundamental difference in what Jesus would do ethically compared to the rest of sinful humanity. He was the perfect Lamb of God and, well, we are not even close.

Acknowledging these problems with asking W.W.J.D., then how are we to be Christlike?

Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). This is being Christlike, or striving for it, recognizing that an imperfect person chasing Perfection is unattainable, but striving for it anyhow.

We cannot know the commandments without studying them systematically. Psalm 19:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

I still think W.W.J.D. could be useful to someone that is right with the Lord and seeking Him. Maybe a better question, though, would be, “What would Jesus have me do? (W.W.J.H.M.D)” In other words, “What is His will in this situation?”

We have to conquer our sinful actions, which many times takes the form of our habits. A lot of this is using the brain and the good sense that the Lord gave you and setting up safeguards against your actions. If you struggle with alcohol, do not go to a bar and avoid the beer aisle at the store, for starters. If you struggle with drugs, you might have to get rid of some of your friends who are a trigger for you. If it is sexual sin, you can take action by setting up roadblocks on your phone, computer, or television. Some might find it prude in today’s age, but our pastoral staff has an agreement with each other that we will never be alone with a female other than our wives. If one is trying to be abstinent, that decision is made way before the first date.

We are weak. We have to admit it. That is another reason W.W.J.D. is not as easy as it sounds. But our actions still can be conquered. We can store up God’s word in our hearts, so that we might not sin against Him. We can write W.W.J.H.M.D. (What would Jesus have me do?) figuratively on our hearts in permanent marker, as we surrender to live a life that seeks the will of God each and every day, in every single situation. W.W.J.H.M.D. – It’s not near as catchy, but it’s much more sound.

Just for today, let Jesus conquer your actions. Write W.W.J.H.M.D. on your heart to deal with each and every circumstance.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……

Bridle Your Tongue

Vincere = Bridle Your Tongue

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART FOUR OF SIX

Our tongue. It can be a friend or one of our biggest foes. I wrote a little on this subject several weeks ago, saying, “We need to be encouragers and watch what we say as our words have much power. For years now, I try to read the Proverbs on a daily basis. There are 31 Proverbs, so whatever date it is, I try to read that Proverb during my quiet time. For instance, today is July 9, so I read Proverbs 9 this morning. A recurring theme and one of the greatest traits of wisdom is to know how to bridle our tongue. What we learned as children, we should practice as adults, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”” ( https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/cotidie.blog/141).

For instance, a few things Proverbs tell us:

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Proberbs 13:3).

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23).

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23).

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:28).

James also has much to say about taming, or bridling the tongue:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (James 3:1-12).

James clearly tells us that the tongue cannot be tamed. It is impossible. A wild beast can be tamed, but the tongue cannot be tamed. I should wrap it up and quit writing then, right? No, there is one mightier than the tongue; God Almighty. God’s Spirit living within us can conquer our tongue, bridling it and making it subject to His will. He will set up guard if we ask Him to and allow it. He will help us.

Just for today, let the Lord bridle your tongue. Be on guard with the words that you speak, every word.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Five…..

As A Man Thinks

Vincere = Take Your Thoughts Captive

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART THREE OF SIX

As a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). If you could write down your thoughts for a 24 hour period, what drives them? What dominates your thoughts? What would you be if your thoughts defined you? And would that definition be a reflection of God?

If we are to conquer ourselves, we must conquer our minds and our thought lives. Following are three things I think can greatly help us in this area:

Do you have the mind of Christ? “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). We can look at Paul’s writing leading up to the statement in verse 16 to gather several things. The mind of Christ involves the wisdom of God (verse 7). The mind of Christ is given to believers through the Holy Spirit (verses 10-12). The mind of Christ is folly to the unbeliever, but spiritual discernment is given to the believer through the mind of Christ (verses 14 and 15). We have the mind of Christ if we know the Lord. The Lord gives us wisdom and discernment through the mind of Christ and reveals heavenly things to us; we are tasked with the responsibility to use it.

Are you transformed by the renewal of your mind? “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Being transformed by the renewal of our mind is the direct opposite of being conformed to this world. As Christians, we must think differently as we are not of this world. What is opposite of this world? God’s Holy Word. We say, “I want to be transformed, how do I do it?” By the renewing of your mind; examining what God’s Word says about each and every matter (a shout out to my good friend Pascal Nayigiziki on this one).

Have you learned to take your thoughts captive? “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As we battle the flesh, sinful thoughts are bound to creep into our mind. Thoughts of lust, greed, envy, anger, and other lies from the devil will try to get a foothold. We must not let them! We must learn to dismiss them quickly and replace them with biblical and spiritual truths.

Follow me for a minute: the mind of Christ can be equated with feeling as wisdom and discernment are often given to us through feelings. I have seen over and over in my own life how God has given me wisdom and discernment through feeling. I just knew something and could feel it in my bones. The renewal of our mind is based on truth. As we study God’s word, our mind is renewed over and over again. Keep your nose in the word and it is just about impossible to be conformed to this world. Conquering our mind cannot be done with just feeling alone. Nor can it be done with the truth by itself. But if we partner the feelings given through the mind of Christ (wisdom and discernment) with the truth of Scripture in renewing our minds, we can take action to take every thought captive. God gives us discernment over our thoughts that remind us of the truth of Scripture and we are able to put this into action. Revelation through feelings, together with renewal through the truth of the word, empowers us to take action. If you put these three together, you have a powerful combination in our thought battle against the flesh.

When we start to think in a worldly manner, we must stop our thoughts immediately. Switch channels to the mind of Christ; through wisdom and discernment we see what is right. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind; the truth of Scripture renews us. Capture every thought in obedience to Christ; we will not let worldly thoughts overtake our mind and turn into the action of sin.

Just for today, take your thoughts captive. Let the Lord conquer your mind. Ask Him to do it. Revelation. Renewal. Action.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….

Soften Your Heart

Vincere = Soften Your Heart

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART TWO OF SIX

Several years ago my good friend and favorite preacher Jerry Vineyard created a motto and a logo as a reminder for us in our church ministry. The logo was a picture of a rhinoceros and the motto underneath said , “Tough hide, soft heart.”

Nothing but the Lord could have prepared us for ministry at the church we planted in 2011 called Under Over Fellowship. We are a church that meets outside in a park and ministers to many homeless and marginalized, as well as the mortgaged and celebrated. We run a Mission that is open most days where people can take a shower, get food, a change of clothes, and wash their clothes. We also have a men’s transitional housing program to help men get back on their feet. I never would have predicted this ten years ago, but at least one of our pastoral staff gets cursed out almost on a daily basis, for sure on a weekly basis. We are threatened much more frequently than you would ever imagine. When you are dealing with people so deep in their addiction, it is often tough to try to help them.

In our men’s program, we have suffered much heartache and even tragedy. We pour into these men. Time after time we have seen a man doing so good and serving the Lord; and then seemingly on a whim, they leave the program and end up right back where they began. This is very disheartening, to say the least, and tough to deal with. We have also seen former program members, church attendees, and people we served through the Mission die during the life of our church. It is heartbreaking.

This “tough hide, soft heart” mantra was to remind us “to not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). We cannot let our hearts harden towards those the Lord has called us to serve. We cannot let our hearts harden towards God and the call He has placed in our lives. If I get cussed out today, I will show up tomorrow morning and take another cussing, if necessary. The Apostle Paul even tells me I should “count it pure joy” when I face trials (James 1:2).

There was a day that even the disciples of Jesus hearts started to harden. As Jesus spoke about bread, the disciples only thought of the physical food, not the spiritual food that comes from the Bread of Life. It’s as if the disciples had already forgotten the miracle of feeding the multitudes with so little. Jesus asked them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not perceive or understand? Are you hearts hardened?” (Mark 8:17).

It is very easy to let our hearts harden. We live in a sinful and many times cruel world. A hard heart is a tool of the devil. Our hearts can harden for many reasons. It can be easy to let our hearts harden towards the people we minister to. We let our hearts harden towards people that hurt us in relationships. Maybe you have a hard heart towards a friend or family member; they have done something that you just cannot seem to forgive.

Maybe your heart has hardened towards God. The message of the Gospel does that in itself, for those that do not respond. I believe there is always a response to the Gospel; either we allow God to draw us near or let our hearts harden a little more towards the message. I have people I love that have lost children and spouses. They might cry out, “God, why did you allow this to happen?” Their heart potentially can harden towards God because of the circumstances of this life.

However, we must not let our heart harden towards God or towards others. I know it is easier to write about than to do. The Great Commandment tells us to “love God, love others.” We cannot carry this out with a hardened heart. The circumstances of this world do not change the fact that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-loving.

One of my favorite portions of Scripture is in Romans 11, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

As hard as we try, we cannot understand God’s ways much of the time. He knows best, no matter what. If you are holding on to a hardened heart towards Him, let it go today, and trust Him completely. To Him be glory forever; on the best of days and on the worst of days.

If there is a person, family member, people group, political group, the list can go on and on, that you have a hard heart towards, pray for them and let it go right now. Let you heart soften towards them and keep a soft heart.

God wants to completely conquer your heart; let Him.

Just for today, have a tough hide and soft heart. Think of someone you have a hard heart towards and pray for God to take it away.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Three…

Conquer Yourself

Vincere = Conquer Yourself

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART ONE OF SIX

We are in a battle. Every day. And our biggest enemy is often the person staring at you when you look in the mirror.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

As an athlete must deny himself and practice self-control, so must the believer. After all, self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and then self-control. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness are mostly outward displays, but self-control is inward. The battle against the flesh is very personal.

There is an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9:27 that says, in effect, “I will buffet my body and make it my slave (compared to, “So I discipline my body and keep it under control”, ESV).” This is the picture I like the best. I will figuratively beat my body into submission and make it my slave. This is an athletic metaphor. You can think of all the toil, discipline, and pain an Olympic athlete endures to win a gold medal.

This week we will be looking at how to conquer ourselves in several areas: our heart, our mind, our tongue, and our actions. If we can conquer ourselves, we can conquer anything. Or better stated, allow ourselves to be conquered by Christ daily; I think this is the real key to self-control.

Just for today, pray about an area of self-control you are having difficulty with. Pray the Lord will help you conquer yourself in this area.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Song of Sunday 7/5/2020

Poems about Jesus.

Each Sunday, I plan on taking a break from devotional-type writing to share an original poem.

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN

I was sick as can be

I just did not know it

The world said I was good

One with a righteous spirit

Until I was shown my prognosis

A disease I could not fix

The Great Physician made the diagnosis

He made Himself available

The Great Physician provided the cure

Through Him wellness is attainable

The Great Physician paid the fee

His grace and mercy, unexplainable

The Great Physician, friend of sinners

That saved a wretch like me.

Orate

Orate = Conclusion

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART SIX OF SIX

“Lord, teach us to pray.” That has been the theme this week. I hope the Lord has spoken to you through this request as He has to me.

When it comes down to it, Jesus showed us through the model prayer what he wants from us. God wants our adoration. He wants us to be different than this world. He wants us to seek His will each and every day. He wants us to rely on Him for provision in our lives, in everything, and recognize that it all comes from Him anyway. He wants us to forgive. He wants to strengthen us as only He can, if only we will let Him.

I think He wants us to pray the Psalms, as He has given us a gift of a prayer book in the Bible. He wants us to pray without ceasing, to talk to Him throughout the day. He wants us to believe and have complete faith in the power of prayer. And above all He wants a relationship with you. If we have no prayer life, how can we be rightly related to God?

And then He wants us to intercede for others through prayer. Oswald Chambers said, “The real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer. Wherever God puts you in circumstances, pray immediately, pray that His atonement may be realized in other lives as it has been in yours. Pray for you friends now; pray for those with whom you come in contact now.

We build each other through prayer. I was attending a friend’s wedding years ago, and I ran into a long-time family friend named Marcia George there. She and her husband Pat were friends with my parents and even my grandparents. Marcia had recently been diagnosed with cancer when I saw her. She asked me to pray for her. I said I would. She grabbed my hand and paused, looking me intently in the eyes, and said, “No, I mean it. I really need you to pray for me. Don’t just say it.” Both Marcia and Pat are with Jesus now, but this moment forever influenced my life. I will never forget it.

How many times do we make “empty-prayer promises?” We tell people we will pray for them and our intentions are good, we do not mean to do this; but then we never actually pray for them. We forget. Our lives are too busy. We leave that moment and do not take action for those in need of prayer.

Marcia really opened my eyes and my heart that day. I vowed to never make an “empty-prayer promise” again. If someone asks me to pray with them, I try not to leave that occasion without praying, either actually praying “with” them or praying “for” them to myself.

Fellowship with other believers is about our relationship with God too, and a big part of our fellowship should be prayer. I need your prayers and you need mine. If we are not in fellowship with other believers, can we really be rightly related to God?

Just for today, make an intentional effort to pray “with” someone today. If you do not have a chance, pray “for” someone specifically.

Tune in tomorrow for Song of Sunday.