Be Ready!

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

2 Timothy 4:1-2 says, “I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (NLT)

I had quite the morning, yesterday. Admittedly, I was a little late arriving to my desk. Before 9 a.m., I already ministered to three individuals, all by asking the simple question, “how are you today?” Then, I listened and shared encouragement from God’s Word.

BE READY! God’s timing is far less a mystery when we begin to realize that the answer to the question of “when” is “all the time”.

What if each of us allowed that switch to be flipped in our lives? ARE YOU READY? In an instant, millions of people could be activated to go into the world, READY to preach the gospel to all mankind.

Our error would be in thinking this looks like millions of people on their “soapboxes”, pounding their Bibles. To the contrary, it looks like millions of believers READY to ask the question, “how are you today?” It’s the sound of our silence, as we’re READY to listen. It’s the peace of God, as we’re READY to share encouragement from His Word (assuming we’re equipping ourselves with it).

We pray for revival. I believe it will come when we’re READY.

What’s your emphasis? Part 2

Nick Koop (profile pic) by Nick Koopalethes

Exploring the emphasis of the book of Acts.

What’s your emphasis? Part 1

Nick Koop (profile pic) by Nick Koopalethes

What you emphasize is what you realize!

Be The Weak Link

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

What sense does it make that anyone should want to become weak? It certainly isn’t a quality that’s valued in this world. Especially among men, weakness is seen as a handicap. It’s ironic, then, that weakness may be the key to your freedom.

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Photo: “Chained” by Trevor Leyenhorst

There’s strong symbolism in seeing our sin as chains. In John 8:31-34, Jesus said that sin enslaves us. Whether trapped by willful participation or as victim to a generational curse, the deepest longing of our heart is freedom from that bondage.

For some, however, prayers might seem to be a fruitless endeavor. Always asking and waiting for someone or something to come break them, we fail to recognize the link we are in those chains. Is it possible that prideful unwillingness to welcome help inhibits our breakthrough? Are we fearful of the judgement we might face if our shortcomings are exposed? Can it be that we’re comfortable, “at home” with our addictions? Are we holding on too tightly?

If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, becoming weak is the beginning of freedom. Allow yourself to be broken; your pride, your will, your plans, your thoughts in exchange for His. Let go of those things you hold more closely than His Word, His promises. Pick up the Armor of God (Ephesians 6). Allow His Fruit (Galatians 5) to grow in your life.

Your freedom is not in your ability to remain strong. It’s found in your willingness to become weak.

Encounter with a Prophetic Word

Nick Koop (profile pic) by Nick Koopalethes

In every season, God speaks a word to sustain you. God is not bound in the same limits of time and place as we are. He can release His word from a different time, season, location or context to be deposited in your life at any moment He likes. Our role is to position our hearts in humility before Him, so His grace can lead us!

Prepare For Multiplication

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

Have you ever heard someone say that God is a God of multiplication? It’s a fair assessment. Throughout the Bible we see examples in which it proves to be true. Think about His promise to Abraham. Genesis 22:17 records God telling him, “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore…” We also have examples like Matthew 15, where Jesus miraculously multiplies a boy’s small lunch to feed a crowd of thousands. Clearly, there’s precedence.

It’s important to know, however, that we represent no small part of the equation. If multiplication is the product of two or more variables, we must take caution to understand that each of us is in the position to limit the degree to which God can bring increase to our situation.

Imagine, for instance, that we brought nothing to the table. The product of that function would be exactly zero. It seems to ring true too. I can’t remember God ever coming through in a significant way in my life, in any situation where I was being unfaithful to what He was asking of me. It seems there’s also a consequence in always only bringing the minimum. Certainly, anything God allows to be released in our lives is good. Given the choice, however, I think anyone would prefer the maximum good, over the minimum. It provides proper encouragement to always bring your best, willing to yield it in service to God.

It’s fair to say, then, that multiplication doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the moment that obedience and preparation meet His timing and provision. It’s all according to His formula, but you’re a key factor.

Men For Godly Women

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

As a culture we so miss the mark, when it comes to living a godly lifestyle. None-the-less, our desires are for God-sized blessings. Perhaps chief among them, for a Christian man, is “a Proverbs 31 woman”. If you haven’t read it recently, take some time to refamiliarize yourself.

It’s quite the mirror to hold before oneself, especially in a culture that so diligently glorifies and objectifies contrasting character. It’s a battle between competing ideologies. For many Christian women, the struggle is all too real.

Men, whether we realize it or not, we cast our vote in this contest, with the decisions we make. What entertainment are we consuming? What products are we purchasing, based on what advertisements? Who gets our attention? How are we treating the woman in our lives? Do we promote an environment where everyone is equally valued?

Take time, today, to stop and notice the role you play. Are you contributing to a culture that compels our daughters to chase fiction, or one that inspires them to become who they’re called to be?

God, help us recognize our need to be part of the solution. Help us find practical and effective answers to the question of how we can change the tide. Allow us to see past all the facades, to the wounded hearts inside. Help us take responsibility to change the game for generations of women to come.

 

No Rock Can Take Your Role.

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

Isn’t it strange that Jesus said that the rocks would cry out? The conversation takes place after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Luke 19:37-40 tells us that the religious leaders told Jesus to rebuke his followers for proclaiming him as King, and equating him with God. Jesus’ reply suggests that, if those people kept their praise to themselves, “the stones along the road would burst into cheers.” (NLT)

When you really think about it, natural objects declaring the majesty of God isn’t a stretch of the imagination. How many times have you heard someone with no faith in Jesus Christ, talk about experiencing God through nature, that the great outdoors is their church? These are fairly common sentiments. Psalm 19:1-4 even says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”

It’s important to notice that there’s no inference that the rocks would share the gospel message. There’s no suggestion that the trees would relay a personal testimony of the difference Jesus has made in their lives. The wind and the waves aren’t going to be the body of Christ, ministering love to the people around them. As believers, these are our jobs. These are the roles we play in the Kingdom of God. Among all of his creation, God uniquely designed each of us to testify to his Glory, specifically as it has been revealed through his Son, Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father.

The bad news is that we’re living in a generation in which “the rocks” just might be doing a better job than us, of declaring the splendor of our King. That doesn’t necessarily advance the Kingdom though. It’s our job to point the world to Jesus Christ. All creation resounds in praise, but no rock can take your role.

Is There An Army Rising?

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

There’s a song many of us sing on Sunday mornings, called “Break Every Chain”. It’s credited to William Reagan of United Pursuit. If you’re not familiar with it, a repeated phrase in that song says, “There is power in the name of Jesus…To break every chain.” Later, this verse changes to say, “There’s an army rising up…To break every chain.” It’s a powerful statement, whether we mean what we’re saying or not.

It makes me think, do we mean what we’re saying? Do we really believe that God is raising an army to break every chain of bondage? If so, do we understand that his plan is for us to be a part of that army?

If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you stand in a sanctuary full of people, where about 90% of those present are singing this confession. However, if your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you’re singing this along with a sanctuary full of people who allow 80% of the work in your church to be done by 20% of the people. If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you’re singing this with a sanctuary full of people, where only 10%-12% are consistently making financial contributions to support the work of that local body of believers. If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you may be singing this with a sanctuary full of people who, despite the desperate pleas of their pastor, don’t work to actively take the truth of God’s Word into their communities and schools and workplaces.

Is this what a rising army looks like?

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’d admit that we have a good way to go before we, the global body of believers in Christ, look anything like a unified army of warriors, advancing to break the chains of bondage. What if God’s army doesn’t rise up? Where would we be if it weren’t for those who came before us? Where could we be if more before us were faithful to the call? Where can we be this time next year, if more will answer the call?

Take this moment to allow the Holy Spirit to put in your heart, an image of that army clad in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). How does this picture compare to or contrast with your life? It should be more than just a line of a song we sing. What is God calling you to do, as part of the army that’s rising up…to break every chain?

Fathers, Don’t Miss This

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

It’s unfortunate that the majority of fathers have fallen into positions of only managing “dad duties”, rather than truly leading their families. We’ve become referees, chauffeurs, babysitters, coaches, repair men, financial managers, judges and juries, chief TV remote operators, master grillers… the list is endless. It all conjures the image of a father as “King of the Castle”. Take caution though. This is no throne you should wish to usurp.

As leaders of our families, our responsibilities have literal and lasting “Kingdom” implications. Strong families are the backbone of truly successful churches, and effective communities. As a father, if you’re missing these next points, you might be missing what it means to be the leader in your home.

Primarily, a godly father will love his wife. Ephesians 5:25 says “for husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” I believe the greatest gift a father could ever give his children is to love their mother. The confidence of knowing their home is secure, provides the best foundation for every lesson to follow.

Secondly, Ephesians 6:4 says, “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Warning: this means you need to be there first, under His authority, leading by example. A godly father isn’t going to respond to disobedience as a knee-jerk reaction, born of frustration, as his anger boils over. He’s grounded in the Word, having no need to fish for behavioral guidelines, since they’re clearly provided for us. Trust in God and His Word. Set them as the standard by which you lead your family.

As fathers, God’s blessing is that He allows us to partner with Him in raising the men and women of His Kingdom. On earth, we call them our sons and daughters. Be assured, however, that this is only a temporary relationship. We have a responsibility, and are accountable to God for the warriors our homes produce. What will you do with the gift you’ve been given, the opportunity to lead them?

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