Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Psalm 86 records a prayer of David. In his distress, he reflects on the greatness and faithfulness of God, and reminds himself that there is no other god like the Lord. He finds peace in the midst of trouble by trusting in the Lord. In verse 11, he prays, teach me your way Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
Just like David, it is a good idea for us to ask the Lord to give us an undivided heart. Why? Because verse 11 continues to tell us that the outcome of an undivided heart is the ability to fear the Lord. This is not fear in the sense of spooky or scary. Rather it means living in a way that honors and respects the Lord.
What does it look like to live with an undivided heart? Think of it like this. Sometimes we separate life into two different categories, everyday life and spiritual life. We view our everyday life as the usual activities and demands of each day, such as going to work, taking care of family, relaxing at home, and being with friends, while we view our spiritual life as prayer time, reading the bible, and going to church.
Living with an undivided heart means not making a distinction between how we approach everyday life and spiritual life. Rather than separating them, we integrate them. We don't elevate or minimize one over the other, we see them both as equally valuable and meaningful. In other words, they don't compete one against the other, but they support and enhance each other. We strive to live for God all the time, not just when we are doing spiritual things.
That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Following the call of God by learning to live with an undivided heart.
Monday, January 14, 2019
He is counting on you
1 Timothy 1:12 has fascinated me for many years. The Apostle Paul writes, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
Here we discover some very important keys to living in the will of God. First, we see that Jesus is the provider of the strength and ability we need. Secondly, we see that the Lord is counting on us to be faithful with what he gives. And third, we see that the purpose of what he gives us is to serve him.
The most amazing part of this verse is the realization that Jesus is counting on us to be faithful. Paul said that he received the strength he needed to serve the Lord because the Lord considered him to be trustworthy. What a marvelous thought, that the Almighty God of the universe is considering us to be entrusted with his call, his purpose, and his strength.
As I mediate on this, I find it to be both humbling and inspiring. Knowing that the Lord is counting on me to be faithful causes me to become more dependent on him, because I know I cannot fulfill his expectations on my own. And knowing that the Lord has called me into his service is stimulating and encouraging. There is nothing greater to live for, and that gives me confidence that he will supply what is needed for success.
That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Learning to navigate the call of God upon our lives. Embrace the call because he is counting on us to be faithful and trustworthy.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Think About It
The start of a new year seems to be a time when people tend to focus more on making plans and setting goals. After the busy holiday season, it's a good chance to reflect on where we're headed in life and make any needed adjustments. Looking back to last year can help us decide how we need to move forward in the new year. Here are a few things to think about.
Am I making more friends? Did you make the effort to meet new people and add to your circle of friends in the past year? Have you given yourself the opportunity to sharpen others and likewise be sharpened through a wider network of influence? If not, think about how you can improve in this area during the new year.
Am I learning new skills? Did you read any good books or take any new classes to improve your skill set? Have you subscribed to any podcasts, developed better study habits, or invested in your personal growth somehow last year? If not, think about how you can improve in this area during the new year.
Am I sensing clear direction from God? Did you spend last year living with a strong sense of mission? Do you feel like you have been impacted by a specific word from the Lord? Are you moving aimlessly along the current of life, or are you staying focused by listening for God's voice? Think about how you can improve in this area during the new year.
Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about personal development. Building stronger faith. Gaining a stronger sense of purpose. Growing leadership ability. If you're looking to make some positive changes in the new year, think about Empower. Visit www.empowernbca.com for more information.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Bigger and Better
The new year has begun and as always, the Lord is at work. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we have been made new in Christ so that we can do the good things he has planned for us long ago. Before the world began, God was working his plan, and now many years later, he is still working out that plan. Let's continue to pray for God's plan to be accomplished, perfectly, completely, and consistently, all of our days.
What is God's plan? The previous two verses make it clear. Ephesians 2:8-9 read, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so no one can boast. His plan is that we would receive his saving grace by faith, and then to become his testimonies to others about that saving grace.
God's plan is simple. It is to make his family bigger and better. Quantity and quality. More people in Christ and more Christ in people. God is unchanging, yet he is not stagnant. Although he remains the same forevermore, he is also fresh and life-giving at the same time. When we determine to follow his plan, we will find ourselves growing bigger and better.
Bigger faith, bigger vision, bigger prayers. Better character, better dreams, better goals. That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Helping people to grow bigger and better through discovering and navigating the wonderful plan of God.
Monday, December 3, 2018
An Excellent Spirit
The book of Daniel has long been one of my favorites. It is a story of a young man who overcomes great challenges through unyielding devotion to the Lord. He is one of many who are taken captive to a foreign land by an invading army. There, he is faced with constant opposition to his faith, yet he remains true to his beliefs and eventually becomes a very influential leader among his captors. It is an inspiring story of how powerful an impact one can make through dedicated service to God, regardless of their surroundings.
One of the things that distinguished Daniel from the rest was his spirit of excellence. Although he was a captive from another country, he was promoted to one of the highest offices in government. Over and over, his enemies tried to bring him down, but his excellent spirit caused him to keep rising above. He earned a reputation for being faithful, faultless, and exceedingly wise.
A spirit of excellence gets people's attention. It opens doors of opportunity and closes mouths of critics. It builds respect and breaks down barriers. It creates confidence for some and confusion for others. We don't always know what to call it, but we lean in when we see it. An excellent spirit is highly valuable and incredibly rare.
God is the purest definition of excellence. He is above all, and without equal, yet he expresses his excellence graciously and honorably. The nature of his excellence is to benefit others, rather than to trample and dominate them. The spirit of excellence is the spirit of Christ.
That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Developing a spirit of excellence through devotion and service to Christ. We are called to carry the excellence of Christ upon us.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
How to be Thankful
With this being Thanksgiving week, the subject of being thankful is on the minds of many people. The Bible has much to say about thanksgiving. It's more than our American celebration of turkeys and touchdowns. For the followers of Christ, being thankful is to be a lifestyle.
What happens when being thankful doesn't come naturally? Can we learn to develop a thankful heart? Are there things we can do to inspire and activate thankfulness in our lives? Yes, I think so.
The Bible teaches more than just the need to be thankful, it goes further by also explaining why we can be thankful, how we can be thankful, and what we can be thankful for. While there are many Scriptures we could look at, I especially like Psalm 116:12-14.
Here the writer asks himself an interesting question. How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me? In other words, how can I properly and adequately give thanks to the Lord? Then he answers his own question by saying, I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
As he reflects on his desire to thank the Lord, he realizes the impossibility of doing so, since the Lord has need of nothing and everything we have came from him in the first place. However, he also recognizes that receiving what the Lord offers, his cup of salvation, is the best way to honor God. Humbly and eagerly accepting from the Lord is the best way to show thanks. The paradox is that we give to the Lord by taking what he freely offers.
That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Learning to live with a thankful heart by receiving the gifts and callings he has for each of us, and fulfilling his purpose for us among the people of God.