More of Jesus’ Dirty Hands

For most of us, nothing is less appealing as a way to get more of Jesus than getting our hands dirty. Jesus came as a servant, not the head servant but the lowest servant. Cleaning the feet of visitors was, and still is, the job of the lowest ranked slave in a household. So when Jesus performed this task, it was a startling example to the disciples.

One of my favorite stories is about the seminary student who was considered by his classmates as “least likely to succeed.” He had a speech impediment. He was last in most of his classes. It took him months after graduation to get his first job. At the first meeting at his new tiny church, he couldn’t be found until someone located him in the back of the room, feeding a quadriplegic by hand.  He’s a great pastor today.

We need to live with a service attitude. We need to wake each morning considering whom and how we can serve. If we are honest, this is completely contrary to the way we live. If we consider service, we think of it as something we do when we complete everything we have to do for ourselves, a “spare time” activity. Seeking first the Kingdom, means putting Jesus first. That means more than doing bible studies and spiritual exercises. It means putting others first. Jesus is in the people around us, not in some cloud covered third dimension. Choose to serve other people whenever God calls you to – even when it’s not convenient or when you’re struggling with serious problems of your own. Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus and the people He wants you to serve. In the process, your own problems will become more manageable. Never view yourself as being above any particular type of service – changing diapers, mowing grass, making coffee, visiting prisoners, etc.. When you do any task that God calls you to do, your work – no matter how humble – will become important because you’re answering God’s call.

Serve and be blessed.

Nick

More of Jesus’ Death – Devotional for Monday, June 6, 2011

Our society doesn’t handle death very well. We don’t talk about it. We have a youth culture. We don’t honor and respect the aged. We don’t see death as part of the process of life. It’s little wonder than when we consider that we need to “die” to self to get more of Jesus we resist the idea.
But death precedes new life. A seed falls to the ground and dies before a new plant sprouts. We are happy to consider new birth, but are uncomfortable with the death of the old that new life implies. We can never achieve the full power of the new life if we are hanging on to aspects of the old man. We don’t have all aspects of the old man die at once; parts of him are put to death bit by bit. 
The goal is to have Christ inside seen in our lives; the old man filters and dims that light. The bottom line is that if we want to have more of Jesus; there needs to be less of us.
Suffer a little death and 
Be blessed.
Nick

More Praise – Devotional for Sunday, June 5, 2011

 Praise You in the Storm.
As we consider ways of getting more of Jesus into our lives, we move to more praise on our lips.  It’s easy to praise Jesus when life is going well, but Jesus is still worthy of praise whether the sun is shining or a storm is howling. 
Praise isn’t great music or terriffic atmosphere. It doesn’t require raised hands or loud voices. It’s a deliberate choice to thank Jesus for who He is. We can start with considering what He’s done; but we really want to move on to who He is. You see we may not “feel” that He is doing anything at any particular time. And memory fades as to what He has done for us in the past. Yes, even with Jesus we can get a “What have you done for me lately?” attitude.
But who He is doesn’t change. His unchanging character is our rock, our harbor in stormy times. Knowing His character and acknowledging it with our praise, helps us remember He’s still there. He still loves us. He’s still ready to take control of the parts of our life we have tried to wrestle from Him, with the resulting disaster we’re facing.
Living by will instead of feeling, walking by faith instead of circumstances, praising for who He is instead of by what we need; these things are the difference between self filled and spirit filled living.
Praise Him always and be blessed always.
Nick

More of Jesus’ Tears – Devotional for Saturday, June 4, 2011

We continue to consider ways to get more of Jesus in our lives as suggested  by Anne Graham Lotz’s in, Pursuing More of Jesus, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).
Pursue more of His tears on your face.  We generally believe, especially us guys, that tears are to be avoided. Jesus didn’t think so. He wept and he wept publicly. Actually, failing to cry, keeping our pain and sorrow inside is dangerous to both our physical and mental help. In his new book, Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow Denver Bronco quarterback talks without embarrassment about his emotions. He has been videoed several times crying: the last time he ran into the stadium at the University of Florida, and when the Gators lost to Alabama in his senior year, for example. When we have passion about something, we’re going to get emotional, and shed tears, when we have significant setbacks.
Jesus understands and cares when we’re crying tears of pain. We draw closer to Him. We get more of Him when we mourn over the things Jesus cared about: the pain of His people, lost souls, rejection of God, failure to trust and follow. It’s foolish to cry over “spilt milk” but not to weep over matters of eternal significance.
We need to get passionate over the things of God and when we shed a tear we’ll know we are getting there.
Cry and be blessed.
Nick

More of Jesus’ Voice – Devotional for Friday, June 3, 2011

Today we look at the second way to get more of Jesus suggested by Anne Graham Lotz’s in, Pursuing More of Jesus, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009). 
Pursue more of His voice in your ear. Every Christian knows that we should be listening to the voice of Jesus. But how do we filter His voice out of the all the noise that fills our lives. Jesus’ voice has characteristics that set it apart. If we keep these in mind we will know when it’s really God speaking.
God’s voice is biblical. When we think we are hearing from God our first move should be to check it against scripture. God’s word is never contrary to God’s Word. That seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? But often we hear Christians claiming to be acting on God’s word in doing things which are clearly not biblical.
God’s voice is personal. God know where we are better than we know ourselves. Unlike other voices which try lead us, God’s voice speaks to the precise need in our lives. We miss God sometimes in this area since we are often confused about where we really are and what is really important. God cuts through all that and gets to the point. 
Finally God’s voice is powerful. His voice changes things. Other voices may just try to make us feel better about where we are or cast blame for our problems on others. God voice is change oriented. He loves us where we are, but desires to move us forward. 
If we are to have more of Jesus, we need to go for everything He has for us. We get there by learning to listen to His voice.
Be blessed.
Nick

 

More of Jesus – Devotional for Thursday, June 2, 2011

You will recall that yesterday I had a bad day. Today was much better. I spent time with my Wednesday morning prayer group and had lunch with the leader of our next Kairos. That helped because today through them I had more of Jesus. I also read a wonderful column which was a report on Anne Graham Lotz’s recent bookPursuing More of Jesus, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009). 
The report listed 13 ways to pursue more of Jesus. I recommend reading the report here which may move you to read the book. I would like to share just one of the thirteen ways with you today.
Go for the maximum, not the minimum. Choose to go after more than just the bare minimum God has to offer you. Make your faith about more than just trying to escape hell and get your ticket punched to heaven. Invite God to completely transform you: bending your will, awakening your conscience, breaking your heart, transforming your mind, overcoming your prejudices, soaring in your spirit, and conforming you into His glorious image. 
We all want to escape hell, but our feet begin to drag when we consider inviting God to change us. Why is that? Do we think He will make us worse than we are? Do we believe He will make us miserable and steal our joy? What about “bending” our will? That can’t be good. We worship our free will. See what a wonderful life following our free will has achieved? What could we possibly lose by letting God’s will prevail?
An awakened conscience? Our dulled conscience is already quite a problem. It has plenty of opportunity to convict us. Do we dare ask God to awaken it? To take it to a higher level? What about our mind? A mind is a terrible thing to lose. Wouldn’t we be better thinking His thoughts and leaving our pathetic distractions behind? And prejudices? We love our prejudices. They have been with us so long. They are so comfortable and familiar.
But soaring that sounds great. And being conformed to His glorious image that’s worth something. We just have to decide that to soar that  it’s worth surrendering to God’s transforming Spirit.
It will lead to so much more than a better day. It will open the door to a better life.
Nick

Another Bad Day – Devotional for June 1, 2011

I had a bad day. I wish I could look at the calendar and know in advance when I was going to have a bad day. I could go hide somewhere.  It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way because we don’t always control how our day will go. We are at the mercy of others. I wish I knew in advance who would turn my day around. I could avoid them; but we don’t know that either.

It would seem after all these years I would have learned how to respond to turn a bad day good. I haven’t. Just a word from someone, out of the blue and unexpected,  can turn things bad. I guess I should consider that I, no doubt, cause others to have bad days.

That really doesn’t help. I guess all we can do is our best. If we are expecting appreciation, we are sure to be disappointed. Tomorrow is another day. It’s got to be better. Doesn’t it? I hope so. There aren’t that many days left.

Be blessed.

Nick