Was, Is, Always Will Be.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Revelation 1:8 NLT http://bible.com/116/rev.1.8.NLT

We all know that people don’t last forever in this world. Death is real. Birth is real. There are beginnings and endings. It is also true that the created world lives longer than any one person. Many of the things that are built by us do last far beyond our lifetime.

We are used to beginnings and endings. We know that we don’t last forever.

Along comes God through Jesus Christ. He makes the profound statement “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come.” It is hard to get our head around the idea of God never beginning, never ending, and always being. Always!

No one or nothing else can make that statement and stand by it! He is not an option among options. He really is the almighty one.

Contrast that to another aspect of God, He wants to be in relationship with us. In fact, God has gone “all in” to make this work through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He invites us into a life that transitions after physical death. He tells us that this life is only the beginning in a life that lasts forever. There is teaching about a new heaven and a new earth. There is teaching about new bodies that are not subject to the deterioration we currently experience.

Images of “no more sorrow and no more tears” are part of what Jesus communicates. There is this relationship with God that is alive and does last forever. There is also a critical choice God has given to us:

Do we want to spend all of life with Him or do we want to be separated from Him in isolation and torment forever?

This is not philosophical or abstract. This is a real choice in real time. Our best understanding of this choice to be with God is that it must be made while we live in the bodies we have now, this physical life.

I have made my choice in this life. I am living with the one who was, is and always will be.

I am living with the Almighty One who seeks to know me. I now seek to know Him.

Money and God

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13.5 NLT.

The use of money is a fact of life. We use it everyday. It does have great functional value in our lives. As a follower of Jesus, we are asked to manage life well. We are asked to be generous, to save, and to share. Living within our means is an important responsibility in our lives.

Money is not designed to capture our hearts or become the primary focus of our lives. It has no capacity, in and of itself, to care for our needs. It does not intercede for us. It has no capacity to forgive wrongs or to reconcile brokenness. Money is meant to be managed and used. The mismanagement and misuse of money creates bondage and burdens that choke the lifeblood out of people.

God, on the other hand, actually loves us. Between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are loved, adopted and never abandoned. He forgives us from all that is wrong. He works to restore all that has been broken. He does lead. He is faithful. He guides us into all that is true (including matters related to money).

In the first four books of the New Testament, Jesus talks about the challenges of money and materialism more than anything else but the nature of God’s Kingdom and His love. He recognized the challenges of people exchanging their designed love for God with a cheap substitute. Jesus laid out the two greatest focus points of life:
• Love God with everything you are and have
• Love others with the love God has given you

When God is really first, and money is a matter of stewardship, there is contentment in life. The quest for improvement or expansion flows from a perspective of making a difference in this world as part of the Kingdom of God.

Dear Jesus,
Today I receive the reminder to love God with all of me and to manage money for His glory and the help of people. Thank You for being faithful in my life. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.

Correction…. Who Wants it?

The desire to be right is strong within all of us. I don’t remember the number of times I have had to humble myself, apologize, and be open to correction because I wanted to be right. The truth is, we all need correction in our lives.

A seasoned leader was communicating to an emerging leader with some profound counsel regarding correction: God’s word always corrects for the good.

Whatever your view of scripture is, step back and think about this seasoned leader’s counsel. Everyone of us needs correction in our lives on any given matter at any given time. From God’s vantage point, correction is meant to serve a good purpose with a good outcome.

This seasoned leader shares some other powerful truths about the bible:

All scripture is inspired by God…:
God is the one behind the bible. He is the one who worked through many people to develop it and bring it to life. He is the source of the inspiration. It is His thinking and Spirit that bring
life to every aspect of scripture.

…is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong….: Scripture is a compass. It draws out truth and reveals things that our wrong in our lives and in this world. Right and wrong is not reduced to a set of opinions, but rather, there is a foundation of truth that helps us understand what is right and wrong.

….It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right…: This is the kind of correction everyone of us needs. The ability to understand when we are wrong and the guidance to show us what is right.

…God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.: The Bible is all about giving us what is needed to do good to people every day in every way possible. This is an amazing statement of truth and vision.

God uses His word to increase our effectiveness for His good in this world.

Correction… who wants it? I do.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his
people to do every good work.

(Paul, established leader, writes these words to Timothy, emerging leader, as recorded in the bible in II Timothy 3:16-17, NLT)

Does Your Stuff Keep You Up at Night?

The car needs work, the house needs a makeover, vacation plans needs to be made, it is time to upgrade to the newest technology, investments need to be adjusted for better returns, and the list goes on…. It can be exhausting…

In the midst of it all, one’s focus on God can get easily lost or put into the background of life.

The author of the proverbs has a really clear thing to say about all of this: Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

The author of this proverb makes it very clear, that if there is only one choice, choose a simple life with a strong focus on God and His ways of living. Do not let all the things that can get in our way of keeping a strong focus on God take over and dominate us.

Speaker and writer, Bob Goff, combats this tendency to be consumed with everything but God with a simple approach: “quit something Thursdays”. On Thursdays he reviews all that he is committed and obligated to and simply chooses something to quit doing. He recognizes that life, left to itself, produces too much stuff, and we need to be intentional about cutting back and staying focused on the most important things.

Today, consider what keeps you up at night. Why does it have a greater priority than God in life? Evaluate the words of Proverbs 15:16. Try Bob Goff’s strategy – quit or give up things that are cluttering your heart and mind. Today is a good day to start.

Are you ready for today?

What does being ready look like? Every day is filled with things we think are going to happen and issues that we didn’t know were going to come up. The physical basics are always there to get our bodies out the door, but beyond that, what does it take to come into a day ready?

Here are a few questions for self reflection that help with readiness:

Have you asked God to be with and guide you today? I have found that God is interested in making sure I am ready for the day in my spirit, thinking and attitude. In fact, I notice a real difference in myself between the days I ask God for help and the days I just take it on by myself.

What is the attitude you are bringing into the day? Take time to choose a healthy and helpful attitude towards yourself and others today. Being intentional in attitude choice makes a big difference.

Have you prayed for the people you will meet with today? One of the greatest moves of readiness, is to give consideration to others in our preparation for the day. There are simple ways to do this that include looking at your schedule and thinking through the people who are going to be with at those meetings. Remember, everyone is going through different issues and experiences on a daily basis that effect their contribution to the world.

Are you prepared for the things you are responsible for today? Being prepared helps with being ready for every day. It is worth getting up early or staying up late to complete the things that need to be done for the day’s readiness.

Do you prioritize with an adaptive approach? Everyone knows that plans are constantly adjusting. Each day requires a new reflection on priorities for the day as well as postponing things that are not essential to the most important things of today.

In the bible there is some very practical counsel about being ready for every day:

o God gives peace in every situation to those who are trusting Him                  for it.
o Be slow to think you have answers for other people, consider the                  issues in your own life first.
o Don’t be anxious. Instead, turn issues of anxiousness into prayer                    and give God thanks.
o The Holy Spirit does lead us into truth. The Holy Spirit does                                comfort. The Holy Spirit does give us words to say in difficult                            moments. Ask the Holy Spirit to be present.
o Jesus removes self condemnation and judgment from our lives. In                relationship with Him, we are free to be encouraging and helpful in                relationships.

The readiness challenge: Adjust the start of your day to allow for 15 minutes of reflection on the questions above for the next 30 days and evaluate your own sense of readiness.