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March 2004 Archives

March 15, 2004

Delighting the Lord

Proverbs 15:8
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

It would be an interesting study to find all the things that delight the Lord. It's my assumption that it wouldn't be all the things I give so much of my time to. Instead, It's likely that it is the simple relational things that bring pleasure to Him. Like prayer.

God's not impressed by all my hard work and "sacrifices." (One day I'm gonna learn that.) What gives God pleasure is consistency. What brings Him pleasure is communication. What pleases Him is when I am concerned for others, bring them and thier needs before the Father to invite His interaction and intervention. I need to be constantly reminded about this because I want to be a delight to Him.

March 16, 2004

Living in the Spirit

Luke 2:25-27
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple...

We are directed to be people who "live in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:25) Here is an example of a man who did just that. The passage says that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. It would seem that beyond the inner witness of the Spirit, which in his case was the motivation for his devotion, there was a greater connection to the Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit live lives that are more than religious duty - thier devotion to God is an evidence of the active relationship with the H.S.

It says that the Holy Spirit had revealed things to Him. This is a mark of someone who engages and listens to the H.S. Finally, He was led by the Spirit. Daily there are opportunities that are orchestrated by the H.S. I don't think I am as sensitive to His leadings and promtings.

In the end, what the H.S. reveled to Simeon (that he would see the Messiah) came to pass. What will come to pass in my life if I really learn how to live in the Spirit?

Lord, help me to be led by the Spirit, listen for the Spirit, and walk in the spirit.

March 17, 2004

Two ears, one mouth

Luke 2:46-47
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

This is the description if Jesus' activities in Jerusalem when he was twelve. I was struck by these two words: listening and asking. I'm sure I always ask first and listen second. When it comes to my family, my neigbors and friends, or those I serve as a pastor, they and I would be well served if I listened more. I think my need to talk first reveals how I try to control the situation, and often use conversations to accomplish my goals (even if my only goal is to get the conversation ovr with as quickly as possible).

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People lists this kind of communication as the key to one of the habits - "seek first to understand, then to be understood." The passage says here that is the result - "all those who heard Him were astonished at His understanding..." This word for "understanding" is similar to the idea of "putting two and two together." Listening and asking the right questions gives you the ability to come to the right conclusions. It also produces answers that are helpful and insightful.

Lord, help me to be a man who listens and asks, not the other way around.

March 18, 2004

What shall I do?

Luke 3:9,10 (and 11-14)
9 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance...
10 So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"
11 He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?" So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."

"What shall we do?" That is the manta of most Christians. Somehow we've boinled the Chrisitian life down to a "to do" list. Most of us are more comfortable with requirements than we are taking responsibility for our own lives. Often we willingly seek people who will tell us what to do (as long as we like what they tell us). For example, in my own life...

I want someone to tell me what to do to build a church - follow these steps and "ta-da"! Instead, I'm responsible to be a pastor who bears the fruit of growth and transformation in my own life.

In this passage, John the Baptist is trying to help people understand how the choice they made should impact thier lives. These are ideas to help start the process, not the "job description" of one who has "repented." There's more to do to bear the fruit of repentance, whether I'm a tax collector or a soldier, or just a regular guy with an extra coat. It's time people stop asking each other what we should be ding and start allowing the H.S. to keep shaping our lives and reponding to Him.

Lord, let my works be the fruit of a changed life, not the proof of it.

March 22, 2004

A Good Investment Strategy

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

When I look at the "success" of our life here in Irvine, it becomes difficult to measure, especially with the extenal pressure of affluence continually pressing. Same cars, same apartment, same debt - it's been hard to "get ahead." At times life seems to be moving ahead and leaving me behind. But my pursuit here is not about financial security. It is not about amassing possessions. It is about being light in a community, a voice of truth to our city.

It's said it takes money to make money. You have to put compound interest to work for you to create wealth. In the same way, it takes a reputation to build a reputation. My desire is that our friends see the Hamilton's as a benefit to thier lives. That our community sees New Horizons as a blessing. Right now we are building a reputation of steadfastness, of perserverance, of consistency, of permanance. I'm learning that since I couldn't build a church (that's Jesus' job), I can build a reputation which God can then use. I need to value the favor God has given me personally with relationships. God is building favor for our church with our community, like getting our flyer for the egg hunt distributed to the schools. Little by little our good works are compouinding and creating a different kind of wealth.

A good reputation. Favor. These are the currency of the Kingdom.

Lord, help me to be the "Warren Buffett" of Your Kingdom - a man who wisely invests for the long term.

March 23, 2004

Comparing and Coveting

Proverbs 23:18
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.

What a good reminder. This chapter is filled with admonishions warning against comparisons and covetousness...do not desire the delicacies of a ruler or of a miser...do not over work to be rich...and this one. This proverb reminds me how short-sighted I am, focusing on the temporary instead of the eternal. One of the things I have appreciated about the "40 Days of Purpose" is it's focus on this life being preparation for eternity. This verse puts eternity front and center. It also reminds me what should be consuming me is passion for the Lord. It's so easy to waste emotional energy on things like comparing and coveting.

What a good warning. The way my devotional life as been in 2004 is that my reading in the Bible is a heads up to something I'll face later in the day. So I will be alert to guard my heart and to walk in the fear of the Lord.

About March 2004

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in March 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

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