Success

What determines today if you are a success?  Is it our preparation?  Is it our hard work?  Is it just luck?  Today, what determines our success?  What is it that makes us a success?

I was thinking about that today when I read one of the Psalms for this morning.  Listen to what David writes in Psalm 127: 1-2:

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.

1429037342_success-kid-meme-lgYou can build the biggest house you want.  But unless the Lord builds it, it is in vain.

You can stand guard.  But unless the Lord keeps watch, it is in vain.

You can wake early and work and worry.  But don’t fret, the Lord gives sleep.

Success doesn’t come from our hand alone.  But it comes from the Lord.  Now, this isn’t a thought not to work hard.  No, work hard, be faithful.  Give your full effort.  In the Garden, one of the first things the Lord did was He gave Adam a task.  Work is good.  Having a purpose is very, very good.

But life is not just about our efforts.  It’s about living out of God’s strength and God’s purpose and God’s mercy.  Remember that.

And I’ll tell you what happens to me.  When I remember that all I have to do is do my best, and leave the rest up to God, it makes me more efficient.  It helps me accomplish more.  it helps me work even better.

Why?  Because I know it’s all His.  It’s all up to Him.  It’s His world, we are His people.  I know it’s all for His glory, so I’m going to do the very best that I can in all things.  For Him. For His glory and praise.  As my act of faithfulness to Him.

So today, don’t worry. Don’t stress.  Don’t obsess.  Just be faithful.  Do your task, do you duty, do what you should.

Don’t eat the bread of anxious toil.  It is God that is at work in all things.  Trust in Him, lean on Him and He will be the world that enables and empowers us in all things!

Be faithful.  Trust God.  All will be well.

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It All Comes Down to Grace

Ok, today’s reading is one of those passages that you need to get. Really, this is one of those readings that is just key. Understanding this is so important to your faith, to your life, to your view of God, your view of yourself, everything, everything, everything.

Listen to what it says in Ephesians 2: 8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

grace-2Dr. Barry Bryant was one of my main professors in seminary. And Dr. Bryant used to always tell us this – “You tell me what you think about grace, and I can tell you what you think about everything else.”

Grace is so key to faith. It is so key to understanding God, us, our calling, our salvation, our Christian walk. Everything.

Look at what it says today. We are saved by grace. Not by works. So no man can boast. We are not saved by anything that we can do.

Seriously. You need to understand that. You aren’t saved by your actions. You don’t have to “do” anything. “Doing” something isn’t the key, isn’t the point.

If there was something that you can “do” to save yourself, Jesus came for nothing. It’s all on Him. All on Him. All on Him.

Not your actions. Your faithfulness. None of this. It’s all grace.

We are saved by grace through faith. You have to understand that.

But then, look what it says. We are created for good works. Wait, what? We aren’t saved by works, yet, we are created for them?

Yep. You were created; you were made for a relationship with God. That relationship starts with grace. You are saved by grace.

And then, once we come to saving (or justifying) grace, grace doesn’t end there. Grace isn’t just God’s mercy of salvation towards us. Grace is the empowerment of salvation.

So, we are saved by grace (not by works) but when we come to faith that same grace that saves us then compels us to be faithful. To chase after God. To know Him. Serve Him. Follow Him. We must. We have to.

Grace demands it! We need to understand that, as well!

We are not saved by works, but we are created for works.

We are saved by His grace and saved for His work. All by His grace.

His grace saves us.

His grace calls us.

His grace empowers us to work.

Grace.

You tell me what you think about grace, and I can tell you what you think about everything else. Grace. It all comes down to grace.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

When They Frustrate Us

frustrated-faceAre you ever tempted to look at someone and say – you know better! Why are you doing that? Why do you keep making the same mistakes? Come on, man, you know better than to do that!

I’m sure each of us has felt that way. We may have felt that way with our kids before. Maybe someone in our family. Or with a friend. A co-worker. Someone.

We can get so frustrated. We want to give up on them, don’t we?

What do we do then? What do we do when we want to give up someone?

Listen to what Paul tells us today in Romans 15: 1-3:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.

Paul says this – when you want to give up one someone, remember. We don’t live for ourselves. We live to serve and help others. We don’t live for us.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with others. With their weakness. With their mistakes. With their stuff. They can really irritate us. But remember what Paul said. We don’t live for us.

We live for Jesus. And we live for others. We live to point them to Jesus. And that’s one of the keys. As Paul says, Jesus didn’t live to please Himself, He lived for His prose. To point us to His Father.

And you know, you know Jesus must get frustrated with us sometimes, huh? At our weakness. Our faults. Our mistakes. Our stuff.

And how does He respond? He loves. So should we.

He loved us in our weakness and mistakes.

We are to love to love them, in their weakness and mistakes. Because love points to Jesus. And only Jesus can help. Only Jesus can change.

Be patient. You can only do that through Jesus and His spirit. Love them. Point them to Jesus.

And let Him change them. That’s not your job. That’s His job. Let Him do His work. Your job is just to point to Him, in all things.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Dealing With Difficult People

difficult_peopleMany years ago before I entered the ministry I worked with someone that was quite difficult. I just didn’t understand them; they didn’t always do the job properly, not a a lot of work ethic, they just drove me crazy.

But yet, they were a believer. They loved Jesus. They really did have a great faith. And yet they were so difficult to work work with.

What could I do? What was I do to? I’ll tell you what I did to make it better. I wrote this passage out and stuck in on my computer Philippians 2: 2-4:

complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

My job was to, as best I could, humble myself and serve them. That’s crazy. I didn’t need to serve them. They needed to do their job better. That’s what I told myself.

But here was the reality. I didn’t hire them; I couldn’t fire them. And all I could do was do the best that I could to work with them.

And the only way that I could get my job done to the best of my ability was change my attitude. And they only way I could change my attitude was to look at Jesus.

Who served. Who was humble. Who cared. Even through He didn’t have to. He chose to. Because He loved.

And when love someone we serve them.

But sometimes, when serve someone, we grow to love them. Sometimes we have to serve someone before we actually grow into that. Serving others changes us.

Now, I’d like to say that it all worked out and he changed his attitude and became a better worker. He didn’t. He was eventually let go. But I’ll tell you what. Working through that made me a better Christian.

And for that, I’m thankful.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

The Fields are Ready

Yesterday we talked about how part of what we are called to do it to join into what God is doing. There are opportunities; there are so many things that God is doing!

He is at work in ways that we can’t even think about or realize. He is doing things that our brains can’t fathom. He is at work in different ways and places that are literally too much for us to handle.

And, to restate. He wants to us me and you to accomplish His goal and purpose. Listen today to what it says in Matthew 9: 35-38:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

landscape_shutterstock_120849595The harvest is plentiful. As a Christian, everywhere you look, you will see someone.

Someone broken.

Someone in need.

In need of Jesus. In need of hope. In need of someone to care. In need of just a chance today.

They are there. They are. They are waiting. They are. They are needful. They are.

And God will bring them into your path today. He will. God will bring someone into your path today that only you can influence. Only you can speak to. Only you can effect.

Only you.

God will bring them to you today.

The fields are ready. There are needs all around us. What will we do? We will meet them; we will see them.

What will we do. Today, may we work in the fields that God has placed us in.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!