Praying For Our Leaders

Could you imagine living such a life of God-fearing integrity that someone wrote about it in the Bible?  That’s exactly what was written about a man named Hananiah.

I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel,because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. – Nehemiah 7:2 (NIV)

Nehemiah knew that it was important to put someone in charge who had two very important character traits:
  1. Integrity
  2. A healthy fear of God

Nehemiah was going to return to his position under King Artaxerxes.  He had been in charge of Jerusalem for some time.  So before he left, he had to appoint people to run the government.

Could you imagine how things might be different if we had leaders who exemplified God-fearing integrity?  We have some very good leaders at all levels of government, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  It seems that we hear about another instance of political corruption (especially living so near Chicago!) or another scandal involving a politician nearly every day!  We need leaders who have character and integrity.  Who will stand up and do the right thing no matter what!  Leaders who put their constituents’ needs before their own greed or desire for power.  We need leaders who fear God above all.  We need leaders who submit to the authority of Jesus in their personal lives as well as in their professional lives.
So pray for our leaders.  Pray for them each day.  Pray that they will have integrity.  Pray that they will have a healthy fear of God.  Before we complain about them on facebook and twitter, let us talk to God on their behalf.
PRAYER: Father God, I lift up to You the leaders of our country, our state and our community today. May they have a desire to know You. May they seek Your face and Your will each day. May they serve gladly. Protect them by Your grace. In this year of an election, may the men and women of Your choosing be elected to positions of leadership. Please bless our nation and our community. May we, in turn, bless You for You are the one true God and are worthy of all blessing, glory and praise. In Jesus’ name I ask these things, amen.

Jesus > Me

John 3:27-30 (NIV)

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

John the Baptist’s perspective on his role in the ministry of Jesus is amazing. He understood his place in the world and it didn’t bother him one bit. He knew that he was not the Messiah. He knew that his life was not about himself. The purpose of his life was to point people to Jesus. Not only did he accept his God-given role, but he found joy in it. His life was not his own. Everything was about Jesus.
The same should be said of us. Can we say that the purpose of our lives is to point people to Jesus? Can we, along with John, say that He is becoming greater and we are becoming less? We spend so much time in self-promotion that we forget that this life is not about us. It’s all about Jesus. He is the King. He is the Lord. He is everything. When we come to the understanding that this life is not about us we will discover true joy. Life is about Jesus and promoting Him so that others will find life in His name.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I want Jesus to become greater in my life and I want me to become less. Help me to overcome the temptation to make this life all about me. I confess that this is hard and that I often look out for my own desires than I do for Yours. Thank You for forgiving me through Your Son. In His name, amen.

Church Jealousy

John 3:22-26 (NIV)

After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

Church jealousy is never a pretty thing. As a pastor, I can tell you that it is a very real thing. After Jesus’ late-night conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples went out into the wilderness and were baptizing people. Jealousy arose among John’s followers because more people were going to Jesus than John.
Leaders and pastors are constantly obsessing over numbers. We are comparing and contrasting the size of our churches with others. We’re missing the point. Did it matter if people were going to John to be baptized or to Jesus to be baptized? Not in the least! The important thing is that people were repenting of their sins and turning to God! Does it matter if XYZ church has 100 members and ABC church has 1000? Not at all! God does not play favorites. The most important thing is that people for whom Christ died are coming to faith in Christ in order to be transformed by Him. What is the measure of success? Is it a larger building or a bigger budget or more bodies in the seats? Or is faithfulness more important than success. A church of 200 may be more faithful to Christ’s mission than a church of 20,000. Drawing a crowd doesn’t necessarily reflect lives being changed.
I want the church to be successful in reaching more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than that, I want the church to be faithful in presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a pastor, I believe that God’s view of success is based more on my faithfully answering my call on a daily basis than it is on someone’s definition of success.
PRAYER: Father, help Your church to be faithful to the mission for which Christ died. Fill Your people with the Holy Spirit and passion for sharing the Gospel. We ask that You would help us to overcome jealousy and envy. May we rejoice as the angels rejoice whenever someone comes to saving faith in Jesus. Amen.

Real Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
Jesus contrasts His yoke with the yoke of the Law that had burdened Jews for centuries.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  A yoke is what 2 oxen pull when plowing a field.  Donkeys are pack animals that carry burdens.  In this metaphor, Jesus tells us that His yoke is not burdensome.  At the end of the day, we will not be weary from His commands.  Jesus’ commands are light.  He summed up the Old Testament Law with two commands — love God and love others.  Rather than handing out a laundry list of do’s and don’ts, Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor.
I have discovered in life that being good can be hard work.  Following commands can be a difficult chore.  First, you have to remember all the rules to follow so that you don’t break any and second, you have to battle against a sinful nature.  How wonderful is Jesus that He says, “Take My yoke upon you.”?  It’s as though He is saying “I will pull the weight of the yoke with you.  I will help you carry that burden.  At the end of the day, I will give you rest like you’ve never known.”  He will give rest to our souls and our minds.  We need not be filled with fear or anxiety over not being good enough.  God’s loving grace makes up the difference.
PRAYER: Lord, I am weary and tired. I’m trying and trying to carry these burdens and I just can’t do it on my own. Please carry the weight of these burdens with me. Thank You for Jesus who has promised to be with me in the trials and the troubles. In His name, amen.

We Love The Darkness

John 3:19-21 (NIV)

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Let’s face it, human beings love spiritual darkness. It’s much easier to hide our lies and our sins in the dark. We hide them from one another and we try to hide them from God. Why? Sometimes we try to hide because we’re ashamed. Sometimes we try to hide because we want to keep doing what we’re doing. If we bring our sins out into the light of truth, we’re forced to admit that what we’re doing is sinful. If we venture out into the light of truth, we know we have to repent. The darkness of sin is easy. The light of truth is hard. 
The reality of the situation is that we’re not hiding anything and we’re not fooling anyone. God sees it all and knows what we’ve been up to. He’s not shocked by our sins. He’s well aware. That’s why we need to step out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Jesus’ love and grace. We may be afraid of condemnation and punishment, but that’s not what we find in the light. We find Jesus in the light and He will not condemn us to Hell because of our sins. He wants to forgive our sins and rescue us from Hell. That’s why He came. Don’t be afraid of the light. You don’t have to hide in the dark anymore. 
PRAYER: Father God, help me to step into the light of truth and grace. I don’t want to hide in the darkness anymore. Thank You for your mercy and grace. Thank You for your love and forgiveness. Thank You for Jesus. I love You, God. Amen.

Your God Is Too Safe

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church. This message is based on Hebrews 12:18-29.


The Night Is Almost Over

The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. — Romans 13:11b-14 (NIV)

I have a friend who says something to the effect that “nothing good happens after midnight”.  And when you think about it, he’s just about right.  When there is light shining, people behave more appropriately.  When there is darkness, there are all kinds of evil.  As Christians, we are to “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7, NIV).  Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12, NIV).  If we are going to clothe ourselves with Him (Galatians 3:27), we must step out of the darkness and into the light of His glorious presence.  We must reject the darkness of evil and sin and instead, we have to allow Christ to shine His light into the dark places of our souls.  His light will expose everything that is evil and then it can be done away with.  May His light shine in the darkness in and through us today.

PRAYER: Father, shine the light of Jesus into the darkest places of my heart and soul. Forgive me for walking in darkness and help me to walk in the light of Your presence and grace. I love You, Lord and I thank You for Jesus. Amen.


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