Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Be Strong in the Lord

I was reading the other day in 1 Chronicles and came across this verse:
"Then David said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished."
This is David's charge to Solomon to build the temple. This is the Old Testament version of,
"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
The strength of this verse lies in,
"For the LORD God...is with you."
David is saying he can do it because God is with him. What an encouraging thought!

This gives me encouragement to continue strong in raising our financial support. It's what God called me to do just as He called Solomon to build the temple. I can be strong and courageous, because the LORD is with me. When I feel fearful, I should look back to this verse and remember the strength of the LORD! I'm so glad nothing is up to me. And by that I don't mean I don't have to work hard at anything but knowing that ultimately, it all rests on God's shoulders and He is in control is an overwhelming comfort. 

How great it is to know that even my own salvation is not up to me. It's not dependent on me doing this and not doing that, nor is it dependent on me saying just the right prayer and praying sincerely, but salvation is the work of God and for this I am grateful.  Solomon had cause to "be afraid and dismayed" if God was not with him. We have cause to be afraid and dismayed if God is not with us! Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Are you trusting in the strength of the LORD or are you leaving it up to yourself to be saved, share the Gospel with others, love your enemies, spend time with God...etc?

Until the Whole World Knows,
Jonathan Sharp

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proclaiming His Name!

I was reading Psalm 22 today (day 23 of the "Read the Bible in a Year" plan I'm following...or trying to) and really began to focus on verse 22:
"I will tell of Your Name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You"
King David wrote this and I love how he says he will proclaim the name of God to his brothers and praise the Lord among the people. This simply shows us that people need to hear about God and this is a form of our worship of Him. I know that part of my worship (notice "part") of God is telling others about Him and what He has done in my life. I should be talking about the glory of God to all those I'm around in worship of Him. I know I should not be ashamed to speak of God and what he has done for me. I am resolving to be more intentional about proclaiming His name.

I get it that "proclaiming His name" might sound a little strange. Let me make it real life relevant to you. It's as simple as just telling someone what you learned while reading scripture and praying over it or as complex as sharing the story of God with someone. Lately, I've been telling folks I'm around about the importance of daily time in the Word, which I plan to blog about later.

My favorite part about what God revealed to me as I read this verse was that this is a part of our worship of Him. I started to think about the things I "proclaim" to people. For instance, many on Facebook might have seen my status updates about saving money at the grocery store. I'm in a sense, praising the website where I get all the coupon info from. I'm sharing how I'm excited about it and thrilled that I'm saving money. I have no qualms about sharing how to save money on groceries. So why do I have qualms about sharing Christ and what He is doing in my life and what He can do in yours? I need to worship my Savior by telling others about who He is because of how great He is. This is something I should do because I'm so amazed at the greatness of God. Will you worship God today by telling others about Him? Lord, may we speak boldly of Your glory by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives inside us!

Until the Whole World Knows,
Jonathan Sharp

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trusting God for His Word

Today, I've been reading from Genesis 18:1-15. In this passage of scripture the Lord visits Abraham and Sarah. Abraham runs (in his old age) to the Lord and falls at His feet. He then prepares a meal for the Lord and the two with Him. The Lord then says how He will return in about a year and Sarah will have given birth to a son. Sarah laughs at this remark since "the way of women had ceased to be with her". In v14 the Lord says, "Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." In case you don't know, their son Isaac came right on time. God was responding to Sarah's lack of faith. He asks a question with an obvious answer...NOTHING is too hard for the Lord, no matter how impossible it may seem to us. God then reaffirms what He will do. There is nothing the Lord cannot do! If He says He will do something then He will. The Word of the Lord is trustworthy. As I study the Bible now I'm seeking to do 4 things: highlight a verse or two of the passage that speaks to me, explain what it says, apply what is says and respond to it (to learn this simple method, check out this BOOK). So in responding to this verse I decided to look at the promises of God to His children and set my mind on these things. As I began to scan the New Testament for such promises the Lord brought me to Philippians 1:29, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." Then quickly 2 Timothy 3:12 came to mind, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Then I began to think of Jesus' words that we will be persecuted. I'll have to admit that the promise of persecution isn't exactly what I wanted to set my mind on today, nevertheless I can rejoice in it. Our suffering won't be in vain, it will be for the sake of the Gospel. A challenging question is to ask yourself, "Am I suffering for the sake of the Gospel?" If not, do you desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus? The second is not void of the first.

Until the Whole World Knows,
Jonathan Sharp

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

God's Call on Our Lives

Today I want to share about God's call on our lives.  What I mean by "call" is simply what field He is asking us to serve in. It could be in the finance industry, the medical profession, or whatever other field you could think of. For us, it's full-time vocational Christian ministry. And more specifically, it's full-time vocational Christian ministry with Student Venture, the high school ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
"The call of God is not always convenient, but it is always correct." - Darryl Smith, National Director of Student Venture
This doesn't seem to be the mindset of many Christians today. People are throwing out the words "surrender", "count the cost", "lose your life" and substituting things such as "what's the best fit?", "is it a win-win?", "are you wired for that?" Moses wasn't "best fit" for speaking to Pharaoh was he? Jesus came from heaven to earth...how is that a win-win? There seems to be way too much focus on someone's giftedness and where they will be "most effective" in ministry (not just full time ministry, all Christians have a ministry!). What really matters is what is God calling you to do. When God speaks, you can weigh the pros and cons but ultimately we are to follow what side God's voice falls on, whether or not if it seems to be the "best fit" for a person.  And don't misread me, this is not to shame someone that's doing something that IS the best fit for them and it DOES perfectly line up with their gifts and talents but rather this shifts the foundation of our decisions away from ourselves and onto the God who gave us those gifts and talents.

I'm writing this to motivate you to seek God and His will. The reason this doesn't sit well with some people is because it's God's will that we pick up our cross daily and follow Him. No one is standing in the line where Jesus is passing out the crosses but rather we are in line to get the loaves of bread and fish. No one wants to pick up the cross (hello, including me) because when you pick up the cross, along with it comes pain, rejection, ridicule, and being misunderstood. The call of God is not always convenient, but it is always correct.

We must turn from our tendency to rely on the logical decision and put our faith in the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. This does not mean that God cannot call us to something that is "logical" but it does mean that logic and reason won't always lead you the right way. As it turns out, logic and reason are very poor gods.

God does not use a Christian "cookie cutter". What we learn from what God called Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David and many others to do is that there is not a one size fits all. We learn that God calls people to do all sorts of things. Maybe it will be like Samuel, God will have to call you three times and then have someone else say, "Hey, that's God talking to you." Or maybe, it will be like David and you'll just get picked up and moved to where you should be. Perhaps, you'll see a flash from Heaven and hear "I am Jesus, do this..." as Paul did. There's no one way this is going to happen.

Again, in no way am I saying to throw logic and reason out the window. I'm simply saying, seek God and His will for your life. This is not about your ability to effectively seek God, study His Word and discern His will, rather this is about trusting in the faithfulness of the Creator of the universe, who loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, to communicate His will to you.

As Christians, we all have the same job description, "Walk with God, do what He tells you to do."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Preach the Word

Romans 10:13-15
"For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!' "
Today my heart has been stirred by the Lord. I value you this so much because we aren't always going to "feel" God and be passionate about the things we are doing. My heart has been stirred to preach the Gospel, "in season and out of season" as Paul urges Timothy. I'm not talking about standing in front of a large group of people and preaching. I'm talking about whoever I'm in front of and with. I'm talking about preaching the good news to myself! I need the Gospel every day. Today the Gospel is sweet to me. It's more than forgiveness, it's acceptance. Today, to myself, and to whoever is willing to read, I preach Christ crucified and raised again. Today, I am intensely aware of my sin against the God who loves me and has given EVERYTHING for me. Today, it's time to die to myself. Today, I'm not worried about tomorrow. Today, what will become of my faithfulness to God? Today, I have rest in the arms of my Creator. Today, I need fellowship with Jesus. Today, I am delighted in the character of God. How I wish every day was like today!

Love God with everything you've got...He's it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is where it starts...

This is where we throw down in the mornings! I escape to my lair in the basement and Ashlee spends her sweet time with the Lord on our living room couch (Mya is wherever her pillow goes). It's essential, neglected, exhausting, life changing, exhilarating, sometimes a struggle, the beginning and end of who we are. It's our quiet time, our daily devotional, our TWL (Time With the Lord). It's where our hearts are convicted, changed, moved, encouraged, and content. I'm sad to say at times I leave my sweet Savior for another day. I become the real life bride of Hosea. The power of the Christian life does not reside in the one believing, but in the one in whom we believe. We must trust our God and Savior as the ultimate priority. He is the reason that we should wake up and move. Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Spend time with Jesus today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the next...
Love God with all your heart. He's it.
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Here we go...

This is the beginning. Action is coming. For now, we are somewhat in waiting. Our mission is simple. See lives changed by the power of the Gospel. There is so much in between a vision and seeing it realized. Our vision for the lives of high school students is a constant. There will never be the day when we say, "Okay, vision accomplished." It's ongoing. There will always be more students to teach and learn from.  Here's to living that dream...

Ashlee and I have joined staff with Student Venture. The high school ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. We are actively seeking others who share our heart for high school students to partner with us in ministry. Once our team is complete, we will begin reaching out to students on the Soddy Daisy High School campus.

Hopefully...prayerfully, we will keep you updated and a part of what we are doing. Love God with all your heart today. He's it.