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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Living an Extravagant Life!

LIVEMy response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 4:14-19

Have you lived an extravagant life lately?  For many Christians, the idea of extravagance is tough to come into agreement with (even though the principal is found over and over in scripture).  Somewhere along the line Christianity became a life of self abasement and drudgery for some, rather than the extravagant full life that Paul urged the Ephesians to live.  I personally know so many Christians that are so hard to be around because of this very issue.  Can the Christian life be hard sometimes?  Of course!  Is that God’s best for us?  Of course not!  God wants to see us live full lives.  Remember Jesus said that he didn’t just come to bring us life, but rather to bring us ABUNDANT life.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the Lord to pour a life of abundance out on me.

My prayer for YOU is that you would live a full, extravagant, abundant life…

be blessed
-justin

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Posted by on June 28, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Focusing Our Love…

HeartHeartLong before [God] laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. -Ephesians 1:4 (The Message)

So what have you settled the focus of your love on?  Jesus said that where our treasure is that is where our heart is also.  So what do we value?  Just reading this passage this morning really reminded me to set my focus of love on my Lord, my wife and all that the Lord has blessed me with.  A friend of mine was recently talking about father’s day.  She said, “I realized that father’s day came and went and I never wished my heavenly father a happy father’s day.”  Me neither!  God, thank you for being such a good father.  Thank you for focusing your love on me.  Help me to focus my love on the right things…

 be blessed…
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Preparing for the harvest…

Sow SeedHarvestDon’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. -Galatians 6:7-8

What a great time to start thinking about harvest.  I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite time of year.  There is just something about it that brings me so much joy.  The sight of the leaves changing from shades of green into the most brilliant yellows oranges and reds you have ever seen.  For those that had laboured hard throughout the spring and the summer, it is time to rSow SeedSow Seedeap the rewards of their hard work.  All around the signs of fall remind us of what is necessary to reap a bountiful harvest.

Yet with such easy to understand principles at work, we Christians sure can get this whole reaping the harvest thing wrong when it comes to our own spiritual lives.  Now, I understand that sometimes one person plants, another tend and yet another reaps, but that is not what I am talking about.  You and I each have areas of our lives where the Lord wants a bountiful harvest to occur, but unless we do the hard work of planting according to the will of God we will never see that bountiful harvest.  This is not just one of those things you can call into being.  We need to do the work!

So what kind of sowing do we need to do?  That really depends on two things: What do you want to harvest and how is the Lord leading you to sow in that area?  I know that some people out there purport to know how to sow in every area of life.  I do not believe it is always a simple formula.  There is a direct correlation between what we sow and and what we reap, but I have been around the Lord enough to know that we need to rely on him, not man’s formulas for guidance in these things.  Remember that Philippians 4 tells us to bring our requests to God.  So if you have an area that you are looking for a bountiful harvest, remember it is GOD that brings the rain.  He will lead you…  Seek and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you!

 be blessed…
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Harnessing Your Sphere of Influence

hands globeMake a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
-Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)

As I read this text this morning I was reminded of something that I know but sometimes forget.  We all have a sphere of influence: A God given place of authority, a work given to us, a charge to get a job done.  And in a sense, our part of this whole thing is to explore the extents of that sphere, know it better than anyone else and put our proverbial noses to the grindstone!

You don’t hear the last line of this text preached from many pulpits today:  Each of [us] must take responsibility for doing the creative best [we] can do with [our] lives! How often do we stand in the throne room of the Lord and complain about the lot we have been given?  I think that maybe it is time to turn some of that angst inward and demand of ourselves, “Why have we not taken responsibility for doing the most with what we have been given?”  I don’t know that many of us could stand before the throne of the Lord and proclaim such a thing with a clear conscience!

So how do we do it?  Well, I think that middle line in the text holds some clues:  Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.  There are two things that will sink us on this road to fulfillment: pride and envy.  My experience has been that just as soon as you think you have your sphere figured out and think, “I am the king of this sphere” the Lord has new plans for you.  And nothing else will inflate or deflate your ego like comparing your lot in life to that of others.  I am convinced that the Lord has given us more blessing than any of us surely deserve.  Yet, I am also convinced that there is a ton of “unrealized” blessing because we have yet to take responsibility for doing the creative best with our own lives!  Explore that sphere and as always…

be blessed…
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Freed to Believe!

Dirty HanedsDirty HanedsDirty HanedsDirty HanedsI have been kind of soaking, going over and over Galatians 2-4 in my devotion time and in my mind outside of devotion time.  There is just something about these passages on faith that is really speaking to me right now.  It is almost like they have been hidden from me all these years.  I have read and understood what these passages say in condemnation of legalism and the futility of law keeping, but have seemingly missed the other half of what is being said.  Listen to this phrase:  “He [Abraham] believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.”

 I know I quoted that passage a couple days ago, but I think it is work repeating.  Sure, legalism is futile thinking – that we can keep laws as a path to God, but what is the real answer then?  A life of active faith where beliefs translate into faith filled actions.  These actions of faith produce a harvest of a life that is right with God.  I know that I am not saying as well as Paul did, but I truly am encouraged by these texts.  God is desiring a deeper relationship with us than we realize.  But his pathway towards this relationship is found in faith not in rule keeping.  Please read this passage today and ask the Lord to reveal what step of faith he is calling you to today!

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

An Exciting Announcement…

KVFC Logo

We have an exciting announcement…  Okay, it’s exciting to me and Amy, so I won’t be presumptuous about what level of excitement it will bring you.  Many of you already know that the Lord led Amy and I to Kalamazoo Valley Family Church in Kalamazoo, MI about a month or so ago.  I was asked to serve as the Director of Assimilation Ministries.  My job in Assimilation is basically focused on helping people go from the visitor/new believer to the “plugged in”, empowered Christian.

Well, this past Tuesday the Senior Pastors (Jeff and Beth) called me into their office for a “special meeting”.  I thought that they were calling me in to ask if I could go full time sooner than originally planned.  The real reason that they called me in was to invite me to serve on the Executive Leadership Team as an Associate Pastor.  The Lord had already been prompting me that something like this might happen, so I accepted.  In my new position, I will be overseeing Assimilation, Information Technologies, Web Departments for KVFC and Valley Press Publishers and Fellowship One Administration.  I am very excited about this new position and opportunity.  Amy and I are truly blessed.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

For our prayers out there…  Please keep praying that our house in Marshall would sell quickly.  The driving back and forth to KZOO 6 times a week gets old fast!  Thank you for all your prayers!

blessings…
pastorj & amy

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

A Ridiculous Question…

QuestionAnswer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. (Galatians 3:5-6 The Message)

Kind of makes you laugh out loud, right?  I know I did…. Does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving?  I hope not.  Because when my striving ceases, so then would his out pouring!

But here is what caught my heart this morning – it was that next phrase: or (does he doe these things) because you trust him to do them in you?  Did you realize that we have a responsibility to trust God to work in us?  There are some Christian leaders out there that would have you believe that you don’t have to do anything to have God pour out his Holy Spirit on you…  But trust is not a state of mind, it is an action verb.  When we trust someone we engage a mindset and behavior patterns that revolve around that trust – otherwise it wouldn’t be trust…

Let me illustrate:  If my wife says, “From now on I am going to trust you to take out the garbage without being told.” (A risky proposition if you ask me, but hey, its just an illustration…)  If she says that then her behavior must alter to allow that trust to bloom.  First of all she would have to stop taking it out herself, second she would have to give me room to do it my way, lastly she would have to stop reminding me…  Hmm this trust thing can be scary!  Anyway, you get the point.

Let’s set aside trying to complete a work that we didn’t begin and start actively engaging trust in our relationship with the Lord…

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2007 in Uncategorized