Mentoring Minutes

Where’s Your Treasure? That’s Where You’ll Find Your Heart!

How many of you know what Jeremiah 29:11 says?  You may not be able to recall it immediately but in the next couple of lines as it is revealed you will probably say to yourself, “Oh, yeah.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Did you say, “Oh, yeah”?  I can’t count the number of feel-good sermons I’ve heard on this Scripture and that’s not a bad thing.  The only problem I’ve found is that the number of messages I’ve heard on the next 2 verses I can count on one hand…with 3 fingers left over.  Now I’ve certainly not heard all the sermons preached throughout history but I think you’ll see my point.

SEEKING AND FINDING THE LORD

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.   Jeremiah 29:12-13

You probably are already catching on but before I expound on these verses let me make 2 quick points…1) These words are not written to individuals, they are written to the nation of Israel (God’s people), and; 2) The best interpretation for us would be that these are words to Christ’s Church (His people) today. 

Since The Church is made up of individuals and relationships, then we can certainly pray the promise of v. 11 but we also must personally and collectively follow through with what The Holy Spirit expresses in vv. 12-13.

That brings us back to the focus of this article.  All of us desire God’s best plans for our life, family, churches and communities…or at least we should as Christ followers.  However, most of us latch onto the declaration made in v. 11 and pay little attention to our responsibility in receiving that promise. 

God desires to give us an incredible hope and future, one translation says “an expected end” or one that we believe in by faith and know it will be good.  Here are 3 things that we must do in order to receive all He has promised:

  1. Call out to Him – share your heart, hurts and hang-ups with Him.  He already knows.  He just wants you to experience His presence, which is ultimately greater than His response to any of your cries.
  2. Come and pray to Him – find a place and time every day to meet with Him and make your requests known.  In the process you’ll come to know Him more and He will reveal who He has created you to be and His plans for you.  He hears and responds.
  3. Seek Him with all your heart – receiving His promises and all He has in store begins with seeking Him.  God makes it very clear that the way that we find and know Him is by wholeheartedly seeking Him.  Half-hearted attempts won’t work.  Doesn’t mean He won’t answer but we simply can’t get to know Who He Is if we’re only giving a partial effort to do so.

The most incredible gift in this is that receiving His promise is AWESOME…but seeking and knowing Him is far better!

GETTING ALL YOU NEED

Jesus summed it up this way in the Sermon on the Mount.  After teaching on futility of worry and anxiety in Matthew 6:25-32, He sums it in v. 33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Our Creator, Savior and Lord knows that we will never be satisfied with anything, even everything, in this world because it is fleeting and superficial.  The only way we can be fulfilled is in knowing Him!  The awesome news is that He has made Himself known in Jesus and in His Word by His Spirit and He has made Himself available for us to seek, know and love Him and that changes everything!  The question is, will you seek Him with all your heart?  Will you seek His Kingdom (remember Kingdom always include His Kingship/Lordship) and righteousness first and above everything else? 

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, Oct 3, We can ever remain powerless, as were the disciples, by trying to do God’s work not in concentration on His power, but by ideas drawn from our own temperament. We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him.

You can know Him!  Don’t miss out.  Spend some time every day in His Word, in prayer and seeking/asking Him to show you Who He Is.  But remember you have to do it with all your heart.  When you do, He will show up!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – It has been said that you can tell where a person’s heart is by looking at 2 things:  checkbook and calendar.  What do these 2 items say about your relationship with God?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take inventory in your own heart/life and see where you are with God and how you are seeking to know and love Him.

Saved! For What?

Did you know that there are 2 sides to salvation…God’s and ours? We can do nothing to save ourselves but we have a very clear responsibility in salvation.

Everyone loves to hear about God’s Amazing Grace…how sweet the sound! It does sound great and it is amazing! But God’s Word has a lot more to say about salvation than simply what He’s done for us.

The other side of salvation…our side…is all about God’s purpose for our lives once we accept His free gift of grace in salvation and how we can live most fully and freely according to His purpose, design and pleasure!

Don’t know about you but I want that! I know that I’ve been saved for Eternity with Him but I want to know what that looks like now. The great news is that we can know! It’s called sanctification and while it’s not easy because of the world we live in, it is every bit as amazing because it is His plan and will for our lives in Christ.

So what is sanctification? What is our part in salvation?

Sanctification is essentially holiness. When something or someone is holy or sanctified it means that he/she or it has been set apart for a special or specific purpose. God’s plan is not just to give you eternal life with Him. He has a special plan for you right now…that’s sanctification.

It’s also why it is so important that we spend time growing as His disciples, seeking to know and love Him more fully. Only when we follow through on the seeking, knowing and loving Him can we know who we are and walk in the special purpose that He takes great pleasure in fulfilling in and through us!

Let’s see what His Word says about being set apart for His plan and pleasure.

God’s Masterpiece and Purpose

God makes it very clear in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church and to Christ’s Church today exactly what both sides of salvation look like. Here we see His role in salvation that we’ve talked about in previous articles, podcasts and videos…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thank you, Lord! But He goes beyond this to plainly describe our purpose in salvation…literally sanctification, in v. 10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Handiwork literally means “masterpiece!” He has created you and in salvation has recreated you in Christ as His masterpiece for a specific, special plan just for you!

Our Response

Paul tells believers in his letter to the Philippians that we have a responsibility (an obedient response) to His gift to us…

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

There it is! We are to respond with reverent awe and fear in 2 ways:

  1. By walking in obedience
  2. Continuing to work out the salvation God has put in
This is sanctification. But this begs the question…how can we work out what He has put in if we don’t spend time to know Who He Is, what He has given us and how He desires to work in and through us?

Bearing Fruit, Not Producing It

John 15 describes what it means to abide in Christ and let God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in and through us. Here are 5 Truths that are evident in the lives of those who have been saved and sanctified in Christ:

  • Christ is the Source (Vine); The Father is the Vinedresser (Gardener) – (v.1)
  • We are branches that bear fruit…not produce fruit. Any branch that does not bear His fruit is cast away (v. 2)
  • We are to be pruned by the Vinedresser (The Father) – pruning means to be cut back and cleaned up to become stronger to bear more fruit (v. 2-3)
  • We are to abide in The Source, Christ (The Vine) – abide means to endure or remain despite trials or hardships of weather, predators and pruning
  • As we abide in The Vine (Christ) we bear more fruit. Apart from Christ (Vine) we can produce nothing.

God has not only saved you in Christ, He has set you apart as His masterpiece for His special purpose. Are you trying to produce for His Kingdom? Learn to rest, endure and grow in Christ and you will see His fruit coming through you for His Glory!

This does not mean that you are to sit back in your La-Z-Boy chair and say to God, “Ok, get to it, produce fruit in me!” It means you recognize His Gift, work diligently to know Him and allow His Truth and will to be lived out through your life to others. He will produce more fruit for you to bear, as you remain a faithful branch in Christ!

If you’re willing to seek, know and love Him, you will learn what it means to live sanctified you can get rid of the burden of “success” and learn to “bear His fruit” for His good will and pleasure!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Salvation and Sanctification…God’s free gift in Christ and my discipleship response in living out what He has set me apart for? Am I living for God’s good pleasure? Is He having His way in and through me?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Spend some time this week in the Scriptures found in this article and ask The Lord if you’ve been taking His salvation for granted? Also ask Him to reveal to you what He has saved you for and how you can bear His fruit more fully in your life and relationships?

What’s Love and What’s That Got To Do With It?

Dr. Tony Evans said, “Our God is a covenant making and covenant keeping God and every covenant has an order.” 

God is certainly a God of order as is clear not only in all of creation but is stated very plainly in His Word, The Bible.  We would do well to study, learn and apply His order to our lives and relationships. 

Jesus Himself gave us a precise order when it comes to love.  The religious leaders were trying to capture Jesus in his own words so they set Him up with what they thought would be an impossible question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Matthew 22:36

LOVE HAS AN ORDER AND PRIORITY…HOW ROMANTIC?  IT REALLY IS!

Jesus not only gave an answer that blew the religious leaders away but did so in a succinct order that gave them (and us) clear direction in how to love and live.  He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-39

We should pay close attention to 3 words in particular, “first,” “greatest” and “second.”  Why?  They signify tremendous importance and priority order for us to learn how to love and teach others to do the same.  WE DON’T BEGIN BY LOVING OTHERS (common default in many churches).  WE BEGIN BY GETTING TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD!  

The ordering of this in the original language (Greek) informs us that the priority is of absolute importance.  If we do not first love God with all we are then we cannot begin to love who we are in Him.  Only when we take the time to know and love Him does He reveal who we are by His design and learn to love ourselves.  THEN we can begin to give ourselves away just as Christ did in loving others.

In 1 John, we see that everything comes from and begins with His Love for us and then His love in us to others – 1 John 4:7-11, 15-21 (emph. v. 19).  Jesus has given us an order and priority to love and we can only love as He overflows through us! 

This is why so much of our service may be rooted in the flesh rather than in God and His Spirit.  We allow and give very little time and effort to teaching and discipling new believers to know and love God above all else and totally…body, mind, soul and spirit.  Where’s our love spring from if we do not first love Him? 

Here is what you will see in your life as you follow Christ’s priority of Love in the Greatest Commandments…

1) You begin to realize that you can only love because of His Love for you (1 John 4:19) – He is Love and is the only true Source of Love;

2) In receiving His love, you are now capable of loving Him with all you are and you desire to grow in doing so;

3) As you receive and grow in His Love you begin to understand you are defined by His Truth and can now love who you are in Christ rather than trying to do so through the world’s false idea of love based on rating, ranking and comparing;

4) Finally, as you mature in your love for God and self, you begin to understand that loving others is giving yourself away for their sake…so they can know His Love!

LOVE IS COMMITMENT…FEELINGS ARE REAL BUT SECONDARY

This is LOVE and it doesn’t come naturally – see Luke 10:25-37.  The best we can do apart from God in Christ is a “pretty good lust” and it falls so far short of all God has for us to experience in His Real Love!  Think about it?

God’s Love is real because it gives completely without demanding anything in return.  His is the greatest example and definition of Love.  If you’re familiar with the story you’ll know who said it, where He was and what He was enduring in that moment.  If not, take a few moments to read the story in Luke 23 (also Matthew 27:11-44; Mark 15:1-41; John 19:1-37).  Think about the real Love shown in these few words in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Let me ask you this as you think about what love is and how you’ve lived it in your life and relationships?  Is it based on feelings?  On reciprocity…give and take?  Or is it based on His kind of love in and through you?

IF LOVE WAS A FEELING?

One simple question should suffice to help us understand what love really is and why we can’t discern or live it apart from Him…Based on the story in the Scripture texts above, if love was a feeling where would we be

How do you think Jesus felt socially?  The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him!”

How do you think He felt relationally?  His 12 best friends all abandoned Him.

What about mentally and emotionally?  He sweats drops of blood because of the great anguish that He knew He had to face for us.

How did he feel physically?  To this day, crucifixion is one of the most horrific and painful deaths a person can experience.

Finally, how did He feel spiritually?  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

So I’ll ask again, if love were (or is) a feeling, where would we be when it comes to salvation and knowing God?  We would be lost! 

But Praise The Lord, He persevered, He stayed the course, He remained committed in spite of the pain and suffering and all He endured…because Love is commitment.  He is Love!  And we can know Love…and love others!

Let’s begin to help people see His kind of Love, help new believers to grow in His Love and in His priority order regarding Love, so we can love and serve them out of an overflow of His Love for us! 

Then we can send out disciples who don’t just serve but know what it means to serve from a heart of Love…His Love!  This is how others will know we are His and know that He loves them and so do we! 

Contact us with questions, comments, if you desire to know The Lord or be encouraged and/or mentored in your life and relationships!  It’s completely FREE!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Has your concept of love been defined by emotions or the Truth of God’s Word?  What would those closest to you say?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take time this week to read the Scriptures from this article with the understanding of Love as a commitment rather than feelings. Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!