Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28, 2010


Week Two – “Connecting With Love” I John 4:7-19

I am so pumped this morning because we have had 22 couples working hard and living out the LOVE DARE. We are just seven days into this exciting journey and I am a better person for it – how about you? How are you doing?

In the "FIREPROOF Movie" Caleb's dad challenges him, “You cannot give what you do not have………”

I know you guys want to give your wives the love they need. And I know you ladies want to give your men the love and respect they desire. But you have got to HAVE love to give love. You have to BE loved to love. How does that happen?

If anyone DID know about receiving and giving love, it was the Apostle John! He gives us some valuable insights on how to connect with love. Get your Bibles and turn to I John 4:7-19 for a completely absolutely awesome portion of Scripture.


On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister made history when he broke the four minute mile. Some thought it was humanly impossible to do it. Once people saw that human beings could break the four-minute mile barrier many others broke it. Even top-notch high-school kids have broken it. They had to see it to believe it. Currently the record is 3:43.13.

It is important for us to know what love looks like. All of us grew up in homes where love was needed and desired. Most of us grew up in homes where love was talked about. A few of us grew up where you experienced healthy wholesome unconditional love. You got a good idea of what it looks like.

One of the great problems in our world is that many people are walking around trying to give and receive something they have never seen and never known.

They need a Roger Bannister-type in their life to help them get a good look at what real love is and how to connect with it.

If you have ever put together a jigsaw puzzle you know the importance of being able to look at the box top. You can't put it together if you don't see it.



"I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day."I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage."I would have talked less and listened more."I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded."I would have eaten the popcorn in the "good" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace."I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth."I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day ... because my hair had just been teased and sprayed."I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains."I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life."I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime."Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle."When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.""There would have been more "I love you’s." More "I’m sorry’s.""But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it... live it... and never give it back."Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what."Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who DO love us."

What she was saying was, “No that I know what loves looks like I would do it better!

John looked at love in the life of Jesus for over three years. He had received the love of God and known it better than almost anyone else.



God showed His love so we could know His love.

Jesus shed His blood to show His love.

Love looks like submission. Love looks like surrender. Love looks like sacrifice. Love looks like serving. Love looks like Jesus!

HOW LOVE LIVES, Vv. 11-16; 19-21

That brings us to the second truth – love lives by dying! Dying to self and to selfish love and drawing life and love from Jesus.

Love lives out what it sees in Jesus.

Love lives by letting His Word and His truths live through us. That is what we have been doing this week with the LOVE DARE……

Love lives with patience……….
Love lives with kindness……..
Love lives selflessly….
Love lives thoughtfully…..
Love does not live rudely……
Love is not easily irritated…….
Love gives the benefit of the doubt......

If He lives through us He loves through us.

The closer we live to Him the more we love others.

God reached out to us in love so we can reach others.

Unconditional love is full love.

In the movie – the game changer came when Caleb decided he was going to act loving toward Catherine no matter what! Even when she rejected his efforts or spurned his offers he did not stop offering her love. His decision to love her was not dependent on her response it was based on his commitment to show her love. This unconditional love flowed from Caleb’s commitment and character.

When you chose to love your spouse no matter what, that is full love!

This is like the love we have for our children – it is irrational, instinctive, unexplainable, unquenchable, and unstoppable.

Unconditional love is the love God has for us! He doesn’t just HAVE this love for us He IS this love for us! And He desires to give this love to us and to express it through us!

Full love is fearless love.

As a fireman, Caleb lived by the credo “never leave your partner behind”. That overcame the fear that they may have had when rushing into a burning house. Remember that scene when he went into the burning house to rescue the child? He was fearless!

When Caleb committed to fully love his wife, he became fearless in his efforts to reach her. Nothing stopped him. He took risks he would not have normally taken.




Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010

"Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Proverbs 16:32
Have you ever felt like you were "on edge"? Do you know what it is like to feel like you are on pins and needles? That is literally the word picture for being irritable.
Our Love Dare today challenges us to not be irritable. Or, when you do feel irritable make sure we don't take it out on our spouse. How do we do that?
The best way to keep from getting irritable is to stay away from the edge. Build some margins in your life. Make sure you get you rest. Schedule time alone with God. Be sure you do something fun or relaxing each day. Guard your attitudes and thoughts. Keep focused on God and on others. Don't let life be about you. Self-centeredness is the primary cause of irritation. When you are worried about your rights and trying to protect them, you will become more easily irritated.
Combine the other Love Dare challenges of patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, courtesy and you will go a long way toward keeping yourself from being irritable.
And, when you do become irritable, deal with it! Don't allow your irritation to be directed at your wife. Realize that it is your problem and in the power of God, overcome it. Control you temper. Take your thoughts and emotions captive.
Love Dares to build margins and stay away from the emotional edge. Be not easily irritated.

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

"If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse." Proverbs 27:14
"Common courtesy" is not so common any more.
I held a door open for a couple of ladies at a restaurant the other day and they commented on how rare it was. Since I have always done it, I found it odd that they found it odd. But apparently it doesn't happen much.
Our Love Dare challenge today is a reminder of the importance and the impact of just being considerate to others. It is an essential part of being a good witness. You can't be a good witness and have bad manners. And certainly, that must begin at home.
As I read the Scripture verse this morning and reflected on it, I realized that rudeness is the result of impatience, unkindness, and thoughtlessness. If you whiff on any of the first three challenges you will miss on this one.
Since love is built on respect and trust, show your respect and gain respect by showing common courtesy to your spouse. Respect their space. Lighten their load. Lift their spirits. Strengthen their strengths. Overlook their weaknesses. Don't be easily irritated. Keep a sense of humor and don't take yourself too seriously. Say "please" and "thank you". Be fun and easy to be around.
If you are keeping your spouse on edge, always walking on egg shells, it it time for you deal with that. It doesn't take a spiritual giant to overcome rudeness. Start with common courtesy. Show love and respect by being polite to your partner.
Mind your manners and mend your marriage!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010

"How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You." Psalm 139:17-18
As a kid we would play pick-up football games or baseball games and before we started the game we would choose up sides. The two oldest guys or the two judged as best players would be the captains and they would take turns picking their players from the assembled group. It was a crude and simplified version of the NFL draft. Where you were chosen was important because it showed what they thought of you. If there were ten guys to be chosed you didn't want to be number nine or ten.
It matters what others think of us. It probably matters more than it should, but it is important to us to know that other people are thinking of us and that they think well of us. What others think of us goes into the mix of how we form our opinions of ourselves. The more significant that person is to us the more impact their thoughts have on us.
Therefore, it is good to know that God is always thinking of us. He thought about us before we were. In fact, we exist because He thought of us. We are His idea! And even more inspiring is that He not only thinks of us but He thinks well of us! He loves us!
If you are on the mind of the One Who loves you most, should not the ones you love most be in your thoughts? Do you not desire to be on the mind of those who love you? Doesn't it matter what they think of you? Is it not important that they affirm you and your value?
Keep you mind turned toward God and tuned to Him. Let Him dominate your thoughts and put His Word in your memory banks. Meditate on Him. And when He flashes thoughts of others through you mind, respond to that. Pray for that person. Call them. Send them a card, or a text or an email to let them know you thought of them. That shows them that they matter to you just like you matter to God.
Celebrate the fact that you matter to God! Live in the assurance that you are always on His mind. Fix your thoughts on Him and let those closest to you know you are thinking of them. Do something thoughtful today for those you love most.
Think about it - then do it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." Romans 12:10
Well here I go with another "Momism". The theme of this verse reminded me of it.
My mother always says, "A person wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package
Our third challenge to the "Love Dare" in addition to patience and kindness is the challenge of overcoming selfishness. And since we are all selfish by nature, we face an uphill battle against selfishness.
I'm sure we can agree that two selfish people entering an intimate relationship like marriage is not a formula for success. In fact, every marriage that fails is due in some way to selfishness contaminating the relationship. Since the church also consists of intimate relationships, selfisness can also be destructive there.
So, what is the "unselfish" or "anti-selfish" thing to do for your marriage spouse?
Devote yourself to your partner. The word means to "earnestly attach" yourself to someone or something. It means to throw yourself entirely into the relationship and not have a backup plan. Devotion means that you "earnestly attach" yourself to your spouse with no thought or plan for detatching.
In addition, the Scripture says you must "honor" your spouse. That means that you regard them with respect and give them worth. That starts with adjusting your attitude and thinking to affirm that your marriage is worth your best effort and your spouse is worth your highest respect.
Here's the bottom line for this third Love Dare challenge - your marriage IS NOT ABOUT YOU! You marriage is about honoring God and your partner by keep the promises you have made. It is about living in devotion and honor for God and receiving His unconditional love. When you do that you will get over your selfishness and love your spouse.
Get over yourself.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
On day one of the Love Dare I focused on making a special effort not to try Barbara's patience. Since she had the harder part of the challenge I wanted to make it easier for her. I believe it is easier for me to be patient toward her than it is for her to be patient toward me.
And sure enough, there was one instance that happened beyond my control but I know it bothered her. But she exercised patience and I noticed. This morning I thanked her for it.
That brings us to the challenge for today - kindness.
Patience tends to be a reactive thing. Something you do may require me to respond with patience.
But kindness is proactive. I can be kind to you first! I can initiate the action. Patience may consist of something I choose not to do, but kindness is always expressed through action.
Kindness, like patience is associated with the Fruits of the Spirit. Each is a manifestation of God's Spirit at work through me. Kindness causes me to do something good for your good. The root word for kindness is closely associated with the words for grace and for unconditional love. Kindness acts for the good of another regardless of how that person may act toward me.
My mother always taught me to "kill them with kindness". Obviously, kindness has no fatal consequences nor would it associated with such actions. But the truth is contained in this verse would literally agree with this expression. When you choose to be kind no matter how others treat you, your constant and continual kindness will trump their unkind acts. Therefore, kindness "kills" the negative impact of their unkindness.
Today, you can be kind no matter what. You can treat your spouse kindly and be committed to her good in all you do. Kindness expresses your love and commitment to your spouse.
Let kindness guide your actions and decisions to day - but also do something especially kind to bring out the best in your spouse and assure her of your love!

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
When I was a child my mother taught me to stop and count to ten before getting angry. I didn't realize it at the time but she was teaching me patience. At the time I barely knew how to count.
So, from that day forward I really had no excuse for getting angry or being impatient. But did I ever get angry? Uh.........yep! Have I been impatient? Unfortunately.
Did I forget how to count?
No, I did not forget how to count I just forgot to do it.
Could it be that difference between an angry impatient person and a person practicing patients is ten seconds?
Yes, I do!
James says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry"
That sounds a lot like what my mother said.
Give yourself a ten count before you act in anger. That gives you a ten-times better chance of avoiding anger or doing something hurtful. It also gives God's Spirit ten seconds to counsel you and console you. If you take ten seconds and still choose to act in anger, then you have a big problem - and you are the problem!
The first challenge in our Love Dare is to intentionally pursue patience. Make a deliberate choice to ehow patience to your spouse. Our Scripture verse instructs you to humble yourself, be gentle, and choose patience "bearing with one another in love". "Bearing" means "forebearance". It means that you overlook something that irriates and extend grace toward the person who did it. You absorb the irritation while you count to ten.
So, as you begin to live out the Love Dare, you may be just ten seconds away from developing patience toward your spouse. Your ten seconds must be preceeded by ten minutes in the Word and another ten minutes on your knees.
I want to be more patient. I will take the Love Dare and I will do the hard work.
Will you? Well..............I'm waiting.............

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21, 2010


Week One – “Cherishing The Differences” Ephesians 5:21-23; 33

This morning we are going to begin our six-week, 40 Day study by stating the obvious – MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT!

John Gray made a fortune with his book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” where he elaborated on the differences between men and women.

This morning we are going to talk about how to cherish the differences between men and women so that husbands and wives can learn to cherish each other. For a backdrop we are going to draw from the movie “FIREPROOF”

Many of you have seen this movie about a couple named Caleb and Catherine whose marriage is disintegrating and neither one of them really cares. They have been married for seven years and they have definitely lost that lovin’ feeling. Part of the reason for their struggles was not knowing how to cherish their differences.

How Do I Cherish These Differences So I Can Cherish My Spouse?

While we are using the movie for a background we are going to use the Word of God for our authority – so turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 5:21-23: 33

There are three FIREPROOFING principles here in these verses that can help a man and woman cherish the differences and cherish each other.

CHERISH THIS: Marriage Works Best When Both Husband And Wife Give Up Their Rights For The Benefit Of The Other

“submit” = “hupotassonmenoi” = TO LINE UP UNDER or TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS.

It appears in verse 21 pertaining to the man and the woman and then again in verse 22 referring to the woman. So what it is really saying is, GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS TO ONE ANOTHER OR ALIGN WITH EACH OTHER’S RIGHTS.

The Bible commands marriage partners to each surrender their own rights and look out for the best interests of the other.

Many of the problems Caleb and Catherine had were directly related to their desire to cling to their rights over the rights of their spouse. When two people are each jockeying for their individual rights they put themselves at odds with each other. Instead of COMPLETING EACH OTHER THEY END UP COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER.

It makes sense doesn’t it? Giving up our rights is basic to being able to meet the needs of the other. If Barbara asks me to take out the trash and I am sitting at the computer or watching a game on TV to meet her need I must line up under her desire and submit to her request. So, I give up my right to check my email or watch the next five minutes of the game and carry out the trash.

Mutual submission is one of the difficult – but necessary principles of a successful marriage.

Men, imagine what would happen if your wife sat down with you tomorrow and said, “Honey, I have been making some selfish demands of you, and I’m sorry. I want you to know I am giving up those rights and I am lining up under you. I will no longer demand you become who I think you should be and really get to appreciate who you are.”

What would that do for you?

Women, imagine what would happen if your husband sat down with you tomorrow and said, “Baby, I know there are some things you have needed from me and I have not been willing to line up with them. But starting today I promise to do everything I can to meet your needs as I understand them.

Would that make a difference?

Verse 25 says, “Husbands love your wives…..”

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” I Peter 3:7

What Are Husbands Supposed To Do? --- LOVE THEIR WIVES

What Are Wives Supposed To Do? ---- RESPECT THEIR HUSBANDS

You cannot do either if you cling to your rights to the exclusion of your partner’s needs.

You say, “Brad, this is really hard! How do I do this?”

The Scripture makes it clear that if your are going to “line up under” or “give up your rights” to your partners you have to first submit to Christ and surrender your rights to Him and line up with His will, His needs.



CHERISH THIS: Marriage Works Best When We Understand There Are Differences And Act Accordingly.

You Know A Principle Is True When It Shows Up In A Country Western Song:

When you see a deer, you see BambiAnd I see antlers up on the wallYou see a lake you think picnicsAnd I see a large mouth up under that log.
You're probably thinkin' that you're gonna change meIn some ways, well, maybe you mightScrub me down, dress me upOh, but no matter what, remember, I'm still a guy.
When you see a priceless French paintingI see a drunk naked girlYou think that riding a wild bull sounds crazyAnd I'd like to give it a whirl.
Well, love makes a man do some things he ain't proud ofAnd in a weak moment I mightWalk your sissie dog, hold your purse at the mallBut remember, I'm still a guy.
And I'll pour out my heart, hold your hand in the carWrite a love song that makes you cryThen turn right around, knock some jerk to the ground'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by.
I can hear you now talkin' to your friendsSayin', yeah girls, he's come a long wayFrom draggin' his knuckles and carryin' a clubAnd buildin' a fire in a cave.
But when you say a backrub means only a backrubAnd you swat my hand when I tryWell, now what can I say at the end of the dayHoney, I'm still a guy.

From the moment of birth, little girls have more lip movement than boys. In a Harvard study of hundreds of preschoolers, researchers found that 100% of the sounds coming from little girls mouths were words, whereas only 60% of the sounds coming from boys were words. The other 40% were yells and sound effects.

Those differences persist into adulthood. Communication experts say that the average woman speaks 25,000 words a day, while the average man speaks a little over 10,000. What does that mean in marital terms? Very often it means a man has used up most of his 10,000 words at work…..while his wife is just warming up!

Gary Smalley asked thousands of women how much time they needed with their husbands in meaningful conversation. A wife says 45 minutes to an hour each day. What did their husbands say? “Fifteen to twenty minutes --- once or twice a week.”

These differences are what make marriage challenging – but also can make it wonderful.
Try these phrases:



Show Your Love To Her By Sitting Down And Actually Listening To Her. Hear Her Heart And Her Dreams. Look Into Her Eyes. Gaze Into Her Soul. Know Who She Is. Affirm Who She Is. Find How You Can Serve Her. How Can You Complete Her?

“Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed... Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.” John Gray

Men need respect – Wives, will you submit to that need?

Women need love – Husbands, will you submit to that need?
CHERISH THIS: Marriage Works Best When Understand And Remember That Something Bigger Than Marriage Is Happening – You Are Preparing For Heaven.

God was passionate about living in relationship with us. But Adam & Eve refused to submit and failed to line up with His will – so sin separated Him from His Creation. So God sent Someone that He was passionate about – HIS SON – to pay the price for our sin and to redeem us and bring us back into fellowship with the Father.

After Jesus returned to Heaven He made it known that those who came to know Him by faith were to come together in a spiritual community called “The Church” – “The Ekklessia” or “Called Out Ones”. The church was to be the Body of Christ in the world – the visible presence of His love and grace and power in the world.

Jesus was passionate about the Church because He is passionate about people and passionate about God. So much so that He referred to the Church as His Bride and the relationship between Christ and His Church is representative of marriage.

So Jesus couldn’t claim to be passionate about God and be indifferent toward God’s people. Jesus couldn’t claim to be passionate about God’s people and be casual toward the church. It all hangs together. That is one of the main points of this portion of Scripture. Love for God must be expressed through marriage and worship.

Men – What will I do this week to make my wife feel loved?
Women – What will I do this week to make my husband feel respected?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010

"This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32

Everyone is passionate about something. The challenge is to be passionate about the right thing. And, if you are passionate about the wrong thing you must be willing to change.
A good question to consider is, "What was Christ passionate about? If you call yourself a believer should you not also be passionate about what Christ was passionate about?"
According to this portion of the Scriptures, Christ's passion was the Church. In fact, the Church is referred to as His "bride" and His relationship to His Church is to be the example of how men love their wives.
So, by implication, believers should be passionate about Jesus and if they are passionate about Jesus they will also be passionate about the Church. According to this Scripture, you cannot be passionate about Christ and be casual toward the Church.
Maybe you have never thought about it before, but there is an inextricable link between your relationship Christ, the Church and your spouse. You cannot be passionate about Christ and be casual toward your church. You cannot be passionate about Christ and be casual about your marriage. There is a passion pipeline that flows from Heaven to your heart.
If you have professed to be passionate about Christ and yet have become casual toward the church - take a hard look at your life. And if you claim to be passionate about your faith but are lukewarm toward your marriage - it is time for a heart check.
One of the primary expressions of your passion for Christ and His Church is demonstrated by your passion for your spouse. Over the next 40 Days we will be taking a hard look at that. It will be hard work but the payoff will be HUGE!
Get your passion in the pipeline and your faith gets stronger, your church gets stronger, and your marriage gets sweet!

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 2010

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21
I just listened to Tiger Woods' press conference.
I conditioned myself to hear it sincerely and not with cynicism. Even though I bought into the hype about his image and therefore, was seriously disappointed when the truth about him was exposed. Also, I deal in grace and redemption, so I extended him grace.
Having listened sincerely, I heard some sincerity. He took full responsibility for his behavior and showed an understanding and disdain for the thinking that lured him into that behavior. He recognized those whom had suffered most from his selfishness and humbly apologized to them.
Obviously, I would have much rather have heard him say that he had repented to God for his sins and turned to faith in Jesus Christ. Instead, he shared his intention to return to his Buddhist faith. I will pray for him and hope you will, too.
The timeliness of Tiger's statement did not escape me. On the eve of our 40 Day Focus on marriage, his highly publicized transgressions remind us of the relevance of what we will be studying.
Everything that Tiger did wrong, you are capable of doing. So am I. Every temptation he faced, you have faced. So have I. Therefore, learn from him. Hear his confession. Feel his pain. Just as he fell, so can you. The sort of self-centered entitlement mentality that sucked him into the decisions and behaviors can do the same for you and me.
The only hope for Tiger, for you or for me, is to hear the truth of Ephesians 5:22-33. Only by submitting to God - "lining up with Him and giving up your rights" and by submitting to your partner - "lining up with him and giving up your rights" - will you ever truly be able to honor God. Not only will you honor God but you will receive His love, mercy, grace and peace. Only as you receive those blessing from Him can you extend them to your spouse.
As you see Tiger in the news and as you hear his statements replayed and critiqued and discussed and dissected over these next few days, let it serve to remind you that but by the grace of God that could be you. And by the grace of God, humbly submit to Him so that you can make sure it never will be you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21

Charlie Brown once confided to Lucy, "I love the world - but it's people I can't stand".

That is the rub isn't it? How do we get along with all those other people? They sure have a way of complicating life!

As long as we have to get along with people, why not begin with the ones we have to live with? How about the one you are married to?

In this verse Paul gives us the basic principle for not only get along with others but actually enjoying it.
What He tells us sounds simple, "Submit" to one another." Literally that means "to line up under" or "to give up rights".
You say, "Wait a minute! Why should I submit to them? Why can't they submit to me?"
Actually, they should. But you have no control over that. You do, however, hold the power to decide that you will submit to them. And why should you do that? One really good reason, "out of reverence for Christ".
Sort of sounds like there is a connection between our relationship with others and our relationship to God doesn't it? Absolutely! We cannot be in a right relationship with God until we become rightly related to others. And we cannot get right with others if we are not right with God. Submitting to another person is evidence that you have "lined up under" God and given up your rights.
The Apostle John put it this way, "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." I John 4:19-21
So you want to get along with other people? It seems that this submission thing is a pretty big piece of the puzzle. If you want to get it right, give up your rights.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

For the Western Christian Caleendar Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays before Easter. It is a moveable, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. It can occur as early as 4 February or as late as 10 March.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are typically gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants. The minister administering ashes recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or "Repent, and believe the Gospel."

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3-6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (vv. 5-6) Other examples are found in several other books of the Bible including, Numbers 19:7, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:22, Luke 10:13, and Hebrews 9:13. Ezekiel 9 also speaks of a linen-clad messenger marking the forehead of the city inhabitants that have sorrow over the sins of the people. All those without the mark are destroyed.

It marks the start of a forty day period which is apparently an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted. While not specifically instituted in the Bible text, the 40 day period of repentance is also analogous to the 40 days during which Moses repented and fasted in response to the making of the Golden calf. (Jews today follow a 40 day period of repenting during the High Holy Days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur.)
Although we are not as liturgical as the Catholic church or some of the more formal Protestant groups, Lent has spiritual significance and should be commemorated. That is why we do an yearly 40 day focus to sharpen our spiritual sensitivities and strengthen our faith. Sometimes that requires fasting - voluntarily giving up something that is important to you in order to concentrate more on spiritual disciplines. Fasting is a powerful spiritual practice. Equally powerful as denying yourself of something is beginning a new spiritual routine that will aid your growth in the faith.
That is why we are observing the 40 Day Focus this year at FredWes. Our focus for the next 40 Days is to develop more godly relationships, especially in the area of our marriages. The very spiritual principles that strengthen marriages and relationships with strengthen our church fellowship and contribute to its growth.
Our 40 Day Focus will have three focal points: Sunday Morning Messages, Sunday afternoon LIFE Groups and the 40 Day Love Dare. This comprehensive approach will allow you to grow in the context of worship, fellowship and private personal devotion. For us, this begins on Sunday, February 21st. That is the equivalent of our Ash Wednesday.
But today should be a day of reflection and a day of commitment in view of the significance of this period in the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And since the practice of fasting for 40 Days has had spiritual signifcance in the life of our spiritual heroes, why not join them in a spiritual journey toward holiness?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010

On their 50th wedding anniversary, a couple summed up the reason for their long and happy marriage.
The husband said, "I have tried never to be selfish. After all, there is no ’I’ in the word ‘marriage.’”

The wife said, "For my part, I have never corrected my husband’s spelling."

MARRIAGE: A DEFINITION - Marriage is when you agree to spend the rest of your life sleeping in a room that’s too warm, beside someone who’s sleeping in a room that’s too cold.
In my pre-marital counseling I tell the couples, "With all due respect to the Marines, marriage is the hardest job you will ever love."
Many don't make it.
Divorce Statistics:

In 2005 there were 2.3 million marriages and 1.2 million divorces. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)

Almost 20 million Americans (9.9% of the U.S. population) are currently divorced. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)

About 50% of marriages today will end in a divorce. Statistically, 40% of first marriages, 60% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)

About 75% of individuals who divorce will eventually remarry. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)

After 10 years of marriage, it is predicted that only 25% of couples will still be happily married (Glenn,1996)

More than 1 million children are affected by divorce each year. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)

If building strong satisfying marriages was easy, everyone would have one – and hardly anyone has one! But over these next 6 weeks we are going to commit ourselves to making marriage a priority and to doing the hard work necessary to strengthen our marriages. I am excited about the impact this is going to have on our families and on our church family!

Our 40-Day Focus officially kicks off next Sunday, but we have been talking about attitudes I thought it will be good to use this as a transition Sunday and talk about the best marriage/relationship concept that I have ever found. It really helps clarify how healthy relationships grow and prosper.
Relationships develop and grow just like bank accounts. By that I mean you make deposits and you make withdrawals. When you put in more money than you take out that is called a withdrawal. But when you take out more than you have put in you overdraw your account.
If you understand how bank accounts operate then you can know how emotional bank accounts work. You have to invest more into your relationships than you take from them. The bigger the balance in your emotional bank accounts the richer your relationships will be.
How are deposits made?
One deposit is understanding the person. Taking the time and effort to get your heart and mind around who that other person is earns you a deposit their account.
Paying attention to little things will earn a deposit. Tending to details shows evidence that you care for that person.
A third way to invest into the emotional account of another is by keeping commitments. Promises are easy to make and harder to keep, but keeping them earns big dividends of trust in your account with them.
Deposit number four is clarifying expectations. One of the leading causes of major withdrawals from accounts is conflicting expectations. It is important to make sure the other person knows what you mean and not just hears what you say. Until you share identical expectations you have not communicated.
Living with integrity is a fifth way to make a deposit. If you are not consistent in how you live and how you believe, others will have trouble buying into you.
The final deposit is offering a sincere apology whenever you have to make a withdrawal. That can turn a potential loss into a possible win.
What price would you put on healthy relationships? What are you willing to invest to build better friendships? Have you checked the balance in your emotional bank account?

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010

"And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:32-33
These disicples had devoted their lives to Jesus and had followed Him 24/7 for the last few years. They knew that He was the Son of God and yet only after they were delivered from the storm did they cry out in worship "Truly you are the Son of God!"
What was that about?
It is our final Lake Lesson - You worship God better after you weather the storm.
Faith is a colaboration between the head and the heart. To have faith you must gain knowledge in your mind, but you also have to apply that knowledge to daily living. You encounter God in the Scriptures to understand His will and His ways, but you also must prove Him in the everyday issues and experiences of living. If His truth doesn't provide solutions for daily life then why believe it?
These water-logged disciples knew Who He was. Who He was was the very reason they were following Him. They had heard the teachings and seen the miracles watched His life and felt His touch. Just prior to getting into the boat on the other side of the lake they had witnessed a miraculous feeding of thousands. BUT, when He came to them and rescued them in midst of a terrible storm, they came to know Him in a new way. What they had known in their heart worked in the need of their life.
It was in the throes of one of the fiercest storms of a stormy life that I came to a new understaning of Who Jesus is. I have worshiped Him better since. While the waves were tossing me and the winds had turned against me I challenged God, "If these things I have been teaching about and preaching about for years don't work for me, I am out!" When they did work for me, I got in like never before! When I cried out to God, "I have lost everything that matters to me, all I have is You." God responded, "What else do you need?"
Are you in the middle of a storm? Are you struggling to stay afloat? Is your mind wanting to doubt what you heart wants to believe? Is the storm inside you greater than the storm around you?
You are ripe for a Lake Lesson! You are about to know God in knew ways as Jesus proves He is beyond belief, He is bigger than life! He knows where you are in the storm, He knows about the storm within you, He knows how to get to you, He is probably on the way right now, and when He gets there He will calm the storms. After He calms the storm you will believe stranger and worship better!
We worship better after we weather storm!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14, 2010

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:28-31
The ultimate result of thinking out of the boat for Peter was that - well, he got out of the boat! Once he realized that it was Jesus Who was coming to Him on the water he wanted to be with Jesus. The storm had not kept Jesus from getting to them, why should the storm keep him from Jesus? So when Jesus called Peter to get out of the boat - he did!
Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the storm-tossed waves and began walking on the water. Only two people I know about that ever walked on water. One of them was Jesus and the other was Peter! That is pretty select company, eh?
We don't really know how far Jesus walked over the waves but HE DID WALK ON WATER! He was so focused on getting to Jesus that he focus on the Savior rather than the storm.
Somewhere between where Jesus was and where the boat was, Peter momentarily took His eyes off of Jesus and began to sink under the waves.
What caused him to sink under the waves that He had just been walking on? Jesus identified the reason as doubt. But was it doubt in Jesus that brought him down or was it doubt in his own inability to walk on water?
I guess in the final analysis it really doesn't which it was, the fact remains he walked on water while He kept his focus on Jesus. But the moment he focused more on the storm and less on Jesus he went from being a walker to being a swimmer.
That brings us to our next Lake Lesson - When you are in the storm stay focused on Jesus! focusing on Jesus is the difference between being IN the storm and being ON it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13, 2010

"When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus." Matthew 14:26-29
Storms have a way of getting our attention. I guess that is why we ave these lessons on the lake. So far we have learned:
Lake Lesson #1 - During the storm it helps to know that Jesus put you in the boat.

Lake Lesson #2 - Jesus prayed for you while you are steering the boat.

Lake Lesson #3 - Jesus knows where we are in the storm.

Lake Lesson #4 - Jesus know the perfect time to come to us in the storm.
This morning I have another lesson for you. It is this: When In A Storm, Think Outside th Boat.
Because Jesus knew exactly where the disciples were and because He knew how to get there and because nothing could keep Him away, He came walking to them on the water! That's right! On the water through the storm!
If you were in a boat in a storm being blown by the wind and tossed by the waves, who would you most want to see? Jesus! Me too!
Well, He came walking on the waves through the wind and in the darkness. Apparently they weren't looking for Him because when He got in eyesight they thought they were seeing a ghost! They cried out in fear. What would you do?
Jesus called out to them so they would recognize Him. Peter did.
This is one of the points I want to make, we need to learn to look for Jesus in new ways. He is always doing new things and He loves to do them in new ways. Our tendency is to look for Jesus in the last place where He appeared to us. He rarely does that!
When you are in a storm things that work in calm weather don't always work. So, a storm can force you to think outside the boat and look for God in new ways and allow Him to come to you like He hasn't before.
If you are in a storm and the old things aren't working, think outside the boat! If you are looking for Jesus to move in the way He did last time, think outside the boat!
Also, thinking outside the boat will cause you to take some risks you have never taken before. Peter had never walked on water before. It had never occured to him. Why would it?
But when he saw Jesus coming to them in the storm, he took a risk. He thought outside the boat and so he got outside the boat. Risky? Yes, but you know what? The boat was going to sink anyway as things were going! So maybe, getting out of the boat to go to Jesus wasn't that risky afterall!
You may be just one big risk away from finding help in your storm!

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." Matthew 14:25

We are learning some lake lessons. No, we are not studying issues related to large bodies of water, we are actually learning truths about Jesus based on how He responded to the disciples during a fierce storm. And it is all good!

So far we have learned:

Lake Lesson #1 - During the storm it helps to know that Jesus put you in the boat.
Lake Lesson #2 - Jesus prayed for you while you are steering the boat.
Lake Lesson #3 - Jesus knows where we are in the storm.
Lake Lesson #4 - Jesus know the perfect time to come to us in the storm.

Today we discover another great truth - Jesus knows how to get to us in the storm.

If you have ever watched Baywatch or any other show involving lifeguards you know that they have a variety of equipment designed to help them get to the swimmer in distress. Jesus had none of those items. He didn't need them. Actually, none of those would have helped Him against the mighty winds or the fierce waves. They would have been useless - maybe even dangerous.

Remember, this is Jesus we are talking about! How did He get across the lake to the disciples in distress? How did He navigate the waves and the winds? HE WALKED! That's right, Jesus strolled through the storm!

That assures us that Jesus not only knows where we are in the midst of our fiercest storms, He knows how to get to us! In fact, nothing can keep Him from you! As Paul affirmed in Romans 8, "If God is for us, who can be against us!" NOTHING!

Maybe you are weathering a storm right now. Perhaps life's winds are blowing against you and the waves are tossing you and you are doubting if you'll survive this storm. Take encouragement! Believe this truth proven by Jesus and confirmed by the disciples - JESUS KNOW HOW TO GET TO YOU IN THE STORM!

You will make because HE will make it to you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 11, 2010

"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." Matthew 14:25

There is something kind of nice about a gentle Summer thunderstorm in the middle of the night. But as a general rule, we don't appreciate storms. For the most part we dread them and do our best to avoid them.

But in Matthew 14 we see how valuable a storm can be. These guys who had walked with Jesus and lived with Him 24/7 for several years, learned lessons about Him during the storm that they had not learned before.

Since all of us face storms in life and since, in fact, some of you are in the middle of a storm right now it is helpful to know that there a important life lessons that can be learned in a storm. To this point we have mentioned three:

Lake Lesson #1 - It makes a difference to know that you are in Jesus' boat when you're in a storm.

Lake Lesson #2 - Jesus prays for you while you steer the boat in the storm.

Lake Lesson #3 - Jesus always knows where you are in the storm.

Today we learn another helpful lesson - Jesus knows the perfect time to come to us in the storm.

Our text tells us that He came during the fourth watch of the night. If it mentions that in the Scriptural account it must be significant. And it is.

In the Jewish mind, the night was divided into four watches: watch one - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.; watch two - 9:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.; watch three - 12:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.; and watch four - 3:00 - 6:00 a.m. It is during that 3:00 to 6:00 a.m. period that Jesus came to them.

I recommend that you do a study on the fourth watch of the night. It is pretty interesting and inspiring. Just to wet your appetite let me tell you a few other things that happened during the fourth watch: the Israelites fled from Egypt during the fourth watch of the night, after the Death Angel had swept through in the third watch; the Red Sea closed on the Egyptian army destroying them during the fourth watch, and the stone was rolled away from in front of Jesus' tomb so He could arise from the dead!

Some significant things happened during the fourth watch! Another one was about to happen because Jesus headed off across the lake during the fourth watch!

Now let's just be honest about one of our frustrations with God, He never moves according to our time schedule! It always seems like He takes forever to come to our aid. We always wonder if we are going to make it before He steps in to bring relief. But let's also be honest to admit that every time we have thought that He came AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME! Look back on every storm you have weathered and you will marvel at how perfect His timing was!

If you are storm tossed today. If your boat is rocking and the wind is against you and the waves are batting you like a ping pong ball - remember that His timing is perfect and you may be in the fourth watch!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10, 2010

"but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." Matthew 14:24
As I write this post, a storm rages outside. Another blizzard!
I have been sharing a series of Lessons on the Lake, that the disciples learned from being in a terrible storm on the lake because storms are a part of life. Storms come in a variety of ways, financial storms, health storms, relationship storms, or spiritual storms will blow into your life from time to time. Learning these lessons will help you survive in the next storm you have to face.
Lesson One - When you are in a storm it helps to know that Jesus put you in the boat.
Lesson Two - Jesus prays for you while you steer the boat.
Today we will learn a third lesson, Jesus knows exactly where we are in the storm.
Jesus had place them in the boat on the lake and while they sailed He prayed. Somewhere near the middle of the lake, a storm blew in. The waves rose and the winds roared and the boat rocked and the disciples freaked! I don't blame them! They were in big trouble! The Scripture said, "they were buffeted by the waves and the wind was against them." Not good.
I'm sure that while they summoned all their skills to keep the boat upright in the water and the water out of the boat, they were wondering where Jesus was when they needed Him. The lake lesson they were about to learn was this: Jesus Knows Exactly Where You Are In The Storm! And He does!
They were far from the shore, they were bobbing like a cork, the spray from the water surrounded them, they couldn't see past the storm, but Jesus knew EXACTLY where they were in the storm.
When you are in the midst of a storm, if you know that He put you in the boat and that He is praying for you, you can also be certain that no matter how severely the storm is raging Jesus knows exactly where you are in the storm! You are never out of His sight or beyond His reach! It doesn't matter how lonely you feel or how fearful you are Lake Lesson Three is always true - Jesus Knows Where You Are In The Storm!
Hold on and ride out the storm, in the middle of the storm you have His full attention!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 9, 2010

"After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone," Matthew 14:23
So, Jesus put the disciples into the boat and sent them off to cross the lake while He went to pray alone. Yesterday we mentioned that it helps to know that we are in Jesus' boat when the storm comes. That was Lake Lesson number one.
Today we will learn another Lake Lesson.
The information gathered from this verse tells us that both Jesus and the disciples were doing what they did best. Jesus was praying and the disciples were boating. That sets up the opportunity for this lesson.
We know that the disciples were in the boat by the will of Jesus. He put them there. But we do not know if He gave them instructions on where to go or if they just took off on their own. Obviously, they intended to get to the other side.
The point is, they were steering the boat. It was a job they were familiar with and were comfortable doing. That is good - and bad! That is so much like us. We find the will of God and then take over the controls and begin steering the boat. How many times has God made His will plain to you and you began to follow His will feeling confident in where you were headed? But then how many times did your confidence become independence and you began steering the boat?
Easy to do isn't it!?
When you steer the boat trusting in your own knowledge, experience or wisdom, we are headed for a storm. Have you ever steered the boat for any extended period of time and not ended in a storm? Now, we don't know if this storm was spread over the entire lake or if it was localized and they steered into it. But we do know they were steering the boat and it ended in a storm.
Here's a tip from a veteran of many storms, when Jesus puts you into a boat, trust Him to guide you as you steer it. If you steer it based on your own judgement, your own experience or your own wisdom, you will end up in a storm.
So, the disciples were in the boat and steered it into an awful storm. What was Jesus doing while they were steering into the storm?
He was praying! No doubt, He was praying for them. Probably He was praying for them because He knew that they were steering the boat and that they were headed for trouble.
That is the Lake Lesson for today: Jesus prays for us while we steer the boat.
One of the main roles Jesus plays is that of Intercessor. That means He prays for you - and me. Check out Hebrews 7 and Romans 8.
Isn't it good to know that as you try to navigate through the storms of life, Jesus is interceding for you?! Will you be encouraged by that knowledge? Would you seek His guidance and direction as you steer the ship? That way, if you steer into a storm you can know for sure that it is His will. Even better - invite Him into your boat and let Him steer it! BUT either way, you can rest in the confident knowledege that Jesus is praying for you, interceeding for you to do God's will!
Lake Lesson #2 - Jesus prays for you while you steer the boat!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8, 2010

"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd." Matthew 14:22
We had a whopper of a storm over the week-end. I came from the northern mid-west where snow was common, but I haven't seen many storms like this! Now, there is a threat of another smaller storm coming through tomorrow. So, this is the day between the storms.
That is a good analogy for life. Much of life is spent between the storms. If you are not in a storm now, you will be. I am not being pesimistic, I am just being real!
In this portion of Scripture, the disciples were headed for a storm. Through this week in my posts on this blog, I am going to share with you some Lessons on the Lake, truths that they learned while in the storm on the lake.
A storm is a terrible thing to waste. If you have to weather a storm, you had best learn from it! I want to help you by sharing these daily lessons from the lake.
The first lesson is seen in verse 22 where Jesus put them into a boat and sent them off on the lake. That sets the stage for the first lake lesson:
LAKE LESSON #1 - When You Are In A Storm It Helps To Know You Are In His Boat
For the purposes of this lesson we are going to imply that the boat represents the will of God. I think that is a safe assumption since it was Jesus Who put them in the boat.
If you are in the midst of a storm right now, let me ask you, "Do you know that you are in the right boat?" If you are in a storm and you are in the will of God, that makes ALL the difference! If you are between storms in your life or if you see the storm clouds forming on the horizon, it would be a great time to stop and make sure you get in the right boat!
There are those who would claim that if you are in His boat then you will never be in a storm. They believe that it is God's responsibility to keep you safe, warm and dry and the only boat He would give you would be a yacht! Their theology states that God's responsibility to His people is make sure they have smooth sailing.
That theology just doesn't track with life nor does it mesh with this Scriptural account. The disciples were in the boat by the will of God and set sail in obedience to Him.
Lake lesson number assures us that when we are in the storm by His will, we can be sure of his protection! Do you believe that? Faith floats!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7, 2010

“Getting the Win” Philippians 2:5-11

Winners think they will win BEFORE they've won.

The big difference is in how a man thinks. His attitude will govern his actions.
For instance . . .

A winner is always ready to tackle something new ... a loser is prone to believe it can't be done.
A winner isn't afraid of competition ... a loser avoids it, thinking the competition will beat him.
A winner knows he's sometimes wrong and is willing to admit his mistakes ... a loser usually finds someone else to blame.
A winner is challenged by a new problem ... a loser doesn't want to face it.
A winner is decisive ... a loser frustrates himself with indecision.
A winner realizes there is no time like the present to get a job done ... a loser is prone to procrastinate with the hope that things will be better tomorrow.
A winner thinks positively ... acts positively... and lives positively ... a loser usually has a negative attitude and a negative approach to everything.

Winners win because they think differently:

“I’m not losing, I’m just behind at the moment….”I’m behind so I’ll just play harder…….

In the final message of this series “”Making God’s ‘A’ Team”, we are going to learn that not only do winners think differently but thinking differently IS THE WIN – when thinking differently means THIKING LIKE JESUS!

So far we have examined three attitudes that make God’s Team:

UNITY – Committing To Think Like Christ, Aiming My Thoughts At His Word And My Emotions At His Will.

HUMILITY – Thinking Of How To Serve God And How To Serve Others.

COMMUNITY – Committing To Live In Unity And Humility With Others And Seeking To Call Out The Best In Them

The reason Paul wrote these words to the Philippians Church for a very specific reason – they were struggling with those very attitudes of unity, humility and community. So He points them to another winning attitude – SPIRITUALITY – the result of thinking and acting like Jesus!

Look To God’s Word With Me:

Philippians 2:5-11 – “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Here’s How To Think Like A Winner:


Peyton Manning of the Colts is a proven winner. You can be sure he will be looking outward this afternoon. He will be quickly scanning the defense and finding the open receiver, reading the blitz, and knowing what audible to call.

A winner is constantly looking over the field or the court gathering and processing data – adjusting – adapting – it is impossible to win if you are not thinking outward.

Paul was clearly thinking outward – which is why he wrote this letter in this way to this church. He was aware that they were not in a winning frame of mind. They were not winning because they had lost their unity & humility. They had become self-seeking, vain and contentious. Their sense of community had been destroyed and they weren’t close to getting it back. So – Paul points them to the example of ONE Who thought outwardly – and did it better than anyone ever did – JESUS.

If you want to know what it means to think outwardly – learn from Christ. He thought outside or beyond Himself and His needs. Verses 6-8 give us some amazing insights to how He thought:

“Who being in very nature God…..” - “NATURE” = “morphe” – “ESSENCE”

“Did not consider equality with God…” – “EQUAL” = “isos” = “EXACTLY SAME”

“Something to be grasped……” – Here is an amazing irony. The very thing that Lucifer coveted and Adam craved and that powers our own sin nature is the VERY THING THAT JESUS POSSESSED – and voluntarily gave it up! He did not clutch it – He did not leverage it – He did not rely on it – what did He do with it?

He made Himself nothing…..” – This self-emptying is called The “Kenosis”. It means “self-depravation” – Jesus deprived Himself of what was rightfully His – the glory and beauty and majesty that accompany His position at the right hand of the Father and came to earth. He could separate Himself from all of His divine attributes but by putting on flesh He veiled His full glory and limited the expression of His divine power.

When you are a majestic, glorious spiritual being and you empty yourself into human flesh you certainly lose something in the translation.

One of the things we fear the most – that we are nothing and that our life means nothing. The need for meaning and significance are strong motivating forces in our lives. Jesus had ALL OF THAT and gave it all up to become NOTHING! Why? So He could make us into something!
“And being found in appearance as a man…..” - The word for this is “hypostasis” and means “substance” or “essence”. The doctrine of the “hypostatic” union declares that Jesus was 100 o/o God and 100 o/o man – one Man with two natures!

The Second Person of the Godhead emptied Himself by pouring His life into the flesh and blood of a man we came to know as Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus the Christ!

“He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross…”
Imagine the most embarrassing humiliating thing that can happen to you and then imagine voluntarily surrendering yourself to that. That would be humbling and humiliating. People don’t normally do things like that BUT JESUS DID!

Crucifixion was the most degrading form of human punishment known to the Romans. The word “cross” was never mentioned in polite society.

By Jewish law, anyone who died on a cross died under the curse of God.

You may be thinking, “Brad, that doesn’t sound like winning to me! How can dying a horrible humiliating death be considered winning?”

It was a win because it was obedience! Jesus was a winner because He obeyed God! He thought outward – outside of His own self-interest and accomplished the will of God! Every time we obey God’s will – we win, no matter what it may cost us at the time!


The Church at Philippi was struggling in strife and disunity because the members were not thinking outwardly. They were losing – not winning. They were competing for power and position and prestige constantly trying to muscle their way to the top.



Practically every sport I know about requires you to look upward if you want to win……

The Great Apostle Paul became a winner because he constantly looked up and thought upward. He focused his eyes and his mind upward to the things of God. He instructs the Church at Philippi to think OUTWARD and also to think UPWARD.

Jesus thought UPWARD and verses 9-11 show us what that looked like:

“Therefore God exalted Him…..”

An amazing thing happened when Jesus humbled Himself………….

“…to the highest place…..”

When Jesus gave up His place, when He stopped jostling for position and refused to push His way to the top. When He surrendered His rightful place – GOD GAVE HIM A HIGHER PLACE!

“….and gave Him a Name that is above every name!”

When Jesus refused to cling to His reputation and humbled Himself in obedience, God exalted Him!

When Jesus surrendered all and claimed nothing and suffered awfully God gave Him everything. But Jesus did not do it for that reason – He did it to honor the Father. When we honor God with obedience He will exalt us in His time.

“That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now we have come full circle. Because Jesus was willing to lose it all in humble obedience to the Father, God exalted Him and raised Him up and now all creation worships Him. And those who won’t worship now WILL worship Him then!

There is a popular Christmas Carole that declares Jesus as “Lord at His birth” – but that is not so. Jesus had to resist temptation, experience the trials of life, and then suffer rejection, injustice and an excruciating death on a cross in order to become Lord. But now, as Lord, He is worthy of highest praise!

He became a winner because no one has lost more than Him or sacrificed more than Him – He Thought Outward and He Thought Upward.

What are you willing to surrender? What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to suffer in order to obey God. How much are you willing to lose in order for Him to win?


Here’s what it comes down to – we – you and I must have this same attitude that Christ displayed. If you are to be a “Christ-One” you must have His attitude. THAT IS THE WIN!
One of our main themes in this entire series has been the fact that you can choose your attitude. It is one of the few things in your life that you can actually control. And because you can, God expects you to do it.
God doesn't ask you to adopt the power of positive thinking. He doesn't require you to study possibility thinking. He is not into attitude improvement. He wants to transform your heart and mind so that you think, and act, and love like Christ. It's not a good attitude He expects, it is a godly attitude.
How do I get a Christ-like attitude? Do I will my way into it? No, but you do need to aim your will toward God and His will. You need, like Christ, to come into unity with God. Unlike Christ, you have a sinful will, so you need to confess your sin and repent of it. Like Christ, you must surrender your will to God and accept His will as your will. Every thought and decision after that should be in unity with God.
Then, when you have united with God you must, like Christ, live in humility. How? By always honoring God first and others second. Every thought, attitude and action must be guided by an humble commitment to please God and serve others. That is the attitude of Christ.
When you have united with God and surrendered to humility, then you are ready to live in community with like-minded believers. That is what creates a dynamic healthy fellowship! That is a place where the Spirit of God can transform and where the love of God and heal and where the contagious joy of the Lord can attract others into the Body. That is what I envision for FredWes. No program can cause this. No strategy can create it. No ministry approach or worship style can make it suddenly appear. Only individual believers like you and me can decide that more than anything else in life, we want to have the attitude of Christ.
Christ didn't cling to power and He had it all!
Is a desire for power and control keeping you from having the attitude of Christ? Is it preventing you from surrendering your will and uniting with the will of God?
Christ didn't hold onto His position and He was in the highest place!
Could it be that some selfish ambition for a higher position created within you some self-seeking thoughts and attitudes?
Christ didn't hold onto His privilege. He was the highly honored Son of Good seated in a place of glory in the presence of the Father!
Search you heart and mind to see if there might be an attitude or desire that craves attention that needs to feel significance. Could that be keeping you from coming into unity with God and living humbling before Him?
We are called to unity, humility and community. But we cannot attain those apart from Christ. We don't think yourself into Christ-likeness. You surrender yourself, you humble yourself, you die to your selfish desires. Only God can make you like Christ. Only He can "morphe" you into Christ-likeness!
What will you choose? What attitude will you take toward the will of God? Will you bow your knee to Him today? Every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that He is Lord. There will be that brief moment in eternity where everyone has a right attitude - but it will be too late for many of the them.
Why not unite with His Spirit and His will? Why not humble yourself and live for Him?