Day 40 – January 11 – Friday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Making a Commitment

Luke 14:28-33

Back in February of last year, the leaders or our church were struggling with some major decisions about the future of Southport Heights Christian Church and our ministries. After a considerable time of prayer, fasting, and conversation…we, the elders met together to discuss further which direction we should go.

Some of you will remember this quote that I actually passed out to the congregation during one of my messages a couple of years ago…I shared this quote with the elders during our discussion…

“Until I am committed, there is a hesitancy, a chance to draw back, but the moment I definitely commit myself, then God moves also and a whole steam of events erupt. All manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, persons, and material assistance, which I could never have dreamed would come my way, begin to flow toward me the moment I make a commitment.”

Almost immediately there was a sense of what needed to be done after I read those words. Decisions were made quickly and with peace, but commitment was the key.

The greatest days of your life are the days when you sense your commitment to its highest degree. Your greatest days are not your days of leisure. Your greatest days are not even times when you have your closest friends around you. When something has seized you and cause to have a high level of commitment to it, those are your greatest days. They may be your days of struggle. They may be your days fo suffering. They may be the days of your greatest battles in life. but they will be your greatest days!!

John Wesley, famous Methodist preacher, once wrote a letter of encouragement to a friend named George, who was leaving England to evangelize the new frontier. He wrote:

“Dear George,

The time has come for you to embark for America. I let you loose, George, on that great continent of America. Publish your message in the open face of the sun and do all the good that you can.”

I love Wesley’s phrase, “I let you loose”. Commitment will free us and let us loose to do great things for God.

As we close our 40 Days together…Pray that Southport Heights Christian Church will be committed to Loving God, Loving People, Making Disciples so that we will lead people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory, honor, and praise.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 39 – January 10 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Accepting A Challenge

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

As the Apostle Paul writes his second letter to Timothy, he stresses the characteristics of the Christian who truly embraces the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in his life. He challenges Timothy to boldly continue spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and to train others to do the same. In many ways Paul’s challenge can be applied to each of us today.

It takes guts to go against the mainstream America. We live in a culture that suggests, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” We are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us to take matters into our own hands. Just Do It! that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “By myself I can do nothing…” John 5:30. And he said in Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.”

Has God challenged you over the past 38 days? Are you feeling stretched? A little uncomfortable? Are you thinking that if God’s to in this it will surely fail…I will surely fail? Have you felt a genuine nudge (or not so gentle) pushing your commitment to the Lord to a new level?

Don’t shy away from this. Don’t shrug it off as just another bad hair day or passing thought. Embrace it! Know that you have come face to face with the Lord almighty, and He has a task for you to do. He has a mission for you to go on. This is a God-sized challenge, one that you will face with many partners, but none as important as the Holy Spirit – your partner for life.

Our God is an awesome God! Let’s put our time, energy, and resources to work for His kingdom. Let’s boldly set forth our commitments to Him as we embrace the mission before us. Remember God’s in control. Generations to come will look back on this time and thank God for your love, your self-discipline, and your sacrificial generosity.

IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO THEE!!!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 38 – January 9 – Wednesday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Leaving a Legacy

Matthew 6:19-20

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroys, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” Good words. Meaningful words. Life-changing words. Applicable words. And words that are eternally true.

Let’s face it…we have too much stuff. When Joan and I moved to Indianapolis, we lived in the Sizemore house on the front of SHCC property. We pretended that we liked it. We had said that we always wanted to downsize. But when family came to visit, somebody had to sleep on the floor.

In 2012 we bought our home…oh my goodness did we ever have space. We have a three car garage. And in the beginning we could park our two cars in that garage. Six years later we find that we are once again we are crowded. We don’t have much room because our “stuff” has taken over.

In the garage that once would house two cars we now find…lawn mower, leaf blower, an edger, a large grill, and lots of yard tools and woodworking tools. We can’t even begin to think about getting a car in there. We have too much “stuff”.

I am not saying that the accumulation of stuff is necessarily wrong. But we must be very much aware of that fact that all of the stuff we possess will someday be gone. It is not eternal. So it becomes a matter of priority. We have never used our tithe and offering to buy any of the stuff we have. Our offering is always first. That money is invested in people. It is invested in something that will never wear out or rust out. It is invested in the ministry of the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. It is invested in heaven. Our goal is to leave a legacy that will continue to help bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

What kind of legacy will you leave? Are you investing and laying up treasure in heaven? What is the most important thing that can be said of you long after you have died and gone to heaven? I want people to say of me, “He laid up treasures in heaven!” What do you want them to say of you?

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

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Day 37 – January 8 – Tuesday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Looking To The Future

Revelation 19:6

Over the past several months I have reconnected to many of my classmates from high school through FaceBook…many whom I have not talked to since 1978. That is just a couple of years ago…we actually celebrated our 40th Graduation Anniversary this past September. As we have been sharing through FaceBook, it is amazing what things we remember from the “good ole days”.

I had some conversations about my little home church. It looks better than it did when I was growing up…but the attendance is much less. When I was there we had as many as 240 people – today they struggle to get 60.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we just yearn for the past? We look back on those days with fondness remembering the good things and forgetting the bad. But when I stop and think about it, I have to remember some of those bad things I did or happened. I remember getting knocked out as I turned around from my locker. I remember the principle calling all of us to the gym to share the news that one of our classmates committed suicide. I remember some of the racial tension that I provoked by dating the African-American Homecoming Queen. I guess what I am saying is…I really don’t want to relieve my past after all.

I want to look to the future. Even though I don’t know that the future holds, I do know who hods the future, and I think I’d rather concentrate on that!!! You see, it isn’t what we’ve done in the past that counts. It is what God can do through us, both now and in the future, that matters. Although the times seem confusing and change comes faster than any of us likes, we must remember that through it all God is in control.

John the Apostle wrote: “Then I hear what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.’” (Revelation 19:6 NIV) Because God reigns, you and I can look to the future and know that whatever comes, he is in charge! I just want to do all I can to usher in God’s forever kingdom in a way that glorifies Him. Are you with me?

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

DAY 36 – January 7 – Monday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Sharing Your Resources

2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Have you ever received anything in life worth having that was received at no cost to you? I can only think of one gift – our salvation through the grace of God. Everything you obtain in this life has a price with it.

If you have a body that is physically fit, then you spend time, effort, and energy to get it. If you are in vocational leadership, then you have paid a price for the advancements you have made. If there is no pain, then there is no gain…or so the saying goes!

But God says if you give generously with a cheerful heart, then it will not cost you, but rather you will be blessed because of your generosity. “Whoever sows generously, will also reap generously.” The amazing thing about God…you cannot out give Him.

God expect us to give just as a father expects his children to participate in the family chores and activities. since we are apart of a family, we are expected to do our part to see that our family’s needs are met. And in the case o the church, we must meet the needs of those who need Jesus in their lives as well.

We were given two commands: Love God! Love Man! Love God with all your heart. Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be close. God wants our hearts, and He know that, to get our hearts completely, we must be willing to give of our financial resources.

God expects us to give…not because of His need but because of our need. God owns everything, so He has no need. On the other hand, our need is for God to be involved in our lives. He has promised that we will have all we need if we just give with a cheerful heart.

Take time to reflect today on the expectations that God has for you and your family. He expects you to give of your resources, but only in a prayerful time of searching will you be able to determine what God is call you to give.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 35 – January 6 – Sunday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Sacrificing Self

Romans 12:1; Matthew 16:24

As I write this, I am sitting at my favorite thinking/writing place. I’m sipping my favorite beverage (Diet Mountain Dew) and I just at a perfectly cooked burger. This evening, I have denied myself nothing. And, as I pondered this day, a thought came to me that I want to share with you. As I have denied myself nothing, nothing of significance as happened. And it leaves me know of…sick to my stomach.

 

Just as the burger will not satisfy my hunger for very long, serving of self is an empty, unsatisfying, and insignificant way to live. I don’t know about you (and I pray it for your life), but I want this life to have significance. Jesus calls the significant life a life of self-sacrifice.

Every day during Jesus’ ministry, he lived significantly. How did he do it? He sacrificed his agenda for God’s agenda. He lived for the fullness of God’s purpose above his own. He taught it this way: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The cross was a sign of sacrifice to all in that day. Today he might says, “If anyone will come after, take your time management organizer and burn it, then follow my way of life.” OUCH!!

Some of us cringe at that thought. The apostle Paul put it this way: “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices…” Do you know the problem with a living sacrifice? It crawls off of the altar. Self-sacrifice means that we ask God to reveal the things our lives that must go in order to make Him more prevalent, then willingly respond, no matter the cost.

When Jesus responded to God’s will by dying for our sins on the cross, God raised him up by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave him the name above all names. Just think what will happen in our lives as we allow God’s agenda to prevail through self-sacrifice.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 34 – January 5 – Saturday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Acknowledging His Lordship

Luke 6:46

Soldiers go through an arduous six-week training known as basic training or “boot camp”. Individuals from all walks of life are brought together, stripped of their individuality, and molded into a group of individuals that learns to totally rely on each other, to work together, and to accomplish what no one person could do on his own. A trust, a bond, a kinship is established that basically says, “I’m no longer in control of my life. I must depend on my buddies and commanders to make me better and protect me from the enemy.”

Jesus in Luke 6:46 asks the important question, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?” As soldiers in God’s army, we should learn by example to be obedient to those we know will lead us to victory.

During the Civil War, young boys were allowed in the army as buglers, to call the troops to battle. They served at the pleaser of the leaders and played the call that the leader commanded. One young man, serving with a general during a particularly horrible battle, was called upon to play advances, movements, and other orders, and he did so without question. As the day went on, the battle turned against the troops, and the general ordered the boy to sound retreat. When the boy did not respond, the general furiously turned to the boy and said, “I ordered you to sound retreat. Now play it!” With quivering lips the boy replied, “I can’t sir. You never taught me how.”

God’s armies of Christians do not allow for retreat. We are to follow God where He leads us without question!!!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 33 – January 4 – Friday

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IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Following Your Leaders

Hebrews 13:7

“Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their ives, and trust the Lord as they do.” Hebrews 13:7

Without question, God has ordained the local church to be led by a select group of qualified men. God does not intend for the church be be led by every person within it. If that were the case, we wold never move forward; we’d only scatter in our own different directions. Therefore, leadership is critical to any church’s success. It has been said the everything rises and falls on leadership. If that is true, and I believe it is, the Southport Heights Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN is moving toward an incredible future.

From the minute I became the Pastor of SHCC, December 1, 2010, I knew there was something very special about this place. I asked myself, “What is it about this place?” “What is the secret?” It soon became very clear to me. There was no secret. There was only what God intended in every church…praying people. And those praying people were consistently praying for the leadership.

I believe that God has placed me “here for such a time as this”. It is my heart’s desire to lead SHCC into the future being the church that God intends it to be. But the core of of leadership in any local church is the elders.

I am looking confidently into he future of SHCC because I know that our elders, our leaders, are confident in our future. Why are they so confident? Because they have sought the will of God with all their hearts, and because God has revealed that will to them. It is quite possible that our elders, our leaders, have spent more time in prayer over the past year that we have in at any other time in our lives. Our leaders know without a doubt that God has led us to the vision of creating a children’s ministry area in our church. They also know without a doubt that God will lead our church to even greater days because of this vision. Our leaders are fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I am very happy to be serving with these Godly men.

So, what should y response be to my leaders? What should yours be? We should follow God-appointed leaders and trust in the Lord as they do. Thank God right now for our elders and staff and commit to allowing the Lord as they do.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 32 – January 3 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)

Loving God Means Trusting Him Fully

Psalm 37:5

Commit your way to the lord; trust I him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Have you ever felt out of control of the events that happened around you? Do you ever stop and say to yourself, “I know I need to control and handle this situation, but I am not sure I can do it?” Do you go to work and try to do all the that you do on your own?

I believe that we all fall into this trap from time to time. Inevitably when I think I can control a situation and attempt to on my own without asking for God’s Spirit and guidance, I fall short.

Imagine a child trying to do something for the first time…like riding a bike. They have the confidence that they can control the situation and do it on their own. As they attempt to keep their balance, peddle the wheels, and go straight ahead, it ends up being much more difficult than they thought. After the first few attempts and failures, the child may ask for assistance from a parent. When dad comes along and keeps a steady hand on the bike and encourages the child, success happens!

Don’t we respond very similarly in our own situations? We attempt to “do it on our own” but soon realize that we can do nothing without the assistance of our Father.

In the NIV Reference Bible, the note on Psalm 37:5 refers us to 1 Peter 5:7, it states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” He did not say to cast part or your anxiety on him, or half of your anxiety on him, but ALL of your anxiety on him. God is a mighty and awesome God who can handle it for us and wants to lighten our load.

Remember, he says, and he will do what?<1>”He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

I just love the promises God makes to us in scripture; if only we would obey. In encourage you to commit your way to the Lord and trust fully in him.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 31 – January 2 – Wednesday

IMAGINE: A Loving God (Love Requires A Response)
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Loving Means Putting Others First

Philippians 2:2-4

Remember the first tie you told someone you love them? Anticipation floods the mind and your heart races as you search their face for the response. I remember one of my roommates in college was told by his girlfriend that she love him…you know what His response was? Read on…

God has laid out the love card on the table of our hearts. He has gone to every extent (even to a cross) to show us His love is real and free to everyone. Love like that deserves a proper response!

One way God looks for us to respond is by living out the example we see in the life of Jesus. Jesus life was marked by love of others above love of self. The ultimate example is, of course, his death on the cross for forgive our sins. And his life was filled with healing, teachings, touching, caring, and challenging people to be God followers. His life reflected the heart of God.

In Philippians 2 the Apostle Paul urges us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” and to “…look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This is a love response God looks for because it reflects his heart.

How does this look in the real world? It shows itself when we serve as greeters, teachers, servers at soup kitchens, share kind words with the discouraged, visit with the lonely, the imprisoned, the needy, and yes, even share our resources in creating space to help each other grow in becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus. In what way will you respond?

Remember my roommate? His answer to his girlfriend was, “I love me, too”! It is no wonder their relationship ended very quickly…hahaha!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…