21 Day Challenge – Day 15

21 Day Challenge - Day 15.jpg

Day 15 – Deadhead(ing)

Scripture: John 15

As a Freshman in college, a friend of mine and her family owned a Rhododendron garden – they even had their own species of Rhododendron that they had created from cross pollination. It was pretty crazy, but if I’m being honest…all of the plants seemed the same to me with some different variations of color. Shows how much I know about being a botanist. (I even had to look up the word, “botanist” – HA!)

While I may have not learned much about Rhododendrons or species, what I did catch onto was caring for these shrubs. In a term that I came to know as “deadheading”, I would walk through the garden with my friend and her family, and using our thumb nails, we would find the dead sprouts or flowers and pluck them out. The reason for deadheading is so that as the shrub draws nourishment from the soil and son it’s not working to give life to something that is lifeless. Instead, when you deadhead a plant or a bush or a shrub or a tree, in affect what you’re doing is helping that shrub to focus it’s nutrients and energies into the rest of the bush, limbs and sprouts that are active and alive and that can use the nutrients. It’s capitalizing on the good and getting rid of the bad.

In today’s reading Jesus talks about our lives in comparison to that of a tree. When we are rooted in God, we will draw our soil and son and nutrients from the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is how we grow, which is HUGE for you and for me as we have been on this journey to grow in our faith. (I’m going to talk more about this in a minute).

The opposite, of course, is not being rooted in God but in the things of this world. When we draw our nutrients from unhealthy places, we will grow up withered and warped and well…dead. Jesus describes these types of branches this way: “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”  WOW! That seems pretty extreme, but when you think of it terms of deadheading, it makes complete sense.

In order to bear good, quality fruit (Galatians 5:22-24), it’s imperative that we are drawing our nutrients from Jesus, and we do this by growing in our relationship with Him – praying; reading the Bible; actively participating in church; worshiping God; accountability; and more. There are many, many ways for us to grow in our faith and produce good fruit; fruit that is useful to God and others. Without this kind of growth, we will eventually wither and waste away, and…well…die.

As you read John 15, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. What areas in my life do I need God to “deadhead” in me?
2. How can I better draw my nourishment from Jesus?
3. Who can I ask to come along side me to help me grow?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

God, thank you for pruning me and giving me every opportunity to grow. Help me to become rooted in You more and more each day beginning with today. I pray that my life will bear fruit that will be useful to You and to others. Prune in me any area that is keeping me from the life that you’ve called me to live. Amen!

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture! RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 14

21 Day Challenge - Day 14Day 14 – Peace

Scripture: John 14

Congratulations! Today we finish up week #2. I know there has been a lot to take in, but I am so proud of you for continuing on this journey. I hope each day you are continuing to learn and grow in your faith and that you keep up with your faith journey. It’s going to be worth it!

An avid music fan, I think that I have an appreciation for all sorts of music. Everything from boy bands to classical and everything in between, I can appreciate nearly all genres of music and from many generations. One of my first desires to play guitar was a direct result of watching Jimmie Hendrix absolutely SHRED at Woodstock. I didn’t get too much into the whole Woodstock movement, nor did I pay particular attention to what was going on. I was too enamored with Jimmie’s talent to think about much else. Yet as I got older and look back I’ve come to learn a lot more about Woodstock and the generation that came out of Woodstock – that they were a generation that prided themselves on the idea of PEACE. What they did…the choices they made…weren’t the best and I AM NOT supporting free-living. What I’m talking about is the idea that they were living for…the idea of peace.

Maybe you’re like me? Maybe when you think about peace images of Woodstock and that generation come to the front of your mind – images of flowers, and peace signs, and rock & roll music,  and Volkswagen Bugs, and…well you get the idea.  Today in our reading and reflection we’re going to look at peace.

As you read today, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Several times Jesus said to His disciples that He would be leaving the world, but when He left He would send them a gift, the Holy Spirit. You are a benefactor of that gift as well. When you and I decide to follow Jesus and ask Him into our heart, we immediately receive the Holy Spirit.

“What’s so special about that?”, you may be asking yourself.

Being a Christian doesn’t take stress away. Being a Christian won’t end all your problems or solve every issue in your life. Being a Christian doesn’t make everything we face in this world instantly better. What being a Christian DOES do is give you the ability to have peace through ALL of life. In the midst of the storms of life…THERE CAN BE PEACE!

Jesus never promises us that following Him will be easy. In fact, at one point, He GUARENTEES that it won’t be easy when He says, “In this life you will have trouble of many kinds.” His promise was that we CAN have peace through His Spirit. He ends that sentence by saying, “Take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Regardless of what you face remember that because you follow Jesus you can have peace.

As you read John 14, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. What does REAL peace look like?
2. What area(s) in my life do I need the peace that comes from knowing Jesus?
3. Who do I know that I can share the peace that comes from knowing Jesus?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Lord, please help me trust you in every situation of my life. I know that there are going to be times when life is really difficult; times when I will face incredibly hard circumstances. Lord, in these storms, I pray that I would come to know and experience the peace that only You can give me. Thank you for being there for me! Amen.

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture! RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 13

21 Day Challenge - Day 13

Day 13 – Getting Dirty

Scripture: John 13

Following Jesus is somewhat of a dichotomy. While Jesus cleans up our lives, (meaning our sins are gone, our habits change, and our hearts are clean), He also asks us to get dirty. Being a Christian involves rollin’ up our sleeves and getting to work. While many people view Christianity as their ticket out of hell so they can sit back and relax, Jesus calls us to a LIFE of service.

Today you’re going to read a story about something incredible; Jesus does something that blows the minds of the disciples. What He did was not only counter-cultural, it was counter-religion. Jesus was a Rabbi (Teacher who had many followers). A Rabbi would NEVER be found rolling up his sleeves and washing his disciple’s feet, yet that is exactly what Jesus did. He was counter-culture. He was also counter-religion. Who has ever heard of a God that served the servants? Jesus IS God in the flesh, yet he knelt at the feet of HIS servants to serve.

Think about these implications. There were no socks, no showers, no paved roads, and no animal pens. All of this means the disciples feet were exposed to the dirt, the animal waste, the weather, the sweat, all of this with NO regular cleaning. You’d think Jesus would have avoided those 24 feet altogether, but He didn’t. He wrapped a towel around His waste, gathered a water basin, and washed their feet.

That’s all fine and dandy until we read verse 15. Jesus says, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” I can almost hear some of you now…”SERIOUSLY? I have to go wash feet now?” Not necessarily, though if you lived in my house, you’d understand the need for my kids feet to be washed and frequently! I think Jesus was setting an example to His disciples and to us. I think He was saying, “If you want to follow me you’ve got to be willing to get dirty. You got to serve, even when it’s messy and not particularly easy.”

There’s one more thing that’s incredibly important – a detail that we have to realize. You see, it was customary within cultural circles for a guest entering a house to have his feet washed by the servant for the owner of the house, and not any servant. No! This job was reserved for the lowest man on the totem poll. This job was considered the lowest of the low and no one, including the servants, wanted this job. To have someone voluntarily wash another man’s feet would have been not only DISGUSTING, but incredibly, incredibly, incredibly TABOO!!!

Now put all of this into perspective.

Jesus = Son of God.

Jesus = Savior of the world.

Jesus = All Powerful.

Jesus = God in flesh.

Jesus = Lead servant.

Jesus = Volunteer foot washer.

Each of these is true of Jesus.

So what implications does this have for you and for me?

Great question!

As we grow in our faith and follow Jesus, we must become more and more like Him. That’s really the totality of being a Christian – die to self; live for Christ; become more Christlike every day as we grow in knowledge, understanding and faith.

Here is a great place to start…

I trust you are attending church or at least considering attending. Start by asking yourself this question: “What can I do to serve in the church?” I trust you have co-workers. How can you serve your co-workers? Your friends? Your neighbors? While following Jesus means He cleans us up, it also means we’re getting dirty. Serving others, to go with yesterday’s thought, is one of your GREATEST evangelism tools. We become the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us.

How and who are you serving today?!

As you read John 13, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. Who am I serving?
2. How am I serving?
3. What is one way that I can serve this weekend?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for being the ultimate example of service. Thank you for doing the dirty work of cleaning me up. Help me to recognize who I can serve and how I can serve. Give me not only the ability to serve, but the desire to be a servant. Amen!

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture!
RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 12

21 Day Challenge - Day 12

Day 12 – Evang-a-what?!

Scripture: John 12

There’s a word that most people in christian circles or the church have heard, but maybe aren’t necessarily familiar with. We hear it but I don’t think we understand it. What is it that word?

Evangelism.

When we hear the word “evangelism”, some idea(s) or image(s) are immediately conjured up in our minds. Perhaps for you it’s the guy on the street corner shouting through a bullhorn. Instead, maybe it’s the little pamphlet that someone leaves in the gym lockers which asks the question “Where would you go if you died in a horrific building fire right this minute?” Growing up this word drummed up images of going door-to-door and talking to people about faith and Jesus. This form of evangelism is still widely practiced by several religious groups today. These examples are some variations of evangelism, but there’s more…

So if these are forms or variations of evangelism, what is the BIG picture here? How does it work?

I don’t know if we can nail it down to one thing, but I do know this…it should be natural. We shouldn’t have to force ourselves to evangelize. I mean, if I love a new restaurant, I’m going to tell people about it. When I go and experience a great movie, I naturally begin talking about it. It comes very natural for me to talk about my favorite sports teams (GO DUCKS!). And don’t get me started on my church or my family…I can talk about them all day long. The point is that evangelism in whatever form should be organic and feel a part of who we are, not simply something that we HAVE to do.

In today’s challenge reading from John 11, it says that the reason so many people came out to meet Jesus was because others were talking about what Jesus did raising Lazarus from the dead. Now I can imagine what you’re thinking: “If I saw a dead man raised to life, I’d tell everyone!!!” In reality, you and I have the opportunity to experience something even greater first-hand. “What’s that?”, you ask. I think the mere fact that Jesus DIED for you and for me so that we might LIVE, this is an incredible miracle that bears tremendous significance; an opportunity to experience life and life to the fullest. This is us (IN JESUS) breaking free from the power of sin in our lives. This is us (IN JESUS) experiencing eternal life, far beyond anything this world has to offer. This is us (IN JESUS) becoming new creations – the old gone; the new now. This is YOUR story, and it’s a story with sharing!

Evangelism is all about you naturally sharing what God has done in your life. It’s simply being excited about your journey of faith and experiencing life as a Christian. We don’t have to force it on someone; in fact, we shouldn’t! There’s no need to bring it up at inopportune times.Don’t be obnoxious. That said, definitely don’t be afraid of it.  Simply be intentional in looking for God to open up opportunities for you to share what you’ve experienced in your life and faith and when you do.

Evangelism doesn’t have to be difficult. If you live your life for the glory of God, He will open doors for you to share your faith. The Bible tells us to “always be ready to share the hope that we have”. If we live for Jesus, people will take notice and express interest.

As you read John 12, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. What are some ways that I can naturally share my faith with folks?
2. What’s the hardest part about sharing my faith?
3. Who is one person that I can share my faith with today?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Lord, help me to live my life in such a way that people will ask me about the hope that I have IN YOU, and when they do ask, I pray that You would give me the words to say so I can share my faith with them. Thank you for the people in my life that were willing to share with me. Amen.

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture!
RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 11

21 Day Challenge - Day 11

Day 11 – Wrong Question

Scripture: John 11

Have you ever thought about forever? Forever is a long time. Isn’t it hard to believe that we’ve been doing this for eleven days now, and we haven’t once mentioned heaven, forever, or eternity?

The afterlife is a hotly contested subject. Is there actually a heaven and a hell, and do people really go there? If so, who goes where? If I died tonight, where would I go? These are a sampling of questions that come up when you begin talking about eternity.

As you read today, Jesus addresses eternity. One of his closest friends, Lazarus, dies of an apparent illness. The climax of the story is when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead after being in the grave for four days. The zenith of the story is found in something Jesus says and not necessarily in the miraculous act of raising Lazarus from the dead (as impressive as that must have been to watch and be a part of). You see Jesus wasn’t focused on the physical DEATH of one man, but the spiritual LIFE of us all!

Verse 25 says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who LIVES in me and BELIEVES in me will never ever die.”

Is there a heaven and hell?

Yes.

Do people actually go there?

Yes.

Jesus and all of Scripture speak of an actual place called heaven and an actual place called hell. Those who believe in Jesus and have a right-relationship with him go to heaven and those who don’t…well, you get the picture. The question we have to struggle with is why are we always focused on what happens after we die when we have so much time to live today?

In the church world we’ve become famous for asking the question: “Where would you go if you died tonight?”.  I think we’ve been asking the wrong question. I think we should be asking, “Where COULD you go, and what COULD you do if you LIVED for Jesus today?” Even Jesus said, “Everyone who LIVES in me will never die”. So If I just focus on living, I don’t have to worry about dying or fear death itself.

I think that we’ve been asking the wrong question…

Choose to live today!

As you read John 11, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. In what area(s) have I not experienced life because I was too worried about death?
2. What does LIFE look like as a Christian (what makes living different)?
3. What’s one thing that I can do to live more fully today?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Lord, thank you for making a way for all of eternity for me. Thank you that in You I get to experience eternal life in heaven. Help me to LIVE for you as you live in and through me this side of heaven; to live this life that you’ve given me to the fullest measure. Amen!

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture!
RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 10

21 Day Challenge - Day 10.jpg

Day 10 – Satisfied?

Scripture: John 10

“All of life comes down to just one thing. That’s to know You, oh Jesus, and to make You known.” (Charlie Hall – One Thing)

The reading and reflection for today is one of my favorites in the entire Bible. One verse in chapter 10 stands out to me from the rest and is the focus for us today. It is the core of my preaching as a pastor and resonates with me every time I read it. It says, “The devils’ purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Rich and satisfying. We like the sound of that don’t we? Who doesn’t want to have a rich and satisfying life? Here is the catch though. Jesus’ idea of being rich and satisfied is NOTHING like what our culture describes. The devil wants to make sure he steals our life. Jesus wants to give us abundant life. Rich… and satisfying!

So how do we get it?

The life Jesus offers is only satisfying when not lived for one’s self. When we GIVE instead of TAKE. Remember yesterday? You and I are here on this planet, not for us, but for Jesus and for others. Jesus said, “If you want to be first then you must be last.” “If you want to be the greatest then become the servant to all.” It sure seems like He’s talking in circles doesn’t it? So what is he saying?

This whole thing called LIFE isn’t about you! This journey isn’t about me!! Nope. It’s when I begin to put Jesus and others ahead of myself that I REALLY begin to experience life. This flies in the face of our pride. This flies in the face of our culture. And that’s exactly what Jesus is trying to expose. US!

There’s a place in the Bible (Philippians 2), which tells us that our attitude should be like that of Jesus’ who, “was in very nature God but didn’t consider equality with God as something to pursue, but rather He made himself nothing. Becoming a servant.”

The devil says, “Live for yourself. Don’t think of others. Make sure to do what you want.” When we live that way, we’re actually helping Him steal our life. Jesus says, “Live for me and for other people and you’ll get what you’re looking for”. Satisfaction. (Totally have the song in my head…“I can’t get nooooo, sat-is-faction…)

The truth is anything and everything that we try to fill our lives with to bring us satisfaction; the things of this world…they’re nothing more than cheap imitations and will ALWAYS leave us empty and looking for more. The only experience of satisfaction in truest form comes in and through faith in Jesus. That’s it! So the goal has to be to die to self in order to live in Christ, or rather, that Christ might live in and through you and me.

As you read John 10, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. In what ways have I looked for satisfaction in the past?
2. What is one thing that I can do to live for Jesus today?
3. What is something that I will do to for someone today?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for modeling for me the example I am to follow. Please help me to put others frst and to carry the attitude that you had. I don’t want to live for myself. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. Help me to live for you and for others! Amen.

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture!
RevAndrew1978@gmail.com

21 Day Challenge – Day 9

21 Day Challenge - Day 9

Day 9 – Why Am I Here?

Scripture: John 9

Ever wonder why you are here? Not here like “On my couch” or “At a coffee shop”, but why am I on this planet? Why did God make ME? The things that happened in my life; are they for a purpose? Also, what about the bad stuff that happened to me or the bad things I did? How can God use all of this? All of this leads me to ask the question…

“Why am I here?”

In our reading today, the disciples ask a similar question about a man who was born blind. They ask Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?” Jesus’ response is somewhat of a surprise. We would expect a theological, philosophical, deep and hard to understand answer. Instead, He doesn’t give what we’re all expecting. His answer is simple. He says: “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

This leads to a pretty obvious question and the point of today’s thoughts…

Why are you here?

The answer is simple. So the power of God might be seen in YOU. While you may not have been born blind so Jesus could make you see, you have been made EXACTLY the way God wants you to be (you’re NOT a mistake or a mishap or an accident or an “oops”), so that He can use you to do great things and reveal His power, purpose, and plan in and through you. You are uniquely designed to fulfill a God-sized purpose. You have been placed on this planet for such a time as this. You were made ON purpose, WITH a purpose, FOR a purpose. You are exactly who God wants you to be…for HIM!

I can almost here you now…

“Really? God wants to use me?”

YES!

“But what about my sins? What about all the times I’ve messed up?”

First off, they’re gone! When you accept Jesus and surrender your life to Him, He erases all of your baggage and junk and stuff. Second, you are now like the blind man. You can help people who are struggling with those same things you used to struggle with. How many blind people do you think this man brought back to Jesus? Lame? Deaf? As many as he could! I can almost see him saying: “You’ve GOT TO come see this man named Jesus. I was blind but now I can see. He made me see!” I’m sure he wondered how his blindness could ever be used…but it was. I can imagine how you might ask how your stuff can be used by God, but IT CAN!

God has given you passions, talents, even failures so that His power might be shown in you? Figure out what God has given you to show His power. It might take a while to figure it out and that’s okay. Jesus wants to live THROUGH you. Don’t ever stop asking the question “Why am I here?” You’re here for Jesus!

As you read John 9, ask yourself these questions…

Questions

1. How would I explain why I am here?
2. What part of my life can I use to help others?
3. Who is someone that I can share my journey with?
4. What questions do I have?

Prayer

Lord, thank you for making me…ME! Please help me to see and understand why you made me and why I am here. I want my life to be used for Your glory in any way that you want me too. Pease reveal to me my purpose for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Need Help?

You can e-mail Pastor Andrew with any questions about this study or the Scripture!
RevAndrew1978@gmail.com