Know What Counts And What Doesn’t

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Have you noticed how easily you can lose your joy over some little thing? It’s usually the small irritations that cause you to lose your happiness. Somebody cuts you off in the middle of the road when you’re trying to make a turn, and you lose your happiness. You’re having a bad hair day or the clothes you put on don’t fit anymore, and you lose your happiness. It’s the little things that sometimes affect us the most, yet they don’t really matter.

Paul says in Philippians 3:7, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done”.

What was the most important thing to you before you began following Jesus Christ? Work? Career? Making money? Maybe it was getting a date. Maybe it was being popular. Maybe it was having security or being famous.

Paul says all those things don’t matter anymore compared to the joy of knowing Jesus.

You have to ask yourself about everything: How much will this matter in 100 years? How much of what I’m worrying about right now is going to matter tomorrow? It’s probably not going to matter tomorrow, much less for eternity. You can choose to live in light of eternity: “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Every day when you get up, remind yourself what counts—and what doesn’t.

Make The Most Of Your Talents

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

God has given you unique abilities, talents, and gifts. At Saddleback Church, we say they represent a person’s SHAPE: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. This bundle of talents is the thing God has given you that makes you who you are and sets you apart from other people.

If you think your talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life. God gave you talents to benefit others, not yourself. And God gave other people talents that benefit you.

In the body of Christ, each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. You are shaped to serve God, and he wants to see how you are going to use the talents he gave you.

Whether you’re a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others. The Bible tells us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). When God created you, he made an investment in you, and he expects a return on that investment.

Are you using what he’s given you for the benefit of others to make the world a better place? Or are you just using those talents to benefit yourself?

If God has given you a talent, he wants you to use it. It’s like a muscle. If you use it, it will grow. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. If you have a talent but are afraid to use it, or if you get lazy and don’t use it to benefit others, you’re going to lose it. Like the parable of the ten talents in Luke 19, if you don’t use what God has given you, he will take it away and give it to someone else who will.

But if you use your talents wisely, God will give you more. If you use your time wisely, God will give you more time. If you use your energy wisely, God will give you more energy. If you use your influence wisely, God will increase your influence. God will bless your level of faithfulness.

Remind Yourself Of Gods Grace, And Relax In It

“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).

Legalism will rob you of happiness. It’s the attitude that you have to prove your love to God, which means you have to make sure you do everything exactly right. It’s thinking you have to follow rules and regulations and restrictions in order to prove yourself worthy. One of the consequences of being legalistic is that we then force the same expectations on others, thinking they also have to prove their worth to God.

Legalism will suck your life dry of happiness. It sucks churches dry of happiness. Everybody’s just there out of duty or guilt.

How do you know when you’re being legalistic? It’s when you’re judgmental of other people. How do you know when you’re living by grace? It’s when you’re gracious to others. People who live by grace often find it easier to forgive because they recognize that God continues to forgive them.

When you finally realize there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more, it is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. And it is a key to happiness. Every day, remind yourself of God’s grace, and relax in it.

Face Your Feelings So You Can Be Free

“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord” (Psalm 77:1-2).

Have you ever dropped a soda bottle and then opened it right after? What usually happens? It makes a mess!

The worst possible response to hidden wounds in your life is to clam up. It’s like shaking a soda bottle. One day, you’ll just explode!

Bottling up your hidden wounds will wear you out. The Bible says, “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long” (Psalm 32:3).

You’ll never get over your hidden wounds until you face your feelings head-on by admitting them to God, yourself, and another person.

Many people try to move past their pain by admitting it to God and themselves, but then they skip the third part of the equation. It will never work. Admitting your pain to others is absolutely essential to your healing. Getting better depends on it: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

You don’t have to confess to a pastor, a priest, or a therapist to obey James 5:16 (although you can). You just need a friend you can trust.

If you use all your emotional energy trying to cover up the past, you’ll have little left for today. Open up about your hidden pain to someone. Tell that person what hurts. By confessing your hidden pain to God, yourself, and another person, you’ll likely find the energy you’ve been living without for so long.

Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.

How God Meets Your Deepest Needs

“Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God . . . Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more” (Job 11:13, 15-16).

You can’t heal the most pervasive, costly wounds in your life by focusing on your past. To defeat those giants, you need to look ahead.

Do you try to find healing by looking in your rearview mirror? When you do this, you’re more likely to crash than heal. Focusing on whatever happened in your past that’s making you seek healing won’t lead you in the right direction.

In the story of Job, we discover how to get rid of painful memories and move on with our lives: “Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God . . . Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more” (Job 11:13, 15-16 ).

First, put your heart right. You do what’s right—no matter what the other person has done to you. Forgiveness is always the right choice.

Second, reach out to God. Invite Jesus into every “room” in the house of your heart. You may have invited him into the front room (accepted Jesus as your Savior) but not the other rooms in your heart.

Third, face the world again. Don’t hide in a shell or withdraw to avoid getting hurt again. Move forward. Learn to live again.

Your past is not your future. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, the people you’ve done it with, or how long you’ve done it. Throughout Scripture, God forgave murderers, adulterers, and slackers, and he used them to do his work in the world.

You, too, have a great future ahead of you. Put your heart right, reach out to God, and face the world again.

And then let God do something incredible through you.

Who Will Be In Heaven Because Of You

“The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me—to tell people the Good News about God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

The Bible says in Acts 20:24, “The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me—to tell people the Good News about God’s grace”.

Notice it doesn’t say the most important thing in life is to get married, fund your retirement, travel a lot, become famous, or pay off the house. It says the most important thing in life is to fulfill your mission. If Jesus died on the cross for you so that you can fulfill your mission and you don’t do it, that’s a massive, eternal waste.

God put you on Earth for a purpose. He has a mission that only you can fulfill. Part of that mission is to tell other people the Good News of God’s grace. You know Christ because somebody told you about him. Who will you tell?

If somebody died for you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Jesus died for every single person in the world. This weekend, the typical American will sit at home watching TV, with a soda or beer, maybe reading the newspaper, kicked back and relaxed—and totally unaware that Jesus Christ died for them and unaware of the grace that is available to them.

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. God wants everybody in his family, and because God cares, we must care.

The way we show our gratitude for the grace of God is by making our own lives count, by living a life of extravagant generosity, and by telling as many people as we can about the Good News.

God, Why Is This Happening To Me

“We don’t know everything, and our prophecies are not complete . . . Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understand us” (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12).

Sometimes God intentionally hides his face from us. Why? So we’ll learn to trust him and to live by faith rather than by our feelings.

For instance, when Job experienced a lot of pain and despair, he asked a lot of legitimate questions: “Why let people go on living in misery? Why give light to those in grief” (Job 3:20).

These “why” questions are human nature; we all ask them. We have this misconception that if we understand the reason behind our pain, it will lessen the pain—or at least make it easier to endure.

But Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things”. The only reason you know anything about God is because he has chosen to reveal himself to you. Here’s the truth: There are some things you’ll never understand until you’re in heaven.

God doesn’t owe you an explanation for anything. God doesn’t have to check in with you first before he does something. God doesn’t have to get your permission before he allows things to happen in life. God is God, and we’re not always going to understand why some things happen.

One day it’s all going to be clear. It’s all going to make sense. You’re going to be able to say, “So that’s why God allowed that in my life!” Until then, God wants you to trust him.

When You’re Overwhelmed, Stand Strong

“Put your trust in the LORD your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what his prophets tell you, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20 ).

When you focus on your problems instead of trusting God, you’re going to end up exhausted. And you’re going to be defeated because God didn’t design you to fight your battles alone. You don’t have the power you need to face every problem in your own strength. You need God’s power.

You can’t focus on your problems and focus on God at the same time. You’ve got to shift your focus to who God is and what he’s promised to do for you.

Life is full of experiences that test you, drain you, and wipe you out. When you are worn out, that’s when you’re ready to say to God, “I’m sorry. I can’t handle this situation, and I’ve tried everything. I need to give it to you because it’s bigger than me.”

So, what should you do when you are overwhelmed? You stand strong.

Standing strong is an attitude of quiet confidence in the character of God. You will be successful when you put your trust in what he says to you through his Word and the Holy Spirit. When you get with God, you’ll never have to give up ground because you are standing strong.

When the burden is overwhelming, you may be tempted to cave in under the pressure. God doesn’t want you to back down from difficult situations. He doesn’t want you to sacrifice your integrity. God wants you to trust him through the challenges and learn from them. If you run, you’ll miss out on learning from God. And chances are, you’ll need to repeat that lesson.

God is committed to your success. But you need to focus on him and trust him and his Word if you want to stand your ground.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all” 

Mentoring Matters for Spiritual Growth

“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Every Christian needs both a Paul and a Timothy.

A “Paul” is somebody who has been a Christian longer than you and is helping to train and encourage you. That person may only be a month older than you, but he or she has probably walked longer with the Lord and is more spiritually mature and can mentor you.

A “Timothy” is somebody who hasn’t been a Christian as long as you whose faith you are helping to build. You offer that person encouragement and discipleship as he or she grows in the Lord.

So, you have a Paul and a Timothy in your life. But you are also a Paul and a Timothy to others.

In 2 Timothy, Paul says this to Timothy: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

We see four generations in that verse. Paul says to Timothy that he helped mentor him, meaning Paul guided him to spiritual maturity. Now Timothy must find somebody to mentor, and then that person can find somebody else to mentor.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “mentoring.” Mentoring is as easy as taking someone to breakfast once a month and asking, “How’s it going?” You just need to be a friend. Listen to, encourage, and pray for that person. You don’t have to be a “perfect Christian” to do this. You just have to be willing.

To fully live out God’s calling on your life, you need other people. You will more fully grow as a disciple when you learn from other believers who are more mature than you and when you share your wisdom and experience with believers who are younger than you.

The Value of Faith in a Faithless World

“When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8).

We live in an increasingly faithless world. It is a secular world of shifting values and growing egocentrism. If Jesus came back today, how many people of faith would he find? And would you be one of them?

The Bible makes it clear that God is looking for faithful people. In 2 Chronicles 16:9 it says, “For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them” 

God is seeking faithful people because he wants to bless them. He wants to show his love through his great power. Our faithfulness is the key to unlocking his blessing in our lives.

Jesus said, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). God wants to pour blessings into all areas of your life—your family, your career, your finances, your health, your relationships. This blessing may not look like we expect it to, but God is working it out in our lives nonetheless. And he will do it according to the level of your faith. If you have great faith, you will have great blessing. If you have a little faith, you will receive a little blessing. But if you have no faith, God’s blessing will not be in your life.

Sadly, faithful people who really trust God and live for Christ day in and day out are hard to find. The Bible says, “Everyone talks about how loyal and faithful he is, but just try to find someone who really is!” (Proverbs 20:6).

When sin entered the world with Adam and Eve, we were all corrupted. None of us does what is right all the time. But faith is the key to victory. The greater our faith, the more victory we will experience in our lives.

“Every child of God can defeat the world, and our faith is what gives us this victory” (1 John 5:4).

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑