Monthly Archives: April 2014

Operating in an Upside Down Kingdom

Yesterday I described a terrifying dream of persecution and how the Lord (in His goodness) unexpectedly used it to teach me a few points from the book of Philemon. If you missed yesterday’s post (which included the first point), then click HERE to read it.

Let’s dive right into the remaining two points that the Lord showed me:

As a prisoner of Christ, Paul emphasizes the importance of personally praying for others while he himself is under duress. And he doesn’t just pray for their overall well-being; he specifically prays for their faith in Christ Jesus in Philemon 1:6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Beloved, there are two types of people in our lives that we should constantly be praying for:

 I. Unbelievers – We all know them. The wisest and most effective way to prepare for a conversation with a non-believer (perhaps as part of evangelism) is to pray for them in advance. Ask God to lead you into how to even pray for them, and He will be faithful to show you.

II. Believers – Believe it or not, believers (me included) need equally as much prayer. Just because they are a Christian does not mean they know how to live like a Christian. This is a process, beloved. The most effective way to cultivate change in a person’s life is not by talking to them, but by actually praying for them first.

In times of adversity, praying for others is a healthy and intentional way for us to maintain intimacy with Christ while keeping our minds from meditating on our own circumstances. This act alone fulfills the second portion of the Great Commandment (loving others as ourselves) and is also the first step in fulfilling the Great Commission. The fruit we can produce when we focus on the positive and care for others is amazing.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-10

Being a prisoner of Christ means to be thankful, even when the world says we should we grumbling. Paul’s situation appears tragic and hopeless, and many would give him full permission to complain and curse God just like Job’s carping visitors did. Here I can imagine one of Paul’s friends saying: “Dude, you smell. The water is dirty, there are rats hanging around, and you haven’t felt warm sunshine, had a good meal or a hot shower in months. Why on earth would you be thankful? Just curse God and die.” And that sentiment would likely cross a lot of people’s minds.

Instead Paul decides to open his letter with this statement: “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” Philemon 1:4-5

We must remember beloved, that the kingdom of God is radical. Years ago, a pastor once admonished me to imagine a “normal” kingdom with me living in it. The he said, “Now, turn it upside down. That, beloved, is the kingdom of God.” I have never forgotten those words because they have proven to be so true in my own walk of faith. God’s kingdom can feel bizarre to us, with our human rationale and ever-changing emotions. Yet we can always trust that when God gives us a commandment, choosing to follow Him is by far the best decision we can make.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation’.” Philippians 2:14-15

We can be grateful and positive in conflict, beloved, because God makes what is impossible to man alone possible through Himself. Becoming a prisoner of Christ Jesus perfectly exemplifies this. We give up our freedom to complain, grumble, rebel, focus on self, and meditate on the temporal things of this world; instead we become a slave to the One True King, Jesus Christ. Then, when hardship does arrive (in all varying degrees), our focus, trust, and stability already rest in something much stronger than the circumstance that encircles us.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

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I Went to Jail for Jesus

Her car was completely surrounded. To her right stood two soldiers holding semi-automatic pistols and banging against the passenger side glass window. And directly ahead were three more. Completely unnerved and in a state of sheer terror, she whispered to Jesus: “Please help me, Lord.”

Immediately, the soldiers jerked open the door and shamelessly threw her onto the pavement. With soldiers finally securing each one of her arms, she stood there as they splashed black paint on her body to signal that she was one of “those people.” She followed Jesus.

Within minutes, she was locked in a tiny prison cell. Soon the soldiers received a radio message demanding that they go take more Christians captive. Now all alone, she noticed that the floor of the prison cell was cold and wet, and it carried a noxious smell of waste and mildew. She had no idea where they had taken her husband.

What she had been fearing the most had finally come to pass: you see, she was taken captive for professing Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior as an American living in her own home. In this dystopian “land of the free,” the imaginary had just became a reality.

This woman was me, but thankfully this story only occurred within a recent dream. Yet similar (or worse) scenarios are repeated daily in different countries across the globe. We should never be too complacent to think that we will indefinitely be free from encountering such oppression. The world we live in is fallen, and Scripture specifically tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith in Him.

The purpose of this post isn’t to drum up a mental catalog of what-ifs (nor do I wish to promote martyrdom or a spirit of fear). Instead, I want to focus on how we can be encouraged through His word today.  If the very One we profess to be our Lord and Savior suffered (along with His apostles and disciples) and we are called to follow Him, is it realistic to think that we will not also suffer?

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14

Of course, in His precious goodness the Lord leveraged this atrocious dream to draw me to three specific points found in the book of Philemon. My hope is that we can apply these truths to our individual lives through the grace of Jesus Christ in our daily walk with Him. Today we will focus on the first of these three:

Before Paul ever became a physical prisoner of Christ, he first becomes enslaved to Jesus in his mind. Even as Paul sits in a Roman prison cell,  I find it compelling that he opens the book of Philemon with this statement in Philemon 1:1: “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus.”

Paul has already assumed a new identity through Jesus. Even as the Romans hold his physical body in shackles, his mind and spirit have long been prisoners of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this perspective, nothing really changes for him other than his physical location. Think about that for a moment.

Paul has made several daily, intentional decisions to die to himself so that, when the real suffering comes upon him in the form of persecution, he is ready. Christ has been the Lord over his thinking, speaking, and being. Paul hasn’t been perfect, but he has wisely exercised his free-will to die to his fleshly tendencies daily so that God becomes more known in his life. This just screams honor and respect. And it’s possible for us too, through the grace of Christ. Paul just simply chooses Jesus.

 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ” Galatians 5:24

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

How does this post speak to you today? We’d love to hear from you!

And as always, thank you for choosing His Daily Dose. Join us tomorrow as we discuss the final two points related to developing a mature and strong mind for Christ, regardless of our circumstances.

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My Apology to You

With a gentle breeze flowing into our loft through wide open windows, I’m gazing out at the Atlanta skyline with my Bible resting at my side. I’ve come to realize that I need to apologize to you as readers. Whether you’re visiting this site for the first time today or you’ve been subscribing to HDD since its inception, I want to share a few heart-provokingly honest thoughts with you.

Even though it’s been incredibly rewarding, embarking on this journey of following Christ in creating, maintaining, and growing His Daily Dose (with His grace) has been undeniably challenging. I know many readers that have been impacted by this blog, and I myself am not omitted from this statement. My trust in Christ has been radically transformed, my prideful tendencies are being corrected, and my innate desire for man’s approval is being completely pushed aside. Praise be to Him!

“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

Without Him, I realize that I could never do what His Daily Dose requires of me. Every single day, I am literally starving for Jesus.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63

Following Christ into unknown territories on our journeys of faith has a way of causing us to fall to our knees. We come to the end of ourselves, and He begins to reveal Himself. This is a beautiful (and often lonesome) place. No one else can help us except for Jesus.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Even so, you as readers have provided significant motivation by keeping me grounded and encouraging me in this work He has asked me to do. Thank you for being a reader of His Daily Dose!

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6

Lately, as I have been researching how to transform His Daily Dose into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, my writing has definitely suffered. Since you have been choosing to read the writing God has asked me to share, I owe you a major apology. My heart’s intention has never been to do any reader a disservice nor to poorly steward what God has entrusted to me by not consistently producing fresh content each day. But in recent weeks, I’ve frequently chosen not to produce new content, and for that I ask for your forgiveness.

I believe that He wants you here at His Daily Dose. This blog is simply a platform of His to remind you (His beloved) that He pursues, He convicts, and He challenges. He woos and He romances. He delights in our every detail; He is a God that is highly-personable, powerful, all-consuming, timely, passionate, all knowing, faithful, and loving. And He has asked me to write these truths on a daily basis (and about a wide range of important life topics).

His Daily Dose is His blog, His organization, His company, and His mission. And you are His beloved; you are His reader, not mine. This is a responsibility that I must remember to steward exceptionally well for His kingdom.

Wherever you are, God is absolutely enthralled by you. He cares about your heart being encouraged and your spirit being discipled into a deeper image of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am simply a bond servant to the call of Jesus Christ. Please know that I am committed to you, to convey the Lord’s love to you through words with His grace for God’s eternal glory.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

Thank you for choosing His Daily Dose! May His will be done.

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