Here is what Jesus says in Matthew 24:12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold (NASB). Here it is in the NLT: Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
Normally, when we read this passage, we think outside. That is, we look at the decay and lack of godly love in our culture and say, "Yep, Jesus was right." If only the passage said, "Only the love of non-Christians will grow cold." But it doesn't. We must also look inside. As people become more lawless the sleeping pharisee in us wants to rise up and throw stones. Christians can be heard saying and many are thinking, "They get what they deserve, serves 'em right, hope they get the chair, ship 'em back, etc."
If that had been Jesus' thinking He would have stayed in heaven, sitting in His recliner/throne, watching Netflix on his 50 inch LCD tv or He would have gone fishing. But He didn't, His love had not grown cold, He came to seek and save the lost.
1. Pray - Lord, give us hearts to love like Jesus.
2. Read Carefully a portion or chapter in the NT
3. Share - What did you read and what is God teaching you about loving others?
An excerpt from our district superintendent, Steve Babby's, report to our annual district conference on July 9th:
"Although more attention has been given to our pastors in spiritual and leadership development, fewer of our churches showed growth than in previous years. This is very perplexing! This is not an issue isolated to our district - it is one that is showing up thourght evangelical Christian churches [according a Southern Baptist denomination major study]....
Our ministries are good at continuing to do business as usual. What is needed is our hearts broken to see individuals in our communities come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. Our passion and desire should be: A spiritual awakening in our communities, our churches, and our nation."
To that end let us....
1. Pray for spiritual hunger
2. Read carefully a chapter or portion in the New Testament
3. SHARE with the group ("reply to all") your thoughts on on Dr. Babby's comments. Do you agree? What is God laying on your heart?
I once had an older Christian tell me how she "witnessed" to her unsaved nephew and his wife who happened to be staying at her home. When come in late from their "carousing" she would be in the living room, sitting in her rocking chair, facing the front door with the Bible on her lap. Giving them the stink eye for Jesus, she thought, would convict them. (The sad reality is that she was asleep when they came home and probably thought, "The Bible must be boring if it makes autie fall asleep every night).
What's your picture of Jesus? Is he waiting for you with the stink eye and with those guilt ridden questions, "Where have you been?" "Why haven't you been spending time with me?" "What is wrong with you?"
Or do you picture the Jesus of the New Testament, always happy to see you and saying, "Come to me, you who are weary....(Matt 11:28-30)."
Which Jesus do you want to spend time with? Which Jesus do you want to come home to?
1. Pray - take a moment to thank God for today and ask for His help to follow Jesus.
2. Read slowly a paragraph or more in the NT and ponder its meaning
3. THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT - Share, if you feel led: What you learned and/or what God is up to in your life and/or what you'd like the group to pray for.
Why do spiritual disciplines and guilt always go hand in hand? When did not praying enough or reading my Bible begin to trump the grace of God? The last promise Peter made to Jesus, before Jesus' crucifixion, was, "I'll never deny you." The last time Peter saw Jesus, before Jesus' crucifixion, Peter had just denied him three times. Then, after Jesus resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing. When Jesus shows up we expect a scolding, the hammer is going to come down on the rock (Peter's name means "rock"). Instead, Jesus treats Peter and the other fishing disciples to a buffet breakfast (John 21). What gives? Grace.
In the church we both give and receive "drive-by-guiltings": Why weren't you at such & such event, why didn't you volunteer, etc. This causes us to project upon God similar drive-by-guilting behavior. Remember, "in Jesus we have become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our guilt has been removed.
If we do spiritual disciplines or devotions out of guilt or to prevent guilt, we are trying to make ourselves righteous. And this may be one reason we sometimes find ourselves wondering, "Where is the joy of my salvation."
Pray - "Lord help us to believe that you have made us and see us as righteous. Help us believe that You love us, that through the forgiveness of the Blood of Jesus we are perfect and pleasing to you."
Read and ponder 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Here is the proof that God wants us to live eternally: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NASB). God is preserving our lives now so we can be with Him forever. Our hearts and character, which will be with us forever, are being shaped to serve/worship God for eternity.
2. Read Carefully a chapter in the New Testament, listening to what the Spirit is saying.
3. Share. What did you learn, how is your walk with Jesus going.
Keep Pressing On,
- Pastor Tim
How did Paul deal with hump day (Wednesday)?
He tells us in Philippians 3:12-14, "...I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Let us not grow weary or give up our pursuit of being with and becoming like Christ.
2. Read Carefully a chapter in the NT, listening to what the Spirit is saying.
3. Share with your group what you learned and how your walk with Jesus is going.
Keep Pressing On,
The future God has prepared for us requires the transformation of our character now. Our current transformation into Christlikeness is shaping us for the eternal work God created each of us to do. Neither my current circumstances, nor other people control my character or my life (I need to repeat this to myself about 10 times a day). Let's seek daily to become the children God is calling us to be in Christ Jesus
1 John 3:1-2 (NIV) says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
Keep Pressing On,
- Pastor Tim
I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.
- William Carey
My name is Tim Kirkes. I am honored to be the a child of my heavenly Father, the husband of Lisa, the father of two boys and the pastor of San Dimas Wesleyan church.