- SEEKER: First and foremost, a Champion seeks after God. His ultimate goal is being so in tune with God that everything he does flows out of that relationship. He hears, feels and knows God’s heart and desires. He is guided by God’s spirit and longs for God’s ways and love to be known and experienced by all. He wants joy and happiness for himself and others and he knows that seeking God is the key.
- FIGHTER: Yes he competes. He strives. He works to get better. He wants all that he does to be the best because he knows his life, others and the Cause are at stake. His fight however is for God. And his number one enemy is satan and his own flesh that keeps trying to feed him lies of doubt and unbelief.
- LOVER: The great drive to protect and fight comes from his deep love. It wells up in him so much that he does things any ordinary person would instinctively turn and run in fear. A champion is the greatest lover on earth!
- SERVANT: A true leader is a servant leader. Jesus himself said, “the greatest one among should be…like the one who serves.” And a leader by definition champions others by serving and using his life… skills, talents, personality and resources…to help others.
One of the most amazing truths found in scripture is that God lives in the believer’s heart.
There are many word pictures and metaphors that attempt to describe this intimate reality. From our bodies being the “temple of God” to Jesus being the Vine and us the “branches”, all are meant to communicate the active love, provision and purpose God has for each one of us.
READ: Isaiah 51:1-3
““Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”Isaiah 51:1-3 NIV
Three things (you may see more!) stand out from this passage. First….
1) You are made in the image of God
“Look to the rock from which you were cut…” (v.1). Our beginning is God himself. We were cut from Him. In Psalms it says, “He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’” -Psalms 89:26 NIV
2) God sees our “ruins” and the “wastelands” of our souls.
He looks on us with compassion. He knows how we tend to make a mess of our life. The broken places.. the dryness and depression or overwhelm of life that can break in at times.
3) God still wants to come and live inside us.
Look at what God did through one man…
“Look to Abraham….he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” (v.2)
He wants to do the same through you and me. How? He wants to build our hearts into little temples.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV
God makes his home now in the temple of our heart. But this temple resembles more of the Garden from its original intention.
“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”Isaiah 51:3 NIV
We are to be, what John Eldridge describes as, OUTPOSTS OF EDEN or Eden Temples.
““The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
Acts 17:24 NIV
“Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.””
John 2:19 NIV
Jesus ticked off the religious scholars because they had such limited understanding. God was up to something extraordinary through Jesus. GOD WAS BEGINNING THE PROCESS OF RESTORING EDEN. Restoring things to their original intent through YOU and ME!
In some quiet time now…read and spend time meditating on the following scriptures. Let the truths sink in…deep in your heart.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
““But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.””Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV
How will you honor God with your life and body as an “Outpost of Eden” this year?
If you are like me, sometimes the repetitive nature of things can make me a little dull and it can be easy to miss the true impact of certain events or experiences. In all the commercialization and busyness of this season, it is easy to miss how truly amazing Christmas is. So we are going to ask: What is the big deal about Christmas? And why it is THE ANSWER to life’s most pressing problems.
Have you or anyone else you know asked the question: “If God is real why doesn’t He do something about all the evil in the world?”
If you watch or listen to the news at all, it will not take long to be confronted and at times overwhelmed by all the unrest and tragedies in our city and the world. You may even wonder what you or anyone else can do about it. The amazing news is that God is not blind to all that is happening. In fact, he saw it coming before it even happened. He set forth a plan, called Christmas, to eradicate all the evil and problems in the world.
The angels revealed that God was bringing good news and joy (v.10), a Savior (v.11), and peace (v.14).
Likewise, the Holy Spirit revealed through Simeon, a devote man that God has provided salvation (v.30) for not only for people that have grown up in church (aka. Israel or Jews; v.32) but for all people (Gentiles; v.32). Meaning God had rescue plan and Rescuer that is now on the scene to set things right.
The birth of Jesus (aka Christmas) was Gods response to the pain and problems of the world. It was His great rescue plan to bring people out of darkness.
Why is there still pain in the world?
You may be thinking…”well that’s sounds great and all, but why is there still pain and trouble in the world?” What has helped me is knowing that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8). Meaning His overall plan is greater and better. Also, what we have to realize is God’s salvation plan is happening….it is in motion. It has not fully culminated yet.
How can we know this? All we need to do is look around a little closer.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17 NIV
In other words…just look for love. Where have you seen some “good”? Where have you seen some kind of “perfect gift” in your life? Whatever good or beauty we see or experience, we can know that God had a part in it.
- When you see all the Chrismas lights and decorations, try to reframe them as a celebration signally the reality that God has given us an answer to the problems of the world.
- And that when we ➡️see love and ➡️act love out, we can join in with God’s rescue plan.
Ask yourself these questions…
- What do you want to change in your life?
- What is the situation you have found yourself in that you are tired of?
- What thing do you keep on doing that you know is wrong?
Paul talks about the human condition we all find ourself in:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
Romans 7:21-24 NIV
Sometimes the situation or condition we find ourself in is not because of our sin….it is the result of living in a fallen world. Checkout this interaction Jesus had with two guys.
READ: Matthew 20: 29-34
Jesus asked them “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?”
““Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”Matthew 20:33-34 NIV
But Jesus is setting up for the main event here…the thing he was ultimately going to do that would give everyone a chance to be free and have victory over their situation.
READ: Matthew 21:1-9
“The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!””
Matthew 21:9 NIV
Hosanna means SAVE! The people wanted to be free from the oppression of the Roman Empire. But Jesus knew that they needed to be ultimately be save from their sinful nature.
READ: Titus 2:11-14
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Titus 2:11-14 NIV
Gods grace has appeared in the form of Jesus that offers a way out….and saves us from our sin and situations. When we have faith in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, His spirit saves us, forgive us and purifies our hearts so that we are “eager to do what is good.”
- What do you want Jesus to do for you?
- Go to church this week and expect to receive a word or blessing from Jesus.
- If you have never asked Jesus to save you, then make that be this week…today. Ask Him to come into your heart.
READ: Luke 2:1-40
DO I REALLY HAVE JESUS IN MY LIFE?
AM I REALLY CARRYING JESUS IN MY HEART?
Honestly…have you ever wondered this?
If so, be encouraged that you are not alone in those thoughts. Many people who had vital roles in the revelation of God’s work in this world, had doubts too.
Mary and Joseph are examples of this. Think of it…
This is most likely the first time since the original time the angel appeared and told Mary how she was going to carry the Messiah. Imagine how she may have been feeling and the realities they were dealing with:
– Difficult travel to Bethlehem
– No room at a hotel…crowded town
– No proper baby provisions
Maybe she might have been thinking “is all what God promised true?” But look at how God brought three different kinds of people in her life to encourage her…and others.
The Shepherds: The “Working-Class” Faithful –Luke 2:8-20
In verse 12 it says, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
This was a sign not only to the shepherds, but to Mary and Joseph. They may have been thinking… “did we miss it, why are we having so much trouble in our lives if the Christ is in our life?”
I think that is why it says that Mary “treasured all these thing in her heart”. God brought encouragement to Mary.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. -Luke 2:19
Simeon – “The righteous and devout” and “Spirit-led man” –Luke 2:22-35
Simeon confirmed to Mary and Joseph what was spoken to them months ago was true. When he said, “my eyes have seen your salvation”, they had to know again that God was truly there now in their life.
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. -Luke 2:33
Anna- The Prophet –Luke 2: 36-38
Think about how God used Anna to encourage everyone there. She was able to look at Mary and Joseph (and others) and say, “God has not forgotten you….God sees how you have longed for Him in your life…The King Jesus is here now!…Whatever you are going through now, He has overcome it.”
Our Encouragement Today
So if you are having doubts right now in you life or don’t sense His presence like you have in the past, take time to remember some people who God has brought into your life in the past to encourage your faith. The same God who worked in the past, is working now.
Once we realize this, everyday is an opportunity for us to be encouragement too. Who is coming to your place…your space this Christmas? What encouragement will you find…or give this week? Will we openly share the Good news of what God has done in the world? Are we expectant of how God might encourage us?
The same God who worked in the past, is working now.
I knew I was in trouble when I saw my pastor look directly at me in the middle of his sermon.
Trust me when I tell you your heart starts pumping pretty fast when in a church of 8000 members, the attention is on you. But it wasn’t out of embarrassment or fear of getting exposed for something I did wrong, it was because I knew I was about ready to ball my eyes out.
You see my pastor was preaching out of John 6 where Jesus used the “five SMALL barley loaves and two SMALL fish” that a boy had, to feed over 5000 people. He shared that the small things we give to Jesus and we do in His honor to serve others, God will multiply and do great things from it.
And so when my pastor looked at me and told the congregation who he really loved and appreciated..and that it was me…my eyes started welling up tears. He mentioned the “small thing” I had done to impact his son Josh back when he was a teenager, and how even today it has impacted his son.
You see Josh was a PK. He absolutely loved..and dare I say almost worshipped the band Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder. We were introduced when his father first came to our church as the pastor back in 1993. Josh was incredibly smart and generally cordial to everyone but you could tell he had some reservations about who he let into his world.
I intentionally started trying to connect with him. We would go to the gym regularly in the mornings, grab lunch and even one time we drove to St. Louis for a concert of another favorite band of his. We had many great conversations where we talked about his life and spiritual things. He thought deeply about all these things and it required great discernment, love and patience to take care of what God was doing in his heart.
As he went off to college we only saw each other every once in awhile. I do remember a time when he was back working at the church part time on the custodial staff. He shared with me how much it meant to him and that out of all the people he knew, I showed him the love of Jesus like he had never experienced.
And recently, 26 years later, as a husband and father himself, he reached out to me to tell me how he realizes even more the impact our time together had back then on his life. What a treasured gift that was to have Josh share those words with me!
I share this not to call attention to myself, but rather to highlight what God taught me again that day…and when his father called me out in church as well. It is this…
that small things matter.
Small things. That is, seemingly little, perhaps mundane or obscure things we may do, can have lasting impact well beyond their initial act.
Getting called out and encouraged like this in such a public setting, I knew God wanted me and others to always remember that “the small things” we do in love that honor Him, He will multiply.
So what “small thing” do you feel God calling you to do. Whatever it is….do it. Do it and know He will multiply it many times over!
- Read John 6:1-13. Put yourself in the interaction. How would you feel if you were the boy or others…before and after…after the miracle?
- Reflect if there was time you did something small for someone else. What kind of evidence of God’s multiplication happened because of your small act. Give thanks to God for that!
- What small thing do you sense God might want you to do for Him and others this week?
Have you ever considered how amazing you are?
Granted if we consider all the species of animals and plants, types of geography, vastness of the cosmos or the complexity of the cellular world, there is much to marvel at that could last a lifetime for sure.
But when you think about it, the human being kind of blows everything out of the water.
For starters just think about what we as humans have created on this planet. The ingenuity is incredible. Or how about the things we have discovered? What other species has gone to the moon and back and can tell you what kind of material is on Mars? No monkey has ever done that. Oh wait…take that back…he may have gone into space but it wasn’t his idea!
But the real, real incredible part of a human being is our humanness. What in all creation feels what we feel? Thinks like we think? Or loves like we love? As amazing as dolphin is I don’t think he sits around and imagines what we he wants to do with his life.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!Psalm 139:14
With all our uniqueness it gets one wondering some things. For example: “Why are we like this?”…”How did we come to be?” Did you know with all our amazingness, we humans still don’t really know. There are theories for sure. But no proofs.
That is why many choose to look outside of mere human thinking or scientific logic for answers. As Christians, we believe God, our creator, has revealed most these deep questions through the person of Jesus. In fact, as we learn from the One who created us, we learn how to treat each other, be more creative, have more joy…basically be more human.
So give thanks to the One who made you today. Make a simple prayer out of Psalm 139:14 back to God. Remember you are amazing because of all the things on this planet, you are the only thing made in His image.
READ: John 1:19-23, 25-39
John the Baptist had a reputation. He was very popular in certain circles. Just like you, people knew him for certain things he did. You maybe known as the baseball or other sport guy…or smart guy in class…or church and music guy like I was.
Even though he was known for certain things, he knew of someone greater than he:
“He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”http://bible.com/111/jhn.1.27.niv
What did he do? He pointed them to Jesus.
“When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”http://bible.com/111/jhn.1.36-37.niv
Why did he do this? Because he knew a secret. He knew what God was up to. He knew God’s plan to give every man and woman what their heart was really looking for…namely Himself!
So John knew if he really cared for the people around him, the best thing he could do with his influence is point them to Jesus. Jesus was the one they should follow most to find the life they really wanted.
You Have Followers
Believe it or not, you have followers. Every person has someone that looks up to them and has some sort of influence with them. The question you should ask yourself is:Where are you leading them?
Will you point them to the Greatest Destination and person…the Greatest Man Jesus?
Ok, so what do we do?
First off, are you following Jesus? If not, what will you do this week to get to know Him better? And then could you invite a friend to go to church or a youth group or start reading the Bible with you?
Day 3: SEE the Gift of Jesus
The Death of Jesus would be another message that I consider to be a symbolic and prolific (abundant) message that is preached today. For this devotion, I want you to put your thinking cap on and imagine the story as I tell it. I want you to imagine that you are actually there and witnessing these events. Let’s start.
Check it out here: Luke 23:1-23
Jesus is standing trial before his very own people (Jews). The trial is led by a man named Pontius Pilate. In the trial, Pontius Pilate has the authority to set Jesus free or crucify him. As the trial starts “the Jews begin to accuse Jesus saying, ‘we have found this man overthrowing our nation…and he claims to be Christ, the king.’ Pilate than began to question Jesus ‘Are you King of the Jews?’ Jesus responded ‘Yes, it is as you say.’ Then Pilate announced to the crowd that he found ‘no basis for charge against him (meaning he is innocent).’ But the Jews insisted ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching.’ Pontius called the leaders of the Jews, and said ‘you brought me Jesus as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for charges against him…he has done nothing to deserve death.’ But the crowd with one voice cried out ‘Away with Jesus! Release Barabbas to us! (Barabbas was put in prison for murder).’ Pontius, on wanting to release Jesus, appealed to them, but the crowd kept shouting ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pontius for the third time responded ‘Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found no grounds for the death penalty.’ But with loud shouts they repetitively demanded that he be crucified. Their shouts prevailed and Pilate decided to grant their demand.” (Luke 23: 1-23)
Pontius had Jesus flogged. Flogging is being beaten by a whip or stick as punishment or torture. After bearing the torture, Jesus then had to carry his cross and was later nailed to that cross as he died of asphyxiation. Now it is too long for me to type all of Luke 23 out, but out of what was typed, what stood out the most to you in that story? For me, it was that the very people that Jesus performed miracles for, were the same people that had him crucified. The very people that Jesus helped were the same people that turned on him. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????
Jesus was ridiculed, mocked, tortured and crucified and he went through all of that for us. Guys if you can handle very sensitive material including blood and gruesome images, I advise you to watch the Passion of the Christ or clips on YouTube. A youth pastor once told me that watching that movie will really put the gospel in perspective. In the movie, I actually couldn’t watch Jesus be flogged and I later cried when he was crucified. (Just a recommendation)
Read all of Luke 23 and imagine that you are there and visualize what Jesus went through. So much of our faith involves being able to visualize the Word. Guys, I know that if you do this, God will touch each of your hearts and speak to you in a way that you have never heard before.
Go to DAY 4: Receive the Gift of Jesus here.
Day 4: RECEIVE the Gift of Jesus
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you hear that, you should just wanna shout “Hallelujah.”
Here is the story: Luke 24:1-7
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, several women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb (where Jesus was buried). When they got to the tomb, they found the stone that covered the tomb, rolled away. When they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men (the trial), be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24: 1-7)
“He has risen!” You should wanna slap your neighbor that is so exciting! You might be thinking, well why is that so exciting. The fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead proves that he is the messiah (savior) that God sent to save us. Therefore, since Jesus is the messiah we no longer have to search and wait for the savior, but now all we have to do is receive him, believe him, and submit to him.
Captive by S.I.N.
Have you guys ever wrestled with the term savior? Like what does it mean to have a savior? The best analogy I can think of is this: So you are held captive by the evil terrorist organization: S.I.N., all of a sudden a Rambo like Jesus bursts through the door and subdues everyone. There is no one left, the coast is clear, there is no reinforcements coming. Now what would the Rambo like Jesus be to you?…a savior right. Okay, to have a savior, you first have to know that you are held captive. If you don’t know you are held captive by S.I.N. then the Rambo like Jesus would seem like an enemy or just some other guy that happened to kill everyone that you were around. But what if you know that you are held captive by S.I.N. except you stay put and don’t leave the cell. What would the Rambo like Jesus be then? Would he still be your savior even though you don’t receive his savior-ship (just made that up)? The point I am trying to make is that unless you receive Jesus as your savior then he won’t be your savior. Jesus can do all the saving in the world, but until you get out of the cell and follow him then you can never be saved.
There is a difference between acknowledging that you have been saved and receiving salvation. Acknowledging that your saved means that you are still stuck in the cell, but know that Jesus saved you from sin. It is like Jesus did all the work, but you didn’t take his hand and let him lead you to safety. Receiving salvation means that you know Jesus saved you and you get out of the cell and follow him to safety (heaven). Knowing that you are saved from sin and receiving salvation are two separate things. One means that you have eternal life and the others means you don’t. Imagine that in the analogy that the Rambo like Jesus was going to blow up the island after he saved you. If you don’t leave the cell, will you still live? I mean he is going to blow up where you are held captive.
In today’s world, some Christians say that all you need to do is acknowledge that Jesus is your savior (say a couple of words and BAM your done). Just because you acknowledge that Jesus is your savior doesn’t mean you are saved. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is a response you have. In the analogy’s context you take the Rambo like Jesus’s hand and follow him to safety. In today’s world, you surrender to him and follow him.
Ask yourself, “do I just acknowledge Jesus as my savior or have I received him as my Lord and Savior?” Be real with yourself and if you want to talk about it give us a call. We are more than happy to discuss this with you!
Todd Clifton: 918-633-7284
Danny Santos: 918-720-4572
Chase Gordon: 918-237-0564
Go to DAY 5: KNOW the Gift of Jesus here.
Day 5: KNOW the Gift of Jesus
So who was Jesus and what was his purpose? I have tried to hit the high points of Jesus’s life and I hope it gives you a glimpse into who he was. From this devotion, we can infer who he was, but I will still leave you with who Jesus said he was.
Who is Jesus?
“My father whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” John 8: 54. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…Father glorify your name! Then a voice came down from heaven ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’” John 12: 23-28. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6. When Jesus was baptized “a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1: 11.
There is a whole bunch of scriptures where you can find who Jesus says he was or God the Father himself saying who he was. I hope we have a grasp on who Jesus was now, so now we can address the question of what was his purpose.
Jesus says, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.The Man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be. My father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12: 22-26)
I divided up this passage by Jesus’s purpose and our purpose. Jesus’ purpose is in red and ours is in bold. In this parable, Jesus refers to himself as a kernel of wheat. Jesus refers that the kernel must die before multiple seeds can be produced. Jesus’s purpose was to die, but what for? What does it mean that his death will produce multiple seeds? Jesus carried a seed with him the day he was in Mary’s womb. That seed was that he was THE Son of God. So when he dies that seed will multiple. Therefore, since he died we now have the ability to be A son of God (not THE son) if we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior because the seed he had is able to be given to others (it has multiplied). Jesus had many other purposes as well, but to condense it to a short devotion, I will only leave it to one.
Then Jesus, being Jesus, tells us what our purpose is right after his. Our purpose is to follow him. And Jesus says it bluntly, “where I am, my servant will be.” Lets look closely at Jesus’s statement “Where I am.” “Where I am” means not where you are at, but where he is at. You can’t tell Jesus where you want to go and expect him to follow you. Jesus is moving and it is up to us to follow him. So how can we tell when we are following Jesus? Well how do we know when we are following someone here on this Earth? We keep to their teaching, obey their commands, know their voice, and know who they are. That is how it is with Jesus. The reason people don’t follow Jesus is because they don’t know Jesus. They don’t know his teachings, his commands, his voice, or who he is.
I want you guys to write down what you know about Jesus. Break it down into categories like: What did He teach?… command?…or say about Himself? And under each category write down as much as you know. Then after that, write out any questions you may have. Then next time we meet if you have any questions then you can ask them over the lunch and we will answer them for you.