Thursday, December 31, 2020

5 Daily Habits to Help You Follow Jesus


Yesterday at The Gathering, I talked about "Following Jesus." At the end of our time, I told you that deciding to follow Him is one of the most important decisions you can ever make. This email is a short follow-up from that message.
Below are five practical things you can do every day to help you follow Jesus. Just as you have daily habits which sustain your physical life (breathing, eating, moving, etc.), these are spiritual habits which will sustain your relationship with Jesus. Please take a moment and consider whether or not these five simple activities might make a difference in your life this week (and beyond).

FIVE DAILY HABITS TO HELP YOU FOLLOW JESUS

  1. Get Inspired
  2. Give Something Away
  3. Connect With Other Christians
  4. Make an Eternal impact
  5. Celebrate God's Gifts

Get Inspired

Spending a few minutes reading God's Word is the best possible way to start your day. Whether you take 10 minutes or a full hour, time in God's Word empowers you to know Jesus and follow more closely. If you aren't sure how to start, try using the SOAP method to study your Bible (choose any book of the Bible to start. John and James are good one. So is Mark!):
Set aside time every day to study the Bible. As you become more proficient, you may want to set aside more time. Don’t overload yourself in the beginning. Keep a “SOAP” journal because there will be an opportunity to write your thoughts everyday (you can use a word processor, journalling app or the Bible App from YouVersion).
S – SCRIPTURE: Read your chosen scripture passage aloud so you can hear it. Begin by writing every word of the scripture in your journal. Both reading it aloud and writing it will help put the scripture in your mind and heart.
O – OBSERVATION: Ask yourself the question, “What does this passage teach about God's character?” As you ask yourself the question, your mind will be full of thoughts. Write those thoughts down. Try not to focus on yourself right now, keep your mind on what you can learn about your God and Jesus.
A – APPLICATION: Ask yourself the question, “How does this scripture apply to my life?” Look for promises to claim, attitudes to change, challenges to accept, sins to confess, commands to obey, actions to take, examples to follow, or skills to learn. Write in your journal how the scripture applies to you and to your life situations.
P – PRAYER: Write a prayer to God. Depending on what you have observed, your prayer might be one of praise and thanksgiving or a prayer asking God to help you apply the teaching to your life. You might feel compelled to write a prayer of confession. This is your prayer to God. The discipline of writing your prayer is important piece of connecting with God.

Give Something Away

Following Jesus means giving like He gave. He gave His entire life away for us. When we give things away, we are loving like Jesus did.
Try to give one thing away every day. It may be a small thing or a large thing. It may not cost you much or it may cost you little. Whether you are giving away possessions, money, time or attention; developing generosity is an important step on the road to Christ-likeness.

Connect With Other Christians

Jesus called 12 apostles to follow Him so that after He left they would still have one another. The Bible says much about how we can help one another to grow closer to Jesus. We are to encourage one another, bear one another's burdens, pray for one another, teach one another and more.
Find a way to connect with at least one other Christian at least once every day. You might sent each other emails with Bible verses or encouraging text messages. You might grab coffee together with 2 or 3 others or you might spend a few minutes on the phone. At least once a week, try to connect with a larger group (like a LIFEgroup) for prayer, discussion and encouragement.
As Hebrews says, "Don't neglect assembling together..."

Make an Eternal Impact

I mentioned on Sunday that Jesus' followers always talk about Him. You can make an eternal impact on those around you by pointing them to God. Every conversation you have doesn't need to be a religious debate, but as you get to know people they should see your love for Jesus through the conversations you have.
Try, at least once a day, to say something to someone about your faith. You can tell them how God has blessed you, you can tell them about a verse you read, you can tell them about a neat experience you had at church, you can talk about something you heard in the sermon or you can tell them about your favorite worship song. Somehow, find a way to talk about Jesus every day.

Celebrate God's Gifts

Don't go to bed without saying "thank you." As you lay down at night, spend a few moments to be grateful to God for all He's done for you. Before you sleep, consider how God's hand was providing for you and protecting you all day long.

Stephen Covey said, "We make our habits and then our habits make us." Commit yourself to these daily habits and you will be surprised how they change your outlook and your life. Following Jesus makes all things new because when we follow Him, He changes us from the inside out.

Grateful People Have Selective Memories

PHILIPPIANS 1:3
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

Paul's time in Philippi wasn't exactly a vacation at the beach or a walk in the park. You can read all the details in Acts 16, but among other things, he had to deal with a heckler, he and his friends got beaten up, and he was even thrown in jail.


Yet, in Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote that he was thankful every time he remembered the people who lived in Philippi. Was he thankful for all the bad times? (not that he shouldn't be as God helps us grown in difficult circumstances) Actually, verses 4-5 clue us in as to why he was grateful.

PHILIPPIANS 1:4-5
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Paul was grateful for the good times. He had warm memories of partnering with the Philippians to see the Gospel spread throughout their time. He was thankful for the support they had given as He proclaimed the truth.

GRATEFUL PEOPLE HAVE SELECTIVE MEMORIES.

You can choose which memories you dwell on. Only you can decide which story from the past you will play on repeat in your mind. If you choose to focus on the worst of times and the worst of people, you'll be depressed, bitter, and tough to live with.

If you choose to focus on the blessings and the blessed people, you'll be grateful, hopeful, and a joy to be around.

What will you put on your memory playlist today?

This $5 journal will change your life!





Wednesday, December 30, 2020

My Drawer Runneth Over

I like t-shirts. I especially like shirts with logos of my favorite sports teams. I also have a problem getting rid of old t-shirts. Earlier this week, I put on a shirt that I calculated to be at least 10 years old. As a result of my inability to let go, my shirt drawer is overflowing with Spartan, Tiger, Red Wing, Lions, Liverpool, Warrior, Trojan, and Bruin shirts.

Let me be clear. My drawer is not overflowing because of any one shirt. It is overflowing because I have SO MANY shirts.

Ephesians 5:20 says, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

The keywords here are "everything" and "always".

Colossians 2:7 is a parallel passage. Here Paul is encouraging a group of Christians to live consistently with their roots in Jesus' example and teaching. This is accomplished, according to Paul, by "overflowing with thankfulness." Saying, "thank you" every so often is nice, but a quick prayer of thanksgiving once a day is hardly "overflowing."


Causing anything to overflow requires filling it with more than it can handle. If you want to overflow with thanksgiving, you must FILL your life with more gratitude than you can handle. This means being thankful even when you don't feel like it.

  • Begin your day by giving thanks (you can start by thanking God that He woke you up). 
  • At various points throughout the day (meals), give thanks. 
  • At the conclusion of your day, give thanks. 
  • When things go well, give thanks. 
  • When others treat you with kindness, give thanks. 
  • When things go poorly, give thanks that they aren't worse. 
  • When others treat you with malice, give thanks that you are being treated like Jesus was. 

You can always find something for which to be grateful. The more you thank God, the more you'll be rooted in His Son.





Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Use the 10 Commandments as a Template for Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for fighting anxiety, fear, and selfishness. It also promotes contentment, generosity, peace, and trust. I am always looking for new methods to develop more gratitude in my life. Here is an idea I have to use the 10 commandments as a jumping-off point for gratitude. Consider praying through these commands and using each one to express thanksgiving to God.



1. Have no other gods before Me.

Thank you for being all-powerful, all-present, always in control, and still caring about me.

2. Make no false idols.

Thank you for being everything I need so that I never need to look elsewhere for provision.

3. Do not take the name of the LORD in vain.

Thank you for the privilege of calling on your name through prayer. Thank you for hearing my prayers.

4. Remember the Sabbath.

Thank you for all of creation and for building healthy rhythms into creation as an example for how to live my life.

5. Honor your father and mother.

Thank you for my family and for the people in my life who are like family to me.

6. You shall not kill.

Thank you for life and all you do to sustain me.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

Thank you for relationships and for love and for the gift of marriage. Thank you for your faithfulness to me.

8. You shall not steal.

Thank you for entrusting me with so many gifts. Thank you for giving me far more than I ever needed.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Thank you for truth. Thank you that Jesus is the truth and the life. Thank you for you Word which is truth for life.

10. You shall not covet.

Thank you for providing all my needs. Thank you for your promise to always give me everything I need.




Monday, December 28, 2020

13 Leftovers From A Sermon on Gratitude

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
(LUKE 1:46-49)




13 THOUGHTS ON GRATITUDE

1. Gratitude is the result of who you are, not what happens to you.

2. Gratitude is an internal commitment to not be controlled by external circumstances.

3. What happens TO me can never change what has been done FOR me.

4. Gratitude focuses on God's provision instead of my problems.

5. We all have problems, and it is good to tell God about our problems, but they should never be our primary focus.

6. God's provisions far outnumber your problems.

7. Gratitude grows from past deliverance not present darkness.

8. Mercy is only needed by those who have made mistakes.

9. Mercy is something we don't always see, even though it is there.
We don't always like to give it, even though we should.
We rarely think we need it, even though we all do.

10. God is rich in mercy: He has more to give than you have mistakes to make.

11. Grow your gratitude by praying for a positive perspective.

12. Become more grateful by setting aside time to practice gratitude.

13. Multiply your gratitude by sharing it with others.