The Unselfish Life

Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB

Do nothing out of rivalry  or conceit,  but in humility  consider others as more important  than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,  but also for the interests of others.

Pride is a natural thing within us by nature. Pride tried to live self up over others. It promotes conflict, not humility. Service is a natural outgrowth of humility.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 HCSB

Love is patient,  love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish,  is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Selfishness is a concern for self without regard for others. Signs of selfishness:

Do you only talk about yourself and your own issues?
Do you speak without thinking about how your words may hurt someone?
Do you share your feelings without asking others and theirs?
Do you only give because you expect to get something back?
Do you withdraw when you don’t get your way?
Do you make promises you can never keep?
Are you unforgiving?.

2 Corinthians 5:15 HCSB

And He died for all  so that those who live should no longer live for themselves,  but for the One  who died for them and was raised.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 HCSB

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days.   For people will be lovers of self,  lovers of money,  boastful, proud,  blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,   unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers,  without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,   traitors,  reckless,  conceited,  lovers of pleasure  rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.  Avoid these people!

Mark 10:35 HCSB

Then  James  and John,  the sons of Zebedee,  approached Him and said, “Teacher,  we want You to do something for us if we ask You.”

That seems very selfish and brash! But do we do that to Jesus? Do we expect Him to do whatever we want?

John 5:30 HCSB

“I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment  is righteous,  because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Matthew 20:26-28 HCSB

It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,   and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life — a ransom for many.”

Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB

Do nothing out of rivalry  or conceit,  but in humility  consider others as more important  than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,  but also for the interests of others.

Christians are a family. We are one body. Daily events test our convictions in this. When you have a humble view of yourself, you will become an encourager of others.

“Be quick to look at your own defects, but slow to see them in others.”

Our joy and gifts don’t belong only to ourselves. They also belong to the body of Christ. Be glad for the good happening in other’s lives. Rejoice with them. Listen to others; hear their stories.

Reaching Up, Reaching Out, Reaching Across

Last month, we made spiritual resolutions. We determined in our hearts and minds to make a change in our lives that would bring each of us closer to God. His reward for you is greater peace.

God time. Spending time with Him. That’s reaching up. Ask God how you can grow nearer top him, and what to do to make that happen.

Reaching out. Ask God to show you who you can encourage this year. Challenges in our lives can make us fearful, or faithful.

Galatians 6:9-10 HCSB

So we must not get tired  of doing good,  for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work  for the good  of all, especially for those who belong to the household  of faith.

Reaching across – being accountable. Jesus came so we could be free to choose an abundant life. Satan would have us never grow, or even go backwards.

James 5:16-20 HCSB

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.   Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.   Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth,  and someone turns him back,   let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Confess the junk in your life. Let a trusted person in your life help you keep moving forward. This is a person you trust to both encourage and correct you.

Galatians 6:1-2 HCSB

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle  spirit,  watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.   Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Satan is the enemy of our souls.

John 10:10 HCSB

A thief comes only to steal  and to kill and to destroy.  I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

Ten reasons why we don’t like accountability:

1. People hate conflict.
2. We don’t realize that sanctification is a community project.
3. People like their privacy.
4. Christians are not seriously taught about accountability.
5. Christians believe it’s only for behavior change or when things are really bad.
6. Christians are not discipled, when accountability makes most sense.
7. Some Christians have experienced unhelpful accountability.
8. Christians are not disciplined.
9. Christians lack quality friendships.
10. Christians have not tasted gospel-centered accountability in the church.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 HCSB

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other,  and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

What to look for in your accountability partner:

1. Good listener
2. Trustworthy; not a gossip
3.  Encouraging, not judgmental

What’s in the Cup?

Luke 22:19-20 HCSB

And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body,  which is given for you. Do this in remembrance  of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant  established by My blood;  it is shed for you.

This cup is the symbol of the new agreement between you and God that has been set in motion by Jesus.

In God’s word, the cup is mentioned many times, usually referring to God’s wrath.

Matthew 26:39 HCSB

Going a little farther,  He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Jesus wasn’t afraid of the religious leaders or the Romans. He wasn’t afraid of Satan or of demon possessed people. He wasn’t afraid of storms. But He trembled when faced with the cup of God’s wrath.

What was in that cup? The Bible says God placed on Jesus the iniquity, the wickedness, the sin of us all. That cup was full of shame, suffering, wickedness, and separation from God. Jesus drank that cup all night and the next day, as he was mocked, beaten, and crucified. When the last portion had been taken, He said “It is finished.” The cup was empty.


The cup of sin and shame, of pain and suffering, is empty. It was given to Jesus instead of us.

There is another cup. It is full of His blessing. When we take communion together, the wine and bread are the symbols of an exchange of cups between God and ourselves – our cup of wrath for His cup of blessing. The only thing that could overcome death was the life Jesus brought.

1 Corinthians 11:25-26 HCSB

In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant  established by My blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death  until He comes.

Grace That Changes People

We need to allow God’s truth to be activated in our lives. Spend time with people because they’re people, not because you’re trying to convert them. When God puts somebody on your heart, you won’t forget them.

Luke 19:1-8, 10-9 MSG

Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?” Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”

Don’t turn relationships with people into religion. Our faith is evident in how we treat people.

Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you to become the person he sees when he looks at you. Grace is a way of living and thinking.

Wisdom Avoids the World’s Current

A few weeks ago, we shared on New Year’s spiritual resolutions. We encouraged you to ask the Lord to reveal something to you that could be a focus for this year. Start by asking yourself if you are satisfied with your relationship with God. Is there something keeping you from experiencing greater joy and peace?

It’s time to grow upwards in Him. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what you can trust Him to let go of. He took everything we deserve, and He  gave everything He deserves.

We schedule everything into our lives – why not make a daily appointment with Jesus? Before Jesus, the commandments – a holy life – was focused on do, do, do. But Jesus declared “It is finished.” Done, done, done. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment – the best thing you can do – is to love the Lord with all your being.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you  to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,  holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.   Do not be conformed  to this age,  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,  so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will  of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18


2 Timothy 3:16

God’s Word is not just words on paper. It is living!

Paul, who authored several books in the Bible, was a Pharisee. He was on a mission to stop Christianity when Jesus intercepted him on the road to Damascus.

Ephesians 5:15-21 HCSB

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time,   because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand  what the Lord’s will  is. And don’t get drunk  with wine,  which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

What are you walking on? Where are you about to walk into? At all times, you have a choice. Really see where you are going. Paul is telling us to be wise in determining our course. The days were evil then, and they’re still evil today.

If our feet are not on The Rock, we get swept away by all the currents swirling around us in the world. If you’re standing in a river, and you lift your feet, it will carry you wherever it’s going. Paul says we must be wise – we can’t afford to be foolish.

Do you go out of your way to do things your way? Paul says “do not be foolish (unwise), but understand…” There are 2 versions of “but” in Greek; this one is the one with the most emphasis. Are you hearing Him? What are you doing with what He says? No more excuses.

Do not pretend that the wrong way will lead you to the right way. Don’t say “I’ll get there, eventually…” Satan is a pro at deception. What are you leaning on more than Jesus? You’re basically saying you trust that thing more than Him.

It’s not what you’ve done in the past. It’s not what everyone else is doing. Look for God’s desires in your life. He gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning.” Who doesn’t want that?

Spiritual Resolutions

Think of all the resolutions we make. So often, they revolve around our physical lives. But what about spiritual resolutions?

2 Corinthians 4:18

Psalm 90:2

God is first and last, beginning and end. Jesus is king of all ages. This is in contrast to our lives, which have a birth and death, and a limited time in between. The Bible compares our lives to a vapor, which dissipates quickly.

Jesus gave us what He deserved, and took what we deserved.

Romans 12:2

When should this happen?

2 Corinthian 6:1-2

Now is the accepted time. Today is the day!

The word January comes from the Roman word Janus, who was a two-faced statue, believed to close the for to the past and open the door to the future. When Christianity was established as the state religion, the tradition turned to prayer and fasting for the new year.

Let prayer be the beginning of everything this year. Every day, every activity, every decision. The Bible actually says that the Lord can restore wasted years. Do you carry regrets? Bring them to Jesus.

Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.” Who wouldn’t want that?

Are you really satisfied with your relationship with God? He never changes, but we must. What is holding you back? Possibilities: laziness, rebellion, excuses, fear, doubt… You must be willing to ask God for help taking the first step, and every step.

Galatians 5:22-23

It’s not about doing more things, more “works.” It’s about abiding in Jesus. Everything we are stems from this relationship, or lack of it. The fruit of the Spirit is eternal – you can give it away! But you can only get it by being a branch grafted into Jesus, the Vine.

Hebrews 2:8

All things have been put under His feet, even though we don’t yet see it. God wants to put things that have been holding you back under your feet. He wants you to have hold of His peace regardless of your circumstances.

As you make spiritual resolutions, you may think in terms of what behaviors you want to change. That’s a start, but now think of what spiritual practices will produce those things. Reading God’s word more often? Praying in all things? Worship? Ask yourself how you can know Him even more closely.

Are You Willing?

Pray for God’s will to be done in your life, and that you will know the path to walk in as He unfolds His will in your life. Then pray for the tenacity to stick to His plan. Pray for the dedication to spend time in relationship with Him. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth.

John 16:12 “I have many things to say to you, but you can’t bear them all now.”

Joseph was called by God to raise His son Jesus. God fulfilled prophecy in both Mary and Joseph’s lineage. Their ancestry matches from Abraham through King David. In Matthew, Joseph’s lineage begins with Abraham. In the book of Luke, Mary’s lineage goes all the way back to Adam.

Joseph was called to stay with a woman who was not his wife who was pregnant with a baby not his own. He was most certainly looked at and judged. But he knew God’s voice and went ahead being certain that God had called Him to raise Jesus. He had to trust and believe in God, in the words of an angel, in Mary, and in a dream he was given.

God was trusting Joseph as well. He chose a simple carpenter for His son’s father, not a king or wealthy man. He entrusts His son to us as well.

Is there a willingness in your heart to invite His will to be done? Are we willing to be obedient, to follow His lead?

God calls you with confidence. There are so many voices around us telling us many things, including those saying, “You can’t do it.”

In those times, the father named the children, but Jesus’ name was given to Mary first, then Joseph was told the same in a dream. This was all very different from everything he knew, and it was humiliating.

How far can your faith be stretched? Are you willing to trust Him, to follow Him every single day? Are you willing to do His will, and just that much, vs. trying to do the part God reserves for Himself?

Joseph took a stand and believed God’s outrageous promise. Be careful about telling people they can’t do something they feel God is calling them to do.

Love Has Come

Works belong to the workshop; fruit belongs to the garden. One comes from the engines of the factory; the other is the silent growth of abounding life. The factory operates with dead stuff; the garden cultivates living forces to their appointed end. Works are always in the realm of dead things. Every building is built out of dead material. 

Fruit does not come of man’s labor. It requires his diligence, but it is neither his invention nor his product. He does not make the flowers. No skill of his brings the golden harvest of the fields, or the luscious fruit upon the trees. When man has done all he can, then God begins, and life proceeds. – Samuel Chadwick

Christmas is not about the infancy of Jesus. It’s about His diety, His divine status.

Isaiah 7:14

God became a human baby without giving up His divine nature. God loves us. He loves you. He loves the people we struggle to love.

John 3:16-17

God sent His son into the world to save it.

What frustrations do you have this season? Does “Merry Christmas” still mean anything? Are you looking for the light? Is it in you? Is it being smothered by the craziness and baggage this season sometimes brings with it?

It’s easy to get consumed by the issues we’ve attached to Christmas. It’s easy to look inward and be unhappy about all the things that aren’t right. But Jesus is asking us to die to our selfish selves and look outward, asking how we can bring Jesus into the life of everyone we meet. People run ragged making Christmas happen. What words of life can you speak into someone else’s situation today?

But we only have something to give if we’re growing in God’s garden. Jesus willingly laid His power and independence aside to come to us. He had to lay aside everything that belonged to Him, choosing to do only the things God was asking of Him.

Take the time to be planted in the garden today.

Genesis 22

God asked obedience of Abraham, but he stopped him so Isaac might live. Then hundreds of years later, He gave His own son, Himself. He did that which He wouldn’t ask of us.

How are you spending Christmas this year? Who are you spending it with? Do you look like a Christian on the outside? Are you the same person when you’re with your family and no one else is watching? If not, plant yourself in the garden.

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient. Will you be patient with people this Christmas? Will you take the time to thank the gift giver?

Love does not boast. Will you share in other’s joy and celebrate their successes? Would you be able to give a gift anonymously?

Love is not rude. Are you getting together with family? Will you treat them rudely, or like guests of honor? Will you consider others more highly than yourself?

Love is not self-seeking; it keeps no record of wrongs.

Let this Christmas be the beginning of God expressing His love through you.

Hope Has Come

Romans 10:17

Luke 1:34-38
“With God, nothing will be impossible.” This is what gives us hope!

1 Corinthians 13:13

Romans 8
Hope that is seen is not hope.

1 John 3:2-3
Hope purifies. The words that we speak reflect where our hope lies.

Jesus took our place in death – he bore suffering, rejection, hatred, loneliness, depression.

Satan wants us to believe that what we have now is what we deserve and nothing will ever change. In other words, he wants us to be hopeless.

“Things are good. I know it won’t last.”
“I’m getting what I deserve. I’m reaping what I sowed in my past.”

Zechariah 9:12
God has a good future planned. Are you willing to be a “prisoner of hope?” In Christ, there is always hope. If you expect nothing, that’s probably what will happen.

Hebrews 11:1
Hope is the possibility of God’s blessing. In the dictionary, hope is the expectation of something desired, and the belief that it is obtainable. In the Bible, it’s God’s promise of something to come.

When we were estranged from God, we had no hope. Hope is faith in seed form. Faith is the ownership of what we hope for. Hope is the possibility; faith is assurance of what is hoped for. As we become more like Him, we hope for the same things He hopes for.

Gratitude, Faith, Grace

Satan may tempt you, but you always have a choice. Winners ask for forgiveness; losers look for someone else to blame.

Do we learn from mistakes? Do we repeat them? When you come to Jesus, you begin to be transformed. It happens step by step, day by day.

What are you thankful for? Are you living in the moment, or missing opportunities?

Grace promotes generosity within us. We are quicker to give forgiveness and slower to become angry. A person may not read the Bible, but they will read you like a book.

Psalm 107:1 NIV

Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy. When we are unthankful, there is not much grace. When we’re thankful, grace is plentiful.

James 3:5-11 NIV

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.   All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.   With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

The words of our mouths both praise God and complain about others. How can that be? We can’t have both. Ingratitude is a problem in our culture.

1 Corinthians 10:10 NIV

And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

Complainers were destroyed by the destroyer. Will you let the destroyer destroy your peace with complaining and ingratitude? Never count the might-have-beens. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus instead.

Ephesians 5:20-21 NIV

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Jonah 2:9-10 NIV

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord .’ ”   And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

What dark whale are you in the middle of right now? Give thanks to God. No matter what. God restored Jonah’s faith and have him his life back.

Psalm 100:1-5 NIV

Shout for joy to the Lord , all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.