Living A Christ-Centered Life

“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”– 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.   

Christ-Centered” – it’s a phrase we love to use. If someone asked if your life is centered on Christ, how would you respond? Oftentimes a Christ-centered life is equated with going to church, giving, praying, reading the Bible, and talking to other people about Jesus.  But “Christ-Centered” is a lot easier to talk about than to live, isn’t it? A lot of other things compete with Christ for center stage in everyday life. 

A Christ-centered life begins with realizing that the source of everything we are is the Lord. He created us, He authors our story, and every blessing that we receive comes from Him. James 1:17 tells us that “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens…” Additionally, Christ is the source of our daily righteousness. We simply cannot live up to biblical standards on our own; but in Christ, we have everything we need for godly living. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3).

A Christ-centered life has one ultimate goal: that Jesus gets the glory. Because we want Christ to be known, honored, worshipped, and obeyed, we submit every other attainable goal to Him. Our decisions are no longer controlled by selfish desires, but instead, we will “live for Christ who died and was raised for them” as we read in the 2 Corinthians passage above.  

The answer is to shift our focus to Christ and what He desires. Our battle with self is one that will continue as long as we live in these earthly bodies. That’s why Paul tells us to “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted” and to “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:22; 4:24).

A Christ-centered life is fueled by a love for the Savior, which flows from increasing knowledge of Him. And we learn to know Jesus more intimately through reading, praying, and quietly abiding in His presence. As Christ increases in our mind and heart, we’ll discover that our self-focus decreases and He becomes the delight of our lives; lives which will be better for it. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What stands in the way of deepening your relationship with Jesus?  
  2. What can you do this week to begin to overcome those obstacles? 

Are We Ignoring God?

“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings.” – 2 Chronicles 33:10.

The Coronavirus has separated the world into basically two camps. The first camp is the rule followers, people who wash their hands and maintain a safe distance and shelter in place in hopes of flattening the curve. The other camp is the people who have ignored the warnings and have been storming the world’s beaches, bars, and burger joints in spite of the risks presented by the Coronavirus. The experts can’t understand why this group of people has chosen to ignore their advice.    

The fact is, no one likes to be ignored, especially God. But it happens, sometimes completely, sometimes selectively. The decision to accept our Lord and Savior is an important, critical first step in your walk with God. But the next step is to get to know God intimately. It is easy to postpone or even ignore that step. That is not to say the reasons for putting off that step are not noble. You have been busy providing for your family, pursuing your career or helping people. But where is God in the process? When you truly love someone you don’t ignore him or her.  

If you love somebody, you spend time with them, listen to them,  spend quality time with, return their calls, engage and check up on them to name a few. Love pays attention: it engages, in a marriage or any relationship, disregard, and love cannot co-exist.    

If we ignore somebody it also means that we are not very passionate about their interests. We see them as a distraction. The same can be true of God. If you feel with you have been ignoring God in some part of your life, take a spiritual audit of your life. See if there is some part of your walk with God where you have been blasé. Does your week reflect that the Lord has a prominent place in your life? Do I inadvertently ignore my busy schedule or do I pursue intimacy with Christ?

Imagine, for a second how it must grieve God when we ignore Him. Think of how He must feel when He dwells in us but there are parts of our life when we ignore Him.  Or consider how He must feel when His guidelines contained in the Book He gave us are ignored.

It is hard to ignore God if we keep Him in our thoughts moment by moment. We do that by reading the scripture He has given us; by spending time in prayer and listening for His still, small voice; by thinking about His presence; by serving others in His name. Then we can echo the words of the Psalmist, “I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” (Psalm 63:8).

Discussion Questions:

  1. 2 Chronicles 33:10 (ESV) says, “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.” What does it mean to you to pay attention? 
  2. What can we do this week to pay more attention? 

Living The Gospel

“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke    

We live the gospel daily when we follow Acts 29. Before you look, there is no Acts chapter 29 in the Bible. Never has been. The point is that our lives are that next chapter, the continuation of Christ’s mission on earth.  To do that we must try to bring Christ into all parts of our lives. And that starts with living the gospel on a daily basis.   

It is one thing to understand the gospel but is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the substance of the gospel but it is quite another to master its implications for life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the gospel on a regular basis, but we should allow its message to influence our lives daily. This is an important part of everyday life for everyday people who follow Jesus. So how do we do that?  How do we learn to do God’s will—to walk with Him—every single day? 

First, look to Christ today: We look to doctors, lawyers, financiers, teachers, and friends for various kinds of assistance, information, and help. But the One Who can help, advise, and befriend us more than all others is Jesus Christ. The Lord is an ever-present help and never-failing friend in our race of life. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:2) Second, learn from Christ today:  We must never get so busy that we neglect God’s Word. Only by reading, studying, and meditating upon the Word can we find true wisdom to guide us on a daily basis. 

Third, lean on Christ today: Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”  Our memory, strength and endurance may fail us at times, we can confidently lean on Christ, knowing He is with us, before us, beside us, and in us, enabling us along the way. Psalm 37:40 says, “The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.”

And fourth, love as Christ today: “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2). Love is a little word but not a little thing. Just as God said to Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.” (see Genesis 12:2) He will also do the same through us. If we will make it a habit to help people, encourage them, and treat them the way we want to be treated, then we will show God’s love in ways that really matter. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think of the gospel on a daily basis? If not why not?
  2. What can we do this week to make the gospel a part of our daily lives? 

Coronavirus And Christ

Note: This devotional was excerpted from: John Piper. “Coronavirus and Christ,” Copyright © 2020 by Desiring God Foundation. A free copy of the book can be found at All verses are from the ESV version. 

John Piper states in his new book Christ and the Coronavirus that hope is power. Not only future but present power. Hope helps people get out of bed and go to work—now. It gives meaning to daily life, even locked-down, quarantined, stay-at-home life—now. It liberates from the selfishness of fear and greed—now. It empowers love and risk-taking and sacrifice—now.

It matters little what I think about the coronavirus—or about anything else, for that matter. But it matters forever what God thinks. He is not silent about what He thinks. Scarcely a page in the Bible is irrelevant for this crisis. 

My voice is grass. God’s voice is granite. “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:24–25) Jesus said that God’s words in Scripture “cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) What God says is “true, and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9) His word is The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus therefore, a firm foundation for life. “You have founded [your testimonies] forever” (Psalm 119:152). Listening to God, and believing Him, is like building your house on a rock, not on sand. (Matthew 7:24)

His word is the kind of counsel you want to heed. “He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” (Isaiah 28:29) “His understanding is beyond measure.” (Psalm 147:5) When He gives counsel about the coronavirus, it is firm, unshakable, lasting. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever.” (Psalm 33:11) “His way is perfect.” (2 Samuel 22:31)

Therefore, His words are sweet and precious. “More to be desired are they than gold: . . . sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10). Indeed, they are the sweetness of everlasting life: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)  Therefore, in the best and worst of times, God’s words bring unshakable peace and joy. Surely it must be so. My prayer is that we would share the experience of the prophet Jeremiah: “Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16)  

God’s word is not lost in this historic moment of the coronavirus. During the pandemic, the whole truth of God washes over us, even in the face of the coronavirus. It comes with incomparable comfort: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19) “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. ” (Psalm. 34:18–19)

No man can comfort our souls in this pandemic the way God can. His comfort is unshakable. It is the comfort of a great, high rock in the stormy sea. It comes from His Word, the Bible.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. What Bible verses give you comfort during the pandemic? 
  2. How can scripture give us hope and strength in these uncertain times? 

Why Should I Tithe

“In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord.When the people of Israel heard these requirements, they responded generously by bringing the first share of their grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity—a tithe of all they produced.” – 2 Chronicles 31:4-5.  

The “why tithe” question often comes up early in the spiritual journey. When people first mention tithing you probably think they are crazy. I worked so hard for every dollar, dealing with unruly customers and picking up spitballs under the table at Sharky’s, only to give 10 percent of it away to the church. That argument would hold weight if there was no return on our investment. But there is. For one, you can’t out-give God. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” 

But while we have heard testimonies of people who have tithed their last few dollars and then received a surprise check in the mail for 20 times that amount that won’t always be the case. There are also people that gave money to the church with the expectation that God would multiply and return that money. When that doesn’t happen, it is easy to become frustrated and bitter.   

While we are to give expectantly, we have to be careful that we are not expecting a narrow outcome we’ve identified for ourselves, rather than focusing on what scripture says. For one thing, we can expect to be blessed when we tithe. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” This is one of many verses in which God suggests and even promises that He will reward giving with a blessing. How? When? In what manner? We may not know the answers to those questions, but we can trust that He knows the answer and He will be faithful to His Word.

So, it’s not about how much you give, it’s about how generous you are with what He has given you to steward, to manage. Tithing is fairly easy while generosity is much more difficult to accomplish. When we live a lifestyle of generosity—giving the Lord our financial offerings, our time, our love, our resources, and our abilities—God uses them to reach a world in need. Not only that, but He blesses us in return…not necessarily financially, but in all aspects of life and in our relationship with Him.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 9:11-13)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you find it difficult to tithe? Why or why not?
  2. What is one step you can take today to show God that you want to put Him first in your finances? How will that step move you closer to being faithful in your tithe?

Blessed To Be A Blessing

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3.

The opening verses of Genesis 12 tell the story of God asking Abraham to go to another land. Abraham went, and God blessed. But this isn’t the whole story. The rest of the passage says, “I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others” (Genesis 12:2) God’s blessing of Abraham is just the first step in a much bigger plan to extend that blessing through Abraham to all the earth’s peoples.

We serve a faithful God. He is so good. We are never alone because He is always with His people. Not only is He with us, but He provides us our basic needs. Both, our earthly and spiritual needs are satisfied in/through Christ. Blessed to be a blessing is actually one of the most crucial principles in the whole Bible that teaches us something about God’s expectations for each of us. God blesses us because He loves us, and so we can be a blessing to others. The blessings God gives us are intended to be shared, beginning with the inestimable blessing of salvation from sin and including all the other good things the Lord has given to us.

Paul teaches the church in Corinth, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Proverbs 11:25 teaches that “the generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Jump into the New Testament, and you will find more verses like this such as Matthew 5:7; “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

The Lord has done so much for us. He has blessed us with so many things.  He has allowed us to come into His Kingdom and be a part of the great things He’s doing in our state, country and the world. What we have received should not only be for our own enjoyment but for the salvation of people around the world.

Since the moment of creation, all that we have received from God, our very lives included, is grace, a free and unmerited gift. We are not worthy of any of it. We have done nothing to earn it. It is all God’s grace. Yet, as we have seen, with each of these gifts comes great responsibility. When we begin to see each blessing as a gift that comes with responsibility, our outlook on the world will change. As Christians, we live in gratitude for everything we’ve been given and give our very lives to share with the world each and every one of those gifts. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Think of the word(s) bless, blessed, blessing. What comes to mind/what do you think of? What does it mean to be a blessing or to bless someone?
  2. When blessed, you have the resources to be a blessing. What would it (or does it) look like to implement this reality into your life?

My Role In Holiness

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16

Of all the attributes of God described in the Bible, holiness is seen most often. Men fell down in the holy presence of God. Leaders, priests, and kings all trembled at the sheer magnitude of His holiness. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” (Revelation  4:8) And God wants us to be holy. 

Scripture puts responsibility for living a holy life squarely on every one of us. If we are to pursue holiness, we are to do something. Yet how often do we ask God to motivate us to stop doing something or to start doing something. What we are saying is that God has not done enough; that if God does more we won’t have to face up to our own responsibility. 

No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; The bottom line is that holiness is our task, our vocation, our responsibility. Paul exhorted, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you…” (Colossians 3:5).  

The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) The author is asking us to throw off the sin and let us run with perseverance. Clearly he expects us to assume responsibility for running the Christian race. James said, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). It is our responsibility to submit to God and resist the devil. Peter said, “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” (2 Peter 3:14). It is something we must decide to do.

Being holy is the I.D. card of being a Christian. It means being set aside for Christ and living a life in Him. May each of us purpose within our hearts to pursue a life of holiness day by day. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you see holiness as your responsibility? Why or why not? 
  2. What can we do this week to take personal responsibility for our holiness? 

Grace Has Come

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10

Grace is defined as “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.”  Grace is a crazy concept and yet another component of God that is hard to fully grasp. I doubt there is one person on this earth that could know everything about you: weaknesses, sins, addictions, flaws, habits, and still love you more than ever. God knows everything about you and still gives us the incredible, replaceable gift of His love and grace.  

Grace is an amazing gift. It provides us with everything we need to live in freedom: pardon for our sins, healing for our heart, the companionship of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, and the ability to cultivate an ongoing relationship with Him. God’s grace, should motivate, energize, and empower us. It is active and dynamic. Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift and power of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. “ So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” ( 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12) 

God’s grace is not something we need to earn. That thought alone is so humbling. Everything else in life we need to earn in some form or another; we need to earn that job, the love of a spouse, a GPA or a sports trophy. But when we live our life for God and learn to accept His grace, we are set free of meeting standards. God doesn’t determine whether or not we’re worthy of it because we are. No matter how many times we sin, how many times we doubt, give up, or lose sight of our purpose, God took away the punishment and guilt that we deserved and replaced it with love. 

Grace never ends. God’s grace for us is eternal, continuous. No matter our circumstances God’s grace is sufficient. 

God’s grace is truly indescribable. I hope that each day we see, understand and are overwhelmed by His grace And I hope we not only understand God’s grace but live it and give it to others.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can grace be summarized?
  2. How can God’s overcoming, or irresistible grace be part of our lives this week?

Love Personified

“For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.   

There is nothing on this earth that is greater, and more powerful as a motivating factor than love. The thing that will get through to me when nothing else will, is the awareness that God loves me:  He is for me, He stands beside me. He delights in me.

Jesus dying on the cross is the most vivid display of God’s love, and it’s also the screenshot into the heart of God who doesn’t just show love but is love. The cross is the demonstration of God’s love, and it’s the tip of the iceberg. John is getting at this in 1 John 4:16 when he says: “God is love.”  And that doesn’t mean that love defines God, but that God defines love. God is the one who gives love its meaning because that is who He is. God has always been love and will always be love.   

God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son to restore that relationship.

Psalm 136 beautifully describes the love of God as unfailing. The psalmist recalls how in His sovereignty, God upholds His creation and people in love. And that love is not reserved for the good people. Jesus tells us that God’s love encompasses the world. That’s everyone. That’s chosen people and not-chosen people. That’s devout careful followers of Jesus, and flagrant willful sinners. God’s love is not some pie-in-the-sky ideal. It’s a moving force that continues to change lives all over the world. 

Jesus set for us the example to love and gives us the command to follow in His example (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:16-20). When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He took the role of a servant and placed the needs of others above His own dignity. He instructed His followers to do the same. He tells us to love our neighbors as well as our enemies. It is through our love that the world will know that we belong to Christ.

In the middle of the chaos we are facing with the Coronavirus, we can be still enough to recognize the love that God has for each of us. And in these unpredictable circumstances and all other times, we need to trust in God’s unfailing and unconditional love.  May we live confidently today, knowing that we are His children who are loved and were chosen with a plan and purpose in mind.   

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some words that describe God’s love?
  2. Have you seen His love in action in your life? In what ways?

Blind Spot

“…But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” – John 9:25. 

If you want to be a defensive driver, you have to know where the blind spots on your own vehicle are, as well as where they might be on other vehicles. A blind spot is any area immediately surrounding your vehicle that cannot directly be observed by you, the driver, within your normal field of vision. We all know blind spots are dangerous when we’re changing lanes at 70 mph on an interstate highway. But just as critical are the blind spots that block us from seeing the truth about ourselves and others. No one is immune to either kind.

As human beings, we all have blind spots in our lives. These blind spots might result from grief, or doubt or a low sense of worth. Maybe your blind spot is you want to be right or you need to be in control. Maybe your blind spot is not recognizing how much your inability to forgive is negatively impacting your life. Or maybe you have a blind spot in a relationship that hurts someone.  Blind spots are, by definition, invisible to us. No matter how often we’re reminded to “check our blind spots,” we can’t—at least on our own. Our only hope is for God and others to come alongside us and help point them out. Once identified, we can start dealing with them.  

The Bible gives us several examples of people with blind spots. Probably one of the best known is the story of the apostle Paul. When he was still called Saul, he was the ringleader of the movement to make Christianity extinct. His blind spot was religious zeal, taken to the extreme. That blind spot was a barrier to the life God wanted him to live. While Saul was walking on the road to Damascus with his cohorts to persecute more followers of Jesus, “a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-4) God struck him blind. That blindness lasted three days. Then God sent Ananias to Saul. Ananias prayed over Saul, telling him that God wanted to fill him with the Holy Spirit. “Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18) Once his sight was restored Saul stepped into the calling God had prepared for him. Since God removed his blind spot, everything changed about him. We benefit from that change today. Paul’s letters make up the majority of the New Testament, and they have blessed millions and millions of Christians over the years.  

Spiritual blind spots require you to look in the mirror and see exactly what is going on around you. The good news is that we have the Holy Spirit who lives within us to help us expose those blind spots. Pray that God will show you your blind spots and pray that God will completely remove your blind spots. Ask him to give you the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) as you depend on him to help you overcome your blind spots.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one spiritual blind spot in your life? 
  2. What can you do this week to overcome that?