Misjudgment

Luke 7:37-38, “A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”

Misjudgment. It happens routinely and unfortunately daily in our lives. We judge people based on their past. In this scripture Mary Magdalene, a woman with quite a sordid past, anoints Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume. People who witness the gesture find that it is wrong – erotic in nature – inappropriate. The Pharisees can’t understand Jesus even allowing a former prostitute and demon possessed woman to touch Him.

The Pharisee comments to Peter about Mary indicating his astonishment that Jesus would even allow “this kind of woman” near him. Jesus hears the conversation and asks Peter, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.” Luke 7:41-43

When Mary rubs the perfume on Jesus’ feet, He does not see a prostitute. He does not see the stain of sins. When Mary rubs the perfume on His feet, Jesus sees her heart – not her past.

Some of you are dealing with sin you do not believe Jesus can forgive. It is difficult to talk with Him about it because you are so ashamed. Not only is He willing to forgive – He is willing to forget. Today, talk to God about the sin in your life. Put it in your past and move on to a glorious future in Christ.


Godly-Do List

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It’s hard to imagine but does God have a “Honey Do” list? When I was a boy, I remember my dad carrying around a list of things to do for my mom on Saturdays. Maybe the grass needed cutting or the gutters needed cleaning or a few pictures needed to be hung. Of course, I was instructed to help. I remember thinking, “when I get married, I’m not going to have a ‘honey-do’ list.” My dad didn’t ask my mom in advance what needed to be done, he just took the list, followed it, and completed it.

God has work for us to do. He has prepared a list in advance of our even opening our eyes in the morning. I often wonder how many of us echo my sentiment as a boy, “I’m not going to have a Godly-do list.”

Every day there are people who need to be loved; people who need to be directed; people who need to be helped; animals who need care and attention; plants and gardens that need to be tended; words that need to be spoken or written. The list is endless; yet, many of us ignore it.

Years ago I was with a pastor-friend of mine. We were heading into Atlanta to minister to the homeless. As we parked the car and were starting to walk, he stopped me and asked if he could pray for our day. “Of course,” I responded. “I’d love for you to.”

He began, “God, thank you that our list is prepared. Help us to complete it.”

I smiled at him. He responded, “God already knows what He needs us to do; we just need the courage and stamina to do it!”

“Amen!”

What is on your Godly-Do List today? Be open to the opportunities God has already prepared for you today. Ask Him to equip you to complete all He has assigned for you today.

 


Keep your mind and eyes on Eternity

Jesus had returned to his hometown, Nazareth, the place where He grew up. It didn’t take long before the people began to question just exactly “who” He thought He was. Before long they had decided they had had enough of Him and took Him to the edge of town, to a high cliff, with the intent of pushing Him to His death. Luke describes Jesus’ reaction in 4:30, “But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” To put it in our terms, “He kept His cool and walked away.”

Rudyard Kipling wrote in his familiar poem of manhood, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired of waiting, Or be lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Keeping your cool when all around you is falling apart is an active part of faith. It is an essential part of showing a reliance on God. Here are essential elements to maintaining composure:

1. Accept the fact that people will not always do what you want them to do. They will let you down and disagree with you.

2. Accept the fact that you are not perfect. You will fail. You will lose. You will make mistakes.

3. Put your energy on the present. Focus on what the present needs are. Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

4. Whatever you are doing, commit it to God. Your hopes, your dreams, your visions, your thoughts – commit them to God and do not consider the results. Do what you need to do and do it with all your heart; leave the rest to God.

5. Have an eternal vision. Keep your mind and eyes on eternity.

We all have times of frustration and doubt; learning how to deal appropriately is a key element to Spiritual Healthiness. Consider the elements mentioned above in helping you to keep your cool today.


What has God called you to do?

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.”

God had a job for Jeremiah. He wanted him to tell the people of Israel to repent and return to God or face dire consequences. It wasn’t a message Jeremiah wanted to deliver and because of it, he made excuses to God. But God knew Jeremiah was the man for the job, and He encouraged him.

God never asks us to do something He does not equip us to do; yet, we question our abilities. Maybe God has called you to do a particular job for Him but you do not believe it is possible. We can understand how Jeremiah might have felt. God’s words to Jeremiah are no different from the words He would say to you or me. “Do not be afraid…I am with you.”

God has work for you to do. Whether or not you do it is up to you. Listen to the tug within your heart. Respond to His voice and call on your life. Don’t let your doubts and insecurities prevent you from moving forward and doing what God has asked you to do.


So is he

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

There was an old water oak tree between my childhood home and our neighbor’s. Chained to the thickest branch was a tire swing. We spent hours swinging on that hunk of rubber, spinning each other until we nearly threw-up, and dangling upside down by our feet to the rhythmic hum of the branch. The roots of the great oak had pushed through the ground creating just the right nook. It was hollowed out in the trunk and provided the perfect thinking spot. I can’t imagine now what occupied my mind on those hot summer days, but I enjoyed nestling in the security of the massive trunk for an afternoon of thought.

Our minds are incredible. Have you ever noticed a shadow in the distance, just after the sun is setting? The dark, ominous reflection can become a tree limb or an evil villain; it’s all in what we perceive it to be.

In that tree trunk, I used to imagine being a professional athlete, an airline pilot, or a doctor. Like many kids, I would count down in my mind, “5, 4,3,2,1, swish.”  I was the best pitcher ever! Ultimately, I became a pastor. God had a different plan than I had imagined, but imagining sure was a lot of fun.

Thoughts can destroy us or make us be negative or positive.  What is more, they can turn from bad into good as long as we keep our eyes on our Father. It takes discipline to be positive and maintain optimism. Many of us actually prefer to be negative.  We think, if we don’t expect anything, how can we be hurt? But as our Father tells us, what we think in our hearts is what we become, even what we are.

Take time today to reflect on the positive. See conflicts as opportunities to grow in character and knowledge. Tackle problems with enthusiasm. Above all else, always remember that God is FOR us not AGAINST us.  The apostle Paul in Romans 8 said it better than most, “if God be for us, who can be against us?”


The Early Bird

Have you ever heard the adage, “The early bird finds the worm?”

Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

We should change the adage to say, “The early bird finds God.”

Mark suggests a model that we must apply to our lives. The Son of God knows we must give God our first and best.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  – Lamentation 3:22-23.

Jesus prays in the morning, very early in the morning, because His spirit is still fresh and unencumbered by the activities and problems of the day. After a night of rest, He is rejuvenated and wants to give God His best self. While the others are back at the house snoring away, Jesus is meeting with God. Mark also tells us that Jesus found a solitary place, a place away from the morning news, cell phone, radio, and computer. He found a place where He could devote His fresh energy to God.

While scripture tells us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,”  (Thessalonians 5:16-18), Mark describes the importance of time alone, away from life’s distractions, fresh and new, before the day burdens us with problems.

Make a commitment to start your day with God. Give Him your first attention. It can be hard for parents of little ones, I know and remember well; but, make a schedule with your spouse. If you are a single mom or dad, try to find uninterrupted time before the kids wake-up. With a little creativity, you can prioritize God in the proper place and watch how much your life changes because of it.  Somehow, isolate yourself; get alone with God; allow Him to access you life.


Who God is

I saw a familiar bumper sticker from years back the other day. It read simply, “GOD IS LOVE.” Amazingly, it prompted me to research and delve once more into who God is according to Jesus, His Son.

The Character and Integrity of God according to Jesus.

1. God  is dependable. Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

2. God is a giver. Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

3. God is merciful. Luke 6:35-36, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

4. God is faithful. Luke 12:29-32, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His Kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

5. God is good. Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.”

6. God is to be respected. Luke 12:4-5, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear; Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”

7. God is just. Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

8. God is trustworthy. John 14:1-2, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

9. God is forgiving. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

10. God is LOVE. John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Today, reflect on who God is to you and how He participates in your daily life. Pray and ask God to help you to know Him as Jesus has described Him.


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