Not her past…

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.

You are God’s Child

Psalm 103:20-23, “Praise the Lord, you his angels,  you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. 21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.”

Do you realize, when you speak God’s Word, when you do His will, when you declare His Name over your situation, angels will respond? It is a very important part to know. What comes from our mouths is pretty significant. It can change the outcome of our situations.

If you will, consider that words are secondary to our thoughts. We think and then respond. Sometimes, it may appear as if we put no thought into what we are saying, but words come from the thoughts we have. It is important to meditate on the Word of God; to fill our thoughts with God’s Word so that when we respond, it will reflect Him. What is on our minds shows in our words.

Psalm 91:10-12, “No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.…”

There is a great deal the Lord is telling us in these two scriptures. When we praise Him and when we declare His word over our lives, He instructs His angels to protect us. That in and of itself gives me reason to sit up and take note. The times we need to praise Him the most are the times we don’t feel like praising Him. I’ve learned over the years in ministry, when people are in trouble or hurting or confused, they tend to run away from God. They tend to shake their fists at God. Those are the times His people need to shout out His name in praise because His angels will come to their defense.

One of the greatest weapons of warfare we have is praise. Psalm 34:1, “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Not sometimes on my lips or just when things are good and I feel happy, we are to declare I will praise the Lord ALL the time and His praise will ALWAYS be on our lips.

Today, thank God for the blessings of your life. Thank Him for the discipline He has given you. Thank Him for the trials and struggles that you will overcome because of Him. Thank Him for His ability to heal you. Praise Him that He is the ultimate victor and glorify His name because Satan can’t have you. You are God’s child.

Meek and Humble

Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Ahhhh! the humble…the meek… the world will run right over them, correct? They are doormats! Wimpy, pitiful folks who cannot take up for themselves much less others.  They probably need the blessings of God, pitiful little creatures. Is that what you are thinking?

Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Is this what Christ is talking about?

There are great and tremendous blessings for those who are meek and humble because their inner strength relies on God and not the world. God wants us to be humble and meek so much, He declares we will inherit the earth!

When our strength comes from our dependence on God and not upon money or power or ability, God blesses us. It is our faithfulness in a God who will right the wrong; heal the sick; judge the wrong-doer; provide; give us direction; give us hope; that brings us to this blessing. Being meek shows the world we know who is in control and we rely on Him.

The word Paul uses for humility is not exactly the word used in Matthew 5:5, but I believe the idea is the same. Humility is defined as “the selfless regard for the needs of others over your own.” Jesus was the ultimate example of humility because He put us above Himself in suffering and dying on the cross for our salvation.

Being meek and humble doesn’t mean we just sit back and let the world pass us by for fearing of stepping in front of someone. It isn’t what we do in our lives; it’s all about how we do it and for whom we do it. God wants us to be active and participate. He wants us to excel in life. He wants us to have victory. It is how we excel and who we give the glory to that counts.

Confidence in God to do in us and through us what we could not do otherwise is the blessing of meekness. Ask God today to work through you. Give Him all honor and glory. Experience God’s blessings when you do.

Above that Line

I recently reviewed statistics indicating the average American salary. The graph showed the people in America who are considered wealthy, middle-income, poverty, and below the poverty line. I wonder if God has lines; not for wealth, of course, but for Christians.

There are many of us who live below the God-line. We do not want to stand up for what we know is right by God. We compromise to oblige society. We don’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. Society teaches us political correctness, and in order to comply, we substitute the teachings of God to ‘get along’ or ‘prevent conflict.’

I want to be well-above the God-line; but, it comes with interferences. Jonah is the best example to me in the Bible of one who wanted to love God, wanted to do God’s work, wanted to be a prophet, but he wanted to do it his way and not His way. I wish I could talk with Jonah. His excuses would probably sound a lot like the excuses I hear today. ‘Times have changed.’ ‘Everyone’s doing it!’ “We have to say the right words because Christianity isn’t really in right now.’

Do you have an excuse? Some of you may know the story of Jonah. He literally ran from the opportunity God was giving him because he saw it as an interference in his life; an inconvenience; a thorn in his side. Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish. Where are you right now?

What opportunity is God presenting to you that you are believing to be an interference? What excuses are you making to remain below the God-line? What voice do you use to speak to others — yours or God’s?

Today, ask God to show you how to take the interferences of your life and make them opportunities for Him. Ask Him to give you the courage and the heart to step above that line and start living His word. The choice is yours.

Endurance and Encouragement

Romans 15:4-6, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this scripture Paul emphasizes two necessary ingredients in our Christian walk – endurance and encouragement. Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…to teach us endurance through scripture. Several people in the Bible come to mind when I think of endurance – Joseph (sold into slavery, imprisoned, 2nd in command in Egypt); Moses (at one point he asked God to show him mercy and kill him Numbers 11:15); Job (lost his children, his home, his livestock, his riches); and the author of this scripture Paul (suffered with an affliction which he referred to as a “messenger of Satan”).

The trials of life teach us to endure, to push through, to depend upon God for strength and an answer to the situations we face.

Encouragement comes in the scriptures, in comfort from God, in people who have battled similar battles, and in the promises that God is always near. The two go hand-in-hand. Endurance cannot exist without encouragement nor encouragement without endurance. Every time you reject the temptation to quit it stems from some form of encouragement.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident) said it best, “To endure the cross is tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.”

When Jesus Christ faced the Cross, He faced it with courage beyond anything we can imagine. He faced it with love for us and for His Father so that in His suffering, God would be glorified. Through His endurance in suffering, we find hope, love, joy, and encouragement because the outcome was victorious; therefore, in walking with Christ, we are victorious in our sufferings as well. Simply put, He won for us. There could be no greater encouragement than to know in the end – WE WIN!!!

No matter what you are facing today, I want to encourage you. Don’t give up. Don’t feel you are alone. God will see you through it all and provide you with the encouragement you need to push through to victory.

Let Us Run…

The Bible compares our Christian walk to a race – it is a race of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love to run. I used to run a whole lot faster than I do now. Back in the day, my heart and lungs worked in a rhythm which was almost lulling. Now, every joint aches and my body protests every step. Some of you know what I’m talking about!

One of my favorite work-outs was wind sprints – even though I would’ve never admitted it to my coach or teammates. Who loves those? Wind sprints are speed endurance agility drills. Plain and simple, players line up, whistle blows, you run as fast as you can to the 10 yard line, then the 20 yard line, the 30 yard line and so on. It was all about enduring, pushing through the pain, increasing power, and persevering. I was always thankful for wind sprints on Friday night, 4th quarter, when running up and down that field wasn’t what I wanted to do – especially if we were losing.

Sometimes in life we are called to run wind sprints and sometimes marathons. The key to being a good runner is eyes forward, not looking back. It’s easier said than done, when trouble is breathing down our necks and the very footsteps of what we fear is at our heels. But the race is won keeping our eyes focused ahead on Jesus Christ – not looking back at our past – not fearing what is behind us – not holding on to where we’ve already run – but moving forward to where God is taking us.

Isaiah 40:31, “…but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

So let us run the good race God has put before us, focused fully on Him.

He sees it differently

Numbers 14:26-34, “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live,declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But you–your bodies will fall in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years,suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. 34 For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land–you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'”

All of us face situations in which we want to grumble, complain, criticize, and protest. It is easy to be drawn into the pit of despair and self-pity. According to the scripture in Numbers, one day of negativity and grumbling has the power to draw us into a year of bondage! 40 days became 40 years for the Israelites and the Lord clearly declares to them, “I will do to you the very things I heard you say…” Could it be our very thoughts and words become our destiny simply because we uttered them?

I remember a psychology class I took in my beginning year of college. Our professor stressed over and over, “What you tell a child he or she is, is what that child will become.” I never forgot his statement. Tell a child he is stupid… Tell a child she is  loved… Tell a child she is worthless… Tell a child he is a treasure… it is really up to you and to me what he or she becomes simply by the words which come from our mouths. For those of you managing people, it is no different. The best of leaders use words of affirmation, confirmation, and persuasion. There is no room for harsh comments, cut downs, and negativity. If you want people to follow you, it is in your words and your ability to back your words with actions; otherwise, you’re just out for a really long walk – alone.

When the enemy wants us to see all that is wrong with ourselves and our lives; with the people around us; with our children; with our careers; God wants us to see it the way He sees it – quite differently from the enemy.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When your tongue starts to grumble; when your attitude reflects negativity and discord, remember Philippians 4:8. Force yourself to see the positive. Force yourself to think differently. Occupy your mind with the voices of truth. Start today to change the way you see your circumstances and the people around you.