Monthly Archives: July 2013

Where He wasn’t

Some things are worth repeating. This is a devotion posted earlier but I felt needed reposting for someone today. -Mike

The Shrek movies make me laugh. Meant for children, the adult humor intertwined within is incredible and quite entertaining. One of my favorite parts is when Prince Charming interrogates Pinocchio as to where Shrek is.

Prince Charming: “You…you can’t lie! So tell me puppet, where is Shrek?”

Pinocchio: “Uh, Hmm…well, I don’t know where he’s not.”

Prince Charming: “So you don’t know where he is?”

Pinocchio: “That’d mean I’d really have to know where he wasn’t.”

If only Eve had been as clever with Satan…

Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

If Satan had told her as it was, “Hey Eve! Want to do something really different today?”

“What serpent?”

“Let me help you mess-up all humanity. Let me help you destroy lives, cause pain, grief, suffering, and death. Let me help you curse life as you know it and forever change mankind. Let me make it where every woman on the planet wants to punch you during childbirth. You game?”

I dare to say, Eve would have turned on her heels and run quite swiftly in the opposite direction. But instead, he entices her, seductively, with “Did God really say? Let me get this straight, did He really say?”

Doubt. The emotion that clenches all others – that smothers, suffocates, stagnates, and squelches belief. It only takes one religion teacher in a liberal arts college to say, “The inconsistencies in the Bible leave me to wonder…” And that 19-year-old begins to doubt who God is. Did God really say that?

It only takes one ‘innocent’ lunch outside the office to make you feel young and important again… Did God really say?

It only takes one really cool guy to tell you this drug is the drug of choice and you will feel better than you’ve ever felt…Did God really say?

It only takes one ‘want-to-be’ theologian to tell you the Bible was written so long ago, it can’t apply to the here and now…Did God really say?

Who are we listening to and why do we believe them?

Pinocchio: “I undeniably do or do not know where he shouldn’t probably be, if that indeed wasn’t where he isn’t. Even if he wasn’t at where I knew he was…”

If you do not know what God says, doubt will at some point in your life overcome you. And it has the same destructive power of Eve’s mistake on your life, your family, your friends, your workplace, and your environment.

Know where God wasn’t. Tell Doubt to take a hike, for when we truly understand what God has for us and what Satan has for us – there is no Doubt of the route we’ll choose.


How do you forgive?

Forgiveness is never easy; especially when someone you love has hurt you. Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Those words are tough. They gnaw at something deep within us. It seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it? How can God expect us to forgive certain acts? How can God put that on us?

The thing about unforgiveness is, there is something very self-righteous about it. We hold on to the cruel acts against us because in a strange way, there’s something that feels “holier than though” about it. Something that makes us better than the person who hurt us. Everytime we announce our pain, “You wouldn’t believe what he did to me!” it elevates us.

Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, spoke of forgiveness in this way. She likened it to ringing a church bell when she was a young child. She remembered how her feet would rise up off the ground as she pulled hard on the rope. The bell would move back and forth and the sounds of the bell rang loudly for all to hear; but when she stopped pulling on the bell rope, the bell would continue to ring for a while, until it eventually stopped. The way to forgiveness is to stop pulling on that rope.

I’ve often thought of her illustration and used it mentally when I needed to forgive someone who wronged me. It isn’t necessary to go to the person and proclaim, “I forgive you for all the bad things you have done to me.” It might make you feel better, but forgiveness is between you and God. “I forgive him God for what he has done.” Then when that boiling, uncontrollable, bitter taste starts bubbling within you, don’t grab hold of the rope. Tell yourself, “I’m not ringing that bell anymore. I’m moving on!”

Today there may be someone you have not forgiven. Talk to God about it. Ask Him to help you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be exposed to the person who hurt you. Some relationships are not healthy. Some relationships need to be severed and over. But for the sake of your heart, forgive so that you are forgiven of your sins by our Father.

 


The Peacemaker

When I was a little boy, one of my buddies used to tell us about “The Peacemaker” in his home. It was a long wooden paddle which hung by the back door. His dad had no problem pointing it out to any one of us that came by to play. If we didn’t want to keep peace in his home, he had the answer. Once, when my buddy and I disobeyed his mom, I experienced “The Peacemaker” first hand.

Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

We are called to be peacemakers by Christ. We are called to get along and keep peace with one another; however, in this scripture, He is talking to us about the peace that rules our hearts. Sometimes peace isn’t about conflict with others, sometimes peace is conflict with ourselves to do or not to do something; to say or not to say something; to move or not to move in a certain direction. It’d be almost easier if we could take a paddle and spank ourselves into a decision like my buddy had done to him. The Peacemaker could make up your mind pretty quick!

God gives us a different form of peace. It is a settling within our spirit that tells us everything is going to be OK. It is a gentleness that overcomes us when we need the assurance we’re walking in the right direction. It comes from within and although it is difficult to understand, we know when we feel it, it is from God.

Take the decisions of your life to God. Wait for the peace to flow over you. Give God time to answer your questions. Give God time to give you peace.  

 


A woman with a 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.


Is your rooster crowing?

Matthew 26:31-34, “Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’ 33 Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’ 34 ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’”

It is the night of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot of our Lord and Savior. For thirty pieces of silver, Judas brings the authorities to Jesus. Earlier in the evening, while having dinner with His disciples, Jesus explained to them He would be betrayed by one of them. He describes for them what is ahead; but, they cannot understand Him.

We are all a little like the disciples. We have the Word of God before us. We are told how we should live our lives and what will happen if we do not follow God’s Way; and yet, many do not. Many boldly reply as Peter, “I will not fail you Lord! I’m here beside you. I will not fall away from You.”

And then the rooster starts crowing…maybe it is the lie you told your spouse…maybe it was the one last hit of drugs…maybe it was the alcohol, the judgment of others, the cheating…maybe you did not defend Jesus in order to be politically correct. You justify your actions because it is a business matter and business is business. You turn your head away from those who need help because you don’t want to be involved. Maybe it is the pornography…the one last attempt to strike it rich…the juicy bit of gossip. Do you hear that rooster crowing?

If I could translate rooster into the English language, he would be saying, “You failure. Cockadoodaldoo! You sinner. Cockadoodaldoo! You unworthy, no good, piece of nothing. Cockadoodaldoo! You’ll never measure up.”

Is that what your rooster is crowing? Because if it is, he’s feeding you a bowl full of chicken feed lies.

You are worth dying for – even though you deny Him – you are so valuable and so precious to Jesus. There is nothing you can say or do to make Him love you more or less. And if He needed to do it, He’d die for you all over again, because He loves you.

Silence your rooster. Chop his head off and serve him up for dinner. Stop listening to his crowing and start listening to the One who created you and loves you and wants what is best for you.

Tonight, I think rooster dumplings might just be on the menu for me. How about you?

 


The Battle Field

2 Chronicles 20:12, “…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

I do not like tornadoes. They are nature’s most violent storms. Without warning, in a matter of seconds, whirling winds up to 300 miles per hour can damage an area a mile wide and 50 miles long. As a child, I visited an area ravaged by a tornado. My father, as a pastor, tried to comfort several families who had lost everything. Trees were uprooted; tiles to various rooftops had floated in the air and settled into trees; foundations no longer held homes;  automobiles were turned upside down; the emptiness of despair hovered above, filling the air.

Sometimes in life we find that our blue skies have unexpectedly turned into tornadoes. Our once stable environment becomes ransacked by divorce, loss of a child, heartache, cancer, foreclosure, loss of a job, addiction, grief, and pain. We find ourselves standing in the middle of a war zone, and we do not know what to do. Life is no longer the same; things have changed.

The men of Judah are in a similar situation in 2 Chronicles. An army has besieged their city, and they do not know what to do. The king, Jehoshaphat, inquires of the Lord and proclaims a fast for all Judah. God answers them by saying, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15.

When I read those words, my heart swells with emotion. Do you realize that no matter what you are facing right now, God has you covered? You need not be discouraged. Do not let fear grip you. If a vast army is coming after you, He will see you through it.

A woman once asked me, “How do we keep our eyes on God?”

“It’s simple, really,” I responded. “Through prayer, study of His word, and relationships. Stay close to those who love God. Attend church. Set every circumstance in God’s hand and know He will work everything out for your good.  Keep your eyes on Him means lay every care upon Him, because you know He cares for you. Rest in this fact, He is trustworthy.”

Battles may be raging. Tornadoes may hit out of nowhere. You may find your life in an unfixable mess; but know this, the battle field is His. Trust Him to see you through it to the end.


The early bird finds…

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 committment 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.