Monthly Archives: March 2015

Who are you avoiding?

How do you deal with people you just do not like? Are there certain people you purposefully avoid, duck into a corner when you see them coming? They are leeches in human form – people who literally drain the life out of others. Those who only want to talk and never listen; those whose problems are the only ones that matter and expect everyone to be in crisis with them. People who never see what they are doing wrong but always see what others are doing wrong. People who never give and only take. People who only want what you have to offer to them. That one person who literally believes the sun rises and sets on his time-table. That person who believes she is the center of the universe and everyone else revolves around her.  I bet some names of some folks are popping in your head. They are certainly popping in mine.

So, how do you ‘love’ those leeches; the ones who suck the life out of you? Does God really expect us to love them too?

Paul wrote in Romans 7:21-25, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I read a quote the other day; it said, “Forgiveness is accepting you are just like other people.” Do you know that you too get on someone’s very last nerve? Hard to imagine, but its true. So do I. While we compile our list of leeches, someone else is compiling his or her list of leeches and your name and my name is probably on their list. See, it really isn’t about us. And it really isn’t about them. It’s about our Creator and He wants us to love and cherish one another.

Jesus Christ didn’t just die for you and your tennis buddies. He didn’t hang on that cross for just me and my best friend. He didn’t accept those stripes on his back for just the athletic types. Those nails in His hands didn’t go through just for the thin and beautiful people. That crown of thorns on His head, it didn’t press into His forehead for just the educated people or the people who attend the big church on the hill. He died on that cross for every last one of us – leeches and all.

Who are you avoiding? Maybe it’s time to stop avoiding and start loving. Who are you judging? Maybe it’s time to stop pointing fingers. Who do you dodge when you see him coming? Maybe it’s time to start walking towards him and stop running.

Today, talk to God about the people you put on your leech list and while you are at it, talk to Him about how to get your name off someone else’s leech list. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made; maybe we need to learn to see people as God created them to be.


Because we are His children

It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.

Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”

Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “

We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.


Start living right

Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

Most of us want God to use us in some capacity. We want to feel valuable to society. The majority of the people I know are striving to do ‘something’ with their lives that makes an impact.

I remember in the fourth grade I didn’t do my homework. I was just coming out of a long fun summer and the routine of school and homework hadn’t quite settled in with me. My teacher walked around the room with a red pen. We were to put our math assignment on our desks and she would put a big red check on the papers that were complete. I had nothing to put on my desk. The night before, I made the decision that math homework was a waste of my time. I needed something harder.

When she came to my desk, and there was no paper, she stopped, “Michael Franklin, where is your homework assignment?”

In the most convincing argument I could muster, I answered, “It was all review. I want to work on something harder.”

She did not respond and continued on to the next row. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. After class, she instructed me to stay after school.

Sometimes God has simple task for us to do, on a regular basis, for Him. We may long for something more important; but, He wants us to do this or that faithfully and with a cheerful heart. Many of us refuse to do it. We think our time can be better utilized. We think we have a better plan.

Really?

After school, I found myself sitting in a desk waiting on my teacher. On the board was line after line of a math problem. I’d never seen such work. It was a problem in Linear Algebra, one I could easily do while studying mathematics in college, but in fourth grade, it looked like a foreign language. My teacher came into the room and asked, “Have you solved the problem?”

“No, Ma’am! I don’t even know what those symbols are!”

She pulled out her Bible and read the above scripture to me. Jeremiah 12:5. And I understood.

God is always preparing us for something just up ahead; but we can’t get there if we aren’t willing to do the steps needed to be victorious. See, God is a winner and through Him, so are we.

If you want to run with horses, then start running with men. If you want to go into other territories, then start living right in your own.


In the Eyes of God

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The other day I spoke with a young man who is a student at Harvard University. He laughed with me, “You think being a southerner isn’t tough enough at Harvard, try being a Christian on top of that.” He went on to describe the bantering he receives because of his belief. “At times, I don’t feel qualified to answer their questions, but somehow God seems to find a way for me to say what I need to say.”

It can be intimidating to be around people whose IQ measures the same numbers as my mortgage payment. The Bible tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” To put it simply, God in His dumbest moment (which doesn’t happen, but for the sake of argument) is smarter than the world’s wisest man and God in His weakest moment (again, which doesn’t happen) is stronger than the world’s strongest man.

Some of the smartest people I know, do not “get” the Cross; and therefore, they are the dumbest people I know. If you are one of those people, I apologize for the insult but you are perishing.

There comes a time when we have to realize, people who aren’t with Christ; people who criticize the word of God; people who do not understand the power of the Cross; those people are perishing.

Paul adds that “God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.” Some of you today think you have all the answers. Some of you may even ridicule those who live by the Cross; those who are directed and guided by Christ. One day, I pray your eyes will be opened and the intelligence you profess today; the so-called ‘smartness’ you think you’ve gained from the world will become what it is in the eyes of God – foolishness.

The foolishness of the world masquerades itself as peer pressure, political correctness, book smarts, cultural norms, scientific knowledge, whatever you want to call it. It is, however, an inability to acknowledge and accept the truths of God.

Today, pray for God to open your eyes to any spiritual blindness you may have. Spiritual wisdom enlightens and redeems us; uplifts us; brings light into our lives. Ask God to help you know the areas you need to strengthen through the Word. Ask God to make you wise in Him.


So that He can lift it up

Psalm 3:3-4, “But you are my shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.”

When I was a boy, often things did not work out the way I thought they should.  During those times of disappointment, my grandmother would say, “Hold your head up” or, “Keep your chin up.” In verse 3 of Psalm 3, David isn’t saying this; he is actually saying the opposite. In order for God to deliver us, we have to be willing to bow our head in humility and surrender so that He can lift it up.

Have you ever been in a situation where you just couldn’t turn it over to God? Maybe you did a little, but you held on to a piece of it? David is telling us in Psalm 3 that God is our shield – a shield all around us, front, side, and back. He will give us victory, and He will lift up our head; but in order for Him to do so, we must humble ourselves before Him, seek His help, and surrender to His will.

People in denial are some of the most interesting people I know. The outside world looks at them and utters, “How can they not see it? It’s so obvious!” Yet, they see only what they want to see. “My ex-husband, it is all his fault! I did nothing wrong.”  “Well, if I had just had a better childhood…” “If we just had stiffer gun control laws…” “It wouldn’t be right for me to speak about God in the work place…” “I can’t do what’s right, I want my friends to accept me…” Sound familiar?

God won’t step in until you move over, bow in surrender, and give Him access.

Have you ever met someone who is just determine to get even with those who wronged him or her? Bitterness and anger become front and center in their lives. The sad part is they can’t see it. God won’t deliver justice when we are walking around like peacocks validating ourselves, justifying our every move, and playing as if we were Him. David knows, until he cries out for help, until he acknowledges God’s ability, until he bows his head before Him, God will remain silent. But when, “I cry aloud…He answers.”

Some of us need to bow down before God in humility, recognizing our need for His help. Some of us need to turn the reins over to God and get ourselves straightened out. Understand this, there is no power capable of plucking you from the hand of God when you entrust yourself to His care.


the BIGGER picture

Has your life ever taken a turn that left you stupefied – standing in the road in utter shock as to how things could possibly turned out this way? I can imagine it is how the disciples must have felt as they saw Jesus being arrested, beaten, and crucified. He was the miracle worker! He was their King! Had they misinterpreted His actions that much? Had others been right about Him? Was He not who they thought He was?

Sometimes we make a decision we believe is from God. We’ve gone to Him in prayer. We’ve studied His word. We feel assured He is with us. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it turns bad and we don’t understand. Were we that off-base? Is God really who we thought He is?

I am a big believer in “the BIGGER picture.” While we may feel we are the ones going through the fire, God knows different. Maybe He is sparing us from something far more tragic than the supposed failure before us. Maybe He is preparing for something much better than we imagined. Maybe what we see as failure is a stepping stone to a greater purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Those are not just words to make us feel better.

In the South, we often greet people, “How are ya?” Everyone knows it isn’t literal. No one would ever stop and say, “Well, my bursitis is flaring up and my septic tank overflowed and flooded the basement.” The response is, “I’m good, you?” And when we depart from one another we add, “Come see me!” No one would ever say, “OK. When? How ’bout Friday night?” The response is, “We’ll do!”

When God says He knows the plans He has for you, He means it! When He says He will prosper you and not harm you, He means it!

The next time your plans don’t fall into place as you expected, praise God for it! He is either preventing you from something painful down the road, setting you up for something much better, or using the process as a step-up to something you’ve never even thought. God is our hope for the future.

When you ask, “What happened?” Know this, God happened. And I’m so grateful He did.


May your God rescue you!

Daniel 6:19 reads, “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God,whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Aren’t we all a little like King Darius in the story of Daniel and the lions’ den? An edict was issued that any person who prays to any god or man in the next 30 days other than the king would be thrown into the lions’ den. The basis of this decree was actually a plot against Daniel because he was rising in favor with the king. They knew the only way to ‘get’ Daniel and discredit him would be to throw interference in the laws of his God. Daniel was known for his devotion and love of God.

Daniel learns of the decree but continues to openly pray and worship God. When the king’s advisors come to him and tell him that Daniel is breaking the law, Darius is very distressed and tries greatly to save him. “When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed: he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him” – Daniel 6: 14.

The king is forced to give the order, and Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den. The king says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” – Daniel 6:16.

Often, we are a lot like King Darius. We want to believe that God can rescue us. We want to believe that everything is going to work out. We dare to hope, but when it comes down to it, we refuse. In the back of our minds, we are looking up with a ‘prove it’ mentality. Some of us may even get angry at God, shaking our fists in the air like children, and turning our backs on Him. “Look at the mess I’m in! And I serve you?”

Do you know the entire night, the king did not sleep? I wonder if it is because he wanted so desperately to believe in the possibility of Daniel’s rescue, and yet he wasn’t strong enough to admit it. I can imagine his thoughts, “Is it possible for this God Daniel serves to be for real?”

What about you? When faced with the lions’ den, do you believe God will rescue you or do you sit back with a wait and see mentality of doubt?

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

I am sure that Daniel willingly approach the lions’ den too. He wasn’t kicking and screaming or death gripping the ground. Daniel knew God would deliver him. He had no doubts.

In the morning, in an anguished voice, King Darius calls down into the pit. Do you think that King Darius did that for every execution? No. More than likely, no one ever checked on the victims. No, Darius wanted to believe but couldn’t find the courage to do so.

Are you a Darius or a Daniel? When trials come your way, how do you respond? Do you require God to prove His faithfulness to you? Or do you step into the lions’ den, knowing the God you serve will rescue you from the power of the lions?

Believe today your God will shut the mouths of the lions in your life. Faith is not an act for when times are good; faith is knowing no matter what happens in your life, your God “rescues and saves.”