Monthly Archives: October 2016

Clean Slate

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

One of the toughest concepts to accept is the reality of the forgiveness of God. There was a time in my life when I wondered if God could forgive me. I spent a great time feeling sorry for myself and my stupidity. But, even when we have made a serious mistake; even when we have hurt someone; even when we have lied; even when we have betrayed; we have a new beginning – a “do over.” in Christ.

When the kids were little and would act up, Connie gave them a chance to “do over” what they messed up. Sometimes I wish I could hit the rewind button and rephrase my words or redirect my actions. With Christ, we get a fresh start, a clean slate. He keeps no record of wrong. When we come before Him, asking for forgiveness, no matter how bad we messed up, Christ redeems us. He wipes the slate clean.

Some of you may have sin in your life that you have not confessed to God.  Maybe you think it is too awful; maybe you are too ashamed to admit it; maybe you don’t want to face God. Today, go to Him in prayer so that you can begin fresh and new today. Ask Him to cleanse you of your sin. Thank Him that you can be forgiven. Then, with your fresh start, leave the sin behind you and move forward a new and better person.


Instructions

The definition of follow is to accept the guidance, command, or leadership of. The definition of believe  is to accept (something) as true.

Jesus called us to follow Him. If we are followers of Jesus, He is our leader.

John 10:3, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

The sheep can only follow their Master if they know how to listen to His voice. In listening to His voice and following His direction the sheep are protected. It is no different for us. What has to happen in our lives though is we must learn to listen to His voice. It’s not just about believing that He exists and He is our Savior. It goes far beyond a simple belief.

I heard a sermon once about discerning the voice of God. The minister gave the example of a young man, appointed to Special Forces in the US Army and stationed in Antarctica. He was given a radio, a guide-book, and survival supplies. His Commander warned him, “You will hear instructions from many sources, some of which will be enemy sources and you will hear instructions from me.”

The soldier asked with concern, “How will I know when it is you?”

The Commander gave him three ways to know the instructions were from him.

1. Every message you are given, check it against the procedures given to you in the guide-book. If the instructions do not line up with the policy, the voice is not mine.

2. Learn to recognize my voice. At first, I will not give you anything too difficult because I need you to know who is speaking to you. Train yourself to identify what I sound like and the things I should tell you to do.

3. As you familiarize yourself to the guide-book and hear my voice repeatedly, you will begin to understand where our mission is going. Even when enemy forces are around you, you will be able to decipher mine.

Good advice for you and me as well. Spend time reading God’s Word today. Talk with Him in prayer. Start today to learn to listen to your Master.


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.