Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Love Even.

Vengence. It is the way of our culture. It is the justifiable means of righting our wrongs and bringing fulfilling closure to our hurts and healing to the wounds that have been inflicted upon us. Even in the context of Christianity and church, the welfare of vengence is alive and well. It may not be as apparent as other tales of vengence have been told. Vengence isn't always about what is done, but sometimes by what is not done. There are many of us who claim to know God and love God, but are so preoccupied by the nursing of our own wounds that we don't see ourselves as living in a hyprocisy of not loving those who have inflicted those wounds upon us. If 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient and kind, not rude or self-seeking, and keeping no record of wrong) really is more than just a poetic recitation at weddings and church Valentine banquets, then there is a definition of love that must be realized even in the moments when our hurts are most obvious.

You can't love God and hold hate, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness for another...especially against another believer. Life is never about getting even, but about loving even...EVEN WHEN it still hurts. There will undoubtedly be seasons in life where you will be hurt by those who love you, or at least claim to love you. There will even be times when someone who loves you, yet continues to hurt you, claims to have a passionate relationship with God and declares their love for God. It will hurt badly as it appears to be a glaring contradiction, and all you want to do is point out that contradiction because of the hurt you hold on the inside.

Love EVEN WHEN you don't understand and their actions don't make sense. Love EVEN WHEN your mind wants to think of them as hypocritical, judgmental, and a living contradiction. Love EVEN WHEN it would be easier to hold onto the wounds. Love EVEN WHEN they use your words, actions, or past against you, though they seem blinded by their own obvious infractions of the same. Love EVEN WHEN you want to stop loving. Remember, Jesus loved you EVEN WHEN you were still dead set against Him. He loved you EVEN WHEN you were still a sinner. He loved you EVEN WHEN you didn't deserve it.

Don't focus on getting even. Let God help you in the toughest moments of life to LOVE EVEN...EVEN WHEN.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Take it from Here.

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV).

"...make every effort to add to your faith..." You have a responsibility in growing in your own faith relationship with Jesus. He has done everything that is needed to give you access to all that you need. You, however, have to do it. In other words, "take it from here." The faith you have is in Him and because of Him. How you live out your faith is up to you.

"Make EVERY effort." It's not always going to be easy, and at times, you're going to want to give up, quit, and move on to something else. Don't give in. Make every effort to add what He has given you to what He wants to do in you. There is such a temptation to give into spiritual laziness that if you "just pray," God will take care of everything. Yes...pray. Many times however, what God will do is to perform inside of you and to position you so that YOU can step out and apply it in action.

Imagine the conversation Peter could have had with Jesus when Jesus encountered them in the boat as He walked towards them on top of the water:

Jesus: It is I.
Peter: If it's you, Lord, invite me to come out and walk with you on the water.
Jesus: Okay. Come on out. You can do it.
Jesus: Hey Peter, I said you could do it. Come on out and walk on the water with me.
Jesus: Peter, why do you look so conflicted and confused.
Peter: Lord, I want to walk on the water with you. Help me to do it.
Jesus: Peter, I will help you to do it, but I'm not going to move your feet for you.
Peter: But Jesus, that would make it so much easier and would involve any fear.
Jesus: I know, but it wouldn't involve any faith, either. I've given you the water to walk on. I've given you the feet so that you can walk. I've given you the invitation calling you out to me to walk on the water. I've even given you the faith. Now Peter, you just have to choose whether or not you will trust me enough to add to your faith the action that will propel you to walk on top of what the other 11 in the boat see as impossible.

When you pray, believe that Jesus hears you and answers. But be ready to add to your faith the action that will propel you towards the answer He has for you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

In His Hands.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God" (Psalm 31:5, NIV).

It's vital that you live your life in the same attitude of this declaration from David. There is such a tendency to live according to our own way, what makes sense to us, or what is prescribed by the changing tide of our surrounding.

"Into your hands..." It's not about you. It's about recognizing the futility of living your created life void of acknowledging the Creator. Each day, place your life and your day into the hands of the One who formed you first in His mind, and then with His hands. You are not your own. You are created of God and by God for the pleasure of God. He delights in you and loves you with an everlasting love.

"I commit my spirit..." Your breath, your very life, must be committed to God. He won't force you to live it for Him, but you are called to make a choice. Each choice you make will be met with a consequence. Choose to commit. The word "commit" in this context is to "hand over charge to someone else; to give governorship to another." Release yourself from the pressure and the unsustainable responsibility of being your own master. You were never created with the ability nor the capacity to succeed in that manner. Trust Him with YOU.

"Deliver me..." You will never be able to escape successfully from every trap you will face in this life. There will be seasons of your life that you will know that you are surrounded by obstacles that are closing in that you can't escape. Life is bigger than you. But never forget that the creator and author of all life is BIGGER STILL. He can and will deliver you if you call upon HIS NAME. He loves you so much more than you can imagine. He cares for your own life more than you do, because you are His own investment. He created you. He loves your children, your family, or whatever else really matters to you, even more than you do. Trust Him for deliverance from the moments that overwhelm you. His success rate is already so much greater than anything you will ever achieve on your own.

"Lord..." He is master. He is the One in charge, or at least He longs to be. Let Him be Lord over all things in your life. It has been said that, "If He's not Lord OVER ALL, then He's not really Lord AT ALL."

"...faithful God." God may not always do what you want or when you want it, but He is faithful. He is faithful to His word. He is faithful to His promise. He's not faithful to your incomplete understanding of His word or promise, but He is faithful to a destiny for you that is more complex and complete than anything you can fathom, even in your wildest imagination. Whatever you are facing right now, give it to Him. He is faithful. He will not violate you, take advantage of you, nor will He abandon you. Your life is in better hands when you've placed it all in His hands.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Need to Hear You Speak, Lord!

"The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh" (Psalm 29:8, NIV).

There is creatively epic power when the voice of God speaks. In the darkness of what we know of as the beginning of time, God's voice shook up the silence and forever changed the face of darkness when He commanded, "Let there be light." When Jesus stood on the boat during a storm of destructive and fatal proportion and declared, "Peace! Be still!" a total calm overwhelmed all that had violently threatened all aboard. When Jesus spoke to the other side of a tombstone, "Lazarus, come forth!" He demonstrated the power of life over the power of death. On the cross, when Jesus proclaimed with complete compassion that rocked the world, "It is finished," the power that was displayed during creation was now made public for all to see and would change the course of humanity for all who would receive that word into their lives.

What area of your life are you needing to hear the voice of God speak?

...CREATION? Are you needing God to speak to the darkness in your life? Are you ready to abandon what has become normal, even though you know that you are totally lost? Listen to that voice that longs to declare the LIGHT OF JESUS in your life. It is a light that will change your tired and ineffective outlook and perspective on everything.

...CALMING? Like Jesus standing on the boat in the midst of the storm, are you desperate to find that same tranquility restored in the midst of your chaos? Let the voice of Jesus calm the storm...even the storm inside of you. The situation around you may not change, but allow Him to change you in the mindst of your situation. He will restore a calm in your life that will allow you to rest, though the storm around you rages. You will rest because you are confident in the One who speaks and calms the storm. Let Him start with the storm inside of you.

...RESURRECTION? Like Lazarus' death of four days had brought an incredible stench to the grave, are you longing for the voice of God to speak LIFE back into you and into areas of your life? What's died? Your passion for life? Your energy? Your health? Your marriage? Your finances? Your hope? Let the voice of Jesus speak the overcoming power of LIFE into the dead areas of your life and heart. Let Him revive and resurrect within you the purpose He has created and founded for you.

..COMPLETION? Are you afraid that nothing sustainable in your life will ever be fully completed? Do you fear that the work of God in your life will be like many other projects in your life that have been started with great ambition but ended up unfinished with great apathy? Let the FINISHING work of Jesus speak hope and confidence in your life that IT IS FINISHED. Every good thing that God has intended for your life has already been accomplished. All you have to do is to depend upon Him and wait on His timing. During the waiting, you can rest assured that God is working on You and preparing you for the absolute best that He has for you!

Listen for the voice of God to speak!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Be Reminded.

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good..." (Titus 3:1, NIV).

This was a reminder Paul knew wouldn't be easy nor preferable for the people to always put into action, as it could easily go against personal feelings. Nevertheless, the reminder was of God and is applicable and beneficial for those who follow Christ today.

" subject to rulers and authorities." Simply put, respect and honor those who are in leadership over you. You don't have to agree, but you are called to submit. When human laws attempt to usurp the authority and the truth of God's laws, you are to follow God in the obedience to which He has called you. But in doing so, you are to remain respectful and honorable.

" be obedient." Obedience is better than sacrifice and service. God hasn't called you to obligation. He called you to obedience. Listen to His voice. It will inevitably, at times, conflict with your feelings and your preferences, but obedience will guide you in the continual favor and protection of God's presence.

" be ready to do whatever is good." God has called you to righteous living. This doesn't mean "good" as you interpret or perceive good, but how GOD sees "good." There is nothing truly "good" that contradicts the standards of God's holiness or the character of Him who is called good.

" slander no one." You've heard the old addage, "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Choose not to speak ill against those who have also been created in the same image of God as you. You can speak words of rebuke and correction and still maintain the heart of Christ. Let the words you speak always be motivated by the restorative love of Jesus.

" be peacable and considerate." Don't live in conflict. Choose to consider others over yourself. Let compassion and humility be guiding forces in your life. Pursue peace over position. Don't always attempt to "one up" or "be on top" in a conversation. It's not about being walked over. It's about standing on something more sturdy and strong than the fragility of personal ego.

" gentle toward everyone." Everyone is a pretty strong word that doesn't leave much room for interprative liberties. Gentleness IS part of the fruit of the spirit and THAT MEANS it is part of the EVIDENCE that the Spirit of God is working in you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Control Freaks.

"The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you" (Titus 1:5, NIV).

Paul left Titus so that Titus could actually apply the lessons Paul had taught.

Sometimes you have to leave and release people to do what needs to be done. The more you stand over the shoulder or are always there for the rescue, the unprepared you help them to be and the burned-out you become.

LET GO. Learn to let go. Learn to have boundaries. Become OK not having your hand in every little thing. You're not really saving anything. You're actually killing it very slowly, because you are insisting that it all relies on you. News flash: ONE DAY YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE AROUND. Then what? Learn to let go.

LET THEM. When you let go, you are able to release and let THEM do it. No one will ever learn to be truly successful unless those who teach, at some point, get out of the way and let THEM try it out for themselves. By hanging on, you are showing that you don't trust and that you don't believe in others. Even Eagles kick their young out of the nest and let them fall in order to teach them to fly. Be secure in the abilities of others, even when they seem to surpass your own.

LET GOD. God is in control. Let Him be. Trust God in all things. Trust God that HE cares about what needs to be done even more than you do. Let God guide you. The more you are in control, the more God is not. Let God have all that matters to you. Trust Him with the details. Let God be your strength. Let God lead.