Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hold The Hurt

Hold The Hurt
May 30, 2016
Psalm 30:11  "You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy."

Many of us have been hurt by those we love.  It is inevitable if you are going to live with other humans.  They will let us down, sometimes intentionally, but most of the time they aren't even trying to hurt us.  It just happens, even because of our own insecurities or pride.  People are imperfect, and full of being human.  They don't live up to our expectations and we end up getting hurt.  It is okay to hurt, to feel the repercussions of the incident.  It is even okay to feel angry and upset, even disappointed.  But then we must move forward if we are to live out our Christianity.  I said move forward, not move on.  Moving on is an attempt to forget it, ignore it.  Moving forward is an effort to let the hurt shape you into a healthier person.  But there is a caveat to moving forward.  You cannot move forward AND hold on to the hurt.

The Bible is full of instances when someone holds on to the hurt, letting it shape them into evil monsters.  Holding onto hurt only leads to bitterness and resentment, and eventual failure as a person.  You cannot be a successful Christian and hold on to your hurt at the same time.  You cannot let God heal you of the hurt if you are still holding on to it.  In order for you to move forward you have to be willing to give your hurt to the Lord and allow Him to use it for your good.

King Saul, the first King of Israel was not one to give his hurt to the Lord.  He let his ego get offended when David succeeded in battle, starting with the killing of Goliath.  David technically didn't do anything to Saul, other than fight the giant.  But Saul got hurt, his ego wounded so severely.  Instead of dealing with this pain and frustration, he let it fester and boil inside, leading to hate.  This hate led Saul down an evil path of revenge the rest of his life, not resting until David was dead.  Thankfully the Lord saved David from Saul, but Saul was never able to move forward from the hurt of his pride.  Saul eventually ended up dead from a war that could have been avoided had he only submitted his hurt to the Lord.  Saul held on to the hurt and it was the cause of his downfall.

I know you have been hurt in life.  You've been hurt by your close family members, you've been hurt be people in the church, you may even feel hurt by the Lord.  This hurt, if left unchecked, if left unforgiven, only leads to more pain.  No one ever got healed from the burn of a fire by holding onto that fire.  Satan wants you to believe if you can hold on to that hurt and channel it to make you stronger, then you can keep from getting hurt in the future.  This is the antithesis of what the Lord desires from you and the Lord is usually right.  He wants you to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to give your pain to Him so He may shape it into something beautiful.  Only the Lord can turn your sorrow into dancing.  Only the Lord can make beauty from ashes.  Only the Lord can turn your situation and use it for His glory, the exact situation you are painfully trying to navigate at this very moment.  The Lord is asking you to bring it to Him, to allow yourself to rest in His arms and watch as He takes that awful situation and makes you a more successful Christian because of it.

Only don't hold on to that hurt; don't let it be the cause of your ruin.  Be willing to allow Him to change your mourning into dancing.  If you are not willing, then the Lord cannot make something beautiful from your pain.  In fact, listen to what the Lord says will happen when you let Him bind up your wounds:  Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Samuel 18, Ps 30, Is 61

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Whats In Your House

Whats In Your House
May 23, 2016
2 Samuel 6:11  "The Ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household."

Whats in your house?  While you may think everything in your house is rather benign, I would suggest there is physical and spiritual significance to everything and anything in your house.  Define house, for this purpose, as the physical domain under your control or influence (your car, your desk at work, your computer or phone, not just your residence).  The Bible says that what is in your house is of importance to the Lord and it affects you more than you might realize.

The Ark of the Lord, also known as the Ark of the Covenant, was a box that contained a few articles of significance.  Without going into all the details of what was in it, basically it held the tablets of the 10 Commandments, the Lord's instructions.  Why the Lord had them make a fancy box and carry it around, I do not know, but maybe it was the significance of what was inside the box, the commands of the Lord.  He asked them carry it ahead of them in parades or battle; He asked them to set it in places of honor; and He asked them to protect it from the enemy.  In short, He made sure they understood its importance in their lives.  It not only represented the instructions the Lord gave them but the covenant or reward if they obeyed the instructions.

Wherever the Ark of the Covenant was held, that physical dwelling was blessed.  The ornamental box ended up in someones house and he kept it there for three months.  The Bible says that the man's house was blessed just because it was inside his house, not because the man did anything other than house the Ark of the Covenant.  You and I cannot house the Ark of the Covenant but we can house the Covenant.  Remember the Covenant as being the promises from the Lord if you obey and follow Him.  Whether you realize it or not, you can house the Covenant.  There are huge blessings when we house the Covenant, not just our house but our household (including everyone in it).

The opposite is true as well.  When we house sin, in the physical or spiritual sense, our house is not blessed but cursed.  Lets talk for a moment of what that might look like.  Is there pornography housed on your computer or phone?  What music is programmed on the radio of your car?  Are there books on your shelves with content unbecoming a child of God?  Are there relationships in your social media that need ending?  What are you hoarding in your house, unwilling to share?  Are there symbols of your Christianity in your home or are there symbols of your sin?  Is there a Bible on your coffee table or are there books and magazines that entertain covetous desires?  Do you have more televisions and mirrors than Bible apps, spiritual commentaries, and Christian music?  What other spiritually significant items are in your home, good or bad?  As you read these words, the Holy Spirit is prompting you even now regarding things you need to get rid of, tearing them down and throwing them out, locking some things up and bringing others into a place of prominence.  Don't let the sun go down without making these changes today, your blessing is dependent upon it.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Lev 26:3, Deut 6:8-9, Deut 11:18, Deut 28:15, Josh 24:15, John 13:17, Rev 1:3

Sunday, May 15, 2016


May 16, 2016
Luke 13:9  "'Maybe it will produce fruit next year, if not, you may cut it down.'"

We all know we are supposed to do good things, acts of kindness and generosity and service.  An argument cannot be create against such noble and worthy actions.  The difficulty with this concept is that it is not an option, but an obligatory response to the kindness and generosity of what the Savior did for us.  Acts of service to others is not only a good thing, but a mandatory thing.  It isn't optional.  We banter in our heads about where we should volunteer and what we should do.  We argue it down, suggesting we don't have a burden for children's ministry within the church and therefore don't feel compelled to serve in that area.  Or maybe we don't necessarily have an emotional burden for the plight of the homeless and therefore aren't willing to serve in the soup kitchen.  We reason, the person who should help out in those areas will have a natural burden or desire to help.  Maybe we are approaching the topic wrong altogether.  Notice I did not use a question mark at the end of that last sentence.

For a successful children's ministry, it takes many people, not just those in the classroom ready and willing to work directly with children.  There is a great deal of administration that goes into it, a skill that some classroom workers do not possess.  There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the soup kitchen for the homeless, some of which has nothing to do with directly interacting with the homeless; it requires meal planning, resource collecting, and simple food preparation.  My argument is that maybe we are approaching it all wrong.  It isn't "maybe the Lord wants me to help out in this capacity...."  The Lord said we are all mandated to take care of the less fortunate, the downtrodden, the sick, those in prison, the orphaned, etc.  It isn't a matter of maybe, it's a matter of simply "what role?"  It is a given that you are supposed to help with foster care of children.  It is a given that you are supposed to help with prison ministry.  It is a given that you are supposed to help with taking care of the homeless.  It is a given that you are supposed to actively participate and give in all areas of Christian service.  If you are not serving in any of those areas then the Lord has a message for you.

In the 13th chapter of Luke, Jesus told a parable about a fig tree that didn't bear fruit.  In the parable the fig tree was not just a sapling but a noticeable tree.  For three years it didn't bear fruit and the owner of the tree wanted to cut it down.  It was not functioning in the capacity originally required of it.  He was about to cut it down when someone intervened and begged the owner to give it one more chance at doing its job.  His argument was to give it another season with some extra support and maybe this time the tree would produce.  Reluctantly, the owner of the tree agreed to give it another opportunity, knowing full well it was the last chance before He moved on to another tree.  Christian, the parable is about you and me producing fruit out of a direct response to submitting to the design of the Maker.  If you and I are not willing, then the Lord desires to move on to another.  He is willing to be patient, to an extent, but "how long" is not for you and me to decide.

Maybe the fig tree will finally get its act together.  Maybe you and I will finally figure out it isn't about "maybe" volunteering or "maybe" giving, but about deciding to do the right thing and figuring out what role.  The Lord will not ask you to function in an area you are not equipped to function, but He will ask you to participate.  There are no spectator positions within Christianity.  There must be an outward response to the good work the Lord has done in your life, and that outward response means bearing fruit, producing what is required for the Owner of the Fig Tree.  Maybe it's time to get your act together and bear fruit or maybe the Owner of the Fig Tree will decide to cut it down.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matthew 19:21, Luke 10:25-37, Luke 13:6-9, 1 Cor 13:3, James 1:27, Heb 13:3

Sunday, May 8, 2016


May 9, 2016
Genesis 16:1  "'. . . perhaps I can build a family through her.'"

Abraham and Sarah were childless yet the Lord promised to give them many descendants.  The promise was gigantic from the Lord, partly because He promised descendants as numerous as the sand on the sea shore and partly because Sarah was so well advanced in her age.  Sarah had been barren well past her prime and the possibility of her having children was too far remote.  Nonetheless, the Lord made a huge promise of a family of their own.  Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting for the promise to become a fulfillment, so they reasoned on their own.  Sarah had a maidservant who was still of child bearing years.  Sarah said perhaps the Lord could fulfill the lofty promise through a child born from the maidservant.  It is interesting that Sarah decided to take the matter into her own hands and reasoned with the word "perhaps".  "Perhaps" is such a whimsical word yet that is how it translates into our modern language.  The original word translated into "perhaps" suggests a wild guess, random and by chance.

Like a dumb man, Abraham listened to Sarah's "perhaps" state of mind and agreed human intervention in the form of taking a chance was required for the Lord to fulfill His promise.  In fairness to Abraham and Sarah, they didn't have the written Bible to fall back on, yet they apparently didn't understand the Lord.  The Lord promised, period.  The Lord didn't promise maybe, with a wild guess and a random chance.  The Lord promised, the end.  The Lord already had a plan and didn't need input or suggestions from a human being.  The Lord didn't need a man or a woman making decisions with "perhaps."  Perhaps that is the worst thing we can do, rationalize how the Lord can and will perform His job.  If the Lord promised, then we need to rest in that promise.  Taking matters into our own hands will only make matters worse.

The Lord eventually brought forth the promised child, but not after Abraham and Sarah screwed things up by their own human intervention.  The child from the "perhaps" scenario became the enemy of the child from the promise.  Today we have war in the middle east as a result of such human efforts to help the Lord out.  The Lord didn't need Abraham or Sarah helping Him out and the Lord doesn't need our suggestions either in carrying out His plan or promises.  If you think back on it, the Lord didn't have to let Abraham and Sarah in on His plan.  I've found this gets me in to the same trouble as it did for them.  If I have a glimpse of the future, I'm determined to push it forward as fast and as hard as I can.  The longer the Lord takes to fulfill the future, the more I'm likely to get involved.

You and I do not need to get involved in the affairs of Heaven, unless specifically asked.  In fact, we are to carry out one assignment and then wait for the next.  Our job is to follow the Lord's plan and not make plans of our own.  Our job is to do what He asks and not come up with our assignments.  Our job is to do our job, not His.

Scripture says there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it only leads to death.  As strong as it sounds, our ideas are only worthy of being put to death in comparison to His glorious design.  Submit to His promise and wait for it; perhaps you should never take matters into your own hands.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 16-21, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 14:12 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trust Like Sand

Trust Like Sand
May 2, 2016
Psalm 23:4  "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever."

Putting your trust in a person or thing is quite natural to do.  We like to trust as it allows us to relax into a place of comfort.  If you trust your spouse to be faithful, then you can rest assured when he is away on a trip.  Trust gives you peace.  If you trust you have accurately calculated the monies required for you to survive in retirement then you can rest easy at night knowing you'll always have a safe place to sleep in the future.  We find ways to purposely trust, because the opposite is stressful, full of anxiety.  If you don't trust someone, you're always on guard, uneasy about how he could shift, not knowing what result you should expect.  If you don't trust something, you'll always be looking for ways to bolster it, lest you need to abandon it altogether.  The ability to trust or not trust is a built-in quality we have all learned to hone in order to survive.  It becomes instinctual.

We as Christians, understand we should trust the Lord.  To some extent we all trust the Lord, but I would suggest we mistrust the Lord more than we actually trust the Lord.  The Bible says if we trust the Lord, we will be like Mount Zion, unable to be shaken.  Examine the analogy for a moment and understand what Mount Zion was to the Israelites.  Mount Zion was first and foremost a metaphorical place representing the Lord's Kingdom, His authority, and His governance.  It was only after the Israelites formed the city of Jerusalem that they named the tallest and most rocky hill, Mount Zion.  The physical Mount Zion became a visual representation of the Lord's governing authority.  When the psalmist wrote about Mount Zion, he was not talking about the physical rocky, earthen structure.  He was referring to the steadfastness of the Lord's dominance and rule.  Without re-writing Scripture, and with this understanding in mind, re-read the Scripture in it's meaning:  those who trust in the Lord are like His eternal governance, authority, and power, which cannot be shaken.  The Scripture would never suggest if we trust in the Lord we would become as immovable as the Lord Himself, but the analogy is pretty close.  To trust in the Lord is to trust in all them embodies the Lord, His love, His power, His authority, His design, His goals, His plans, His forgiveness, and His restorative work.

I don't think I've ever fully trusted in the Lord to the extent the Lord would desire.  If I truly had trust in Him, I'd always be at peace, resting in His love, His power, His authority, His design, His goals, His plans, His forgiveness, and His restorative work.  In coming back to the physical analogy of the mountain, my trust is more like sand, able to be shaped easily by my surroundings.  My situation and my viewpoint are my surroundings, which shape my trust.  This is opposite how it is supposed to be, in that my trust should already be formed solid like the mountain of God.  When my surroundings change, my trust should still be formed in the likeness of the Lord's authority.  To our logical minds, sure the Lord has all authority, but for some reason we don't act that way.  We act as if the Lord is away from His throne quite often, as if He is taking a break from being in charge.

If asked, sure we might say the Lord is always on His throne, but we, because of our mistrust, don't always ascribe to Him the full authority of His governance at all times.  He has all power, but is not able to work fully in this one portion of our lives.  He has a master design, but He probably doesn't care about these few details over here.  He has a plan but not for ALL of our lives.  He forgives all my sins, except these two we cannot mention out loud.  He can restore our lives, but not to the completeness of everything else.  When we talk like this, our trust in Him is not as firm as a mountain, but shifting sand.  When we truly trust in Him, we are trusting in His FULL governance over all things, to His fullest extent.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  2 Sam 7:28, Ps 9:10, Ps 20:7, Ps 91:2, Is 26:4, Is 53:7, Joel 2:32, Amos 6:1, Matt 7:24-27