Monday, April 29, 2019

I Didn't Sign Up

I Didn't Sign Up
April 29, 2019
John 21:18  "'Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'"

I found myself discouraged by my situation this past week and having a conversation with the Lord about it.  The conversation went like this.  "Lord, I didn't sign up for this when I agreed to be a Christian."  He let me speak the foolish sentence, to which he replied, "Yes, you did."  That was pretty much the whole conversation.  He spoke to me in a somewhat sarcastic tone, as if to tell me I should know better than to suggest such a silly thought.  (If the Lord never speaks to you with sarcasm in His voice, you're probably a better listener than me.)  He wasn't trying to insult me, but reminding me of what I already know in my heart to be true, reminding me of all I have learned in life and through Scripture.  He was telling me that my life, once I handed it over to Him so long ago, was and is not my own.  He was reminding me of who was truly in control over my situations, especially the situation I thought should be different.

Scripture is rife with stories and scenarios where the protagonist undergoes a heavy burden, only to find the Lord was still involved, possibly even causing the situation for an intended benefit.  If you don't think the Lord causes difficult situations in life, then you don't know the Lord.  He causes OR allows anything and everything that happens to you and it is always for a good reason.  The Lord isn't into pointless suffering; it is for your personal benefit or His.  Either way, you can rest assured there WILL be a point, possibly only revealed to you in Heaven.  Your job, is to accept what happens to you in life with the understanding you will allow it to shape you for good or use it for His glory.  I will admit, as with my conversation with the Lord this past week, we will seldom, if ever, understand the situation DURING the situation.

What happens to you in your life is never beyond His reach or His ability to redeem.  Haman tried to frame Mordecai, but Mordecai was lifted to honor.  King Saul tried to kill David, but David was given the throne.  Satan tried to destroy Job, but Job was blessed.  The Lord allowed a man to be born blind, but the Lord restored his sight so the world could see the Lord's authority.  Jesus was tortured and murdered, but Jesus ended up with the keys to eternal life.  The apostle John was put on prisoner island, but it was there the Lord wrote the book of Revelation.  I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where the Lord simply abandoned an individual to their situation.  There is resolution or an end result to each story, suggesting the Lord is a God who works through to completion.  Even if the story ended in an untimely death, the death brought more people to the Lord, a cause certainly worth dying for in the big picture of things.

If you find yourself on a course in life, one in which you didn't pick or necessarily deserve, then you can rejoice in knowing there is a Higher Authority at work for an intended benefit.  If you feel the situation, the one you didn't sign up for, could only be reversed by a miraculous move of the Lord, then sit back and be patient for Him to work.  If you could get yourself out of the situation on your own efforts, then it wouldn't benefit you OR the Lord.  The situations I find beneficial for myself or the Lord, are like the ones I read about in the Bible, the ones where only the Lord could resolve in a delightful manner.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Sam 19, Es 6:6-12, Is 44:6, Is 48:17, John 9:9-12, John 21:15-23, James 1:2-4

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Jesus Can't

Jesus Can't
April 22, 2019
Mark 6:5  "He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them."

To put a limit on what the Lord can or could do in your life is a travesty. There is nothing outside the Lord's ability or power to accomplish. The Lord may be willing and wanting to do so much more in your life, but the limiting factor for His miracles is  not the Lord. While it is true, the Lord tests your motives when you ask of Him, you likely have left many miracles in your life on the table, not receiving them. There is an aspect to the Lord's character that often gets overlooked, but our limiting factors actually become the Lord's limiting factors. The foundational element to the Christian walk is faith, and when we have a limited faith, then the Lord has limited power in our lives. There are actually many miracles that the Lord cannot perform, simply because of our faith. The Lord cannot overcome our own faith in order to perform wonders in our lives. Faith is the fuel for a miracle, and if you've not gotten the miracle you require, then maybe your faith has put a limiter on Him.

Jesus sat teaching many people,  out in the open, to masses of people. He would not only teach, but perform miracles in connection with the teaching. As He was teaching, I would venture to guess He could see their faith gauge changing inside their hearts. Some people, when hearing His words, were doubters and their hearts actually sealed off even more. Others, upon hearing Hum teaching, opened their hearts wider, believing in the message that He was bringing. On one occasion, Jesus sat teaching those who knew Him, who had years of history with Him. The Bible says He left there and could not perform miracles among them because of their unbelief. Their unbelief actually limited the power of Jesus. They heard His words and chose to harden their hearts. His miracles walked away from them when He walked away from them. Jesus cannot perform a miracle for the one who does not believe.

When Jesus left the area, unable to perform miracles because of their unbelief, He had just finished explaining that all it took was faith as a mustard seed. Believing that the Lord has power is not enough; you must believe that He is willing and able to help your specific cause. The demons believe He has power, that in and of itself is not the limiting factor; they know who He is and what He can do. The limiting factor is not belief in the Lord's power, but the Lord's power over  your life.

Many people walk through life thinking that the Lord does not give notice to them, that the Lord is busy and could not be bothered with such a simple person or simple request. This belief, this heart-and-mind set, is the limiting factor. In this instance, Jesus can't and so He won't. But it isn't the fault of the Lord that you might be missing your miracle. Believe and know that He is standing there, excited to be part of your life, wanting to do so much more, to fix your brokenness and heal your wounds. But the Lord won't, unless you want Him to and unless you believe that He wants to be a part of your life. Jesus is not only alive, but wanting to be active  in your life, but He can't unless you invite Him to be a part of that. It takes faith to activate that miracle.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matthew 13:31-58, Mark 6:1-6, James 2:19, James 4:2-3 

Monday, April 15, 2019


April 15, 2019
1 Samuel 15:23  "For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. . ."

There are very few who would argue the point that witchcraft is in opposition to Christianity.  Christians would never dabble with witchcraft, thinking it OK to conjure demons or pray to Satan or work against the Lord. Casting spells is not something to play with and most Christians understand this to be an abomination to the Lord.  Yet, there is sin within a Christian, all Christians at some point in their lives, that is akin to witchcraft. The Bible says that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is the sin of worshiping idols (a self-idol).

To understand the context of this, the Lord said it directly to Saul, the first king over Israel in the Old Testament. The Lord had given Saul specific instructions and Saul carried them out in the manner Saul saw fit, though not in perfect alignment with the Lord's design. The Lord was sad, grieved that He had made Saul king because of the disobedience. The Lord called it rebellion, because Saul was not following the Lord's wishes. It came down to the fact that Saul was not completely on the Lord's team, he was on his own. Saul was allowed to do things how he saw fit, unless it was in regard to a specific instruction. Saul did not follow the instructions according to the Lord's design, therefore the Lord said he was in rebellion against the Lord's plan.

If you are not for the Lord, then He considers you against Him. Saul was in it for his own design, not the Lords and the Lord considered His rebellion as retched as witchcraft. Even stubbornness, the determination to retain an attitude or position against something is as bad as worshiping a false idol. The Lord is very clear that worshiping another god is hatred toward Himself. Being stubborn against the Lord or anything in the Bible is akin to worshiping another god. The Lord considers it the same. 

While you may not think you are in direct rebellion against the Lord, if you've ever done something the Lord wanted and put your own twist on it, then you've likely made Him sad. Following through 90 percent is still not following the Lord's instructions. Being obstinate against doing the right thing is putting another god in front of the Lord. Hopefully you view witchcraft and idol worship to be detestable, but do you view a rebellious heart or stubborn attitude in the same way?  The Lord says its the same to Him. If you are a stubborn person, then you're not submitted to the Lord fully, still in it for yourself at times. You are not your own god. Either you submit to the Lord or not, there is no middle ground. You and I have been stubborn before and you've followed your own heart when you were supposed to follow the Lords. The Lord says this is disgusting in His eyes. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Exodus 20:1-17, 1 Samuel 15 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

I Am Sorry

I Am Sorry
April 8, 2019
Matthew 18:21  ".....Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

What if someone wronged you and you never heard them say the words, 'I am sorry'? It is rather a rhetorical question, because most of us have hurt that has never been addressed by those who hurt us. Even Jesus lived through that at the crucifixion. Jesus forgave those who were crucifying Him, while they were actively crucifying Him. He did not hold it against them, or want revenge. Most of those involved honestly believed they were right in hating Him, right in believing He was a heretic. They murdered Him in the most horrific manner, and yet He asked His father not to hold it against them. After Jesus rose from the dead, it is never documented that anyone who took part in the crucifixion apologized. They never once said the words 'I am sorry'.   He was harmed and He never heard someone ask forgiveness for murdering Him.

Jesus taught about forgiveness because someone asked Him about it. Jesus, how many times do I have to forgive someone before I can hold them accountable for the wrong they have caused me? Jesus said we should keep forgiving. And then there was the woman caught in adultery, and they were ready to stone her. Surely, they had a right to hold her accountable for her wrongs. They were holding stones ready to kill her and called Jesus over to agree. The Bible does not say if the woman was begging for her life, for forgiveness. Jesus said they could hold her accountable if they were without sin themselves. Eventually they all walked away, realizing their own sin at some point warranted punishment, with forgiveness being sought. The truth is, we have all been the woman caught in adultery, needing to apologize for the wrong, but we all have been those holding the stones ready to administer justice to the one who has committed the wrong. But as a stone-holder, have you ever remembered your own sin, the one you got away with, the one you never received punishment for or sought forgiveness or apologized. As a stone-holder, have you dropped the stone and said the words 'I am sorry'?

You and I get offended by people, truly hurt even by those who call themselves Christians, and you will never hear the words 'I am sorry'. Somehow you have to live with that, wrestling through the pain and discomfort, unable to convince an audience that you're right and justified while the offender gets off free of charge to do it again. And then, to make matters worse, when the offending party walks away unapologetic, the Lord says we have to forgive. Sometimes the pain of forgiving someone without hearing the words 'I am sorry' is worse than the pain from the original offense.

Jesus, in the hours leading up to His crucifixion, heard Peter deny Him three times. Peter was the one who asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive his brother over and over again. I know Peter is grateful for the forgiveness. There were those who received the forgiveness of Jesus for the act of crucifying Him and yet they weren't grateful. You will have to forgive those who are not grateful for it. It isn't easy. You will never hear the words 'I am sorry' and for that I am sorry. It's painful and hard, and ugly and simply wrong in every sense of the word. Sometimes there is not solace in it, with only time able to heal. Just know, however, that you, too, have been forgiven likely more than you deserve, as well. Jesus said if we do not forgive, then the Lord will deal with us harshly. I am sorry.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 18:21-35, Lk 23:34, Rom 8:28, Eph 4:32