Monday, November 22, 2010

I Desire Mercy

Matthew 12:7
If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ You would not have condemned the innocent.

Why is it that we want justice for others but mercy for ourselves? It’s so easy to wish wrath on others when there is a perceived offense without backing up to see if mercy is needed. I’m glad God is not like man because if he was we would all be dead by now. Justice demanded that I would die, but Mercy said, “No!”

Jesus had to teach this to the Pharisees when they were criticizing his disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath because they were hungry. The disciples of Jesus had offended the religious Pharisees because they broke the rules but Jesus knew his disciples through relationship. He knew they weren’t bad men they were just hungry. There hearts were right they were just hungry on the Sabbath. We are so quick to condemn people without knowing where their hearts are. More than getting the rules right God wants our hearts right.

It doesn’t mean that we disregard the rules but it does mean that we put mercy before sacrifice. If we get all the rules right but don’t have any love and compassion to go along with it then we are just mean religious people who are good at making sacrifices but poor in building relationships. In this life people are going to miss it every now and then and you have to show mercy before you condemn them. The next time someone offends you do the following:

Get al the facts before you jump to conclusions. What were they hungry for? What’s missing in their lives that they felt like they had to break the rules?
Find out where their heart and mind are. When a person messes up doesn’t mean that they don’t love Jesus. Peter loved Jesus more than anybody but still denied him at a crucial time. Jesus saw he had the right heart but didn’t do the right thing. He loved him back to life.

Treat others as though you were the one who committed the offense. How would you want to be treated if it were you?

Dear God, forgive me for being heavy on Justice and light on mercy. Forgive me for being a repeat offender. I am in need of mercy. Help me to live my life so that I neither offend or condemn but Love.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Grief!

2 Cor 7:9
Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so we're not harmed in any way by us.

Have you ever gotten that letter? You know that letter where somebody that loves you or tells you about yourself. I remember my mother writing me “that letter” in college reminding me that she didn’t raise me to be irresponsible, to make bad grades, or to forget God. I received that letter in the midst of partying and in a pursuit to be popular. That letter hurt me but it saved me.

Maybe I should have asked, “Have you gotten hat inbox or that direct tweet?” they usually come when people have something personal, private, or profound to say to someone they really care about. Every now and then we all need to write some sorrowful letters that lead to good grief.

We often try to avoid telling people the truth because we don’t’ want to hurt their feelings but you hurt them more by holding back on the truth. Grief can be good.

Paul wrote the church in Corinth a letter rebuking their behavior. At first he regretted it. Have you ever sent an email that you felt bad after you hit send? Maybe as a practice you should wait one hour before you send it but by all means send it.

Paul said he regretted it at first but now he’s happy because of their grief. Huh? The reason he’s happy is because of good grief. 2 Cor. 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
When you share your heart it should lead the other person to repentance if they have a teachable spirit. Godly sorrow leads to life not death. When you communicate with people you love it’s to save their lives even at first it hurts their feelings.
The truth hurts but also sets you free.

Dear God, thank you for good grief. Give me the courage to share my heart with the people I care about even if it causes them to experience sorrow, for Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Thank you for those that loved me enough to tell me the truth about myself. I give you praise for good grief.

In Jesus Name,


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

2 Corinthians 4:18
So fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

It’s easy to get caught up in what you see around you. Especially when you are in the midst of a storm; you can get so caught up into what’s going wrong that you can’t focus on what’s going right in your life. Sometimes, we focus on the 10% wrong and it feels like 90%, but the reality is that 90% is good and you only have 10% that’s troubling you.

There is a greater reality behind what it is we are going through. God is at work in your circumstances. Romans 8:28 All things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. We can’t afford to lose heart when things are not going our way because God is still moving even when you can’t see it. What you are looking at is not all there is to see, in fact I would dare say, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Paul was encouraging the church in Corinth through their persecutions to keep the faith. Paul in essence said to them, ‘it ain’t what it looks like.’

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (New International Version)

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

The things we are going through are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs everything we are going through. The word “Glory” means the weight of God’s presence. The future Glory that your trouble is producing outweighs the stuff you are dealing with. When you are going through hardship that means you’re achieving. Something is taking place in the spiritual while you’re going through in the natural.

When Jacob was wrestling with God he told God , “I’m not letting go until you bless me.” The word “bless” means a transfer of strength. In other words, Jacob saw his blessing in his struggle and told God I can’t let you go until you transfer what my trouble has been achieving. When you are going through hardship it’s like making a deposit in heavens bank account and pretty soon you are going to be able to make a transfer. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

If you faint not you will receive a crown of righteousness. If you don’t give up you will receive houses, land, and family in this life and in the life to come.

In order to see it you have to see it before you see it or you never will see it. You must fix your eyes on what is not seen. This is called faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We walk by faith and not by sight.

1. Focus on the vision God gives you. Your vision supersedes what you are seeing
right now.
2. Remind yourself of God’s promises in Scripture. Read your bible daily.
3. Meditate on what’s going good instead of what’s going bad.

Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

Dear God show me what you are doing beyond what I see right now. Change my perspective so I can see where I’m going. Thank you for helping me achieve greatness through the struggle of what I’m going through. Thank you for opening my eyes.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Can You Smell Me?

2 Corinthians 2:16
To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task.

I believe it was a speed stick commercial with Charles Barkley back in the day that said, “The greatest defense is not to offend.” It was a deodorant commercial about not offending people with bad underarm odor.

This past week we were in the Holy Land touring the old city. We had been walking all day and went into a crowded marketplace out into the Western wall to pray. As we were assembling ourselves to pray a man with very strong underarms walked past carrying a very pungent breeze in his trail. He passed between my wife and another woman. The woman’s eyes got big as her nostrils were insulted with the strong odor; she lifted her arms to smell herself. My wife caught eyes with her and laughed. She told the woman, “don’t worry it’s not you, I just smelled the same thing, it was somebody else who just passed by.”

Can you smell yourself? Take a whiff right now. How do you smell? Better yet how do you smell to other people? We are all giving off some type of fragrance or aroma. As Christians we are to be giving off the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ but even when we do we either smell like death or life.

To the person that is being saved we are the fragrance of life. That means people who have a teachable spirit welcome our scent, the smell of God on us. Our words and actions give off a scent. When people are open to God they can smell him on you if you have been in fellowship with God.

To the person that is perishing and they are in love with their own thoughts, we smell like death. In certain eastern cultures it’s offensive to smell good. They value the smell of natural body odors and pheromones that come as a result of not wearing deodorant. They think we stink! It’s the same in America in the spirit. There are people in the world who are offended by the gospel of Jesus Christ because they love the smell of sin more than they do the smell of a cleaned up life. The cross is foolishness for those that are perishing.

Our goal is to defend the faith without offending people. You can’t help when you speak truth in love and people still turn up their noses in disgust. But you can make sure there are no flies in your perfume. Ecclesiastes 10:1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. You can’t mix folly with wisdom and not stink up the place. James 3:10-11 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers this should not be. When we speak to others they should be able to smell God on us.

1. Make sure you consecrate yourselves every morning with prayer, devotion, and
meditation. Psalm 19:14
2. Be a good example in your speech and conduct. Titus 2:7-8
3. Whatever you do, do it for Jesus and you will fill the room with a good
fragrance. John 12:3

Dear God, I pray that my life is a pleasing aroma in your nostrils. Help me to live my life in such a way that I am a fragrance of life to those that are perishing. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who's Rolling the Stone?

Mark 16:3-4
Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up. They saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

There are issues in our life that are so massive that there appears to be no way for us to move them. We can’t seem to get closure on some issues because of the large obstacle that stands between you and the solution to your problem. If Jesus is on the other side of your dilemma you better believe that God is going to send somebody to roll the stone away no matter how large it is.

When Jesus was crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb, Mary and Mary came to the tomb to anoint his body but on the way there they were trying to figure out how they were going to roll the stone away. What’s remarkable is their courage and faith to even go back after the trauma of seeing Jesus executed. Everybody else was still hiding out of fear but out of love they came to anoint the body of Jesus. They still thought he was dead but out of love they came to bring closure by preparing him for a proper burial. Even when it looks like it’s over real disciples will still show up finish what they started.

When God sees your love, courage, and faith for Jesus and when you are outnumbered with limited resources he will send somebody to roll the stone away. This morning know that while you are trying to figure it out that God is already working it out.

There was a young man that was farming for his father. He was trying to move a large stone in the garden all day. His father came up and asked the young man, “Are you using all your strength?” The young man covered in sweat and dirt looked at his father exasperated and responded, “Yes sir!” The Father said, “No you’re not, you didn’t ask me for help.” Today Ask the Father to help you roll the stone away.

Dear God, send your angels to roll the stone away. We’ve made preparation to give Jesus our best now we need you Lord to do the rest. Please dear God roll the stone away, roll away the debt, roll away unemployment, roll away opposition and let us encounter the risen savior on the other side of what appears to be a dead end. Thank you for rolling my stone away.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For the Sake of the Elect

Matthew 13:20
If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.

Watching the election this year was the exact opposite of watching the elections of 2008. It was like watching the darkening of the sky right before the storm. John King of CNN said the majority of the people who voted, voted against a policy or a person. Rick Warren tweeted, “there were no black senators elected, that’s not right.” Senior Citizens came out in record numbers, young people stayed home and Republicans have control of the House. So it looks like two more years of stalemates, progression blocked, and a handcuffed President. That’s what it looks like, But God!

I was watching the election and getting disappointed but God is watching the elect ever mindful of his children. The elect are the Chosen of God. Jesus spoke of the end of times when there would be wars, earthquakes, famines, ecological disasters, hard times for women with small children. The only saving grace would be God cutting short these days for the sake of the elect or nobody would survive.

We have some difficult days ahead of us, it may get worse before it gets better but the good news is God will step in at some point and cut this foolishness short for the sake of the elect.

God will not let innocent people be tortured for long by the political games of other people. For the sake of the elect he will cut short these days. God will not let poor people go without prescriptions and food because of the greediness of the rich for too long. For the sake of the elect he will cut short these days. God will not allow his seed to go begging for bread in the streets without shelter for too long. He will cut short these days for the sake of the elect or no one would survive, not republicans, not democrats, or Tea baggers.

It’s time to mobilize the grassroots again. We have got to mobilize, turn from our evil apathetic ways, humble ourselves and pray then God will hear from heaven and cut short these evil days and heal our land. The Republicans/Tea baggers won because they did more than complain. They mobilized. It's time to go back to the days of grassroot organization and social justice. We need to pray like everything depended on God and act like everything depends on us. The Election for this year is over but God is still watching over the Elect.

Dear God, now that the election is over the elect are in your hands. The people have voted through ballots and silence. Now we need you to speak. God rise from your throne and intercede for the homeless, intercede for those without healthcare, intercede for the unemployed, and even if the elected officials don’t cut short the suffering of your people I know you will cut short these days for the sake of the elect.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Block Your Blessing

Mark 11:25
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone forgive him, so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

When we hold people hostage through unforgiveness it really keeps us captive. When someone offends us we can let it go or choose to hold on to the offense. In holding on it feels like we are winning by not letting the person off the hook but really we are blocking our blessing because God can’t release forgiveness for you, if you can’t forgive others.

Jesus reminded us of the importance of forgiveness when he asked the disciples, “how can you say you love God whom you’ve never seen and hate your brother you see every day?” When God sends us out to love our enemies, and to do good to those that hate you, what he’s telling us is, “Go do me!” you can’t be free until you learn how to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about you! God wants to release something for you but you block your own blessing when you harbor resentment.

Did you know that harboring a known felon is against the law? When you allow a fugitive to stay in your house you are guilty of harboring a criminal. When you walk around holding grudges and offenses while acting like there is nothing going on in your heart you are a criminal. “But they hurt me!” Then why are you letting them hide in your heart jeopardizing your freedom?

When you release them, God releases you.

1. When you stand praying and you remember somebody you are angry with, forgive them. Oftentimes, the Holy Spirit will bring people to your mind that you are upset with and you need to call them by name and tell God that you forgive them. When possible you need to tell the person that you forgive them.

2. When you are giving and you remember something you’ve done to offend someone you need to go ask that person for forgiveness before you give God your offering. God is not going to accept what you give until you work on a need to forgive or be forgiven. Matthew 5:23-24

3. Don’t choke somebody after you’ve been released. Matthew 18:28-35 tells a story of a man who owed a million dollars in debt. The judge forgave him and released him from prison. On his way out he saw a man that owed him a hundred dollars. He beat the man up and started chocking him. The judge heard about it and had the man and his family thrown into prison until the debt was paid off. You don’t get released and turn around and choke people for a lesser offense.

Dear God,
I’m searching my heart this morning for people I’m holding hostage and people I’ve sinned against. I’m releasing my hostages through forgiveness and asking you to forgive me for anything I’ve done to offend anybody I don’t know of. Forgive me if I caused any of your little ones to stumble because of something I said or did. I want to be free so I choose to forgive and I’m asking for forgiveness. I choose not to hurt in retaliation. I choose to worship in spirit and in truth.

In Jesus Name

Monday, November 1, 2010

Overcoming Unbelief

Mark 9:24
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

With the advancement of technology, it's possible to be two places at the same time. You can be at home but be seen in Japan thanks to internet connections like Skype and Facetime. It’s amazing to be able to reach out to people that you normally wouldn’t be able to see. It’s also possible to be in two places at the same time in your mind. That is, to live with paradox. Two opposing thoughts caught in a tug of war between two paradigms. We walk around in a world with real challenges while at the same time in our mind we see the possibilities to overcome those obstacles. I dare say there is a third dimension called faith where our ways are not his ways but to access his ways we have to make a mental connection through our belief that is sometimes a shaky bridge to the other side of our dilemma. I believe but help me with my unbelief.

I know God can but the facts are so staggering that I just don’t know how to wrap my mind around divine possibilities. I believe but how do I overcome my unbelief?

1. You have to pray to God to strengthen your faith.

2. You have to practice your faith through your living and your giving. When you do what God tells you to do it’s strengthening your faith muscles. When you trust him in the little things then it becomes easier to trust him in the big things.

3. Reinforce your faith with positive affirmations and scripture memorization.

4. Some tough situations require that you fast and pray. Fasting shows God you are serious and it helps you focus in on the spiritual and not the physical.

5. Bring your Problem to Jesus and leave it there.

Dear God,
I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief. There have been times when I pulled back when I should have leaped. Times when I should have stood still and instead I moved too quickly. Times when I doubted after I prayed but I’m asking you to remove all doubt and give me the boldness of belief. I know that you are able to help me make the connection to faith knowing you can and you will. Today, I’m praying and believing you are able and my faith is renewed. Fix it Jesus like I know you can.

In your name I pray believing it is done.