Kicking and Screaming

Matthew 21:28-31 (Borean Study Bible), “But what do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the second son and told him the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he said. But he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

We’ve all been there. Someone asks us to do something and we do not want to do it. However, later we feel guilty or convicted and do what we were asked to. According to Jesus that’s ok. It’s when we say we will, but never do, that we become disobedient sons (and daughters).

What has God asked you to do? Sometimes we think, “Not much lately.” Yet in reality, there are literally tons of things He asks or requires of us. The Bible is full of things, that as His children, we should be doing. Here is a few: fellowshipping with like believers (not just at church), loving our neighbors, praying for those who use and abuse us, praying for each other, our leaders, our enemies, paying tithe, giving our time and money as offerings, healing the sick, casting out devils, serving others, doing good works of any and all kinds, forgiving, reading His word, reaching the lost, giving our testimony, witnessing to others…need I say more?

It can be overwhelming at times. But rest assured, if He asked us to do it, He gives us the strength and the ability to get it done.

Then there are specific things He may ask us, such as moving 2,000 miles away from friends and family, change jobs, give your car away, give your house away, help someone who has hurt you, all of these things are hard to even think about, much less do. And sometimes, let’s be honest, we do it, but kicking and screaming the whole way. Like a petulant child who has to clean up his own mess and stomps around as he picks up his toys.

When we do what God asks us to do we never miss out, even if we have to do it kicking and screaming. Now I am not saying this should be our general attitude about our obedience, but face it sometimes we will have to do some hard things that we really don’t want to and according to our passage in Matthew, when we do what He asks, even when we don’t have the best attitude, we are still accomplishing His will.

Disaster Relief

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV), “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (Emphasis mine)

At the time of this writing disaster relief is on the mind of many people here in the U.S. Hurricane Harvey has wrecked havoc, especially in Texas. This is a time where the Church can shine. This is a time when the Love of God can flow through us and reach out to those affected by the storms.

However, we were never called to just bring relief in times of a natural disaster, trauma, or trouble. Jesus, in His great commission simple said to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not an option, not for a specific time, but as we “go” about our lives, wherever the Holy Spirit leads, to relate to those around us in such a way as to show the love of God in their lives. To “live” by example the way that Jesus did.

Years ago God gave me this vision: The church I attend is right on a set of railway tracks. We hear this cargo train on a daily basis. In all the years that I attended and also worked at the church, I never saw a passenger train go by. However, in this vision there was a long train on the tracks pulling many passenger cars full of people. We were in the middle of an evening service when we heard the sound of a train wreck. As a well organized group we went out and began helping. We pulled some from burning cars, brought others into our building, caring for them and praying for them. Everyone did their part. Each passenger was attended to, each one rescued and saved.

I felt good about what happened in this vision. Thinking it was a vision of teamwork, or perhaps about each joint supplying, I was shocked to hear God say, “There are people perishing out there every day. Their lives are a train wreck, go out and save them just like these were saved.”

Well, I cried. As much as I loved the Lord, other than after a few inspirational messages, I honestly did not have much of a heart for the lost. But once God showed me this vision and I repented for my apathy, I began to see the harvest. It was then I realized we aren’t called just for disaster relief. Yes, we better come through in those very visible times of need, but we are called when it seems like it is life as normal, when we go to the grocery store, our kid’s soccer games, and at work. Even when they don’t realize that their lives are a disaster, we are called to make disciples. The good news is that Jesus is right there with us, His promise to never leave us, regardless of the circumstance, still stands.

Forget About It!

Forget About It!

I love Psalm 103 (well I love a lot of scriptures), however this one has so much to say about what God has already done for us. Some of these things are: “His lovingkindness is forever to those who fear Him,” He knows we are dust so He doesn’t flip out when we mess up, He has the compassion of a Father towards us, “He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness,” He renews my strength like the eagle, performs righteous deeds, “He has redeemed your life from the pit,” “Pardons all my iniquities and heals all my diseases,” and here is the verse we are talking about today:

Psalm 103:12 (NASB), “As far as the east is from the west,  So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

East will never meet West. So apparently our sins are gone, gone, gone. He says so. If we have truly repented, turned from our wicked ways, He removes that sin. Again, it’s gone.

Isaiah43:25 (NIV), “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Our sin is gone, it’s blotted out, removed, gone, and here’s the important part, He remembers them no more. Did you get that? He chooses to forget about them all. Anytime you try to remind Him of how ugly you used to be, His answer is, “I don’t remember that.”

A great man said it this way,

“Until God can change or lie, he never will bring to mind again the sin of that man whom he hath pardoned.” Charles Spurgeon

So…

Quit holding your past mistakes over your head, quit holding others sin over theirs. You need to do what God did/does. I have heard people say, “I forgave, but I just can’t forget about it.” Well, that’s what the Holy Spirit is for. He’ll help you forget and whenever you think about that sin, yours or theirs, rebuke that memory, and choose to think of something else. Remind yourself of these scriptures.

And…

Forget about it!

Get Up!

Luke 22:46 (NIV), “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

We all get tired, lazy, under the weather, weary, and lethargic and the list goes on… But God says to us, “Get up!”

Not much good happens while we sit on our backsides. Sure a bit of office work, some reading or computing, but actual work for the Lord, work that wins souls and pleases Him happens when we are up and moving.

Sure Jesus made it through it all without the prayers of the disciples, but perhaps His suffering would have been less, or maybe the real suffering happened to the disciples because they didn’t watch and pray.

We do get down, but make sure you call on the strength of God and get back up.

We feel week and tired, but He promises us rest.

He also cautions us not to grow weary in well doing. That doesn’t mean don’t do good things, it means build yourself up in His most Holy Word and walk in His love and strength.

Get up!

False and Fragile Chains

A inspirational speaker a few months back reminded me of something about elephants in captivity used for entertainment (years ago, not sure if the practice is still used.) When the elephant calves are small they tie a chain around a hind leg and attach it to something solid that can’t be moved. Over the years the elephant learns that it can only go so far, before the chain stops them in their tracks. Eventually a small rope and a tent stake will hold this enormous animal in place, actually it’s the ingrained belief, not the fragile rope at all.

Why did this speaker, Jonathon Thomas, use this elephant story? To point out that what we think, how we train our minds, is very important.

For years, I suffered from anxiety. At one point it almost had me paralyzed. Like those elephants, I believed I could only go so far, with certain “safe people”, and lived a horrible life of fear and bondage. All of this happened while I was a born again Christian! Why did it last so long?

I think mostly because I had to change the way I thought and my expectations. Instead of believing made up lies of the enemy, I should have believed what God said. When I expected God’s best and quit expecting the worst, life got better. Once I sat through a dentist appointment with no pills and no anxiety, the next time wasn’t problem. When I could wait in line, sit in a crowded room, and manage a new situation without the sky falling or the ground swallowing me up, and without fainting or seemingly heart failure, I knew that God had my back.

Whenever feelings of anxiety try to come back, I rebuke them and quote His truth.

What fragile and false chains are holding you back?

Come Home

Art work by Charlie Mackesy

Luke 15:20 (Berean Study Bible), “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still in the distance, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

In Luke 15 we can read about a man that had two sons. The younger wanted his share of the inheritance before his father had passed. This can tell us a lot about this young man. Normally an inheritance isn’t given until there is a death. In those days the oldest son got a double portion and it is possible he resented this. People who dream of getting their inheritance early usually dream about losing the person early. But this man begs his dad to give it to him now. He was tired of working his father’s land, he was tired of being the second son, and he obviously didn’t respect his father.

The father, in his love, gives the son all that is due him. What does this selfish son do? He leaves everything behind, the work, the family, his social standing, his home. Then he proceeds to fulfill every lust of his flesh. When you have a lot of money, people suddenly want to be your friend. When you are “paying for the next round” or drive the fancy car with all the bells and whistles, when you throw your money around like it will never run out, people use you.

Before long, this young man who was always provided for, who had a family and a home, had an inheritance waiting, had absolutely nothing, and because he had run so far from it all, he found himself alone and starving.

Good thing he finally “came to his senses”. He remembers how good it was back home, he thinks about how his father even treated the servants pretty darn good. It took all of this for him to realize dad wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and his life was a whole lot better than it was at the end of the rope. He began to miss his old life and says to himself:

I will get up and go back to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ (Luke 15:18-19)

Then while he was way down the driveway his father sees him. That means dad’s been watching and he can recognize this son he loves from even very far away. Does he wait for the prodigal to come to him with his tail between his legs, rehearsing the “did you learn your lesson” speech? Nope, he runs to his son and kisses his neck. To this father, it’s like his son had returned from the dead.

What a love. I want that kind of father, don’t you? Well, it’s time we “came to our senses” as well. We have that Father. He recognizes us better than anyone, He is looking for us to come up the drive, He is ready to give us a party in Heaven. He loves us no matter how we have behaved, disrespected, and squandered what He has already given us. He loves you!

Won’t you come home?

I Am Living In Hope

Romans 8:22-25 (BSB), “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.”

Hope is a wonderful thing. It keeps us from giving up, from throwing in the towel, or tucking tail and running away. In that long dark tunnel, hope is that little bit of light way off in the distance that promises you will come out on the other side. Romans eight tells us that we patiently wait for something we hope for, especially when we can’t see it.

Knowing God has healed us, that He wants us healed, can help us be patient when the symptoms are still there. We can pretty much apply that to any promise God has given us. Just because we can’t see it, or maybe it is only that tiny speck of light, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. God isn’t a liar. If He said it, it is a done deal.

In I Timothy 1:1 Paul calls Jesus our hope, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” (Emphasis mine).

Think about that for a minute… Jesus IS hope.

I know that He is in me and I am in Him. So, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to say that I live IN HOPE.

What will make me lose hope, only me. My wrong thinking, my impatience, my doubt and unbelief, my lack of trust in Him.

I choose hope, I choose Him.