I Get Him

Luke 7: 1-10 (Berean Study Bible), “When Jesus had concluded His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. There a highly valued servant of a centurion was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask Him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and pleaded with Him earnestly, “This man is worthy to have You grant this, for he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. But when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends with the message: “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to You. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell one to go, and he goes; and another to come, and he comes. I tell my servant to do something, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the centurion. Turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith!” And when the messengers returned to the house, they found the servant in good health.

Jesus found this non-Jewish man’s faith to be something to comment on. He wanted to make sure that we all remembered this centurion’s words. “Just say the word.” He believed in the authority of Jesus and His word. This was before Jesus’ death and resurrection, before the Holy Spirit, yet this man had the faith that his servant would be healed simple because Jesus said he would.

What about us? We who know the price Jesus paid for our sin and our sickness, we who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have access to His word, bible teachers, preachers, and direct access to the throne room of God, shouldn’t we have such faith.

If God said it then it is so. If He promised, He will do it. It is already settled in Heaven. Jesus shed His blood to take away our sin. He allowed His body to be broken and bruised to take away our sickness. God hates both sin and sickness, they aren’t allowed in Heaven. We need the kind of faith that says “at your word, Lord, so be it!” If we have anything less, we aren’t pleasing Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (Berean Literal Bible), “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.”

Paul knew about this kind of faith. That’s why he could say to those manning a floundering ship that had been driven by a storm for two weeks: “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Acts 27:25 (NIV) That’s why he could shake off that poisonous serpent.

The very best thing about this kind of faith, in this time of grace, is that it gets us more of Him. It isn’t that my faith gets me money, or health, or a great husband, and the perfect job. It gets us Him! The more we learn about who He is, who we are to Him, His promises and plans for us, what He has already done, His finished work, the closer our relationship with Him. This builds our faith, and our trust, and our love for Him.

What more do we need? When we get Him, we get it all.

Growing Not Coping

Our Senior Pastor is fond of saying, “Every living thing is a growing thing.” Usually he goes on to talk about how if something isn’t growing it is dead, or if water isn’t flowing it gets stagnant. There has to be growth and a flow to our lives. Yet, there have been times in my life, sometimes while under an attack, others just because I got lazy and apathetic, that I found myself just coping with life. During some real tough times I even felt like I wasn’t even coping very well. It was God’s grace alone that brought me through and allowed me to grow within the process.

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV), “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We don’t have to just cope with our problems. In fact many of them will just be stepping stones to something better. Some of the things we feel like are such a big deal, such as health issues or finances, can be dealt with by standing on God’s promises and rebuking our enemy. No matter how tough things look, don’t allow yourself to just get by, to grit your teeth and just get through one more day, or hour, or minute. Press in and grow in the midst. Let God’s love and peace keep you, and the Holy Spirit produce fruit.

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.

Crazy Faith

Ephesians 3 (Borean Study Bible), “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles… Surely you have heard about the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace, given me through the working of His power. Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to illuminate for everyone the stewardship of this mystery, which for ages past was hidden in God, who created all things. His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. So I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory…For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul understood the supernatural. He witnessed it first on the road to Damascus. God used him to raise the dead, heal the sick, and to perform many other miracles, including those in his own body. He was stoned, drug out of town and left for dead, yet got up and walked away, and then left to minister the very next day.

God sometimes asks us to do some hard stuff, like give our businesses, homes, or cars away. Some are asked to sell everything and to devote their lives to serving overseas. Others are asked to quit lucrative jobs and serve in soup kitchens. Some are asked to start new businesses and they don’t have a clue what they are doing. God asks more of us than we can do on our own. That’s why it is “super” natural. If we could do it in the natural, it would just be our works, which amount to wood, hay, and stubble. However, because we need Him and His grace to do it, He gets the glory, the work is for eternity, and it proves He is at work in and through us.

One of our pastors said during a message recently, “The supernatural often looks “crazy” in the natural.” (Pastor Paul Hohman)

If I had a dollar for every time a well meaning Christian told a brother or sister in the faith that their vision was “crazy”, I could pay off our mortgage! Read the books of the prophets, or read about Peter’s dream, follow the story of Joseph and his dreams, it’s all pretty crazy stuff! Even better, read the book of Acts what they did took extra-ordinary, not plain ordinary faith!

Do as Paul prayed for us, be rooted and grounded in His love, comprehend the length, width, height, and depth of His love. This fills us with His fullness and makes us do some crazy stuff for the kingdom!

How is Your Heart?

Proverbs 28:14 (Jubilee Bible 2000), “Blessed is the man that fears God always, but he that hardens his heart shall fall into evil.”

A hard heart is a very dangerous thing. A heart that is hard does not hear the voice of God, it is not teachable or humble and quite frequently it is full of pride. We harden our hearts or allow them to get hard for all different reasons. The most common one is that we are afraid of getting hurt. It’s a self protection mechanism, part of our fallen human nature.

The only problem is that we are only harming ourselves not helping. What we foolishly see as protection actually keeps the One away who wants to protect us. In fact the Comforter can’t even comfort us and heal those past hurts. A hard heart becomes like a stainless steel container that houses bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and all kinds of ugly junk. If you let it stay hard long enough, it becomes incapable of love.

Have you ever seen the experiment where someone dips a soft petaled rose into liquid nitrogen? They then dash it onto a table top and what happens? It shatters into a million little rose colored shards.

“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It was an epiphany I had today and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!” – C. JoyBell

Ok, so maybe you realize your heart is hard, or on its way to diamond plated, what do you do?

First repent. Ask God to forgive you for the sin of self preservation, for putting yourself first, for doubting that He could or would heal you and protect you.

Next, soak it in the word. Look up scriptures about how much He loves you and how important it is for our hearts to be soft, teachable, pliable, and humble. Memorize them if you have to. Tell someone about it so that they can encourage you and hold you accountable.

Years ago a friend of mine and I agreed, after a conversation about the condition (hardness) of our hearts, to occasionally ask each other, “How is your heart?” I can’t tell you how much that helped me. We actually ended up not asking very often, but the thought that she might kept me searching my heart and asking God to help me keep it soft. The outcome was that for a while, some things really hurt! But the good news was that it only proved that my heart was tender again. So when I loved, I really loved!

How is your heart today, my friend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

I Don’t Fit In!

Hebrews 1:14 (NLT), “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

Like a square peg in a round hole, we just don’t fit. That’s because we were meant for so much more than what this fallen world has to offer.

God clearly tells us that we are just passing through this life. Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us with the Father. Heaven is our home. Spiritually, we are already seated there with Christ.

So what is a sojourner to do?

I spent years of my life trying to fit in. I was a bit like that little lizard that can change to hide himself in whatever environment he is in. I became an expert at being fake. That seriously messed with my head. I lived in constant fear that someday they would figure out that I wasn’t really who they thought I was. Even my own family didn’t truly know the “real” me.

What a waste of time!

Thank God that He not only knew me, He loved me, the real me. I couldn’t pretend to be someone else for Him. What a relief. It took years to undo the damage I had done to my life. I had to learn to be a God pleaser instead of a people pleaser. I had to find my identity in Him. He showed me my true home and my wonderful future. That wasn’t even enough for Him, then He promised to give me heaven here on earth.

Now, instead of trying to “fit in,” I am trying to bring heaven to earth. I am doing my best to introduce others to His love and care. When they accept Him and His love, they too will stop trying to fit in!