I Have The Right

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I John 1:12 (NIV), “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (emphasis mine)

There is a lot of talk in our modern world about “rights.” Who has them, what kind, who doesn’t, why not, who needs them, animal rights, illegal alien rights, constitutional rights, parents rights, children’s rights, I can go on for pages! There is merit to some of the talk. I happen to agree with some of the statements made, and totally disagree with others. We won’t hash that all out today. Today I want to talk about the most important right that we have, as Christians.

We have the right to become the children of God.

I love to look up scriptures in different translations. Sometimes they will say it just a bit different and it becomes clearer. When looking up this one, each version used the exact same word- “right.”

Let’s take a look at that word that is thrown around so much.

Right: a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.

Synonyms: entitlement, prerogative, privilege, advantage, due, birthright, liberty, authority, power, license, permission, dispensation, leave, sanction, freedom

We have the prerogative, the privilege, the advantage, authority, power, and permission to become the children of God. (Son means child in this case, male and female). It’s our birthright when we become children born of heaven, by the blood of Jesus.

It’s not a done deal just because we said a prayer. We get to “become” His son. How? By accepting His love for us, by knowing who He is, who we are in His eyes and heart, and by getting as close and intimate as possible with our Father.

I John 3:1 (NIV), “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

Lavished- that’s also a great word. It isn’t a small portion. It isn’t stingy. It is scandalous. It is a generous, extravagant amount. It is pouring an expensive, large amount of scented oil on the head of the One you love; it is cleaning His feet with your tears and drying them with your hair. It is a boat so filled with fish that it could sink. It is forgiveness in the face of an angry crowd ready to cast stones and with every right to do so. It is breaking the rules for love, healing on the Sabbath, eating with sinners, and getting intimate with lepers.

God, the Father, has lavished His love on us. Why? Because He wants sons. Yes, He had one perfect Son, who obeyed in every way, even unto death, a Son that shares everything and has perfect relationship with the Father. But, He still wants us!

Then once we acknowledge that we have the right to become His son, we step out in faith and let the transformation begin, we suddenly have all kinds of rights in the Kingdom, that no one can ever take away from us!

Period

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I am going to try and set the record straight.

God does not hate anyone. Not liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, rapists, child molesters, abusive people, transsexuals, homosexuals, Muslims, terrorists, politicians, idol worshipers, Satanists, cannibals, witches, warlocks, witch doctors, porn stars, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, addicts, or crooked cops. He isn’t out to get anyone. He isn’t mad at people. He isn’t going to “punish” anyone, or even send anyone to Hell. If Hell is in our future it’s because we chose it instead of Him and Heaven. He doesn’t send us there. Contrary to popular opinion, God didn’t send His son to judge the world. The scripture that is touted at ball games, and on t-shirts doesn’t read, “For God so hated the world that He sent His Son to condemn it. This is what it really says,

John 3:16-17 (NASB),For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Before you start spouting off Old Testament scripture, let me remind you that the only people Jesus railed at where the hard hearted, stiff necked, self righteous religious leaders of his time. (Four times in Matthew 23 Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”) To the woman caught in adultery, He said, “Where is your accusers…I don’t accuse you…go and sin no more.” To Zacchaeus, the crooked tax collector, He said, “I must stay to your house today!” He ate with sinners, and people of bad reputation. The religious people of His day found fault with this, but His answer was that well people didn’t need a doctor.

Who needs a Savior? People who are broken, lost, and unable to face this world on their own. Who needs a redeemer? People who are slaves to their own desires, greed, lust, and those who have chosen to drown their sorrows in alcohol, or take a permanent vacation through the latest designer drug. Who needs the Truth? Those who have believed the lie that they aren’t loved, aren’t wanted, and aren’t worthy.

Those are the people He came for.

I know it is popular in today’s culture to say that all believers are judgmental and critical, and those are the nice things people say. Again let me set the record straight. Religion judges. Why? Because religion is based on our performance, how we can follow the rules and long lists of do’s and don’ts. That is NOT what Jesus came to do. He set us free from the law of performance. We could never do enough to earn our place in the Father’s heart or family. Jesus came for one reason, to show us the Father’s love. Those that say people who go to Church, or Christians are some of the meanest people they met, have simply been misinformed. Those people were religious people, not followers of Christ. Those who truly know Him, aren’t tolerant, tolerance means I don’t like you or what you do, but I will tolerate sharing oxygen with you. Followers of Christ, those who love Him, love others. Big difference. Love says, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, I will love you anyway. Love says, you don’t have to be like me, look like me, or talk like me, I can still love you. Religious people draw a circle and say, “stay out!” Those who love draw a circle and say, “come in, I have someone I’d like you to meet,” and then introduce them to Jesus and the Father’s love.

Religion sets laws, tells you how to live, who to love, and what do believe. Relationship gives you direct access to God’s heart. You don’t need someone to tell you what to do, you will know what pleases Him and because you will be overwhelmed by His love, you will want to please Him. Religion makes you look down on others and criticize. Relationship makes you compassionate and wanting to help others. Religion promises a reward for certain behavior after you die, relationship is full of blessings right now. Religion holds signs at a funeral that say, “God hates Gays.” Love comforts those who are hurting and treats people with compassion and respect. Law kills, love heals. Law was only ever instituted because of the terrible condition of man’s hearts. It was to keep us from harming ourselves and others. On the other hand, relationship with God had only one law. Love. That’s it. Love Him and love others. There is no performance. We love Him, accept His love and then He does all the work of changing our hearts and minds. It isn’t us trying to clean ourselves up, that’s what Jesus called the Pharisees on. He said they were “whitewashed graves” clean on the outside but full of dead man’s bones. A relationship changes us on the inside. His love convinces us of who He is and who we are. We are loved, and cherished. Even when we sin!

Think of the one person who personifies evil, living or dead.

God loves that person.

God loves us so much that He would never force us to do anything. He lets us choose to love Him, or not, to choose heaven or hell, to heal or to try to put a big bandage on the gaping wounds. His arms are open, He is attentively watching, and always listening for your call, be it a shout or a whisper.

Are you a stranger to God and always believed that yielding to Him meant following a list of rules? Stop believing the lie! He requires nothing but your heart.

Are you a “religious” person who has strived to live by a list of rules, or found little love for others in your heart? Stop believing the lie! You can’t make God love you less, or more by anything you do or say.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV), “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (emphasis mine)

We live in dark times, but His light should be shining in us in such a way that people are drawn to it. We should be showing the Fathers heart.

His heart is full of love.

PERIOD.

Without Hypocrisy

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Romans 12:9 (NASB), “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

James 3:17 (KJB), “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

There is nothing that irritates me more than phony people. After years of working with kids, it was obvious that they can spot a phony from a mile away. Jesus railed on the Pharisees for being fake and phony.

Matthew 23:23-33 (NIV), “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?”

There were a lot of things He could have found fault with, their non acceptance of Him for one, but what He calls them on the carpet for is their hypocrisy, their phoniness, the fact that they wanted to appear righteous, but on the inside were still full of sin. I love the analogy of the whitewashed tomb! Now, before we judge those Pharisees too harshly, let’s take a quick look at The Church. Historically, we have spent more time trying to change our out word appearance than our hearts and minds. Some denominations have lists of what you can wear, what you can eat, and who you can hang out with; they even want to regulate how you can pray. Again, if you don’t go to one of those Churches, let me caution you not to judge before we take a look at our own lives.

How many of us put on our “Christian Mask” before going to Church on Sunday, or when we invite the Pastors over to our house for dinner? How many of us behave and talk one way at work and at home, but behave in a completely different manner at Church? Do you hide your past? Are you afraid to share what is in your heart, the temptations that you face? Then we are a new breed of Pharisee. It ought not to be so!

It is time that we are real. We have not been perfected yet. We are all working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Putting on a “mask” is detrimental to the Body of Christ. People can see through the cracks and they will label you as a hypocrite. This never brings glory to God. The whole concept of the mask is to either hide your insecurities, or because you are full of pride. It’s either one or the other. Neither one is about Him, and neither one will build the Kingdom. When we accept the liberty that Jesus bought for us, that God has called us to, we don’t have to wear a mask. Our security and confidence isn’t in what we can do, it’s in the finished work of Christ. We also have nothing to be proud of, it wasn’t our righteousness, it was and is all His.

This is the way God showed me the whole concept of being real: I saw a scarecrow in the middle of my garden; he had the shabby clothes, the worn hat, the burlap bag face, and straw sticking out everywhere. His job, his calling was to keep pests out of the garden. God then asked me a simple question, “Why does the scarecrow look like a man?” My immediate answer was that crows and other little garden pests are afraid of men. So, the scarecrow is a fake man. He isn’t real, he can’t move, talk, or yell at the pests. He can’t fire a BB gun, or bang a few pans together. He just stands in one place and pretends to be a real man. That is a picture of us when we “play Church” or put on our Christian mask. Just like Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy, shouldn’t we want to be real Christians? That scarecrow will work for a while, maybe longer on some of the less than sharp minded pests, but eventually they will figure it out. We have all seen scarecrows with crows perching right on their heads or outstretched arms. That is like us trying to wear our mask and rebuking the devil. He is smarter than any crow or rabbit. He knows who is really surrendered to God and who isn’t. He has to obey those that don’t wear the mask. He doesn’t have to obey the ones who are pretending to follow Christ.

We don’t even have to be perfect! To walk in our calling and fulfill the purposes and plans God has for us, we just have to be real and to allow the Spirit to lead us, humbly allowing ourselves to grow in the things of the Lord. So what if you are still a babe in Christ, that’s better than being a carnal Christian. Determine to grow up and in the meantime, serve Him. Let’s go back to the garden analogy again. Let’s say the pests have gotten wise to our friendly scarecrow, so instead we put a three year old in the garden. Can that little one fulfill the call? You bet! They may trample a few plants, and get distracted by a few bugs and butterflies, but they will make enough noise and move around enough to keep every pest away. The few plants that get lost can’t compare to the damage that those pesky pests can destroy. I know I had every bean and pea plant destroyed by those cute little bunnies! The goal would be that as that little one grew up, less damage would be done, and there would be more focus and fewer distractions.
God is that patient with us. He isn’t waiting for us to be perfect to use us. He doesn’t want us to pretend that we are, that again is either pride or insecurity. We are real, we make mistakes, we get distracted, and we stumble. However, God tells us that the righteous may stumble, but that they keep getting back up. (Romans 24:16, Psalm 27:34)He also promises that those who obey Him, and love Him, that even if they make a mistake, He will turn in around for our good. (Romans 8:28) He chose us, the messed up ones, on purpose. When we get something done for the Kingdom, or stand up and rebuke the enemy, or resist temptation, it’s not us, it’s Him in us, and He gets all the glory!

God has called us to liberty. In this freedom, through Christ, there is never any reason to put on an act, to pretend we are something we aren’t. We aren’t sinners saved by grace. We were sinners, now we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. No, we aren’t perfect, far from it in fact, but God chose us, He called us, and if anyone has an issue with who we are then they can take it up with God. This is never permission to sin, or to cause others to stumble. We stay humble and acknowledge our need for Him. We allow the Holy Spirit to use us. The key word is USE. God wants to use you. He wants to use us. He has big plans for us. Walk in the liberty He gave you. You can’t earn it, it is a gift.

Get real with God, with each other, and most importantly with yourself. Be who God created you to be.

Take off the mask.

Book Review for “Fugitives From Northwoods” YA Dystopian

I was given a copy of “Fugitives from Northwoods” by the author, Chris Bostic in exchange for an honest review. The title originally caught my attention because I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. The story contains good teenage characters. Trapped in a world where teenagers are forced to work in labor camp “for the good of all”, and the boundaries of the countries that once were familiar are all changed. Penn leads a group of young people out into the wilds of a fall in the Northwoods of Minnesota. A strong story about loyalty and friendship. I recommend for ages 13 and up due to teen relationships. I give the story 5 stars and would definitely read more from this author.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9676BU/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Lyrics for “Free”

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Free
From your Holy Temple
From your Heavenly Throne
You are watching over me.

Your death on the cross
Purchased back your own
Though once was bound now I’m free

Chorus:
I am free to love, Free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you-all for you
The King

You have seated me there
In Heaven with you
Given me authority

You have called me out
I have work to do
Setting those in bondage free!

They are free to love, free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you- all for you
Our King

Bridge:
I will go to the camp of the enemy
I will shout from my heart-screaming LIBERTY!
No more bondage-no more shame-no more sickness-no more pain-no more lack-no more fear-no more wait-the time is here!

We are free to love, free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you-all for you
The King

Copyright © by Jodi Woody
August 9, 2013