Archives For Mercy

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footWhen you love like Christ you trade your advantage for His. A self-interest driven world only leads to destruction. God’s love heals! God’s love through us points people to the way home. You can’t force people to accept the only true way of salvation found in Christ alone, but you can love them and shine a light that leaves them with no excuse.

Biblical love goes deeper than a definition. Biblical love is demonstrated. The bible never really defines love per se; it describes it with actions. Love is more than a definition; love is action leaping off the page of scripture and into our world as God uses us to be salt and light to a world that has not properly defined what true love is.

Jesus didn’t just define love; He demonstrated love. It has been said, “Jesus defined love in terms of sacrificial actions rather than words or emotions.” The greatest demonstration of love is found in looking at the cross in your heart and in your minds eye before you interact with others. No one could take His life. He gave His life. That is love.

The very character of God is love and His character seeks to work through His born again creation for the sake of those outside the faith. God’s love for the world and for those inside the faith shouldn’t be missing from the Christ follower’s life. Love is only loving when it acts. The grace that heals the world is God’s relentless love working through you.

Demonstrate the love of 1 Corinthians 13 today and you will be walking in the power of God’s love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

earth

Authentic worship shapes the Christ follower into God’s image. Whereas; counterfeit worship run the extreme risk of shaping God into our preferred image.  We are called to live authentic lives of worship that is free from the smell of the counterfeit worship of religious array.  For His glory; for our good, and the hope of others, we must live authentic lives of worship before the world.

It’s easy to have a form of godliness; but a form of godliness will never awaken the world from its zombie like apathy.  Authentic lives of worship shows  the image of God in a world that desperately wants their own way instead of wanting and embracing what they truly need.  As Christ followers, we are called to awaken the dead by living and giving them the true life of Christ.

We awaken the dead when we turn the other cheek. We awaken the dead when we move beyond being regularly offended at everything the world does and simply reflex God regardless. We awaken the dead when we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty, love the unlovable, visit the sick, take in the stranger, and go to them which are in prison.

We are called to help people see God. However, in order for us to help people see God we must not live lives that show  the idolatry of shaping God into our own images. There must be a daily death of self and a daily obeying of entering the harvest field of the walking dead.

Humanity that has long suffered in darkness calls to us to be awakened. Light has come into the world by Jesus Christ and His light is the only light that defeats darkness and awakens the sinner.  We must show them Jesus and not our religious routes. Jesus is the only way. We must show them Him. In John 14:9 Jesus proclaimed the amazing by saying, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Let’s show them the Father! Let’s awaken the world from their sleep! Let’s show them the redeemer and lover of their souls. It’s our call; it’s our duty; it’s our grand privilege, and it can’t be done with religion.

The awakening can only happen when we start showing the world the true Jesus that is beyond the religious version that idolatry tries to shape. There is an echo from the future calling to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Let’s answer that call!

Let’s go awaken the dead!

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

voice

Is it possible for your life to be a prophetic voice to the world? Can your life and mine as Christ followers be lived in such a way that our everyday life can describe and predict what will happen in the future? I believe the answer is an indisputable, “yes.”

The moment you trust Jesus as Lord, a work of God begins in your whole life. God’s goal is to finish what He has started in your life. You have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, and you have the power of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you.

To put it in very simple terms, you are being shaped by God’s will and purpose. Every act of obedience He calls you to obey is shaping you more and more into His image. You are being shaped in the now from the viewpoint of His revealed end of Revelation 21:1-5.

As Christ followers, we are to embrace God’s end story reality and set our life in the full direction of that goal. We exercise faithfully our living faith in the now, how it will one day fully be when heaven and earth come together once and for all.

There are many examples that do well to illustrate this profound and exciting truth. I will share just one. Let’s say you wanted your body to look a certain way. You would first envision a preferred future for your body to look like, and then you would begin working daily toward that preferred shape by exercising and adjusting your eating habits to attain your goal.

This same is true with your kingdom life and this world. When we come to understand and live the virtues of the future kingdom we are announcing with a prophetic voice that Jesus is the one true Lord. When we live God’s future now, we show in advance His future will one day be a present reality for eternity.

In God’s future,  there is no more crying, pain or death. You can be assured there are no more injustices. All things will be made new, and all the old will have passed away.  I love Matthew 25 where Jesus says, for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

When we give someone that is hungry something to eat, we are saying to him or her, “One day you will never hunger again.” When we give to someone who is thirsty a cool drink of water, we are saying to him or her, “One day you will never thirsty again.” The same is true with the rest of God’s kingdom works. In each act of kindness done in the name of Jesus, we are a prophetic voice shaping the world for His glory.

Is it possible for your life to be a prophetic voice to the world? I believe the answer is an indisputable, “yes.”

live-like-jesus

The latter part of the verse found in Luke 6:35 rocks my world and I think it will rock your world if you read it slow enough for it to read you. Jesus of course, if you will remember, is talking about loving your enemies.

Jesus is saying things like, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” He then goes on to take His grace and mercy to deeper extremes that often causes our flesh to cry out, “INSANITY!”

I can’t speak for you, but if I wrote those verses myself, it would have to read something like the following to make sense to me. I would write, “Crush your enemies, do the worst thing to them before they can do something bad to you, don’t pray for them that abuse you, they deserve what they have coming.” I think you get my point.

It’s deep in us to seek revenge on those who mistreat us, and to point the accusing finger at the unjust and evil people of the world. However, the latter part verse 35, found in Luke 6 deals the ultimate conviction to the soul.

Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, (THEN HERE IT IS) for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Yes, that is correct! You read that right. God is KIND to the ungrateful and the evil. Now that is love. That is God’s love, and it should be our love. If He can love like that, then He can still love like that through us if we submit to His control and leading.

Anyone can have a ‘invite a friend to church Sunday,’ but can you have a ‘invite an enemy to church Sunday?’ Now that would change the world- don’t ya think?

I know you can love the loveable, but can you love the unlovable, the ungrateful and the evil? God does and I’m convinced that you and I can also. It’s hard but not impossible.

I challenge you with the words of N.T. Wright,“Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it.

God has called us to be like Him and being like Him means you must love and seek to do good to the ungrateful and the evil. I bet if you do, you just might smell a little bit like Jesus.

Serving Jesus can’t be detached from serving others; otherwise you are not serving Him at all. Also, serving Jesus without serving your enemy is not serving Him at all also.

Peace

Bad Friday

March 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Good_Friday

It was a bad Friday for the powers of darkness. It was a Good Friday for a world needing redemption.

He created the world and saw that it was good.  He redeemed the world and said, “It is finished. When Jesus died on the cross, He reached to the deepest place of collapse and with His might power, He rescued the world with His unmatched love.

We now stand in the victory won on the cross, and we live by the power of the resurrection breathing in the air of the new creation. The world is now different; therefore, we can live different.

We can and must behave as kingdom people that have had their lives renewed in order to witness to the world. We are citizens of heaven called to colonize this world with His beauty. Resurrection is an event that is still in progress for the deliverance of the world and humanity to the glory of God.

Your life and mine must point to the redemption and rebirth of God’s creation in order to witness of hope assured.  Our hope is not the world’s hope. Our hope is assured in Christ Jesus.

N.T Wright once wrote, “Good Friday is the point at which God comes into our chaos, to be there with us in the middle of it and to bring us his new creation.”

I end the devotion today by sharing a few lines of an old hymn.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:

Jesus Who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one.

paint

I learned my first two cuss words in the second grade. Yeah, I know that’s early, but it’s how I roll. Anyway, I was sitting in class, and the teacher had to go out for a while and said she would be back in fifteen minutes. She put a monitor in charge and out the door she went.

Two of my best friends were sitting next to me, and one of them without warning got up and walked right to the chalkboard. He picked up a stick of chalk and wrote two cuss words on the board. I was shocked! The class was shocked! I didn’t even actually know what they meant, but I knew they were bad.

I was sinfully intrigued. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and reading. My friend took his seat, and the class just kind of looked at him in disbelief. No one moved, and no one was saying a word. The teacher soon came back and was shocked and blown away. She ran to the front of the class and erased the words. However, it wasn’t erased from my mind.

Our teacher interviewed a few kids and finally got the name of my friend. Needless to say, he got into big time trouble. The day finally ended, and I took the bus ride home. I couldn’t get the words off my mind. I knew they were wrong, but I was being pulled in. Once I got off the bus I made my way to my dads shop to do my after school chores. He always had me clean up the tool room and sweep.

While doing my chores, I came across some black spray paint. Now don’t ask me how I connected black spray paint and cuss words, but I did. An idea was birthed faster than a squirrel moving out of the way for an oncoming car. Before I could think it through, I had the can in my hand and had found my way behind my dads shop to perform my first and last graffiti project.

I stood there, and I could feel my heart beating in my chest. I knew it was wrong what I was about to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I had my own metal chalkboard in front of me, and I wanted to feel what my friend felt when he wrote those cuss words. I shook up the can and began to write both words. I painted them tremendously big, and when I was done I stepped back to view my handy work. Everything was quite as I looked at what I had just done.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the voice of my Father calling my name. I went into full panic mood! I threw the can away in the bushes and took off running in what I thought was the opposite direction of his voice only to run headlong into him. I looked up and there he was looking back at me with the eyes of a Father who know something was up.

I was breathing heavy and sweating from running. He asked me, “What were you doing back here Stevie?” “Nothing Dad,” came my reply. He then took hold of my hands and pulled them up toward his face. He then asked me, “What is this black paint doing on your hand?” I began to cry. I knew I was caught. I also knew my punishment would be much worse than what my teacher did to my friend.

He took me by the shoulder and turned me around and said, “Show me what you painted.” I was horrified but knew I had to show him. As we made our way back to the wall I had painted my heart was racing, and I was crying even more now. Shortly we came to the spot and there it was for the whole world to see. My two cuss words I had painted stood big and tall on the metal wall.

I felt my dads hand tighten on my shoulder. I knew an old fashion country woopin was a coming. I deserved it! I had it coming. I knew I had done wrong, and punishment was the right thing to do. I was going to have to man up and take it. However, what happened next I will remember forever.

My dad’s hand loosened from my shoulder. He bent down beside me and whispered in my ear, “You spelled one of the words wrong.” I felt my heart melt. I looked him in the eyes, and he looked back into mine. I felt my tears drying up, and I felt grace and mercy for the very first time in my life. It felt better than anything I had ever experienced.

That day my Father showed me the grace of his Father, which was Christ. My Father died when I was 18, but I will never forget that day. Maybe you have done something wrong today or yesterday, and you need grace and mercy. You will find it with the Father. He knows what you have done, and He is ready to forgive if you will just turn to Him.

Romans 5:20

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

God’s Mercies

March 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

gods-mercies-550x320

Lamentations 3:22-23

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“New every morning” I love those three words. There is something remarkable about starting over each day. There is something extraordinary about how God faithfully wakes us up with His mercies.

If I were left alone to greet only myself in the morning, it would be mostly with guilt and shame. I would surely over analyze my obedience and faithfulness toward God. However, God doesn’t work with guilt and shame. He works with His mercies.

The moment I open my eyes and hear my heart beating, and hear the sound of my breathing, I can feel God kiss me with His morning mercies.  He doesn’t do it because of my works of righteousness, but instead, He wakes me with His mercies because it is who He is.

His love is steadfast and never ceases; His mercies have no end. His mercies are new each morning because of His faithfulness and not our own. As beautiful as a sunrise is more beautiful are the mercies of God, for they are the merciful sunrise that God allows to rise in our souls each and every day.

love1

When you find yourself around a self-centered person, the easy thing to do is withhold love. Show them God’s love regardless. They may not want to experience that kind of love but give it nonetheless.

The act of compassion you do toward others may not be remembered by them but do it anyway. You will be vulnerable when you move in the way God moves but walk His way anyhow.

What you give away to others might not return to you in the form of a blessing but give abundantly notwithstanding. It makes you smell like God’s servant.

From the cross,  we see true agape love.  Luke 23:34 we read, 34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Just a few thoughts from me to you.

Others First?

January 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

Christ_others

Roman 1:9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you

I can always tell when I’m slipping away from God with my whole heart because the tale-tale sign is I start to think of others less.

Thinking of others is a fruit of serving God with your whole heart. It’s the nature of God to think of others. Jesus showed this kind of life witness consistently.

At the Last Supper,  He washed the feet of the disciples after they had stepped over the water basin of service. God served His creation.

You can hear the cry of His whole heart when Jesus, in the garden, cried out, “”My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He saw there would be no future without His sacrifice for others.

On the cross,  His whole heart for others is once again shown. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. His whole heart cast a shadow over the selfish act of soldiers wanting His clothes.

We are called to think of others. We are called to remember others. We are called to serve others. It’s a God thing. It’s a whole heart thing.

Don’t forget others. God didn’t forget you when you were THE OTHER.