Archives For Mercy

eatingwithsinners

 

Matthew 9:11 “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'”

 

The religious folk always speak up, don’t they? Their questions are always self-righteous. Their questions always have a built-in motivation to separate the Christ follower from the darkness.

What if God never intended us to be separate from the darkness? What if instead, God wants us to bring light into the darkness? After all,  It’s not like God is afraid of the darkness. Psalm 139:12 declares, “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

When was the last time you invited someone who is just rude, crude, and vile to have dinner with you?

I much rather look at my life not so much as a person who avoids darkness at all cost, but rather, I consider my life as a carrier of God’s light, marching through a dark world picking up broken people and showing them the King.

Have a great day; darkness is calling and I must eat with the sinners. I’ll be in good company. Jesus will be there.

P.S. How did Jesus answer the self-righteous?

Matthew 9:12 “On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You can only LEARN WHAT THIS MEANS by going and doing. Just saying.

 

Dirty Ol’ You

January 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

garagebeforeafter

Do you realize you have been chosen? God has chosen you. He picked you. Let me ask you something. Would you have picked yourself? You probably wouldn’t have, because you know who you truly are.

You know who you are in the dark. You know who you are when you aren’t around other church people. You know what you did last night. You know what dirt still remains in your life needing to be cleaned out.

Yet God still chose dirty ol’ you. Isn’t that wondrous! I know it’s unbelievable because He chose dirty ol’ me also. He has changed my name. He has changed your name. He has given us as Christ followers a new identity.

It’s been said that confession is good for the soul, so hold onto your hat. I have a confession today. Ready? My garage is a disaster.

My wife is in charge of the house. The house is fine. However, if you go to my garage and open the door, you want believe the junk I have allowed to amass.

When I go out there, I say to myself, “This was not intended to be like this, and I’m going to change it.” I’ve yet to get around to cleaning up what needs to be cleaned up. However, the good news is I’m confessing, so hopefully within a few weeks I’m going to get out there and make it happen.

What about you? What about your soul? What about the garage of your soul? What about your life this morning? What about the garage of your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength? Is there any cleaning that needs to be done?

In the proverbial garage of my soul, some things need to be cleaned up from time to time. I’m not waiting another day to start the clean up.

What about your garage?

The Comfort of HOWEVER

January 11, 2013 — 2 Comments

However

There are times in my day that I’m not thinking about God at all. I’m just living life. However, there is never a time that God is not thinking about me. God is always thinking about me, and He is always thinking about you.

Psalm 139:17-18, How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.

There are times I give up. I’m tired and worn out. I just can’t do anymore. However, God never gets tired.

Isaiah 40:28 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”

There are times my talent can’t handle all that I face daily. However, nothing is too hard for God. He shows up beyond my talent.

Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.”

There are times I break promises, even when I have the best intentions to fulfill them. However, God is forever faithful and never drops a promise to the floor.

Psalm 89:34 “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.”

There are times I remember a sin I’ve committed, and it drives me to heavy guilt. However, God has made a choice to not remember them.

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll sum up the greatness of God with one last scripture.

2 Timothy 2:13,  “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

I can’t trust myself to be perfect, but I can trust that God who is perfect is working on me, with me, and through me. Be encouraged today and live in the comfort of HOWEVER.

Becoming Fully Human

December 4, 2012

fullyhuman
Philippians 1:6. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

God has started a work in your life, and He will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus. You are becoming fully human as He intended. What is “at the day of Jesus”? It means when heaven and earth come together, when there are no more injustices, there is no more pain, there are no more tears, there is no more heartache, there is no more racism, and all sin is gone.

What God is trying to do is accomplish a little bit of that future work in the now. The only way He can do it in the now is through you because He has chosen to work through you. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. In spite of all the flaws in your life, God still wants to work through you. That’s how valuable you are. Even On your worst day, He loves you. Even on your worst day, He wants to use you.

God is not an impersonal force. God is not detached from your life. God is not like Bette Midler sang a long time ago. “God is watching us from a distance.” No, God lives on the inside of you, shaping you from the inside out. He is creating in you something that will bring him glory and honor. He is the Father. He is the potter. You are His child and servant.

Let me give you an image. The most fully human Adam ever was, was the moment God breathed the spirit of life into him, and he became a living soul, a living person. At that exact moment, he was fully human as God intended him to be. God looked around, and in chapter 2 of Genesis, he said, “It’s not good that man be alone.” Then comes the woman. At that moment, they were fully human as God intended.

Then we know the story. Satan comes, and he tempts them, and they fall to temptation. The clay stops yielding for a moment to the potter, to the Father. At that moment, a little bit of their humanity was diminished. Now, I said all of that as background because I want you to understand what I will say next.

You were created in Christ Jesus! The moment you bowed your heart, soul, mind, and strength to Him- you started to recover your full humanity that will one day be fully recovered at the second coming of Christ.

You were created for good works. What good works? The good works of the future. Injustice is no longer there in the future. There is no more hunger, no more pain, no more heartache, no more sin. God is showing us that because of the resurrection the world has changed and we can be part of that change through following Him.

He seeking to get you to fully understand that He lives in you; and you live in Him. It is like He is saying, “You were created in me, you are fully human, and becoming fully human again as My future leaks into your life, let me work My future out through you in the now.”

You may have given up on God in your life, but he has never given up on you. Rise up again and follow Him with all of your heart. Follow Him into the future of being fully human again for His glory.

god_of_mercy

Psalms 86:5 “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

God is ready to forgive. Are you ready to receive His forgiveness?

Many times a Christ follower who has sinned stays hidden behind their guilt for far to long. It’s like they want to punish themselves until they felt a hint of worth, which will allow them to step out into God’s mercy.

Mercy doesn’t work that way. God’s mercy doesn’t have to be primed in order to receive it. The Lord is good and ready to forgive. His eyes watch for you to  return.

Max Lucado once said, “The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.”

You never have to earn God’s second chance. You just need to embrace each chance as the gift it is. Grace will follow abundantly, and with a beauty that you can’t fully explain or fully understand. His mercy is plenteous and is available to all who call upon Him.

I once heard a pastor say, “Sometimes I realize that you need to preach on judgment as well, but sometimes you can preach on judgment until you are blue in the face, and then preach on mercy and it’ll touch some heart that preaching on judgment never would touch. The love of God, the mercy of God, touches hearts.”

Have you recently messed up (sinned against God) and found yourself in the pigpen of life? Then, like the Prodigal Son, get up and return home. Mercy and Grace are waiting.

Miracles Happen

What an incredible moment in Luke 18! The God of the universe, the creator of everything, asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What a miracle! What a God opportunity! Bartimaeus was a blind man that saw his opportunity (no pun intended) MIRACLES HAPPEN…sometimes they are housed in an opportunity.

Bartimaeus is a model to imitate, and no, I’m not promoting NAME IT and CLAIM IT. God is not Burger King, where you can have it your way. I’m speaking of imitating the way he acts on his God given moment of opportunity, in spite of everyone around him telling him to keep quiet. He simply keeps calling for Jesus to have mercy and that opportunity leads to the miracle  that he needed.

Bartimaeus would have remained blind, had he not seized the opportunity of His God moment. Most often, miracles are found in obeying the opportunity God has placed right in front of you.

I like to say it this way: Miracles Are Often Wearing The Clothing Of Opportunity

My wife and I moved to San Francisco many years ago to start a new church.(We were there for 13 plus years) She and I appeared before the state council for our denomination and shared our calling. After pouring out our hearts, we were expecting 100% of the men to give us the green light and their blessing. It was just the opposite. They turned us down and thanked us for our time, and we walked out the door.

As we were walking down the hallway to leave, my wife was visibly upset. I asked her, “What’s wrong?” She responded, “What are we going to do?” My reply was simply, “Start a church.”

Seeing she was not satisfied with my answer, we returned to the board room. I knocked, and then pushed the door open. I apologized for the interruption, but shared with them that I had a few more things I would like  to say. I proceeded to tell them that we meant no disrespect, but we would be starting a church for our denomination, or an independent work because we had to obey God.

After a few moments of silence, a man at the end of the table (who is a dear friend of mine) began to clap and stand up. It was one a man standing ovation. I believe that is the way God does us. He gives us a standing ovation, when we obey the opportunity He has called us to obey, even when  everyone else is telling us, we can’t.

Allow me to share a passage with you with some comments.

Luke 18:35-43

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.

  • Miracle Opportunities shows up often in everyday life if you have faith to see it.
  • The text say Jesus was drawing near Jericho, but in the case of Bartimaeus, Jesus was drawing near him.

36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him,  “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

  • He was listening to what was going on around him.
  • He was listening for his opportunity.
  •  Open your ears! You might just be surprised at what God is trying to set up for you.

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • Psalm 23 tells us that goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life.
  • God has your life surrounded with goodness and mercy.

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • He had a desire to move passed the one’s that were just curious about Jesus
  • “You may delay, but time will not.” –Benjamin Franklin
  • He opened every widow of his heart to the opportunity

40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41  “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

  • Isn’t that really the miracle we all need, to recover our sight?
  • To see what God see’s; to see how God see’s things?
  • If we did, and acted on it more often, we would change our lives and those around us.

42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

  • The miricle for Bartimaeus was found in the opportunity of Jesus passing by. Once he was rescued, he followed and glorified God and everyone saw. I just love that. His life became a witness. You life can also.

Today, many will open their eyes to the miracle opportunities that surround them. Why not you?

doubt

If you have ever had a friend, or a family member doubt the faith, you know how disheartening that can be. It cuts your very soul. In some cases, your friend or family member simply doubts something in the bible, but in other cases, they may even depart from the faith altogether. It hurts to see this happen, and it give rise to many emotions inside of you. In fact, many of those emotions, if not submitted to the Lord, can damage the one doubting, if unleashed on them improperly by you.

Here, are some things to do when doubt has captured your friend or family member.

1. Keep your emotions on the altar

Take all your angry feelings, and leave them on the altar of God. He can handle your pain better than you can. Worship Him until the feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal slip away.

2. Trust that God is still asking questions through them

Even John the Baptist doubted at one point in his life, and sent word asking if Jesus was really the one. Once He heard the right answer, he was unchained from doubt, and moved on in His faith. All great men and women of God have doubted at some point in their walk with Christ.

3. When they become unfaithful, God doesn’t

2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” God is faithful and will continue to work in their lives, even when they have stopped moving forward with God. You must remember, God loves your friend or family member more than you ever can.

4. God can move mountains

What is impossible for man is never impossible for God. He can move doubt over the cliff in their life in a moment of time. Mighty to Save by Hillsong says this,
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

5. Finally, my favorite verse that many forget about.

MERCY! Jude 1:22 tells us, “22 And have mercy on those who doubt;” You must never forget that mercy wins over judgment. When you want to give judgement to the one you love…GIVE MERCY

God bless you
Pastor Steve

condemnation
I hate when I set goals and then fail to meet them. It’s certainly not a life and death issue, but the voice inside of me usually makes me feel extremely bad. All of us have that voice inside that berates us when we have failed in one way or another. The voice speaks when we have done things like, putting off something for later (which never get done) and then we never get back to it.

That’s when the voice starts! Saying things like, “You always put things off. Can’t you do any better?” Well, you get the idea-it’s not a voice of grace and encouragement. It is a voice of self-condemnation.

It’s not like you can cut the voice off altogether, but you don’t have to let it get the better of you. Also, that voice could have some truth in it (some God in it) and you would do well to listen to it and change some things in your life. The key is to not let is condemn you, but instruct you. It shouldn’t make you feel an unhealthy guilt. It should cause you to examine what part is true, and then make an honest effort to do better the next time.

Don’t allow the voice to harm you; let the voice help you. Find the God part of the voice and weed out the negative part of the voice that tries to mix with God’s loving voice.

Here are a few tips to help you stop beating yourself up

1. Don’t step on your own heart

Stop being so hard on yourself. You are loved and approved by God. You don’t need to prove anything in order to gain love. You have love. God loves you no matter what. Part of stepping on your own heart comes form not believing you are good enough. Self-punishment never works. Self-punishment will never take the fear away. The bible tells us that perfect love cast out fear. Hold on to that promise.

2. Stop believing you are a failure

You need to kick the word failure in the face with your God foot. Constantly entertaining the word ‘failure’ in your life can emotionally debilitate you. God often speaks into our life to instruct us, or to convict us, but it’s never so that we feel like a failure. God has called you His own and builds through your weaknesses with grace and mercy. Always remember, when you are weak He is strong.

3. Let God love the weak and ugly side of you

Once again, we are back to love. We always give God our good side. Try giving Him your weak and ugly side. You would be amazed at what He can do with the messy stuff in your life. Place your ugly stuff in His hands and leave it there. Remember the guy in the bible (Luke 18) that was bragging about all his good work and God said he wasn’t justified? Then another guy comes in a very humble way, and gives God his ugly side and God says that guys left and was justified.

What are your thoughts? Share by leaving a comment.

grassgreener
Is Sex Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence?

The fastest way to destroy your marriage is to allow yourself to fall into an emotional attachment to someone other than your spouse. Nothing can steal intimacy faster than this first step away from the covenant God has placed you in when you took your vows before God and the world. Now, let me say at this point; if you want to comment adultery, it’s your choice…but know this-it’s going to cost you. It will destroy your home and the lives of many around you. There is simply no way around the fact that it will cause pain forever.

Adultery promises fulfillment and excitement that you feel you are not getting at home. The problem is, it always fails to live up to that promise sooner or later. You must remember, love is not a feeling; love is an action that you continually do and feelings are secondary. The green grass on the other side of the fence has the same sun shining on it as the grass you are thinking about leaving.

Please remember, that the decision to cross the fence comes with consequences that are enormous and last for a lifetime. It has been said before, and I agree, “No sex outside of marriage is that good.” That new adventure also has it’s own disappoints of life waiting to show itself soon enough. Those feelings of loneliness, emptiness and boredom that is diving you to pursue someone else…they will soon surface in the next relationship also. The reason why is that those feelings are inside you. In other words, everywhere you go, there you are.

It’s a fact that most people don’t set out to commit adultery. They let down their guard, and they generally drift out to sea until land seems to far to return to. It’s like the frog place in warm water: you turn up the temperature little by little until the frog is cooked. The frog just thinks it’s having a warm bath but the truth is he is being killed.

Allow me to give you three things that will help you to remain faithful and keep you from wreaking you life and others.

1. Keep the marriage bed on fire and purse each other

Take the time to talk with your spouse about your needs, wants and desires. Share with each other what you are looking for in the bedroom. Come to an agreement for the sake of the marriage, your kids and God. Submit to each other the bible teaches us. Cultivate romance in your relationship again. I would encourage you to pursue your spouse the way you did when you first started dating. If you are not still dating your spouse, you need to restart that as fast as you can. Get a baby sitter and leave the kids at home. Go to a movie and a meal. Hold hands and look into each other’s eyes. Talk about the beauty of the past and dream with each other about the beauty of the future.

2. Close the door on your heart to any other except your spouse

Make yourself accountable to a friend that will ask you about your flirting with others. Be open and honest with them and ask them to pray and ask you regularly about it. The bible teaches us that faithful are the wounds of a friend. Trust me, you need someone in your life that will speak truth without watering it down. You eyes are the gateway to the heart. Give your eyes back to your spouse and that feeling of him or her no longer having your heart will return like a flood.

3. Don’t deny you are being tempted

You and your spouse need to make a decision that you can freely and opening talk about your temptations. Temptation is not wrong. Temptation is not a sin. However, once you act on temptation sin is birthed. If you were at the office and someone was flirting with you or you were flirting with them…when you get home sit down and talk about it. You and your spouse need to decide in advance that these kinds of talk can and should take place without judgment. Confession can be risky, but the truth is, they can also save your marriage before it is too late.

Finally, if you are on the other side of adultery and have divorced and maybe even married again, and then grace and mercy from God is there when you repent of your sin. My advice would be this…go to the top of the post and read it again. Don’t commit the same SIN again.

Life-Running-Out-Of-Control-Documentary-300x225
The ability to choose how to handle things that spin your life out of control is yours to embrace. You can’t help what life throws at you, but you can make a decision as to the way you will deal with it. When things are out of my control, I like to do these 4 things.

1. What am I suppose to be learning by this?

When my world has been rocked by something momentous and I’m hurt and feel life is out of control, I slow down and ask myself, “What am I suppose to be learning from this?” Have I taken my blessings for granted? I use the ‘out of control’ time to make sure what is in my control is not being overlooked because of what I’m going through. For example, when things are happening out of my control, it’s easy to lose focus on my family because I’m busy trying to figure out what to do next. I slow down and refocus on them.

2. I think past myself

I think past myself. In other words, I look for someone that is in need of help and I try and reach out to him or her. There is something healing about reaching out to others when you need someone to reach out to you.

3. I remind myself, that even though I can’t control everything, God does control all things.

I trust deep in my soul that God has not forgotten me and He knows all about my pain and distress. He cares more about my life than I do. He has promised in His Word that he would never leave me or forsake me. He has given you that promise also.

4. A bend in the road is not the end. (Unless you don’t make the turn)

Appreciate the adventure that God is allowing into your life. Hurt and pain are often part of the road you must travel. There is no need to allow all the negative emotions you are feeling to run you. Just keep making the turns that God is putting in front of you. The road will straighten out soon enough.

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