Saturday, March 18, 2017

If I Don't Have Love, I'm Nothing

“I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-3‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Get ready to be burned. I am. Constantly by these scriptures. Do you have times when you think you are pretty hot stuff? Maybe you teach a Sunday class. Heck, maybe you have an entire ministry to teach online. Maybe you donated your time and money last week to a good cause. Maybe you even tithe every month. Maybe you pray everyday, twice a day. Maybe you read your Bible a lot.
But here is what God says about that.
"But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. "
"I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love.”
It gets even more humbling. It describes what love looks like.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Lord, if I don't serve and give out of a heart with love, I'm just a clanging bell and annoying cymbal. And if I don't love even the difficult person in my life on their worst day, I really don't resemble Jesus at all. I look like everyone else. Gracious, show me how to look just like you, Jesus.

Ask God First

“The men of Israel wanted to know if these men were telling the truth. So they tasted the bread—but they did not ask the Lord what they should do. Joshua agreed to make peace with them. He agreed to let them live. The leaders of Israel agreed with this promise of Joshua.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭9:14-15‬ ‭ERV‬‬
This story is our story. Here's what happened. The children of Israel were demolishing every enemy in sight. They were victorious on all fronts. The surrounding enemies saw their impending defeat. One city, Gibeon, had a great idea.
“The people from the city of Gibeon heard about the way Joshua had defeated Jericho and Ai.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭9:3‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“Then they went to the camp of the Israelites. This camp was near Gilgal. The men went to Joshua and said to him, “We have traveled from a faraway country. We want to make a peace agreement with you.” The men of Israel said to these Hivite men, “Maybe you are trying to trick us. Maybe you live near us. We cannot make a peace agreement with you until we know where you are from.”
The men answered, “We are your servants. We have come from a faraway country. We came because we heard of the great power of the Lord your God. We heard about what he has done and about everything he did in Egypt.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭9:6-7, 9‬ ‭ERV‬‬
This city pretended to be from far away and they ended up making a very valuable peace treaty with the Israelites. From then on, Israel was bound by their promise to spend their time and money and men to defend this city. Huge waste of resources. God had no intention of them protecting this city every time they needed help. How did they get entangled with this burden? "They did not ask the Lord what to do."
How often do we burden ourselves with a new car payment, a more expensive house payment or a credit card bill to be burdened with? Huge waste of our resources. In hindsight, we should have asked the Lord if this was the right decision for this time and place.
This is a tricky statement. We also make promises to help someone or mentor someone or be a part of a committee that meets often. We get hooked by this one statement..." We came because we heard of the great power." We are flattered and we accept. And then we are burdened by keeping that commitment...for a long time.
Keep in mind that God sometimes plans for you to purchase that house or that car and definitely mentor that friend or be on that committee. The key here is did we ask Him ahead of time if this is part of His plan? I have a pet peeve to bring up here. Sometimes people read this blog and assume that they are too busy and assume that God does not want you to commit and they always say no. God did not give me free time so I can sit on the couch and watch TV. Do not have a fear of committing to something.
But in the case of Gibeon, they should not have saddled themselves with this extra burden. God intended them to become a nation that lends and does not borrow. He intended on them to bring salvation through Jesus. But He has specific plans for them just like He has specific plans for each of us. This particular city should have been demolished and not preserved. Do not be deceived by the neighboring temptations that surround you and ask you to commit your time and money. Ask God first.

Set up an Altar

“Joshua wrote these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he found a large stone to be the proof of this agreement. He put the stone under the oak tree near the Lord ’S Holy Tent. Then Joshua said to all the people, “This stone will help you remember what we said today. This stone was here when the Lord was speaking to us today. So this stone will be something that helps you remember what happened today. The stone will be a witness against you. It will stop you from turning against your God.””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭24:26-27‬ ‭
I really like what Joshua did. He set up a stone. Moses taught him how to do this. On first glance, it seems wrong to build altars. However, you will set up altars, one way or another. We all set up reminders of the things we worship.
I think this is why I write about the things I read in the Bible. It "helps me remember what happened today." It " stops me from turning against God."
Read your Bible everyday! You Version has tons of choices. After you read a few verses, write down what you learned. It helps cement the wisdom that God showed you. Your future will be different depending on which choice you made...what did you decide to worship today?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sometimes God purposely says NO

“A few days later, Jesus went out to a mountain to pray. He stayed there all night praying to God. The next morning he called his followers. He chose twelve of them and called them apostles. These are the ones he chose:
Judas, the son of James, Judas Iscariot (the one who turned against Jesus).”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:12-13, 16‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Couple of things to notice here. Jesus stayed up all night praying. We have trouble talking to God for 5 minutes!
He was seeking wisdom about a major decision to choose his 12 apostles. These men would follow him around for the next three years and Jesus would pour into them. He was picking his pit crew. He needed his Father's counsel to choose these friends. So many times, I make decisions without a lot of prayer.
Were you surprised that after an all night prayer session, God allowed him to choose the "wrong" friend in Judas? This was by divine plan, not by accident. I think that we get confused when God purposely allows a terrible thing to happen to us. We have a rebellious child even when we are following the Lord. Someone that we loved dies prematurely. A friend betrays us. The finances just don't work out. Our job just does not pay enough and the money is always short. We feel like we will never be able to retire and we are getting tired.
Our thinking has to be constantly analyzed and see if it agrees with His word. He asks us to be happy and rejoice when life is tough. Be nervous if life is a bed of roses because that is not what Jesus experienced and God loved his Son so much. He allowed pain and discomfort and poverty and rejection in his beloved Son's life. Listen to what He says in the book of Luke.
“You can be happy then and jump for joy, because you have a great reward in heaven. The ancestors of those people did the same things to the prophets. “But how bad it will be for you rich people, because you had your easy life. How bad it will be for you people who are full now, because you will be hungry. How bad it will be for you people who are laughing now, because you will be sad and cry. “How bad it is when everyone says nothing but good about you. Just look at the false prophets. Their ancestors always said good things about them.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:23-26‬ ‭ERV‬‬
These verses make me stop and think if my requests are in line with what God wants for me. I want riches. I do not want to be hungry. I want a life of laughter. I want everyone to say good things about me. I want God to be my Santa Claus and give me everything I want all the time.
Next time, God answers our prayer with a no, rejoice and praise God and be thankful. His plan for us is to make us more like His Son and not more like the world.

Loving Your Husbands

““Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own? Why do you say to your friend, ‘Let me take that piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself first! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You are a hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend’s eye.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬ ‭ERV‬‬
My sister and I made a vow a few years ago to pray for our husbands every Tuesday morning. This does not mean that I have never prayed for Mark before but I want to be more intentional. I know that it slips off the tip of my tongue to pray for my kids, my job, my ministry, my finances, even my myself. But I think we put our husbands on a pedestal and get disappointed when they are not perfect.
After a long, busy holiday week, I realized I skipped Tuesday prayer for Mark. But the words get stuck in my mouth and my mind...I realize that the enemy always makes my sins look smaller than Mark's. I have an amazing husband but I am always looking for that little piece of dust in his eye! The Bible says that I am a hypocrite. I have a huge log in my eye that I need to deal with.
No matter who you are or who you think you are, you have a log in your eye like me. You know how I know that? Jesus had to die for our wretched sins. Satan tries everyday to convince me that Mark is the problem and not me. In fact, the enemy tries to convince me that Mark and I are in a battle and not us against the enemy.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
It is so easy to love Mark and pray for him when I remember that he is a gift to me. When I stand before the throne one day, I know that God will talk with me about how I treated the precious gift that He gave me. What a waste of my breath when I try to stammer and explain that Mark was not always perfect and that he did not always make me happy.
I thought about this yesterday and realized that if my goal is to be more Christlike, I should take the towel from my waist and love like Jesus.
“so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples╩╝ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭13:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I forget sometimes that Jesus did not feel like washing feet. He probably wanted to sit down and be served. But for the joy that was ahead, He loved the 12 men that God gifted him with, even one who would betray Him. He loved by putting His own desires in last place. That is a model to how the Lord wants me to love Mark. I need to remember that there will be a conversation one day and I want the Lord to say, "Well done with loving Mark."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Life's Biggest Choice

“And Jesus said, “The things that make people wrong are the things that come from the inside. All these bad things begin inside a person, in the mind: bad thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, doing bad things to people, lying, doing things that are morally wrong, jealousy, insulting people, proud talking, and foolish living. These evil things come from inside a person. And these are the things that make people unacceptable to God.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭7:20-23‬ ‭ERV 

If you read through the list of things that make a person wrong, you will find at least one thing on that list that would condemn you. This verse says that these things make you unacceptable to God. I think we all want to think that we are pretty good. We only have a few sins and most of our life is okay and that God is pleased with us because we are "pretty much" alright. 

But that is not true. We actually stink in God's presence. The entire book of Leviticus is filled with things that needed a sacrifice so that God could allow them to continue to live. Two of Aaron's sons died on the spot because they offered a wrong incense. God was and is warning us that He is HOLY and that we cannot stand in His presence. 

 At this point, many want to give up and say that no one can meet that standard of holiness. When you reach that point and you understand that you cannot stand in the presence of a Holy God, you have a choice. 

““If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship GOD, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship GOD.””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬ ‭MSG‬‬

God is always allowing us to make a choice. If we want to worship Him and inherit all that He has for us, then it requires one thing...accept His only Son as payment once and for all as covering for our sins. No other way will do. If you don't accept His way, then you are choosing any other god...not the one true God. Believe me, there are a lot of other gods to serve. Problem is they can never satisfy. False gods that you created will always disappoint you. Today chose to have a relationship through Jesus Christ with the only true God.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Is There Only One Way to Heaven? Really?

“The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:4-6
Eve, chose to take fruit from a tree that gave her the ability to decide what was right or wrong. Instead of allowing God that ultimate, wise place of authority, she chose to redefine truth on her own terms. Since that time, we have all been faced with the same choice. Will we fall victim to the enemy’s lies that we can do life better on our own? Or will we choose to believe that God has a better way? ~Robin Meadows
I have a sweet friend that I work with that God has put directly in my path to talk to about the Lord. He is absolutely certain that "my way" is just one way to have a relationship with the Lord. Ever since our first conversation about having a relationship with Jesus, he has been asking me hard questions about why I believe the way I believe. He is positive that he can do life better on his own. I am positive that I can't do life on my own.
“And I command you today: Love GOD, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by GOD, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:16‬ ‭MSG‬‬
“It is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭8:36‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:15‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“Keep your eyes on the path, and look straight ahead. Make sure you are going the right way, and nothing will make you fall.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:25-26‬ ‭ERV‬‬
If you read this blog, I pray that you know the Lord and will allow Him to help you maneuver through life and not try to live it on your own.