Monday, January 22, 2018

Do You Want to Inherit Your Promised Land?

““Reuben, my first son, you are my strength, the first proof of my manhood. You were the most honored and powerful of all my sons. But your passion was like a flood you couldn’t control. So you will not remain my most honored son. You climbed into your father’s bed and slept with one of his wives. You brought shame to my bed, to the bed you lay on.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:3-4‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“Simeon and Levi are brothers. They are violent with their swords.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:3, 5‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“Their anger is so strong that it is a curse. They are too cruel when they are angry. They will not get their own land in the land of Jacob. They will be spread throughout Israel.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:7‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I am rereading through the book of Genesis and I was amazed by what happened when Jacob was blessing his 12 sons at his deathbed. Jacob’s words were not meant to be cruel or stroking their self-esteem with compliments. He was speaking prophetically of the future. Listen carefully to what these 3 sons heard.
Rueben should have received the leadership role or the position of patriarch. He also should have received the double portion of the inheritance reserved for the eldest child. However, Jacob reminded him that Rueben slept with his stepmother, the nurse maid of Rachel. He told Rueben that he was not able to control the flood of his passions. This event happened many years but he obviously still had not learned to control this. There was no record in scripture of a change. He gave up his inheritance in the Promised Land. Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, replaced him! Incredible!
The next two sons, Levi and Simeon, were equally called out and gave up their inheritance. Levi and Simeon, were known as the instigators of the plan to punish the rape of their sister, Dinah.
“Three days later the men who were circumcised were still sore. Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, knew that the men would be weak at this time. So they went to the city and killed all the men there. Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, killed Hamor and his son Shechem. Then they took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and left.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭34:25-26‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Jacob said of them, “Their anger is so strong that it is a curse. They are too cruel when they are angry.” Do you know anyone like that? Their anger cuts to the core. Their remarks draw blood. The consequence of their being unable to get their anger under control was the loss of their inheritance. Levi is still named as one of 12 tribes but the Levi nation did not receive any land because the priests could not own land. Costly price to not ever control your anger.
We all have a bent toward a particular sin problem. I have a bent toward gluttony but for the past 5-7 years, I have worked hard to get that under the Lord’s control. I am always one step away of falling back. You may have a problem with pornography, alcoholism, anger, homosexuality(yes, that is mentioned specifically in the Bible as a sin problem, regardless of what society says), greed, etc.
The price to not deal with this area of sin in our life...giving up the promises that God has for us. Even worse, our legacies are affected. If you study the Bible you will see that the families of Rueben and Simeon disappear from the picture. They never attain the inheritance that God had for them either.
Today make a decision that you want Jesus to be Lord over each area of your life. Ask Him to take over those areas that you want to control. After making this decision, find accountability. I read this last week.
“To change the defects in your life, you have to have people in your life who tell you the truth. You’re not going to get well on your own; you’re going to need other people in your life. You’re going to need support. You’re going to need a small group. Change requires honest community. “ ~ Rick Warren
The ones that you will not have success in are the ones that you choose to keep secret. Find a godly, trained counselor. Find a small group at church and go until you love it. Join a Celebrate Recovery group on Wednesday night. The longer you believe that you can handle it on your own, the farther away you are from the Promised Land God has for you.

Think Long Term When You Suffer

After the death of my sweet dad, I had another life altering event. I slipped on some ice on New Year’s Eve and had a really bad break In my left arm. The surgeon put a metal plate and 11 pins to put my shoulder back together. It was without a doubt one of those events that change you. You learn so much from the Lord that you are thanking Him everyday that He allowed it to happen.
“If we are God’s children, we will get the blessings God has for his people. He will give us all that he has given Christ. But we must suffer like Christ suffered. Then we will be able to share his glory. We have sufferings now, but these are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:17-18‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I was thinking about the issue of suffering this morning. First of all, let me stress that I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, feel like I’m suffering. I’m sitting in a warm house. I have a sweet family and friends. I have enough food to eat and clothes to wear. I would say that my situation is called “minor” suffering.
I have to sleep sitting up which means I am not getting much sleep. I can’t take a shower for 8 more days(I’m counting). I can’t dress myself or tie my shoes. I’m taking pain pills to handle the pain of my shoulder injury but it is so much better. This little accident is going to cost several thousand dollars that I was not planning on spending. You get the gist. This why I say this is small potatoes in the big picture. All of this will get better.
But I’m thinking this morning about the fact that if I look at every single area of suffering in the light of eternity, it gives it new meaning. When you think long-term, you can handle the momentary problems that come your way(I read this is a devotional by Rick Warren). If we think short-term, we will miss the point.
Whatever difficulty you are facing right now, try very hard not to think short term. Abraham did not think short term, thank goodness. He lived in a tent, for goodness sake. His thinking was for the long haul and his promises were in the future. He awaited a better home in heaven.
I want so much to grow from this small setback. I cannot express how God had such grace to allow me to fall on that ice. He is teaching me to depend on others and accept their help. He is helping me to have a heart of gratitude in all things. I’ve realized that having gratitude blocks out bitterness, jealously, worry, anxiety, etc. It is not possible to have gratitude along with the negatives. Wow! This is blowing my mind!
I think that main thing God is showing me is to just “Be still.” I’ve haven’t been still for a long time. I can hear Him better when I’m still.

Don't make up excuses to be the hands and feet of Christ

“He wanted to see who Jesus was. There were many others who wanted to see Jesus too. Zacchaeus was too short to see above the people. So he ran to a place where he knew Jesus would come. Then he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see him.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭19:3-4‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Good grief I love this story! Zacchaeus could have made up lots of excuses that he could not see Jesus. His was a legitimate excuse. He was too short. He did not have a lot of friends because he was a tax collector. But he “ran to a place where he knew he could find Jesus and then climbed a tree so he could see him.”
A lot of people have excuses that they cannot be more Christlike. They don’t say it like that. They use other words like, “I am too busy or I will one day when I retire or if my children are older or if I was married or if I was richer or etc.”
I met this guy named Jesse this week. My dad passed away on Saturday and this guy was one of the many people that were the hands and feet of Christ. He was a busy guy who worked at least two jobs. He was a person of another race. He was not married. However, he had no excuses to come and serve my mom who was a complete stranger to him.
He brought a pecan pie, chicken wings, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, greens(that’s a Mississippi thing and you would not understand), bucket of fried chicken, sweet potatoes, and carton of eggs. But this did not compare to what he did for Mimi. He had the biggest hug for her. He kept encouraging her that she would be okay. In a state that is plagued with racial issues, he never saw her color. He never thought that her house was nicer than his. He just wanted to be like Christ.
Somewhere along the way in Jesse’ s life, he decided that he would not use any excuses to “see Jesus.” He would do whatever it took to find him. And he found him.

Friday, October 13, 2017

If God Wants You to Suffer

“But they do not let the teaching go deep into their lives. They keep it only a short time. As soon as trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching they accepted, they give up.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:21‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Sometimes I have a bad attitude because I am suffering. There are several ways that I observe how suffering people react, including myself. We try to analyze why in the world God has allowed this in our lives. We question why God picked us and not our neighbor. We try to buy more or eat more or try to stay entertained more to wipe out our pain. The majority of people just get bitter and decide that God cannot be trusted because they are suffering and they walk away.
“So if God wants you to suffer, you should trust your lives to him. He is the one who made you, and you can trust him. So continue to do good.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Look what this verse says, "If God wants you to suffer." Yes, even though I don't like this sound of this, God has a reason for me to suffer. He says that this is the very reason that He can be trusted. Think about that. Because you are suffering, He should be trusted. Why is that?
“My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ERV‬‬
He wants us to be mature and complete. He wants us to be patient in suffering. I was crying out to God this week and was asking God to end my dad's suffering. Pa has ALS and the suffering is unbearable! God clearly spoke to me that night. He made it clear to me that He knows exactly when Pa will be mature and complete. He knows exactly when I will made mature and complete. He knows what it will take in our family's lives to be made mature and complete. He has not turned away on a break and forgotten us.
I must ask myself. Do I want to be all that God wants me to be? Do I want to be complete? Do I want the end result to be good for eternity? Each of us must decide that when we suffer, we will choose to trust. If we walk away bitter and decide that He cannot be trusted, in eternity we will be judged harshly.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt joy. Joy is different from happiness. Happiness can be bought with food or money or entertainment. It is cheap.
Joy is when your circumstances did not change one bit but you changed.
Thank you, Lord for loving me so much that you know what I need, including the suffering. Thank you so much that when I meet you in heaven, you will remember this time of pain and you will say that I pleased you then, instead of grieved you with my attitude. I want it to be said that I trusted you wholly.

Instead of Giving Up, Try Looking Up

When I am tempted to have a pity party about life, I need to read the book of Philippians. Paul's life was not a picnic, by any means. What was his secret? How did he “learned to be content whatever the circumstances?"
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
He practiced doing things like "“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
He also did not try to live in his own strength. He said things like ““Even if I am able to trust in myself, still I don’t do it. If anyone else thinks they have a reason to trust in themselves, they should know that I have a greater reason for doing so.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:4‬ ‭ERV‬‬
But I am thinking the main thing he did was to control his thoughts. He did not let his thoughts control him. He practiced thinking about things that were true and honorable and pure and respectful. Look what happens.
"And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7
I want that peace to stand guard over my thoughts and feelings. Don't try to do this in your own strength. You may can do okay on your good days. But when life gets tough, you are going to fail in your own strength. The peace that we all are looking for is not within ourselves. Quit looking there.
instead of giving up, try looking up.

Are We Judging Our Spouse

“So why do you judge your brother or sister in Christ? Or why do you think that you are better than they are? We will all stand before God, and he will judge us all.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:10‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“So each of us will have to explain to God about the things we do.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭ERV
I think if we let the weight of these verses hit us, it will change us forever.
Take marriage, for example. When our spouse disappoints us or makes us unhappy, we focus on their sin problem. We, in essence, judge them as it describes in verse 10. I think that we act as if God will not notice that we did that. However, it says in verse 12, we will have to explain "the things that we did."
I have to remind myself that I will stand before the Lord one day and explain how I treated Mark. Wow! Keep that thought in your mind when you judge your spouse. It will be silly to say to God, "Mark did not remember to take out the trash on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That made me mad." Keep in mind that I am using a silly example. Mark always takes out the trash, as long as I set it right by the coffee pot:):):).
Fill in the blank. God, my spouse does this____. Name it...whatever the thing is that gives you the right to judge him. Just name it. Practice saying this excuse before the Lord one day. Will this excuse hold up? Will this make it okay to judge him, even though Romans 14:10 says not to judge but to love?
I firmly believe that when I stand before the creator of the universe one day, He will want to know how did I love Mark. He put Mark in my life to love and cherish and serve. God will ask me, "How did you do?" Jesus loved Mark enough to die for Mark. I do want to wow God's heart when I loved Mark when he didn't take out the trash or serve me. I would love to hear God say, "I noticed that time when Mark did so and so and you forgave him and loved him anyway."
Who in your life are you judging?

Start Reading Your Bible

““Jeremiah, get a scroll and write on it all the messages I have spoken to you. I have spoken to you about the nations of Israel and Judah and all the other nations. Write all the words that I have spoken to you from the time that Josiah was king, until now. Maybe the people of Judah will hear what I am planning to do to them and will stop doing bad things. If they will do that, I will forgive them for the terrible sins they have committed.””
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭36:2-3‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Jehudi began to read from the scroll. But after he would read two or three columns, King Jehoiakim would grab the scroll. Then he would cut those columns off the scroll with a small knife and throw them into the fireplace. Finally, the whole scroll was burned in the fire. And, when King Jehoiakim and his servants heard the message from the scroll, they were not afraid. They did not tear their clothes to show sorrow for doing wrong.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭36:23-24‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I have always been intrigued by this story. It's like watching a movie and seeing the king burn the scroll and wanting to shout out, "Don't do it!" We know what happens at the end of the story. Everything that Jeremiah prophesied came true.
“This is how Jerusalem was captured: During the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He surrounded the city to defeat it.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭39:1‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Does this remind you of America today? We are playing with fire. We ignore anything and everything that God talked about in the Bible if we don't agree with it. We are taking the Bible, one page at a time, and thinking that if we burn it, it won't exist.
But the end has already been written. Jesus will return. Every knee will bow to Him. Makes me want to reread the messages over and over again and incorporate that truth into my life. I want the words to be the first thing I read every morning before email or Facebook.
Today is a great day to pick up your Bible and start reading it cover to cover and letting God's Word transform you.