Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Self Esteem?"

I'm not sure where this is going today. Recently as I was watching one of the news features, they were featuring a school that put "self esteem" as their number one priority. One student after another stood before the class telling everyone of the own individual worth and greatness. Many of them couldn't even do their school work but they all had "self esteem!" It was sad to see but what was even worse, the teachers were thrilled!!!
As I watched this briefly, it hit my mind of the nurse in the hospital that was so conceited that whenever she took the pulse of one of the men, she always knocked off five points to allow for the impact of her personality!
Our society is quickly moving further and further away from the teachings and understanding of God. Let's just be honest and open about all this. What many are calling "self esteem" is what the Bible calls arrogance and pride, something the Lord is opposed to. Have we ever thought about examining ourselves standing next to Jesus? Let's just put these up for thought:
We raise our "self esteem" because of our status - Jesus was God and gave up His glory for us.
We are proud and glory in our family - Jesus grew up in a poor home not highly esteemed.
We are proud of our accomplishments and professions - Jesus was a simple carpenter.
We are proud of our homes - Jesus had no where to lay His head.
We boast of our possessions and wealth - Jesus had neither.
We are proud of those we consider as distinguished friends - Jesus was surrounded by fishermen and tax collectors, those most despised.
We are proud of our abilities - Jesus said, "I can do nothing of Myself."
We take pride in our degrees and schooling - Jesus never had either.
We push and shove, expressing our discontent to get our own way - Jesus said, "I do not seek My own will."
We put ourselves above others in certain situations - Jesus said, "I came to serve."
Somewhere, when we sit and reflect on Jesus, the Scripture comes to mind: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Buckle Up: It's The Law"

We have all seen the signs as we travel: "Buckle Up: It's the Law!" They are just reminders that for safety sake you must wear your seat belt. I realize sometimes people just ignore the law and it seems if there is a fatal crash, authorities tell us that the driver or passengers (maybe both) were not wearing their seat belts.
Over the years I don't hesitate or think about buckling up. It is automatic without thinking about the law. I have done it so long, it is part of my security measure. When my grandchildren ride with me, I always make sure they are buckled up because I look out for their safety.
God has supplied us with every needful help to make it to heaven, our goal. He has provided us with His Son as our substitute, cleansed us from all unrighteousness provided we are united with Him and given us His word as our guide. God insists that we "buckle up"! "Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth..." (Eph. 6:14) The term "girded" means to fasten around. The truth of the gospel came to us and we are dependent upon this same truth for our future and safety. The only question is will we "buckle up?"
I hear often people say it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you believe in the Lord. If ever Satan told a lie, this is the one. Only the truth can make one free. That was the words of Jesus (John 8:32). Before the truth can make one free, Jesus says, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine." (John 8:31) If it doesn't matter what you believe, why did Jesus make such a statement? Why would Paul tell us to gird our loins with truth? Too many are believing and living in a lie. The apostle John states, "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God." (II John 9)
Did it make any difference in Thyatira that a woman called Jezebel, calling herself a prophetess was leading the bond-servants of Jesus astray? It made a great difference to the Lord. In fact, Jesus was going to deal with her and those who followed her teachings (Rev. 2:20-25).
God's word constantly warns from heaven against following false ideas and notions. If God warns against such, don't you think He would provide us the security and safety? He gave us the truth of His word to heed and follow. Are we going to gird our loins with the truth? We need to make certain we "Buckle Up: It's the Law!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


My alarm went off at 3:30 AM and it seemed like I had just gotten to sleep. I was meeting with some others to do some early morning trout fishing. It was very cool out and dark. It made me wonder what I was doing. During our drive I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this?" As far as I was concerned, it was an "ungodly" time to be headed out!!
After arriving and putting on my waders I stood in the water, waiting for an alarm to indicate the start of fishing. A cold shiver hit me as I stood in the cold water and my mind shifted back to being in bed. The alarm sounded and I made my first cast. Within seconds I felt it! A slight movement of my line in my hand. I set the hook and the fight was on.
As we traveled home, I reflected on the morning. I thought about the whole and then it hit me. When I caught that first trout, everything changed. My thoughts, my desire made a complete turnabout. Why? Because there was life! There was life on the other end of my line and it affected my behavior and attitude.
My mind shifted to the Scripture: "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1) One doesn't realize how dead they are until they come into contact with life. Those "living" around us that we speak with, work with and enjoy our humanness with, the majority are dead spiritually! It is natural. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love in which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Eph. 2:4-5)
Life comes by our union with Christ. When the life of God comes in, it changes every thing about us. Your thoughts, attitudes and desires are no longer what they were. The things that were important while dead are no longer important in life! That's what life does. You don't have to tell people you are a different person or changed. Life is evident and different from the animation of those living around us!
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) Jesus attracted people because the dead were attracted to life. His life became the light that brought people to Him. His life was the light that created the ability to see things for what they are. Only Jesus and in Jesus can one possess that life.
Physical life is precious to us. We do every thing we can to preserve it. We take every avenue available to hold to that life. What about real, spiritual life? The life that works from God in those in Christ, taking us to eternity? Until we recognize our deadness because of sin, we won't have a strong desire to see and come into life. It was Jesus who proclaimed: "...I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." (John 10:10).

Monday, May 24, 2010

"The Pain Of Life"

People get so beaten down in their lives at times, they find little to be joyful about. They read Jam. 1:2, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials." That seems to add more misery to what is going on. People start avoiding everything that makes them uncomfortable, even the word the God. I recently had a sister in Christ tell me that she didn't want to read anything unless is was all positive, even if that meant from God's word. She had fallen into a deep spiritual decay as a result of her struggles. How can one consider it as joy when problems pound on our heart and mind each and every day?
Our minds go to Gethsemane as Jesus fell down, pouring our His heart before His Father. You read the sobbing and agonizing begging, pleading and He counted it all joy? Where do we see that? The drops of blood that took place of His sweat showed an intense agony in His being. What are we to make of this?
Upon close looking at Jesus in Gethsemane, down below the pain and distress, deeper below the desire to avoid the loss if possible, there was this deeper desire to do the will of God. The joy was found in pleasing His Father more than anything else on earth. It is this desire, this pleasing that drives Jesus forward at the darkest hour of His earthly existence. He loved His Father and that love drove Him to do His Father's will.
We see it in Paul when he requested the thorn to be taken away (II Cor. 12). Paul hurt and that hurt drove him to asking for relief, not once, not twice but three times! But deep down, below the desire to be free from the enduring pain was this deeper desire and that was to be faithful to a heavenly Father who was faithful to him. He looked at this pain-bringing thorn from a deeper perspective and found to his glad surprise that it raised his level of living in a true service to the Lord! It was the conviction of faith that lead him to seeing the joy during his agony. For us, the agony in and of itself was nothing to be joyful over but then such things don't exist in and of themselves! Now that's something we need to ponder.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"The Blind"

Jesus offended some of the most prominent religious leaders of His day with His teachings. In Matt. 15, Jesus called out if anyone was listening to understand. That seems to be the problem today. Just take a stroll down a bookstore isle and you will be amazed of the numerous books on helping people cope with their spirituality and our spiritual makeup. It is simply amazing. Everyone is reading anything that we do not understand in regard to our emotional and spiritual makeup. I read myself but for a different reason. As Jesus taught, He offended the Pharisees! The ones that lead others into understanding of God were offended at the One from God, speaking from God. They were so lost they could not recognize who teaching and standing before them.
Jesus then gives us a major insight and warns us why we need to be careful. "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." People want to be led! People want someone to lead that they believe knows more than themselves. What if they are blind in regard to the true things of God and you follow? Eventually both will be off into something they shouldn't.
Jesus taught of Himself being bread from heaven that one may eat and live. If anyone would just listen and accept, they could sustain their lives reaching to the depth of their souls. Their mental health would be good. Their spiritual health would be strengthened. Their understanding of who God is and how He operates would start becoming clear. The result of this teaching: many of the disciples of Jesus withdrew from Him, not walking with Him anymore (John 6:66). We see that today. People are in a search for something. They aren't sure what it is but they know it is not what they have. Something new, something flashy, something creative comes along and off we go. The talk about the Lord and what He approves, the manipulation of Scriptures to say what we want it to say has seem to be the norm. We have come to a time and point that says: "I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay who as long as we believe in the Lord!"
Jesus turns to His own twelve. "You do not want to go away also, do you?" He opened the door. You are free to leave if you wish. Jesus wants some conviction and a sincerity of heart in listening to Him and applying His words rightly. We must feed on Jesus and His truth, not someones concept of how they see the truth! The twelve responded: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." (John 6:68) Right there with no deviation, no hesitation and a willingness just to listen and follow. There were no other choices except the blind leading the blind and you're free to go!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Help Us Lord"

I recently sat in a Bible class and was left...well, wondering. I was wondering what we just went through and the purpose. Now please hear me out, I am not one to pick on a class/teacher. I sit in lessons/sermons looking for the Lord. I want to hear something the Lord wants me to understand and draw faith and conviction from. I never compare my teaching or style with anyone because the Lord uses each of us in His way with our own personalities. I still want to hear and see God in any lesson.
I am pondering if there needs to be something taught to teachers/preachers to help them see their role? Maybe I need to do that but I don't know everything about it myself. Teaching is difficult! Preaching is difficult! Most probably won't ever understand that. It's not study time that is difficult. It's not trying to glean all you can. It's the application and clarity that is difficult. Too many times we are left in our studies with nothing, absolutely nothing. No application, no faith building, just a bunch of words and what some call "good discussion." It makes me wonder what it means to have "good discussion." Sometime "good discussion" becomes a substitute for nothing said or applied!! God forgive us for that.
As I sat in this particular class, 40 minutes was devoted to something that the Scriptures weren't even discussing. Verses were pulled in, statements were made and all for what? We missed God completely in the section of Scripture that was being taught. At the end, one kind, humble lady spoke softly..."I have no clue what all this means. I was lost from the beginning." The teacher was so ingrained in his own thinking he didn't even understand what this lady was saying. He went off into his further explanation which buried the class while he was clueless. My heart ached. God was never touched, faith was never built, hearts were never stirred, people left with no appetite to want to return yet there was a lot of "fruitless discussion." And many a teacher/preacher wonder why people don't show up. Please, help us Lord!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Paul could write strong and bold words! His personal presence was unimpressive and his speech apparently was lacking (II Cor. 10:10). But Paul was straight forward about things. When there was something that needed correcting, he corrected it! He spent little time with words. He said it!
One of Job's closest friends was blunt in speech. His name was Zophar and he got right to the point with Job. He called Job "on the carpet." He wasn't very delicate and sensitive to Job's situation.
We have been around those who are such and sometimes it makes us a little skiddish! I think sometimes I may be one that is straight forward with people, I don't know. Maybe I make people uneasy to be around me. I pray not because how we see ourselves and how we are actually seen can be two different avenues.
Over the years I have learned that being straight is the best but doing it with the best attitude and kindness is the key. (That's what I pray I do!) It seems some people talk all around a issue without saying anything. They "almost" say something. It wears down the hearer to hear with so many words but it makes us leary to hear words spoken straight. I know there are those who are straight forward and have no idea of how they sound. They do more harm than good. But for those who talk straight to our heart, with words that help us see even though it might have a little sting in it, they do us good!
Thank the Lord for those in your life that can confront problems head on pointing the way to the narrow road. Thank the Lord for those who are quiet but stand firm on the principles of the Lord. They are a stable rock and even though they say little, they speak in the lives and commitments. Above all, "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ." (Eph. 4:15) Love should be the motivation behind it all and for that, be thankful when someone corrects or tries to help you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Character Counts"

Our lives are to be lived with character. The virtue of a person is seen in the way they approach life and live life. Too many approach their life just by simply possessing religion. Truth needs to be held to and upheld but the truth should lead us into deeper things such as a deep conviction that affects our character. Character is what gives you the ability to stand firm, be trustworthy under difficult circumstances. Character gives one the ability to say 'no' when 'no' needs to be said. Character is a matter of the heart.
We know people that talk about the Lord and His word but they change their character according to who they are around. A friend of mine was sharing with me while he was in the military that all his 'buddies' smoked, so he smoked. They would use profane language so he used profane language at times. He spoke to them about the Lord, trying to look like he cared but his true character came out as he practiced what the others did. I could only imagine what they must have really thought about him while he thought himself as something different.
It is easy to confess with the mouth that Jesus is Lord but our Lord insisted that to call on Him as "Lord, Lord" means nothing and counts for nothing if we do not do the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21). To hear the gospel message and believe the gospel truth is necessary but that faith must translate into our lives to a conviction of upright and honest behavior. Too many are talking about the forgiveness the Lord offers us, His atoning sacrifice on our behalf and the depth of love in which He loves us and it ends there. It is like forgiveness and being forgiven is all there is and the only thing worth talking about. It is like forgiveness is the be all and end all in our lives. Forgiveness is what draws us toward the Lord. Our character is the heart within us like God's heart, going after the things of God, walking the ways of God and putting away of the things that defile us. (It takes a character of heart to discern what we need to involve ourselves in and keep ourselves from.)
God is after our hearts! He is not after someone able to quote some verses and look good religiously. Our heavenly Father wants our hearts to have some firm conviction to mold our lives into the very character of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Forgiveness is not an end in itself! Transformed hearts and character is God's central agenda. A heart for the Lord will align with Him. There is too much "looking like" religion, "talking like" religion and little standing and living with the Lord. Peter said because of our salvation and security in Christ: "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'" (I Pet. 1:15-16) Too many are just aligning with the Lord in legal terms but we need to align with the Lord from a heart in a living relationship that pursues His holiness in our lives!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Another Word About Preaching"

I guess I'm on a preaching kick this week. I'm not sure why other than it makes me take an honest look at me in light of the Lord. Those who stand before the people of God, either in class or the assembly, need to realize the need. Jesus went about healing at times, helping the weak and compassionate but in each and every case, He taught. Jesus did more than just meet needs and cater to their bodies, He taught truth because they needed truth, they needed light, they needed the words of God as revealed in the gospel and covenant!
That leads me to this: those who profess to be called by God to minister the word need to pay attention to their calling! Too many are involved in every civic organization and other earthly projects in their community. These things aren't wrong in themselves but they can taint our calling and a little here and there of our preaching/teaching starts being filled with such. The role of holding up the God of the covenant in the blood of Christ is something that is most serious.
Preachers add their little ideas of psychological therapy which they have gleaned from a few books. They are entertainers, a few jokes, a little comical to 'loosen up' the assembly. They try to reach the emotional aspect of the listeners lives with little tidbits here and there. It all becomes quite a show because we are so focused on being liked and well received. Now please don't thrash me here. There are others that are so harsh and lacking sense in their teaching, you are left wondering, "What in the world was that all about?" You leave confused with not one morsel to feed upon. These are some observances that has caught my attention over the years and it seems to get worse. I have gone to "monthly preachers meetings" in the area and not one word about the seriousness of our roles in line with this gospel and covenant.
If you're a preacher and reading this, why not think about the last sermon you preached. What did you teach about God? Who heard God? Did the saints hear you, focus on you and your life? Who heard about God who came to us in Jesus Christ to deal with our sins? (It amazes me how so many in Christ do not even know they are saved! The best is they hope they are! No assurances because we aren't sure of our God.) Who heard about God's eternal purpose to give us fullness of immortal life so that we can live in a God-imitating way and peace with one another? Who in our sermon was confronted with God? Does anyone know where the power of God lay? Not in the preacher!!! The gospel for pity sakes!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"God Is Aware"

The news of Jesus spread all over the land. People had heard of His healings and power over spiritual powers. As Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, he was passing between Samaria and Galilee, entering a village. Ten leprous men standing at a distance, raised the voices speaking, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! " (Luke 17) They were in need of His help in their helpless situation. Jesus had mercy and helped and they were healed. But something commanded His attention. Only one man, an outsider that was not part of Jewish nation, came back, fell at the feet of Jesus giving Him thanks. Jesus noticed the other nine showed no gratitude in return. Here they were, outcasts because of leprosy, doomed to lived in seclusion away from friends and family and Jesus did them a great favor. They got what they wanted and off they ran with little regard for the Lord.
Over the years I have seen this. People in difficult situations, calling, asking for prayers and help. They seemed to be heart-broke. The Lord helps and they are never seen again! People who have little regard for the things of God and one day their marriage is in deep trouble. They want to save their marriage, start reaching out to bible studies, prayer and the brethren. They rarely assembled with the saints and now they never miss. As their marriage mends, you see them a step at a time turn back to what they were before. The Lord helped and rescued while they turn back to the very world that caused their troubles to begin with. I always know that they will have to be rescued again, but the next time the result will be much different.
People seem to want the Lord when in trouble but have little to do with Him when things are good. That is faithless. Faith, true saving faith, always acknowledges God and moves a person toward the Lord. The faithless are 'users' and they try to use anyone to their advantage to help them in their need. Once their need is met, they move to the next part of their life. I've watched women who struggle in relationships. They find a man and you don't see them. The relationship breaks up and here they are...until the next man comes along.
God abounds in loving-kindness, compassion and is gracious to us frail and weak humans. In God's loving-kindness He will never allow man to abuse or misuse His graciousness. The opportunities He gives each of us to respond and move are from a heart of love. One day the users will seek and there will be no help, no answers because God sees the intentions of the heart. Humility and gratitude toward the Lord will lead you upward into Him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"A Thought On Preaching"

What I want to say today is something over the 30 yrs. of preaching I have learned through my listening and reading. I might be talking to myself! Most what we hear from our pulpits is the same tired 'moralising' week after week after week after week. You can count on the certain days that one could almost recite the sermon! Just this last week, I heard from 4 different people living in different areas and they said they knew almost exactly the sermon on mothers day that would be spoken. There isn't a lot said that challenges us to reflect deeply on our faith. There are some good thoughts presented at times, but to develop and challenge our faith seems to be missing. The same things we are so familiar with continually seem to be 'regurgitated'. Please, I don't mean to sound pompous or have a "know it all attitude" but I guess some will see this writing in that light. It sure isn't intended in that light. Nevertheless, the church is in dire need of hearing the whole rich counsel of God and our faith confronted with the God who calls us into His holiness through His gospel.
Prayers that are spoken to God on our behalf sometimes come from a shirt-pocket full of the same old same old with little spoken from the heart on behalf of our needs and awareness of God. Who can say "amen" when prayers are muttered like that? To lead the people of God in worship to His name are prayers that should be heard, by God and the assembly! If we are to sing our faith in the assembly we should make certain that the assembly is hearing, speaking to one another as we address our heavenly Father. We preach/teach in the midst of God's people we should be helping each one stand before the awesome and mighty One, seeing His grandeur and challenging our faith to be molded more and more into the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8: 29). As we preach/teach God should stand before us! Too many preaching/teaching are calling the attention to themselves. It's about them and their lives while the rest are left sitting and listening endlessly while their faith is left without so much as ripple going across it. It is our responsibility as preachers to pay the price in prayerful study and serious reflection on God's word to help God's people draw convictions or at least make sure we make it available. Rich messages from God's word will create a hunger within those faithful hearing and it should. Too many are filling time with endless words we have heard or words that never touch the Lord. It makes for a wearied and tired congregation. It makes me realize the accountability before the Lord that we answer for and that should stir the sincere of heart!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Gripe, Gripe Your Face Is A Sight!"

I remember in my youth one of my teachers never put up with complaining in her classroom. One day a fellow by the name of Rick, a notorious complainer about everyone and everything, walked into her classroom, noticed she had rearranged the seating and he didn't like it. He had something wrong with his eyes and couldn't see that well. As he let her know with his whiny complaining, she looked at him and said, "Gripe, gripe your face is a sight!" It's funny how things like that stick with you.
We also see this today. There are too many complainers. There are people who complain when things go well! Some people have grumbled so long, they think it is a normal part of life. We see them in the church, our homes, our jobs and our friendships. No matter what comes, good or bad, they find something to grumble about. Grumblers rob people of good! I've heard fathers rob their children of something innocent because of a 'grumbly' disposition. (I might be talking about me!!!) Don't we realize people don't like to be around grumblers and complainers? Do we not realize God doesn't approve of grumbling and questionings?
Paul was a prisoner. He sat in the recess of the dungeons, chained as a common criminal, amidst the rats, filth and true criminals and wrote the book of Philippians. What was his crime? He love and preached about His Lord! In his letter, he told the Philippians to "do all things without grumbling and disputing." (Phil. 2:14) Grumbling and disputing (or questionings) are not part of God's word. We are to work out our salvation we possess and that means we stop the grumbling and disputing! Unbelievers grumble! When we talk about grumblers, it is not necessarily out loud. The word means "an undertone to secretly complain." Disputing arise out of grumbling which can bring about an argument.
Grumbling and disputing were the characteristics that caused the nation of Israel's downfall. Grumbling and disputing are nothing more than spiritual rebellion! When people grumble, in many cases they stretch the truth about a situation or problem. Go back and read Numbers 21:1-9 and you will see this.
Grumblers, complainers are stopping God's work in them (Phil. 2:13). There are things that happen we might not like but it might be for our betterment. Sometimes things need to happen to teach us to trust, to walk with a good attitude and gain insight from the Lord. Jude speaks of those in the church that are not in a right relationship with the Lord. Here is how they are described: "Grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." (Jude 16)
To take a good attitude, look for the good in situations is what proves us to be children of God in the midst of a crooked world (Phil. 2:15). The only way others can see the Lord is through us! It's God at work in us and through us. Grumblers never help in the home, the workplace or the church. They hinder the work of God and yes, their face is a sight!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Our Words"

One of the most serious teachings found in the Bible is often over-looked. Little time and effort is devoted to it. Jesus spoke that our 'yes' is to be 'yes' and our 'no' is to be 'no.' (Matt. 5:37). I hear people use the statement, "Don't sweat the small stuff!" That's simply not true. Jesus said it was the "small stuff" that reveals the real character of a person! (Luke 16:10-12).
Our words have great meaning in the eyes of the Lord. The little things matter and should matter to us. You hear someone say, "I'll call you back!" and they never do. Or someone says, "Ill be there in about 20 minutes." and several hours later they show up. What do things like this reveal about the character of the person? What's worse is when people make commitments with their mouths and never follow through, there is no apology, no remorse and if you ask them that they should have at least let you know, they start their little world of sulking or irritation like you did the wrong! Sometimes people just flat out fail in their words and never do anything, not even showing up!
Our words and work with the small things in our lives are so important. If we can't be honest and sincere in the small, Jesus said we will never be honest and sincere in the big! That's just a spiritual fact. Sometimes people have well intentions but intentions are not what life is about. It is about service, dependability and trustworthiness. That's what our relationship to the Lord should make us all. The Lord builds character, our character. Just as a thief that puts on the Lord Jesus is to steal no longer but work with their hands to have something to share with others (Eph. 4:28). The Lord is suppose to make a difference.
Yes, sometimes we fail but those that are sensitive in their faithfulness acknowledge that quickly and are humble and repentant over their failure. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and the humble in heart are quick to make certain that statement of 'yes' or 'no' is accounted for by contacting the one we gave our word to. It's those who never acknowledge, never keep what they say that is troublesome. It is about living a virtuous life!
There is nothing greater than when a person says they will do something, they do it! They do it when they say they will do it and if they can't, they immediately respond. They are concerned about their character before the Lord. They are concerned about dependability and trustworthiness. Our words are directly tied to our heart and what is going on in the heart is revealed by our words. That should make us all pause and know that the little things we commit to reveal volumes about our lives and character. Can people trust and depend on what you say?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Unconditional Love"

Many times we have heard people say that God's love is "unconditional." There is some truth to that but it can also be destructive if we don't grasp what that means. To say we are loved no matter what kind of person we are has a downside and can be misleading.
To love someone in a true godly and healthy sense means that you want the better for that individual. That's what the love of God shows us. His love was demonstrated, calling us upward to Himself and out of our state of sin. A love that doesn't draw us upward is not really love. Too many are living in the "unconditional" love stage and never move toward what is good, holy and righteous. Take your child for instance. To say you love them "unconditionally" when they are rebellious, living like a bum, have no care for themselves or others is very harmful to them. To not correct them, to not draw them to a better way of living and the outreach to their soul is not love! To love "unconditionally" with all this in mind is lacking understanding and character.
In our relationships to one another, if it is based on God's love, we must be concerned about the character of the others. Not only the others character but ours as well. If someone says they love me I would want them to help me grow toward the Lord in things that are worthwhile, into the image of Christ. That would mean they have my best interest at heart. I am not talking about those who sit around and just look for things to pick on in another. That's loveless! I am talking about those who really care for my eternal well being and Christ is the center of their heart. Our "unconditional" love is sometimes nothing more than our 'goo' sugar coated statements and has nothing to do with growing toward the Lord. To love with the love of God is to enrich one another in the glorious things of God. I've watched over the years too many parents, their children are walking in ways contrary to the Lord, and those parents protect their godless ways by making excuses for them. That is harmful to their child and themselves! Love wants and will correct those to the truth (I Cor. 13).
Love also tells those who move toward a godly character they have done well. It encourages them to continue. Love speaks both to building when on the wrong path and encouraging as strides are made.
As with everything, we as humans seem to go to the extremes in both cases. Too many note every little mistake and every little bit of success is praised too lavishly. Love has a balance to it. Learning from God what He expects will help us help one another in our walk. Love expects proper responses both in praise and correction!

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Matthew 18:35"

It amazes me how unforgiving some people are while proclaiming they are children of God. A child of God is forgiven but that forgiveness sometimes never translates into their lives to be forgiving. The ability to forgive or the lack thereof will determine the eternal destiny of many a child of God. We've seen where someone in the church is offended and their unwillingness to forgive pushes them out the door and off to somewhere else. In their mind set, it never occurred to them that just because one leaves and goes somewhere else, they are still unacceptable to the Lord. We have also seen where someone doesn't leave because they were hurt or offended but held to such a grudge they refuse to speak or be in the presence of the offender. They too are unacceptable to the Lord.
Forgiveness is the very heart and nature of God. We seem to draw lines between the "ability" to forgive and the "willingness" to forgive. People make statements like, "I will forgive but I don't forget!" The bluntness of Jesus in Matt. 18:35 should send chills up and down those with the attitude of unwilling to forgive another. Jesus said there is no pretence. One MUST forgive another from the heart or there is no forgiveness from the Lord! You can't say you forgive while within your being you hold to some icy, hostile feelings toward another. Do we not realize the Lord knows our hearts?
The death of Jesus and His forgiveness toward you is revealed in your willingness to forgive others. Matt. 18:35 is there for our hearts to accept and we seem to to be very good at finding a reason to hold on to really bad things!