God Wants To Bless You

God Wants To Bless You

 

“We have been made right in God’s sight by faith…” Romans 5:1

 

            Bethel Church sat on a quiet road on twelve acres of well-tended land. Across the parking lot was a very nice parsonage. There were six primary families who had the vision for Bethel and saw to it that their vision became a reality. In the process, they confused building the church with “owning” the church.

            As the head elder Bud would say, “We have the responsibility to keep an eye on the pastor just to make certain sure he don’t go down any wrong trails.” They took their jobs very seriously. So far six pastors failed to make the grade. A seventh was about to find the door out.

            An emergency meeting had been called to discuss the pastor. A young believer sat in the meeting, astounded by the petty, ridiculous accusations leveled at the pastor. He knew him to be a man of love; a man who guided his young life to trust in the Lord. With tear-filled eyes he stood and reminded the people of God’s desire for believers to walk in love, to practice forgiveness and pray for healing. Instead, one of the founding fathers smiled and said, “Well son, we know you mean well but you’re young yet. Some day you will understand. Now let’s have the vote so we can start looking for a new pastor.”

            The next morning, the pastor called the young man over for coffee and a little help in preparing for the move.

            Laying his hand on his Bible the pastor said, “Son, God’s Word will never fail or let us down. He has seen to it that the answers to all our problems can be found between these pages. Let me show you an important section in the book of Romans.”

            Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

            “What a wonderful set of promises,” said the Pastor. “You will notice that it does not say anything about having perfect conditions or a place of prominence. These promises are based on our decision to believe in Jesus Christ; in spite of any problems we might have. And they have nothing to do with our performance. Notice the word undeserved!

“We can’t stop reading there. To fully understand how God works, let’s keep reading.”

            Romans 5:3-5  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

            “Now, let’s look at some verses spoken by Jesus in the book of Matthew.

           Matthew 6:9-15  Pray like this:  Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

            “Here is a powerful prayer given to us by Jesus Himself. Look at what he says about forgiveness, ‘forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven…’ As we pray this, we are agreeing with God to put a condition on our forgiveness. We are saying, forgive me in the same way I forgive others who have sinned against me. You see how it plays out? If we don’t forgive others He can’t forgive us. Now that is a place I do not want to be in with God.

“So, when I consider these verses, I have no choice but to believe that God was not taken by surprise when our tenure here was cut short and that He has another place for us to go. What God considers most important is how I react to this trial. Do I allow Him to change me by this or do I stomp off mad, pouting in a corner somewhere? We mustn’t forget the words of James either.”

            James 1:2-4  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

            “And as I read James last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Matthew as well.”

            Matthew 5:11-12  God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

            “Son, I fully believe all the words that God has placed in our Bible and I have placed my life in His hands. I understand your feelings of hurt and outrage over what happened to me but you’ve got to go to His word and see what He says about life. The Bible is not buffet style, where we pick and choose which verses we consider important or relevant for today. If you want to follow the Lord, you must give it all up to Him. Believe me, you will never regret it. Never.”

 

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The Power of Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness

“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” 1 Jn 1:9

Not so long ago I watched a video entitled, The Power of Forgiveness; a video every Christian should see. In my life as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have learned one powerful principle that never changes: Unless we personalize the problem, violation, or catastrophe we cannot begin to understand how those involved may feel. That message comes through with life-altering results in this video.

The man who compiled the video is 50-years-old, a Christian, and a teacher of Biblical forgiveness. One day, his life was shattered by a young criminal who decided to creep into his Mother’s home on New Year’s Eve. The lights were out so he thought the occupants were probably at a party. He broke a window, entered and let in a friend. During their pillaging, the lights suddenly came on and a woman in her seventies (the mother of the man who made the video) confronted these youths.

What were they to do? Someone had seen them. Using the crowbar that he smashed a window with, one of the young men began beating her on the head until she was bludgeoned to death. Later, on New Year’s Day, Dr. Everett J. Worthington, the Executive Director of the Templeton Foundation’s Campaign for Forgiveness Research said, “I had spent most of the day with my brother and sister, going over what had happened to our mother, never once considering forgiveness. As a matter of fact, in the room where we sat was a baseball bat and I said, ‘If I could get to him, I would use this bat to bludgeon him to death.’ Where was my forgiveness?”

Another case in the video was that of two young men who grew up together and were in their twenties. At a party one night, fighting broke out and a friend of these two was attacked and had a severe head wound. Wanting vengeance, one of the men began brutally attacking every male at the party. He was strong and violent, pummeling all the men he could. Finally they headed to the E.R. for stitches but he wanted more vengeance. His best friend said it was not a good idea and he was not willing to return. So the violent young man returned to inflict more damage and the other went home (they lived together) and to bed.

As he lay sleeping, five men from the party, wanting to get revenge, slipped into the house and stabbed him to death, thinking he had been involved since they knew where they lived. The police were called and he was taken to the local E.R., hoping to resuscitate him. They rushed his bloody body into the E.R. And a team of doctors and nurses attempted to bring him back. After being declared dead, one of the nurses got his wallet to see his identity. It was her son! Her first thought was, what was my son’s wallet doing in this person’s pocket? And then she looked at his face for the first time: it was her son. She is a Christian and it was her turn to learn about God’s forgiveness.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.” We all have something to forgive in our lives.

From the video: Forgiveness has its origin in God, who is just and merciful. As humans, however, we struggle with being just, forgiving, and merciful. Our natural impulse is to seek revenge and to make things fair. Forgiveness goes against what we would do, left to ourselves.

Forgiveness is not about ignoring, excusing, or forgetting a wrong that has happened. It involves a decision to extend mercy or cancel a debt. Luke 23:32-34. Luke 23:39-43.

“We want to see justice!,” Dr. Worthington said. “We have a strong desire to punish wrongdoing even at the expense of mercy. Forgiveness never entered my mind. Truly, with Jesus Christ as our Lord, there is no situation that we cannot forgive.”

The nurse whose dead son she cradled in her bloody arms said, “When we become Christians, we leave forgiveness, anger and hatred right at the foot of the Cross. The Lord reminded me that ALL my sins are forgiven so I have no right not to forgive.”

Forgiving is a choice. Just as Jesus chose to forgive those who beat and crucified him, we must obey God and forgive others. Forgiveness is a gift we choose to unwrap daily and use to heal our hearts and minds. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of hatred, anger, rage and bitterness. If we do not forgive, we are not free to move forward.

Matthew 6:14-15  “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Only God can heal us unconditionally. He wants us to live in wholeness and healing instead of hatred. God can put love in our hearts.

“One of the hardest  things to do is forgive ourselves for our sins,” says Dr. Worthington. “How can I have the abundant life? What about my sins? God’s love is available but sometimes we won’t allow Him to forgive us or show us love. God has taken away all our sins. The blood of Jesus cleanses all of us and we must forgive ourselves. God gives us mercy as we forgive. Who am I to refuse to forgive myself or someone else when Christ has forgiven me?”

Eph. 4:32   ”Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Col. 3:12-13  “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Matt. 5:7  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Lord God, help all of us see how dependent we are on Your forgiveness, which is freely given and never merited by anything that we could ever do. When we are hurt and mistreated, teach us to forgive the offenders, as you do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*This is a revised version of a study written in May 2011.

What’s Past Is Past

What’s Past Is Past

 

“Do not call to mind the former things”  Isaiah 43:18

“How time flies,” he said to himself as he sat alone on the deck of his favorite restaurant, overlooking the river. “I had so many plans and ideas; so many ways to show God’s love and mercy through stories, articles and a few books too. What happened? Did I just throw my life away because of laziness or fear?”

   At that point the server brought his dinner which forced him to come back to the present, not dwell in the past. And then it hit him, or rather, the Holy Spirit reminded him; life is lived in the present, the here-and-now, not in the past. “I guess I’ll have to get a to-go container for this food,” he said as he shoved his dinner across the table and grabbed his smartphone and the notepad he always carried. Time for a refresher in God’s word.

   Isaiah 43:18 ~”Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.”

   2 Corinthians 5:17 ~”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

   Ephesians 4:21-24 ~”If you have really heard his voice and learned from him the truths concerning himself, then throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and sham.

   Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.”

   Romans 6:4 ~ “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”

   As always, delving into the Bible brought answers, relief, encouragement and “peace that passes human understanding.” Imagine, in the same way that Jesus was raised from the dead by God’s glorious power, we may now live new lives! Not by our power or  mind-over-matter, but by His glorious power our lives can be transformed minute by minute. What a relief!

   Romans 7:6 ~”Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”

   Romans 12:2 ~”Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.”

   Ephesians 2:10 ~”For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

   Philippians 3:13 ~Brothers and sisters. . .I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me

   Colossians 3:10 ~”You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.

   There, it happened again, reading God’s Word had brought peace and hope; assurance that God has paved the narrow path with His love and guidance. These verses are promises from God Himself; a perfect series of reminders that the past is just that, past. He has already prepared the way to live our lives for Him as we fully trust in Him, relying on the Holy Spirit. He’s done the impossible part, we are to do the human part. Living in the past is not an option.

God…The Great Dispenser of Stuff?

God…The Great Dispenser of Stuff?

“You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” Psalm 97

Lawrence beamed at the capacity audience in San Francisco; the sixth stop of his Worldwide Evangelical Movement tour. “God is sitting on his throne, waiting for you to give him a hint. That’s right, God is leaning forward, anxious to hear your requests so he can give you what you desire in the deepest place in your heart. He made you to abide with him some day and until that day, he wants to make you happy and satisfied.

“Have you been passed over for that promotion? God knows and wants to release the blessings of that new job to you. Can’t find that special person to complete you? God is aware of that missing piece in your puzzle of life as well. What about the home you keep driving by, wishing it was yours? Yes, my friends, God is fully aware of your needs and he wants to fulfill them, make you happy and give you the greatest, most fulfilling experience that life has to offer.

“I know some of you are thinking something like, ‘How can I ever afford that home I truly want? I need a better job and less debt.’ Friends, God is the God of satisfaction and delight. He made you and knows how to make you satisfied and content on this earth as you prepare for eternal life with him.

Lawrence became silent, walking back and forth on the platform, scanning the audience as he moved. And then, “What is the key to unlocking God’s blessings, you ask? Sacrifice. Yes, it is sacrifice. Think of how he showed his love for us. Sacrifice! He sacrificed his own Son so we could have this wonderful life. And now he expects us to learn that same sacrifice. God GAVE so we could live and now it is our turn. We must sacrificially GIVE to release those blessings from heaven.”

By now Lawrence was commanding the audience with his fine-tuned and powerful voice, it was as though he hypnotized them…”Give, give give. Sacrificially give. Give when you don’t think you can. God is waiting. Release those blessings from the throne of God.” They were on their feet as the army of ushers passed buckets across the rows of excited, believing people.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you have, perhaps secretly, desires that God will bring to pass to make your life better? Desires of more money, better job, better marriage, better body, bigger house? If you do, admit it to God. As the famous southern pastor, J. Vernon Mcgee once said, “You might as well tell Him because He knows anyway.”

God does understand our secret desires of wealth, health, homes, trips, etc. But what he wants for us is far better. Does anyone really believe that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to live and die for us so that we could have more money, bigger homes, better cars, and more fun? Jesus did give sacrificially, didn’t he? His sacrifice was given freely so you and I could experience redemption and forgiveness of sins. Surely we can see clearly that Christ did not experience such an excruciating torture and death so we could accumulate more stuff on earth.

Psalm 97:1-5 “The Lord rules! Let the earth rejoice! Let all the islands celebrate! Clouds and thick darkness surround God. His throne is built on righteousness and justice. Fire proceeds before him, burning up his enemies on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees it and trembles! The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of the whole world!”

Our lives are actually spiritual. As such our warfare is taking place in the spiritual realms, every day…every hour. God’s great sacrifice has made it possible for us to walk in the spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit. As we gear up each day with the Armor of God, we engage in the battle with God as our guide. Do you see material things as important in this daily battle for souls and lives?

Ephesians 6:10-13 “In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.”

Men and women who claim to speak for God but seek to gratify their flesh are, in truth, serving the enemy of our soul and feeding their own flesh. The Bible tells us to die to the flesh:

Romans 8:12-16 “So then, my brothers, you can see that we have no particular reason to feel grateful to our sensual nature, or to live life on the level of the instincts. Indeed that way of living leads to certain spiritual death. But if on the other hand you cut the nerve of your instinctive actions by obeying the Spirit, you are on the way to real living.

All who follow the leading of God’s Spirit are God’s own sons. Nor are you meant to relapse into the old slavish attitude of fear—you have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, “Father, my Father”. The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. Think what that means. If we are his children we share his treasures, and all that Christ claims as his will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his suffering we shall certainly share in his glory.”

A man left his house early one morning to attend a Bible study. It was then he saw an obstacle! A flat tire. Not low but dead flat. He had no time to change a tire. He pondered his situation and felt God nudge him to have faith that He would take care of the tire. So, he prayed and believed that God would do the impossible.

He drove three miles to a gas station, filled the tire with air and drove to the study. The tire never leaked or deflated again. Life is spiritual!

Letter To A Believer

Letter To A Believer

Quill and Ink

Hello my dear follower-of-Jesus. I appreciate your God-focused life and dedication to hearing the Master’s Voice in everything you do. Praise God

Clearly, attempting to solve the financial mess our world is now in, falls under the category of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. It is the world, and attempting to solve its problems will never lead people to ultimate salvation. The mess the world is in right now is simply a manifestation of sin! We have only to remember the flood, and why God caused it. “There is nothing new under the sun.” If we work diligently at solving physical problems and neglect the message of the cross, we have thrown away our efforts.

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

I love your hunger for the Lord; your dedication to keeping your light of eternal hope brightly burning. Just reflect on the words of Christ while he was preaching and teaching here on earth, he commanded us to help widows and orphans and love! Love each other and our enemies! He also taught us to forgive, be humble, tolerant and patient, long suffering, etc.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace,

David

 

Promises

Promises

“I promise. It will be ok!”

“Don’t worry. I promise I won’t do that anymore!”

“I’ll be there by 5 p.m. to pick you up, Son. I promise!”

“I promise, I’ll never hit you again!”

“I am so sorry I hurt you. I’ll never do that again. I promise. Just don’t leave me!”

“I am so, so sorry I took the money. Believe me, it will never, ever happen again. I promise!”

These are empty promises—words without power or substance, uttered in moments of fear, shame, control. If you’ve heard them spoken to you, you understand the frail hope that they mean it this time. You can remember the times of sadness and sorrow…sometimes of pain.

If you’ve uttered them to someone, usually a friend or loved one, you remember feelings of shame, guilt, fear of exposure or worse, control. And if forgiven, you begin the cycle of dread, knowing you’ve no power to stop or change.

Years pass and we learn to forge ahead, looking for friends or lovers who won’t be promise-breakers, but finding that we are somehow desensitizing ourselves, missing out on true friendships and love as we construct impregnable walls of protection. Walls that kill hope and dilute love.

Life does not have to be lived inside a walled city of dulled emotions and shattered love. There actually is an answer that will release and protect our inmost desires and pent-up feelings; an answer so powerful and true that rewards us with new life, hope and love. This is a never-failing, all encompassing, deeply loving answer supplied by the lover of our soul…our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Whispering down through the hallways of time and eternity, His “still, small voice” may be perceived in our hearts as we rearrange the furniture inside our city of refuge. A voice birthed in the perfection of servanthood; a voice of sacrificial love and obedience; a voice refined by scorning, mocking, testing, betrayal, torture, and death. And a voice perfected by the earth-shattering victory over death…Resurrection.

And now, sitting at His Father’s right hand, speaking up for us, He whispers, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

He knows how difficult it will be to leave the security of our walled-in existence so He comes to us, penetrating our defenses, to build us up hope by hope, comfort by comfort, assurance by assurance. His eternal, forgiving love transcends all our frailties, sins, fears and guilt. “Don’t be anxious about anything,” He explains, “but in every situation, present your requests to Me and I will give you, in place of all your uneasiness, the peace of God to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”

He cannot lie. He will not lie. He gave His life for you and me because His love was so strong for us. He was willing to face a painful death to set us free and give us a new life…a life outside the walls.

After Easter

After Easter

After Easter

Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does the question sort of haunt you, make you curious or seem impossible? Then take time to read this booklet, “After Easter: How Christ’s Resurrection Changed Everything”

Small in size, this booklet, which includes the entire Gospel of John from the New Testament, packs a powerful punch with easy to follow narrative coupled with Bible verses to facilitate the reader’s understanding while answering most questions regarding the resurrection of Christ. Did Jesus walk out of his tomb after being dead three days? Reading “After Easter” will answer that question without long paragraphs filled with theological wanderings. The writers seem determined to briefly and clearly tell the tale of His death and resurrection which amount to three days that changed the course of history.

Not only did Jesus walk away from his grave clothes but in so doing, he opened the door for the forgiveness of the sins of the world and a pathway into eternal life. As the writers take us step by step from his birth to the eternally planned death, burial and resurrection, we see the building blocks of God’s magnificent and costly plan of salvation, offered to all of mankind. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we may enter an eternal destination which leads to perfection with God.

Read this book to answer resurrection-related questions that may have you curious, concerned or perplexed. And keep in mind the Gospel of John is included as a bonus.