Quick to Label, Slow to Love
Far right! Far left! Liberal, conservative, progressive, moderate, straight, gay! We live is a culture that is quick to Label, but slow to Love. Labels that often hurt, and almost always divide. Jesus lived in a similar world: publican, Pharisee, leper, sinner, adulteress, tax collector, Jew, Gentile, Galilean and Samaritan. Will Heaven be as divided? Hardly! Our sins will be placed in the sea of forgetfulness. (Micah 7:18-19) Even on Earth, the Bible says, “…all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28, NLT) So, bring a little Heaven to Earth. Remember what the Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…” (Romans 12:9. NLT)
Winners Not Whiners
At one point in my life, I didn’t thank God for anything, and blamed Him for everything! Yet, none of us have been short-changed by God. We’ve all been “lavishly overpaid.” He hasn’t cheated any of us. The final chapter is not in. Don’t give up on your life! God hasn’t! How’s He doing? Great! So, if God’s doing great and I’m following Him and trusting Him, then I should be doing great also; as far as my perspective and attitude is concerned. When a team wins the Super Bowl, every one of their players wins also. They may not have played for one second, but they’re still winners. If you’re with God, you’re created to be a winner…not a whiner! The Bible affirms this, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)
Celebrating Our Differences
Can we still celebrate our differences, or has peer pressure become so pronounced in our society that we have to walk lock-step in order to be heard and accepted? When the Bible says, “God made the woman for the man…” (1 Corinthians 11:9) should this offend women? Or regarding the humorous quote, “God made the man before the woman, because you always make the rough draft before the masterpiece.” Should this sentence diminish me as a man? Hardly! It makes me smile. Even more than that, it reminds me of God’s exhortation to me: “…but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) Opposites are meant to attract and to accompany; so we should celebrate our diversity. I don’t compete with my wife, I complement her. Celebrate the differences in the people around you, and you’ll begin to see others as God does.
You Sleep with God!
A three-year old ran into her parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night saying, “Mommy, I’m scared,” The mother, who was only half-awake whispered, “Go back to bed, sweetheart. God will be there with you.” The little girl stood still for a moment and after pondering what he Mom had said, blurted out, “Mommy, I’ll sleep here with Daddy and you go in there and sleep with God.” HA! It’s a funny story, but with a profound reality. Sometimes, we need to see and sense God in a human being, not just in the Spirit by ourselves. Be God-in-the-flesh today! Someone needs to see Jesus in you! “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.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)
Reclaiming Your Childhood
I want to tear down every stronghold in my life. I want God to rip them out by their roots! The Bible says, “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NKJV) All of us are in a battle to pull down strongholds in our mind…from our past. Strongholds of fear, bitterness, selfishness, anger, lust, pride, depression and unbelief. These are high places, where we sacrifice our future. Or, we can regain the ground once conceded to the enemy of our souls, “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NKJV) It’s time to recover from the wounds of your past. It’s time to redeem your thought-life.
Externally Attractive vs. Eternally Attractive
We live in a world that’s obsessed with being externally attractive, not eternally attractive. So, don’t be distracted if God’s will on Earth look’s unattractive. It may be unattractive to buy a used car…to downsize…to not be in a relationship…to shop at Good Will…to rent a house. But, low tide is the best time to buy in. And only God knows what low tide looks like. It looks like: a baby in a manger…like having your back to the Red Sea…like facing off with 450 prophets of Baal…like three men in a fiery furnace …like a Man hanging on a cross and a large stone sealing His tomb. You’ll need to hear from God before you buy into your “low tide” circumstances. Faith comes by hearing and obeying, (Romans 10:17), and only faith pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Dissatisfaction in Advertisements
Why are so many people dissatisfied? In part, it’s because the world’s advertisers want to keep you discontented. They can’t make any money if you’re satisfied with your life. You’ll never hear a commercial say, “You’ve got to be content with what you have…our product won’t give you contentment. Save your money and buy only what you really need.” What if you can’t afford to buy the house, the cars, and the clothes? There’s nothing wrong with having nice things if it’s God’s will for your life…if they don’t have you…and if you can afford them. “Being content makes poor men rich, and being discontent makes rich men poor.” (Randy Alcorn) Life, that is truly life, has nothing to do with money. Truly living is giving, sharing, and being generous. Jesus said, “You’ll be happier giving!” (Acts 20:35)
Because there’s a loving God who created us with purpose, we each have a destiny; a script written before the foundation of the world. When we say destiny, we mean our future in God, not just in Heaven, but here on Earth. How do you see your future? Even at Paul the Apostle’s lowest moments he still looked forward to what God had ahead of him. He wrote, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV) That’s what the Christian life is about: looking forward: It will take faith, hope, and love, but He will give you the grace you need. Look forward! God’s perfect will, is waiting for you there.
Divisions in Our Society
Are you struggling with the divisions in our society? Most Americans are! Seventy-seven percent of all voters, think Americans are less tolerant of each other’s political opinions than in the past. Forty percent say the last election has negatively affected their personal relationship with a friend or family member. (Barna Group) And that really hurts! Frankly, we are less tolerant of others. Tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with…” It doesn’t say we have to like or agree with someone else’s opinions or behavior, but it really is essential in order to coexist in a pluralistic society. The Bible says, “…if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15, ESV)
Listen to God and Live!
There’s a waterfall in Yosemite National Park in California called Vernal Falls, with some startling signs. After climbing a narrow trail to the top of the falls, a sign reads, “Extremely dangerous area ahead!” Clear enough! But a few feet later, another says, “Smooth slippery rocks…moving water…stay back from the water’s edge.” A little stronger! But, just in case you missed the point, the sign ends with, “If you slip and go over the water fall you will die!” Wow! How do they know that? Because, people went further…and died! Hmm? Are you heeding God’s warnings? Your life depends on it. Paul the Apostle was on a ship that was about to be destroyed. He told everyone, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:32) They listened and lived. Listen to God’s warnings, and live!
Mule Fell into a Well
A man’s mule fell into a well. But there was no way to get it out. He decided he’d get a shovel and cover her up. It would be cruel, but less cruel than letting the mule starve to death. So, the man took a shovelful of dirt and threw it down the well. We’ve all felt the dirt of failure, pain, and hopelessness pile on us. We’ve been smothered by our sin, our mistakes. But, every time a shovelful of dirt hit the mule, she’d shake it off and stomp it. Before long, the mule had shaken off enough dirt, so that she was high enough to jump out of the well. That’s what Jesus did for us. Our sin was piled on Him. He stomped it under His feet, conquering sin and death that we might live.
Rock in a Faucet Story
My twin brother Joe had a kitchen faucet with no water pressure at all. So, the city sent out a work crew to dig up the street and find the problem. After working all day, they couldn’t figure it out. Joe then said, “It’s really weird, because the faucet in the bathroom works great!” At that point, the foreman’s eyes got real big. He walked over to the kitchen faucet, unscrewed the filter, and pulled out a small rock. He looked at Joe with disbelief and packed up his crew. I’ve seen that look on people’s faces toward me as well. It’s pity, mixed with disbelief. But, it makes a good point. We can spend all our energy digging for the root of a problem, when the Holy Spirit can reveal it to us in a second. Spend more time praying and believing, and less time worrying and doubting.