“Children, Your Father’s Home!”
My sister-in-law Kathy tells the story of a relationship she had with a man she was about to marry. It was a few weeks prior to their scheduled wedding. The invitations were printed and about to be mailed. A dinner was planned for her fiancé to meet important members of her family. Arriving an hour late, and intoxicated, her fiancé began to make excuses as to why. As he stood there leaning against a door, rambling about where he had been, Kathy, not yet a Christ-follower, had a distinct thought flash across her mind, “Children, your father’s home!” It was the wake-up call she needed. Kathy broke off the relationship, and has been happily married to my brother Victor for over 50 years. Don’t ignore the leadings of God; they are meant to preserve your life and future.
Solvents seem like a miracle cure for an unsolvable problem. I’m always amazed at the solvents we can use to wipe away stains. Vinegar takes away grass stains. Soda eliminates grease. White wine eradicates red wine. Hydrogen peroxide removes blood. Baking soda erases coffee, and milk can clear up certain ink stains. But the most magnificent solvent of all is the One that washes away the greatest stain of all. It’s the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “…the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Are you looking for a way to dissolve your sin problem? You have one, and only one, option. Let the sacrificial blood of Jesus, the God of the Universe, who alone died on the Cross for your sins, wash away the stain of sin from your eternal soul and spirit.
A Christian friend told me about a time the Lord challenged him about not shaming people. Going to work as a young Christian, he would drive by an adult bookstore. He thought it would be funny to honk and wave when he saw a man getting out of his car. Invariably, upon hearing the horn and seeing someone waving, each man would hang his head in shame and scurry inside. After he did this a few times, the Lord reproved him, saying, “I didn’t call you to shame people.” From then on when he drove by, he prayed for each man instead of shaming them. The Message Bible says, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:17)
Understanding is Overrated
When Manoah, the father of Samson, asked the angel who prophesied Samson‘s birth to tell him his name, the angel said, “You wouldn’t understand my name even if I told you.” Here is the angel’s answer in Judges 13:18, “Why do you ask my name?… It is too wonderful for you to understand.” A fascinating response! Yet, the older I get, the more I realize there are so many things God could tell me, but I wouldn’t understand them if I can’t first identify the authority He has when He speaks. Apparently, there are many times when my understanding is unnecessary and seemingly overrated. It’s true, since God promises us the peace that goes far beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7), we should be unattached to completely understanding what is taking place in our lives.
Concerns That Never Happen
The other day I couldn’t find my glasses in order to see clearly to put in my contacts. As I processed this, I thought how difficult it must be for blind people to put in their contacts. Immediately, I realized what you probably have already… blind people don’t need contact lenses. HA! This embarrassing and funny realization was followed by God’s Spirit reminding me about the many things I am concerned about that never happen, and are actually just silly, unbelieving thoughts. As Jesus said to Martha when she was lacking faith, “…you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT) Jesus was the resurrection and the life, and was able to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. What is your need? Remember, God is completely able.
Nothing to Complain About
Have you ever had a near-death experience? If you are a Christ-follower, then you certainly have. The Bible says, “…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NLT) In 2 Samuel 19:28 (NASB), Mephibosheth, evil King Saul’s grandson, basically says to King David, “You spared my life; what right do I have to complain anymore?” That would be a good question for each of us to ponder. If we are awake to the desperateness of our spiritual reality, we know that God spared our life. So how can we complain about anything? God has given each of us: life, breath and every good thing. (Acts 17:25) Those of us who have received God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life should be the most grateful people who have ever lived.
Shane Grammer & Paradise Portraits
One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 61:3 (NLT), “…(God) will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” WOW! “Beauty for ashes!” There is perhaps no greater example of this than what God inspired someone to do in the aftermath of the horrific fire that destroyed almost all of Paradise, California. Shane Grammer, a gifted artist, now nicknamed, the “Artist of Hope,” used his God-given artistic gift to paint murals of hope on burned-out buildings in Paradise. Not because he was paid for it, or because it was possible for the paintings to have a long lifespan. But because those murals of hope would give people who lost everything, a glimpse into the possibility that they actually had a beautiful future. What can I do today to give someone hope?
Do you like pleasure? All of us do! But, would it surprise you if I told you God wants to fill your life with pleasure, both now and forever? First, let me clarify one thing. Pleasure is not inherently bad. God created pleasure! The Bible says that at God’s “…right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Wouldn’t the God who made sunsets and starry nights know all about beauty? Wouldn’t the Author of laughter know how to have the most fun? Wouldn’t the Prince of Peace know the best way to rest? Wouldn’t the Person who invented food know what foods tastes best? Wouldn’t the One Who is love know what relationships are most fulfilling? So, if you’re wanting to experience incomparable pleasure. Enjoy the pleasure of God’s presence. Pure pleasure, minus the guilt and regret.
Invisible and Insignificant
Do you feel invisible, insignificant? The only way any of us can truly feel valuable is to know that God sees us and cherishes us. I’ve never seen my liver, but I definitely appreciate it. I’ve never hugged my kidney, but I’m sure it deserves a hug. I’ve never told my heart, “I love you!”, but I love the fact my heart keeps beating. We may consider a part of our body unnecessary or of little importance, until we hurt it. We stub our toe, jam our finger. Suddenly, it’s all hands on deck. The unappreciated member is showered with attention. Americans say what is most important to them is “self-respect.” It sounds like a desperate cry to be noticed, valued and esteemed. The only Person who can meet that need is… God. If Jesus is your Lord, then you are part of Christ’s Body, and absolutely precious to Him.
Everyone Can Be Great
Would you like to be great? That’s a wonderful goal. No one wants you to be great more than God. And He’s done everything possible to fulfill that desire. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great. Because greatness is determined by service. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He was truly great! Now, He invites us to be great as well. All we have to do is follow His lead, serve and love others, with hearts filled with His grace and souls motivated by love. Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12, NLT)
God Built You a House
A building contractor was going to retire. He was a man of integrity and had spent his life doing honest work. He went to his foreman, who worked for him for 25 years, and said, “I want to build one last house, and make it first class, and then, I’m going to retire.” The foreman was upset, believing the contractor was going to leave him with nothing for his future, and decided to rip his boss off. So he ordered second-class materials and falsified invoices. When the house was completed, the owner proudly toured the finished product. Shocking the foreman, the owner told him he wanted to reward the foreman for his faithful service, saying, “I built this house for you!” God’s heart has always been to build our lives with the best materials for our good. Trust God and give Him your best!
Leniency or Mercy
Would you like God to be lenient with you; to not hold you responsible for the sins you have committed? Sorry, He can’t be! If we deserved leniency, then leniency would be a matter of justice, not mercy. Mercy is only shown to the guilty. So, God can’t be lenient with you, but He does want to give you mercy. Mercy that you can’t earn and don’t deserve. If I killed the person you loved the most, is there anything I could do to deserve mercy from you? Probably not! The mercy would have to be in your heart, not because of any actions I could ever do. Jesus loved the un-lovable! He served the undeserving! And He honored the dis-honorable! All for love! All for us! Receive the mercy of Jesus. That’s all He’s offering you.