Thursday, October 27, 2016

The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. Revelation 11:10
Sometimes we receive the opposite of what we expect, as when our good deeds encounter an evil reaction. Some we have served seem to have forgotten our faithfulness, and gratitude has faded from their memory. They forgot the fruit from our labors, and it has become all about what might inconvenience them. You were there for them at their point of need but now in your need, they reject your request. It seems like a cruel joke. How could they forget your love and loyalty?
So what do you do when you are repaid evil for good? What is your prayerful response?
The only prophet an unbelieving world likes is a dead prophet, so for three and a half days contempt is shown for the two bold witnesses of Christ by leaving their corpses in the street, unburied, an insult to God and His spokesmen. A celebration breaks out in honor of the anti-Christ who has temporarily quieted the pesky and persistent voices of truth. This occasion for rejoicing during the tribulation is an aberration, not seen before or after. God eventually makes right the shamelessness of evil’s ugly acts in His sight.
When evil intent is injected into a relationship, we must resist firing back with equally evil reactions. We cannot lower ourselves to this kind of schoolyard revenge. The question is not, “What is the right thing for them to do?” The question is, “What is the right thing for me to do?” You can reverse the force of the verbal jabs by returning good for evil. When you choose not to fight false accusations by accosting your accusers, you repay good for evil. You trust the truth will come out at the right time, in the right way, be patient, and pray for God to have His way.
The Lord can take care of the business of dealing with evil people and their actions. Wait on Him to settle matters as He sees fit, especially if you have the option to hurt someone. Trust Christ to deal with them in His timing. Evildoers may never change, but they might. It is a heart issue between them and God. In the meantime, when you encounter evil, repay it with good and trust Jesus. The goodness of God trumps evil, for evil is no match for God’s goodness.
Prayer: Lord, give us holy restraint to not react to unholy accusations.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

God qualified

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”     1 Samuel 16:7
Sometimes we limit ourselves because we use the wrong measure of what is meaningful to God. What means most to our Lord is what’s in our heart. Our heart is His measurement for potential. A heart after God has unlimited potential. Heaven hunts down a heart hungry for God to accomplish its purposes. We can wait for the right opportunity because He is in control, or we can spend an inordinate amount of energy arranging our lives, when ultimately God is the one who opens or shuts doors. God chooses who He wants to carry out His causes, and He first looks inward for a pure heart.
Therefore, a pure heart is our first step in doing God’s will, for the heart is where our motivations reside. Why we do what we do incubates within our heart. This is why it is imperative that the Holy Spirit rubs our heart with the oil of authenticity. He massages away toxic motives and keeps us honest. He is the best at calling our commitment into question. Am I serving Him for what I can get or for what I can give? He calls us to place the welfare of others above our own needs. The heart is where goodness grows, as it is nurtured in a heart with the Holy ambition of knowing the Lord. 
Sometimes we attempt to compliment someone by saying he or she has a good heart. However, in some cases, our comments carry a tinge of condescension. We add a ‘but.” He has a good heart, but he gives no attention to details; She has a good heart, but she is not good with follow-up; He has a good heart, but he cannot think strategically; He has a good heart, but he is not an effective leader; She has a good heart, but she is not very smart; So, what do we really mean when we say someone has a good heart?
A good heart does not guarantee success in a certain skill set, but it does position us for success. Indeed, both character and competence are necessary for success. A superb salesman without a good heart should be shunned. A dependable manager without a good heart will bring you grief. A leader who gets results without a good heart will run off good people. Make sure to align goodness of heart with goodness in skill, otherwise this disconnect will erode your work or family culture. Require goodness of heart with giftedness.
Goodness of heart comes from God. It is His gift, not to be taken for granted. Learn to diagnose the heart. Outward trappings can fool you into recruiting or relying on the wrong person. Get to the heart of the matter, and observe how they relate to their spouse. Is there love? Is there respect? Marriage interactions bring out the heart. Look beyond a résumé, to results based on courage. Did she take risks for the sake of the team? The heart is the best long-term indicator of dependability. Skill can be taught, but character is conformed by a heart enamored with Christ. Allow the Spirit to keep your heart healthy for Him, and qualify others based on God’s qualifications. Good hearts attract and keep good-hearted people. They attract God and retain His blessings.
Our Prayer: Lord, thank You for qualifying me for Your call on my life.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Stillness over doing

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.   Psalm 46:10
God created us as human beings, not human doers. Yet everything, from our culture to our career, defaults to doing. We are taught by western society that if we are not busy, we must be lazy. There is a contemporary guilt that keeps us on the go. We are driven to do by some unseen capitalistic force. We are so intent on getting things done that we forget why we engaged in the process to begin with. It’s all about progress and seeing it through to the end. It’s all about the results, making the grade, and exceeding the earnings estimates. After all, if you are really important, your cell phone will constantly vibrate and your e-mail will seduce you 24/7. This is the sad state of those of us who are trapped by doing. Like an alcoholic in denial, we are intoxicated by activity.
Our ego glosses over the need for God, as we justify driven behavior with bad theology. We act like the Lord’s hands are tied and it is up to us to make things happen. But God is not limited by our view of Him. He still governs the universe and our lives. Kings, presidents, and dictators are still accountable to the Lord and His agenda. CEOs, entertainers, and athletes still have a higher power in Jesus Christ to whom they must answer. It is wise to get off our high horse of self-importance and be still before God. If we continue to race through life at a breakneck pace, we will break. Our health, finances, and relationships are fragile, and eventually they will fracture under the pressure of habitual doing.
We are humans in need, in need of being who God created us to be. Our God-given roles in life are a great place to cultivate our human being-ness. For example, when we take the time to be a respectful child who honors his parents, we are being. Visit, call, or write regularly and you will be the child your parents need. You honor God when you honor them. Above all else, be with God. There is a knowing and understanding of God that comes only from spending time with Him. In-depth knowledge of God is not derived from service only, but in sitting and reflecting on the Holy One being served. It is in your doing that you validate your being, and it is in your being that you purify your reasons for doing.
So, our life with the Lord begins by being with Him. It is in the stillness beside the waters of worship that you feel His presence. God is not on the go, exhausted from His last intimate encounter with a needy saint. Therefore, make sure you make time for your soul’s maintenance.  Peace comes by aligning with the Lord, and stillness with Him sharpens your body, soul and spirit. In stillness, you see God. In stillness, you feel God. In stillness, you worship God. In stillness, you receive from God. In stillness, you are loved by God. In stillness, you love God. In stillness, you believe God. In stillness, you see and know God. Allow your “doing” to flow from your “being.” The equation is simple: “stillness” plus “being” equals dynamic “doing” for the glory of the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, remind us to be with You in engaging prayer, before we go out to do for You with good deeds.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Deal with it now so it doesn't deal with you later

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up. Revelation 8:7
Spiritual fruit from the past is no substitute for fruit produced in the present. Praise God for our faithful ancestors of the faith, but their fruit was for their time. The Spirit of God looks to harvest fruit of repentance for this generation. The good old days of spiritual renewal are inspiring to reminisce upon, but today the Lord calls those of us with a little gray hair to grow up in His grace. We who identify with Jesus have a significant role and responsibility to produce fruit of repentance.
Those who ignore spiritual fruit bearing in this life will experience the severe discipline of the Lord in the next life. Indeed, as we close in on Christ’s second coming, it is imperative we are prepared to meet our Maker with lives that reflect God’s standards, not the anemic morality of a sick society. The picture of a world that rejects repentance of sin and turning to Jesus is not a pretty site: the discipline of the Lord on unrepentant sinners will escalate across a scorched earth.
How do we know if we produce fruit of repentance? Private belief for salvation and public confession in baptism are the first fruits of repentance, but just the beginning point. The ongoing fruit bearing process is a lifetime of leaning and learning into the Lord. The Spirit reminds us when we drift into bad habits or wrong thinking. We confess spiritual pride and remember that only by the grace of God can we do good. We turn from self righteousness and turn to God’s righteousness.
What is the proof of fruit produced by repentance? Good deeds from a heart of humility and grace are fruit that glorifies God. Your Spirit-filled actions of abstinence, generosity, tutoring, public service, and faith sharing, our Heavenly Father. Jesus smiles when you are hospitable or when you visit the sick or those in prison. Our authentic repentance keeps us broken to care for the broken. What breaks God’s heart is to break our heart.
Our prayer:  Lord,  grow in us a humble heart that is quick to confess and repent of sin.