Wednesday, December 18, 2019

God's courier service

David said to Abigail, Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment. I Samuel 25: 32-33

God dispatches His messengers daily. You can expect a regular word from the Lord through others. They may represent His envoy of much-needed encouragement, or they may engage you with a regiment of rebuke. Whether He sends His messengers with a positive or a negative word, it is critical that you concur with their instruction. Your emotions may be driving you in one direction because you have been treated unfairly, even inflicted by a gross indiscretion. But God’s messenger is imploring you to take the more reasonable road of understanding and forgiveness. Just because you have been wronged, does not mean you are to do wrong. Anybody can do that; it takes strength of character to not retaliate.

God is in control. So leave your transgressors in His hand. Let the Lord deal with them in His timing. God’s messenger may be telling you to wait. This opportunity staring you down does not deserve your acceptance. Your pride and ego have nominated you to the task, but you know in your heart it is not the wise thing to do. Listen to God’s messenger and avoid a year of regret. Money and status are not worth jeopardizing your marriage and your health. There will be other opportunities, much better ones that will fit in your next season of life. It is easy to ignore, reject, or argue with God’s messenger, but think twice before you debate with Deity’s representative. They are ambassadors of heaven, reaching out to you on earth. He has things under control and desires His very best for your life.

Many times, God’s messenger comes in the form of a friend who knows you all too well and has seen some of your destructive patterns over the years. He has your best interests in mind. Their desire is for you to learn from your unwise decisions of the past and flourish in the future. They are taking a risk with their friendship because they care. If they were self-serving, they would shut up. So, listen to God speaking through your friend, especially when it is not what you want to hear. He also speaks, frequently, through your spouse. They love you, and yes they may be fearful and insecure, but it is because they don’t want you to miss God’s very best.

Do not allow ego and pride to blind you to their warnings and concerns. They may not understand all of the ins and outs of business, but they do understand the Holy Spirit’s promptings. This is a level of discernment which God has wisely given to them as your gift. Make sure you receive it and use it well.

Lastly, reward God’s messengers. This is behavior that deserves recognition and appreciation. You reward the behavior you want repeated, and you rebuke or ignore the behavior that you want to cease. Do more than say you agree. Instead, make a big deal over their determination to deliver the truth. Instead of blowing off the messenger of good will, invite them into your circle of influence. Promote those who persist in pitching the facts. God’s messengers can be trusted because they bear news from your heavenly Father. Therefore, take seriously their words, and act accordingly. Listen actively to God’s messengers, and in turn, become one.

The Bible says, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).

Friday, December 13, 2019

Do you love?

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

Post resurrection, our living, loving Lord sought conviction from Peter that his love was genuine and not contingent on circumstances. Hurt by Jesus' clarifying questions (which were not for Jesus' understanding, but a reality check for Peter), Peter affirmed his love. I heard Jesus say to my heart, "My beloved, do you really love Me?" Tears. "Yes Lord, I do."

Love for the Lord qualifies me to serve on behalf of the Lord. In spite of my past denials of God, if I love God in the present, I am qualified to serve people. Jesus knows if He has my affections my right actions will follow. My service without love is sterile and suspect, but my service with love is life giving and authentic. Better for me to be prompted by love without professional training, than to have an office wall adorned with framed theological credentials, but lack love’s motivation in service. If I first of all love Jesus, I am qualified to care for His people.

Jesus probed into the motivation of Peter’s heart. Having publicly denied the Lord three times, the Lord knew Peter needed to hear his own public confession of Christ three times. Our current public confession of love for God covers our past public denials of God. Peter had denied Jesus by his sinful silence, now he exalted Jesus by his loving acknowledgment. Christ knew Peter’s affection was the best indicator of his loyalty. Love for Jesus qualifies us to serve with Jesus.

“Love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:13).

If we are not prayerfully intentional in our public confession of Jesus, we can unwittingly distance ourselves from Jesus. Understandably, we don’t want to be labeled as judgmental and insensitive in our reactions to sensitive subjects like abortion and homosexuality. Thus, we pray for opportunities to love and serve those different from us. We first confess our own denial of Christ by our unloving attitudes and then we confess Christ by our loving attitudes. We pray with parents of children who choose alternative lifestyles. Love qualifies us to help souls that are hurting.

Moreover, love for Jesus helps us stay close to Jesus when conflict enters our lives. We deny the Lord when we keep silent: afraid and angry, but we acknowledge the Lord when we can process our fears and frustrations in a civil conversation. Our love for each other compels us to express our love in respectful discussions. Our best decisions come by taking time to love each other through our diverse views. Love is patient to listen to all sides before it decides the best next step. Love qualifies us to grow closer to each other by really knowing each other.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Trust in an uncertain future

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11

I have to confess that in recent days, an insecurity has settled into my spirit about financial provision. I am not sure if it has to do with getting older and peering into an uncertain future, or something else. But deep down I feel it has to do with fear, an ungodly emotion that has taken my heart captive while I was unaware. I am thankful that this morning the Lord showed me the condition of my heart and invited me to trust Him with my tomorrows as I read the next verses in Matthew 6:25-27; 31-32.

“Therefore, [because you can’t serve God and money] I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? . . . So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

It hit me. “Oh, yes. The pagans—or unbelievers—run after these things to try and protect themselves and guarantee a secure future. They run after them in fear. They run after them in pride. They run after them in anxiety—and they are tormented and exhausted. But you have called me, Lord, to life and peace. In You there is no torment. There is no worry. There is just rest.”

Maybe you have been afraid God won’t provide so you have been worrying. Or, maybe you have been driven in an unhealthy way to succeed because you believe more money will guarantee security and peace—and just like a pagan, you are tormented. What’s the only answer? To trust in Christ, because there is no true security or peace apart from Him. But even trusting can seem impossible, right? I mean, how can you trust Him when you don’t trust Him? Thankfully, it’s not all up to us. When your faith feels weak and small, He gives grace (2 Corinthians 12:9). When you don’t feel mighty and filled with strength, He gives might and strength (Isaiah 40:30-31). Your job is to admit your inability to trust Him with your life, ask for forgiveness, tell Him you choose to trust Him and let Him give you the faith that you can’t give yourself.

Will you run after those things the pagans chase and experience torment, or will you choose to trust Him with your life and future?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).