Forgiveness and Blessing

God’s people are not exempt from falling into sin.  In fact, it is overtly stated throughout scripture that there is none who does not sin.  However, as God’s people – His dearly beloved  – we can rest assured that when we sincerely repent from our sin; crying out to Him to forgive us and change us and and committing to change and turn from it – He will not only forgive and cleanse us – but He will surely bless us!  What must we do? Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek His face. Turn from our sin.  This promise was spoken to God’s people Israel, but I believe that as God’s people today this truth still applies.  When you sin (and you WILL sin) – submit to God’s authority; cry out to Him for forgiveness; listen for His direction for you; and commit to never go back to doing that thing and I believe that even when we sin grievously and find ourselves in the hand of our enemy – He will turn that thing around!  Our sin will surely bring with it unpleasant consequences but it is His good pleasure to bind up our wounds – even those He inflicts upon us.  Our pride will bring us to destruction – but if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand – He will exalt us in due time.  He knew we would falter – and He has always made a way for us to set things right with Him.  Forgiveness and blessing!  Who wouldn’t serve a God like that?!

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14

Our God, Our King — Our Concubine?

If we don’t respect our God (His word, His way, His heart) – the results will be devastating!

I’ve said before that America was not founded as a Christian nation, but rather founded on religious freedom. At our core has always been, however, a special respect for Christianity and the things of God. I believe that our forefathers, though some were agnostic and some atheists, knew that there was one God that was not to be trifled with.

I was reading Judges 19, and I was so annoyed with the master who pushed the concubine out for the men to abuse; and God spoke to my spirit, “why are you annoyed, you all do this to me all of the time!”  My heart wept, how could we possibly be treating our King like our concubine.  We couldn’t! We wouldn’t!  But we do …When I was a youngster when someone was in a bit of trouble at their own doing we would tell them, “You brought that *mess* on yourself!” My dear Christian brothers and sisters – it’s high time we take responsibility for our own actions.We are bringing this down on our own heads! We, His own redeemed ones, are pushing our Holy King out there for the world to abuse His word; ignore His statues; poke fun at His truths; waylay His way of life; destroy His people; divide His children in an effort to destroy our faith.

What does it look like practically?  Just look around at the landscape of America, our amazing homeland.  Believers in Christ have wholeheartedly taken up the worship of other gods in addition to our stated devotion to Christ. I think that the god of self-love/self-satisfaction has the highest throne; after that the god of self-righteousness; then a close third is the god of gluttony or the god of more or the god of not enough.

As the bridegroom of the church – Christ has unlimited access and rights to our lives — but we have treated our own God as if He is one who neither has the rights of a full spouse; nor one who earns the respect of a kinsmen redeemer. Without regard for His authority over us and His sovereignty – we ask Him to come into our hearts and take a seat instead of inviting Him to take the throne of our lives and reign!

By our own behavior we are compromising our faith and are communicating to the world around us that our King is not really a king after all!   It is our actions that tell the world who we are!  They will know He is our King when we act like subjects in His kingdom!

We must treat our bridegroom with respect and honor! We have to resist the temptation to love Him while holding fast to other ways of life; refrain from compromising our principles; repent from participating in the spewing of hate when we have been redeemed to LOVE! Lest we wake up one day and find our God has been reduced to a mere ideal – and that ideal is found at the door in a heap where He was once knocking and waiting to be invited in!

My prayer is that we will stop looking at the world to treat Christ as King and that we will do that ourselves!  I plead with the Lord to give us all a mind to yield the throne of our hearts to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  May His love grow and dwell in us so that a lost and dying world will be able to see the difference in the life of a Christ Follower.  May we nurture and embrace a true fidelity to our King and fight against the temptation to abuse the relationship.  May we never forget that we don’t serve a passive God; but one who has all authority and one for whom, one day, every knee has got to bow!  May we all lift Him up and lay ourselves low.

Judges 19: 25

But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them, and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn.

Giving Up The Right to be RIGHT

Even the most humble among us has a desire to be right – or to be defended.

Our right to be right can totally overshadow our privilege to be loving!  Laying down our rights – It’s not natural — but it is godly. 

When we were on home assignment some years ago, there was a misunderstanding between a local pastor and what he thought was the intent of our youngest son to insult his son.  The principal of the school knew our son and knew this was a case of a missionary kid not understanding the culture of the USA – it happens!!  The boys were fine – but the father of the other child, a local pastor, was quite upset – so the principal suggested that we go to him and talk about what happened; perceptions versus reality. We went to this pastor to apologize for the misunderstanding and to keep this issue from escalating – this pastor’s response to us was, “I want my pound of flesh!”  And he said this with a SMILE!!!  It all worked out but this highlighted for Lloyd and I the depravity of even the best of us.  Oftentimes an apology is not enough! We want the wrong to be made right according to our own standards.   I’m so glad Christ didn’t feel that way!!  Oh Lord — can you imagine!!??!!

If you call yourself a follower of Christ you must – MUST be willing to take the hit.  If they call you a liar, it needs to be enough that you know you didn’t lie even if they print it in the paper and post it on Facebook.  If they take what is rightfully yours – you need to have enough faith in the Lord that He will provide what you need and that if there is to be be any vengeance, it belongs to him.  If they do cheat you (or cheat on you) – you have to forgive and not give in to your desire to spread the news far and wide that they are a cheat, instead praying that God will forgive and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.  It’s that whole concept  of giving them both your cloak and your coat – when they want to take your coat. 

We are known in America to be a litigious nation.  But as members of the Body of Christ — we need to decide to actually live like we were just in this world (sojourners) and not of this world (citizens).  Novel idea.  This really good looking preacher I know says these words to me and to his children often – “You have no right to be right and no one’s reputation matters but His.”  Think about it ..

My prayer is that my own heart will long for the world to see only Him in my actions and that I will be willing at all times to take the blame; take the fall; carry the weight — knowing that He will uphold me with His righteous right hand!!

Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?  1 Corinthians 6:7b

Fall from Grace

 God offers us that we will be dressed in His righteousness alone.  We, however, feel like we need benchmarks and checklists.  We embrace the law (or our own set of rules) so that we can keep score and by doing so we unwittingly separate ourselves from the unmerited favor of the Lord.  And that – my friends – is the definition of a fall from grace.  We have redefined a fall from grace as the commission of a sexual sin by a leader, but the truth is the commission of a sexual sin is just that – SIN! Sin is sin!  My mama always taught me to call a spade a spade.   Continue reading

Our Just Due

God blesses. He blesses because He is a good God. Christians have fallen prey to the world’s message that He blesses us because we deserve some blessing just because – but that is not the case, necessarily. In fact that is a backwards statement as it relates to the Kingdom of God. We obey him because we love Him – because it is what we are supposed to do. He blesses us because He promised to do so when we love Him.

Romans 4:4 says “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.”

So — what is your just due?

Walking in the righteousness, blessing and favor of God requires our belief in an devotion to Him. If by being righteous we hope to earn something (blessing/favor) from Him — then it is not the right motive. If we are called to a particular task in the body of Christ we must do it out of devotion to and love for Him in order that He might grant us favor and blessing. For if we do it for a certain blessing – and then receive that thing – our wages have been paid. How much more will we receive when we stop ‘working’ for favor and start ‘serving’ out of devotion to Him?

My prayer is that we will ask the Lord to correct our motives. Help our hearts to discern rightly what we are to do for God and for the Kingdom of God. Teach us to serve out of our gratitude for Calvary and out of our gratefulness that He has dressed us in His righteousness – clothing of splendor and honor that we could NEVER purchase on our own.

Help us to understand that His very presence in our lives is our just due!