The Waiting

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel.  But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.  So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offering to me.”  And he offered the burnt offering.  – 1 Samuel 13:8-9

Israel’s first king made the biggest mistake of his life right here.  You want to talk about some consequences? 

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed.  “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14). 

I look back at just how much trouble I’ve gotten in by trying to solve my own problems and refusing to wait on the Lord.  I don’t think I consciously refused Him, I just went with my instincts and tried to take care of things myself.  So many times, it never even crossed my mind to pray and consult God.  I am getting better at it as I get older, but when I have a quick fix at my disposal, it is so difficult to wait on God.  

I want to be a pastor again.  I know it will happen in God’s timing.  In the meantime, it is difficult for me to not force it to happen.  I know I could.  I could build the resume, submit applications, say the right things, and I could make it happen.  In fact, I did interview recently.  As I was being asked questions, I was incredibly aware that I could tell them exactly what they wanted to hear.  I refused.  I told them my honest answers.  I even told them that if they wanted references from my former church, then I would give them the names of people that would more than likely say negative things about me.  This way, if they still wanted me, I would know that it was God placing me there. 

I didn’t get the job . . . shocker.  But when I do pastor again, there will be no doubt that God has placed me.

I can’t imagine taking an approach like this at any previous point in my life.  I just want to know without a doubt that it is God lighting my path.  I want His timing.  I used to believe, “God helps those who help themselves” was in the Bible.  I was astounded when I found out that it wasn’t.  It looks like Saul believed this saying as well and it cost him the kingship.  I’d rather say, “God helps those who place their complete trust in Him.”  To me, that summarizes Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him 

And He will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

I have talked with two people already this week struggling with very different problems.  Both have the means to do something in their own power with their own resources.  After contemplating 1 Samuel 13, both have decided to place it in the Lord’s hands and wait on Him. 

Lord, I’ve gotten into so much trouble by doing things my way instead of trusting You.  Impatience has cost me time, money, energy, and resources I will never get back.  Selfishness has brought unnecessary pain that I did not have to experience.  Help me from this day forward to truly learn to wait on You.  I want to trust You and lean not on my own understanding.  In all my ways I want to acknowledge You.  And what a promise that You give me for doing so . . . You will make my path straight.  I love You, Lord.  Help and bless all who choose to read today.  Amen.

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Awesome God

Repent and do the things you did at first. – Revelation 2:5

Can you tell me of a time when you felt the closest to God?  What songs did you have in your heart?  Did you truly hunger and thirst for Him?  How old were you?  When did you fall in love with Jesus and want what He wanted for your life more than what you wanted?  Whatever you remember, please tell me . . . I would love to know. 

I look back at a time when I asked God to help me feel Him.  I asked Him to make Himself real to me.  The first time He really gave me a sense of His real deal presence was in my truck listening to “The Best Thing” by Big Tent Revival.  It was so wonderful to just sit there and cry from being so overwhelmed.  When I hear that song, it takes me back to a specific time and place.

This past weekend, my daughter and I played music at a wine bar.  I love to go fishing for men every time we get a chance to play.  I usually only throw the line out once or twice, but when I get a bite . . . it just ends up being a story I couldn’t make up if I tried.  This one is no exception.

We had played for about three and a half hours, and I was wrapping up.  I had not played any praise and worship song or Christian song, which is what I usually do.  I prayed and asked the Lord, “Lord, what would You have me play?” Nothing.  I clicked on my iPad where all the songs I can play are listed.  The very first Christian song on the list was “Awesome God.”  I said, “That’s bold, Lord . . . really?”  I just felt it in my spirit, “Go for it.”  

When He rolls up His sleeve, He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz

Our God is an Awesome God

There’s thunder in His footsteps and lightening in His fists

Our God is an Awesome God

The Lord wasn’t joking when He kicked ‘em out of Eden

It wasn’t for no reason that He shed His blood

His return is very soon so you better believing that 

Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from Heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love

Our God is an awesome God

I looked over in the corner and there was a woman who lit up the place singing along and being in obvious disbelief that I was playing it.  Afterwards, I went over to her and her boyfriend/husband.  She said, “I can’t believe you played that song.  It took me back to when I was a little girl in church.  I just loved it.  I sang it all the time.”  I told her that I remember being at Calvary Baptist in Salem hearing a guy named Frank Smith play it.  It was one of the coolest things I had ever heard.  We just talked about church and the Lord for a bit.  It was that simple, but it made the whole night more than worth it. 

Lord, truly You are an awesome God.  You do things in and through my life that I would have never thought to do or even thought possible.  Thank You so much for working in me and changing me.  I know I’ve fought You a lot, but everything You have done has only served to make my life better and draw me closer to You.  I pray for this young lady who was taken back to a different place and time.  Draw her close to You, Lord.  May each person reading this make the most of our opportunities, for truly today is the day of salvation.  Bless us, lead us, keep us, guide us, sanctify us, and fill us with Your sweet Holy Spirit.  Amen!

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Surely, God Will Let Him In

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” – Numbers 20:12

Back when I was a kid, I loved the movie Rocky III.  There is no telling how many times I watched it.  One day, my mom asked me why I watched it so much, I said, “I’m hoping Mr. T will eventually win that last fight.”  I guess with the A-Team being one of my favorite shows back in the day, I was more of a Clubber Lang fan than a Rocky fan.  To this day, every time I get to numbers 20 in the Bible, I think, “Surely God will let Moses in anyway.”  Just like Rocky III when I was a kid, something in my adult mind thinks I’m going to see a different result.  But the result is always the same, Moses gets to see the land from a mountaintop, but does not get to enter.  

I guess this shouldn’t surprise me.  I look back on my life, especially as a teenager going to church and making the commitment to live for the Lord.  Like Moses, I did not trust Him enough to demonstrate his holiness to the people of my school.  You know what?  He isn’t letting me go back and do what I wish I would have done.  That time is past.  I had the chance to do the right thing.  I even knew the right things to do, but I chose my way over His way.  

As a teacher, I’ve seen kids allowed to blow off 40 days out of the 45 in the nine weeks.  They didn’t come to school and certainly didn’t do any work.  They beg, and even their parents call and beg for them to be able to do something so they can receive a passing grade.  I’ve even seen a young person passed who did nothing all year long.  What does this teach the rising generation?  I think it teaches them that there is always another chance.  But according to the Bible, eventually you run out of chances.  Sometimes, your wrong choice has serious consequences.  

What I can do is not blow today.  If you have breath in your lungs, you don’t have to blow it either.  I can pray, ask God to fill me with His Spirit, take a deep breath, and walk in His ways making every effort to demonstrate His holiness to the people.  

With all my heart, I want this.

Lord, make me Holy.  Give me the power to live this stuff out.  Like Moses, in anger I think, say, and do things that I know I can never take back.  Each time is a missed opportunity to show that I’m learning to be more and more like You.  Help me, Lord.  There is no one like You!  You have demonstrated Your holiness to all of us.  Thank You for living the perfect life and making the perfect sacrifice that I might be saved.  Help me live for You for the rest of my days.  Amen

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Shogun

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come to those who are treacherous without cause.  – Psalm 25:3

You may or may not see this WMD.  I think I’m writing it more for a chronicle for myself than as a help to others. Recently, something strange happened, and I mean all in the same day.  First, I was greatly offended by a non-believer who I feel lied to me.  I’ve been good to them for years, but for whatever reason, I was ready to give up.  Later, I saw someone who I thought was my sibling in Christ for years.  This person totally blindsided and betrayed me.  I haven’t been able to stand them since.  In fact, when I simply walked by them on that particular day, I felt a darkness I haven’t felt in a long time.  Looking back, I can only describe it as a demon taking its claws and sinking them into my brain, keeping it dark, and keeping the negativity flowing.  I knew what was happening, yet I hardly even fought it.

When I got home, I wanted to do something aggressive.  I went for a run.  I usually run listening to the Bible or a sermon.  I wasn’t feeling like that at all.  So, I listened to a book I started a few weeks ago called Shogun.  It is about a shipwreck in Japan.  In the chapter I was listening to, they were talking about the Samurai.  The thing that stuck in my head was the words, “those barbarians will kill you simply to test the sharpness of their blade.”  As I listened to it, darkness and rage just kept rising.  After about 2 miles, I was pretty tired.  I started walking.  I started realizing that I really needed this darkness out of my head.  I started thinking about the things I needed to do to make things right with the people I was angry with.  

I slowly walked to the church near my house.  When I got there, I just fell on the steps like it was an altar.  I just laid everything down that I could.  I sat up straight.  I prayed, “Lord, what do I do with all this offense?  I will do whatever I need to do and fix whatever I need to fix!”  The answer in my Spirit was simply this: “the first person who offended you is an unbeliever who doesn’t know me . . . always be merciful to them.  The second person has a religious spirit and would kill you, simply to test the sharpness of their blade . . . make no moves around them.  Forgive and move forward.”  

Instantly, I felt relief.  I felt the perfect peace that surpasses all understanding.  Just moments before, I was so angry and bitter.  How great, wonderful, mighty, compassionate, and ever ready to give His children peace is our God?  How does He manage to use everything, and I mean everything for our good?  He is amazing!  We really need to reserve that word for Him and only Him.

Lord, I want to make every effort to live at peace with all people.  I have been so hurt by people.  Yet, at the same time, I know that I’ve hurt people.  I guess there is no healing without hurt.  Thank You for allowing me to feel Your healing power flow through my heart and mind.  Every hour I need You.  My one defense, my righteousness . . . Oh God how I need You!  Amen!

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One Statement. One Moment.

My friend, Shaun Watkins, wrote this WMD

They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound on His side.” John 20:25

I have read this verse several times and each time I read it, it blows my mind that this disciple has been labeled as a doubter because of one verse in the Bible, one moment in time. I Googled “Thomas the Disciple,” and guess what came up? “Thomas the Doubter.” Really?

What has happened in this verse is the other disciples saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion. Thomas wasn’t there. When he was told that they had seen Jesus, this is when he says that he wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it himself. Sounds a little tough to label him a doubter for one sentence in his life, right?

Why do we overlook the verse when Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him?” (John 11:16) Here Thomas is talking to all the other disciples that seem scared to go back to Bethany when Lazarus had died because of an earlier incident where the Jews tried to stone Jesus. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a doubter to me. That sounds like a warrior. Why is Thomas not called Thomas the Warrior?

 I have thought about this a lot over the past week or so because of a video I saw.

I recently watched a 10 second video from a meeting where the Superintendent of Education was speaking to the staff of a school. The school that my youngest son currently attends. In the video that was shared, the Superintendent made a remark that was loved by some and hated by others. I for one agreed with what was said in the short video that I viewed and made a long Facebook post in support of the Superintendent. I knew when I touched the submit button, I was opening myself to be blasted by those on both sides of the reaction, but I did not think about how God was going to use this in my life.

When I made the post, I was basing it off my feelings. I was basing it off my thoughts. I was basing it off my emotions. I was basing it off 10 seconds of time that did not show the entire picture.

Since making the post I have received text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages and replies, and even had a teacher come up to me while picking up my son. I have to say that each one of these incidents have opened my eyes. It has allowed me to see the bigger picture. The bigger picture is we can’t base an honest opinion off a short clip of anyone’s life.

See, like many, I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. I was looking at one frame of time. I honestly don’t know the heart, concerns, or burdens of the teachers that were being spoken to. And I don’t know the stress and heart of the Superintendent. So many of us took that clip and labeled everyone involved. Here are some of the things that I heard from this incident. “I can’t believe that the Superintendent is so cold hearted.” “I can’t believe someone in that position can be so ignorant.” Or “Can you believe that those teachers are such crybabies?” “That’s their job!” I could go on and on.

Here is the point: I feel like the Holy Spirit is wanting me to make. It is not fair for us to “label” people based on one moment of time. It doesn’t matter which side of the argument we are on, we don’t know the whole story or any story based on 10 seconds. We could all be labeled as something that we aren’t. Thank you, Lord, that I ain’t who I used to be.

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t call us all the things that He could? Yet He calls us His Children, His Masterpiece, Redeemed, Chosen, Loved, Blessed and Highly Favored, SET FREE, and here is my favorite, HIS! We are His!

Father, thank you so much for what you have shown me over the past week. I am so grateful that you don’t take small snippets of my life and put them on blast. Thank you for “opening my eyes” to let me see the heart of those on both sides involved to realize I was wrong in the way that I handled this situation. Thank you for the love and compassion that I have been shown by those I’ve offended. I pray that I’m never a stumbling block for anyone! I pray for everyone reading this; that we don’t let one moment of our life label us, other than the moment of our Salvation! To HELL with the devil for letting us believe the lie that we are something that You’ve never called us. Reminded us today of who You say I am! Thank you that the only good thing about me is YOU.

In Jesus Name.

-Shaun

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The Words We Tell Ourselves

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  – Proverbs 18:21

For a couple of months now, I have just been down.  Right around December, I was in the best shape of my life, I had finally put completely to rest some offense from my past, and everything was just going well for the most part.  Then, I got the virus which shall not be named.  The actual sickness lasted for about 3 days, but then came the tiredness.  I tried to start working out again to just to find myself sleeping for hours afterwards.  It began to sink my spirit.  I got into this habit of complaining and even telling myself, “I need to go back to bed,” or “I just can’t do this” even though I had slept plenty.  I would end up dragging through my day with low energy and lots of whine.  

Recently, I picked up this religious book from the 80’s in a really weird place.  I read the first page and found these words, “Let the weak say I am strong.”  Immediately, the Lord spoke to my spirit, and I thought of how weak I’ve been and just accepting it.  Well, I took that moment to tell myself, “No more complaining about being sick . . . body, you are strong, you are well rested, and you have all you need by the spirit of God!  It all turns around starting right now!”   I had no idea where that verse was in the Bible, so I looked it up . . . Joel 3:10.  When I studied it in context, it had nothing to do with how I had just used it, but thank goodness it still worked.  

I looked for other similar verses . . . I liked Proverbs 18:21.  I have the power to speak death and life into my situation.  I can’t tell you what a difference it has made in just a few days.  Instead of waking up saying, “I wish I could sleep some more” and dragging myself around, I say, “I am well rested . . . I have all I need to conquer the day.”  Either I have the spirit of the living God living inside of me or I do not.  I have no idea why I forget to access Him.  I’m not where I want to be, but praise God, I’m finally heading back in the right direction.

Lord, I want to be more than a conqueror.  I’m not foolish enough to think I can just say whatever I want and go do it.  I need You constantly filling me with Your Spirit, Your mercy, and Your grace.  I need You leading me.  I can walk one step at a time.  I can live moment by moment and breath by breath.  When I live like this, things are so wonderful . . . it is like I’m walking with You . . . not crawling so I don’t get anywhere, and not running so that I tire easily.  You are and always will be the best thing this planet offers.  Let me not forget . . . even for a moment.  Amen

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A God Conversation

Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  – 1 John 5:12

A: “So do you have faith in God, or anything like that?”

B: “No.  I used to.  I was saved, but I found myself quickly getting drunk again, being angry, and still using words I know I shouldn’t use.  The religious people around me told me that if I had really gotten saved, I wouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff.  So now I pretty much believe that it doesn’t matter what a person believes.  All religions pretty much lead to the same place if they lead anywhere at all.”

A: “Since that happened to you, since you were saved, would you say that there is anything different about your life?”

B: “I feel like my attitude immediately got better.  I just had a better outlook on things and stuff doesn’t bother me nearly as much.”

A: “What if God is like a person who really loves to take His time fixing really nice classic cars?  The only problem is that they don’t run and pretty much everything on them needs to be fixed.  Could you imagine how awesome it would be if all you saw one day was a car that hasn’t run in forever, but the guy working on it went out there and fired it up?”

B: “That would be pretty awesome.” 

A: “There is all kinds of stuff that needs to be fixed, but it runs now.  The restorer of the car is in no hurry to fix it all up.  He just does a little at a time.  He takes his time and purchases each part to replace as he goes along.  He doesn’t mind taking years.  I’m telling you this because your attitude change was God getting the car running.  Just because there are a ton of other parts that need to be replaced doesn’t mean He isn’t working in your life.  You are certainly free to believe what you want, but I’m just saying that I wouldn’t let go of my faith because there are a bunch of parts that need fixing.  Be excited that God has gotten you up and running.  He will do the rest in His time.  Before you die, He will have completed His masterpiece in you.”

B: “I guess I never thought of it like that.”

A: “I didn’t either for quite a long time.  I was always defeated and beat down as well because I would do stupid things.  The devil as well as many religious people would always point out what needed to be fixed and never could just say that they saw a difference in me, and I was headed in the right direction.  I just want you to know, I believe you are headed in the right direction.  Don’t let go of Jesus . . . at least not for the reasons you gave me.  He is working in Your life.  If you have Him, you have everything.”

B: “I really appreciate you talking to me like this.”

Lord, let person B feel Your presence today.  Let me feel Your presence today.  To really know that You are in our lives and working on us, knowing that there is so much to be fixed . . . thank You!  There is and never will be another like You.  You are the restorer of all restorers.  Help us to live for You!  Help us to lay our lives down for You!  Help every person that reads this to think about the conversations that they have with people about You.  Do we encourage them to move forward?  Or do we beat them down and make them think they must go backwards to fix a bunch of things?  We know which one comes from You, and which one comes from the evil one.  Lead us, guide us, protect us, and give us exactly what we need to move forward today, Lord.  I love You!  Thank You so much for loving me.  Amen!

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It Just Has to Stop

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.  – Romans 14:1 (NLT)

I went to see Redeeming Love this weekend.  It is a romance based on the book of Hosea.  I thought the movie was awesome.  I thought the book was awesome when I read it a few years ago.  I felt God’s presence in both of them.  I learned a little bit more about what I’m like and how He is.  It was just a presence of God that I needed to experience.  I felt like God sent the book and the movie at just the right moments in my life.  

I looked online to see what others thought.  I found so many videos just bashing the movie.  They called it pornography.  They said that Michael Hosea (the protagonist) did all the saving, not Jesus.  There were a lot of YouTubers calling the movie evil.  After watching it, I just don’t see it.  It shouldn’t, but it all serves now as one more thing to divide Christians while an unbelieving world looks on and says, “I want no part of those Christians if that is the way they are with each other.”   

I saw where someone posted that they were at a Reba McEntire concert.  Yes, a Reba concert.  The first comment said, “You shouldn’t be there, we are supposed to be separate from the world.”  To relate this to the verse, one person, who claims to know Jesus, thinks it is perfectly fine to go and enjoy Reba, another, who claims to know Jesus, thinks it is wrong.  Again, what does an unbeliever think when they see that conversation?  

I remember one time posting a video of me singing a song in a brewery.  Some people in the church I was attending at the time lost their minds.  They immediately did some “research” on one of the bands we covered and let us know just how evil we were for entertaining with their music.  Now, don’t get me wrong, those band members were not and are not even close to being Christians, but a few people let us know that my daughter and I were heading straight to hell for playing the song.  I’m not trying to justify my, or anyone’s actions, I just want to emphasize Romans 14:1

I don’t know about you, but my deep, inner sense of right and wrong has changed so much in my 30 years of being a Christian.  As I grow in the Lord, what He says is right or wrong in different settings and situations changes over time.  I’m not talking about obvious sins like sexual immorality, drug abuse, anger, violence, theft, vice, and whatnot . . . Galatians 5 tells us what they are.  I’m talking about the things God says is wrong for you at a given moment or time period in your life.  For example, nobody would call playing golf a sin.  Yet, there was a time when God let me know that I was not to play.  To play would have been to disobey Him.  There was also a time when I could not listen to rock music.  I loved that stuff so much as a kid, God asked me to go through a long season of listening to, learning, and playing worship music and old hymns.  Years later, I could listen to rock songs again because they were no longer medicine to my soul, or a way of escape.  Even now, I do go and see the concerts of the bands I idolized growing up.  The awe, wonder, and the covetousness of wanting to be those guys no longer exists.  I pray for them and ask God to save them before they draw their last breaths.  I thank God that He didn’t give me what I thought I wanted and let me live out that lifestyle.  I thank God that He has given me a heart that wants them to be saved and go to heaven.  I don’t want to see anyone punished forever.

All I’m saying is love God, love His Word, and allow it to work on you.  If Romans 8:28 is true, and I absolutely believe that it is, everything, even the things we think are evil that others are doing, is working for their good.  Pray for others instead of bashing them.  Literally, for God’s sake, all this quarreling among Christians just has to stop.  The unbelieving world is watching.

Lord, the greatest commandment is to Love You with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength.  Help us to remember that the greatest sin we can commit is simply not love you.  There is no amount of right we can do to earn Heaven, and there is no amount of wrong we can do to deserve hell.  You have taught me so much by being places I never should have been and doing things I never should have done.  Thank You, Lord.  You really are working all things for my good.  I ask for You to help me be merciful to those who love to point out other people’s perceived wrongs.  I don’t want to write them off or think negatively of them.  I want to remember what Romans 14:1 says.  Help us to get this right.  If the world could just see Christians united and wanting the best for one another, we would be so unstoppable.  Right now, we are very much stoppable.  Help us.  With all my heart I’m asking for you to send revival to this land, Lord.  You have done it before . . . You can do it again.  Amen

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Wronged

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?  — 1 Corinthians 6:7

I have a friend that, to me, has been done as wrong as anyone has ever been done wrong.  Every time I hang out with him, I think of this wrong and pretty much the same Bible verse passes through my mind.  The verse comes from James and John when the people were treating Jesus rather badly.  When they witnessed it with their own eyes, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?”  (Luke 9:54) I honestly think those exact words in my mind.  I want so badly for the Lord to just lay the smack down on the people hurting him the most.

The crazy thing about it is that he thinks I’m being done wrong by some different people.  When we talk, it turns out that what bothers me about his situation doesn’t bother him nearly as much as I think it should.  In return, the thing that bothers him about me doesn’t bother me that much.  As we talk month after month, I’m beginning to wonder if this is some of what it means to “carry one another’s burdens” as mentioned in Galatians 6.  

Here is the thing:  This last time I was calling down fire from heaven in my mind, God spoke to my heart.  “Adam, if I did ‘punish’ them in a way you saw fit, would you be happy about it?”  As always when God speaks to me, it flooded my mind with thoughts.  Thoughts of how I’d never want my own kids to gloat over someone else’s pain . . . even if they did deserve it.  Thoughts of how God has more than withheld the punishments I have deserved.  If I’m asking God to judge them, would I be ok asking Him to judge me in the same way?  Suddenly, it didn’t feel so great to call down that fire from heaven.

God is making every person who has given his or her life to Him into the image of His Son.  The last thing He wants is a child of His gloating, pointing, and saying, “Ha-ha . . . you got what you deserved!”  I can’t believe I was about to let that live inside of me.  All I can say is that God is good, God is corrective in the best of ways, and God expects His children to represent Him well . . . to everyone.  

Lord, I’m sorry for the times I don’t represent You well.  I’m sorry for calling down fire from heaven.  I’m sorry that I can be a “son of thunder.”  We will be wronged in this life, but this life is so temporary.  Help me to keep that in mind.  Help me to want the absolute best for others.  Keep me on this narrow road that leads to life.  Thank You for all that you have shown me and taught me in 30 years of following You.  I look so forward to the day when my faith becomes sight.  Amen

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The Real Jesus

And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  – John 1:14

I have begun to realize that people tend to make Jesus a better version of themselves.  Jesus, for the most part, is exactly like me, but better.  He hates the same stuff I hate; He loves the same stuff I love; He for certain can’t stand the people that I can’t stand.   But whereas I fail at following my own rules from time to time, He never fails.  What happens when we take this attitude is we never grow in true Godliness.  We never grow to be like the real Jesus.

Even right now, I am guilty.  I started out this year with a fast.  As soon as it was over, I transitioned into eating healthy and exercising.  As soon as I felt like I was making some real progress, I got zapped with sickness.  I haven’t been to work in a few days, and I just hate being miserable.  Now, I would never say it out loud, but something in me believes, “The Jesus I serve should not have allowed me to be sick after starting off the year so well.”   Do you see what I’m doing?  Nowhere in the Bible is that found, but In my heart, I believe that health is tied to some sort of performance.  In my heart, I think God owes me health.  The Bible so quickly and easily debunks these thoughts that I have.  I sit here reminding myself and telling myself that I live by what the Bible says . . . not what I think.

Recently, I heard someone actually say the statement, “Well, the Jesus I serve . . .”  As soon as I heard it, I wondered, “Have I done this?  Have I made Jesus who I want Him to be and not who He actually is?”  The context of the phrase was sending someone to hell.  They were basically saying that the Jesus they served wouldn’t send someone to hell for whatever reason.  Without thinking about it, the person made Jesus exactly like themselves.  They were relying on their own opinion instead of what the word of God says.  John 3:18 says, “he who does not believe is condemned already.”  Hell is every person’s default destination.  We don’t misbehave so much that God eventually decides to send us there.  It is where we are going anyway.  Heaven is made possible through belief.  Jesus came simply to make a way.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me.”  (John 14:6) Right now, you and I either trust Jesus with our eternity, or we do not.  In no way will any person’s additional thoughts or opinions change that.  

I like John 1:14 because I’ve begun to use it to take the opposite approach to how I feel.  For example, if I’m beating myself up because I feel like I let God down (as if I’m holding Him up), then I see Him as full of grace, assuring me that all is well.  If I’m excusing my sin time and time again and thinking it isn’t a big deal and He is cool with it, then I picture Him as full of truth saying something like, “neither do I condemn you, but go and sin no more.”  I guess I’m just all too aware that If I’m not careful, I will make Jesus way too much like me and I’ll really just end up serving myself . . . which is the easiest thing in the world to do.  

Lord, with all my heart, I want to serve the real You.  Reveal yourself to me.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit that Your Spirit may be my spirit.  I think too often I make my spirit Your Spirit.  Forgive me.  Help me be a good representation of who You really are.  You told Phillip one time, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”  I’m asking You, Lord, could you make it so that when people see me, they see You?  Help me, grow me, heal me, lead me, and guide me.  There is and never will be another like You.  I pray for all who read this today.  Help us to impact this world for Your glory.  Amen.

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