Remember…

I’ve been reading in Genesis this week. And I have been so encouraged by the stories of great men and women of God. Abel’s faith in God, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph; the list goes on, but there is so much courage and faith to be taken from these stories.

Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Take Noah: he was an old man. He gets a word from God to build a boat. This could quite possibly be the first boat in history, and it’s a big one. He tells everyone that it is going to rain. Rain? What is rain? The earth had been watered by a mist up to this point (Gen. 2:5-6). It is debatable whether there had ever been any water to fall from the sky.

People thought he was crazy. But Noah was a righteous man in his generation (Gen. 7:1, 2 Peter 2:5). He kept his heart in line with the Word of God and didn’t allow popular opinion to make him question it.

Abraham was the father of faith and yet he laughed at the promise of God (Gen. 17:17). God called him blameless and he is remembered as the father of faith. Far from perfect, he had his fare share of mistakes. But he kept his eyes on the Lord.

There are so many stories like these of fallible man that an infallible God used to achieve His purposes. Be encouraged that you are not alone. It’s not the doubt and discouragement that takes you out, it’s what you do with it.

Let the Word of God build faith in you. Go and read the stories of the great men and women of faith. They are there for us to remember (Deut. 32:7). They are there for our encouragement. The people in these stories were normal people that faced incredible odds. Some of us will not face odds so large. Some of us will, but that is why we remember the stories and take courage in faith and the incredible awesomeness of our God.

Remember…

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Has He Forgotten Me?

Do you ever think that God has forgotten about you? He must be busy because your gifts aren’t being used. “God, I’ve been in this place for so long!” You fill in the blank. I’ve been in school. I’ve been in this season. I’ve been… for so long.

David is one of the most famous men in the Bible. The mighty conquering king of Israel, there are many stories of him and his mighty men. But where did this ‘mighty man’ start? Tending sheep.

It would be so easy for him to think that there was nothing too special about his life. He was the youngest of eight boys. Think about that alone. The stereotype of the youngest of eight boys; he must’ve been pretty scrappy. He had to have been able to hold his own, but he probably took the brunt of his brothers.

From the description in the Bible, he most likely had red hair. The Bible doesn’t say anything about how tall he was, only that his oldest brother had very promising looks. He spent his days in the pastures tending sheep. His days were very lonely.

What did he do with those days alone? He became the best at what he did. He used his quiet times in the pasture to become an excellent marksman and musician. He was probably the best shepherd that Jesse ever had. He was willing to take a lamb out of the mouth of a lion and a bear.

Then one day, his life changed… or did it?

1Samuel 16:11-13 “And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.’ So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.”

He was anointed king, but he wouldn’t become king for several years. The Holy Spirit was on him from that day forward. But he spent time in the palace playing for the king who was crazy.

What? But God, he was ready!! His days of preparation were over, right? He spent all that time taking the back seat to his older brothers. It was his time to shine. But God sees what we cannot.

David was a man forged through the fire. He went through trials that most of us would not have the courage to face. How did he stay on course? How did he stay focused and not throw in the towel?

David was a man who knew his God. He knew that God was faithful and that His Word doesn’t fall to the ground. In his lowest times, he turned to God.

God picked David, the least likely of his family because God knew that in times of fire he would respond. God knew that in David was the heart of a champion, not because he was tall and good looking, not because he was strong. But God knew that when he was most needed, David would respond to Him.

David didn’t waste his time. He was a young man of excellence. It was the character that he chose in the pasture that made him the man that he was in the wilderness. And it was the character that he chose in the wilderness that made him the man that he was in the palace.

What is the character that you are building? Don’t take the pasture seasons for granted. God knows your name. He’s got your number. He knows when He will need you. But are you becoming the person that He can count on when He needs you?

Don’t waste the time that God has given you. Each season is preparation for the next. This lifetime is merely preparation for all eternity. How you treat today affects your tomorrow. Don’t take it for granted.

Psalms 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Seventy Times Seven

Matthew 18:21-35 “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’”

Long passage, but it has been on my mind today. It will really rock your world if you let it. Too often as Christians, we let things bug us. People get on our nerves or flat out offend us. Sometimes they legitimately hurt us. But what is our response? It can make the difference in eternity.

So first, the servant is brought before the king with an insurmountable debt. He begs for mercy and is forgiven a debt that he never could have paid. He promptly goes and finds a fellow servant and demands a few dollars from him and shows no mercy. You can imagine why the king responded the way he did.

Let’s put this in real life. We hold a debt to God that we can never pay. He has forgiven us for things that we could never make up for. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. The payment for the wrong that we have done is death. But instead we have been forgiven and given life.

And in return, we find someone that we feel owes us and won’t forgive them. Why? What makes us feel that we have the right? I think more often than not, we forget the debt that we have been forgiven. Then when we hold something against another person, we put ourselves in a place of torment. Verse 34 says torturers, other versions say tormentors. We never really hurt the person that we don’t forgive, we really only ever hurt ourselves. The torment in your mind is unbearable.

The other thing that unforgiveness does is that it separates us from God. We can’t hear His voice anymore. It makes it so that the only thing that we can think about it is what we think is owed us. And because we can’t hear His voice, we aren’t walking in obedience to Him.

The last thing that unforgiveness and bitterness does is that it drives people away from you. Your closest friends and family will begin to get distant. The only time they stay close is when they themselves are harboring unforgiveness. Then it becomes misery and company. But those that don’t will subconsciously step away because of the things that you allow in through the unforgiveness and the torment.

Legitimately, there are times when it hurts deeply. People do things that are wrong to us: physically, mentally or emotionally. Forgiving them isn’t saying that what they did was right. Forgiving them is moving on and not letting it hold on to you. It is trusting in God and looking to Him instead of to the circumstance. Forgiveness is moving forward and keeping your heart right with God.

Let God shape the way you think. Remember that it is seventy times seven, not so that we keep account, but so that we don’t live in torment. Forgive so that your Father can forgive you. It’s like a faucet. You can’t turn it off to those around you and expect that it is still going to flow from above. Forgiveness is the only option in light of eternity.

How Do You Smell?

What do you smell like? Not physically, but what do people think when they see you? What impression do you leave behind? What aroma is left in the room?

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”

Not everyone will like you if you are diffusing the fragrance of Christ. Why? Because it reminds them that they are perishing. But does that make you change the way you approach people? Do you try to change your approach to please them? Or swing to the other extreme and not care at all?

There are others that will be attracted to you just because of the life that is in you. Like John 1:4 says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” When you walk in the light, you shine and people can see the life of Christ through you. You become a breath of fresh air wherever you go.

We want the fragrance of His knowledge to be diffused everywhere we go. We want people to know that we are Christians and that we follow Him. We don’t want to be among those that hide our lights so as not to offend.

So often we leave a bad smell in people’s nostrils. “Here comes that Christian. They are always so rude.” Or “They are so picky with their order and don’t tip well.” We are the light of the world, but how are we shining? Do we let Christ shine through us in the coffee shop and in the restaurant and in the grocery store? Or do we forget who we represent when it comes to how we treat people in service positions?

Working in customer service, there are people that I see that I would have no idea are Christians by their actions, only by the fact that they invite everyone to their church. Are they successful? No! No one wants to go to their church because of the way they are treated.

We aren’t selling anything. They way we live our lives will attract or repel people. We don’t have to be nervous like a door-to-door salesman that is selling something that no one wants. Going to someone’s door that knows nothing about us and hoping that they will buy what we have. People need what we have and we can’t be afraid that they will see the light and be repelled. But we can’t repel them by the way we treat them.

What do you smell like today? Do you carry the sweet fragrance of Christ? Or the stench of self-centeredness and selfish focus?

I would love to hear your thoughts today.

Stand

I apologize for the lack of postings the last few days. Life gets crazy sometimes. I was thinking yesterday about this verse. It has to be one of my all time favorites.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

This verse is set in context of Jesus’ victory over death and how we will inherit immortality. So, because we will inherit the incorruptible, be steadfast. Keeping heaven in mind: be immoveable. Remember that you will stand before Him: abound in His work. Knowing…

It can be so easy to skip straight to the end of the verse and take the promise. My hard work won’t be in vain! But wait. First, be steadfast. Be immoveable.

Do your standards change depending on who you are with? Do you have standards? Do you hold yourself to a higher standard than others do?

Be immoveable. Can people talk you out of the Bible? I have seen it over and over where a young person will have a conviction from the Bible, a verse that they want to live by. But before long, someone comes along that has a different opinion or doesn’t agree or thinks it’s a little too radical. Or sometimes, they just want to argue. And they will argue or reason the person out of their conviction.

Can you be moved on what is Biblically right or wrong? Not by opinion, but by the Bible. Things that the Bible states very clearly and strongly, do you sway on them? Or are you willing to stand against the tide of popular opinion and stand on truth?

The last part of the verse is about abounding in His work. Build His Kingdom. Build His House. And in all your building, as you stand steadfast, immoveable and unshakeable, know that it is not for nothing.

We can’t grab the promise without keeping the conditions. Let’s keep the conditions and live to please the Lord. Let’s stand on the Word of God and not be swayed by opinion.