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.

Love The Light

I must confess: October is one of my least favorite times of the year. I love fall. I love red, yellow, and orange leaves. I love frost and pumpkin pie and wind. But I really dislike Halloween. I don’t like to drive through my neighborhood and see skeletons hanging everywhere. It hurts my heart to see ten year olds dressed like ghosts and zombies.

I know. I can hear it coming. “What is wrong with Halloween?” “Are you one of those mean neighbors that refuse to give kids candy because it’s evil?”

Well, here it is. Halloween was originally a pagan holiday. There is nothing godly about it. It was a ritual night of live sacrifices and evil spells. Yes, I do give candy to kids at my door. But I take no part in celebrating this day of darkness.

1 John 1:5-6 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

In context, this verse is talking about not living in the darkness of deception. Don’t be deceived. Don’t let something that is culturally acceptable make you look like the darkness.

I can’t tell you how to believe, or how to behave. But I pray that you would research and decide for yourself how you will live. We don’t celebrate death and evil. We celebrate life and life more abundantly.

Here is a link to some very well put together research done by a Christian on Halloween and what it really is all about. i would urge you to please take a couple minutes to read it. And maybe think a little differently about this ‘Day of the Dead’.

http://theartofpursuit.com/2012/10/01/halloween-whats-the-big-deal-2/

What Does He Want of Me?

Do you ever have friends that share verses with you? I do, and I love it when they do! A friend shared this yesterday and I haven’t been able to get away from it:

Psalm 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.’”

Wait. So God doesn’t want sacrifice or offering? He doesn’t require the burnt offerings and sin offerings that the Old Testament is full of? The Law of Moses was full of details of such offerings and sacrifices. It had every detail, how often they were required, how they were to be divided. It was very thorough.

So if God doesn’t desire or require these anymore what does He desire? I believe that God doesn’t want things that are ‘required’, what He really desires is our decision to follow Him. Our obedience out of love and not duty is what He is really looking for.

Psalm 51:16-17 “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.”

What He really wants is a broken and a contrite heart. It doesn’t seem very fun at first, but think of a stallion. A wild stallion isn’t good for anyone until it has been broken. Once he has been broken and submits willingly to the handler’s prompting, he is one of the most useful and beautiful animals. Who wants a horse that pulls at every turn and will buck you off if you give him half of a chance?

He wants us to come to that place of brokenness where we look to Him for where to go and what to do next. A well trained horse will not move until prompted. He wants a people that will do His will, who will move at His prompting and not without.

Going back to Psalm 40, verse eight says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” He wants a people that delight in His will. How? by putting His Word in our hearts. When we love His Word and let it live within our hearts, we will know and love His will. We will get used to hearing His voice because it will have the same tone as the Word.

Let’s love His Word and give Him the sacrifice He desires. Let’s delight in His will and learn to hear His voice. And lastly, let’s obey willingly when we feel the gentle nudge of the Spirit.

The Heartbeat of God

Pondering the love of God today…

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

One part at a time: God so loved the world that He gave… Most everyone when they love, they give. It is easy to do. When a young couple falls in love, they will do all sorts of things for each other. Parents will do just about anything for their children in the name of love.

But how many people would give their only son for someone else? How many would willingly offer their son’s life in the place of a stranger, even a criminal? How many would allow their son to give his life if he wanted to?

And yet, the King of the universe gave His only Son to take my place. I didn’t deserve it. God owed me nothing. In fact, by the way I lived; I was one to spit in His face. But in spite of who I was and am, He still loves me.

It redefines love. But God is love, I think He has the best definition. God’s love is and always will be the greatest love. It never changes. The Bible says that God never changes, so His love can never change. The same desire, the same love that led Him to give His Son, still wants to spend eternity with us.

The heart of God beats for people. It beats that we could know Him and be close to Him. He wanted us to have eternal life. We were meant for heaven, not hell. Jesus took our place, we were deserving of death and He died in our stead that we might live forever with Him in paradise. God so loved that He gave. He gave the most precious thing that He had that, if we will believe, we can be with Him.

It’s The Little Things

1 Chronicles 16:8 “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”
Just thinking about this verse this  evening. What  am I thankful for? What has the Lord done for me?
It can be so easy to go about our lives and take things for granted. Let’s start with the little things… Electricity. Heat or AC. Slippers. A car. Family. Friends. A bed.
Think if we took two minutes every fast to stop and thank the Lord for His goodness. He hasn’t given us what we deserve.  Some of us He has preserved our lives. He gives us breath every day. He doesn’t withhold any good thing.
Share it with a friend. This verse says to make His deeds known among the people.  Tell someone, “You know, I am so thankful for…” And make that a habit. “Do you know what God has done for me?” It is so fun to do, and it encourages both of you.
What are you thankful for today? I would love to hear from you. But even more so, I would like to challenge you to take a minute every day and turn your heart to the Lord and thank Him for what He had done. It does wonders for the soul.