Monday, June 29, 2015

THE BLESSING IN YOUR HISTORY





1 Kings 3:6

6 Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.



If you were to review what God has done in your life, you would find a pattern of his faithfulness and kindness toward you. As I think back on my own family history, I see the tracing of God’s finger. I follow Jesus and so does my dad. His father was a WW1 soldier injured in battle and also lost his first wife in childbearing. Grandpa was known as the town drunk. But God had other plans and grandpa came to Christ. 

Even though grandpa had many problems, God put blessing on his life. If grandpa were still alive, he would see that God’s hand on his life had far reaching effects.

Solomon knew that his father David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’. Sure, other people said all kinds of things about his dad – Solomon knew his dad’s heart and the blessing of God that flowed in his life. Maybe your father or mother passed on a passion for God to you. 

  Or perhaps you grew up without a family to look back upon.  If they were godless, rebellious, disinterested or not in your life at all, God will put surrogate spiritual parents and mentors to influence your life and pass along His parental love toward you.

Whatever your story, learn to see the history that God has you now taking part in. When you pray, realize that you are part of a bigger timeline and experience that God is unfolding throughout generations.  Whether you have children of your own or become a spiritual parent to others, your life influence is intended to shape the future of others.

We are all becoming part of that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ the writer of Hebrews spoke about. We are part of a bigger plan. Let’s learn to pray with that in mind.


Friday, June 26, 2015

ASK FOR ANYTHING

One of Israel’s greatest kings was a man named Solomon. He had an encounter that shows God up close and personal.


1 Kings 3:5

5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."
NIV


In the verses prior, we find that Solomon ‘loved’ the Lord. In fact, Solomon had just offered a sacrifice to God of one thousand burnt offerings! Solomon was the son of David, a man whom noted as having a special connection to the heart of God. It’s not surprising that Solomon learned extravagant worship and leadership from his renowned father David.

Even though the appearance of God was just a dream, the outcome took place in reality.  Do you know that God is generous? Do you know that He wants to give you the desires of your heart?

God has such respect for human choice and free will. He did not tell Solomon what to ask for, but gave the choice to Solomon. The Father respects you and wants you to think about what you really need from Him.  Do you know what to ask Him for?


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DARE I ASK?



A man is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie. The genie says, "Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes." The man says, "Great. I always dreamed of this and I know exactly what I want. First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account." Phoof! There is a flash of light, and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand.
He continues, "Next, I want a brand new red Ferrari right here." Phoof! There is a flash of light, and a bright red brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him.
He happily continues again, "Finally, I want to be irresistible to women." Phoof! There is a flash of light, and he turns into... a box of chocolates
.[1]


If you could ask God for anything and know that it would be given to you, what would you ask for? Our imaginations are fed by movies and childhood stories of supernatural beings that grant their clients a series of wishes. 

Repeatedly, the scriptures tell us that God is approachable and wants us to ask for his help and provision.  Do we actually believe that God wants to help? How much do you believe God specifically has good things for you? 

In the matter of prayer, Jesus said:


Luke 11:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


So if you are to ask God for guidance and help, what specifically will you ask for?


Saturday, June 20, 2015

ATMOSPHERE OF HEAVEN AND HELL


We cannot on one hand praise the King for forgiveness of a monstrous debt and then have him wink at the unjust way an offender turns on the one who owes him a small amount.



For the King’s mercy to mean anything, there must be the threat of justice and punishment to the one who recklessly offends the King in unthinkable ways.

If mercy is the atmosphere of Heaven, then justice is the atmosphere of Hell. The mercy of God is freely offered through Jesus’ sacrifice to the worst offenders. It is mercy beyond what we deserve or can earn. The gospel is good news in affirming that all sinners can be forgiven, and have a new Jesus-like nature develop in them.

The mercy of God defines His Kingdom. Jesus said the merciful are shown mercy. Conversely, the unmerciful will not be shown mercy.  People who reject the notion of a Biblical Hell want the mercy of God without God’s right to judge between good and evil. If evil is really just a lower form of good, then all must eventually become good and we do not really need justice.

Jesus will have no such lack of justice. The King of His story sends the man to the torturer’s prison where the debt can be atoned for. The impossible size of the debt means the man will be there forever.

The King was right in the first place to require justice against a true offender. The mercy was an undeserved gift that only had meaning if a real punishment were averted. Jesus portrays a very merciful King who will revert to justice when His mercy does not make a lasting effect on the recipient.


Matthew 18:
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


It is no small sin to beg for mercy from God and still demand just punishment from all who need your mercy. This is Jesus’ point.  Unless you can forgive others from your heart, you did not understand the mercy God showed you.

Those who know God’s mercy must operate on the principle of mercy. If they do not show mercy but insist on justice, they will not receive mercy, but justice. An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart and is subject to torment “until he should pay all”. A truly forgiving heart is one result of spiritual rebirth.[1]







[1] Reformation Study Bible

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CHIEF BEHAVING BADLY


Matthew 18:
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 

‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.


The one who was shown an unthinkable mercy did not let it change his view of others. The amount was very small by comparison to what he had owed, but enough to drive the man to see red with the one who owed him.

Forgiveness and mercy can sometimes leave you feeling unsettled… even though the account has been balanced. Did the one forgiven the greater amount somehow think that his debtor should pay up since it was a doable amount? His own debt was cancelled because it was impossible. If his debt were this small, would he not have paid it off?

His own debt was this small at one time and he did nothing when he could have worked it off. Now he expects more of another man than he did for himself. We sometimes are harder on those who have made smaller mistakes.

Or did he think that he needed the small sum in order to go back and still try to pay the King off for his ridiculous debt? We are offended when people who are forgiven much lack mercy on others. The other servants ratted him out to the King.

Instead, the forgiven man should have let the mercy change his evaluation of others. Mercy should beget mercy.


Richard Foster said,

Once we see the awfulness of sin we know that, regardless of what others have done, we ourselves are the chief of sinners. Therefore, there is nothing that anyone can say that will disturb us. Nothing. By living under the cross we can hear the worst possible things from the best possible people without so much as batting an eyelash. If we live in that reality, we will convey that spirit to others. They know it is safe to come to us. They know we can receive anything they could possibly reveal. They know we will never condescend to them but, instead, understand.[1]






[1] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Perfectbound, p.154

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