Monday, May 21, 2018

May 21 Thought for the day...toss the tree, Part 2


Bitterness and unforgiveness are deep-rooted things that can damage our lives in many ways. Jesus gave us the way to healing from these challenges

Luke 17:6

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!

Just as a reminder this phrase is related to a discussion Jesus was having with His disciples about forgiving people as much as seven times in one day. The disciple's response, to do this we need more faith!

Jesus was specific about the comparison of the sin of unforgiveness and bitterness when we said it was like tossing a mulberry tree. This particular type of mulberry represented bitterness and unforgiveness well. Its root system didn't give up easily. It grows in dry dessert places like the heart of a spiritually dry person, and it has a very bitter fruit and is eaten a little at a time meditated on then eaten again the way a person deals with bitterness and unforgiveness.

There are a couple more comparisons I want to make. The wood from this tree was used most often for caskets, and I believe Jesus was also referring to this tree because bitterness and unforgiveness can kill you. The only way the fruit is pollinated is by a wasp sting. Often people will refer to their pain as being stung by this person or that person. This tree was a perfect illustration of what bitterness and unforgiveness will do!

The Cure.....

Faith as a grain of mustard seed! This seed is tiny even minuscule. Jesus is saying while bitterness and unforgiveness may run deep and may be difficult to eliminate in the natural, it only takes the tiniest bit of faith to defeat it. The challenge is, are you willing?

Are you ready to rip those deep seeded roots right out of your heart? Are you ready to let go of all the pain, rejection, and offenses you are facing? Are you ready to eliminate from your life the love, joy, peace stealing, unforgiveness, and bitterness? It is in your power to choose to ask the Lord to remove it from your life and then allow faith to arise inside of you to stand firm against the return of the bitterness and unforgiveness. God has made a way for you to be free but you must choose to say, "I want this out of my life," and it will be. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 18 Thought for the day....effective communication of the Gospel



It is not always easy to present the Gospel. We are all supposed to do it but fear of failure, rejection stifle our attempts. Paul had a really bad experience but found a way to turn it all around.

"And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  1 Corinthians 2:1, 2

Paul had just come off of his famous Mars hill discourse (Acts 17:16-34). He had talked to the Athenians about the "unknown God". By every sense of the word, it was brilliant.  It was the perfect blend of contextualization, theology, and proper exegesis (a lot of fancy words to say any theologian or trained missionary would have been proud). The problem was it didn't work! Acts 17:32 "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” Verse 34 tells us there was a small group from the massive crowd that did believe. So what happened?

Athens was a city full of supernatural power, demonic, but still, supernatural. In one temple prophets prophecied to every person who entered. In another, healings took place on a regular basis. The city was full of temples and supernatural occurrences were a common thing in Athens. The supernatural to the Athenians validated the truth that was being spoken.  Paul had reverted to relying on his own strength of theology and had forgotten the key to this city was the demonstration the Spirit and power. As he is writing the Corinthians he corrects this mistake in verse 4 he makes this statement, "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,"

To be effective in sharing the Gospel we have to not only understand what we believe and why we believe it. Paul was not discounting that but we must have the fruit of the Spirit (demonstration of the Spirit) and the power of the Spirit (gifts, actions) active in our ministry. In every meeting our church has, in every service I preach or teach, I expect God to move in power. We should always expect the Holy Spirit to show up. Our attitudes and character should always reflect the fruit of the Spirit and our actions the power. If you are filled with the Spirit you should expect the Spirit to flow in power through you and if you are filled with the Spirit God expects the fruit to flow through you too! This is truly the effective Gospel message.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17 Thought for the day...remembering so you may overcome


There are times in life where you just feel discouraged. Times that you honestly believe God is not going to come through for you. Here is what can do, it works for me every time!

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: Hebrews 10:32

We all go through tough times. The only way to become a conqueror or overcomer is to conquer and overcome stuff. I don't know why many of us don't realize that, but in the heat of the battle, it is easy to forget.

The writer uses the word "illuminated" to illustrate a very important point for us.  It means to make visible as in a brilliant flash, as a solar flare or flash photography (the word used is the Greek word root for photography). The writer is explaining that when in the midst of our struggles and difficulties take a breath and flash back to those times where God awakened you to His blessings!

Think back to the time when God revealed His protection over your life. An incident happened where you should have been hurt, but you know God had his hand of protection on you. You were crying out to God about how bad your financial situation was, and the Lord revealed to you about tithing, you started, and everything changed. You are battling pain or sickness, and the Lord reveals His healing power to you, and God sets you free. In my case, one of my most illuminating moments was when I realized how much He absolutely loved me, it radically changed my view of God.

The writer is saying, remember those times when you are in the midst of your crisis. Stand on them! They will remind you the same God that did that for you then will cause you to overcome your battle now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 16 Thought for the day...hang in there



Have you ever thought God I've waited long enough for your promise. I'm done waiting! I've seen others blessed, others have their prayers answers and here I sit...I'm done! Most of us have reached that point. But the writer of Hebrews challenges us with something different.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

Now we have looked at this verse already, but today I need us to look at the phrase "without wavering" it means something that is fixed, inflexible, it does not bend, unchanging. What is being said here is, don't ever give up on your dream. God has it in His hands. We don't always understand why He waits, but if you stand firm, He always comes through.

If we add what I have translated on other days to this, we could interpret this verse this way...

"Let us come into agreement with God and begin to speak what He says, tightly wrapping our arms around the promise we are confessing — embracing it with all our might, holding tightly to it, rejecting all attempts of anyone who tries to steal it from us, not allowing ourselves to be fickle in our commitment, but determined to be inflexible and unmoving from that which we believe and confess...."

The devil only knows how to lie. If he is whispering in your ear, "give up, there is no hope," why are you wasting your time, this is never going to happen." you can be assured God is going to come through. Don't give up on your dream or God's promises; He is faithful to keep His promises!



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 15 Thought for the day...effective prayer


How many times do you find yourself simply throwing up a quick prayer? Not taking the time to engage Him just talking. I know we all do it from time to time with people and God. One of my biggest struggles is this in the lobby after service. I want to greet every person and show him or her the love I have for them, but so many are there we have to rush through. Sometimes people feel neglected; I wonder if God feels that way when we are in a hurry in prayer?

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"Ephesians 6:18

The word for prayer used in this verse is the most often used word for prayer in the New Testament. It is a combination of two words with three meanings.

First, it means intimacy, closeness, being face to face. When Paul speaks of prayer, the Holy Spirit is guiding him to teach what it is meant to be, a time of intimacy between us where we are face to face with God.

Secondly, it means a vow, a promise, a sacrifice, consecration. It is the idea that when we are offering our prayers, we are in complete surrender to God and are willing to submit to him completely. Because of the first part of the definition, we know that it is a calling to an unconditional love between the pray-er and God. As we pray, we feel His love and willingly surrender to that love to trust that His answer will be perfect.

Third, it means "thanksgiving,"  it is the idea that as we come to the Lord to talk, make our request, and build our relationship that we come expecting having a heart of thanksgiving knowing God is going to respond for our best.

Real prayer is having an intimate, face to face with God. It is surrendering to Him, all that we are and in exchange, we gain all that He has for us. We do this all with such an expectation that our hearts are full of thanksgiving for what He is going to do in us, through us, and for us.

I hope this changes your outlook on prayer. I know if you understand this it certainly will change your effectiveness. God is always faithful to hear and answer our prayers. Will we be faithful to effectively pray?

Monday, May 14, 2018

May 16 Thought for the day...hang in there



Have you ever thought God I've waited long enough for your promise. I'm done waiting! I've seen others blessed, others have their prayers answers and here I sit...I'm done! Most of us have reached that point. But the writer of Hebrews challenges us with something different.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

Now we have looked at this verse already, but today I need us to look at the phrase "without wavering" it means something that is fixed, inflexible, it does not bend, unchanging. What is being said here is, don't ever give up on your dream. God has it in His hands. We don't always understand why He waits, but if you stand firm, He always comes through.

If we add what I have translated on other days to this, we could interpret this verse this way...

"Let us come into agreement with God and begin to speak what He says, tightly wrapping our arms around the promise we are confessing — embracing it with all our might, holding tightly to it, rejecting all attempts of anyone who tries to steal it from us, not allowing ourselves to be fickle in our commitment, but determined to be inflexible and unmoving from that which we believe and confess...."

The devil only knows how to lie. If he is whispering in your ear, "give up, there is no hope," why are you wasting your time, this is never going to happen." you can be assured God is going to come through. Don't give up on your dream or God's promises; He is faithful to keep His promises!




May 14 Thought for the day....toss the tree, Part 1


It is hard to forgive especially the first time real forgiveness must come to play. As little ones, we are taught to say "I'm sorry" and "will you forgive me." In the process, we also learn to forgive others. As an adult, real forgiveness can be extremely difficult as the disciples were struggling with the concept.

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you! Luke 17:6

This has been one of the most misused verses in the Bible. Jesus is having a discussion with his disciples about bitterness and forgiveness. He is telling them they need to forgive seven times in one day if necessary. It is hard enough to forgive someone one time but to forgive someone if they offend or hurt us seven times, that will take a miracle. It would take more faith than they could muster. The disciples are saying they need more faith to be able to do such a thing, "increase our faith," they ask. Jesus response is what we just read.

It is important that we recognize exactly what Jesus is saying he is very specific. Jesus said with enough faith you could say to "this" which is to say, a very specific thing. The mulberry tree represents all the bitterness and unforgiveness that can come from all the wounds and rejection.

He chose a mulberry tree for very specific reasons. First, this type of tree would not die easily. You could chop it down, and if you didn't get all of the roots, it would come right back, just like bitterness and unforgiveness. Secondly, it grows very easily and loves a very dry environment. It doesn't take much to make bitterness and unforgiveness to grow, and they grow best in a spiritually dry environment. Third, this particular type of mulberry is a very bitter fruit. To eat it, people would nibble on it, leave it for a moment, then come back to it and nibble again. People with bitterness and unforgiveness produce bitterness for others too. Like eating the fruit, they will often chew on it for a long time, spend time thinking about the offense, then come back and nibble again, think about the offense then nibble again.

Is this you, do you see this type of bitterness or unforgiveness in your life. It doesn't have to remain. There is also another aspect or two about this tree that needs to be tossed that we need to deal with, so this week I just want you to examine your heart for the unforgiveness and bitterness, and then next week I will share how to be free.

Ask the Lord to reveal any unforgiveness or bitterness that might be alive in you. The Lord will set you free!