Thursday, May 23, 2013

For Mercy's Sake Do Something

God displayed mercy - giving us what we don't deserve - in sending His Son to take the punishment for our sin.

As believers we encounter people everyday who are still enslaved to the sin, guilt, shame, and belief that they are unworthy of God's love. They are chained to their past and we have the opportunity to show them the same grace and mercy God showed us.

The greatest gift we can give those who are bound to their sin and guilt and shame is to help them see that they don't have to live that way. We can show grace and mercy and then they can begin to believe that there is someone who loves them inspite of their sin - GOD. Christ's death on the cross was so that God could now love us because the sin was paid for and we are no longer bound to that sin. 

The thing we can do is tell them the truth - God took care of their sin and He has set them free in Christ. He sees us through Christ's righteousness and because of that we are no longer sinners, but saints saved by Christ to new life - a life without guilt and shame and hiding and chains. We are new creatures that are made to live out of the reality of who we are in Christ and no longer bound to the shame and the guilt that we have known.

In addition - the Holy Spirit - Christ - lives in us and empowers us to live out of our new reality and to never have to suffer the pain of our sin anymore. We can live in the new life Jesus bought for us and we can face everyday knowing that we are new in Him and nothing can ever change that. We can never be separated from the Love of Christ - it is forever and always and no power on earth or in Heaven can ever change that.

Rom. 8:37-39 
 37*  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
 38* For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things
        present, nor things to come, nor powers,
 39* nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love    
         of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is what we have to offer those who are living in bondage to sin and guilt and shame. Mercy demands that we share this and help them see that there is another way to live and Christ made it possible by His death and resurrection. 

This is the something we must do - tell the truth and watch God change lives because we were faithful and were bold.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Relationship and Why it is Important


     God intended us to live out our faith in community. In community we are known and also get to be 
in relationship with others who will tell us the truth when we get lost. They will call us back when we 
wander away. They will speak into our lives and that investment is how the Body of Christ is supposed to work. 
Relationships of commitment are vital to growing in our Christian life and our walk with Jesus.

     I can't hide in relationship. I must learn to be vulnerable so people can figure out how to love me 
in the midst of my junk. That is the beauty of an environment of grace. It allows us to love each other 
no matter what is revealed in the midst of relationship. It allows us to look beyond the junk and choose 
to love each other. What if there truly was a place where the worst of us could be known and we would 
be loved all the more? What if by choosing to submit - trust others with us and let them minister to us in 
the midst of our stuff, and in doing that I got healed and free from the shame, guilt, and hopelessness that 
comes with our sin.? Would we not want that? I do! I need it and as I submit to the strengths of those 
around me I benefit and God uses it to bring me back into the light and out of my darkness. 

      Also in relationship, my brothers and sisters can remind me of who they know me to be and who I 
really am and then I get healthy and God can use me in my strengths and my gifts are freed to be a benefit 
to the body of Christ. We are meant for this. This is how God designed the Body of Christ - the church. 
We are to minister to each other and help each other out of our brokenness and shame and guilt and back 
into faith and trusting what is true about us. Then we begin to live out of our identity in Christ and trust in 
Him and His provision and His ability to free us from our sin and junk, and the whole body benefits and 
God is glorified and Christ is honored and blessed by our faith and example to the world of what it is to 
live in Christ and out of who He made us to be by His work on the cross.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

John 8:3-11 The Woman Caught In Adultery

John 8: 3-11
The Woman Caught in Adultery

This is how Jesus dealt with a sinner and demonstrated what LOVE really is.

 3   And the scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst,
 4   They *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
 5* “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
 6*  And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. 
       But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.
 7*  But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, 
       let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
 8    And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
 9*  And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, 
        and the woman, where she was, in the midst.
 10* And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
 11* And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. 
         From now on sin no more.”

The Pharisees and scribes brought a woman caught in adultery and set her in their midst in front of Jesus, and then they tested Him by quoting the Law of Moses that said such a woman should be stoned. They asked Jesus “What do you say?”. It was a test and an attempt to accuse Him in front of the people. Jesus knows their intent and bends down and draws something on the ground. We don’t know what it was but they watched Him write it, and then He stood up and addressed them - “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” and then wrote again on the ground, again we don’t know what He wrote. 

Jesus was showing them what God expects - GRACE and MERCY and LOVE. These are the true currency of God's Kingdom and they will set the sinner free. Punishment and legalistic standards only bind the sinner to guilt and shame and separation from God, and the sinner never knows the freedom of FORGIVENESS and MERCY and GRACE and LOVE which is what God is all about. That is why Christ came was to pay for our sin so God could show GRACE and MERCY and LOVE to the sinner. It also allowed God to set us free from our guilt and shame and bring us back into relationship with our creator and God.

Then the accusers began to leave one by one until all were gone, and Jesus was left alone with the woman where they had set her. Jesus then stands up and says to the woman, “Woman, Where are they? Did no one condemn You? And she said “No one Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”

This is the LOVE of Christ, who knowing her sin, did not condemn her but showed MERCY and LOVE to this woman, and telling her to go and sin no more. This was the power of LOVE and this is what Jesus demands of each of us. LOVE is foremost, and condemnation is of no value. In choosing to demonstrate LOVE he freed this woman from her sin and allowed her to begin to change her life and choose a new path and a new direction. He also made a convert in allowing her to know that He would not condemn her and would LOVE her as only GOD can. We, as those who claim the name of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, must learn this lesson and find a way to help people deal with their sin and find HOPE and FORGIVENESS in Jesus Christ. It is our calling and our privilege and our sacred duty. Only then will people see God as He truly is and come to trust Him and put their faith in Him. Brothers and sisters in Christ - be the ones who will choose to LOVE as Christ LOVED and instead of condemning, choose to show MERCY and LOVE and in doing so see people come to a saving faith in Christ who did the same for you and me.
This is our calling and our privilege - to love by showing MERCY and FORGIVENESS and HOPE to those who are struggling in sin and feeling they are worth nothing when in fact they were worth God sending His Son to die for. This is our message and what we have been given by God to do in a world that is lost and falling apart. We must be diligent and courageous and constant in our commitment to represent Christ, be lights, be salt and share our faith and the hope we have in Christ. In doing this we will see people step out of darkness into the light and unburden themselves from their sin and choose to walk in new life a life that Christ gives and we get to be the messengers for. I will do this until my dying breath and I will trust that God sees and uses the seeds I plant to bring people into new and abundant life. Like this woman, people need to be free of condemnation, free of sin, free of accusation and free to live apart from all of these things. THAT IS WHY JESUS DIED AND WHAT WE MUST REPRESENT EVERYDAY.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Beatitudes Explained

 5:1* ¶ And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He 
         sat down, His disciples came to Him.
 2* And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,
 3* ¶ “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The poor in spirit are blessed because they Know they are poor and need    
        God and because of that they will inherit the Kingdom. 
 4* “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
       Those who mourn will be comforted and in being comforted they  
        experience the love of Christ.
 5* “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
       Gentle is a translation of meek and the meek (those who don’t make   
       themselves the issue) will inherit the earth. It is not the strong that survive 
       but the meek, which is how God’s Kingdom works.
 6* “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall 
       be satisfied.
The hungering and thirsting for righteousness is the result of the Holy 
       Spirit living in us and as He indwells us our hunger and thirst are 
       satisfied by Him.
 7* “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
       Mercy is everything and as we show mercy we are living out of our new 
       identity of Christ in us, and God likewise shows us mercy. We must show 
       mercy and the world needs to see that In Christ I can be merciful as Christ 
       has been to me. Showing mercy is our calling and God is honored and 
       glorified as we do this. We must do this. We must demonstrate mercy and 
       forgiveness and love so they will see Christ in us.
 8* “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
       Only the pure in Heart - those who have been forgiven and repented can 
       see God. I must never forget this and with every sin I commit I must 
       confess and repent seek God’s forgiveness. This allows me to know Him 
       and see Him and experience Him.  
 9* “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
       Peacemakers - Of all the things we are called to do this is the highest 
       calling - to be peacemakers. To bring those in conflict to a place where 
       they can embrace peace and choose to give up fighting and demanding
       and war and hatred and killing. In doing this I am acting as a Son of God.
 10* “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of 
        righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
        To be persecuted for the sake of righteousness is to follow Christ to the 
        cross and suffer for righteousness sake. To do so is be blessed by God 
        because we are standing up for what is right even though we will suffer. In 
        doing this I am joining Christ in His sufferings and God is glorified and I am 
 11* “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all 
         kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
Jesus is saying that we are blessed when men cast insults and persecute us and 
         lie about us because of Jesus. Even if they do this, I am still blessed because I 
         stood up for Christ and He knows it.
 12* “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted 
        the prophets who were before you.
        I can rejoice in the persecution knowing that the prophets were persecuted 
        before me and God sees and God knows and God honors my willingness to be 
        persecuted for His sake. I must never back down. I must be willing to suffer for 
        the truth and know that God sees, and honors me for being willing to suffer for the sake of truth
        and Him, and what I believe. This is what Jesus called us to - to join in His sufferings.