Have you noticed how many people seem to thrive on negativity?They are the ones who are consumed with everything that is bad in the world and seldom find good things to say about anything.When they walk into the room you know their agenda.The news they bring is usually from some offbeat journalistic wannabe who couldn't make it in the mainstream of journalism, and believes it’s their mission to spew out a twisted interpretation of world events.These folk are predictable, boring, self-centered and dangerous.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking has infiltrated the Church.It comes from people who mean well, yet they believe they are "called by God" to let everyone know how things really should be done.They step on toes, shatter dreams, stifle hope, steamroller feelings, and shut down the business of the family of God.Their message of superiority is ungodly; their haughtiness is unholy; and, their self-righteous finger-pointing is unappreciated."It isn't easy to be humble when you're always right!"
The apostle Paul said we need to replace our stinkin’ thinkin’ with lovely thoughts."Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what ever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS!"Philippians 4:8
Prayer: Father, now I know what my Mother meant when she said, "If you can't say something good about someone, say nothing at all."Give me forgiving eyes, compassionate ears, and a holy tongue so that I may be a blessing and not a curse, a voice of inspiration instead of doom, and an example of one who believes in a better future, instead of a pessimist; because I KNOW who holds tomorrow.Amen and amen.
"And on the banks of the river on both its sides, there shall grow all kinds of trees for food; their leaf shall not fade nor shall their fruit fail [to meet the demand].Each tree shall bring forth new fruit every month, [these supernatural qualities being] because their waters came from out of the sanctuary.And their fruit shall be for food and their leaves for healing." (Ezekiel 47:12 - Amplified Bible)
When my heart is heavy, I wear my feelings on my sleeve.I put on a brave face and muster up a smile, difficult as it may be.
There was a period earlier in my life when my feelings stayed bottled up inside, often because they were discounted and dismissed.Sad to say, it can be that way as an adult.
Some people misconstrue this as one wanting to have their way or that they are better than others.For me, it’s acknowledging that my feelings have importance. It’s also about certain tenets - honesty, decency, genuine concern, love and respect.Those are the attributes we all should possess and willingly give.
Sometimes, we experience the taste of lemons - those that are tart and to some, bitter.
But, God can take those lemons and make the most refreshing and sweet lemonade – by His power alone.We don’t have to add a thing.His instruction is the perfect recipe.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, on a hot and humid day, nothing is more refreshing than a tall glass of ice cold lemonade.
Your sweet, sweet spirit quenches our thirst and nurtures my soul.
When I find a situation that leaves a bitter taste, may I remember the magnificent creation of Your love – the sweet taste of lemonade.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: June 06, 2007
"The Real You"
Everyone who has been in church knows the answer to this Bible question, "Who denied Jesus three times during His mock trial and pending crucifixion?"The answer, of course, is Peter.
No disciple has ever been treated so unjustly by preachers and commentaries.We always seem to stress Peter's failure and shame and fail to recall the rest of the story.
Where were the other disciples during Jesus' hour of need?
Except for Peter and John, they had all fled the scene.Peter was there because he was courageous.True, he failed, not because he was a coward but because he was brave.Peter the Failure was not the real Peter.The real Peter was there because he loved Jesus so much; the real Peter could not leave Jesus alone in this hour of need; it was the real Peter who drew his sword to protect his Lord.Jesus understands.He loves us not for our failures but for what we have it in us to be.He sees who we really are, even when we are defeated.Amen and amen.
The third century theologian Origen said that only God knows who wrote Hebrews.No matter who the author, the epistle was clearly written to believers as a "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22) because many were in danger of abandoning their faith in Christ and returning to the rituals of Judaism.We may not be faced with returning to a prior belief; however, we may face the temptation to substitute rituals for true worship.
The author of Hebrews (whomever he or she may be) tells us in chapter 9, verse 14: "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (NIV Translation)
The Amplified Bible translates "acts that lead to death" as "dead works and lifeless observances."The KJV, ESV, and NASB also translate the phrase as "dead works."However, the NLT chooses "sinful deeds."The Message, admittedly a paraphrased Bible and not a thought-for-thought or word-for-word version, translates the passage as "dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable."The Good News Bible sums it up very well by translating the passage as "useless rituals."
The original audience for the Book of Hebrews was in danger of reverting to their past system of Laws and rituals as their form of worship and obedience to the Lord.Today, we are just as vulnerable to substituting "useless rituals" for true worship.Dead works and lifeless observances are any so-called "acts of worship" that are performed out of habit, to please men or at the direction of men rather than God.And, as we are told, these things lead to death.Why?
When rituals and the ordinances of men become more important than the commands of the Lord, they become idols - objects of our worship other than Christ our King.When our loyalty is to the laws of men or to a church (small "c"), we have replaced Christ with "dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable" by creating new and artificial commandments.
Jesus said of the Pharisees, "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Matthew 15:8-9)
We are also warned that if anyone adds to the words of prophesy of the Bible that God will add to them the plagues described in the Bible.And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelations 22:18)
Brothers and Sisters, let's worship our Lord in spirit and in truth because that is the kind worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23-24), not with dead works or "dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable."
"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
If you want to know about the depths of God’s love for you, look again at John chapter eleven.This story of Lazarus has haunted me for the past few weeks because it stresses the value Jesus places on human life.
Lazarus was very sick and Jesus got there too late to save him.Oh, how Jesus loved this family!Jesus didn’t want Lazarus to die.He agonized over their grief and mourning.Mary, the sister of Lazarus, wailed to the Lord, "If you had been here…."Jesus saw her weeping, and the others who had come with her were also weeping.The apostle John saw this poignant moment and recorded that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. (John 11:33) When they led Him to the family burial place, it was more than even God-man could deal with emotionally."Jesus wept!"As our Lord stepped up to the opening of the tomb his emotions showed again:"Jesus, once more (was) deeply moved."
Beloved, when you have reason to doubt that Jesus cares about you; when you wonder if it matters whether you live or die; when you feel as though your prayers do not reach beyond the sound of your own voice, listen to the pain in Jesus’ voice at Bethany!He went where he didn’t have to go.He could have spoken a word without taking the journey, and Lazarus would have been healed.He risked his life and the lives of the disciples by going to Bethany.Our Lord became personally and emotionally involved because he valued the life of one person, just as He values your life.
You are in this world because God uniquely and fabulously created you.He cares about your physical and spiritual well-being.Never doubt the integrity of your Creator, who has snatched you out of the jaws of hell, planted your feet upon holy ground, and guaranteed your security by offering the precious gift of His own Son.Jesus wants you alive, living and loving, going and growing, praising and praying, working and witnessing, until He comes again!
GospeLines Prayer:O, my Holy, Living God, who keeps me going when I want to give up; who heals my broken heart when others disappoint me; who showers me with comfort when my pain has outgrown my capacity to cope; and who carries me through the day when I cannot take another step on my own.I rejoice that you have overcome the mystery of death, yet I am overwhelmed that you care so much about how I live right now.Amen and amen.