I remember saying that time and time again as a young person in the faith. I always made excuses for not giving money in the offering whether it be that there be an important event coming up or “I didn’t have it.” I came to a crossroad in my walk with God in 2006 while I was starting over in life.
Fresh out of bankruptcy I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri where I began my life as a file room clerk at Washington University. I didn’t have a lot but that was alright with me because it was better than nothing. Everything seemed to fall into place for me while I was getting settled in my new apartment in North County. Shortly after my move, I started dating my wife to be and we attended the church that she grew up in and every Sunday there would be a teaching on tithing. It would honestly bother me because I started to feel like most people feel when they hear the teacher get up and talk about it; it’s always about the money.
I decided one day to challenge God on this principle. Every time the message was given, it was always given with Malachi 3 where the people of Israel were challenged to test God on their giving. As I began this journey, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect but what happened next changed my perspective on it. In the first week of my tithing; I blew out two tires within days and my car was broken into. That’s not encouraging for a new tither, but I was determined to see God move on this principle.
Let’s fast forward ten years later. At the time of this writing, my income hasn’t gone up substantially. I haven’t seen a new BMW plop down in front of me. I haven’t had a gold watch fall into my lap. I haven’t received promotions and increases like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ claim will happen when I tithe. Wait, don’t shut me down yet…I have a point. In Psalms, David wrote, “I was young and now I am old yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.” Sara and I have never lacked anything that we need. We do not have a fancy house or fancy cars but we have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we have money in the bank for a rainy day, we have children that are healthy, and no debt besides our home.
“Well, that’s fine and dandy for you Will but I am up to my ears in debt and I can’t afford to keep the lights on!” I remember those days. This message isn’t for the millionaire. This message is for the dad who has been struggling with three jobs and hasn’t had a decent paycheck. This is for the dad who is trying to get his children fed. This message is for the man who has been struggling to get his mortgage paid for.
Friend, this is to encourage you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is to encourage you that if you don’t quit there will be a harvest (see Galatians 6:9). This is to encourage you that when you get that pink slip or that red letter on your door to focus not on the paper but on the Provider! Don’t you give up because some man told you that you would never make it! Don’t you quit because you get some kind of notice on your door because you didn’t have the money at the time to pay it! Don’t you quit because some voice is telling you lies and filling you with negativity! No! You push in and press into what God has for you! I am not saying God is going to send you a BMW but what I am saying is that My God WILL Supply ALL your needs! In Matthew 6, Jesus said that if you being fathers who are evil will provide food for your children how much more will your Heavenly Father provide for you? That will preach on its own right there! God is in the business of providing!
Have you ever been driven by results? As a man, I have to admit that I hate to fail. In creating this blog, I feared that it would never take off….and it still may not take off. What I can tell you is that I am driven. I want to see my Google Analytic results going sky or the sales on our site increase. Nothing could set me up for what God had in store for me next.
One thing that I have never been able to shake up until recently is work. I have always been driven by works. I was always worried that someone was upset because I didn’t do good enough. If someone was upset, I would take on the responsibility for their unhappiness not realizing that I was trying to play the part of God. Let me explain.
Growing up I would say to God “If you will…I will…” “If you do…I do…” thinking that I could manipulate God into doing what I wanted to do. The only problem was, God doesn’t go by what we do but what He has already done. We often, as Christians, have a works oriented mindset. We find ourselves walking down the road negating what happened on the cross. We decided our eternal destiny by standing on what we can do when Christ already conquered in turn trying to take the place of God.
God has not given us the authority to work our way into grace. He already conquered it on the cross long before we even decided to sin or fail. Before you and I were even knit our mother’s womb, God decided to send His Son to die for the sins that you would commit long after you were placed on this earth. The authority of grace lies in the cross and in the cross alone. Without grace, we would find ourselves lost and deserted. Instead, because of the cross, we can now find ourselves free.
Grace does not give you a get out of hell free ticket or a free ticket to sin. No, grace causes you run from sin. Grace causes you to want to show love to the Father. Grace causes you to come to Him instead of shying away from Him. Beyond Grace? Now you can see Him in a new light.
Recently, I have been watching the political climate of our country and listening to what people have to say in the political arena and in the public arena. I have many amazing people on my page the follow me and many of them have opposing views than me. I am pretty quite typically about my political views and what I think. I have been watching our President over this past year and how the press has treated him. First – you may disagree. But please refrain from putting rude comments on my post. I don’t do it to you, please don’t do it to me. No – seriously. Don’t.
(1) Over the past few months, I have listened to the different press conferences that have been made whether it was the President or his staff and witness egregious attitudes from those in attendance. The individuals claim to want to unify the country and ask questions about what the President is going to do about bringing the country together yet in the same breath yell at those to whom they are asking questions of. Does anyone else see something wrong with this?
(2) Do you remember a time when the President spoke (regardless of party affiliation) that people would show respect for him? Or even allowed him to answer their questions without their interruptions? I remember a time when if the President was going to speak, regardless of what we thought of him, we would show respect to him. Each time I listen to these reporters in this Press Conference today, I wonder what is really going through their heads when they address the President. Multiple times they over spoke him, tried to catch him in a lie, yelled at him, etc. I was honestly appalled and have been in recent years when I listened to the press speak to the President.
(3) Do we really expect our country to be united when we ourselves cannot do the same in our own homes, churches, and communities?
To quote President John F Kennedy;
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
I firmly believe that regardless of who is in the White House that we should be respectful. I can respectfully disagree with our President on certain things (regardless of which President that I am speaking of.) I pray for our President – especially this one. I have never seen such vitriol, vile hate towards him. I pray that God will direct him, give him wisdom, protect him, show him the right paths to walk, to make decisions for our country that will serve our people, and to reflect the office with great intentionality for the good of this nation. God bless the President of the United States.
A while ago, we pulled into the church parking lot and I was prepared to drop everyone off at the door when all of a sudden the hood filled with steam. It is never a good sign to see the steam fill the hood and the thermostat reading hit overheated. I parked the van just to watch it drain coolant down the parking lot ramp. I went inside and got our seat for church then headed to get our classroom set up. I had our tithe in my pocket and needed to fill out the envelope. Here’s the crazy thing; I didn’t second guess myself in giving our tithe. Why? It’s not mine to keep. It is holy unto the Lord and I refuse to rob Him of it.
It may come across as being extreme for some who read this. However, I learned very early on in my journey as a Christian that when I put the seed in the barn, I will have plenty left over in the end. I am not saying that you should be irresponsible with your finances. What I am saying is that there will be times that you will find yourself in a place where you just know that you have to plant the seed.
Not long after this occurred, we were given money above and beyond what we needed to repair the van. Never wavering, we have seen God move mountains with our little faith. There are times where I know it would be easier for me to doubt God than to trust Him. Then, He shows up and shows off.
It’s hard to believe that I have entered into my mid-thirties. I have had a lot of time to look back and wonder what I have done over the years, as well as, where I have come from. I have had a lot of time wondering what I could have done to be further along in life. I could take time to stand in the City of Regret. As a matter of fact, I lived there for a long time. I am grateful that I have learned how to pack my bags and leave the city and move to freedom. Sure, I could reminiscence about what I could have done or even the wrong that I have done in this life. The only problem is that I left the city so far ago, I don’t even remember what my address was. I have heard this story time and time again…yet it still is pertinent to today;
The City of Regret is a sorrowful place to live. But God will take us through and allow us to come out on the other side. Don’t fall for the lure of regret but instead head to Newness Town where life is a whole lot more carefree.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
I can already see it now, there are teenagers reading this thinking alright he’s going to talk about…. I can see parents going, “this could be interesting.” I see the grandma in the back putting in her teeth with her jaw dropped. Relax. I promise this message is rated G.
I was stopped at a stoplight (makes you glad that I stop, doesn’t it) in a town not far from home on a Thursday morning when a bus was in the turn lane in front of me. You know how some buses have those big advertisements for facilities on it or a brand name on it, well this particular one had an ad for a casino that was built in downtown Saint Louis. Illuminating the entirety of the right side of the bus was “Whatever Turns You On.” I won’t say the hotel and casino that it was related to but I will say it had a hidden message in it.
God revealed clearly to me that we need to be turned on by the Spirit. By that I mean we need to be prepared to have our switches turned on and readily be sensitive to the call of the Holy Spirit. When we prepare ourselves to be used by the Spirit, we are more apt to hear what He has to say. We are to be like a light bulb. If we are turned off, we can not shine to the world. But if we are turned on, we shine brightly to the world. In Matthew 5:16, the Word says “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” Let your light shine brightly, don’t let Satan put it out. We often let our emotions dictate how we live in the Spirit. We often find ourselves wondering why we can’t change the circumstances or have a “where is God” mentality instead of quietly waiting on the Spirit to tell us in peace what we should or should not do. God tells us in Psalms 46:10 to “be still”.
In the stillness, you hear God speaking and we find that out when we read the story of Elijah when he was on the run in the Old Testament. In 1 Kings 19:10-12, Elijah was in despair and was ready to end his life even after his major victory. But God told him to go to the mountain and wait there. Elijah had to be thinking he was in a heap of trouble. Getting there had to be a challenge in itself because now he had to face God Almighty. It had to be almost like hearing your father saying “go you to your room and wait for me there.” Nothing good comes from that statement. You know that there is either a hand or a switch on its way. But he gets there and sees all these things happening; the earthquake, the strong winds, the massive fire, yet God was not in these things.
There was quietness and a stillness that God came and spoke to Elijah. In that stillness, God intentionally overlooked Elijah’s faults and his weakness. He told him to simply go and anoint this man to be king. I love it when God goes, “What are you doing?” because we already know God knew what we were doing. What would have happened if Moses had not listened to the Holy Spirit? What would have happened if Abram did not listen to God’s plan for His life and stayed where he was? What would have happened if Saul had not heeded the command of the Spirit on the road to Damascus? What would have happened if you had not listened to the Spirit when He called you to be His son or daughter? In the stillness, in the quiet, listen to the Spirit. Turn that light switch on and get turned on to the Spirit.
“The dog you feed will be the strongest. Which dog are you feeding?”
With the T.V. blaring in the background, the kids yelling, the dishwasher running, and your spouse begging you to get something done around the house, I want you to take a moment. You laugh at the idea but God is asking you to remember, who is the Master and who is the slave. We see in the dictionary that a master is ‘one whose teachings or doctrines are accepted by followers’ or ‘one who owns a slave’. Many people flinch at the idea of being a slave to something or someone. They are reminded of how slaves were treated in the Civil War days and refuse to retreat to that but we have to be reminded that we are a slave or a bondservant to Christ. The Masterplan is to follow the Master. We often find ourselves being a slave to other things in life and without realizing it; we treat it as our god.
Now there is some balance in what I am saying, I am not saying you can’t ever watch television or play a video game but what I am saying is there is a balance. If you watch television for 4 hours a night and never spend more than 10 minutes with God, then what is your god? The word ‘god’ is defined as ‘one that is worshiped or idealized’, which means if you would ideally rather watch television than to spend time with the Master, then we know who is your god. In Exodus, God put in His commandments to ‘have no gods before Me’.
So I have a question for you, who or what is your god? Is it money? Is it a sin? Is it a god? In Matthew 6:24 (AMP) it says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).” In other words, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you ever noticed those who are in God’s Word that the bondservants of Christ are ones who give up themselves to do His will. Take Paul for example. In 2/3’s of the New Testament is written by Paul and we can attest that the Almighty God is his Master. Even in the church, we find out who our master is. If you are not careful, your pastor can be your master. Yes, your pastor should be your spiritual leader and you should seek his counsel, but if you set him on a master level, when he sins (and he will by the way because he is human) you will be disappointed. So we should set our eyes on the higher prize of Christ being our Master.
When Christ came to this earth, He left behind His Godhood, if you will, and took the form of man which He then became a servant (see Matthew 20:28/Mark 10:45). We are to follow the example of Christ and imitate His example. Are we going to do it perfectly? I believe we can do it through Christ. We have to decide who are we going to serve, are we going to serve God or man?
Now going back to the beginning, With the T.V. blaring in the background, the kids yelling, the dishwasher running, and your spouse begging you to get something done around the house, I want you to take a moment. Who or what are you going to be a slave to? Are you going to be a slave to sin? Well, you now have a choice because it says in Romans 6:14 (NIV), “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace”. It’s time to turn the T.V. off for a few minutes, put the kids to bed, wash the dishes by hand with your beautiful spouse by your side, do the task that they ask, and get into the Word. You can not live by mere bread alone. Why? Bread only satisfies you for a moment, the living water will satisfy you for life. Your master needs to be the Master.
In Joshua 24:15 (AMP), “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua challenged the Israelites to choose who they were going to serve and he also took a stance, he was not going to be bullied into serving another master.
Now with that T.V. turned off this will make some sense. The requirements of being a servant of the Master are simple. You have to love one another (see Galatians 5:13) regardless of the past histories. That means your worst enemy and your best friend. You have to serve God alone and no other gods (see Ephesians 6:7) so that means that T.V. has to be turned off for a time. I am not saying turn Amish and forsake all modern technology. But you do need to have some time to clear your head. Besides, there’s not much worth watching on T.V. anyhow. And finally, you have to give God what you have. What? You don’t make enough to give to God? I beg to differ. Let’s travel back in time to Matthew 25:14-30.
We see in this little piece of history that God doesn’t take lightly those who are stingy, let’s just call it like it is. The man who had one talent dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Are you guilty of hiding your ‘master’s’ money? The bank is what some people say a great place to invest. Let’s do the math, if you put your money in a savings account for a year your gain 2-3 percent interest in a good bank. However, you put 10 percent into God’s work, you will receive it back in full. As you have witnessed, the one got 5 talents received 10. The one with 2 received 4. That is a 50 percent return on your investment.
However, you bury it in the ground and you will get…. UTTER DARKNESS….I think it’s time to reevaluate your position. Being a servant is merely giving yourself fully to God. Does it mean you go off in a cave, collect lint, and only come out on the Holy Mass? No. I mean, spend time with God. You call your friend up 2-3 times a week but you can’t call the one who died for you? The call is free and the connection is priceless. So what are you waiting for? Turn off the T.V. and place that call to God. He’s waiting for you!
“ So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”John 13:34
I have found myself at a place in my life where I have questioned the worldview of the church. Being that I was a part of the world and the church both for many years, I have seen a lot of what Christians believe and what we as Christians actually do in relation to what we believe. What’s alarming is that there are many people who come into the church and find the hypocrisy of the church congregation, which causes them to simply walk away. I am not insinuating that the church has permanently fallen nor am I implying that church is solely responsible for people coming and going in the church. I am, however, making a point to tell you in this short teaching that there are misconceptions of the church and it has been duly noted by the world.
There are those who haven’t been in the church long or are not even in the church find themselves lost in a sea of faces but no relationship with people in the church. The word fellowship is defined in part as a “relationship.” One of the main problems is that many people that come into the church from outside in the world find themselves ostracized or put out because they just feel that they fit in. They have nothing in common at all with the people of the church and often it is because they feel more at home at the bar with Joe than in the pew next to Jim. I am not saying that we should indoctrinate ourselves with a flavor of seeker friendliness or open a bar in the courtyard lobby of the churches in America. Nevertheless, I do think that we are often too focused on ourselves and are totally missing a great opportunity to reach out to a lost and dying world.
“For the Grace of God is the power that never fails”
A couple of years ago, I read a book entitled “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince. So often, our thoughts and our hearts revolve around our sin and what we have done wrong. Sin means to “miss the mark” which is what we do on a daily basis. If not for the grace of God, we would all be condemned to hell. Now, hang with me because there is a point for us fathers to get on this. I am a pretty straightforward guy. The sky is blue, the grass (when watered) is green, God is love, and etc. My children are learning that pretty quickly as they are getting older and as they see it, what Dad says Dad means. That’s good, I guess until they see that there is no leverage.
In Jonah, God had already prepared to wipe out the whole city and he had just the right man to go tell them. Jonah wanted no part in it. So far, he had heard that these people were the utmost heathens and they could all rot for all he cared. Therefore, Jonah would embark on a journey of running from God. While on this journey, God sent a fierce storm to get Jonah’s attention and attention is what God received. Jonah told the fishermen to cast him overboard and all would be well. Jonah would then be swallowed up by the big fish and then be puked up on the coast leading to the landlocked city of Nineveh.
Soon, Jonah would arrive in the city and proclaim that God would wipe out the entire city if they did not repent. Unbeknownst to Jonah, the city did repent. Jonah went far from the city and sat to watch its impending doom. Something strange had happened… the city of Nineveh did not get flattened. God would spare the people and give them yet another chance. What happened to the God who wanted to squash this great city? The heart of God was compelled to show grace to His children, even though they did not deserve it.
Fathers, I am guilty. I have to admit that I am pretty graceless when it comes to our children. I have to daily remind myself of God’s grace when it comes to teaching our children. How much more does our Father in heaven extend grace and forgiveness to us as His children? In Matthew 18:21, we see a candid reminder of how much of Father extends His grace. Peter had had enough of being stabbed in the back thus he asked: “how many times must I forgive my brother?” Giving a number of 70 times, he lays the ball in Jesus’ court. What is Jesus’ response? “Seventy time seven.” How does this correlate with God’s grace? If God is calling us to forgive others over and over again, would He not then follow His own instructions?
Here is the rest of the story: “Therefore, the kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king to decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors who was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold-along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned to pay the debt. But the man fell before his master and begged him, ‘please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.” Take a moment and let that sink in men of God. The king heard the cry of mercy and grace from his servant and forgave the debt. God knew that you and I could not repay the debt that we owed and gave us grace towards the debt.
As we read on, we see that this servant did not appreciate the grace. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘ Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.” The servant of the king did not extend the same grace that the king had given to him. Here’s the irony; we are the same way. How often do you and I get cut off in traffic or have someone being promoted before us or have someone mistakenly bill us for something that we didn’t do yet we have a “how dare you” attitude? Ouch. This was the revelation that I received when reading this book. The revelation was that not only had God given me grace but that He expects me to extend grace. You know the rest of the story of the servant. Someone witnessed it and the king found out bringing him to the ultimate decision to throw him into the prison to be tortured. There’s a sermon in itself but I won’t go there.
If God turned His back on you and I every time we sinned, we would have no relationship because you and I sin on a daily basis. We miss the mark so often that Jesus had to die so that our sins would be cleansed. The ultimate act of grace was that instead of you and I getting the beating, Jesus received it. In order for our children to give grace to those around them, they must first see grace given to them.
I challenge you in this area as God has challenged me. “If Jesus must forgive his ‘brother’ seventy times seventy times, why would our Heavenly Father not do the same for us? Why would He not follow His own example? We as His representatives must do the same. for our wives, our children, our families, and the world around us.”
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
2017 was a year that I would just assume that I forget. I mean, just to be honest, it was a horrible year in our book. Beginning on January 30, I began a long and painful journey of realizing that the career I had chosen was no longer for me and that my then-employer would let me find a new one on my own. For eight months, I would search and would try to find my new career. I never thought the day would come that I would have to consider settling for a job.
Then God would open a door that no man could shut. Several months into the process, I wondered if the door to my new career would ever be completely opened. With a text, my new life as a Help Desk associate would begin and I would start a career in the IT industry. This career would allow me to learn and to grow into a great profession. I love computers and I love people. With these two, I would find myself with a new passion.
None of this would have been possible if the job that I had at the time not been taken away. God restores what the enemy will take away. At the time of this writing, we are still rebuilding. It was not an easy road. Whoever tells you to become a Christian rids you of all bad things that happen in life and that you will be given all the money in the world at your disposal – run from them because they are full of it.
The new year will be the year of restoration. The new year will be a great year.
What are you believing that will be restored in the new year?
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
I pose a question to you with a heart of understanding; if God’s grace is sufficient enough to forgive you of your sins, is your grace sufficient enough to forgive someone of theirs toward you? I know that we are not perfect, yet we are to be perfect in Christ. We, as Christians, are called to a higher level of excellence. We are reminded of Peter when he asked Christ, “Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!”( See Matthew 18:21-22) What the world would consider foolish, God sees it as wisdom. The world would want you to hold a grudge so that you don’t get hurt again. God wants you to forgive so He can heal the wounded. As Joyce Meyer says, “Hurting people hurt people.” Many times, people offend, ridicule, or disrespect us because they are hurting. But as Christians, we should be able to say that “if God is for us then who can be against us?” You can take what the enemy meant for harm and turn it around for your good. Grace is defined as “Unmerited favor.” This means that you give favor to those who have not earned it and do not deserve it, as Christ did on Calvary. What power do we have to give favor to people that do not deserve it!
For example, someone cuts you off in traffic and you have to embrace yourself for the worst side of you. Now, you have a choice, are you going to give grace or are you going to have a swift tongue and a hateful attitude towards them? Talk is cheap, it is plain and simple. People don’t want another gospel tract or to see a Christian bumper sticker. They want to see you act what you preach. People don’t need another Sunday School lesson. What they need is proof of your love for Christ. If you get cut off in traffic, the best thing to do is to practice grace. It’s going to happen anyway, so prepare yourself. “God, I am not going to get upset at the person. Protect them wherever they may be going. If someone is sick, heal them in the name of Jesus.” You never know when someone who cuts you off may be having a bad day or someone is dying in their life and they are deep in thought or even they may have just lost their job. It’s so easy to fly off the handle at people who wrong us, but God has a higher level for you to obtain. Wouldn’t be awesome if someone cut in line in front at the grocery store and you paid for their things.
Or what if someone dropped trash in your yard and you went over and cleaned theirs? What would the world be if Christians simply acted like Christians? Grace knows no status, no race, no religion, no popularity, and it does not conform to the wise, to the elect, or to the underprivileged. God’s grace is available to all people, everywhere, anytime, and anyway. God does not say to one that His grace is sufficient for sin A, B, but not C. We must not neglect the fact that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. As we reflect the love of God, we should be ready to embrace for impact. Many remember the plane crash in the Hudson River. Many testimonies reflect the pilot’s instructions to his passengers, “embrace for impact.” Whenever you are flying, your life is not in your own hands. It is in the hands of a person in the cockpit of the plane. If the pilot tells you to put your seatbelt on, you are not going to ask for scripture and verse on why you should have your seatbelt on. The same is true with God. If God tells you to extend grace to people, you need not ask what scripture it is and the verses to go along with it. God wants to see you free from bitterness, resentment, and anger. Those things are harbored up in you when you don’t extend grace to those who offend you. Be prepared at all times, in season and out of season, know that you will be tested and tried on grace in the next twenty-four hours. Grace is also a heart matter. If you harbor the unforgiveness in your heart, you will expose it in the world.
In Matthew 12: 33-35, Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of Jerusalem, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
Christ was none too pleased with the religious leaders because of their double-mindedness. But Christ also offered grace to them. How so? He offered, through his teaching, many times in many scenarios on how to be truly born again. The question remains, “if God’s grace is sufficient enough to forgive you of your sins, is your grace sufficient enough to forgive someone of theirs toward you?” How are you going to extend God’s grace into someone’s life? When someone commits a sin in your life, are you going to jump all over them and quote verse by verse scripture of why they are wrong and you are right? Or are you going to say ‘eh, it’s not big deal? Thank you, God, for taking care them. Give me the grace to forgive them and to move on. If I need to address the situation, give me wisdom. Allow me, Father, to be a vessel of your grace.” I give you this challenge today to simply allow someone to receive God’s grace through you. Experience the freedom of God’s grace!
I was in church the other day and something hit me. No, it wasn’t the Bible of my wife waking me up but instead it was a revelation. I won’t say the scenario nor will I mention names but just in passing, I noticed a few things. It’s so easy to see things when you are in the center aisle of the sanctuary and notice that certain people are doing certain things at the certain times. Sometimes you want to just get up and tap the person on the shoulder and tell them, are you here to praise God? It came to me when I noticed that people weren’t into the praise and worship nor were they into the sermon.
The thought came to mind, “Are you here to praise God or to condemn His people?” It took me a minute to realize that we react in the same manner. Often times, we come to church expecting to make friends with the elite and higher class individuals of the church and often pass the lower end of the spectrum. Have you ever passed someone who says hello and thought a nasty thought about them? Are you living what Christ would have done to the undesirable person that sits in your row at work? Are you the one that will take up the underdog even when it’s unpopular? What would have happened if Jesus decided to hang out with just the prestigious and elite? There would be no Mary or Martha nor would there be Peter, James, John, etc…do you get where I am going with this? He actually called many of the prestigious people “brood of vipers” which was not a compliment in that time. He even called a tax collector out of a tree to dine with him at his home. Would you do that for an IRS agent? I would hope so, but I think not.
Jesus met a woman at the well who was full of sin and shame. Jesus would have been shunned by Jew and Gentile for His participation in any type of communication with a person of such stature. But remember, Jesus was not a people pleaser. He was out to touch them and heal them. Jesus once said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was in the healing ministry. Many see healing as just physical, but that is not true. Jesus healed the demon processed, He made the insane become sane, and He even put the holy-art-thou with no fruit spirit out to pasture. Something neat about Christ was that He didn’t tell the leper that he could not come ten feet near him, no. He told the leper to be healed. He didn’t allow the cripple to sit and suffer in his own disability. Jesus touched him and told him to get up and walk. Paul spoke of Christians as “ambassadors” of Christ. The word ambassador means “an authorized messenger or representative”. We are to represent the love of Christ in a fashion that is contagious.
The world is tired of the same old rhetoric and is ready to see action. The word doesn’t need a W.W.J.D. bracelet; they need the action of love. If you see someone who needs money, meets the need if you have it. If you don’t have it, like Joyce Meyer says, get people together and collect it. It doesn’t take much to impress the world, just watch TV. for five minutes and you can relate to that. Take a Christian who acts like a Christian and you have won the heart of the world. Why am I saying this in contrast to “special clubs in the church?”
Because the place people get hurt the most is sad, the church and in ministry. We find ourselves “hanging out” with each other and failing to see the need. So, what do we do about it? In James, it says, “be a doer of the word.” Simple as that, do what Jesus would do. Is it hard? I am sure it was hard for Jesus’ disciples to allow the sick to touch them but they let them anyway. It doesn’t take an act of God and Congress to act like a Christian. In Matthew 25: 35-36, Jesus told a parable, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ The righteous answered back to Christ when did they see Him. Christ answered in verse 40, “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Simply put, be a Christian.