When you don’t get what you want (2)

2018-06-17
2 Peter 3:18 NLT

Samuel and Susanna Wesley (John Wesley’s parents) were at evening prayer one night when Susanna didn’t say ‘amen’ to her husband’s prayer for William of Orange, then King of England. When he asked her why, she explained that her sympathy lay with the deposed James the Second. It turned into a game of ‘you do what I say’ which he couldn’t win. She wrote about what happened next: ‘He immediately kneeled down and invoked the divine vengeance upon himself and all his posterity if he ever touched me again or came to bed with me before I had begged God’s pardon, and his, for not saying amen to a prayer for the king.’ The stalemate lasted six months and was broken only when a tragic fire destroyed two-thirds of their home. People who cling to resentments, who don’t know how to handle disappointment with grace, who have long memories, who choke on the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ or who sulk and pout and whine, always finish up on the short end of the stick. Losing well is an art that requires all the grace we can muster. It means having the humility to face reality with no excuses, but with the confidence not to allow losing to define our identity or make us feel ‘less than.’ It means no excuses, no blaming, no self-pity – but no self-condemnation either. It means having the discernment to know when to quit and when to persevere. It means learning how to say ‘congratulations.’ It means letting go of an outcome we cannot change, but holding on to the will to live fully and well, and seeking to glorify God in all that we do.

Matt 5:4; Isa 51:1-16; Ps 30; 2 Cor 1:3-7

When you don’t get what you want (2)


2 Peter 3:18 NLT

Samuel and Susanna Wesley (John Wesley’s parents) were at evening prayer one night when Susanna didn’t say ‘amen’ to her husband’s prayer for William of Orange, then King of England. When he asked her why, she explained that her sympathy lay with the deposed James the Second. It turned into a game of ‘you do what I say’ which he couldn’t win. She wrote about what happened next: ‘He immediately kneeled down and invoked the divine vengeance upon himself and all his posterity if he ever touched me again or came to bed with me before I had begged God’s pardon, and his, for not saying amen to a prayer for the king.’ The stalemate lasted six months and was broken only when a tragic fire destroyed two-thirds of their home. People who cling to resentments, who don’t know how to handle disappointment with grace, who have long memories, who choke on the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ or who sulk and pout and whine, always finish up on the short end of the stick. Losing well is an art that requires all the grace we can muster. It means having the humility to face reality with no excuses, but with the confidence not to allow losing to define our identity or make us feel ‘less than.’ It means no excuses, no blaming, no self-pity – but no self-condemnation either. It means having the discernment to know when to quit and when to persevere. It means learning how to say ‘congratulations.’ It means letting go of an outcome we cannot change, but holding on to the will to live fully and well, and seeking to glorify God in all that we do.

Soul food: Matt 5:4; Isa 51:1-16; Ps 30; 2 Cor 1:3-7

Welcome the test (2)

2018-05-17
Genesis 22:9 NKJV

Abraham considered Isaac to be a special gift from God. But God-given gifts can be both great and dangerous things. If we’re not careful we can end up relying on the gifts God’s given us, more than we rely on God Himself. We start doing things in our own strength and forget that we need God. But everything that we’re gifted with, and everything we do, should be to glorify God, not ourselves. Our gift for teaching should point people to God, not to show off our theology. Our gift for music should be used to lead people into worship, not to have people looking at us. Basically, whatever we don’t turn into praise, turns into pride. And that’s something the Bible warns us about. In Proverbs we’re told: ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall’ (16:18 NIV). And in James it says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (4:6 NKJV). What are your greatest God-given gifts? What are your most significant God-ordained opportunities? What God-sized dreams has the Holy Spirit given you? Those things shouldn’t take the place of God in our lives. Sometimes God-ordained dreams aren’t just born, they have to be reborn. If they become more important to us than God, we have to sacrifice them for the sake of our souls. We have to put them on the altar and be willing to sacrifice them. Just like Abraham had to be willing to lay his son Isaac on the altar and be willing to sacrifice him. ‘Abraham…bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood’ (NIV). Sometimes our dreams must die before they can be resurrected for God’s glory. So we need to be prepared to take them to the altar.

1 Pet 1-5; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 49; Prov 12:20-22

Barabbas – and you

2018-05-15
Luke 23:18 NIV

The Bible says: “With one voice they cried out, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’ (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder)” (vv.18-19 NIV). And just like Barabbas, we deserve to die for our sins. Four prison walls, thickened with fear, hurt, and hate, surround us. We’re incarcerated by our past, our low-road choices, and our high-minded pride. We’ve been found guilty. We sit on the floor of a dusty cell awaiting the final moment. Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls. Head between knees, we don’t look up as he opens the door; we don’t lift our eyes as he begins to speak. We know what he’s going to say: “Time to pay for your sins.” But then you hear something else: “You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.” The door swings open, the guard barks, “Get out!” and we find ourselves in the light of the morning sun, shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering, “What just happened?” Grace happened! Christ took away your sins. All of them. Where did He take them? To the top of a hill called Calvary. “God in his gracious kindness declared us not guilty…through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us” (See Romans 3:24-25 NLT). Jesus loves and forgives you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. So come to Him today.

Soul food: Deut 30:1-32:28; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 57; Prov 12:15-17

Trust your advocate, not your accuser (1)

2018-05-07
Revelation 12:10 NLT

The apostle John wrote: “I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens…’For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night'” (v. 10 NLT). Satan has only one aim: “To steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). He’ll steal your peace, kill your dreams, and destroy your future. And he has deputized a horde of silver-tongued demons to help him. He enlists people to peddle his poison. Friends dredge up your past. Preachers proclaim all guilt and no grace. And some parents distribute it twenty-four hours a day. Long into adulthood you still hear their voices: “Why can’t you grow up?” “When are you going to make me proud?” So what’s the answer? Jesus! He’s “in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us” (Romans 8:34 TM). Let that sink in for a moment. In the presence of God, in defiance of Satan, Jesus Christ rises to your defense. He takes on the role of a priest. “And since we have a great priest over God’s house, let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience” (Hebrews 10:21-22 NCV). A clean conscience. A clean record. A clean heart. Free from accusation – free from condemnation. Not just from our past mistakes, but from our future ones. “Since he will live forever, he will always be there to remind God that he has paid for [our] sins with his blood” (Hebrews 7:25 TLB). So don’t listen to your accuser – trust your advocate!

Soul food: Deut 11-13; Mark 6:45-56; Ps 37:16-24; Prov 11:30-31