What if . . . you won the lottery and didn’t know it??? Or maybe you didn’t believe it.

Robert was getting older and he had a guilty pleasure that he indulged in whenever he was in town.  He would buy a lottery ticket.  It was always the same numbers at the same convenience store.  He liked to think about what would happen if he won. He was old and he thought he would take it in a lump sum so he could leave it to his children.  He would travel to visit them all and play with his grandchildren.   He would sell the house and get a small but very high-end RV.  He would be like a turtle and take his home with him.  It gave him great joy to think about it.

Then came the day!  He had his tickets and the numbers would be drawn tonight.  he sat down to watch the program and because he had worked hard that day, he fell asleep.  The numbers were announced.  One by one the numbers were announced.  They were his numbers, but he didn’t know.  It was just another day.  He woke up and went to bed and didn’t give it another thought.  The news said that someone had won the largest lottery jackpot ever.  He was happy for the person that won.  The person never came forward.  Everyone was curious.  What had happened?  Who had won the money?

He went to town to pick up some supplies and stopped by his store to buy another ticket.  The man behind the counter said, “Robert, you always play the same numbers, don’t you?”  “Why yes, I do.  Why do you ask?”  The clerk told him that those were the winning numbers from the lottery last week.  Robert smirked.  He didn’t believe it.  He knew he would never win.  He went on his way.

The clerk notified the lottery people.  He said that the old man, Robert, had bought the ticket.  They looked at the security camera footage and checked the time and the history of the numbers.  He had definitely won.  They contacted him.  Still, Robert could not believe he had won.  He rummaged in his drawer looking for the ticket.  He pulled it out and stood there in awe.  HE HAD WON!!  His dream had come true and he almost missed it!

Today’s Lesson:

We are like Robert in so many ways.  God has provided everything for us.  He has given His Son for our salvation, His Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, Guide and Teacher.  He has made us His children, His friends and His lovers.  But like Robert, we don’t know it or maybe we know about it but we don’t believe it or maybe we believe it but it seems too good to be true and so our doubt outweighs our acceptance.

He tells us, “Only believe.  All things are possible to him who believes.”  If we turn away for any reason, He is still waiting to help us.  He wants to bless us.

We stop the blessing by being of two minds.  We believe it – sort of – but we don’t really think it could happen to us.  He has made it possible to be sons and daughters of the Most High God.  He is the King and we are King’s kids with all rights and privileges.  The tragic thing is that so few of us know what is available to us if only we will believe on Jesus Christ and His finished work.  Salvation is available to everyone and with it comes the whole package.  The reason that we don’t see the benefits, is because we choose not to believe in all He has done for us and all He has given us.

We live far below our privilege. Stop doubting and start believing.  Remember:  “Only believe.  ALL things are possible to him that believes.”

In order to get from one room to another in a house, you have to go through a door.  To enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ is that door.   He is the Way.  No one comes to the Father except by Him.

When you go through Him, you will encounter His goodness.  You will find that He is good and only does good.  If there is anything good anywhere, it is from Him.  Every good and perfect work is from the Lord.  You can trust Him.

Today I invite you to accept what Jesus did for you through His death, burial and resurrection.  To learn more, go to:

http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/messages/lgreen-wednesday-7-4-07.mp3

Living Sacrifices

When the firemen rushed into the distressed Twin Towers on 9/11, they gave no thought to their own lives, their own families or to the danger that they advanced toward.  When the Principal and the Counselor at Sandy Hook charged the gunman, they had only a desire to save the children.  When a soldier on the front lines steps in front of a ‘buddy saving his life, he does it without thought of himself.  A mother who has a child with enormous disabilities, spends her life caring for her loved one.  Others may forsake them, but she stays steadfast.  A grandmother who gives up her retirement plans to care for her grandchildren because her daughter is in jail.  An elderly couple who have spent their lives together are now facing the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s and the husband who loves his dear wife cares for her tenderly and no one sees and no one seems to care.

Everyday, someone becomes a living sacrifice.  Some of them we call them heroes; we may not even be aware of the sacrifice of others.  They are selfless people who have but one thought and it is the welfare of others.

Today’s Lesson: 

Considering what people will sacrifice to save the life of another in this world system, how much more we, who love Jesus,

are privileged to sacrifice our lives for the opportunity of others to spend eternity with Him.  What a glorious privilege we have.  We may share the wonder of eternal life that saves others for eternity.

He isn’t mad at you.  He has made the way for you to come to Him.  It isn’t about laws and failure;  it is about love and faithfulness.  Such a great God is truly trustworthy.  He has given those of us who come to Him everything that He has given His Son.  We are joint heirs with Him.

I pray that He brings people to me with prepared hearts so that I may tell them of His great love for us and how he sent Jesus to pay for all the condemnation and sin that has been plaguing us and trading it for His great love and faithfulness.  Where ever He leads me, I will go.

There is a place in the Bible that says we are “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”  I have read it many times.  It had always seemed to be an unreasonable request that asked me to give up my hopes and dreams.  As I have matured in the love of the Lord, I have come to realize that my hopes and dreams have changed.  I only want what He wants.I want His desires to be my desires.  I have placed myself in His hands as a living sacrifice.  I pray that I may be wholly, acceptable to Him.

He knows your heart and He wants to come to you.  He wants to have a love relationship with you individually.  Start seeking Him with all your heart.  Quit looking at what is holding you back.  He will help you develop a strong relationship.  He makes it so simple.  He will give you His Spirit to help you on the path of life to enjoy it to the fullest!

God’s heart hungers for you.  If you want to know Him and have never invited Jesus into your heart and life, here is a short prayer to help you reach out to His great Love:

Father,  Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross and through His resurrection, I ask Jesus to come into my heart.  Sin isn’t big enough to hold me as I reach out to You.  This life that I have now received will allow me to live with You  throughout eternity.   Jesus blood purchased me out and made me righteous.  Nothing can ever take me out of your love again.  Father, I believe You exist and that You sent Jesus here for me.  I receive you into my heart and I give you my life.   I receive Your life into me and now I join others who have a part in the abundant life.  I am a joint-heir with You on the other side!  Teach me what I am an heir to.  Show me how to walk with You and show me how to tell others of Your great love.  Amen 

This is what newness of life is all about.  Go to:  http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/our-pastors/larry-green/ and listen to the short teachings from April 15th to April 20th for more light on your new life.

One Way – Only One Way

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Patrick was suddenly aware of the beautiful woman with crystal blue eyes and chestnut-brown hair.  She was stunning.  She was gracious and approachable.  People seemed to enjoy her presence.  He wanted to win her but had no idea how to do it.  He decided to go out and win the hearts of other women.  He felt that somehow, in this manner, he would learn to win the heart of his loved one.  He became a man of some reputation leaving a trail of broken hearts across the city.  Finally, he felt he was ready.

He had studied about her and knew where she would be.  He arranged to be there and to meet her.  He used all of the methods he had used in winning the affections of the other women.  She looked at him with tears brimming in those crystal-clear blue eyes and said, “Patrick, I saw you long ago and loved you.  I have watched as you have pursued other women and it broke my heart.  Now you come to me with all your experience and it means nothing to me.  All I ever wanted was you.  The way to my heart was clear.  You had only to come to me and I would have received you and loved you.”

Patrick’s face showed his dismay.  “Do you mean that you have wanted me all this time?”  “Yes, I have longed for you.”  Patrick asked, “Is it too late?”  “Dear Patrick, since you have found that there is only one way to my heart and that is to come to me and accept my love, I freely give it and forgive you all your previous efforts. ”

Today’s Lesson:

This is the way of our great God. He has provided one way – only one way – into His Presence.  He sees us pursuing false gods and his heart breaks. He knows that the enemy of our souls wants us to believe that there is more than one way to Him.

There is only one way and it is through the shed blood of Jesus.  He is the Doorway to Father God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to God, except through Jesus.

All we have to do is stop our self-effort and our self-focus and turn to Him.  He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin.  He made it possible for any one of us, regardless of our past choices or beliefs, to come to Him.  The only qualification is that we accept what Jesus has done for us.  As we turn to Jesus, He provides us everything we need for life and godliness.  He loves us and wants to spend time with us.  He wants us to fall in love with Him and fulfill our destiny.

He knew that we needed Him and so He didn’t make it complicated.  He didn’t give a different way to one group of people and another way to another group.  He knew it needed to be simple and so He provided only one way.

The enemy likes to bring doubt and confusion.  He wants us to question everything.  Satan’s desire is to keep us off-balance and away from the One Way, Jesus.  He wants you to think Jesus is just an enlightened teacher or a prophet, but He doesn’t want you to know Him and the power of His blood.  But Jesus is not enlightened – He is the Light!  Jesus is not just a prophet – He is King of Kings and the Lord of lords!  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  He is God!!!

Today, He is inviting you to come to Him.  He is waiting.  Just tell Him that you want to know Him and ask Him to make Himself real to you.  I assure you that He will.

Who? Me? Submit to Him??

Lizzie was an independent woman who had no problems managing her life and other people.  She was successful in business and had a large group of friends whose company she enjoyed.  Lizzie loved the Lord and was active in her church.  She met Colton at a church retreat and she found him to be charming and kind.  He captivated her.  They married after a brief courtship and their life together began.

Soon she found that Colton had some flaws that began to bug her.  He would start projects and never finish them.  They had enough money to pay for them but he didn’t think anyone else could do the projects right.  He had a call to the ministry.  They also argued about the Bible and its interpretation.  He said that he could never go into the ministry if he couldn’t sell it at home.

As the years went by, Lizzie quit talking to him about spiritual things and she would hire people to come in and complete some of the projects Colton had begun.   Sometimes, Colton would let it pass.  This time she went too far.  It was a project he had been working on and pondering over.  He came home to find it finished and it was all wrong.  He was furious.  He ripped out the competed work.  They had a huge fight.

Lizzie went to the Pastor for counseling.  He brought up submission and she flashed anger. Pastor asked her if he was abusing her physically or spending hours watching pornography.  She said, “No, of course not.”  But how can I submit to him?  He is ruining out home.  We can’t talk about anything in the Bible or your sermons.  He doesn’t agree with me on anything and if he would just complete something- anything, I would try to submit!  Pastor told her that submission was the key to Colton finding his ministry and to her freedom.  Pastor tried to explain that she must quit focusing on the problems and start focusing on the Lord.  Then God would show her how to submit to the man she married.  She left his office adding Pastor to the list of men she didn’t want to submit to.

Lizzie hated the word submit.  It wasn’t fair.  She had always done her work with excellence.  She completed tasks on time.  She didn’t understand how anyone could let something be half done.  She studied the Bible faithfully and had for years, yet her opinion was not valued.  Pastor was a man and men just loved to tell women they should submit.  She fumed.

Things were tense at home that night and Colton asked her what was wrong.  She didn’t respond but got her pillow and went into the guest room and locked the door.  Colton was hurt and confused.

As Lizzie lay on the bed, her heart pounding, she asked the Lord, “Why?  Why do I have to submit to him?  I love him – love many things about him, but he is ruining our lives.”  She lay there, sobbing.  Colton knocked on the door several times, but finally he quit and went to bed.

About midnight, she awoke with a start.  There was a Presence filling the room.  She saw the Lord Jesus at the end of the bed and he said, “Get up and go to bed with your husband.  Give him to me and it will all work out.”  And then He was gone.  Peace settled on Lizzie.  She got up, took her pillow and went into her husband.  She wrapped her arms around him and whispered, “I love you.”  Colton took her hand and they slept peacefully.

From that time, Lizzie supported her husband in everything.  If he was working on a project, she would help him and amazingly, things began to be completed.  She found herself in awe of how able the Lord was to deal with Colton when she quit pointing out his weaknesses.

They began to be able to share their thoughts and understanding of Bible passages.  She found Colton much wiser than she had ever imagined.  He had begun to listen to her and as a result, she was listening to him.

Submission led Lizzie and Colton to an intimacy they never thought possible. They are inseparable. Colton is now moving into his prophetic role in the church.  Pastor smiles at Lizzie and nods his head knowing the great struggle that she had in trusting the Lord.

Today’s Lesson:

Lizzie not only struggled with submission to her husband, but further she was unable to submit to her pastor.  He submission problem was rooted in bitterness and a deep distrust of men.  A wife can get to the point of thinking she is entitled to do her own thing without thought of her spouse.  If he is not strong in His submission to the Lord, he may just give in to her leadership and go into neutral.  This is not what God has intended for us.  We are to be a picture of Christ and the Church.  It took a visitation from Jesus for Lizzie to change.  What will it take for you and me?

Submission is a gift.  It requires us to humble ourselves and recognize that we don’t know everything and we don’t have all the answers.  It is part of the choice that Father God built into our lives.  He made it possible for us to choose Him or reject Him.  He made it possible to submit to Him or resist Him.  If we can’t submit to God, we can’t really submit to anyone.

When we are willing, on our knees, to say, “Father, I don’t know what to do or what you want.  Teach me,” we are in the right mind-set.  He has said we are free – free to choose to go our own way.  Free to choose to love.  God will not take our hearts by force.  We get to choose to accept Him and His leadership or we can choose to accept the leadership of another that will take us by force.  The Scripture makes it clear.” Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

When a husband and wife finds true intimacy with each other there should be no more secrets between them.  Submission is built on a trust factor into the unknown.  It is abandonment of yourself into the love of the other.   They each still have flaws but as they give up their right to change the other, and give them to God to deal with, life begins to change.

The Lord has wonderful things in store for those who choose intimacy.  It is an amazing picture of the relationship He wants us to have

with Him.  He even says so in the Scripture.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)  He calls the woman to submit to her husband as He desires the church to submit as His Bride.

He also says to ‘love one another, for love is of God.’  His ways are not our ways but His ways will bring blessings into our lives we never dreamed possible.  “Submit ye therefore one to another.”

(As a caveat, I want you to know that there are circumstances that are too dangerous to submit to and that include physical abuse.  There are other areas as well, but you will have to seek the Lord.  I even hate to put this in here as I know there are some who will justify themselves in circumstances that are merely inconvenient and not dangerous.)

What and who are you submitting to?  Is your love affair with the Lord leading you in your relationships with others or are you still trying to control everything and everyone around you.  It really all comes down to trust and resting in the love of God.  Can you take the first step today and begin to believe in what seems impossible?  You can – will you?

There is a Terrorist and it is Not Who You Think . . .

There is a terrorist . . .

Once he upon a time there was a very privileged individual who had everything.  He was next to most powerful person you could imagine.  The problem was that he just was not satisfied.  He wanted to be the most powerful.  He didn’t appreciate all the benefits that he had in his role.  He had incredible talents and was an incredible musician.  Nothing came to the powerful leader without passing through this one.  His own exalted position caused him to be prideful and he hungered to have it all.  He had a plan . . .

He would gather others to join him in taking down the big guy.  In his delusion, he could see himself sitting at the helm and being the greatest!  Somehow he convinced others and they joined him when he started the attack.  He hadn’t counted on the incredible power of the one-in-charge.  He was soundly defeated and exiled faraway.  He raged and raged.  He began to destroy everything in his new location.

The powerful person continued to enjoy life while this creature played havoc in his new environment.  All of his confederates were with him and they found out that there was no way back.  They struggled with this news and soon joined the rebel in his anger.

The one who still had the power brought people into the exiled location where he had planted a beautiful garden himself and moved a couple into it.  He told them that they were his family and loved them tenderly as children.  He charged them to take control over the garden and expand it into the space the enemy had destroyed.  It was ideal.  The one with the power would come down and fellowship with them individually and together.  As their Father, he taught them new things every day.  They became great friends.  He told them  that there was only one rule.

He gave them access to everything except a funny tree that was in the midst of the garden.  It had an odd name – The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They didn’t know what it meant and didn’t care.  They had everything else.  He also tucked another tree in the garden called the Tree of Life.  The couple could eat of it anytime they wanted and they did.  There was no problems and no time to mark off the days.  It was a wonderful existence with meaningful activity, love and joy.

The destroyer disguised himself as one of the creatures in the garden and slithered in to see what was up.  He saw the wonder that these two shared and it infuriated him.  He plotted just as he had done before.  Finally her arrived at a plan.  He would engage them and get them to doubt the one in charge.  It had worked before and he thought it would work again.

He began by using suggestion.  He suggested that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to be desired and that the one in charge had kept them from it because it would make them just like him.  At first they blew him off.  They didn’t need it.  They had everything.  But he was a genial sort of guy and soon the constant suggestion began to infiltrate their thoughts.  The woman was the most vulnerable to his wiles and soon was studying the tree intently.

The man was one with his mate and when she began to tell him that she thought eating the fruit might be a good idea, he told her that they really should not.  But the enemy had his effect on them both and soon she took him by the hand and went to the tree.  They stood looking at it.  It was pretty and the fruit looked delicious.  The disguised enemy was there to entice them even further and soon the woman had the fruit in her hand.  She put it to her lips and took a bite and gave it to her man and he ate also.

At once, they knew it had been a mistake.  What would the power man think?  Condemnation fell on them and they ran and hid in some bushes.  They looked at each other.  Thoughts came to them that made them feel shame.  At once they knew they were naked and began to put leaves together so they could cover themselves.

About that time, the power man came into the garden.  Well, you probably know the rest of the story.  What you may not have processed is that it wasn’t the sin that separated them from the great one; it was the condemnation.  Condemnation keeps the sin consciousness ever before the one who has sinned.  He came to them and if they had run to him and asked forgiveness, it would have been over and life would have gone on as before.  As it was, everything changed.

Today’s lesson: 

There is a terrorist at loose in the world today and it is not Adam Lanza, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden or Jeffrey Dahmer.  It is Satan who had once been Lucifer, the anointed one who covered.  He is the one who infiltrates the thoughts of lonely, confused, isolated people.  He gets some of them to spend time watching pornography and luring them into child abuse.  He tells others that they are victims and need to get even.  Other people hear the voices and try to silence them in a sea of drugs and alcohol. Some even adopt the enemy’s evil personality as their own and delight to kill others.   The terrorist is Satan and his minions.  He is out to steal kill and destroy.

The truth is that Adam Lanza and the others are just as much his victims as the children killed in the school shooting, the people who died in 9/11 and those blown up in Oklahoma City.  If it is associated with death, it is the work of Satan.

So why do many people spend time thinking that Father God is the culprit and asking, “Why would He let this happen?”  They call bad things ‘acts of God.’   They think that God is in charge of everything and forget that He has given us choice.  He will not step in and supernaturally change our choices, unless we come to Him and ask Him to intervene.

Even Satan had choice – which is how he got himself into this fix in the first place.  The enemy knows that there is no redemption for him and he is determined to steal as many of us from the family of God as he possibly can.

So, remember, you have been given choices and when we make them, it affects others as well as ourselves.  We choose what we watch and what we put in our minds.  We choose what we do when no one can see us.  We can choose to yield to the deceptive lies of the enemy and try to bury pain in assorted addictive behaviors.

We will all be in one camp or the other.  Who we yield to controls us.  If the terrorist controls us, we become a terrorist or at the very least we will try to be good, yet know we have missed it.  If we yield to the One Who loves us, then we become a lover. We get to choose.

Our choice determines our future and our possibilities.  If we think that it is hopeless and that things are so out-of-control that we can not affect it, then the terrorist will win.  If we ourselves get to know the Creator of the Universe and reach out to Him, He will show us how to reach out to others.  He will show that there are more than enough of us to accomplish His plan for our loved ones and for our nation.  Jesus started with just twelve.

Yes, there is a terrorist but he is defeated.  Jesus defeated him on the cross.  It is up to us to enforce his defeat.

So, now the ‘Once Upon a Time’ story continues.  Remember there is a Savior . . . and He wants each of us to live ‘happily ever after!’  Who will you yield to?  Choose wisely.

We Are Made for Joy!

Mara’s baby had been sick for several months before he died.  Her hope for his recovery had faded slowly and when he died in her arms, it sucked the life out of her.  She had pushed away everyone.  Her husband came home on a hardship leave from his post in Korea, but he had to return a month later.

Dena was Mara’s neighbor who insisted on looking in on her.  When the baby was sick, Mara had given her a key that she never gave it back after the funeral.  If Mara wouldn’t answer the door, Dena would come in any way.  She would take over and open the blinds and air out the house.  She would put a pot of soup on the stove and begin to do the dishes.

When Dena walked in, this time Mara began to scream at her to get out.  Dena talked to her in a soothing tone of voice.  Mara screamed louder and began to jump up and down.  Dena waited until the fury ended and went to the distraught girl and took her in her arms and held her tight.  Mara began to sob.  She cried until she ran through the pent-up emotions.  Dena kept softly telling her that she loved her and that it will be all right.

Finally, Mara rose up and looked at her, “Really?  Will it ever be all right again?  How could God have done this to me?”  Dena knew this was not a time for reason, but she did say this, “Mara, you know God didn’t do this.  God is only good and he didn’t take your baby away from you, but He has your child now in His own strong arms.”

“I believe He has,” she sobbed, “but I miss my baby and my husband.  What am I going to do?” she wailed.

Dena looked at her and sighed.  “Dear girl, the baby has been gone for six months and your husband for five.  Brooding about this loss for such a long time is destroying you.  You were never meant to be sad and that is why it is so hard.  We were made for joy.  When we experience deep grief, it is important to find a way to get back to joy.  Do you know where joy is found? ”

Mara looked hopeless.  “If you want me to turn to God, I can’t pray.  I’ve tried, but I end up blaming God for all that has happened.  He took my baby and sent my husband to Korea at about the same time.  I am all alone!”  Dena said, “I know it is small comfort, but God has sent me to you.  You have never been alone.  He is with you and I am right next door and always as close as a phone call.”

Mara shook her head.  She couldn’t see any way out.  It was hopeless but as she listened to her friend, a glimmer of hope began to shine.  Finally she said, “I’ll try.”

Dena suggested that Mara take a shower and put on some clean clothes while she freshened up the house and then they would go out for lunch.  Mara shook her head indicating that she didn’t want to but slowly lifted her small body off the couch as if it weighed 300 pounds.  She obediently headed for the shower and stepped into the steaming hot water.  It felt good.  She poured shampoo in her hair realizing that she couldn’t remember the last time she had bathed.  She stood in the wonderful flow of warm water for a long time.  She felt she was being revived.

By the time Dena had finished changing the sheets and starting the laundry; Mara had fixed her hair and gotten dressed.  She looked better although her clothes were a loose from weeks of not eating.  She told Dena that she had prayed in the shower.  “I told God that I was sorry that I had been so mad at Him and asked Him to help me find my way back to Him.  I was amazed at the immediate peace that settled over me.  I feel better than I have felt since my baby left me.”  A small tear slipped down her check, but her eyes were brighter as she looked at her faithful friend.

Dena said, “Let’s go someplace really special.  What is your favorite restaurant?  She told her about a wonderful upscale restaurant in midtown and Dena said, “That’s my favorite too!”  Soon they were on their adventure.

Today’s Lesson:

When we go through difficult times, we tend to make them worse by isolating ourselves from our support group.  Mara pushed her friends and family away.  She was angry with God because she was alone; she never connected the fact that she had made it almost impossible for people to comfort her when her husband and baby left.

God never ever intends for us to spend months and months in grieving about loss of any kind.  He is always available to help us through the tragedies.  At one point in the Old Testament, he only allowed Israel to grieve for one month.  It is true that we need some time to deal with the change, but prolonged sadness grows and weakens us.  It becomes a place for the enemy to plant thoughts of hopelessness and victimization.

When we choose to run to Father God, His Presence brings us joy.  The more time we spend in His Presence, the more
joyful we become and he heals our wounds and binds up our broken hearts.  Scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Mara had meditated on her pain and that always brings more pain.  When you feel the sadness over and over, the enemy helps us feel worse and worse and soon anger boils in our hearts.  Sometimes it results in destructive behavior.

Things weren’t all of the sudden wonderful in Mara’s life although she had begun her journey back from despair.  At times, she still had to fight the feelings of loss and loneliness, yet she has gone back to her church family and resumed her life.  She has even begun looking for a job.

Mara’s husband’s voice has sounded so relieved that last few phone calls.  He had worried about his beautiful wife and struggled with not being able to come home again but his tour of duty will be over in four months.  She is marking off the days on the calendar.

Dena still comes by and they have coffee and Mara is talking again about the baby and the pain.  She has learned the value of true friends and the joy of finding her peace in the Lord.

Until then, she is beginning again to spend time with her heavenly Father, Who never leaves her.

Focus is One of the Words for 2013

Nick loved football.  Every season he would watch every game – college and professional.  If he had time, he would go to the high school games in his community.  He focused every spare minutes on the adrenalin-laced games and heaven help his wife and children if they got between him and the television screen.  He would berate them and they would feel invisible and rejected.  He knew the names of all the players.  Soon his fanatic fixation had become the focus of his life while the neglected relationships around him quietly brought him chips and beer.  At dinner, his wife would tip-toe in and leave the hamburger and fries on the coffee table and retreat.

Eventually the marriage fell apart and Mom and Dad went their separate ways.  The children hated the divorce, but when they visited Dad, he still spent most of his time in front of the TV.  They are grown-ups now and while they love their father, they don’t feel they really know him.  He had not only been a spectator of sports that gave nothing back but he had been a spectator in his kids lives as well.  Does he have regrets?  You would have to ask him.

Today’s Lesson:

In our lives the circumstances are somewhat the same.  God is somewhat like the children in this story because He wants our undivided attention.  He promises that if we will draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  He is waiting for us to turn off the television, the computer, the radio and to shut out all other distractions.  Father wants us to come to our quiet place and seek His face.  In our worship, we can put our focus on Him  As we listen, we will discover that everything we need, He has already provided.   It is ours for the taking just as the love the children wanted to share with their Dad was there if he had chosen to draw near.

We are to come boldly before the Father God’s throne of grace confident that as we seek Him, He will not be lost in a spectator sport or any other distraction.  We are the focus of His plan.  He wants us to be a fully functional family who focus our lives and love on Him.  We find that the Bible tells us that in His Presence is fullness of joy.  As we focus on Him, He will meet us and we will be the beneficiaries of His love and attention.

What are your focusing on?

Joy Full or Joy Less?

Pastor Joy Full walked through her living room thinking about the paradox of her name.  She had married John Full just before he left to go to Iraq.  He was only there for two months when she got the official visit.  He had been killed by a sniper in the line of duty.  The ‘line of duty’ made it sound okay, but it wasn’t okay.  In point of fact, nothing was okay.

She fell on the big leather chair that John had picked out before he deployed.  She shook her head.  Jesus was supposed to be enough, but right now, today, He was as distant as John’s memory. Once again, she spoke her name.  Joy Full.   Her name did not suggest who she had become.  She should have been married John Less or John Empty, then things would have lined up with who she is today.

Her husband had been so full of life; so like his name.  He loved the Lord with all His heart and he loved her passionately.  It was some comfort to know that He was enjoying life with the Heavenly Father.  It should have pulled her toward Father, but she hadn’t wanted to visit Him in the Throne Room lately.  She held him responsible.  How could He let this happen?

Joy knew that Father God didn’t cause John to die, but the Truth was not setting her free tonight.  She was due at the church in an hour for the Tuesday night prayer meeting.  The group spent more time talking about people than praying.  She chided herself for not being a better leader.  She knew the faithful would show up but she just could not face it.  Sue Ellen had a key.  She wouldn’t be missed.

She rubbed the arm of the brown leather chair.  “I miss you, John.”  She burst into tears!  She picked up her jacket, threw a few things in a suitcase, stopped by the bank and took out $1000 leaving a small balance.  After she had filled the car with gas she started driving.  She didn’t know where she was going, but she was fleeing her home, the church, and the pain.  She turned on the CD  player.  An old friend of the family, a pastor from her hometown, was teaching.  She had always found his voice soothing.  His Scripture was Proverbs 3:5, 6.  It was her life verse.

5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

As she drove, tears rolled down her cheeks.  The ache in her heart, that she had ignored for these last two years, spread until she was sobbing uncontrollably.  She pulled off at a rest area and parked a good distance from the other cars.  She put the seat back and gave in.  She screamed at God.  “How could you?  I have lived my life for you!  How could you let this happen?”  Joy gasped for air, “John loved you and he loved me.  We served you!”  The rant went on for some time.  When she stopped, she listened but Father God was silent.

From complete exhaustion laid her head back and slept fitfully for thirty minutes.  She resumed driving.  Once she crossed the state line, she began to look for a place to spend the night and checked into a small roadside inn, paid in cash, and went straight to bed.

In the quiet of the morning, she saw the Gideon Bible on the night stand and she opened it.  It fell to Proverbs 3.  She smiled and breathed a sigh.  Her heavenly Father was letting her know that He hadn’t forgotten her.   “I know you heard me, Father,” she said.

She knelt on the floor by the bed and asked for permission to enter His Presence in the name of her big Brother, Jesus.  She crawled upon her Heavenly Father’s lap and poured out her heart.  She surrendered it all.  She gave Him the pain, the rejection, the loneliness, the emptiness, and her broken heart.  She told Him that she was sorry and that she knew that she would not heal until she gave up her right to this pain and the feeling that she was justified in holding on to it.

As she waited in His Presence, a sense of relief and joy began to fill her heart.  She recognized the grace and mercy of the Father’s love flooding her very being.  How foolish it had been to resist Him.  She knew that she would always miss John but the miracle of God’s love and mercy had pulled the stinger out of the pain.  She could release her hold on John and give him to the One who loves Him even more than she.

Pastor Joy Full felt God’s joy and for the first time in a long time, she was glad that John had blessed her with such a wonderful name.

Today’s Lesson:  In real life, the issues sometimes take longer to resolve, but when we fully release that which holds us to our Abba Father, (Daddy), then He takes the pieces and puts them together and we find ourselves even more complete and whole.  Joy is not the absence of suffering but the Presence of the Lord.

What holds you today?  What is it that you feel justified in nursing and rehearsing over and over again.  What is your private obsession?

Confirming Scriptures:

 

Psalm 77:1 – 6

1I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

 

 

Reject Your Own Opinions

Two young ministerial interns, Russ and Toby, came to live with the John and Karen Wright family.  Karen counted it a privilege to have them share her home.  She had high expectations of their mission to learn and serve the congregation and was proud that she would be a good example for them.

The young men had two very different personalities.  Russ rode a motorcycle and looked a bit like a rock star.  He was zealous for the things of God and diligent in his responsibilities.  Toby, on the other hand, seemed shallow in his relationship with the Lord and more interested in the baseball box scores than doing ministry.

John and Karen took off a weekend to visit a nearby city and left the young men on their own.  When they came home, Russ was at church and Toby was sitting in the midst of the living room watching television and working the box scores.  The fact that he hadn’t bathed was obvious.  The house was a mess.

“Why aren’t you at church?’ Karen inquired barely concealing that she was seething with anger.  This was not what she had signed up for.  She was not interested in housing a slothful young man who was shirking his responsibilities.  ‘I couldn’t get a ride,” he responded.  “Well, you have one now.  Get cleaned up, and I will take you to church.”

The air was tense in the car as they sped over the road the seven miles to the church campus.  When they got there, she dropped Toby off at the door and went looking for the Pastor.  When she found him, he was teaching a class.  She walked to the door and when he looked her way, she beckoned him to come out of class.  “Pastor, Toby is not what I thought I would get when I agreed to take in these interns.    He was at home in a horrible mess when we came back from our weekend.  He is here at the church now.  I want him out of my home and I want him out now!” she said with emphasis.  “Would tomorrow be soon enough?” Pastor sighed.  Toby moved out the next day and she made excuses to Russ as to why he was gone.

Pastor called her and John in to confront Toby in his office.  It was less than satisfying to all the concerned parties.  After Toby left, Pastor looked at Karen and said, “You are an opinionated woman!”  Karen felt justified as she thought her opinions were right!

Today’s Lesson:

Karen had an opportunity to cover Toby and be redemptive in his life but instead she rejected him.  She justified herself and her opinions.  The Bible teaches us that love covers a multitude of sin and also, that we will know Christians by their love.  Where was the love in Karen?  She was judge, jury and executioner.

Toby finished his internship but his experience wasn’t good.  He returned to Bible College and thought that all Christians were like Karen.  The story leaves us wondering if he ever found the true love of God in others.

Since that time, Karen has learned a great deal and had an encounter with the Most High God.  He dealt with her and gently helped her see that her opinions were not His.  He helped her to reject her own opinions.  Father God showed her that passion is a good thing if it lines up with His will for us, but when it is based on our opinions, it is dangerous and destructive.  God healed her heart and she forgave Toby through the Holy Spirit who lives in her.

As Christians, we are passionate about many things.  We are opinionated about the political process.  We have ideas about how the church should be managed and what the color the carpet in the sanctuary should be.  We have ideas about what the right doctrine is and end up dividing from friends and congregations over basic issues like baptisms and tongues.

The point of today’s lesson is that we need to reject our own opinions and find out what God wants in each situation.  When we speak what we consider to be the truth based on opinion, we abuse the young believer and actually hinder his relationship with the Lord.  The Bible says that it is better to have a millstone (a huge rock) hung around your neck and be tossed into the sea that to hurt one of His little ones.

The next time you find yourself in an impassioned conversation filled with judgment, condemnation and opinion, stop, quiet yourself, and invite the Lord to cleanse and purify your opinion so that it lines up with His.  It may be necessary to excuse yourself and get alone with the Lord.

We see in Scripture that we can speak like the very angels of heaven but without love, we are profited nothing.  The next time you see another who is walking in error and you want to rush in and deal with it, remember to reject your opinion and choose love over condemnation.  The amazing thing will be that your heart will change and the wonderful peace of God will reign in the place of opinion.

Super Santa, Super Heroes and the Supernatural God

Santa Claus has an appeal that incites our imagination to believe the unbelievable.  He promises to fly around the world in a 24 hour period delivering presents to every good little girl and boy.  He is carted about the globe behind magic reindeer one of which has a bulbous nose that can cut through fog with its laser light beam.  Santa’s ponderous figure is said to slip easily down chimneys and past locked doors in houses that are not fortunate enough to have a fireplace.  When he enters each house, he is presented with milk and cookies which he eats and I guess that is why he is overweight.  If a family does not receive a visit from Santa because of financial setbacks, the child assumes he was not good enough and feels rejected.  None-the-less, we delight to believe in the jolly old elf, but when the day comes and we find out that he is just a myth – a fable something in the heart of the child breaks.

All this time, he thought Santa was real and true.  It does something to his imagination.  He will never really be as willing to believe in what he cannot see.  He begins to question the unseen and decides that he can conjure up any imaginary being and pretend they are real.  So, the super heroes enter his life and he develops an alter ego that can jump over buildings and save or destroy whole cities.  It is all phony but he has learned to believe in the fantasy.  Nothing in his imagination is impossible.

At Church, the Sunday School teacher talks about an invisible God who loves him and sent His only Son into the world so that he might be saved.  She tells him that God loves him very much.  She goes on to say that He was born in a manger and He is the reason for Christmas.  “Yeah, right,” he thinks!  “This is just one more fable the adults want me to believe.  I did the Santa Claus thing and this sounds just as farfetched. ”

Today’s Lesson:

Today’s world is filled with stories of Star Wars, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Twilight, Batman, Green Lantern and many more.  Each of them is endowed with super powers and fight battles of good and evil.  There is something in each heart that longs for power and supernatural ability.  The imagination is used to pretend superhuman strength and abilities.  It is a longing put there by God and we have an enemy who is busy trying to counterfeit it in all ages and seasons.

The good news (Gospel) is that there is a real supernatural power that is given as a free gift to all that will embrace it.  As we accept the complete work Jesus did to forgive our sins, we are put in right standing with the Creator of the Universe – yep!  He is real and not a fable.  He has provided everything that we need.  The Truth is that when you invite Jesus into your heart, you become part of the amazing family of God.

For years, the church has lived far below the privileges that God has provided them because they have embraced tradition and religion.  The Truth is that you have a new home and access to all the cool power tools that God has for you.  As you get to know Him, and He can trust you with His wonderful gifts, He gives you the power to heal the sick, raise the dead and walk on water – and much more.  It is you who gets to walk in the power of God as you yield your life to Him.  It is not just watching fake superheroes do stuff.  You join the Creator of the Universe and do amazing things.  It is a life of wonders beyond imagination.  It is a ‘Blast Life!’

Santa, Superman and the others pale in comparison to the One who creates out of nothing and loves the unlovable giving them the option of loving Him or rejecting Him.

All the pretend ‘super heroes’ have weaknesses and are self-centered or judgmental, but God opens the way to any who will choose Him to join Him and live forever past all natural reasoning and imagination.

It’s up to each one of us.  Do you want to believe the improbable and play games with pretend characters or do you want to reach past the limits of your imagination and embrace your Heavenly Father who loves you and promises you everlasting life?