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

Respect, Authority and Promotion

Greyson

When Greyson started working, he was in a phone sales role and he did it with excellence.  He worked for a highly emotional woman who was political and very dangerous.  His work kept him safe.  He served her erratic whims with great attitude and respect.  When the boss left to take a job with a competitor, the owner of the company talked to Greyson.  The owner knew he was young but had watched the way he had managed himself in a difficult situation.  He took Greyson to lunch and talked to him about the responsibility of becoming a leader in the company.  There were many who were older and who had worked for the company longer.  Mr. Anderson wondered if Greyson could handle the pressure.

To test the young man, he had Greyson act as his assistant to see how he handled the various aspects of the company.   His job was to see to the needs of his boss.  Some people called him a ‘go-for’ but he saw it as a privilege.  There was never a hit of sarcasm, bitterness or disrespect.  He heard others in the office making fun of him and calling him a glorified secretary.   He never took offense and continued to show everyone respect.  His attitude was always cheerful and pleasant.  Occasionally people mistook him to be the boss because of his manner.

Mr. Anderson admired the young man noting his diligent attention to detail.  Privately, he told his wife that given time Greyson will know more about the  business than he knows.  There were few people who truly understood authority as completely as Greyson. He promoted Greyson over a large division and watched as he brought a bunch of unhappy, angry people into a well performing team by respecting them.  Sales began to reach records.

Olivia

Olivia had always been a key employee in the retail store of a large chain.  Her store manager, Sharon depended on her when she was not there.  When Sharon retired, Olivia was the obvious choice to take her place.  She had worked for Sharon for six years and watched the store grow year after year, but somewhere along the way, she had forgotten what made the store successful.  Sharon always treated her employees with respect and honor.  She kept everything light and was very fair with each of them.  Customers loved the atmosphere of the store.

Instead of continuing the practices Sharon had put in place, she hired a friend and made promises to her that took hours away from the other employees.  Customers didn’t like the new person.  The employees were miserable.  They tried to talk to Olivia, but she would not listen.  They called in the District Manager and Olivia ended up losing her job along with the friend that she had hired.

Today’s Lesson:

Respect

Both of the employees had been good at their jobs and their supervisors had appreciated them.  Both were chosen for promotion, but only Greyson understood what it took to lead others.  Respect is the key to leadership and it is born out of a servant mentality.  Olivia thought that now that she was the boss, she could do things the way she wanted, but it backfired.  There is always someone to oversee what you are doing.

The Ultimate Leader

Even Jesus Who is the ultimate mentor and authority, was unable to bring all twelve of his disciples to positions of leadership.

Judas betrayed him because he had his own idea of what Jesus should do and came to sad end.

Peter blustered and made mistakes, but he loved Jesus and he learned from his mistakes. Jesus trusted him to lead the Jewish people.

John trusted Jesus from the beginning.  He respected him and served him with an open heart.  He even called himself, the disciple that Jesus loved.  He wrote several books of the New Testament and was given the end time Revelation.  Jesus trusted him.

We learn that Jesus taught that ‘he who would be greatest among you, must be servant of all.’   All promotions comes from the Lord.  When you honor Him, He honors you.  So if you know that you have a call on your life, quit trying to make it happen and serve others with a whole heart.  Help them accomplish the things God has put on their heart.   In due time, you will be promoted by the Lord.

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?

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.

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.

Share the Love of God with Others at All Times

baby boy

He was such a cute baby.  His skin is so soft and his eyes so round and innocent.  She loved him with all her heart.  He cried when he was hungry or when he soiled his diapers.  In all of this, she loved him and cared for him.  She would feed him tenderly and just as tenderly change the dirty diapers.

As he grew a little older, he became more mobile and began to pull himself up on things.  Unfortunately, he  pulled himself up on her Mother’s antique table and because it was a bit unstable, it fell over and a cherished Hummel figurine shattered.  He sat on the floor and wailed.  She ran to him, picked him up and comforted him.  She regretted having lost the items, but his welfare was more important than the pieces of history.

Soon he was toddler and full of fun and mischief.  She couldn’t be everywhere at once and it seemed like he could find things and was truly ‘destructo’ in motion.  Sometimes she would scold him or even give him a swat on his well-padded behind, but most often, she would just laugh.  He was her own precious child after all.

The pre-teen years came and things settled down somewhat.  He had become interested in learning and was always will to help her as she worked around the house.  He went fishing with his dad and spent time with his grandparents.  He loved Sunday School.  Everyone doted on him.  When he would get into trouble, he was so sad that he had done something wrong, that it was hard to punish him.  She just continued to love him and cover his mistakes with love and encouragement.

As time went on, he became a teenager and suddenly, things seemed to change.  He began to sass her and thought he knew more than she and his Dad.  It was a difficult time for the family.

One night the police came to the door, her knees buckled in fear that he was hurt or worse.  Was he okay?  The officer explained that he had been with two other boys and they had decided it would be fun to try shoplifting.  Her heart broke.  The policeman brought her precious boy in and they all sat down and talked.  She knew this was serious and that it needed her to respond in just the right way.  After the policeman and her husband had their say, she looked him in the eyes and said, “You know how much we love you and that we always cover you, but when you step outside of the family and do your own thing, you will find that we will still love you – always love you – but you will have removed yourself from our ability to cover your mistakes.  You will have placed yourself under another authority over which we have no control.  The next time you make a decision to break the laws of the world, there will be consequences.  This nice officer has given you another chance.  We pray you will remember the grace that has been extended to you this day.”

Having survived the crisis, he grew into a young man, left home and entered college.  He encountered many new freedoms and many opportunities to choose wisely or to do just what felt good.  His high school lesson with shoplifting was one he had not forgotten.  His parents’ love of God had done its work and he began to go to church on his own.  There he found a sparkling brown-eyed girl with blond hair.  He was immediately taken by her sweetness and kind way.  Upon graduation, they married and soon, they had their own baby.  And the cycle began again.

Today’s Lesson:

Christians lead others to the Lord.  The new Christian is essentially a baby although he may be twenty years older than we are.  We must take care that our expectations are realistic.  We must not forget that there are stages to the Christian life just as there are stages to our natural lives.  That baby needs to be loved and the errors that he makes in effect fill up his ‘dirty diapers’ which need to be changed and he needs to be covered again with a blanket of love.  As he matures and the mistakes continue, we can choose love or condemnation.  When we choose to condemn him for his actions, we have joined demonic forces called the ‘accuser of the brethren.’  Everyone knows what is wrong in their lives.  They need to be encouraged.  The Lord will lovingly correct him.  If we do it, he will feel hopeless and won’t understand why he isn’t more like you.  This is why a period of discipleship training is important.  It is to be done with love.  When he messes up, tenderly restore him taking care that you don’t join in his error.

This life as children of God requires the same love and encouragement tenderly given by parents and authorities give to natural children.

We need to remember that we ourselves are somewhere in this continuum and to be kind to ourselves when we err.  We need to remind ourselves that ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’

There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  Condemnation and deception are the only tools that the devil has in his tool box.  Sin was forgiven and we were released from its hold when we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be quick to judge or condemn, but be quick to cover lavishly with grace.  We are promised that the work God has done in us will be completed.  Rejoice!

Will you share the love and grace of God with someone today?

 

Jazzie’s Story

 Jazzie was a happy, light-hearted child.  She laughed almost from the day she was born and absolutely everyone was drawn to her.  She only cried when she really had a need and otherwise would play contentedly with her baby doll and her toys.  Her mother wanted to love her but she was so absorbed in the drama of her life that she hardly noticed the graceful, loving little person in her home.

As Jazzie grew older, the dysfunction of her home began to affect her.  There was shouting and anger all around her.  She would quietly slip off to another room to stay out-of-the-way of her older siblings and the adults in the house.  One day, the craziness became a part of her own life and the unspeakable things that she endured, broke her fragile and lovely heart.

She began to keep a low profile, but when things would begin to come apart, anger would rise up in her and she would try to protect herself to no avail.  Soon she reluctantly surrendered to the madness.  All through her growing up years, there was no joy and only survival.  She vowed never let anyone be able to hurt her and built walls around her heart.

Somewhere in the midst of the  pain, she made an agreement that ‘no one would ever love her.’  She had decided that she was not worthy of love.  She made another agreement also and it was ‘I am responsible.’  She felt that she could never trust anyone and she was in charge of herself.  These were very lonely decisions and they led her into deep bitterness.  She would see others falling in love and she would be jealous and hateful toward them.  When a young man would show interest in her, she would let him near for just a brief time and then she would wound him to protect herself from rejection.  A sense that she was powerful began to take root in her and she became prideful.  Everywhere she went, there was strife.

Empty and alone, she had opened a door in her heart that had been filled with an evil presence and often she felt as if it had taken control.  She didn’t know how to stop it and surrendered again.

She still had dreams.  Jazzie was very gifted musically.  She used to sing all the time.  She went to school to get her Masters in Music.   All of her compositions were dark and had an unsettling quality.  She was constantly comparing herself with the other talented students and felt something was missing.  This only deepened her rage.

What Jazzie didn’t know was that the God of the Universe loves her and He was longing for her to lay aside her anger, bitterness, pride and jealousy and turn to Him.  He had already forgiven her and all the people who had hurt her.  He wanted her to know that He was not mad at her.  He had sent people to her to tell her of His great love and He had many others praying for her.  He began to trouble her sleep and her dreams were filled with His voice calling her.

She didn’t know what was happening and still hung on to the hurt and the pain.  An old friend, who knew what her childhood had been, had an encounter with the Lord.  Her life was so changed that Jazzie could hardly recognize her.  She glowed with the life of God.  It hurt Jazzie to be near her.  She wanted her to die!  She didn’t even know why she felt that way.  It was all so confusing.  She knew next to nothing about the Lord and was a total stranger to the Bible.

Her talent began to be noticed and she took a trip to a nearby city to give a concert and spent the night in a hotel.  As she sat on the bed, she surfed the channels on the television.  There was nothing she wanted to watch.  Turning it off, she began to look for something to read and found a Gideon Bible in the drawer by the bed.  She opened it to 1 John 4 and scanned the verses.  She stopped at verse 7.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

She began to weep.  She really didn’t understand some of the words, but they by-passed her head and burned into her heart!

She knew that she did not love.

She searched her heart.  She did not love anyone.  Certainly she loved no one in her own family that had so wounded her.  She didn’t even love herself.

“God, if your real, please teach me how to love.  Come into my heart and change me.”  She felt a strange sense of peace that she had never known. She didn’t remember the happy, sweet child that she had been.

There was a flutter in her stony heart and it began to melt.  It was the beginning . . .