Got Attitude?

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What’s your idea of fairness?  Matthew 20:1-16 teaches us that our personal concept of fairness may not always be in agreement with Gods.  This parable goes a long way toward opening our eyes to the heart of a God who is much more than fair.

In first century Israel there was so much to do whether planting, cultivating, or harvesting the vineyards.  It was hard physical labor working in the heat of summer.  And so the owner of one vineyard went out very early in the day to hire workers.  At 6:00 in the morning he hired laborers for a whole denarius, a Roman soldiers pay for a day.  At intervals throughout the day three more groups of laborers were hired all for the same pay.  They were grateful for their work until this climatic moment.  What!  Is it fair to give all the same amount?  “Those fellows worked only one hour and yet you’ve paid them just as much as those of us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”  Matthew 20:11, 12 TLB

Do we have the right to dictate how the landowner pays his workers?  Wasn’t his decision to pay the same an act of mercy?  Our demand of fairness from God reveals more about us than we would like.  Could this be exposing attitudes of selfish ambition and pride?  “The world’s definition of fairness is based on the sliding scale of society’s values and the changing will of the majority.  But God doesn’t buy that definition.  That’s why He will never be ‘fair’ from society’s perspective.  His values are higher, far exalted above yours.  His timetable is different… that’s why I praise you for being just, not fair.”  Joni Earekson Tada

As believers in Christ we must put aside a competitive spirit and think like Jesus.  In Jesus’ day people often felt superior because of their heritage or faithful obedience to the law.  But salvation, God’s great act of mercy, is not an elite privilege for a few but a worldwide invitation to all.  As we struggle in a world that often lacks attitudes of mercy and justice we can remember Jesus gives us something far greater than fairness.  He lived the sum total of mercy and justice.  This is the wonderful grace of Jesus.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
O the Wonderful Grace of Jesus reaches me!

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Imprisoned

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Everyone cringes at the idea of ever being sent to prison.  Though not behind bars sadly many do find themselves captive to an unpayable sin debt.  In Bible times there were serious consequences for those who could not repay what they owed.  The debtor could be thrown into prison, dependent on his family or friends to supply the money to purchase his freedom.  Using this illustration Jesus teaches a parable about a king who generously forgave a man a ten million dollar debt.  However, when the same man was asked to forgive only a ten dollar balance he prosecuted without pity.  “…but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.”  Matthew 18:30 KJV

Friends, we have incurred a terrible sin debt that can never possibly be paid.  There is enough sin DNA within each of us to send us directly to hell.  Do we really see our own distressing capacity to do wrong?  We desperately need forgiveness.  God’s forgiveness and mercy has been extended to us beyond all measure.  To know what it is to be forgiven by God is to experience a gratitude that is truly boundless.  By wonderful mercy and compassion the Lord Jesus paid our immense sin debt at the cross, canceling our sin record for all time.  

Because God has forgiven everything from character faults to our crushing sins we must not withhold forgiveness from others.  “He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.”  George Herbert   And so when the King saw the man refuse to cancel the lesser debt he“…delivered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all that was due unto him.”  Matthew 18:34 KJV

When we do not forgive others we are cast into a personal prison where hurt, bitterness, and unbelief hold us captive.  “A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.”  Samuel Johnson   The words of this song remind us just what we have been given through the amazing gift of forgiveness: “Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow.”  To continually forgive others is meant to be as much a way of life as breathing.

Yesterday I forgave all that once went so wrong.  Today I will ask forgiveness for my weaknesses and lack of faith.  Tomorrow forgiveness will pave my pathway with renewed hope and the strength of my abiding Savior.  How wonderful to know that the tremendous power of forgiveness sets us free to thrive under the God of mercy and love.

Click here to read a beautiful quote about brokenness by Brennan Manning.

Coming Home

start_over1Dear believers in Jesus, I bring you simply a plea.  I encourage you to receive a message of repentance and reconciliation with God.  As Christians we live where Jesus reigns, in a world within the world.  The Kingdom of God has set up residence within us.  In God’s time we decided that Christ held the best plan for living so we took Him up on His offer of both complete forgiveness and a life of purpose.  We all still have persistent struggles but we are never expected to change ourselves.  That is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  “…the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him.” 1 Peter 1:2 Living Bible.

And yet something is profoundly amiss.  Too many believers are giving up on being led and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Often by default we are turning to another power.  Could it be Christians are purchasing property and establishing a second residence in the demonic kingdom?  Perhaps we haven’t spoken in plain enough words.  Ungodly influences can saturate our lives.  Do we no longer believe in the consecrated, abundant life that was promised us at the moment of spiritual conception?  Could we be pushing our senses beyond what they can absorb when we read or watch movies depicting the occult, violence, or explicit sexual content?  What cannot be processed will be acted out in some kind of overflow often leaving us hardhearted and insensitive to both God and others.  We live out anger, arguing, and bad language when we take in an impure bombardment of both mind and emotions.  We can become sick inside through frequent violations of God’s principles.  “Obey God because you are His children; don’t slip back into your old ways- doing evil because you knew no better. But be holy now in everything you do…” 1 Peter 1:14, 15 Living Bible.  Mental, emotional, and physical illness can develop after too many times of saying no to conscience and the wisdom of God revealed in His Word.

At times we all experience pressure even to the point that we don’t know which way to turn.  It’s easy to make family the whipping boy for our stresses because we haven’t walked closely with God, relying on him to bear our burdens.  We have been made in the image of God and only by returning to Him will we find relief.  As Creator He knows how we work, what makes us tick, and how we can become happier, healthier people.  We can overcome our doubts, fears, and struggles as we acknowledge that through the precious blood spilt at Calvary we walk away from the cross not only forgiven but whole.  We have been given a brand new lease on life with fresh clean pages to begin an exciting new story.  Turn the corner and dance like King David, praise with positive declarations about our Heavenly Father, and plead the blood of Jesus Christ to rescue and protect our minds.  Let’s pour out our feelings, our deepest longings before God, lifting our heart to God in song.  It’s time to take down that elaborate front of self-righteousness and pride.  Dismantle that false sense of security that says because we are Christians we are ok. Kick in those rotten boards of jealousy, gossip, and unforgiveness.  With God’s help we can build again!

Dear believers, take this opportunity to start over, to live again under God’s ways outlined carefully, perfectly in the Bible.  Let us have only one resident address- PO BOX Kingdom of God.  We don’t have to be unhappy!  God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the greatest holy trio known to man, are available every moment to help and deliver us from the worst scenario known to man, our destructive sin problem.  Don’t ignore the path to victory!  God did so much to make a way for us.  We don’t belong to any part of the darkness.  “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  1 John 1:5  Living Bible.  We can step out into the light and enjoy all God has made for us and planned for us.  We were specifically created for such a time as this.  Friends, please believe me when I say it isn’t too late.  With all His heart Jesus bids us welcome back.  Come home to Jesus.  Come home.

Click here to read another bloggers encouraging article about the Conflict of Kindness.

 

An Awesome Value

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Do you know real value when you see it?  In Matthew 13, a pearl merchant found the pearl he had always dreamed of and recognizing its great worth “…sold everything he owned to purchase it!” Matthew 13:46 LB  Anyone who believes in the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and the salvation he offers has found the one thing that really matters.  This salvation is the most valuable of all treasures.

Every human has a great need to understand that Jesus alone knows their personal value.  How encouraging that in God’s eyes our value has nothing to do with our merits, what we can do, or the family into which we were born.  “In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing.”  Colossians 3:11 LB  It seems so natural to put more importance in tangible things like money, home, possessions, achievements, or physical attractiveness.  But the real value of a person has already been given us by God.  We have been created in God’s image.  “So God made man like his Maker.”  Genesis  1:27 LB  This gives us incredible worth because we have been created for a special purpose, to reflect the glory of God.  No one else can fulfill that purpose.  We are truly able to be free from any feelings of worthlessness or low personal esteem.  “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb.  Your workmanship is marvelous… You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe… How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly!” Psalms 139:13,14,16,17 LB

Our God sees us moment by moment, desiring to help and guide us onto right paths.  “…he will lift you up, encourage and help you.”  James 4:10 LB  Let us make Jesus the deciding difference in our lives by accepting the greatest treasure, new life through Christ.  “Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way…’”  John 14:6 LB  As the Way, Jesus is our path to the Father.  He will show us how to be people who reflect God’s awesome value.