Monday, March 16, 2015

March 17, 2015

"God commended His love toward you in this way; when you were yet a sinner Christ died for you." Romans 5:8

Sunday I talked about some of the issues involved with getting from first base into scoring position. The one that seemed to connect well was the point about keeping short accounts. The advice was threefold: forgive what you can't fix, bitterness is unnecessary baggage and when you get wronged get right. 

During that part of the message I shared some painful childhood experiences I suffered because of my absent father who was unable to keep his word and find time for me. Even though I hesitate to share painful things out of my past, I need to do that so you are able to know me and my struggles.

Some of the things I shared Sunday Barbara hadn't even heard before, so we were talking after church and it occurred to me I should share how I got through that without any bitterness. Perhaps it will be helpful for you to know.

The most important thing I was able to do was accept him for he was rather than what I wanted him to be. He was a hurting person who hurt others because of his unresolved pain. His attempts to dull the spiritual and emotional pain that plagued his life was to drink. Since I lived with an alcoholic step-father I knew first-hand how it affects people. That gave me insights into some of his thinking and behavior.

Because, by the grace of God, I was able to accept him as he was and not expect him to be what I wanted him to be I was able to see him more objectively and not project his problems on myself.

As someone who has closely with people over many years I have observed how common it is for people to struggle at this point. While it is hard to let go of your hopes and expectations for a person you love, real love, healthy love, is able to free the person from those expectations and come to an acceptance of the person as they are and for who they are.

When I finally came to that point of acceptance, it was hard to admit that I was never going to enjoy the blessing of an earthly father. Facing that painful fact led me to open my life more completely to my Heavenly Father.

That was the best decision I ever could have made! My Heavenly Father healed my heart and my spirit and has NEVER disappointed me!

Is there someone who continually disappoints you? 

Is there a hurting person in your life who persists in causing you pain? 

If you are not careful, the hurt they are causing you will cause you to hurt others.

Perhaps it is time to ask God to give you grace to accept this person for who he is, what he is, and stop expecting him to be other than what you accept him to be. This acceptance will actually treat the pain and open your heart to love that person in a healthy satisfying way.

This is how God loves! He saw you in your sin and knew exactly what sort of hurtful and hurting person you were. Seeing you at your worst, he accepted you and counted you worthy of salvation through His Son.

If God can love you like that can't he help you love someone else in that same way?

March 16, 2015

Here's a question for you this morning, "Would you rather impress Jesus or bless Him?"

Those are two very different ways of thinking about faith. That occurred to me as I was reading in Luke 21. You are probably familiar with this story:

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins."I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:1-4

Imagine going to church one Sunday and there is Jesus standing next to the offering plate. How would that impact your giving pattern?

While this isn't my main point this morning, it is obvious that Jesus pays attention to what we give.

More to the point, Jesus knows why we give.

He watched as a wealthy member paraded past the offering plate and with great ceremony he pulled out his wad, peeled off some large bills and dropped them into the plate. I can imagine that after depositing that final bill he shoots a glance over to Jesus and nods.

Then the next guy in line has to step up and dig a little deeper. So it went all morning. One after another they step up trying to impress Jesus with their generosity, each trying to outdo the other. So it goes all morning.

Jesus isn't impressed.

As He turns to leave, Jesus catches movement out of the corner of His eye. Turning back he sees an elderly little lady slip out of the crowd, quickly deposit a couple of coins and try to fade back into the crowd. But Jesus won't allow that. He calls His disciples, "Whoa! Did you see that? That is impressive! All these other people have been trying to impress us by giving out of their abundance, but this dear lady emptied her bank account!"

Jesus was impressed - and blessed.

As I read that story for the billionth time, that is how it challenged me. What is my faith walk all about? Am I trying to impress Jesus or do I live to bless Him?

Sometimes I don't like the answer. Sometimes I serve Him with my leftovers instead of my all.

How about you?

I promise that today I will live to bless Jesus and not try to impress Him. 

Want to join me?