At Just the Right Moment

logo-wallpapers-clock-wallpaper-wallpaper-36269Has something ever come along at just the right moment for you?  You know, like that feeling when you are driving down a country road and your gas light comes on.  You begin to think, am I going to be able to make it to town where there is gas?  And then, out of nowhere, you find a gas station?

Or maybe you’ve been looking for something that belongs to your child or grandchild and they are THISCLOSE to having a meltdown.  And then, boom, out of nowhere, you find it?  Disaster averted.

It’s that a great feeling, to know that at just the right moment, you had what you needed.  I think about that a lot when I read today’s passage.  Listen to what it says in Romans 5: 6-8:

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I love that passage.  At just the right moment.  While we were weak, while we were frail, while we were at our most unlovable.  It was at that exact moment that Jesu died for us.  Not because we deserved it or earned it.

In fact, the exact opposite.  At that moment, that moment of our failure, our mistakes, our weakness, at that moment Jesus died for us.  Not because we earned it. But because He loves us.

At that moment when we were the most unloveable, that was the right moment.  That’s when grace was applied.

You are loved today.  You just are.  You can choose to live in that, or reject.  It’s your call, it’s my call.  It’s up to me and you to decide what we will do with God’s love at this moment.  But regardless of your choice, know this.

You are loved. Because at just the right moment, at just the right time.  At that moment when we were most unlovable, at that moment Jesus died for us.

You are loved.  Never forget that.  You are loved.

Live in that grace today.

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Forgiveness

It’s really good for us to remember that the Lord has forgiven us.  That’s a good thing, a really good thing.

Why?  Well, first it helps us remember our worth.  Remember how valued we are.  Remember that our identity, our hope doesn’t come from ourselves, but from God. That’s so big, in a world that is so intense, filled with such pressure and worry, that’s huge to remember.

Second, that truth reminds us to lay down our burdens.  We don’t have to carry them around forever.  You are forgiven.  Yes.  You are.  You are forgiven.  Lay those burdens down.  Let them go.  Lay down your shame, your worry, your fear, your doubt.

You are forgiven.

Man, we need to drill that truth into our brains.  We are forgiven.

And here’s the cool thing.  When we understand that we are forgiven, it totally changes our walk with God. We stop trying to make God love us, but we live freely out of the love that He has already given us.  It changes our walk with God.  It really does.  But that’s not the only walk it changes.  Listen to what it says today in Colossians 3:12-13:

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

forgivenessWe have been forgiven.  That means that we are supposed to forgive each other.  God has looked at our worst, and failures, the things we have done wrong, and shown us mercy and grace.  As Christians (as tough as it is) we are supposed to do the same things.

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is from his book The Weight of Glory – “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

But how?  Only through God’s power.  We can’t forgive apart from God’s Spirit working through us.  Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to forgive as we are call.  We can’t do it ourselves. But through God, all things are possible.

When we accept God’s forgiveness, we lay down our burden.  When we forgive others, we lay another burden down.  That’s our call today as Christians.  To accept forgiveness and to give forgiveness.  Today, through God’s strength, may we live in that freedom and power.

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As Best You Can, Live in Peace!

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We are called to live in peace with one another.  Really, we are.  We see so many passages in the Bible about loving your neighbor, doing right, being faithful, being the body, all of these things.

We are even told in the Beatitudes that blessed are peacemakers.  We are told to live in peace with one another.

But sometimes that’s hard, isn’t it?   Sometimes that’s nearly impossible.  That’s why I really like what it says today in Romans 12: 18-21:

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

eiMAAdnKTIn as much as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  I really love that.  As much as it depends upon you.

Now notice, though, that’s not a “get out of jail free card.”  You (and I) still have to do our part to live in peace with one another.  So, look what it says.  Don’t avenge yourself.  If you’ve been wronged, don’t worry about getting them back.

As a Christian revenge should not be in our vocabulary.

In fact, look what the text says we should do.  We should feed our enemies. Give them something to drink.  And then it says in doing this, we heap coals upon their heads.

So, if we do these things, they will feel bad about themselves, right!  We win.  Well, not exactly.  The job of a coal in the sacrifice is to purify.  When we love our enemies, we show them God’s love. And we help them be drawn closer to God.

In as much as it depends upon us.  That doesn’t excuse us.  It doesn’t let us off the hook.  We still have to be faithful, not seek vengeance, and love.

But know this. You don’t control their response.  You only control yours.  If you have done the right thing, if you have shown grace, if you have shown mercy, and they do not desire for things to be right, you know what?

You’ve done what you can do. That’s all you can do.  Do what you can do.

You only have control of yourself.  So, in as much as you can, live in peace with others.  Do your part.  Leave the rest up to God.  And the results are not up to you.

So you can rest easy.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

What Happens Next

What’s next is always a key question for me.  I guess I’m the kind of person that’s always looking ahead, but when I know something, or understand something I always want to know, what do it do with it?

What’s next?  What happens next?

I’ve told the story before about worshiping in a church for while that really stressed the reality of human sin and brokenness.  I left worship every Sunday thinking, ok, I get it.  I’m messes up.  What do I do about it?

What’s next?  What happens next?  For me, that’s always a big thing.  What is our response to what happens?  What do we do about it?  How do we handle it, how does it impact us?

Today, look at Luke 4:38-39 and see what happens next:

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

1228896000Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law.  What happens next?  She immediately got up and began to serve Jesus and the others.  Notice that word, immediately.  As soon as she could, she got up and went to serve others.

I wonder why?

Perhaps she realized just how much she had been given; she saw the length that Jesus went to, to give her a fresh start from this illness, and the way that she could say thank you, the way that she could respond was this.

To serve.

Perhaps today, that’s us.  Has Jesus moved in your life?  Has He given you grace, mercy, forgiveness?  Has He restored you in some way?  Shown you mercy?  Given you grace?

What happens next?

How do we say thank you?  How do we show Him how thankful we are for what He has done for us?  Perhaps we follow the example of Peter’s mother in law.

Perhaps today we serve someone.  That’s our thank you.  That’s our response.  We show that love, the way that Jesus has shown that love to us.

Today, may our “what’s next” be to show God’s love to someone through our lives!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Ok, This is My Favorite Passage

It’s a running joke at Asbury that whatever passage I just read, that’s my favorite on in the entire Bible.  Yes, I do have my favorites, John 10:10, Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28, or Romans 2:4, but today’s passage from our readings, this may be my favorite passage in all the Bible.

Really.

I think it is.

Listen to what we read today in 1 John 3:19-20:

And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

graceThe toughest person in the world to forgive is ourselves.  That’s why this passage is my favorite.  That’s why I just love it so.  So often, we are carrying around guilt that we shouldn’t.  So often there is so much pain in our lives; so much shame; so much hurt because of past mistakes.

So many times in our lives, our main condemnation comes from ourselves.  We are condemned by our own hearts.  We carry that burden on ourselves.  We can’t let go.  We can’t move on. We just can’t let go of that past.

Yes, you can.  You can let go.  You can move on.  You can forgive yourself.  If you heart condemns you, if you past can’t escape your sight if you can’t let go, hear these words.

God doesn’t condemn us. For those of us in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation.  None.  None.  None. 

You are forgiven.  Today.  You are.  You can let it go.  Yes, you can.  You can let those past mistakes go.

Why?  Because God has.  God has moved on.  So can you.  CS Lewis said this – “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

If your heart condemns you today.  If your past screams at you today.  If you can’t let go of the past today.

Hear this. God has forgiven you.  He has.  Really.  You are forgiven.  Today.

He has forgiven you.  You can forgive yourself.  If you heart condemns you, know this.  God doesn’t.

Forgiveness.  That’s why this is my favorite passage.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Be Careful

We all make mistakes.  That’s part of the human experience.  We all mess up.  We all blow it.  We all fail.  That’s what happens.  And because we all fail, we really do all need to hear that word of grace.  Jesus came, suffered, died, and was raised to life again because of God’s great love for us.

We are loved.  No matter what has ever happened, no matter what the sin, no matter what has gone wrong.

We are loved.

You have to drill that truth down into your skull.  You have to let the truth of God’s amazing love for you penetrate your very being.  You are loved.  More than you’ll ever know.

Don’t hold onto your sin and failings, hold onto His love.

Now, that said, there’s something else we need to know.  We need to know the dangers of our sin.  While our sin, through Jesus is forgiven and done away with, we also do not need to treat sin as though it isn’t something that is terrible destructive.

Listen to what it says in Hebrews 3: 12-13:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

be-carefulBe careful that we are not hardened by our sin.  Make sure that our sin continues to convict us.  It is a dangerous, dangerous thing then when we sin and it doesn’t bother us.  Especially if our sin is something that we chose to do.  If it’s something that we KNOW, we have no doubt about, it’s clear as day, is wrong. And it doesn’t bother us.

When we have a hardened heart, we aren’t living the fullness of God’s power and glory. We aren’t seeking His life, His grace, His mercy, His power.  His very life that He desires for us to live.

Today, you are forgiven.  You are.  Live in that grace.

But be careful with sin.  Be careful.  It’s not good.  It is destructive.  It will harm you, your relationships, your life, your everything.  The devil seeks to rob, kill, and destroy.

And one of the things he longs to do is harden our heart.  Don’t let that happen.  Keep your heart soft.  Pray.  Read.  Serve.  Live.  Let God’s grace soften your heart.  Live in grace.  Be careful of sin.

And allow God to continue to change you.  And in that, we truly live.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

God Will Not Give Up on You

Have you ever read through any of the Old Testament prophets?  There’s a lot going on there. They are some of my favorite books of the Bible.  When you read them, you see a similar pattern.  The people have done something wrong, something that they should have not.

God says, you will be punished for your sin.  The sins that God normally punishes the most (or really seems the most upset with) are idolatry and how the poor are treated.  Those two come down to what Jesus told us to do – love God and love our neighbor.

If we love God, we won’t worship idols, we won’t place other things above Him.  He will be first in our lives.

If we love our neighbor, we will help our neighbors, we will care for them, we will do right by them and for them.

When the people of God in the Old Testament didn’t do right, they were then punished.

Boy, this sounds great, doesn’t it!  But that’s not why I love the prophets. Why I love the prophets comes next. After those things, God always says – I love.  I can’t destroy you.  You are mine, I made you, I can’t forsake you.  I will redeem you.  Today’s reading in Isaiah 54: 7-10 is a great example:

For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“This is like the days of Noah[a] to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

2013-01-22-08-44-431God says – my steadfast love will not depart. Through mountains and hills are moved, though these things may fail, may be destroyed may be no more, my steadfast love will not depart.

God will not leave us.  He will not forsake us.  No matter what.  He is for us.  He is with us.  He is our friend, our rock, our Savior, our God.  Do not fear.  Do not quake.  Do not give up, give in, quit, or let go.

God will not give up on you.  He won’t.

Though all the things of this life my fail.  God’s steadfast love for you will not depart.

His covenant will not be removed.

He will show compassion.  He will.  He always has.  He always will.  Don’t doubt that truth today. God will not forsake you.  God will not give up on you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Why God is Patient

Ever wonder why God is so patient with us sometimes? I mean, God can be really patient. We can make the same mistakes over and over again.

We can go looking for trouble sometimes, or better said, lots of times.

We can fall, every day of our lives. We can be so frustrated and disgusted by our failings and yet each time, each time we go to God for forgiveness, each time, He forgives us.

Do you ever just wonder why? Why does He show us that compassion and that mercy? Why does He show us grace after grace after grace?

Listen to what it says today in Psalm 103: 10-14

He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

God shows us such mercy because He remembers. He remembers who He is. And He remembers who we are.

He remembers that He is loving Father. He remembers that He loves us. That we are His. That He is God, not a man. That He is a God, who has promised compassion to those that fear and love Him.

He remembers not that He loves us but that He IS love. He remembers not that He shows us mercy, but He IS mercy. He remembers who He is.

The word 'DUST' written on car rear windscreen following Saharan sand deposited in England by strong south easterly windsAnd He remembers who we are. I love that last verse. He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are dust. We are made of dust, and we shall return to dust. He knows that we are weak. We are frail. We are fallen. We are human.

He remembers who we are. We will make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. We will blow it. He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are dust.

He remembers that He made us. And He remembers that He loves us.

Why is God patient? He remembers.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

The Fear of the Lord

fear of the lordOne of the things that we are told in the Bible is the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Most of all of us have heard that, and have struggled with that.

What does it mean? What does it mean to fear the Lord? How can wisdom start with fear?

I was thinking about that when I read today’s passage, Jeremiah 33: 8-9. Listen to what it says:

I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

When I was younger, my image of God was that He was a really angry old many in heaven, just waiting for me to mess up so that He could smite me. I say my image of God was that He was a really angry Col. Sanders.

That’s what I thought of when I thought of the fear of the Lord. I was afraid of that God.

But, as I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that to fear the Lord isn’t be afraid of God, but it’s to have a holy reverence of God. It’s to respect Him. Honor Him. Know that He is different that we are. Understand that He is God. He is other. He is different.

And know that He still loves. That, to me, to fear the Lord.

And today, look what is says in that text. We will fear the Lord because of how good He is. We shall fear Him because of His blessings. We shall fear Him because of His love.

We don’t think of that as a reason to fear. Because we have the “fear of the Lord” wrong. We fear Him; we honour Him; we respect Him.

For He is good. He is love. He is love. He is grace. He is not a man, He is God. He does not (as we would) come in wrath, but He comes in mercy. He does not (as we would) come with vengeance in store, but He comes with hope for what is God.

We fear Him because He is not us. He is different. He is God. And He loves, no matter what.

We fear Him; we honor Him; we respect Him, because He is good. He is. He is good.

The fear of the Lord is beginning of fo wisdom. Yes. Yes, is it. May we have that holy, loving fear of our holy, loving God.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

What Do You Remember?

rememberI remember little things.  I can remember mistakes. I can remember words. I can remember pains.

I remember wounds, I remember slights.  I can really can hold onto things, and really lock in.  Particularly mistakes. I can remember the things that others have done wrong, the ways others have hurt me, or hurt those that I love. I can remember, remember those things.

But you know what else I can remember?  Not just your mistakes, but I can remember my mistakes. The ways I’ve blown it. The ways I’ve failed. The things that I’ve done wrong.  I can really hold onto my mistakes and not let go of them.

I can remember the mistakes of others. I can remember my own mistakes. And I bet that I’m not the only one. I bet we each are that way.

Listen today to what it says in Psalm 25: 6-7:

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

I love the prayer of this Psalm.  It’s a call to God to remember.  Remember your mercy God.  Remember your grace, remember your kindness.  Remember oh God, your love.

And remember not, O Lord, the sins of our youth. Remember not our mistakes. Remember not the ways that we have fallen. Remember not the mistakes that we have made.  Don’t remember those things.

And God doesn’t.  He does remember His mercy. And He does not remember our sins.

What about you and me today?  What do you remember?  What do you remember not?  Do you remember the mistakes of others?  Do you remember your own mistakes?

Or do you remember them not?

Do you remember the lover and mercy of God today?  Or do you forget that?

Today, may we remember mercy, God’s to us, and our mercy to others. And may we remember not our mistakes. And may we remember not the mistakes of others.

Because that’s what God does. And that’s what He wants us to do.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!