Mirrors

Today, you are a vessel that God wants to use.  You are.  You are someone who God has created, who He loves, who He desires to walk beside and love, who He desires to forgive, redeem, and use for amazing things.

There’s not a single thing in your life that God doesn’t want to use for His glory.  Even your failures.  Even the things that you have done wrong; even your mistakes.  God will use those too.  Listen to what it says today in Psalm 106: 4-8:

4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favor you have
for your people,
and visit me with your saving help;
5 That I may see the prosperity of your elect
and be glad with the gladness of your people,
that I may glory with your inheritance.
6 We have sinned as our forebears did;
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
7 In Egypt they did not consider your marvelous works,
nor remember the abundance of your love;
they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
8 But he saved them for his Name’s sake,
to make his power known.

Psalm 106 is one of those Psalms that recounts all the things that God has done and all the ways that God has done it.  it is one of those powerful passages that shows how over and over again, God desires to save His people.  But why?

So many reasons.  He loves them (and us).  But it isn’t just He loves them (and us) but He is love.  He is grace.  He is peace.  He is God.  But we see in verse 8 one of the reasons that He shows grace.  And it shows how He will use even our failings.

He saved them (and us) to make His power know.

When He gives us grace, when He uses us, when great things are accomplished through us, all the credit, all the glory, it goes back to God.

Warm-Sunset-Reflection-Through-Car-Side-Mirrors__IMG_8780_cr-347x480A perfect God uses the imperfect people to accomplish His mission of grace.  Wow!  So in spite of all that we’ve ever done, He still wants to use us to change the world.  And when someone as imperfect as me, or you, or any of us, is used, it has to be because God is awesome!  Even our mistakes and our faults, they can’t stop God’s amazing grace.

Today, there’s not a part of your story that God can’t, and won’t use.  Even those mistakes.

When He uses us in some powerful, good is accomplished, and He gets the glory.  We are just mirrors, reflecting His light and His grace.

Today, as those who have been shown grace, may we show grace to others.  And may God receive the glory through it all!

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Grace upon Grace

Grace is not a one-time thing.  It’s really not.  God doesn’t just see our mistakes, forgive us one time, and then be done with us forever.  No, God constantly gives us grace.

He gives us grace to forgive us, He gives us grace to empower us, He gives us grace to lead us.  For us, and for the world, grace is not a one-time thing.  It’s over and over and over again.  I am thankful that God is always lavishing us with grace and mercy.

That’s how it works between us and God.  But, how should it work between us.  God always forgives us when we ask Him, but what about you and me? What are we to do when we keep messing up?  I mean, really, can’t they get it right?  How much grace do they get?  Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 18: 21-22:

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

grace_candle_logoNow, notice what Peter asks.  He says, what if another member of the church sins against me.  Two things popped out.  One is “sins against me.”  That means does something to harm that relationship.  Something that’s not good, something harmful and destructive.

Something that may leave a mark.  Something that really may just hurt.

That’s tough to deal with.  Tough to work through.  Tough to process.  It’s not easy.

What else jumped out at me?  “another member of the church.”  Someone that’s family.  As Christians, we are called to love. That’s one of our main commands and duties as believers, to love. We are called to love, because God is love. That’s our purpose and our mission.

Love the world.  Love each other.

But especially love each other.  Because we are family.

Church, we’ve got to love each other.  If we are always fussing and fighting among ourselves, then why would the world want o be part of us?  Sometimes the fights are over theology, or worship, or leadership, or a million different things.

Jesus tells us what to do.  Love.  Forgive.  Show mercy. Be graceful.

Even when “they” don’t deserve it.  Because we don’t deserve it either.  That’s why it’s grace.  It’s never earned or deserved.  It’s always, always, always given and received.

Today, you and I have received grace from our Loving God.  Today, may we show that grace to the world, and especially to each other. Because loving each other may be one of our biggest witness to world.

In a world that is angry and bitter and hurting, folks want to know that they are loved.  When we as the church live that out, I truly believe that we can change the world.

Today, may we show grace!

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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.

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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!