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!

(One of) The Most Misunderstood Verses in the Bible

Our Wednesday Night bible study at Asbury is one of the highlights of my week.  It’s always a fun time of conversation about scripture, life, and what God is teaching us.  We laugh, ask questions, and try to dig deep into God’s Word.

And, as I am prone to do, I will usually chase a rabbit or two.  We are finishing up Galatians, and last night, we took a sidebar conversation into what I said was one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible – Don’t judge lest ye be judged yourself.  We had some good conversation about it, and today, I wanted to share a little bit about this verse.  It can be found in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

plankeyeNow, notice what I did first.  I didn’t just include that verse, but I included the verses after it, and I could have included the verses in front of it.  One of the most important things we can do when we read the bible is to understand context.  What is happening before the verse, what is happening after the verse.  You don’t just want to look at one passage but look what’s happening around it, to get the full picture.

Jesus said, don’t judge, so you won’t be judged.  How we judge others will be how we are judged ourselves.  Then look at what happens.  Your neighbor as a speck (a small thing), while you have a log (a large thing).  Take the log out of your eye.  Why?  So you can help your neighbor take the speck out of their eye.

I think this passage teaches at least two things – humility.  We are no better than anyone that we may want to “judge.”  We are human.  We have made mistakes.  We have failed, we have major things that we have done. We need to always understand that as Christians, we are not better than anyone else.  We are simply sinners saved by grace.  We have to approach everything with humility. That’s the only way that we can make a difference, the only way that we can help others.

Understand your weakness and sin, own it, and when you do that, you will really be able to help others with their weakness and sin.

We have to understand and live out humility in everything.

The second thing is this – the point of “judgement” is heal others. To help others.  We are never to judge. We are to help.  If someone you love is doing something wrong, you job is not to beat them up, but to help them come to healing.  To restore them. To love them.  To help them to be complete.  You never want to beat them up. But you do, through love, want to help others (just as you would want them to help you) come to a healthy and whole place in their life.

And sin, in the end is destructive.  Destructive to our walk with God, and our walk with each other. That’s why our log, and their speck, must both be removed, so what we can walk in peace with God and each other.  Sin destroys, and God desires healing and wholeness for all of us.

That’s point here.  Not judgement. But healing. Forgiveness.  Restoration.  So, yes, help your neighbor with their speck.  But first, humbly look for the log in your own eye. And then, let every action, every word, every thought you take for them by about what is best for them, and be about loving them, as Jesus loved them.

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!

Freedom

Freedom is an interesting thing.  In Jesus, today, we are free.  We are free from the past, we are free from our sins, and we are free from having to earn our salvation.  Through grace, through the love of Jesus Christ, we are free.

Free to live, free to serve, free to worship, free to just live.

Through Jesus, you have been set free.  You have.  You are free.  Don’t live under the yoke of slavery.  Don’t feel like you’ve got to earn anything, just life.  Live free.  Live forgiven.  Live with grace.

Ok.  So, we are free. What are we to do.  What next, then is next.  What happens with this freedom.  Well, listen to what Paul says in  Galatians 5:13-14:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Freedom-9-11So today, you are free.  You are a new creation in Jesus today.  You are forgiven.  You can breathe.  You can live.  You can laugh.  You are free.

Don’t miss use that freedom.

We have been given grace, to give grace to others.  We have been forgiven, so that we are can forgive others.  We are loved, so that we can love.  We have this freedom, this grace, this mercy, so that we can fully live free.  We are free today.  Yes we are.  We are freedom.

Don’t exchange you freedom for slavery.  Don’t give up the freedom of grace for the slavery of sin.  Don’t give up the freedom of mercy for the slavery of judgement.  Don’t give up the freedom of love for the slavery of hate.

You are free today.  Live free.  Let go of the past, no matter what it is.

But, live in that freedom, so you can love others in that freedom.  Love, serve, give.  Live.

In this, we are truly free.

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.

God Delights in You

Yesterday when we read in Psalm 18 about how our perspective on the day will determine the kind of day that it will be.  Will it be good, or bad?  A lot of that will focus on the way that we choose to look at things.

Today, we look again at Psalm 18, but this time, we focus on why in the world that God will save us in times of trouble. Why is it, when the perspective looks bad, that we can have hope?  Why can we cling to that notion, even when things look really bad?

Listen to what the word says in  Psalm 18: 17-19:

He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

img_3395God delights in you.  It isn’t just that He’s proud of you, or He loves you, or any of these things.  He delights in you.

You make Him happy. Think about that.  You bring a smile to the face of our awesome God.   You bring Him joy.  You delight Him.

That’s how precious you are to Him this morning.  Now, this doesn’t mean that things will be perfect.  We see in the text that the the Psalmist was in a place of great trouble and great worry.  He was afraid.  He felt as though things were going to end badly. It didn’t look God.

And then God stepped in and saved the day.  Because God delighted in him.

He does the same for you today.  Trust.  Hope.  Believe.  Know.  God delights in you. And He will be there for you, in your moment of need.  Today, we know that to be true.

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 phone.

Something New

lets-try-something-new-daytobeyou-com1The Bible always tell us that God is doing something new. Something big.  Something that we probably won’t be able to even understand.

That’s what God does.  He always does something huge.

And so, as we stand, one foot in this new year, what new and big thing does He want to do in your life?  What resolution have you started, that day two into it, you are already a little wishy-wash on? What life changing thing do God want to start right now, this instant, this moment?  God is wanting to do something big.  Listen to the words that were said by John the Baptist when he saw Jesus for the first time in John 1:29-30:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

The Lamb of God that takes away the sins the world.  Takes away the sins of the world. Takes away the sins the world.

That is what God longs to do, not just for me and for you, but for the entire world.  Take away our sins. Start over. Start fresh. Begin again.  Begin a new.

God wants to take away your sins.  Do you really grasp that?  In a world that remembers and holds onto and lets go, never  forgives, God wants to take away your sins.  And the sins of the world.

What is that something new that you can start in this new year?  How about this?  Let go.  Let go.

Let Him do what He wants to do.  Let Him take away your sins.  Let Him let you start over.

Let’s try that

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 phone

Older Brother Syndrome

18prodigalsonThe story of  the prodigal son is a story that most of us know and love.  It’s a story that we are familiar with, a story that makes us feel better, that teaches us grace, that allows us to know that God love us, no matter what!

We love reading that story.  We love hearing that story.  And for many of us, when we read or hear that story, we picture ourselves as the older brother, returning home, feeling the love of the Father.  But, the prodigal isn’t the only brother in this story.

There’s an older brother.  And, for many of us that are believers, we have what I call the older brother syndrome.  Listen to what happens in Luke 15: 25-32:

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’  And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

The older brother did everything right.  He behaved.  He acted like he should have.  He had his stuff together.

He is the one that we want our kids to grow up and be like.  He is a good guy.

But yet, here he is as well when his brother comes home and says, huh.  That’s not fair.  My no account, good for nothing brother comes home from wasting his wealth, and he gets a party.  And yet, here I work, and nothing. I get nothing. It’s not fair.

And the father reminds him that his brother was dead and is now alive. And that is to be celebrated.  Not resented.

So, today, to those of us that may be tempted to be older brothers, tempted to look down in judgement at the prodigal coming home, tempted to think, huh, why them?  Look at all that they have done!  And look how good I am!  I’m the good one!  I’ve got it all together!  What about me!

Let’s stop. And breathe.  And remember. That we too are saved by grace. That we are all prodigals. That we can’t earn it. And that God loves us.  No matter what.

Let’s be slow to judge. And quick to give grace. Let’s celebrate the when the lost come home, and when the messy, broken, prodigal comes home, let’s be thankful.  Not full of judgement.

Because as much as we older brothers are tempted to think that we have earned it and have it all figured our, remember this. We are just sinners saved by grace.

We are just prodigals coming home.

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.