The Better Decision
Read Luke 10:41-42
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Remember, Mary made the better decision. I always think about this better decision, at times dissecting the words around it just to get a better understanding of what Jesus was saying. As most know how the story goes, Martha was rushing around the kitchen trying to make food for Jesus and his disciples, Mary was enjoying Jesus’ presence.
- Martha was trying to make sure Jesus was welcome
- Mary knew she was welcome in Christ’s presence
One of my favorite quotes is from the classic movie “Hitch” and it goes, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. Mary understood this moment with her Savior, so her response was to enjoy it. She didn’t work to make it better, she didn’t fret and tussle, over plan and stress out, she enjoyed the moment before her.
The example here given to us is simple, enjoy the moments you’ve been given in life, finding Jesus in every area of your day. Reflect on the amazing God moments you have had during this fast, as well as, keep your faith in Jesus anticipating what He has in store for your tomorrow. Remember, God makes good of ALL things- the good, the bad, the ugly. All Jesus says is enjoy walking with me, enjoy putting your faith in me, enjoy my presence.
His presence is the joy of our salvation, it is our Heaven on Earth. In trial we keep our faith in Him for deliverance, in success we praise Him and all of His glory. From the beginning of time God has been on a search and rescue mission, hinting at the glory of this promise with patience, peace and love. Today, we just like Mary, can enjoy this promise by simply enjoying the moments sitting at the feet of Jesus.
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
…his presence is the joy…
Read Colossians 3:12-15
They’ve been turning blood red
Not a doubt in my mind anymore
There’s a storm up ahead
You’re not enough
You can’t silence my love
I’ve got doors and windows boarded up
All your dead end fury is not enough
You can’t silence my love
You cannot get away from the media right now about hurricane Irma. Because of this, there is a tension in South Florida everywhere you go and it seems as if fear compiles on fear. Here is our opportunity this weekend, whether we have chosen to stay, or chosen to leave, put on love. Love those around you, love those God puts in front of you, love those who take you in to their home, and love those you welcome into yours.
…put on love…
What is ahead?
…run the race…
Pray for no rain?
Read James 5:16-18
“16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” MSG
So, I am new to Florida and apparently a hurricane is headed straight for us right now. Most of the locals tell me it probably won’t hit us so… I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
I think the forecast of massive wind and rainfall has caused this verse to stand out to me. Because, it would be pretty amazing to be able to pray like Elijah right about now. I could pray hard and the storm would push out to sea and avoid everyone.
In this verse, Elijah is an example of a person living right with God and apparently, he was human just like us. James tells us to confess to each other on a regular basis. Which will in turn, will make our prayers powerful and help us to live together whole and healed just like Elijah.
And then it hit me.
I have friends in my life that know how I have messed up. My wife knows how I have messed up. When I confess something to one of these trusted people, I feel freedom. This is what James is referring to. There is power and freedom to pray together when there is no shame to divide us. We need to make this a common practice.
Do you have someone you trust in your life who knows the real you? Have you created a place to regularly share what is really going on? If not, I encourage you to. In fact, pray right now that God will bring to mind the person/people you can trust and share your struggles with.
…there is no shame to divide us…
K.I.S. (Keep It Simple)
Read Hebrews 5:11-14
“11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
I’m guilty. I’ll admit it.
I’m guilty, and guess what: I think you might be guilty too.
Guilty of overcomplicating things. Guilty of missing the point. Guilty of making excuses for what we know we should be doing but pretending like we’re justified. But we’re not alone.
This passage in Hebrews clearly shows us there were some people like us. People who had relationship with God, studied His word, had worked through difficult concepts and philosophical constructs of who God is. But these people missed it. They missed the point. They missed it so much that the author in Hebrews felt the need to call them out through a formal letter that we now use as document of God’s message to humankind.
I’ve noticed in my life that many (too many) of the people that have an impressive knowledge of God, theology, and christianity do a very poor job at living a life like Jesus did.
I myself have fallen into that category too many times, where seeking to understand what the Bible says has stunted my ability to live the way Jesus did.
Rather than loving my neighbor as myself I’ve wasted my energy and emotion arguing with my neighbor over conflicting views of what I believed. Rather than asking God to show me ways to love Him with all of my heart, soul, and strength for the day, I’ve wasted it asking him to tell me how to defend my beliefs better.
Hear me out, I’m not trying to diminish the value in apologetics, or deep theological pursuit, but I believe we need to constantly evaluate ourselves to make sure we are not filling up on knowledge that we are not using. Making sure that we are not learning all that Jesus said and did, only to fail at exemplifying that in our own life. That’s what the recipients of this letter did. They got to a point where they were at a “teacher-level status” and the author is looking at them saying: “well… you missed the whole point. Let’s start over at the beginning.”
Keep It Simple.
Wake up. Love God. Love People. Go to Bed.
Wake up. Love God. Love People. Go to Bed.
May we start each day asking God to help us to embody His character of peace, love, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness before we continue to ask Him to reveal the greater depths of His word and character. A pastor once phrased the christian walk in a way that deeply resonated with me. He described it as “The simplicity of the Gospel, and the power of grace”. That’s our focus, and that’s our purpose. To share the simplicity of the Gospel, and to do some with the power of grace. To share the power of grace and do so with the Gospel.
Keep It Simple.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
“16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
I have a new friend Austin, and he is an amazing artist. He takes an idea in his head, and then makes incredible things out of metal. Works of art that have purpose, and bring order where there was once disorder. He is a true artist and he gets it from his Heavenly Father. This is the same thing God did and does. He spoke/speaks, and there was/is order.
Jesus calls every one of us to be in the ministry of reconciliation. He calls us to have a creative vision for how things ought to be in our culture, families, and friendships. And then, he calls us to bring restoration. What if every follower of Jesus thought this: Everywhere I go, I will look at people and call out the good I see in them. What would happen?
Sometimes we miss it. That is, we get caught up in pointing out what we think is wrong with others. I think our hope is to show them what is wrong so they can improve. However, what if we did it a little bit differently. I have heard accountability described as keeping an account of the abilities of others. It is calling out the good we see. It is looking at others with the eyes of Jesus, “… not counting their trespasses against them…” but rather, calling them to step into everything God has created them to be.
Today, look at those around you with God’s creative eye. Be a part of his mission to reconcile everyone to himself. Do this by calling out whatever good you see. For some this will be easy, for others, it may require a deeper look. But regardless, good is there so call it out, and watch to see how God works in them.
…have a vision…
Hearts broken by loss
Read John 11:25
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
Over the last few months, I can honestly say I’ve been through one of the hardest seasons in my life—loss. It was a week before Mother’s Day, and my precious dog, Tux, of 14 years, collapsed and died in the floor of our home. Yes, I get he was a dog, but Tux was my very first pet, loyal to the core, and brought so many years of joy and love to our family. It happened so fast. I wasn’t ready. In my mind, I knew ‘it’ was eventually coming, but still, I didn’t like that I couldn’t prepare for such a traumatic and shocking loss.
Fast forward just three weeks later. Brian, the kids and I are speeding 10 hours through the night to SC, in hopes that I can tell my mom, “I love you” one last time before she passes away. This loss was going to be paralyzing, heavier, and dreaded.
My mom was diagnosed in 2012 with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (blood cancer). Over the last five years, WE fought and we fought hard. Yes, WE. Because if you’ve ever had a loved one battle this ugly disease, you fight WITH them. Through several chemo regimens, small victories of a short-lived remission, more pricking and prodding, broken bones, and finally a one last ditch effort of a clinical trial, my mom never gave up hope. She knew Jesus and always gave Him the glory despite her circumstances. My mom’s illness continued to steal more and more of her until God, in His tender mercy, carried her home on June 3rd, 2017 at 6:04pm—a day I will never forget. I’m beyond thankful my whole family was there in the room with her as she wished, but the images of her taking her last breath here on this earth are still very engrained in my head and heavy on my heart.
A loss so difficult, I am still in the process of grieving and healing from it. The death of my mother has been the death of my head cheerleader and best friend, of my children’s maternal grandmother, of someone who undoubtedly loved me with all her heart. In essence, hers was the death of a relationship impossible to replace.
You see, life involves change. Change involves loss. Loss involves death of one kind or another. In 2 Corinthians 4:11 Paul says, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.”
Every time we suffer loss, we encounter an opportunity for the loss to bring gain for Jesus’ sake by allowing His life to be revealed in us. Nothing is more natural than grief after a devastating loss, but those of us in Christ Jesus can experience satisfying life again. When our hearts have been broken by loss, we have an opportunity to welcome Jesus’ power to our lives. Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is living through something we thought would kill us. Living abundantly and effectively—a life absent of someone dear, but filled with the presence of the Resurrection and the Life.
My life will never be the same, but any kind of “death” is an invitation to resurrection life for the believer. Thank goodness, the loss of a loved one never has to mean the end of abundant, effective or even joyful life for any Christian. As grief takes its course, joy may seem to pause for a while and that’s ok. When we allow our broken hearts to be bound by Christ, there is hope knowing we will experience joy again! So hold onto Jesus. Don’t lose faith. One day at a time, He will carry us through those moments of heartbreak and loss!
…an invitation to resurrection life…
He said what?
I’m going to be completely honest with you. There are some things that Jesus said in the Bible that I wish he didn’t say. Is that ok to say? Even as a pastor I wrestle with some of his teachings and some of the statements that he made. Jesus would just say things at times and essentially “drop the mic.” He would give people some hard truth to swallow and not apologize for doing so. He’d say something like… “Love your enemies” or “Bless those people who curse you.” He even turned to his disciples one time and told them that if they wanted to follow him, they would need to “Deny themselves” and “Take up their own cross.”
What I find so beautiful about these statements is this; He said every one of them for our GOOD. I know what you’re thinking..really? Are those things really for my good? I’m the first to admit it..Jesus is WAY smarter than me. The bible puts it like this… “His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways.” It’s not my job to understand why Jesus said everything that he did. My job is to trust. Trust that He is Good. Trust that He has my best in mind. Trust His plan for my life. Trust that God will never hold out on me.
Remember, God is a good Father. A good father loves and a good father corrects. Both are ultimately for my good. I need both challenge and care to grow. Jesus tells us that we need to “..lose our life to find true life.” Yes, there are days that we wake up and don’t “feel” like this is true but remember, feelings are bad leaders. Focus you mind instead on God’s truth. The truth that He has the best plans in mind for you. The truth that He has come to give you life and life to the full. Begin to trust him even more today. And give some of those crazy statements a try. Go to work and love an “enemy.” Try to bless someone who doesn’t like you. Deny yourself, your agenda, your plan and yield to His plan. See what happens. I know you won’t be disappointed.
…he has come to give you life…
Read Galatians 6:6-10
“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Do you like surfing? If you do, then you are a part of the group that I have been meeting a lot of this week. This may come as a surprise, but no one really surfs in Georgia which is where my family moved here from. Surfing looks easy when someone is experienced at doing the sport, but if you surf then you know how exhausting it can be. If you speak with a surfer, then they would tell you that the most exhausting part of surfing is the paddling out into the ocean. It’s easy to use all of your strength and miss out on riding the wave you tried to catch.
I would like for us to focus in on what Paul is saying when he says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Paul is telling us not to settle and slow down, when we were meant for so much more. Many people give up right before their big breakthrough. We aren’t always quick to quit on God, but it begins slowly. It happens by caring a little less every single day. Putting in less effort every single day at the things that will draw us closer to Him.
God never promised us that he will not give us more than we can handle. You will be allowed into situations that may seem overwhelming to you. Just remember… it’s all a test. This is God’s design to strengthen our faith. When we feel like we can’t keep going and want to quit, this is where God is about to rock our world.
You may be sitting here today reading this and saying…
“This isn’t me.”
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for a breakthrough.”
“This may have worked for someone else, but no way for me.”
If you’re feeling discouraged, ashamed, exhausted, or confused these feelings are all happening because of your previous decisions. I have a mentor of mine that always tells me, “The fruit you see today is the result of the seeds you planted yesterday.” If you want to see something different happen in your life, then begin to plant something different today!
If you’re discouraged, plant seeds of encouragement.
If you’re ashamed, plant seeds of celebration.
If you’re exhausted, plant seeds of rhythm.
If you’re confused, plant seeds of peace.
This doesn’t mean we will never get tired. We just have to not grow weary… there is a big difference! You can grow tired from doing all the things you love to do. Like playing sports, working at the job we love, or hanging with friends! However, if you are like me then you can grow weary of doing things around the house like dishes, laundry, etc. It’s not that I grow tired of these things, I just simply grow weary and don’t want to do them.
I want to encourage you today that if you are struggling with something in your life and about to give up… don’t. Don’t run away right before God does something special in the middle of the wilderness you may be feeling right now. God is there with you, isn’t he? Yes, He is and He loves and cares for you so much! Nothing makes Him happier than to see you grow in your faith, and I believe He has you where He wants you.
…not grow weary…
It is so easy to get labeled or self-label early on in life. I can look at my own young children and see how they internalize certain labels. These labels often set a trajectory for how we see ourselves all the way into adulthood. Labels are often difficult, if not impossible, to overcome because they get engrained into our psyche. Proverbs 23:7a says “As a person thinks in his/her heart so is he/she…” Labels become part of our identity and misshape us. Most days, labels are the topic of the internal conversation we have with our own selves. Crazy thing is the label doesn’t even have to be bad or negative. It can be this loose, neutral-type word or phrase spoken over us in our own home, and it just sticks like glue for some random reason. When that happens, the enemy of our soul who is out to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10.10) leverages it for all its worth to push us away from trusting Jesus for who we are and who we are becoming.
One of my kids (who I won’t name) deals with the label “shy”. “I am shy, I am shy…” is said over and over, as if it is the defining element of his/her personality. It also becomes an excuse to be quiet, to look away instead of meeting eyes with another person, to have passive body language and appear disconnected when really he/she is totally present. Shy on the surface doesn’t seem so bad, negative or mean, but shyness as a defining element can be catastrophic in the future. It can be the very thing that holds him/her back from whatever God is calling him/her into in life. It can stunt his/her spiritual, emotional and relational growth. It is not just a phase he/she will grow out of, but rather a label the enemy is already using to keep him/her in the background when he/she may be called to the forefront to do battle for Jesus in this world. The reason I am sensitive to, see it and know the effects of it, is because it was my own personal label I carried for so long. The great thing is I am convinced with God’s help I can coach him/her out of it over time. I know life and death are in the power of the tongue, and I will get to speak life and boldness over him/her daily until we can rip the label off his/her soul. Regrettably, I never had that help from someone else, so I grappled the hard way and lived far too long and suffered more loss than necessary because this label was so stuck to my inmost being.
Whatever the label is, if it is not a biblical truth, it is a lie…plain and simple. If God wouldn’t say it to you or about you, then your enemy satan is the influence behind the label. Remember, he is the father of lies. The label is a lie meant to disconnect you from Jesus. So take captive that thought; pin that thought to the wall of your mind and don’t let it live there any longer. Maybe in your prayer time today ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the word(s) or phrase(s) that roll around in your head and heart about you that aren’t true, the words keeping you from God’s plan and God’s best. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see you the way your Heavenly Father sees you and not the way you and/or others do! Isaiah promises His thoughts are higher thoughts; meaning He thinks the best thoughts about you and wants you to get hold of those thoughts! Then, maybe take a bigger faith-step this semester by signing up for a J-Group and begin talking about the labels in your life with others who probably struggle with their own labels too. James says if you do – true inner healing will come (James 5.17).
…think God’s thoughts about you…