Let me tell you a story…

Childish or childlike?

When I was little my grandparents had an old bathtub buried in their garden. It was a garden for water lilies. My brother told me to be very careful around it, there was no bottom. I believed him. I walked a wide circle around that white rimmed hole to the center of the earth.

I was told another story as a child. I was told about this man who did miracles. That he healed sick people, even raising some from the dead. He was killed by being nailed to cross. He was put into a grave carved out of rock and three days later he came back to life. He stayed here for a few more days with his friends and then he was taken up in the clouds where he said that he would build a house for me, and he would come back some day.

Kids believe the stories that they are told. They have child like faith.

Jesus talked about that in Matthew 19.

“13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”

I think I was there the day they pulled up the old bathtub in grandmas garden. There was a bottom after all. That story wasn’t true.

As for the other story? No one can disprove. Many have tried. I still believe the whole thing. Even the part about him coming back someday.

I heard more of the story as I got older. I found out why he died. He died to pay for my sin, to pay for our sin. The sin that keeps us separated from God. He died because he loves us so much he would rather suffer and die than to be kept apart from us.

It’s been a long time since he left. We don’t know when he will come back. One thing is for certain, his return is closer now than ever. He is waiting for the last one who will believe in him to hear the story I was told and to believe it.

Are we telling the story? Some one needs to hear the story today. Will we tell them the story of Jesus?

#tellourjesusstory, #Matthew191315

People are messy.

People are messy.

Life is a mud-puddle and we are the players in it.

Divorce is that painful institution that I haven’t experienced and don’t feel qualified to talk about. I can see that it hurts. I’m sorry for those who are forced to go through it.

Jesus talks about in Matthew 19. Let’s see what he said.

“19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”’

I heard it said that being married is like putting two pieces of tape together sticky side in. “The two will become one flesh.” Divorce is a process of pulling those pieces of tape apart. No body wins. Parts are damaged. Abilities to be joined together again are diminished.

May God keep our hearts soft and keep those of us that are together, together and May God bless, heal and restore those of us who have gone through the process of tearing apart.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, time just makes you older. Jesus is our healer, when he and time get together amazing things can happen. He will require that forgiveness be brought into the mix, forgiveness must be distributed liberally, all around. With that combination healing and restoration can take place.

I started out talking about life as a mud-puddle. Marriage should not be part of that dirtiness.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

Prevention, forgiveness, restoration, healing, all available in Jesus. I just want to pray quickly here.

Jesus, please protect and bless those of us who are married. May our marriages be rich with your blessings. For those of us who are hurting now, for those in a rocky painful place, heal restore and renew joy and bring new life to stagnant places. For those who are recovering from divorce bring healing and hope and restoration. Allow forgiveness to blanket them.

Help us love each other better Jesus.

#matthew19, #learningtolovelikejesus

It’s a river…

It’s a River not a lake.

God’s love, his forgiveness, his mercy, his grace they flow out from a boundless reservoir but as they flow into our life they must also flow out of our life. We cannot get it but then not give it.

Matthew 18 explains this.

“21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”’

Remember Newman from the Seinfeld show? A nemesis. An arch enemy. As a Christian I do get to have one and only one. I do have one. You get one too. In fact it is the same one.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

But let’s not talk about him.

Let’s talk about this amazing love and forgiveness we get to be bathed in. We just need to remember to give it away as freely as we received it or we won’t receive it anymore.

Maybe it’s like a water pipe. The only way a water pipe gets fresh water in, is to have the water it has now pass through it. It has to give away what it has so it can get more.

God’s mercy must flow through us to get to us.

His love is like a river.

#Godsloveisariver, #matthew1821thru35

Addendum

Yesterday I posted about how christians battle. I said that we bring a pillow and bandages to a gunfight. That’s not accurate. What we bring to every fight is a knife, well a sword. The word of God is our sword and we bring prayer.

The fight is never against people. We are not fighting against people. I’ll say it again, our fight, our struggle as Christians is not against people because our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principles and powers and forces of evil in the heavenly realm.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We are not fighting against people, we are fighting FOR people. The only weapons we have are the word of God and prayer.

Our weapons may seem weak but they are mighty. They are powerful to bring down strongholds.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

We have a war to win. Let’s get to it.

Bring a pillow to a gunfight

John 15

Hate speech: we are the hated

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]

The Work of the Holy Spirit

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

No one likes to have their pet and or private sins exposed. We all have secret deeds done in darkness. Jesus came to us as the light of the world. Being around him, being around his followers is like lighting a lantern on a dark night. Those who want to stay hidden scurry away hissing.

Hissing? Ok, that may be just for drama.

People and things that want to continue in their activities that God has said, “don’t do that, it will hurt you” will hate the light of Jesus.

” They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]”

If we live in the light, there will be those people who hate us and our message.

This our rule, Jesus’ command; love each other. Jesus loved us to death, His own death. We are to love in the same way.

The world will hate us.

We will fight back, with love. Bring a pillow to a gunfight? Well yes. And bandages.

Jesus came to change hearts, not behaviors, starting with our own.

Bring a pillow to a gunfight

John 15

Hate speech: we are the hated

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]

The Work of the Holy Spirit

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

No one likes to have their pet and or private sins exposed. We all have secret deeds done in darkness. Jesus came to us as the light of the world. Being around him, being around his followers is like lighting a lantern on a dark night. Those who want to stay hidden scurry away hissing.

Hissing? Ok, that may be just for drama.

People and things that want to continue in their activities that God has said, “don’t do that, it will hurt you” will hate the light of Jesus.

” They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]”

If we live in the light, there will be those people who hate us and our message.

This our rule, Jesus’ command; love each other. Jesus loved us to death, His own death. We are to love in the same way.

The world will hate us.

We will fight back, with love. Bring a pillow to a gunfight? Well yes. And bandages.

Jesus came to change hearts, not behaviors, starting with our own.

Remodeling me

Loving.

Gentleness.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Faithfulness.

Peacefulness.

Joyfulness.

Patience.

When a person accepts Jesus’ forgiveness Jesus actually comes into our lives, into our hearts and starts living in us. Immediately he begins to remodel. His designs always include the aforementioned qualities.

Our lives change. Our behaviors change. Our interactions with other people change.

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells us how to properly go about confrontation in a way that is private, honors both parties, and is solution and relationship focused.

“15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”’

The Christian life is a life that is lived differently than the lives of people who don’t know Jesus. Why?

Love.

Jesus’ love for us.

Our love for the world of people, humans like us, fallen, bent and broken humans.

I don’t get this right all the time. But Jesus still

Loves me. Even me. Even you.

#matthew18, #forgiveasyouareforgiven