Monthly Archives: June 2020

What do we do with a hardened heart?

Exodus 7-11 describes the story of Pharaoh and the release of the Israelites. It took 10 disasters before God’s purpose was accomplished. Before and after each disaster, “God hardened Pharaoh in his stubbornness. He wouldn’t listen, just as God had said to Moses” Exodus 9:12. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Why did He do this?

If Pharaoh was the only character in the story, maybe God would not have hardened his heart 10 times. But this story has many people, many factions, and many leaders involved. God’s plan was touching so many facets of so many peoples’ lives in ways we can’t fathom. What we need to remember is that His ways are not our ways.

So how does this story of Pharaoh and Moses and the Israelites relate to us?

This is how. God has a plan that we do not see. We want to control, lead and talk our pharaohs out of their stubbornness. But we can’t. It is not want is going to bring God’s plan to fruition. That is not God’s plan for them and all the other people affected by their actions.

All we can do is speak in truth in love. And when the truth is not heeded after multiple attempts, our job is to get out of Jesus’ way and allow God’s plan to come to fruition. We can’t manage it; we can’t make them understand; we can’t manipulate them; we can only get out of the way.

God must deal with them. Our job is to stand firm in love and truth. We don’t know what God’s “really” doing. We only know that we can’t control it. And we must let God control it.

So take heart when you are watching your pharaohs. Pray for them. They are part of God’s plan. We can count on God always being good.

Joy unending Joy!

Remember the story Jesus told of the prodigal son? The younger son demanded his inheritance right away from his father. The father divided the property between his two sons and the younger one left and squandered his fortune on undisciplined, shameful living, wasting everything he had to a point where he was working slopping pigs. He came to his senses figuring out that he had sinned against God and his father. He returned home to ask for a job as one of his father’s hired hands. His father was so ecstatic to see him that he ordered his servants to prepare a feast to celebrate.

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’” Luke 15:11-32  The Message*

The Bible doesn’t take the story any further. It is unknown if the brother decided to stay in his sulk or to see things through his father’s joy. Wouldn’t it be amazing to read these words from the brother to the father:

“You are so right dad, I was just thinking about myself and how I deserved a party. I focused on being hurt because you didn’t do something for me but you do stuff for me all the time! I spoke without thinking stirring up discord when there was no reason for it. In fact, I am so thankful my brother is home! What a joy it will be to share life with him again not to mention I will enjoy having him help us! What a family reunion this is!! I am so glad he is ok and that you are so blessed to have him return. I know you were grieving thinking he was gone forever! What a celebration this is. I thought my brother was lost forever but now he is home safe with us!”

If that epilogue was included at the end of the story, we would be certain the brother would have remembered that God works out all things for our good and that we should rejoice in the day we are in! He would have enjoyed a party! He would have given his brother the opportunity to repent and be reinstated into the family through mercy, grace and love.

Instead, it is very possible the end of the story for the brother was a of miserable self-pitying night alone, not to mention the fallout the next day!

How many times have we chosen this path? The path of grumble and complain – the path of comparing and criticizing?

We have a choice. The end of our story is not yet here and His mercy is new every morning! Choose God. Choose to pass on joy instead of discord!! Choose to love instead of hate!!!

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:34 NIV

 A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. Proverbs 17:22 MSG*

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

The Peace of Christ

Have you ever felt torn between two worlds? One that involves your love of Christ and one that is of this world where you don’t even think about Him.

Maybe on Sunday, you are going to church and have your eyes on Him but then as the week progresses He is not as obvious to you? Maybe you think about Him in the morning as you sit with Him and read His Word but as time passes, you are distracted by work or your family or world events.

In this day, how do you mesh God with this world? Well . . . He did create it – He sent His Son to save it – His Spirit lives in it . . .

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 MSG*

So when you realize that you are distracted from thinking about Him no matter what you are doing, turn your thoughts back to Him. Turn off the distractions – news, television, Facebook, and internet. Stop behavior that distracts you from Him and points you to worldly pursuits.

Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. Colossians 3:9-11 MSG*

Yes you heard him right . . . view everyone through Christ – through His eyes of love not the worlds eyes . . .

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12-14 MSG*

Remember . . .

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 MSG*

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Love one another!

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own. 1 John 3:1-3 MSG*

How are we to behave? Model the life of Christ!

All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They’ve got him all backward.

 So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways. 1 John 3:4-8 MSG*

How should we act? Act right!

People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.

For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other. 1 John 3:9-11 MSG*

How should we treat others? Love them!

We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.

 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together. 1 John 3:12-15 MSG*

How do we confront hate?  We love!  We abide in Him who is Love in the moment we are in through His Holy Spirit!

Remember . . . in this day . . . Love one another.

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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