When I watched the last episode of Scandal, I started to have a very uneasy feeling. A feeling I know all too well now: the Holy Spirit saying "something isn't right." I knew what that "something" was, but I really didn't want to acknowledge it. I really liked the show. The plot is good and the storyline is captivating, but the adultery is what the reason why the Holy Spirit was gently nudging me to give it up.
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.
If I’m clearly in the right, and I KNOW I’m in the right, yet people decide to wrong me anyway – because of the good I am doing, I’m not 100% sure I’ll be so willing not to hold it against them. If people are THROWING STONES at me because of the good that I’m trying to do, I’m definitely not feeling like Steven – don’t hold this against them.
But in Matthew 5, Jesus gives us instructions to be just like Steven was. He admonishes us to be meek (vs. 5) and merciful (vs. 7). He goes as far as to say in vs. 10-11,
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It’s tough to swallow, but it’s what Jesus wants. Steven’s words mirrored those of Jesus at His crucifixion. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
What exactly this means for your life and your personal situation, I do not know. Have a conversation with Jesus and ask Him to reveal His personal message to you.
I want to be like Jesus. Do you?
So, my apartment got broken into
But even though that’s certainly not a good thing, I can find lots to be thankful for, including…
- That I was not here when it happened – Praise God!
- I did not find out about it until today as I headed home and not when it actually happened (on the weekend – had no signal on my cell phone, and the leasing office had no alternate number to reach me at). This may not seem like a good thing, but at least I was not worrying about it for days without being able to do anything about it
- My car was not parked outside – I paid a chunk of change to leave it at the airport, but had it been outside my apartment, that too may have been broken into and/or stolen and I definitely can’t afford car repairs right now, or even worse, to be without transportation
- I didn’t have very much of value in the apartment – printer and keyboard (piano) gone, but nothing else (not that I can see yet anyway)
- Modem and router were underneath a table out of view, so neither of those were taken – can’t afford to be without my internet – it’s my connection with the world
- The folks in my leasing office are diligent enough to have found my open door, repair the damage to the door and/or doorjam and file a police report on my behalf
- As I sleep in my apartment tonight, I have the peace of mind that God is with me, so I have nothing to worry about – locking my bedroom door though, just in case
There are other things I can find to be thankful for in this situation, but for now, I will stick with the perfect number.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Verse 2 of this song says
“You were made to live a good life and that’s what I believe. So hit the floor, say a prayer, start working. You gotta do something. It’s alright to crawl before you walk. It’s alright to walk before you run. But if you wanna get what you never got, gotta do something that you never done.
I love the message of this song, because I think it speaks to me where I’m at right now. At the start of 2012, I was all excited and hopeful, thinking, this will be my year. I had great expectations for things to happen in my life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The problem though is that I expected to just sit back and watch as great things happened to me – to start moving after other things started moving in my life.
This year, I once again have great expectations, but I fully intend to take an active an active role in making my dreams come true.
There’s a saying that the Lord helps those who help themselves. As the song says, go get your blessing! I plan to go get mine. Do you?
Do you ever compare yourself to others – their life, their family, their education? No, don’t answer out loud. Just think about it and answer in your heart. It is so easy to play the comparison game, even when you don’t plan to, don’t want to, don’t think about it. I know
I do it I’ve done it (hopefully I can keep that past tense)
Peter also fell into this trap. In John 21:21 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”, referring to John, the beloved disciple. Jesus had just admonished Peter to follow Him. But Peter was more concerned with John, and whether the Lord’s admonition to him would be different.
“What is that to you?” is Jesus question in vs. 22. ”You must follow me.”
This is a lesson to all of us as well. What is it to you what somebody else does or doesn’t do? Does it matter if their lifestyle may seem more appealing? So what if God’s calling on their life seems more convenient than yours? What is that to you?
Jesus says to all of us, ”You must follow me.”
Even if it’s difficult, ”You must follow me.”
Even when it hurts, ”You must follow me.”
If the path is different from the one you expected, ”You must follow me.”
If someone else seems to have it easier, better, whatever…
“What is that to you? You must follow me.”
As we traverse this new year, let us remember to always follow Jesus, regardless of the circumstances
2 Sam 11:1
“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
“But David remained in Jerusalem.”
That phrase jumped out at me as I read this passage from 2 Samuel. It was the custom in those times that the King of the land lead their warriors into battle. David himself had led his army into battle before – both during his kingship, and before, during Saul’s reign. He had been once been a mighty man a valor, and God had won many victories through him, with the people of God singing “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”(1 Sam. 18:7)
But David had become complacent. Instead of going out to battle as was the custom, and as was his duty, he sent Joab out in his place, and David remained in Jerusalem. We all know the story of David and Bathsheba; how David looking out saw a woman bathing on her roof, slept with and impregnated her, tried to cover his tracks by trying to pass the child off as her husband’s, and ultimately committed murder when his attempted cover up failed. (if you don’t, read it here in 2 Sam. 11)
David messed up big time. But David’s first mistake happened before he ever laid his eyes on Bathsheba. If David had been in the right place – that is, the battle field, at the right time, the opportunity would never have been afforded him. “ David remained in Jerusalem.”
There is a lesson here to us as well. We need to be where God would have us be, when he wants us there. David probably just didn’t feel like going to war. It would have been much more comfortable to just relax at home – let Joab handle it. But God has a reason for the commissions He gives us. Just because you “don’t feel like it” is no excuse. Not yielding to God’s plan for your life puts you in the position for Satan to have more of an influence on your life.
Don’t be like David. Don’t “remain in Jerusalem”, or whatever your comfort zone may be. If God sends, please go. Yield to God and don’t give the devil extra license over your life.
(My brief transcript/notes on this sermon that has tremendously blessed me)
8 steps to know God’s will for your life
- Have no will of your own on the matter
- Matt 26:39
- Don’t go simply by feeling – but by principle
- 2 Tim 1:7
- Study God’s word – be in daily communion with God
- Ps. 119:105
- Consider providential circumstances – how has God led you in the past?
- Deut 8:2
- Failure is neutral. It’s your relationship with failure that makes the difference
- Consult with godly friends
- Prov 11:14
- Ps. 1:1
- Ask God in prayer to reveal His will
- James 1:5
- Make a decision
- Josh. 24:15
- Tell God your decision before you tell anybody else
- Don’t get into the “paralysis of analysis” – don’t think too much
- Proceed with your decision. Ask God to stop you if you have not chosen the right thing. If it is not his plan, Ask God to “shut the door”
- Rev 3:7,8
- Nobody plans to fail. They simply fail to plan
The question came to Dorcas as it did to Moses when he felt he was not the man to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, “What is that in thine hand?” And Moses answered, “A rod” (Exodus 4:2). And that rod became the symbol of delegated divine power. “What is that in thine hand?” the Lord asked Dorcas. She said, “A needle,” and He took what she had and she stitched for Christ’s sake.
So now I ask you (and myself), “What is it in your hand? And how will you use it for Christ?”
(adapted from a devotional I read some time ago)
Like Moses, I want to say “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Ex. 4:13)
I need the strength to say, like Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” (Is. 6:8)
Mark 10: 17- 22
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. ”No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. ”One thing you lack,” he said. ”Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This man kept the commandments to the letter of the law. But Jesus told him that he lacked one thing.
Mark 12:28-31 says;
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
The most important commandment, and the basis of all the ten listed in Exodus 20 (and in Deuteronomy 5) is love; Love for God and love for our fellow man. Giving up his riches was not the point. The point was that his inability to give up his riches proved his lack of love, both for God and for his fellow man. He loved himself above all.
Who do you love?