Forget Karma: God is Watching (1 Samuel 26:23)


If the Lord gave you what you really deserved, would you be ready for it? Would you look forward to it with joy or does the thought frighten you? What we fail to recognize is that it is not just a hypothetical question. 

The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: (1 Samuel 26:23)

These were words spoken by David when he interacted with King Saul who sought to kill him. He knew that God was sovereign and would return upon men that which they have rendered to others. The same still holds true today. The New Testament describes the principle as sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will also reap. It may take some time before it arrives, but it is coming. Just like it takes all summer for apples to grow and ripen on a tree, it may take most of a person’s life before they reap what they sow, but be sure, they will reap.  

Much of this principle concerning sowing and reaping is in relation to how we treat other people. If we sow righteousness towards others, then we will get righteous treatment back, but if we sow wickedness then wickedness awaits us.

Some may ask, “What guideline could I follow that would aid me in sowing righteousness?” The answer would be to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39). If you allow your actions to be motivated by what is best for another person or make decisions that enable you to meet the needs of someone else instead of focusing on yourself, you will most consistently sow righteousness. This doesn’t require you to give all of your money to the poor or even to live a dejected life. It only requires you to start focusing on others instead of yourself. Give somebody recognition. Show patience and mercy, try looking at situations from the other person’s perspective or even take time to listen to people and their problems are opportunities that each of us have to sow righteousness. It will not cost you one penny, but it will be an investment worth millions of dollars.

For you, the world of people is a field ready for planting. What kind of seeds will you sow?

Advertisements

Fearing God vs Being Afraid of God

There is a difference between fearing the Lord and being afraid of the Lord. The former recognizes the greatness of God and his ability to do whatever he chooses. Therefore, he submits himself to the one that he recognizes as sovereign. Those who are afraid of the Lord, do not submit themselves to a sovereign God to rule over them. They instead perform actions in an attempt to keep God from exercising his anger upon them. The former will have a love relationship with God: the latter will struggle with love and acceptance. 

How did Job respond when his world caved in upon him? He continued to fear the Lord. He remained steadfast in trusting God’s sovereignty and continued to submit himself to him. (Job 1:21) Had Job been afraid of God, would his actions have been the same? Most likely not. His actions would have more been in line with those of his accuser. If a person lives in fear and governs his actions to keep God from punishing him, how would he react when God does exercise wrath? As the accuser stated, “He will curse thee to thy face.” It would be in that manner that he would act.

God wants you to fear him, but not be afraid of him. Fearing God is respecting God for who he is and the power that he possesses. Those who fear the Lord will recognize God’s ability to raise up and to put down, to love and admonish or to rebuke and chasten, and to exercise his will because what he desires is for the benefit of those he created.

When you are afraid of God, you have a difficult time accepting his love. Being afraid and accepting love cannot cohabit because perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18). Recognize that God loves you and that any actions that he has towards you will be motivated by his love. As we seek him for our lives, blessings will flow to us from his love, but if our steps begin to slip, he by love will take whatever actions are necessary to keep us from ruining our lives.

Living a life of fearing the Lord is a joy and blessing, but living a life afraid of God is a struggle and burden.

Loving the God We Cannot See (1 Peter 1:8)

Love: a word used so freely today, but what does it mean? True love is the desire that a person has to meet the needs of another without expecting to receive anything in return. With that, a great question arises. Can you love someone with whom you have never met face-to-face? 

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:8)

The answer is simple. You can love someone that you have never seen, but only if you have had the opportunity to interact with them.

In the early 20th century, a man in America, named Charles, began to correspond with the young woman, named Minnie, who lived on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Their many letters shared the events of their lives: their likes, dislikes, problems and struggles. The letters also contained hopes, dreams and passions. All the time as the letters were shared something began to happen. Each began to be concerned for the other and desired to be with them so that they may experience life together: to share, help, care and love. They fell in love and one day, decided to marry. They never met face-to-face until the day that she came off of the ship on America’s shore. To them, it didn’t matter what the other person looked like: they knew each other and recognized the beauty that each possessed within. Several decades later, I met them and marveled at their story of love.

We too can love someone that we have never met face-to-face. Through our interactions with the Lord, we can experience him in times of trials and testing. The words that he has recorded for us speak to our hearts and encourage us in the deepest of struggles. When sorrow comes, only his words bring comfort. When others have rejected and cast us out, his words of love and the promise to always be with us draw our hearts close to him. When nobody understands or cares, he does and he tells us to cast our cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). When we are confused and searching for direction, he sheds light on our path to brighten the way. Each of these interactions bring us into a greater understanding of the person who saved us and through it all we begin to love him. 

One day, we will embark off of the ship on eternities shore and will take part in the marriage between Jesus and his church. But until then, our hearts rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory all because we know and love this person that we have never seen.  

Fainted and Scattered (Matthew 9:36)

It is not difficult for anyone to see that the lives of so many people today are just a mess. How did they get this way? Why don’t they just get it together and do whatever needs to be done?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

From this passage, it appears that people become weak in life’s struggle and instead of continuing to fight on, they relax their resistance and faint. When this occurs, the person’s life then becomes subject to the problems and trials of life. Their lives get tossed about from side to side being cast about and cast down. This does not occur as a result of the weakness of the individual, because none of us have the ability to stand against the enemy. This occurs because of the absence of a shepherd in the person’s life. Sometimes there is not a shepherd because salvation has not yet been experienced, but other times it is because the person becomes estranged from their shepherd savior. Whether it be by confusion of doctrine, ill treatment from those in the body of Christ, person hurts and losses or sin: the separation occurs.

Today there are countless believers tossed about. They are away from their shepherd and the way to bring them back into the fold is to love them back. Bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2) is the act of you bringing your strength to those who are weak until they can once again gain the strength for living that can only come from their shepherd.

He Touched Him (Matthew 8:3)


Many times, there are behaviors that people do that are overlooked by most. Some people wring their hands as they think about something that disturbs them. Others may brush their hair from their face when they are nervous. The behavior isn’t really important, but what is important is the motivation behind the behavior.

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, … Matthew 8:3

As I consider the passage recording Jesus healing the leper, I cannot help but ask my self questions in regard to Jesus’ behavior. One question is why did Jesus touch the leper? He didn’t need to touch him in order to heal because the next few verses record Jesus healing the centurion’s servant who was some distance away.

Consider this. When do you think was the last time the leper was touched. I don’t mean being pushed as he fought for food or random interaction among lepers, but when was the last time the leper experienced a tender affectionate hand rest upon the side of his face? When did he last feel a grasp on his should like that of a loving father who rests his hand upon the shoulder of his son? It had probably been an extremely long time. I believe that after years of rejection from society and solitude living, the touch was God’s display of affection to the leper. It seems that as Jesus’s hand gently rested on the leper, a part of the leper revived and his heart filled with the experience of God’s love.

Did you know that God wants you to have that same experience of his love. Regardless of whatever is in your past, God wants to have a relationship with you. He loves you dearly and has done–through Jesus’ work on the cross–everything that is necessary for that relationship to occur. Come before and ask as the leper did and ask. The relationship is greater than you can imagine.

It’s All About Christ (Psalm 25:7)


Many years ago when I had first come to Christ, I was working in a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. I was working at the electric furnace and met another Christian, Butch, with whom I fellowshipped daily. One day, he asked how I was doing. I was not joyful as I had been on previous days. I had recently sinned and had lost my joy. My life was overcome with guilt and I was being pulled down by the enemy. The further my heart sank, the more I was convinced that God was mad at me and I no longer had his love. It was at that point that Butch pulled me to the side and reminded me that the Christian life was not about me, but that it was all about Christ.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:7)As we talked, I began to understand that my life could never be lived to the standard of being acceptable to God and that him accepting me would always be based on his mercy and loving kindness. For me, confession was still needed, but that would never warrant acceptance. Even when I confessed, I knew that being acceptable and pleasing in his sight would be based on his mercy, loving kindness and goodness.

So many people are trapped into trying to repent, confess or surrender enough to reach a point of acceptance. What they fail to see is that because of God’s mercy and goodness, he accepts us and then gives us the ability to repent, confess and surrender.

If your Christianity focuses on you and your performance, then you have it all backwards. Take the advice from my friend, Butch who told me many years ago, “It’s all about Christ! It’s all about Christ!”

In Christ (Romans 8:39)

For the believer, one of the most important phrases in scripture is the phrase “in Christ”. All the blessings that we have as believers come from our position in Christ. We are joint heirs in Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings by that same position. In fact, every benefit that we have as a believer comes from our position in Christ.

Years ago when I worked in the steel mill, I was required to fulfill a 90 day probationary period. During that time I was obligated to fulfill every aspect of my employment and could not display any type of violation. If I did, the result would have been discharged from employment. But then, the 91st day came. It was at that point that I became a member of the union and with it entitled to all of its benefits. I inherited health benefits, vacation time, strict guidelines for types of work put upon me and protection from wrongful treatment. I was in!

Likewise when I trusted Christ, I was in! All that Christ has, I became a joint heir. His righteousness – mine! His Sonship – mine! His power – mine! The list can go on, but what I believe the be the greatest inheritance that I get from being in Christ is God’s love.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)

The love that I get from God is not based on me – and am I ever glad of that – but is based on his love for his son and what he has done for us. The reason that nothing can separate me from the love of God is because there is nothing in Christ Jesus that God does not love and there will never be anything in him that could be unlovable. God, who is love, cannot stop loving and Jesus, who is the perfect object of love, can never be less than that. Because I am in Christ, I will never be less than completely and perfectly lovable.  Yes! I am in!