Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Let it Be

In March 1970, the Beatles released a song called "Let It Be". At the time, it had the highest debut of any single on the Billboard Hot 100, rocketing to number 6.. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney. It was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band. Both the Let It Be album was released after McCartney announced his departure from and the subsequent break-up of the group.

Paul McCartney wrote this song after he had a dream about his mother one night. In an article he said, “ In the dream she said, ‘It’ll be all right.’ I’m not sure if she used the words ‘Let it be’ but that was the gist of her advice, it was, ‘Don’t worry too much, it will turn out OK.”
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Rom 12:8-19

The moment I read these 11 verses, the song “Let it Be” popped into my mind and the more I listened to the song and pondered the above passage, the more clear this idea became.  In  Romans 12:8, our first command is to let our love be genuine. The more I’ve contemplated this verse, the greater I recognize it’s a command of “complex simplicity.” When we let it (love) be and choose not to complicate it with our human conditions, wonderful things happen!  Wow, isn't that easier said than done!

When I think of love in the context of these verses and the phrase “Let it Be”, a beautiful picture of cause and effect begins to form. If we let our love be genuine…. Look what happens:
  • We will hate the things that hurt God and hold on to God’s virtues
  • We will love others as our own family and be determined to show honor to others  
  • We will have passion and fervent spirits in serving God
  • We will rejoice because of hope, be patient in trials and pray always!
  • We will give to the needs of others and look for opportunities to be kind
  • We will revere those who harass, bully or torture you… you will respect them and not not talk bad about them!
  • We will meet people where they are and share their hurt or joy.
  • We will have unity because we cast off pride and become the companions of the poor
  • We will seek the wisdom of God and you will do what’s right.
  • We will when possible, live peaceably with all.
Now, my points don’t do this scripture justice, but I hope you can see the clear benefit of letting our love be! During your Pit time today, think about how you can let your love be genuine, maybe even confess to the Lord where you need help… God already knows.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why?

Anyone who’s spent time with small children has heard the question, Why? I’ll never forget when my daughter was about 3, her two favorite phrases where, “why?” and “what’s that?.” It got to the point that her natural curiosity was driving me crazy. I am sure, I can’t be the only parent who barely survived the “why” stage…  Now, some 12 years later, I miss those sweet questions. As I reflect on that season of my life, I clearly see it wasn’t the questions that bothered me, but my own inability to answer them. 
Each and everyday I find myself bumping up against questions; some are difficult and others very easy. I have found questions give us time and a reason to pause, even the simple ones with obvious answers. These pauses are healthy and afford us the opportunity to re-examine a process, problem, or even a particular habit we may have picked up along the way. 

Carl Sagan, in his work The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark said, "There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question"

Jesus often used questions to help teach us, to slow us down and to give us a reason to pause. In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks an incredibly impactful and insightful question “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” The Greek word for Lord is kýrios – and according to Strong’s Concordance it means, a person exercising absolute ownership rights; lord (Lord). 

This question stops me in my path and gives me reason to pause. Once I call Him Lord, there is no place for the word no or a reason not to follow Him each step of the way. Jesus asked this question more than 2,000 years ago but it’s relevance rings true in each decision we make and in each temptation face. 

During your Pit Time today, think on Luke 6:46. Take time to pause, reflect and answer this question of “why” for yourself. 

A Harvest is Coming!

I must honestly admit, I’m not much of a gardener; plants, vegetables and really anything that blooms comes to my house and dies a long, slow and painful death. Over the years, I have experienced the disappointment of fruitless tomato plants and I have finally decided, that Ingles’ carries every fresh veggie I will ever need.
As a child I “helped” my mom and dad with the family garden. Every year we planted corn, tomatoes, green beans, okra, crowder peas, watermelon and peanuts. As much as I disliked the work, I loved the fruits of the labor and to this day, there is nothing that satisfies me like corn, fresh from the garden.
I once heard it said, “You may not always pay what you owe, but you will always reap what you sow.” This is a truth of God's Word and of the world in which we live. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
The word mocked here in verse 7 does not mean to make fun of, rather, it means "to turn up the nose at, sneer at, and to treat with contempt". This one verse clearly shows us the difference between God and man. God knows what we sow!  We may be able to fool some people but we will not be able to deceive or fool God. He knows what we sow!
This scripture in Hebrews 4:12 gives us additional insight into how God sees the sower.  “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
God knows what you sow! He looks beyond the outward appearance of the sower and sees the heart of the one who holds the seed.
Galatians 5:22 & 23 gives us a detailed list of the fruit of the spirit, however, he talks about the seed in chapter 6. I spent a lot of time thinking about that odd order in Paul’s teaching. So, why does he talk about the fruit before he speaks of seed? I honestly believe it has to do with identification.
Most of us would have a difficult time identifying a variety of seeds, and I imagine you might even be relieved to know God hasn’t called you to be a seed inspector. However,He has called us to look at, know, understand, and be ready for a harvest of fruit.
In life there are only two crops to choose from. The crop of the flesh and the crop of the spirit. The crop of the flesh has no Eternal value and serves to satisfy for only a moment. The crop of the Spirit is quite different. It's satisfaction may not be felt in the moment, but has an Eternal harvest. These harvested crops look very different, but oh, those seeds, they can be hard to identify.
During today’s Pit Time, think about those seeds in your life. What has been planted in your life and what are you planting in the lives of others. Water those with eternal value and uproot and discard those which serve to entrap your heart.

Illusions

I recently saw a Vegas style magic show while on a cruise with my family. During this show, the audience was spellbound as they watched the magician perform trick after trick. The smoke, lights, and music gave the show a larger-than-life feel. As I sat there, I watched closely to see if I could spot the flaw in each and every trick. The show was almost flawless and in general, I left the evening feeling satisfied and entertained even though I knew in my heart it was all a hoax.

Satan and his demons are great illusionists who work on the hearts and minds of humans to create the illusion of hopelessness. These powerful illusions can be used to fool even the most mature Christian. These illusions are often so powerful that our decision-making process becomes flawed. These flawed decisions can have disastrous consequences, including abortion, affairs, and suicide, just to name a few.  

Every day, I meet people who have found themselves believing the illusion of hopelessness. Each situation is unique, but they share one common theme- fear. Fear is the illusion of Satan and he is a well-skilled, practiced, and patient magician. However, at the end of the day, that’s all Satan has- the lights, smoke and mirrors of a Vegas style magic show. As skilled as he is, it’s just a well-rehearsed trick; nothing more, nothing less.

I once believed that hope was the tool to combat the hopeless illusion of the enemy. However, recently, God has been showing me a better way. Read the three verses below from Paul’s teaching in Romans 8.

Romans 8:31,35,38,39
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The number one reason we are losing the battle against the illusion of  hopelessness is we keep choosing the wrong weapon. Instead of convincing people that hope exists, we need to employ the weapon of God’s love which exposes the illusion of hopelessness and destroys all the schemes of our enemy. It’s been my experience, however, that we believers struggle with employing the love of God. We, the Body of Jesus as a whole, would rather talk, teach, or even write about the love of God, rather than actually showing it.
Our great opportunity is to step into this pit of Love God has called us to. In this pit we have a place to learn, grow, and be challenged. During today’s Pit Time, I would like for you to list at least 3 practical ways you can show the love of God. They could be as simple as opening the door for someone or sending a card to a friend. As you write them down be specific, and then ask God to reveal to you those who are in the most need. It’s been my experience that He always answers that kind of prayer.