Christian, God’s not mad at you.

I run into so many Christians who are convinced God is mad at them. They will say “oh this happening because I did this and God is punishing me”, or “I haven’t been walking with the Lord and my life is a mess”. Admittedly, I have had similar thoughts. I have worried that I haven’t attended church enough or read my Bible enough or prayed enough or served enough and on and on. The reality is God loves us. God created us with a desire to have relationship with us. God sacrificed His own son so that the relationship between Him and us would be full and unencumbered. Think about it, would God really do all that He has done to reconcile mankind to Him so that He could be mad at them. It doesn’t make sense.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s His.

Romans 8:1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

What the Apostle Paul is explaining to us is that those who are followers of Jesus have a transformed relationship with God. We are no longer on the outside of God’s grace, we are no longer the objects of God’s wrath or anger. Simply, God is not mad at us.

I think the challenge for most of us is to let go of the way we understand how relationships work. For many of us we think that we have to act a certain way and do certain things to be accepted in relationships. We are keenly aware of what to do and what not to do to make sure those we are relating to are happy with us or not mad at us. We can’t apply this formula to God. We have to look at all He has done out of love for us and learn to rest in the fact that there was nothing we did, good or bad, to cause Him act that way.

Finally, if I am powerless to cause God to love me, how could I somehow have the power to cause Him to be angry with me? Like I said before. It doesn’t make sense. Christian, God is not mad at you.

Father, thank you so much for your love and grace. Thank you Lord Jesus for your work of reconciliation and your example. Help me rest in the reality of your love and peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Performance Review – Aim to Please Him

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

This a section of a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. In these verses, Paul is laying out the basic issue all Christians have post conversion; namely, we are all still stuck in the physical world. I know there are times when I share Paul’s sentiment of rather being with Jesus in heaven than stuck in this body in the broken world we live in. What I really fail to grasp sometimes and what Paul so rightly describes here is that this time on earth matters. Paul was keenly aware of the fact that the reason he existed was to share the message of Jesus and the Kingdom with others. He had a mission. It was this mission that sustained him and motivated him to march through this life and into eternity with Jesus. He also understood that he would be rewarded for how well he completed this mission. I think sometimes the idea of the Father rewarding us for our good or poor performance on earth is more than folks want to consider. Yet in this passage and several others Paul directly tells us that we will receive in Heaven what we we deserve based on our earthly actions. It is important to understand that this is not a conversation about salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will warrant salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will remove the penalty of their sin and make them righteous enough to be accepted by God. Salvation only comes by faith in Jesus alone. So its not salvation that Paul is talking about here but it is about reward. I think as Christians we really need to capture this idea of commission or being sent out. We need to go medieval and embrace the reality that we have been commissioned by a King to be ambassadors sent out to proclaim the message of our Kingdom and demonstrate the love and service of our leader and periodically, we need to evaluate ourselves and ask how well we are doing. I know personally, I work hard to be a good worker at my job. I am keen to the objectives that are set out for me each year and strive to make sure that those objectives are met so that when my boss evaluates my performance I am found well pleasing to him. If I am willing to toil and labor to please my earthly boss how much more should I be will to toil and labor for Jesus my eternal King?

Father, thank you for your love and the grace you give all humanity to rise each day and live in the world you created. Thank you for adoption into your family and your Kingdom through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus for your love and your sacrifice and your Kingship. I pray that I would honor your sacrifice and that I perform admirably as your ambassador in this world for as long as this body constrains me to it. I offer you praise. In your name, Amen.

Daily Devotional – Reluctant Messenger

Jonah 4:5

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.

Today’s verse comes from the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. Jonah was a Prophet whom God had sent to the people of the town of Nineveh to proclaim that God was against them because of their wickedness. In the light of Jonah’s proclamation the whole city of Nineveh repented of their wickedness and because they turned away from their evil God did not destroy them. The Bible records that 120,000 people were spared God’s wrath because of their repentance. It really is a great ending to what could have been sad tale of destruction. Everyone is happy, that is everyone except Jonah. Jonah is angry with God because He saved Nineveh. Our verse today records what Jonah decided to do in the midst of God showing compassion to the lost of Nineveh. In his anger or displeasure with God’s work Jonah decides to find a spot on the outside the city and just watch what God is doing. He sits and pouts.

I have been thinking a lot about Jonah lately. He is such a reluctant vessel that God uses to bring His saving message to a lost people. Jonah does everything he can to not work with God for Nineveh’s salvation. Instead of caring for those outside of God’s love, Jonah wants to keep God’s love for himself. Instead of jumping into where God is working and moving, Jonah wants to sit on the sidelines.

The exciting thing about the Scriptures is that God often tells our own stories through the lives of others. Jonah was penned sometime in the 8th century B.C.. That’s 2700 years ago that we find a man who isn’t appreciative enough of God’s grace to want other’s to experience it and who isn’t in complete awe of God’s work enough to join in. Sound familiar?

I think the application of Jonah is self inspection. I think we need to ask ourselves if we are compassionate for those who are unsaved. Does our heart seek to see those who are slaves to sin walk in repentance. What about those lost people that have hurt us or wronged us? Do we really want God’s grace to embrace them? Also, we need to ask ourselves if we are active in the work we see God doing. Are we excited to jump in and work with God or are we more than happy offer commentary from the sidelines?

Heavenly Father, your love for your created is perfect. You set this life in motion and work actively to redeem those who are lost. You are a God of many chances and thank you that you hold back your wrath for a time. Thank you Father that you have chosen to use us in your work. Help us today to remember what a great privilege that is. Forgive our lack of compassion and our attempts to hoard your grace for ourselves. Forgive our complacency. Break out our hearts today for those you love. In Jesus name. Amen.

Daily Devotional – Jesus Said What? Give!

Luke 6:30 (ESV)

30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.

I thought for the next few days we could focus on some teachings that Jesus laid out that might be hard to deal with practically. Luke 6:30 is one of those teachings.

Jesus says to give to everyone who begs from you and if someone takes from you don’t demand your stuff back.

Really? Come on now. What if the beggar is going to get drunk or buy drugs with the money I am handing over. Am I really being a good steward of what God has given me if I just hand out money right and left to anyone who asks, and what about justice? If I just let people take from me and I don’t expect some sort of retribution, how is that fair?

I think the key to understanding what Jesus is saying here is to understand the Father’s grace. The Bible teaches that we are all sinners and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Simply we are all at some point on the opposite side of being ok with God. We are all separate from God’s love and God’s blessings with no clear path to fix that relationship. No works that we can do will make it ok. Fortunately, God in His mercy and His desire to reconcile us to Him provided a path for reconciliation.  That reconciliation was achieved in the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. Jesus became sin so that the punishment we deserved would be executed on Him. That is the Father’s grace. That is the Gospel, the Good News!

So what does the Gospel have to do with the beggar?  The ideal is that all who are Christians are disciples of Jesus and His teachings. All those who are Christians are benefactors of the free gift that God offered in Jesus’ sacrifice. All Christians are those who have begged for mercy from God to save them from their sinful condition. We have begged and we cannot repay. We have taken from the Father a possession He will not demand back, His Son.

What is the application of Luke1:30? For me it is a realization that grace abounds in all the teaching of Jesus.  The key precept we as His disciples must embrace is a lifestyle of grace and forgiveness for others. Does the beggar deserve what we give them? Is it right for the one who takes from us to do so without a demand of remediation?  I don’t know, but what I do know was that in a time where I didn’t deserve what I begged for and I took what would never be demanded back that the Father freely gave.

Heavenly Father,  thank you God for your grace and your mercy. Thank you God for the sacrifice of your Son so that we may be your sons. Father, thank you that when we were lost and separated from you, you gave us what we did not earn or deserve. Lord Jesus, help us today to apply your teachings. Give us opportunity to be forgiving and to model your grace. Help us remember from where we came and help see others as you see them. Help us to give. I offer this prayer in Your name. Amen.