Monthly Archives: September 2012

You are a Temple of Grace

I was reading this morning in Scripture where Solomon completed the Temple and held a huge ceremony to dedicate it to God. HIs father David wanted to build the Temple but was unable to. He had prepared everything for Solomon to build and complete it. Once it was done, Solomon had a 7 day celebration and offered sacrifices to God. II Chronicles 7:1 says that when Solomon was finished praying the dedication prayer, the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.

It got me to thinking about what Paul said about us in the New Testament. In I Corinthians 6:19, he asks, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you?” Jesus made a way for God to live inside each one of us. Just as the Temple was dedicated to God, so should our bodies.

We don’t have to wait to be completed though before God moves into our lives. Each one of us is a work in progress. There is no one who has attained perfection and has the perfect Temple for God to live in. We can only dedicate ourselves to living for Him by trusting in His grace. Paul said it like this in Philippians 3:12, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection.” Paul is a man who wrote most of the New Testament and yet he still recognized that he had far to go.

I’m in that same boat. I have a long way to go to reach perfection. I don’t ever mean to imply that I have, but I sure want to press towards it. I want to live in the grace of God and live as much like Christ as I can. I will struggle each day to be more like him. The good news is that the grace He gives covers a multitude of sins. It makes up the difference in where I am and where He wants me to be. I heard someone describe God’s grace by asking the question, “On a scale of 1 – 100, how good would you say you were? What God’s grace does is make up the difference between what you are and 100.”

If I was a 5, and asked God for forgiveness, His grace would be 95 in my life. That is the awesome thing about God. He doesn’t care if you are a 1 or a 99. His grace is the great equalizer. It will make up the difference and allow you to be who God wants you to be. You are probably like me and have lots of room between you and 100, but God will continue to work with you to get there. I’m constantly under construction by God so I rely on Philippians 1:6 that says, “I am certain that God who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

I’ll never be perfect until He comes or I go, but I have the hope of a faithful God who will continue to work in me and build me as His Temple. I trust in His grace and His faithfulness. One day I will arrive and be made perfect. As I am, I am a work in progress and all of my short comings are not measured by this world’s standards, they’re measured by His. Thank God for grace that makes up the difference. It keeps me wanting to continue building this Temple for Him.


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God’s Faithfulness

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised by the goodness of God. There are times where I am just caught off guard at His faithfulness. I look at my life and I see all of my short comings and wonder why God would choose to bless me and to pour out His love on me. I know that I am unworthy of any gift that He gives, yet He still opens up the windows of Heaven and pours them out.

I think that’s one of the areas where it is hard to understand God because our minds try to rationalize Him as a human with human behaviors. We know the we are spiteful and hold grudges and we expect Him to. When He doesn’t, it blows our mind. I love how the psalmist put it in Psalm 36:5 when he said that His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. It is so deep and so wide that we can’t begin to understand it.

I always want to rationalize it and understand it rather than to accept it and abide in it. I want to break it down and figure it out instead of just trusting in it. I think David understood it. He knew of the power that God has to forgive and forget. He relied on it and knew he was in trouble without it. You wonder how can an adulterous murderer like himself be a man after God’s own heart? Well it’s because he understood God’s ability to forgive and to forget.

It’s beyond me how He does it. I try to be a man after God’s heart and I fall short. I seek to be like Him and I find I’m more like myself. I try to do what He asks and I end up doing what I want. I start off working hard to please Him, but in the end, I do what pleases me. That’s where God’s faithfulness kicks in. II Timothy 2:13 says in the Amplified version that even if we are unfaithful and untrue to Him, He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

How is that possible? How can God remain faithful and true to us when all we seem to do is our own thing rather than His? It’s who God is. He is a God who loves us more than our doubts, our mistakes, our short comings and our fears. He is patient and kind. His love knows no end and is not conditional. He is not human and is not limited like we are. Once we remove those human characteristics of who we think He is and accept His divine nature, we can begin to get a glimpse of who He really is.

There were several in the Bible like David and Paul who got a glimpse of that. I don’t think it is reserved for just them though. God wants to open Himself up to you and me and to give us a glimpse of who He is. We fight and push back because we are unworthy. I think that when we finally realize how unworthy we really are though is when He has us right where He wants us to show His faithfulness and love. Don’t push back away from it. Swim in that river of his love that is as high as the clouds and is as vast as the heavens. Accept that you aren’t worthy and trust in His love for you anyway.

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Raw Dependence on God

Today I celebrate the ninth anniversary of hitting rock bottom in my life. I know most people may not celebrate such a day, but for me it created a raw dependence on God. Up until that point in my life my faith was something I talked about. On that day it became something I lived. When there is nothing in your life worth living for, you learn to completely depend on God.

At that moment I was broken and recognized that I had tried to live my faith and my life on my own. I couldn’t do it. I needed God’s help. God’s strength. God’s intervention to live out my life and faith. My raw dependence on God began that day and I’ve learned to trust Him ever since. I don’t celebrate the bad things that happened. I celebrate that they woke me up to the life I was meant to live.

Many of us never get to that point of raw dependence on Him. We continue living our faith on our own strength. We were not made to do that. When we try to do that, we fail. I think that’s why so many people lose their faith or refuse to trust God with their lives. They have been living under the illusion that living out their faith in God required their strength. It was never meant to be that way.

Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” He knew what it meant to have a raw dependence of God. He recognized that life in Jesus is nothing something done in our strength. It can only be Christ, who lives in us, that can accomplish that. We try and we fail every time. For most of us, we think that is just how it’s supposed to be. The problem is we weren’t made to wander in the desert. We were made to live in the promised land.

The Israelites experienced God’s grace and forgiveness when they left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. As they began to live in their new freedom, they met with God along the way. He gave them the Ten Commandments to show them how to live. He lead them to the Promised Land to give it to them. When they looked and saw the giants ahead, they said, “We can never beat them.” They were trying to do things in their strength, not in God’s.

Out of all of them, there were only two who recognized that it was by God’s power they had been delivered from their bondage. It was nothing they did. It was God who had led them and would provide what it took to live in abundance and to overcome. They were the ones who were permitted in and reaped the rewards of all God had for them. They were the ones who knew in their strength they were nothing, but in His strength they were more than conquerors.

Many of us live our lives in the desert peering into the promised land. It scares us and that fear prevents us from experiencing all that God has for us. For many that wander in the desert of uncertainty, we think back to the life of bondage we had and remember how secure it was. I think many people who live and wander in the desert wonder about their faith and struggle with it because they aren’t experiencing what God planned for them. They want to return to the life they knew rather than to fully depend on God.

Maybe that’s you today. You always thought that God had more for you, but you feel like you are just wandering aimlessly through the desert of life. If you could live the life God wanted you to live in your own strength, it wouldn’t be faith. Romans 1:17 says, “The just shall live by faith.” It doesn’t say by their own strength, it says “by faith”. What areas of your life and faith are you trying to live out in your own strength? Trust God to do what He has done and said He will do for you. Let Him take you across Jordan into the Promised Land of all He has for you. If you do, you will celebrate that day every year too. I guarantee it!


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Storage Wars for Your Soul

One of my favorite shows to watch is Storage Wars. Can I get a “Yuuuuuup” from my fellow watchers? If you aren’t familiar with the show, when people don’t pay their bill on storage units, the company locks them out and then has an auction for the whole unit. When people come to bid on them, they get a few minutes to look in from the outside to determine if it’s worth bidding on. Some units go for cheap while others start a bidding war.

Once a person wins a unit, they then go back and dig through it looking for treasure or anything of value that they can sell to make money on the contents. Sometimes they bust and lose money because it’s nothing but junk and other times they hit the jackpot. It’s fun to watch just to see what people have in storage and to see what things are worth. I think competition has a little to do with why I like it too!

Whether you know it or not, there is a bidding war going on for your soul. One side sees the treasure in you and has bid the highest price possible. The other side will do anything to keep you from recognizing your worth and will fight to keep you from accepting the bid of the other. You are valuable beyond your imagination and you are worth more than you think you are. You are a treasure in God’s eyes.

I used to look at myself and think I wasn’t worth much. It’s hard to think you are worth much when circumstances or people tell you that you aren’t. When you are constantly barraged by words that people use, you begin to believe them. You begin to think they’re right. You question your value and self worth. You sell yourself short and lower the expectations for your life. When that happens, you lose your joy. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of The Lord is our strength and stronghold.

In war, when you lose your stronghold and your strength, you lose. We are talking about the war for your life and you cannot afford to lose! You can’t afford to believe the things that people say or what circumstances come your way. In Luke 7, a woman came up to Jesus and began to weep at His feet. In verse 39, a Pharisee said, “If He were a prophet, He would surely know what sort of woman this is who is touching Him – for she is a notorious sinner, a social outcast and devoted sinner.” Her life reflected that because that’s the way people saw her.

That’s not how Jesus saw her and that’s not how He sees you. When He looked at her, He saw a treasure. He spoke of the wonderful act she was doing and then spoke life into her. he said, “Go and enter into peace, in freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin.” I believe He says that to you today. He says, “have peace and joy. I am giving you freedom from what others have said about you. You are my treasure and I have sacrificed my life for you because I value you that much.”

You are indeed a treasure. Proverbs 31:10 says you are far more precious than jewels and you’re value is far above rubies or pearls. You need to tell yourself who you are in Christ. You need to say it until you believe it. Say it out loud if you have to. Write it on paper and tape it to your mirror. When you believe in you, like He believes in you, you will have your joy and you will win the war!

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Don’t Give Up

I have several close friends who are going through some difficult times. Many are in desperate need of God’s touch because doctors can only do so much. Others just need a breather from the waves of bad news that keep rolling into their lives. I’ve been there myself a time or two. You probably have been too. You might even be there now, but even though you feel alone in the situation, you aren’t.

It can feel empty sometimes when friends, who don’t know what else to do, simply say, “I’ll be praying for you.” You really want them to throw you a life preserver and pull you from the water that you’re tired of treading. You know there’s nothing they can really do for you, but you wish someone could. You cry out to God, but it seems you’re prayers are falling on deaf ears. The answers you seek don’t come and you’re left with more questions.

When answers finally come, they aren’t really what you were seeking. You’re confused and your faith is shaken. You start to wonder if you’ve done something wrong to deserve this. You think that maybe God is punishing you. You drift into the fog of uncertainty and begin to wonder if God really exists. The only thing you do know is that you feel pain, uncertainty and confusion.

It’s in these moments that you find out what your faith is made of. It’s here that you learn to trust God with everything in your life. When there is nothing that anyone can do to help, you have a God who is there to sustain you in those difficult times and to give you hope for victory. When all you have is Him, you have more than enough. You may not be able to see past today, but He sees your tomorrow.

In II King 6, Elisha had been telling the king through divine guidance where ambushes were set up to attack his army. The king of Aram was furious because his plans kept getting foiled. He accused his officers of leaking information to the Israelis, but one of them knew of Elisha and told him what was happening. The king put a bounty on Elisha’s head. They found out where he was staying and traveled by night to surround him.

The next morning, Elisha’s servant got up early and walked outside. He became fearful because they were surrounded and cried out to Elisha. Elisha got up walked up to him and said, “Don’t worry about it. There are more on our side than on their side.” I’m sure the servant looked at him like he had lost his mind. Elisha then bowed his head in prayer and said, “Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.” At once the servant was able to see what Elisha saw. There was a mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding the other army.

Today, even if you can’t see beyond the circumstances that surround you, I pray that God will open your eyes. May you see that God is on your side and He is fighting for you even when it seems that no one else is. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world is the way I John 4:4 put it. I’ll tell you what I told my friend yesterday, “I don’t always understand what God does either, but I’ve learned to trust His plan and answers even when they don’t make sense.” You are not alone and God’s answer will be what’s best for you.


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Sowing Without Reaping

What kind of heritage are you leaving your family? Have you thought about that? It’s not something that you do when you are old. It’s something you accomplish with the bulk of your life. How you live now affects the future generations of your family. Each of us were handed a heritage from our parents. Some of us received a good heritage while others received a broken, empty heritage.

Whatever heritage you were given, it is your responsibility to create one for your kids. You have to be aware of the seeds you are planting in their lives. There is a Greek proverb that says, “A society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they know they’ll never sit in.” What are you planting now that you know you’ll never reap the rewards of?

That’s a tough question. For many of us, we have grown up in a world where we live for the moment and not the future. We think, “I wasn’t given anything and I made it. Why would I do anything for someone else?” At work, we always talk about setting the customer up for success. Does the customer have everything they need to be successful once they leave? I’d ask, does your family have everything they need in order to be successful once they leave the nest?

It’s not just monetary things I’m talking about here. Yes, leaving your kids the gift of financial freedom is great, but have you taught them how to manage what you’ll be giving them? If you haven’t, what you’re leaving will be gone soon. What about a spiritual inheritance? Are you leaving your kids and future generation a heritage that will last for generations? What are you teaching them with your lifestyle now that will reap rewards later? Are you just taking them to church so that someone else can teach them “what’s right” or are you teaching them a godly example at home?

It is not the church’s responsibility to teach your children about God or what it means to be a Christian. It’s your responsibility. The church’s role is to reinforce what you are showing them and to provide a group of people who are like minded to help you along the way. If you take them to church and live contrary to the teachings of the church, your child’s faith probably will not last. Actions speak louder than words.

King David left his son Solomon a heritage. David knew that God would not allow him to build the temple. David didn’t just tell Solomon he wanted him to build the temple instead. He drew up the plans and bought all the supplies to build the temple. He knew the value of planting the seeds for something he would never get to enjoy. After he gave Solomon all of the supplies and plans, he then blessed him, prayed for him and charged him to do well.

In I Chronicles 28:8-10, David gave Solomon the things he needed to be successful spiritually which is more important than setting him up monetarily. He said, “Learn to know God…, worship and serve Him…., if you seek Him you will find Him…, take this seriously because God has chosen you…., be strong and do the work.” That is an amazing charge and heritage to leave your family. If you haven’t already done so, begin to do the work of leaving a good, godly heritage for your family. You may not get to sit in the shade of the trees of heritage you plant, but your future generations will be blessed and successful because you did the work now.

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The Debt

In September 2003, I incurred a debt that I have been unable to pay. I was unable to keep my promise and people who depended on me paid the price. My goal is to pay that debt one day. In fact, I keep a paper in my wallet with that debt on it so that every time I open it to spend money, I see it. It is faded, worn out and tattered. Even though it is nine years old, it still weighs on me and will until it is paid.

Each one of us also has a debt we must pay. We incurred it on the day we were born. I like how King David put it in Psalm 51:5. He said, “I was born a sinner- yes, from the moment my mother conceived me (NLT).” Because Adam was unable to keep his promise to God in the Garden of Eden, we are all born with sin and owe the price of that sin. Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through one man and spread to all men.

Sin is what separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says that it is your sin that has cut you off from God. Just as Adam was cut off from daily fellowship with God, so too our sin cuts us off from having a relationship with Him. When someone has offended you, the last thing you want to do is hang out with them. When Adam sinned against God, he hid himself from God because he knew he had offended God. He didn’t want to face the consequences of his actions and neither do we.

The consequences for that sin and for our sin is separation from God for eternity. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Each of us will die one day. At that point, we receive the payment for sin which is spiritual death or separation from God for eternity. We owe a debt to sin. Our wage that we collect at death is the payment for that debt. No matter how long we live with that debt, it will always weigh on us until it is paid. There is nothing we can do on our own to pay for that debt. Ephesians 2:9 says that salvation (having our debt paid) is not a reward for doing good deeds or being a good person.

The good news is that your debt has been paid. Jesus came to the earth as God’s only son in order to die on the cross to pay that debt for you. Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. It is not in God to leave us with a huge debt like that. He wants you to live debt free so He paid the price for you. All you have to do is claim it.

Romans 10:13 says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. In order to claim His payment for your spiritual debt, you just have to pray. In Romans 10:9,10 it tells us how. It says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

I know a lot of people who think they have sinned so much or so badly that God wouldn’t want them or that He wouldn’t forgive them. That is the farthest thing from the truth. II Peter 3:9 says that the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish (including you), but everyone to come to repentance. Your sin is no worse than anyone else’s and He wants to forgive your debt.

To prove that your sin is not too great or that He wants you no matter what, we have to look no farther than the cross. While Jesus was hanging on the cross and the men who beat Him, mocked Him and drove the nails into His hands and feet stood there watching Him die, Jesus looked up into Heaven and said, “Father, forgive them.” I’m sure you haven’t done anything worse than killing God’s only son. If He can forgive them and make a way for them to go to Heaven, He can forgive you and pay your debt.

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