Friday, April 4, 2014

For the Love of...

1Timothy 6:10
10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, a pastor and son to him in the ministry. The apostle Paul instructed Timothy on many behaviors to watch out for and the results of those behaviors. What a touchy topic this is! There is absolutely nothing wrong with money. It is actually neither good nor evil. It is only a tool that has been made necessary in our natural world. However, how the tool is used and what it is used for is a different story. The O'Jays, headed by Eddie Levert, father of the late Gerald Levert chose to take the topic head on in the early 70s. Eddie Levert used to do a lot of writing for one of gospel's well known families. Many of you know the intro of the song as, "Money, Money, Money, Money..." But what some of you don't know because you have not listened to the song in its entirety, the song is called, For the Love of Money. The O'Jays were admonishing the public not to be consumed with the "love of money" because, "For the love of money, people will kill their own brother." Part of the song says, "People, don't let money change you." For some, the love of money is so consuming that they hurt people they claim to have loved. For some the love of money will cause them to sell themselves and their soul as the O'Jays pointed out. The song was also used as a major theme in the film, New Jack City with Wesley Snipes to characterize his cold bloodedness and calculating personality. The O'Jays were only putting in layman's terms what the apostle said in his letter. For the love of money actually leads to other sins. The NKJ Study Bible gives a list of what this sin can do:
-"It made a person vulnerable to yield consistently to temptation;
-it created a snare for a person;
-this sin gave birth to other evil desires;
-this sin could pull a person to the depths of depravity as a lead weight pulled down a fish net;
-it became a root cause of many other kinds of evil that would cause a person to wander from a pure faith in Christ;
-it became a source of great grief to the person."

For the love of most anything to a fault can cause a blindness that can hurt yourself and others. The love that should be so great is that of God for He is love as said in His word. Loving Him and a pure relationship with Him will cause you to love others in such a way that you do not desire to harm no matter what you have obtained.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Relationship Will Change You

Mark 12:29-30
29Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'

In the book of Mark many of the different religious sects came to test Jesus on His knowledge of the scriptures and His teachings. The purpose of each of the test was to see how Jesus would answer but also how He could be tripped up into saying something contrary to His teachings. Jesus had become a very popular teacher and took attention away from the other religious sects. The other sects became jealous. However, there was a scribe among them who was listening in sincerity and desired to know from Jesus the greatest commandment. Jesus answered him and when the scribe responded to Jesus' answer He had also perceived his heart and commented that the scribe was not far from the kingdom of God.
What about the answer Jesus gave? Some think that loving their neighbor is the first. But actually, loving God is. How so? The NKJ Study Bible gives the translation as, "The scribe may have been sincere in seeking answers. Jesus made clear that a right relationship to God must precede all others." So if your relationship with God is not in order, how do you think your relationship with people will be? If you do not operate with the love of God in you, it will show in all you say and all you do. Jesus said himself that what is in a man's heart will flow from his mouth. If venom is all you spill then venom is what you possess. A person who has a right relationship with God will seek to operate in what Jesus said in verse 31, "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no other commandment greater than these."  Many watch the TV movie, The Ten Commandments every year for its great special effects but have not grasped the concept. Whether Jew or Gentile, having a relationship with the Most High God is paramount. The relationship will change you. It changed Moses so that he could love a people he once used and allow God to use him to set them free. Jesus makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God. Having a wonderful relationship with the one who created you, purposed you and placed you here on earth will cause you to want to be a peaceful and loving person to those whose paths you cross.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A House is Not a Home

Proverbs 21:9
9Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious wife.
This may sound like a sting to some women but God used King Solomon to address a very real situation. Remember, every scripture is God breathed and applicable. It is a very real situation in that it is the quickest way for a man to leave home. Luther Vandross said, "A house is not a home when the two of us are far apart." The book of Song of Solomon provides the illustration of courtship and marriage as one of happiness and where the husband and wife have a true oneness. The NKJ Study Bible begins the translation of verse 9 as, "The portrait of marriage God paints in Scriptures is a most intimate relationship in which husband and wife grow to become lovers and best friends." The translation goes on to say how husbands are commanded to love their wives as stated by the Apostle Paul and, "a wife is commanded to respond to her husband and to respect him but a contentious spirit says, I will not respond to you and I do not respect you."  But what does it mean to be contentious? Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines contentious as, 1)likely to cause disagreement or argument 2) exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes.
And there it is. If a woman is fighting a man tooth and nail on every decision, every aspect of life at home, then she will see the result of a man who does not wish to be at home. This is not to say that a woman is to be docile. If you want to argue constantly, then become a lawyer in the courtroom or seek a public office. A home is to be one of peace. It does not mean that there can be no difference of opinion but pick wisely on that which God is directing. Our God is Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace. If there is no peace then God is missing somewhere as peace is a blessing from God.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Naked You

Psalm 32:10
10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
The psalm of David speaks of God's mercy. You often hear, "I thank God for grace and mercy." But do you understand what true mercy is? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines mercy as 1) compassion shown to an offender, also imprisonment rather than death for first-degree murder, 2) a blessing resulting from divine favor or compassion: also a fortunate circumstance 3) compassion shown to victims of misfortune.
Mercy is something you and I do not deserve but God is willing to give. It means not receiving the full punishment for the offense committed. What offense did you commit that God granted mercy to you though the punishment you deserved was more? In the psalm David talks of confessing his sin and earnestly praying to God without a deceitful heart. He speaks of the wicked who will be sorrowful but the one who trusts in the Lord shall receive mercy. No deceit in the heart and lips. No one can lie to God and think He does not know it. God knows exactly every thought that you do not utter. So, half-heartedly confessing something does not say you have a contrite heart and spirit. God does not need lip service. He needs the true naked you. The naked you that is willing to cry, willing to say, "I am sorry; please forgive me Lord." He wants the naked you that will not play the card of pride with a clenched jaw but will open your mouth and speak from the heart. The naked you is the one who receives mercy. Yes, Jesus shed His blood on Calvary. But you have to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. Remember, Jesus said what comes out of the mouth is what is in the heart. So if you do not see your error in your heart, you will not confess. But mercy cannot be yours without the two walking together.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tough Love as Discipline

Proverbs 20:30
30 Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
Let's be honest, discipline hurts whether verbally or physically. King Solomon refers to physically disciplining a child. However, many reading this message are children of the Most High God and joint heirs with Christ. God is Abba (Father), and He is also one who disciplines. The translation of the scripture in the NKJ Study Bible states, "The purpose of discipline is not to wound or cause pain but to heal a person of evil and lead him to maturity. Sometimes when the conscience is slow to work, physical discipline is needed to break the most stubborn self-will."  God will bring a word forth through whomever He chooses to get our attention. When that doesn't work, He will use circumstances in your life to strike some blows as a way to break you of your stubborn self-will and bring you to maturity in Christ. Don't believe me? Let's look at something He instructed you to do through the Holy Spirit. Did you listen? What happened when you didn't? Did you feel the physical outcome of not listening? Has He sent the same word of instruction to you repeatedly and you failed to listen? What happened? Sooner or later He stops talking and allows you to feel the results of your stubborn choices. Going through the pain does not mean that the Lord God does not love you. He says in His word that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He simply loves you so much that He disciplines you when you are out of line. Proverbs 13:24 says, He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.  The NKJ Study Bible gives a translation of the verse as, "God disciplines His children, and earthly parents are instructed to do the same."  Abba disciplines us to keep us on track. Remember you and I have been created for His purpose. And His purpose is paramount to your individual agenda. Tough love from Abba hurts yes, but it shows yet again that He loves you just that much.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Works of God

Ecclesiastes 11:5
5As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
Have you ever wondered what God is doing? Have you ever seen the wind change direction? You usually don't see it when it changes but you feel it. We do not understand exactly how a child grows in a woman's body but we know it happens. We cannot fully comprehend God. All we know is what He decides to reveal to us. And that is exactly King's Solomon point. We are acting on limited knowledge. We are acting on whatever it is God has decided to reveal. That's only if we've sought Him.
Five years ago today, Get Your JOY In The Morning the devotional was birthed. If someone would've told me when it began that it would become a book, a way of ministering to hundreds in multiple countries and would be the back drop for speaking to groups, the launch pad to help other writers and a company, I would've said, "yeah right." But it has. I am grateful for what God has done. Though He has had to pull at me multiple times to get His desired results, I still BLESS GOD for the opportunity as I did nothing to deserve it. In fact, it was a death bed confession. Laying in the hospital ER bed the March previous I silently prayed asking God to spare my life and that I would FINALLY do what HE wanted me to if only He would give me more time. As the doctors put it, I was running out of time. Submitting to God's will has been the ONLY way any of this has come about. It took weeks for God to get that first writing out of me. God is still in control. I am grateful for the readers who have been there since day one and for those that have come along the way. I am even grateful for those who did not stay. I learned to not take it personally for the rejection was not against me. I am thankful for each of you. I had no idea the way the wind would blow, but God makes everything and I humbly submit once again to His will and His way to teach and minister through writing. It is a task not to be taken lightly because with it comes much responsibility. The word in James 3:1-2 says, My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
Perfect I am not as God is still working on me. I did not wish to teach the word in the beginning, as I have witnesses to this fact. But God! He will get from you that which He desires. Happy Birthday Get Your (J)esus (O)n (Y)ou In The Morning!