devotionals, spiritual

Notorious Bad Judgment

dandelion-stevepb-pixabay
Photo by stevepb @ pixabay.com

We humans are notorious for having bad judgment.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons Jesus told the parable of the weeds. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the story:

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

We have an enemy (the devil) who is trying to destroy what God is doing. He is the one who sows the weeds in the owner’s field. The owner’s servants ask if they should pull up the weeds. What is interesting is the owner’s response:

Nope, he says. Don’t pull up the weeds, because you might pull up the good wheat along with the weeds. 

Friends, we need to get off the throne of judgment, because we cannot judge intelligently. We cannot know a person’s heart.  Think about Peter and the three times he denied knowing Jesus. Had God judged Peter for that one night, well, let’s just say the rest of the story would be drastically altered.  Peter was definitely not a weed to be pulled and burned up in the fire.

Humans are notorious for their bad judgment. So often we elevate and celebrate a “devil”, believing they are good. And then we condemn and criticize a “good person”, believing they are a devil.  In the past, the norm has been to protect our self and community from evil at all costs. But so often we have failed in our judgments, abusing those who are powerless. We judge those who are “less than” and give leniency to those in power.

Friends, we need humility in the face of our mixed-up churches, our mixed-up world. 

We need to learn to live with the Spirit of God flowing through us, leading us to have compassion on those who need us to share His grace and mercy. 

Let’s not judge. Leave it to God. 

**This post is taken from the notes I took from John Ketchersid’s sermon 2/17/2019.

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devotionals, spiritual

How to Honor God and Others

Mountain Peak_StockSnap_pixabayI recently visited The Branch Church and heard a sermon by Chris Seidman. It was all about honor. Honoring God and honoring others. (You can hear the sermon HERE.) It has stuck with me and I thought I’d share with you some of the notes from the sermon.

In Malachi 2:17, God is weary.

17 You make God tired with all your talk.

“How do we tire him out?” you ask.

By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.” And also by saying, “Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”

God answers in Malachi 3:1

“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!”

You see, God was sending justice to the world in the way of Jesus. During His ministry, He enters the temple, cleansing it of those that would make it a den of robbers instead of a house of prayer. He deals with his own house first, cleansing it of sin. He disciplines his people, refining them in the process.

He speaks about this refining process in Malachi 3:2-4.

2-4 But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?

He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

The coming of Jesus is likened to a refiner’s fire, not an incinerator. When He refines us, it’s not for destruction, but for restoration. It’s to remove impurities and make us valuable. How do we know when the refiner is finished refining? When the refiner can see his reflection in the metal. Same with God. His aim is to restore His reflection in us.

Then God says He will come in judgment. Judgment upon those who dishonor Him and others. Malachi 3:5:

“Yes, I’m on my way to visit you with Judgment. I’ll present compelling evidence against sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who exploit workers, those who take advantage of widows and orphans, those who are inhospitable to the homeless—anyone and everyone who doesn’t honor me.”

God comes to stand up for those who have been dishonored. As people reflecting God to the world, we need to be concerned with what concerns Him. Where is the God of Justice? Look in the faces of His people. These people of His should give voice, give action, to justice among the dishonored.

Honoring God involved joining Him in His concern for the over-looked, oppressed, and dishonored.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
 but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.  Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)

We are called to be more than stewards of just us. We are called to care for others. For those in need. For those who have been dishonored by neglect.

Honor means to “respect”, “esteem”, or “give weight to”.

What are you giving weight to in your lives? How are you honoring God? Honoring others?

Sherrinda Signature

This post is based on notes taken 10/14/2018 during Chris Seidman’s sermon at The Branch.
Photo by StockSnap at Pixabay.com
devotionals, spiritual

The Job of Gathering Leftovers

basket of bread_momentmal_pixabayI led our ladies Sunday Bible class yesterday and opted not to share something that struck me as odd. My answer for one of the questions was totally different, mainly because the scripture given didn’t really answer the question like I thought it should.

The subject of the week’s study was Jesus as the Bread of Life. The last lesson of the week had us read about Jesus feeding the five thousand with some loaves of bread and fish. The point made was we are to be distributors of the bread. Yes, we must nourish ourselves with the true bread, but we are to pass it on. An unopened loaf of bread does nobody any good. We must distribute it to those around us – to feed and nourish those in need.

All four gospels share this story, but one gospel says it differently than the others. In John 6:11-12, we see what Jesus does with the few loaves and fish.

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

In the other gospels, Jesus gives the disciples the loaves and fish he blessed, and the disciples distributed the food. In John, Jesus distributed the food and then tells the disciples to gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Picking up the leftovers. I’ve been thinking about this job of the disciples and how it relates to me. As a follower of Christ, how do I pick up the leftovers? What are the leftovers today?

I don’t really know the theological answer, but it seems to me that what Jesus gives to us shouldn’t be wasted. It was important to Him to not waste the bread. He wanted it picked up. Whatever we are given shouldn’t be cast aside or used half-heartedly. What He gives is a treasure, whether it be reconciliation with Him, peace, life, forgiveness, or even food on our table.

Another way to look at it could be that everyone is offered the Bread of LIfe – Jesus Himself. That doesn’t mean that everyone will accept it. They may cast it aside or take a bite and decide they can make their own bread. Maybe we take those leftovers … those pieces set aside … and offer them up to someone else. We don’t let Jesus go to waste, but we keep distributing His nourishing bread of life to those who need Him.

Of course, we could see it as provision and reward for working in God’s kingdom on earth. In the other gospels, the disciples distributed the bread, then picked up the leftovers. Perhaps the lesson is that you can’t out-give God. We may give of ourselves in the ministry of Jesus, loving and serving others, but when we do, we find that we are taken care of by a great God who takes care of His own. When we give of ourselves, we find provision and sustenance for our soul.

I don’t have answers, really, just thoughts about some leftovers and the job of gathering them up.

What kind of leftovers are you picking up today? Have you thought about who you would share your leftovers with?

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*photo credit: Momentmal at Pixabay.com
devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Standing Firm in Flexibility

flexible.publicdomainpictures.pixabayThe only thing that qualifies us as children of God is faith in Christ Jesus. If we believe in Him, we are a child of God.

This is the precursor to Philippians 4:1-3:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long form, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women sine they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

These two women, Euodia and Syntyche, disagreed about something and it was causing trouble in the church. Paul was pleading with them to stand firm…to stand firm on what though?

We need a firm foundation for our relationships in the church, and even outside the church.

We need to focus on the grace and love of Jesus as the basis of unity, which is necessary in the church. We need to stand firm in unity that puts others before ourselves.

So how do we do that? What steps do we take to find unity?

Be flexible.

Being inflexible can cause problems:

  • physically – our muscles atrophy and our joints become stiff
  • emotionally – bitterness and alone

If you cannot change, then you will find yourself all alone, bitter, and ineffective.

The Holy Spirit is our guide here. Jesus told Nicodemus the Holy Spirit blows wherever it pleases. Nicodemus thought he knew the law and what God was about, but he was wrong and needed to be able to change his thinking. He needed to be flexible.

Jesus was reprimanded for letting his disciples eat on the Sabbath and he had to remind the Jewish leaders that King David and his men ate consecrated bread from the priest. It’s okay to be flexible.

Peter was given a vision that it was okay to eat unclean meat. He had to be shown that flexibility was needed in order to save more souls. (The Gentiles would be included in God’s plan of salvation.)

In these examples, they had to question their religious foundation.

Is it a law or not a law? Or is the Spirit of God moving, urging us to be flexible? What is God doing and how is He at work in other’s lives?

Stand firm and be flexible. Is that an oxymoron? Actually, these aren’t necessarily opposite.

Stand firm in the way of Jesus – in grace, mercy, and love. Be flexible!

Don’t let anything pull you away from that wonderful grace and that fabulous love. If you pull away from grace and love in order to stand on law, being rigid and condemning, then you are wrong. Love always wins.

This unity that comes from being flexible must be guarded, and that comes from a commitment to embrace grace and love toward each other.

How will you commit to being flexible with those you disagree with? How will you show love and grace to those around you? 

***Based on John Ketchersid’s sermon June 3, 2018
***Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay

 

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devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Holy Spirit: Peace, Purpose & Power

dove-2516641_640_cocoparisienne at pixabayJesus provides his disciples with peace, purpose, and power with just one thing: the Holy Spirit. That Spirit, the very breath of God, is full of promise to each believer.

After his resurrection, Jesus gathered his disciples close and said,

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20: 21-23

PEACE: Are you floundering in the mire of doubt? Are you in the midst of trouble or trials, whether it be healthwise, financial, or relational? Are you stuck in the rut of doing the same thing with no joy? The world gives peace only when everything is going right – the economy is good, there is no threat of war, all is right with the world. But that is not the peace Jesus brings. His peace is the kind of peace that transcends understanding (Phillipians 4:7). It guards your heart and mind against the evil one and fills you with a supernatural sense of well-being and trust in the One who has you in the palm of His hands.

Seek more of His Spirit and claim His peace.

PURPOSE: We all know John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus had a purpose and after the resurrection, he tells his disciples he is giving them the very same charge. He loves the world enough to save it. We have the purpose of loving others and sharing God’s love with them.

Seek more of His Spirit and love others as God did.

POWER: So often we feel limited by our own inadequacies.  We aren’t smart enough. We are too shy. We can’t talk to others easily. But Jesus gives power to those who believe in Him. He said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Open your hearts to receive what He is giving so freely. There is great power in His Spirit. An interesting thing is that He slips in a note about forgiving others. “If you forgive anyone’s sin, their sin is forgiven.” Forgiveness is a power play that brings grace and mercy to those in need. So many cannot forgive themselves and as believers, we are called to bring peace and love to the world. If God’s people are not out in the world offering grace and mercy, who will?

Seek more of His Spirit and walk in this world with the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit, full of power to accomplish God’s mission.

Some days it is easier to walk in the Spirit than others. How are you claiming His peace, purpose, and power in your daily walk?

 

***This post is a summary of John Ketchersid’s sermon on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

***Photo by cocoparisienne at Pixabay.com

devotionals, spiritual

Hallelujah: A Call to Praise

The last psalm in the Bible, Psalm 150, ends with one word.

Hallelujah

This word means ‘God be praised’. It is a call to praise.

Through this psalm we can learn much about the praise of God.

PRAISE IS BEYOND US

Praise the Lord. (Hallelujah)<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16396A" data-link="(A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
Praise God in his sanctuary;

    praise him in his mighty heavens.


Praise him for his acts of power;

    praise him for his surpassing greatness. (vs. 1-2)

Praise is other worldly. The psalm talks of God’s sanctuary and His might heavens. There is praise there. It speaks of His surpassing greatness and His might acts of power. He is supreme.

He is a God who can do more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-22) He is beyond our scope of understanding, scope of knowledge, and scope of imagination.

He’s a mysterious God, this otherworldly God of ours. He is deserving of our hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the thing that is awesome to you. A sunrise, a flower, a mountain. Let it draw you into His presence.

PRAISE IS CREATIVE

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16399I" data-link="(I)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals. (vs. 3-6)

Just as the vast array of instruments listed here to praise the Lord, so is the body of Christ in its variety of gifts. We are all unique and bring a different facet of creativity to the body, His church.

God accepts each and every one’s differences. He desires and loves your unique abilities. He delights in the special way you serve and glorify Him.

God delights in your unique hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the creative ability God has given you to glorify Him. Can you sing? Draw? Count change? Organize? Encourage? Give a hug?

PRAISE IS SPIRIT-FILLED

Let everything<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16401L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. (vs 6)

The praise we lift to the Lord is spirit-filled because it is our breath that speaks of His glory and sings of His love.

You see, the word used for breath is Spirit. His Spirit. The two are interchangeable. When God breathed into Adam, it was with His very own Spirit. That very Spirit is the One inside of us.

We commit every breath to praising God and breathe Him out into the world.

The world needs your hallelujahs.

Activity: Breathe. Inhale, knowing we breathe in God. Exhale, knowing we share God with the world by who we are and what we do.

Hallelujah!

How are you praising the Lord today?


***Taken from John Ketchersid’s sermon July 9, 2017***

Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Strength for the Journey

I spent a lot more time in my Bible today. Some days, well, you just need more. I am going through Psalms in my daily readings and was in Psalm 84. Verse 5 really resonated with me as I feel like I’ve been going through my days relying on my own strength. Ugh…that gets so tiring!

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey.   From the Voice 

When we rely on our own strength, our own path, our own abilities, we grow weary. It’s hard to do it all alone. The thing is, we aren’t created to do it all alone. God gave Adam a helper, Eve. He Himself walked with them each day. We were not meant to live in isolation.

We have godly people all around us who can carry the weight for us. They can pray you through, encourage you to lean not on your own understand, and love on you to bring you peace.

We have God and His strength to lean on. When we can remove the burden of isolation. We can push off the load of having to be strong in our own right. We can enjoy the journey and treasure every step of it!

Are you leaning on God’s strength or taking it all on yourself?