Living Single IV

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You picked the last one. Now let God pick the next one.

God Will Never Hurt You

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How can you trust the one you see who hurts you, but you can’t trust the One you cannot see Who will never hurt you?

Be Careful Not to Fall

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Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to his home.  Luke tells us about a woman in the city that was a sinner (7:37).  Although she wasn’t invited to Simon’s home, she went there to see Jesus.  I’m sure there were other teachers and rabbis in that city, but there was something different about this Jesus.  Maybe she heard about the widow’s son who was raised from the dead or the centurion’s servant that was healed or the leper that was cleansed.

She didn’t carry any water or towels with her to Simon’s home, but when she arrived, she immediately began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and dry his feet with her hair.  Simon didn’t say it out loud, but he thought to himself, If this man was really a prophet, he would have known who and what manner of woman this is that is touching him. She’s a sinner.  Jesus did know everything about this woman, but he didn’t treat her like the others.  Her sins are many  (Luke 7:47).

Have you ever for a moment thought you were better than someone else? I know I have and I can only imagine the looks this woman got by these ‘religious folks’.  I’m sure everybody in that city knew her business.  They probably thought she wasn’t ‘worthy’ to touch Jesus.  This does not pertain to all  Christians, but like certain Pharisees, we sometimes only teach or preach to impress others and not to help others.  We study to teach the word, but we never study to become the word.  Like the rich young ruler, we are so proud of ourselves. We’re proud that we don’t commit adultery, kill, steal, bear false witness, cheat or dishonor our parents, but we still lack one thing (Luke 18:20-22).

This woman was an outcast.  She was rejected and shunned by religious leaders. No one really wanted her there.  Sometimes we are just like Simon.  We know other people’s sins, but we don’t see our own.  We’re like the blind that have eyes yet cannot see.  We know how to look clean on the outside, but refuse to become clean on the inside.  And even if we ‘don’t do the things we used to do’, we sometimes forget what we once did or who we once were.  We forget how long we were slaves to sin.  This is why God told the Israelites that if they forgot  and left a sheaf while gathering their harvest in the field to not go back and pick it up, but to leave it for the poor, the stranger, the orphan, the widow and the fatherless.  This was a reminder to them that they were once slaves in Egypt.  This was His way of humbling them and reminding them what HE did for them (Deuteronomy 24:19-22).

I think sometimes we forget that we were saved by grace and not by goodness.  Trust me.  Our good is not good enough.  I believe that, as Christians, we have an opportunity to be like a gate or a door for others to God, but at times we have only let certain people in while shutting out others.  Forgive us, Lord.

This woman, to me, was more pure and honest than Simon and his invited guests.  Yeah, she was probably a mess, but she came to Jesus because she was tired of that mess.  She wanted change.  She wanted something different.  Her tears were tears of repentance.  She submitted to Him.  She honored Him.  She worshipped Him.  She anointed His feet with ointment, which wasn’t cheap. It cost her something. All Simon did was open his house, but this woman opened her heart.  She gave Jesus all and her faith moved Him.  He had to forgive her sins.

Well…now they were mad that Jesus forgave her sins.  And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgives sin also?  (Luke 7:49). Have you ever taken a medication that is supposed to cure one thing, but it can harm something else?  When Jesus forgave her sins, she wasn’t just free from her sins, but she was free from the effects of sin. They really didn’t understand what had just taken place.  Had they understood, they would have been rejoicing with her.  Had they understood, they would have repented of pride and repented for their thoughts.

I think one of the reasons why people get angry when God does something for someone else is because they think God should have done it for them instead.  They behave like the eldest son who got angry when his father celebrated the prodigal son’s return.  They feel that because of the things you’ve done in your past that you don’t qualify for a party (Luke 15:28-30).  You’re not good enough.  You don’t deserve a husband or a wife.  You don’t deserve that promotion.  You don’t deserve to be blessed.  And sometimes they get angry because they don’t understand what the father told the eldest son.  All that I have is yours  (Luke 15:31).

I know the body has many  parts, but let us not forget that we are one  body in Christ.  Let us be careful of how we treat one another.  Let us not look down on one another because although you may be standing today, it may be you that fall tomorrow.  Be careful.

Let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation) ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12, AMP.

So be careful. If you are thinking, “Oh, I would never behave like that” – let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12, TLB.

Perfecting Character

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In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples and all believers, but He doesn’t pray for the world (John 17:9). Why would the Person who taught that love was the greatest commandment not pray for the world? Why would the Person who never rejected sinners not pray for the world? Because He gave us as believers a responsibility to the world. He said that if we would become  one and be made  perfect, then the world will believe that God sent His Son and they will know that they are loved too (John 17:21,23).

I know some of us would rather just preach or teach a good word, but this is not what Jesus did. Even though He was the Word, He didn’t just give the people a word. When He preached, He preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He cast out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead. He demonstrated forgiveness, compassion and love. While on earth, He didn’t just tell the disciples what to do, but He showed them how to do it. He showed them how it worked. He proved what He said to be true. Signs followed confirming the word He spoke.

The world will never know how much God loves them by our words, but by our deeds.

Most people practice before they sing or study the word before they preach, but let us not be people who learn to perfect our gifts, but refuse to perfect our character. Character is a set of qualities that make you different from others. It’s your reputation and it has to be built. Tribulation and trials builds patience. Patience (and perseverance) builds character  (Romans 5:3-4).

Jesus told us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). James never said that a perfect man was one who did no wrong or never made mistakes because we have all stumbled or offended in many things (James 3:2).  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us  (1 John 1:8). A perfect man is one who is mature and fully developed in godly character. Yes, we have all done things that we shouldn’t have done, but we were never made to be sin. Jesus became that. We were made to be the righteousness of God.

Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 3:12). He never said he was perfect. He made it very clear that he hadn’t learned all that he should, but he was still learning. He wasn’t all that God wanted him to be, but he was going to get there. He kept pressing. He kept striving for maturity and perfection. Even while in his ignorance, God didn’t give up on him and now he wasn’t going to give up. He set a goal and he was determined to reach it.

In Hebrews 6:1, Paul was admonishing immature believers to press on to maturity. It was time for them to grow up and to live like they were from the kingdom of God. As I examine myself today, I realize that God is still going over the same material that he taught me years ago. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t sometimes need a refresher course, but what He is teaching me is what I should have already been teaching others.  God shouldn’t be trying to convince me to have faith or to trust Him. I should be believing Him for everything now. He still shouldn’t be telling me what sins to stay away from. That’s elementary teaching. I know right from wrong. I know what pleases Him.

The spring commencement ceremonies have begun and at some point, God expects us to grow up and to graduate to the next class (or stage in Him). God knows what He has placed in each of us and He desires to speak to us as spiritual, not carnal and worldly children. We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world. We are citizens of heaven. It is our job to display Christ. How can they want Him if they can’t see Him? We are to conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not the world (Romans 12:2).

Jesus not only prayed for the disciples, but He gave them what His Father gave Him. He wasn’t self-seeking. He considered others more important than Himself. For their sakes I sanctified myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth  (John 17:19). Whatever we do for the Lord from this point forward, let us do it for His sake and for their sake.

Prayer: I pray for all believers today that we become the light of the world and give light to those who sit in darkness. May the love God had for His Son be in all believers. Father, help us to walk in love. Help us to want You more than the things we’ve been asking for. Lord, make us strong, make us wise, make us one and make us perfect in You. Help us to grow up and to become men and women who walk in truth, integrity and godly character, in Jesus’ name. Amen.