Saturday, June 28, 2008

God’s Grace is Greater than all our sins

Let’s imagine we were on a jury for King Manasseh of Israel. He was made king when he was 12 years old. He led his nation away from the true God; he was into mediums, spiritists, witchcraft, starry hosts and more. He worshipped everything but the true God. Besides all of this, he was a two time baby killer who sacrificed his two sons in a fiery furnace. His leadership led into punishment and captivity of not only himself but the nation of Israel. I bet the jury verdict would be “throw away the key.”

Manasseh finds himself in a Babylonian prison humbled when he comes to his senses. In 2 Chronicles 33:10:13 it says: “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” The Lord forgives him and restores him to a position of leadership. The Lord forgives and restores and we want to throw away the key. We sing “God’s grace is greater than all our sins;” it’s true, just learn from Manasseh’s example.

This week I met people who struggle with past sin. They sit in the pews of our churches and suffer alone. They see more of our “throw away the key” mentality than “God’s Great Grace” which covers more than all our sin.

Manasseh may have sacrificed his two sons to an imaginary god, a meaningless, non-existent god. Another sacrifice of a Son took place about 2000 years ago. It was not an imaginary god asking man to sacrifice His own Son, no, it was the one and only True God who sacrificed His one and only son so we could have all our sins forgiven and reign eternally with His risen Son, Jesus. Do we hear enough about God’s great grace? Women who have had an abortion suffer alone with a guilty conscience. God’s grace is greater than your sin. A man sits alone, sober now but alone; his ex-wife and children are bitter at the suffering incurred at his hand. He feels hopeless yet God’s grace is greater than all his sin.

Alan Fram and Erin Putman wrote an article for Associated Press entitled “Is Everything Spinning out of Control?” Summarized in part it says: “Everything seems out of control, Midwest floods, Polar Bears adrift, gas prices skyrocketing, home values crashing, air fares, college tuition, heath care border on the unaffordable.” Fram and Putman allude “You have very little power to make it change. We look for hope from our politicians but it all seems to be unraveling. Surely we know how to fix these problems, don’t we?” No, we don’t. America staggers looking for an answer. We look to Barrack Obama and John McCain for answers. They won’t come. America needs the Savior, not a politician.

Are you struggling today over sin or past sin? Lift up your eyes to Heaven and ask for forgiveness of the Lord. If you had to go to trial, would the world want to throw away the key? Jesus is willing to forgive and restore. Remember, God’s grace and forgiveness were purchased at a high price—the suffering death of His Son, Jesus. And never forget, Jesus rose from the dead victorious over sin and death. Remember, God’s grace is greater than all our sin!

Friday, June 20, 2008

“Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us”—Having it our way

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us” was part of an advertising campaign many years ago by Burger King. (If you’re my age, you could possibly still sing those line.) Burger King wanted us to have our hamburger the way we wanted it. Have it your way! In some ways, Burger King opened a Pandora’s Box. We now want everything our way. Why not? We pay the bill.

Along the way this “have my way” attitude has slid into our lives. We notice it in the property management business. A recent example: temperature issues inside an office are always an issue. Eighty degrees is hot for some and for some it’s the ideal temperature. Last week we had an internal temperature issue with a small office. One woman said she was cold but the other thought the temperature was fine. We carry temperature guns which show us the temperature exactly where a person sits. The temperature read 73 degrees at this woman’s chair. She said “73 degrees means nothing to me; I’m cold.” No matter what the truth was, she was cold. I want my burger my way and you better do something about it. (I wanted to say, “How about putting on a sweater” but I thought better.)

Facts (73 degrees) mean nothing anymore. I’m cold and you better make my burger my way. We’ve lost our adaptability; we’ve lost our understanding of the concept of common good (i.e. if it’s 73 degrees and I am cold but everyone else is comfortable, I’ll put on a sweater).

We can watch any kind of TV anytime we want thanks to TIVO. We can mix and match our music; we program our list of favorites. Isn’t life great? We can have it all our way.

We like our religion our way too. The church music must be our favorite. We really want to believe what we want to believe. We want to be the ultimate authority. We want our burger “my way”.

When we make ourselves the ultimate authority, we are in deep trouble. We make ourselves god. “You shall have no other God’s before me.” Concerning these issues, we’d better be very careful. It’s ok to have our burgers our way but not our faith. The Lord He is God. We’re not. The final authority is God’s word, not what we think or want.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where are our families?

My business partner, Depesh, is East Indian. Indians put a high priority on extended families. They believe that the family that prays together, eats together, plays together and works together will stay together.

Depesh’s wife is a physical therapist and has a patient who lost both his legs to frostbite. He was evicted from his apartment in the dead of winter, had to sleep in his car for two nights, got frostbite and then gangrene set in. The only solution was amputation of both legs. Depesh’s wife asked the patient, “Where was your family?” He said he had family but he would not ask anyone for help since he didn’t want them to know he was homeless. They really didn’t get along so he felt no one would help anyway.

What really are the issues here? Pride—he didn’t want anyone to know he was evicted and homeless. Other issues were relationship with family plus people having hardened hearts towards one another.

Where is the love of Christ in our hearts? It says in 1 Timothy 5:7-8: "Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

The first inclination in all of our “do-gooder’s” hearts is to form another non-profit to help homeless people. It hasn’t worked; it won’t work. I deal with the homeless every day; it’s not pretty. Many times the only way I can be a blessing to them is to remember that they were once someone’s little baby.

Let’s work to keep our families close and connected. Let’s forgive, let’s reconcile. “Forget it Jerry, it’s too much work,” you say. "It’s hopeless." We live in a time where we have personal trainers, good accountants, financial planners, nice homes, big bellies and empty, hardened hearts. We wince and write each other off at the slightest offense. Oh, how touchy we are. And in the meantime, our kids lose their legs from gangrene and end up going to hell for eternity all because we are proud and unforgiving.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” ~ Jesus AD 30

Thursday, June 05, 2008

God Shows No Favoritism

Acts 10:34-35: “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.’

In the earlier part of Acts 10, Peter was praying when he receives a vision. Peter, being a devout Jew, had trouble understanding the vision which dealt with clean and unclean food as it pertained to Jewish dietary laws. Peter is called to meet the Gentile Roman centurion named Cornelius. Cornelius had assembled his relatives. For what reason did he do this? Addressing Peter, Cornelius says in verse 33, “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” Then in Acts 10:34 Peter says: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Later, to the astonishment of the Jews, the Gentiles are given the Holy Spirit and are baptized. God poured out His Spirit upon Jew and Gentile alike. God does not show favoritism.

What relevance does this have for us today? We are facing an election where one of the candidates is a black man. Much has been said and heard. Obama was a member of a church which preaches black liberation theology; they don’t like whites. Forty percent of black churches in American preach black liberation theology.

Yesterday I was listening to the radio when a black pastor from Minneapolis called in to remind people that not all black churches are black liberation churches. He said black liberation theology is for blacks as white Aryan supremacy theology is for whites. Each group believes they are God’s favorite and spew forth hatred at the expense of other races.

As we proceed towards election time, race will be an issue whether we like it or not. The racism issue in American culture has a thin veneer. We, as professing Christians, better be witnesses to Jesus Christ and not add fuel to the fire by our ill-informed comments.

God accepts people from every tribe and nation. It will be a racially mixed crowd in Heaven. God has no favorites, notice in Acts 10:35 who God accepts: “but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.

How do we fear God? We only know who to fear or not fear until we have relationship with those people. If we don’t fear God (have awesome reverence and fear) could it be we don’t have relationship with Him? How do we know how to “do what is right”? By getting into God’s Word and develop a deep prayer life--have relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

As we progress towards this election, we as professing Christians must keep our head. Tell the people that God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation but under what conditions? Not the ethnicity of their blood or the color of their skin but upon the fact “that they fear God and do what is right and have Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Acts 10:43: “All the prophets testify about him (Jesus) that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Brothers and sisters, we must keep our head. Get rid of black liberation theology and white Aryan supremacy theology; they are both poison. We need to witness to the truth. Read God’s word, pray and give God the glory.