Jonah

“This is what anger can do: shatter things – a relationship, a reputation, a promise, a hope.”  – Carol Knapp, Daily Guideposts 2017, February 15th

 

That’s what it did to Jonah.

 

Jonah, the prophet famous for trying to run and hide from God (Jonah 1:3,5) because he did not want to go to Ninevah.  The prophet who compelled the sailors to toss him overboard to save their ship from the violent storm destroying it (Jonah 1:12).  The prophet who “was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17) getting right with God before “it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

 

The prophet who humbly proclaimed “… But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” (Jonah 2:6).

 

You would think the man who just went through all that would just go with God’s flow and accept His purposes.  But not Jonah.

 

Now this humbled prophet has wandered outside Ninevah and angrily prayed, “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).  The same man who just experienced three days of compassion and forgiveness with a big dose of redemption is very upset at God (Jonah 4:1) for extending the same things to Ninevah after the entire city, including the king, heard Jonah’s message and truly repented for their evil ways.

 

The same man who just a few days before was begging for mercy – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me …” (Jonah 2:2) – is now outraged that the city of Ninevah did the same thing – “ … Let everyone call urgently on God … ” (Jonah 3:8).  And it was right that God heard and answered him and gave him another chance.  But it was totally wrong for God to do the same thing for Ninevah (Jonah 3:10).

 

And when I think about it like that, it’s crazy.  I totally get Jonah’s point of view.  I can see him sitting there thinking, “God, are you serious?  You made me spend three days floating in every gross thing imaginable to get my attention and get my apology.  This city hears eight words about their coming doom, makes several grand gestures about being sorry, and You say ‘never mind’.  Are you serious?  They don’t deserve anything good.  I get the fish, and they get nothing?  I had to suffer for the grace you showed me.  Why aren’t you making them suffer too?”

 

And I’ve rowed that boat before.  In fact, I find myself often rolling my eyes over certain things at work.  Like hiring a new shop manager, a man, and offering him more money than I was currently making after being there 4 years.  And thinking it was okay on several levels.  But here’s what I saw – it was wanting the experience he brings at the expense of my 4 years of hard work, long hours, and extreme dedication.  And knowing I bring something to the company he never will – the ability to be able to do my job and his.

 

I could have been like Jonah.  He was “righteously” angry and chose to dwell there.  He set up camp.  He wallowed until he was covered in it.  And he threw a temper tantrum, begging God several times to just let him die.  He refused to extend grace.  He refused to allow grace.  He refused to accept grace in action.

 

And God in that moment could have read Jonah his resume and reminded him of his choices.  He could have rubbed Jonah’s nose in his running away as just page one.  But that’s not who God is.  It’s not who He was with Jonah, and it’s not who He was with Ninevah.

 

But despite personally knowing God’s love in action, he couldn’t accept it for anyone else.  He was convinced God would change His mind, so much so that “he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:5).  Why?  Because “Angry people stir up a lot of discord” (Proverbs 29:22a).

jonah

He could not get past their reputation to accept their repentance.  When that was what God wanted.  His great concern was the people.  Jonah’s great concern was vengeance.

 

So what happened to me at work?  I didn’t seek vengeance.  But I did speak up.  In a somewhat joking manner with a serious undertone.  I wanted it to be known that I did expect to be acknowledged for my years of dedication and hard work.  And I was.  And I’m convinced it was because I was honest without being angry or hostile.

 

The choice was mine, and I think I chose wisely.  Just like the choice was Jonah’s, and he chose selfishly.

 

And today is a new opportunity for us to choose.  We can be Jonah, angry and pouting with our hands tucked securely under our arms and refusing to allow grace.  Or we can be like God, gracious and good and forgiving.

 

Who do you want to be?

Who will you choose to be today?

 

Marie Fremin.  2/15/17 and 3/5/17

David

Are you familiar with the story of how David was chosen to be king?  It’s a  story that starts with David being overlooked by his ENTIRE family.

 

King Saul, the first ever king of Israel, disobeyed God by dealing with Amalek his way instead of God’s way (1 Samuel 15:2-3,9).  Saul got distracted from obedience by greed, and God knew this was a pattern that would keep repeating itself.  Because Saul showed no remorse and took no responsibility for what he did (1 Samuel 15:24).  And as leader of Israel, he needed to set the example for Israel in being obedient and fully committed.

 

So God declared it was time for a change, and He already knew who He wanted for the next leader of His people.  And He sends Samuel to let him know.  God tells Samuel to “fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king” (1 Samuel 16:1).

 

Samuel is greeted by Jesse and hosted by the entire family.  Except one – “And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep’” (1 Samuel 16:11).  David was not worthy enough in his own family to meet the prophet.  He was young, possibly scrawny, and maybe annoying.  So they left him in the sheep fields to do the dirtiest and loneliest work possible.  They chose to not even call him in for supper.   How’s that for insignificant?

 

Because there were seven other sons to choose from, and definitely one of them would be king.  They looked the part.  Even Samuel assumed the oldest and most rugged boy was the next king.  But God had a different plan.  But God wasn’t looking for the look a king.  God was looking for the heart of a servant.  “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

david

And one by one, all seven of the brothers were brought before Samuel – and quickly rejected as the next king.  Until only David, forgotten out in the fields, was left.  And for the first time since Samuel arrived, David’s existence is mentioned.  So Samuel insists he is brought in.  And immediately God chooses him – “This is the one; anoint him” (1 Samuel 15:12).

 

And maybe in that moment his brothers sat down in complete disbelief.  Surely their mouths dropped open in unveiled surprise.  David?  Really?  But God made His choice, and God was sure.

 

David’s family saw a runt and a pest – God saw a king and a conqueror.  God saw the heart that was already learning trust and loyalty to Him and Him alone.  God saw the heart of a warrior and the determination of a champion.  God saw the patience David was developing being separated from his family.  And God honored that young heart by honoring him first and foremost in front of his family, giving them perhaps the first truth about their wrong treatment of David.

 

And in the moment, David may not have believed he was worthy to be king.  His life didn’t change in that moment, that day, that week, or that year.  In fact, as Samuel was walking away from their home, David probably returned to the place he was most welcome – the sheep field.

 

David may not have believed he was seen and known by God before Samuel arrived.  But he was, and God showed up and showed out on David’s behalf that day and proved to David He cared greatly for him.  Maybe he walked a little taller after that.  Maybe he went back to the sheep fields with new purpose.  He was definitely changed from that point forward.

 

Today is the day you can be changed, too.  Today is the day you can know that God has chosen you.  That God has designed you for something wonderful.  That God has filled you with significance and covered you with importance.  Though you may be overlooked by the world, maybe even by your own family, God sees you and knows you.  And God adores you, just as you are.

 

So today YOU can stand a little taller as you realize how much God loves you, how uniquely God has called you, and how clearly God always sees you.  Let the truth of who you are IN HIM change the way you see yourself.  And let your heart be dedicated and true to Him alone.  Just like David.

 

Marie Fremin.  2/25 and 3/4/17.

Chasing Ghosts

Do you remember the scene in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” where Julia Roberts hijacks a delivery truck and is chasing her best friend Dermot Mulroney, who is chasing his fiancee Cameron Diaz?  Because she has finally come clean to him that she loves him and wants to be with him – just hours before his wedding to Cameron Diaz.  And Cameron sees Julia kiss him and takes off.  So he starts chasing Cameron, which upsets Julia because she expected his declaration of love.  In the middle of the chaos, Julia calls her editor, who makes a hard point – “who’s chasing you?”

chasing-ghosts

She’s so busy chasing Dermot, so focused on catching him and getting her way, that she fails to see the truth.  He didn’t stay with her.  He started chasing Cameron.  Immediately.  Without hesitation.  With purpose and passion.

 

And the realization that he truly loves Cameron is hard.  Because she has to accept that she has had ten years and many opportunities but didn’t take her chance.  And now the moment has passed.  She is chasing a possibility that isn’t available to her.  She has created a life and a future in her imagination that is literally running away from her.  She is chasing a ghost.

 

And I realized I was close to doing the same thing.  Again.  I’ve spent twenty years chasing a memory of a college friend, trying to bring it into my reality, because I remember the sweet girl who cried with me over something hard.  So it did not surprise me that as I planned to go to Murfreesboro for the weekend how I kept thinking how close I would be to my friend.  I could reach out and try to make contact.  But then I would just be Julia Roberts, chasing a memory of someone who was my friend years ago.  Someone who humored me with a quick conversation when I found her every few years but who otherwise never kept in touch.  Someone who called me unevolved and angry and then unfriended me from Facebook.  Someone who changed her phone number and moved without telling me.

 

Yet my first instinct was to try to make contact.  And I have to wonder why I would continue to chase her.  It has been twenty years of my Julia running after her Dermot for a relationship that was from another time and another place.  And I could continue to chase her, but I would be chasing someone who doesn’t want to be a part of my life.  I would be running after someone who isn’t looking back.

 

So I didn’t.  Granted, it’s a lot easier to make the decision with only one possible means of communication available.  But I could have tried.  And I might have, if I had not realized that I was insisting on reliving a sweet memory in the present it when it is clearly anchored in the past.

 

And Jesus has advice for me in these moments.  When He was preparing His disciples to go out, He gave them specific instructions: “11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 11:11-14).

 

How is this applicable, you ask?  He is reminding the disciples that there are places they will want to be but they may not be welcome.  In those moments, don’t linger.  Don’t long to be accepted.  Don’t wallow and be wistful.  If you are welcome, great.  If you are not welcome, move on.  Don’t chase the ghost of what you think you think you want or think is right when everything is telling you otherwise.

 

Lot’s wife didn’t get it.  As she and her family are being dragged out of the city, they are told something specific – “… Do not look behind you …” (Genesis 19:17).  Don’t turn around and long for the corrupt city that God is about to destroy.  Don’t linger on the compromising life you were leading that kept you from your best relationship with God.  Don’t look back and wish for something that would never love you into fulfillment.  Instead, look forward.  God is saving you.  God is sparing you.  God is showering you with grace instead of brimstone.  Appreciate that.  Worship Him.  But she couldn’t let go of her life in Sodom, so she “… looked back behind …”, her desire to be in the city instead of being grateful obvious.  God knew, “… and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).

 

She was chasing the ghost of her happiness.  Julia was chasing the ghost of unrequited love.  And I was chasing the ghost of a long-lost friendship.  We all wanted something that we decided would make us happy – but none of it was ours to have.

 

So I can keep chasing the ghost of a friend from my early years.  Or I can give her the space she demands and walk away with my sweet memories.  So I choose to “shake off the dust” and trust God to help me remember the good times with a smile.  Which means I didn’t make contact, nor will I.  I can accept this season for what it is while appreciating the former seasons for what they taught me and brought me.

 

So do you have a ghost you are chasing?  Do you have a longing in your eye for something unworthy of you?  Are you holding onto something from the past that is keeping you from fully embracing the present?   Then it’s time to stop.  It’s time to let go.  It’s time to move on.  It’s time to say “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” to chase ghosts or linger in the past (Psalm 23:1).  So let’s stop running after our ghosts.  Let’s keep our ghosts where they belong and chase God instead.

 

Marie Fremin.  2/19/17, 3/3, 3/4/17

What are you Casting?

When you think of the word “care”, what comes to your mind?

 

Because we can be real with each other.  We all have cares – those worries, those issues, those annoyances, those problems.  That are trying to distract us from God’s goodness.  That are trying to suffocate our hope.  That are trying to convince us that God’s love isn’t big enough or His power not strong enough to help us.

 

As I drove home from a concert last night, I realized I have cares.  I can pretend I don’t.  I can pretend I am fine.  I can pretend my mind isn’t heavy.  But I have cares.  And by pretending I don’t, they are weighing me down.

 

So I need to deal with them.  I need to own the feelings that aren’t of God.  I need to separate the unreal emotions from the truth of God’s love.

 

And He gives me the perfect starting place.

what-are-you-casting

Humble yourself.  Accept your human limitations and bow down your heart onto Him and His wisdom.  Admit you cannot manage your life.  Allow grace to overwhelm you – to fill you and surround you.

 

And in doing so, begin to throw all your distractions, worries, and stress to Him.  For help.  For healing.  For hope.

 

He wants you to take ease and refresh yourself completely – body, emotions, and mind.  “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  Come to Me, your loving Creator, and cast your cares into My loving arms.  Toss your worries, throw your fears, and thrust your problems – without exception and with great expectation.

 

And not just for 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there.  He is asking us to unburden ourselves at ANY point of the day or night.  He is asking us to come to Him with ANYTHING weighing us down WHENEVER we realize it is there.  He is asking us to stop allowing ourselves to be distracted from all the goodness and grace available to us.

 

Because focusing on our cares doesn’t get us anything good.  Anything with blessing.  Anything with mercy.  Anything with hope.  Just like the disciples after Jesus’ death.  Devastated at their loss, they did the only thing they knew – they went back to fishing.  But there was no joy – and no fish.  “Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’  They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing” (John 21:3).

 

See that?  Despite casting their nets all night, they caught nothing.  Which gave them a lot of time to think about what their lives would look like now that their beloved Teacher was gone.  And they probably sat all night and wallowed in their cares about returning to ordinary life as they recasted their empty nets over and over again.

 

And as morning dawned and their hope was gone, Jesus shows up.  Knowing they are unaware of who He is, He advises them to cast their nets in a new direction – And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some…’” (John 21:6a).

 

Because they were fixated on one side of the boat – and on one train of thought about His death – that He needed to shake up their care-full reality to see the possibilities all around them.  So He asks them to thrown down, pour out, send away, and thrust away all their cares – both with fishing and with their grief.

 

And He’s asking us to do the same thing today.  It’s the brutal truth that nailed me between the eyes as I drove home tonight.  I think I am not brooding, but I am.  And I need to turn my brooding into praying and praising.  I think I am not holding onto worry, but I am.   And I need to let go of the possibilities of tomorrow that may never become a reality and live in the moment.  I think I am walking in faith, but I am not.  And I need to unclench my fists and let go of the string of control I think is mine so He can move freely and wildly in my life.

 

And is it worth it?  Let’s ask the disciples.  When they did as they were advised by this stranger (they did not yet know it was their beloved Teacher), “ … they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish” (John 21:6b).  They were blessed with an abundance of fish.  And then they were blessed even more when they finally realized who He is and got to talk to Him again.

 

So today I am getting honest.  Very honest.  I am looking my care directly in the face and naming it, so darkness cannot deceive or overtake me.  I will talk about the struggle to give space for His light.  I am taking EVERY care and nailing it to the Cross.  Because I need to let go of my cares and pick up His grace.  It’s the only way to have peace.

 

Will you join me today?

 

Bonus Scriptures on casting:

  • Romans 13:12 – The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 – casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
  • Hebrews 10:35 – Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
  • Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/21/16 and 3/2/17

Compromise

I was having dinner with a friend last night, and we started talking about dating among singles.  And I mentioned that I find it interesting how we all have something we compromise about.  That one area where we rationalize behavior and thinking we know is wrong even though we know God sets a clear standard in the opposite direction.

 

And I’ll say the same thing here I said last night: I’m not judging anyone else for his/her choices.  I’m not pointing any fingers.  I’m not calling out any names.  I’m not questioning any specific behavior.  I’m just acknowledging what I see to be true: even though we call ourselves Christ followers and profess to love God, we all have at least one thing or one area where we toe the line of righteousness.  Where we know God says “no” but we choose to stop listening.  Where we preach to others how God says to act yet we choose not to let our walk match our talk.  Where we choose to do as we please instead of going the narrow way toward God’s best.

compromise

Ouch!  It would definitely hurt less to have this conversation if I wasn’t throwing myself under the bus too.  But I didn’t exclude myself then – or now.  Sure, I could brag and say I’m honoring Paul’s reprimand in 1 Corinthians 6:18 and am therefore a good Christian girl.  I could boast that I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain and regularly go to church (Exodus 20:7-8) and am therefore a good Christian example.

 

I could come up with a million ways to make myself feel good about the majority of my choices.  But there will still be that one thing or area where I turn away from God’s goodness to do what makes me feel good, happy, whole, or stable.

 

Because no matter how good I am – or how good I “behave” – if I choose to do life my way instead of God’s way, it is sin in the form of compromise.  And compromise is dangerous to my faith.  Compromise draws me away from God’s presence.  Compromise leads me away from God’s grace.  Compromise steers me to challenge God’s truth.

 

Compromise opens the door for me to sin bigger and bolder without remorse or regret.  Because compromise permits me to rationalize any and every choice according to my standards instead of God’s.  One wrong choice leads to a bigger wrong choice, and the cycle continues until we are living life without care of God’s righteousness and will justify everything we do.  Just like James warns us – “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15) and Solomon warns us – “There is a way that seems right to a man But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

 

But just because I can justify my choices to myself doesn’t mean I can justify my choices to God.  Because one thing about His Word is that it is clear – God determines right and wrong and tells us exactly where the demarcation line is.  Want to know if you living God’s way or justifying your behavior?  Go to the Word and look HONESTLY at your choices.  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

 

So what conclusion have I drawn from all this?  Doing life God’s way brings the best rewards – but it requires the hardest and least likable choices (at times).  It requires saying “no” to your flesh, “no” to your emotions, “no” to your hormones, and “no” to your comfort zones.  It requires you making the difficult – or least pleasurable – choice now for best results later.  It requires being fully respectful of yourself, the people you are in relationship with, and the people around you – in actions, in words, in choices, in thoughts.  All of this plus more is what Jesus means in Matthew 7:13-14 – “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

 

So compromise will come knocking.  You have the choice to answer with welcoming arms and seemingly harmless choices – which will crack the foundation of your faith.  Or you can slam the door shut and choose to live life God’s way – which will seal up your cracks and reassure you of His love.  How will you answer?

 

Marie Fremin.  2/23/17

Be Nice to Me

I have a coworker whose favorite thing to say to the office is “you should go home and think about how you can be nicer to me.”

be-nice-to-me

Do you see what this statement says about me and to me?

The problem is on my side.

The issues are all caused by me.

The tension all starts with me.

The responsibility for all wrongs is tilted all to one side – mine.

 

His viewpoint is centered around himself and his comfort.  When you ask for clarity because his notes are detailed, you aren’t being nice to him.  When you tell him he isn’t following company procedure and explain what you need him to do, you aren’t being nice to him.  When you don’t fawn and gush and tell him he’s great, you aren’t being nice to him.

 

And what’s the common thread?  You.

When you don’t ___.

When you don’t act like he wants you to act.

When you don’t respond like he expects you to.

When you don’t praise like he hopes you will.

When you critique him.

When you challenge him.

When you combat his sense of right and wrong.

 

When you.  Because it’s always you.

There are no problems or attitudes on the other side – on I.

 

The same way the world works.  With a “do unto me” mentality.  Do for me.  Whether I do unto you.  Whether I appreciate you.  Whether I treat you well in return.  Because my value is great.  So you first, and then maybe I will too.  But always do to me and for me.  Without exception.

 

Oh how different from God’s ways.

 

God never says “if you love Me first, then I will love you back.”  He says “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love …” (Jeremiah 31:3) that started “… in Him before the foundation of the world …” (Ephesians 1:4).

 

God never says “if you will get your act together and put your life in order, then I will love you.”  He says “I am the Potter (Jeremiah 18:4-6).  Bring all your broken, chipped, and shattered pieces to Me so I can love you back to wholeness.”

 

God never says “if you follow all these rules exactly every day, then I will love you.”  He says “rules never trump relationships, and how you treat people matters a lot to Me.  The second most important commandment is ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39).

 

God says no matter what you’ve done, He loves you.

God says no matter what you’ve said, He loves you.

God says no matter where you’ve been, He loves you.

 

And He moved toward you first to prove it.  The Cross is the ultimate symbol of His love for you.  He allowed abuse and torture to His mortal body (Isaiah 53:5) to prove His love and show you what His love is for you.

 

God’s love is impenetrable (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s love is undefinable (Ephesians 3:17-18).

God’s love is magnificent (1 Corinthians 13:7).

 

And God’s love should be my light.  It should point me in the right direction, to help me love people and treat them right no matter what (Matthew 5:46-47).

 

So light, please shine brightly.  Because common sense says we will probably keep having the conversation about being nice at work.  We each have our own perspective and may have a battle royale trying to prove the other one wrong.  I think I have come up with a new reply to possibly shut down the tension before it starts – “it works both ways.”  This doesn’t mean that I think he needs to do all the work or there are no problems on my side.  But this also doesn’t mean I’ll let him run over me and put all the blame on me.  I’ll see where I need to change, and I’ll work on being better.  I’ll try to keep the tone out of my voice.  I’ll try to keep the assumptions out of my thoughts.  I’ll try to ignore the jabs and taunts meant to provoke.  And I can only hope and pray that eventually he will see the same light and want to be nice.

 

Loving Father, help me remember the open arms of the Cross, meant to be a welcoming and intimate invitation to all.  Please touch my heart so I can welcome all people into my space and treat them with compassion.  Thank You for Your never-ending grace to help me toward these goals daily.  In Jesus’ almighty name, AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  2/11, 2/12, 2/14/17

Go of the Gospels

My Daily Guideposts 2017 reading today got me thinking.  The author mentioned four instances of “go” commands that Jesus expects of us.  And I started wondering – what does Jesus tell us to “go” and do in the Gospels?  The meanings of the three most frequently used Greek words give us a clue: travel, depart, go away, go forth, go up, journey, walk, lead, withdraw, get hence, go off, go out, follow.

 

Wow – follow.  Which means we have to know Who’s leading.  “Go and search carefully for the [Christ] …” (Matthew 2:8).  Seek Him – go into His word to find truth.  Spend time with Him – go into His presence to know His love.  Sing to Him – go near Him to worship Him.

 

And then He gives us instruction in the Gospels on what to do next.

 

Forgive and Reconcile

  • Matthew 5:23-24 – “23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
    • Go and settle your heart before asking God to bless you. Strife separates you from God, so go make peace to give God your best.
  • Matthew 18:15 – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
    • Talk about your problems with the person involved – and only that person. Not with everyone else.  Not in the guise of prayer requests.  Not on social media.  Avoid public shame and embarrassment.
  • Luke 15:18-19 – “18 I [the prodigal son] will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’”
    • Go to God with a truly sorry heart and ask for forgiveness.  Don’t listen to the lies that God doesn’t need or want to hear it.  Say it.  Mean it.  Want to change.

 

Go Beyond the Expected Standard

  • Matthew 5:41 – “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
    • People will not make it easy. But keep going with them and make an effort – until God says stop.  Don’t run away or check out because it gets hard, inconvenient, or uncomfortable. 
  • Matthew 7:13-14 – “13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
    • Don’t go the easy way, with the pleasures and rewards of now. There is no eternal value, no growth, and not future happiness down the easy road.
  • Mark 2:3,10-12; Luke 5:18,24-26 – “Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. … 10 ‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, 11 ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’”
    • Your answer or miracle probably won’t look like you expect – but God always comes through for you! So believe for the impossible, be bold in your expectation, and don’t ever give up hope.
  • Luke 8:14 – “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity”
    • Beware of being distracted by things not of God or pleasing to God – things that “choke” out His truth, block out His voice, and remove you from His grace.
  • Luke 9:5, 10:10-11 – “And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them”
    • Don’t linger when God tells you to leave, staying where you will be of no benefit. Don’t hold on when God tells you to let go, grabbing something that keeps you from receiving His best.
  • Luke 10:7 – “And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.”
    • Be consistent. Be reliable.  Be dependable.  Be stable.  Be trustworthy.
  • Luke 10:33-37 – “33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where [the injured man] was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’  Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
    • Be compassionate to all people. Whether you agree with them or not.  Choose to do good for them and show them love, because God says it’s important.
  • Luke 14:10-11 – “But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    • Be humble. Take care of people. Show them love by serving them and giving them preference.  Choose sacrifice over selfishness to honor people’s importance to God.

 

Find Truth

  • Matthew 9:13 – “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
    • We think Jesus wants our “good” works and judges us by our “good” behavior. He really wants our hearts fully and freely given to Him.  His Word will teach us how to truly surrender like this to Him.
  • Matthew 23:13 – “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in [to truth] yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
    • The teachers were too proud of their religious titles/positions and knowledge to see they were driven by the wrong things (such as being recognized). They could not see or value life outside the Law.  And they encouraged the Jews to follow their lead of living only by the Law. 
  • Luke 17:22-23; 21:8 – “22 Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them.’”
    • Beware of who you listen to, who you follow, and who influences you. For many will come in the guise of Jesus and claim to promote truth – but their only purpose will be to deceive you from His truth and distract you from His true love.
  • John 6:68 – “But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”
    • Go back to the Source. Go back to the One who is the Word made flesh.  What does He say in the gospels?  What does He teach through His parables?  What does He promise to all believers? 
  • John 10:9 – “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture
    • Jesus has everything we need for success – rest, peace, grace, truth, compassion, wisdom. He is the way to find and develop fruit in your life to be His light.  We have to go to Him, lean into Him, and stay near to Him to be our best selves.

 

Walk in Power

  • Matthew 10:7-8 – “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
    • You don’t have to sit idly by. The power of Jesus is in YOU – to help change people’s lives.  Go into people’s lives and impact them with grace.
  • Matthew 14:29 – “So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.”
    • Don’t be afraid to move. Don’t sit paralyzed by the unknown or impossible.  Jesus walks on water, and so can you!  It only takes one step of faith to step into the miraculous.
  • Matthew 26:32; Mark 14:28 – “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
    • Hold onto your hope, no matter what. Galilee is wherever He is calling you to be.  He promises to go both BEFORE you and WITH you.
  • John 14:12 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father”
    • He promises power – for us, in us, and through us. The same power that produced miracles by Jesus’ hands is in YOU.

 

Be Free

  • Matthew 19:21,24; Mark 10:21,24; Luke 18:22,24 – “Jesus [looking at him, loved him,] said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, [One thing you lack:] go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ … And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man [those who trust in riches] to enter the kingdom of God.”
    • Let go of what is keeping you from true devotion to God. You are being controlled by your stuff – possessions, past, position, passions.  Stop letting it hold you down and block God’s blessings.
  • John 8:10-11 – “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the [adulterous] woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
    • Go and do better for yourself. Let go of the bad decisions and wrong choices that keep pulling you away from Him and His best.  Stop working against what you want and start choosing good things – now and later – for yourself.

 

Be Obedient

  • Matthew 21:28-29 – “28 … A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.”
    • Don’t live with the regret of saying “no” or “not now” to God. You will steal a blessing and a revelation from yourself – as well as the person you were supposed to go to.  If God asks you to go, then go.  No matter how crazy it feels.
  • Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15 – “40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’” 41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’  45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.”
    • Jesus asked him for one thing: give thanks at the temple to honor God. But his excitement kept him from doing so.  And the result was Jesus’ inability to minister (freely) to others in that town.  His excitement blocked blessings for others and freedom of movement for Jesus.
  • Luke 17:12-14 – “12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.”
    • Their healing miracle was in their obedience. Staying where they were would have kept them stuck and unhealed.  Moving in the direction He gave them changed their lives.
  • John 4:47-51 – “47 When [the nobleman] heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’ 49 The nobleman said to Him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies!’  50 Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives.’ So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, ‘Your son lives!’”
    • Jesus asks us to have faith and go. To believe without all the answers of how or why.  To believe anything is possible when He promises.
  • John 9:6-7 – “When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”
    • God will ask us to do something that seems totally crazy, but He is testing our willingness to obey. Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone?

 

Share your Faith

  • Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    • Mark 16:15 – “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”
    • Don’t sit at home and keep your faith to yourself. Reach out to people.  Show them the value of redemption.  Share your story.  Shine your light.
  • Mark 5:18-20 – “18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.’ 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.”
    • Start at home, with the people in your everyday life. Glow with the goodness and grace of God, so you can open the door to share your story.
  • John 4:3-4 – “He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria
    • Jesus needed to keep a divine appointment with a broken woman to help her and heal her. He defied two traditions – a Jew in Samaria and a man (especially a rabbi) speaking to a woman in public – all to meet her right where she was in her struggle and pain and show her what was available to her.
  • John 15:16 – “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
    • Reach out to people. Demonstrate the evidence of His grace on your life – “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.  Love people in practical ways.  Choose compassion whenever possible.

 

Be Worshipful

  • Luke 7:37-38,44-50 – “37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. … 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’ 48 Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’  49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’  50 Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’”
    • Worship settles your anxious heart and calms your wild thoughts. It may be with tears, or it may be with smiles – give Him all you are to find peace.
  • Luke 17:15-19 – “15 And one of the [lepers], when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.””
    • Ten men, but only one truly thankful heart. Gratitude expressed caused more healing.  Be purposeful to turn from your problems to the Problem Solver.  Don’t forget to express your thankfulness to God.

 

Today is the day to get up and go.

With a new attitude.

With a bigger faith.

With a grateful heart.

He’s calling you.

Will you follow His call and go?

 

Marie Fremin.

1/15, 1/17, 1/24, 1/31, 2/5, 2/7/17