Unusual Kindness

Luke 6: 35

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great; and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Jesus says a lot in this short passage. It is a summation of the previous several paragraphs. He is giving us a model for living. This is the way He and His Father interact with others. Jesus tells us that God is kind to ungrateful and evil men as a way of showing us that we, being made in the image of God, should behave in like manner.

Anyone can be kind to those who are kind to them, but the life of Jesus calls us to a higher plane of existence. Jesus wants us to be like Him. To do so, we must expect more of ourselves than the simple life that anyone can accomplish. We should aspire to the high life, and that is the life and likeness of Jesus.

We need to love even when it is uncomfortable. We must learn to not only forgive those who transgress against us but also to pray for them; and moreover to pray from a generous and kind heart. We should learn to give generously, especially when there is no hope of a return. It is not a gift if you are expecting something in return. It is an investment. God, on the other hand, gives even to those who hate Him. He would have given His son even if there was only one person on earth and that person hated Him with the full strength of his being. Our God is a loving God, and we are seeking to be just like Him. Therefore, we must give from our heart love, goodness and every good thing, expecting nothing in return but just to please the Father.

Forget Not

Psalm 103:1 – 3

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His Holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits.
3 Who pardons all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases.

When we began this series, did you realize how many times God spoke about healing? Health and healing is not one of those topics with only two or three verses. God has been clear from the beginning and has reiterated His position that He is our healer.

So, it turns out that one of the benefits of life with Yahweh is that He heals all your diseases. Apparently, He pardons all our iniquities too. Do you find it easier to believe this one than the former? Certainly, we hear more about the forgiveness of sins than we do healing, so it puts that benefit more in the front of our minds, but we need all the benefits of the Lord.

David, the author of this psalm, was preaching to his own soul. He would not let his internal self deny the grace the Lord had bathed him in. He commanded his soul to remember the benefits God has bestowed on His children but also, he ordered his soul to bless the Lord. I think that shows his relationship with God. He, David, certainly appreciated the benefits like healing, but he always backed it up with adoration and praise for the Father. He clearly was not taking his healing for granted. He wasn’t ignoring it either, and that is a key for us.  Acknowledging the benefits and the benefactor seems to be the key here.

Fully appreciate the benefits. Don’t deny them or ignore them and in the balance be thankful and bless the Lord.

Prayer Relief

Job 42: 10

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.

When you are going through a tough time, the last thing you usually think about doing is praying for others. Challenges tend to turn us inward. We are not out looking for whom we can bless. However, that is the very message of this passage.

It is interesting that God told Job’s undisciplined and antagonistic friends they must take their offering to Job and ask him to pray for them. Wow! That is some humble pie. They spent chapter upon chapter haranguing him, telling him how wrong he was and what a great sinner he must be for God to punish him so severely, never knowing Job’s problems were not God’s workings. God told them they needed to repent for their criticism and false teaching. He made them humble themselves to Job in order to receive forgiveness.

I can imagine how little Job wanted to pray for them too. He must have thought some choice things when God told him to pray for those fools. Fortunately, though, Job obeyed. The result of obedience is always the same, blessing. God completely restored Job once Job prayed for his friends.

It is this way with our lives. I used to know someone who advocated, when in a time of need, find someone to pray for. I subscribe to that advice. Many times, the best medicine is to get our eyes off ourselves. You would be amazed at how you open up the flow in your own life when you get out of yourself. When we focus on ourselves and our own problems we tend to close off and that stifles the flow of the Spirit and blessing.

Do yourself a favor! Find someone to pray for. Better still, join the Ivey Ministries prayer team. It’s easy, it’s a blessing and it is the effective work of the gospel, to which we should all be a party. Every week, or so, you will receive an email with prayer requests. Pray over those people and those requests. It couldn’t be easier. Let me know you will join us in this important work, work which will benefit you as well, by replying to this Word of the Day. Just click reply and let me know you want to join the team. You will be a blessing and will be blessed.


Ephesians 1: 7        NIV

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Yesterday we observed a bit of what God’s grace does for us. Today’s verse adds another dimension. The grace of God provides for our redemption, restoration and the forgiveness of sins.

Sometimes I am awed at the amazing end play God pulled off to restore humanity. It is an amazing story and the devil played right into God’s hands. Then again, he was predictable, and God took advantage of the situation to install Jesus as the unblemished lamb who became king. This miracle of planning and execution brought humanity into an enviable position and now we walk as heirs to a mighty empire.

This thing about forgiveness is interesting though. I have met people who cannot receive forgiveness. It is truly sad that they would let the blood of Jesus, which was spilled for them, have no effect in their lives. The converse is true too. There are some who take the blood and forgiveness for granted. Most of us understand the blood of forgiveness which God’s grace and love caused to be shed and we are grateful. However, I wonder if the more we understand the forgiving power that was in that blood the more we are likely to take it for granted. Sometimes the biggest sinners are the most grateful because they feel their salvation and redemption as if it is close at hand. Others, perhaps, are not as keenly aware of the heat of hell that was burning for them.

The plan of God to restore us was intricate. However, receiving forgiveness, now, on this side of the cross, is actually easy. “Father, please forgive me.” In fact, we actually already have forgiveness. Our sins have already been forgiven. We don’t have to show up at the temple and offer the blood of animals to cover over our sin. It has been done in Jesus. Now, I know you already know this but here is my question, does this simplicity ever make it less frightening for us to sin? We know we have forgiveness so do we ever get complacent? Do we think we can sin now and pray later, and everything will be alright? Do we use our forgiveness as an excuse to be lazy about sin? What is the harm in a little sin behavior right now when we know we can ask for forgiveness later?

I like to think none of us does this consciously, but I do wonder if the benevolence and magnitude of God’s grace ever makes us a little sloppy. Some people have actually used the grace message to develop a doctrine around loose behavior. It’s crazy and I am not talking about those people. They are just being stupid, and they know better. I am more interested in us, regular, everyday Christians. Have we become desensitized to the point that we are no longer concerned about offending God? It is just a question I have been pondering and thought you might ponder with me. I would love to hear your thoughts. Click on the link below and share. Thanks.

Heart Condition

Romans 2: 4

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Yesterday I wrote to you that repentance broke open the way for our Father’s supply to reach me. I hesitate to even talk about repentance because some people are so freaky about it. We are aware of the sort of preacher who would have everyone falling to their knees at the altar in great travail over their sins, tears streaming down their face. Some people carry the histrionics so far that true repentance is lost in the dramatic arts.

True repentance is a heart condition. It need not be public. It does not require moaning, groaning or groveling. It requires understanding that you are not where God directed you. Your “sin” (another word I use lightly) may not be intentional though that does not change that we have failed to do what God told us. Often, as in the story I told you yesterday, there is a moment of clarity when you realize that you have missed the mark. In that moment, without the necessity of any formal methods, simply talk with your Father. He already knows you are wandering off in the weeds. It will not be any revelation to Him that you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing. So, just talk with Him as if He is an interested person, a lover of your soul, because He does, in fact, love you above all else. See in Him acceptance as He guides you back onto the right path. Repent for not doing what He has told you to do. It is as easy as, “Father, I am sorry. I apologize. You have taught me to pray over my life and family daily and I haven’t been doing it. Forgive me.” And that’s it. You don’t have to bawl and wallow on the floor in a manner worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy.

I want you to know that repentance can be a simple matter. You can speak with your Father, openly. He is accepting and kind. That is not to say your heart won’t sometimes feel intense grief when you realize you are off the prescribed path. It is just to say that turning your face to Him and, with very normal words, talking to Him makes it better. He picks you up and returns you to where you should be. Repentance should be, to you, healing. In fact, it has blessing in it. Just learn to say, “I’m sorry Dad. I messed up.”

Perhaps we’ve simply lost the skill of apology. Maybe we have forgotten how to apologize to our friends and family when we offend them. Repentance and forgiveness does not have to be an elaborate affair full of ceremony. That does not mean it lacks sincerity though. I would not minimize the emotional impact discovery of disobedience can have. Instead, I would communicate to you that it is okay for you to feel those deep emotions and equally okay for you to speak with Father about them instantly and without having to weep at an altar. The reason I want to convey this truth is because I do not want you to hesitate for even a moment. I want you to immediately turn to your Father and apologize. Receive His forgiveness and let Him get you back on track. There may be times when you do feel such pain that you want to lie at His feet and cry. There is no shame in that. Just don’t think that repentance is a “churchy” demonstration or stage play. It does not have to be accompanied by profuse displays of grief, though it can be. You don’t have to go to church to repent nor should you be made to feel that your repentance needs to be a public spectacle. You may need or want the support of your church family, but don’t think that repentance is so one dimensional. Let it be normal and let it be sincere. Receive forgiveness and then get on with what God has told you to do. And, be blessed.

He’s Alive

Acts 1: 3

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of things regarding the kingdom of God.

I have been thinking about Easter, as, I am sure, many of you have as well. What new can be said about the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of our Lord? Nothing perhaps, but what I have been thinking is that he is alive. Now, we all know that, but I wonder if I act like it is true. We sometimes know things in our minds which aren’t quite realities in our hearts.

So, what is the message of Easter? There are so many important concepts which flow from the cross but the one I am wrapped up in is that Jesus is alive, and more to the point, his life is now in me. We are each renewed, not just from a theoretical or theological point of view but instead, renewed and reborn as new creations in his blood. Our hearts and spirits are washed and new. In the surrender to Jesus’ saving grace, is our forgiveness of ourselves and our remaking. We’ve seen how David failed, how Moses stumbled. Peter, one of the great apostles, denied Jesus three times and worse yet, he did so at Jesus’ hour of greatest torment.

I have been listening to the song, “He’s Alive.” It is an account of Peter’s reconciliation with Christ after his denial of Jesus. The songwriter, Don Francisco expressed this much better than I can. Peter is speaking:

When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room

Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried

He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies

Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace.

Peter’s story is our story. Each of us has doubted, feared and denied Jesus. We have all fallen short of our own aims, much less the worthiness of Christ’s sacrifice. None the less, Jesus reaches out and takes us into his arms. As we look in his eyes, we see none of the judgment or recrimination we deserve. He doesn’t even have to say a word; his eyes and his gentle smile tell us that he loves us and that we are accepted. “Enter into my grace,” he might say to us, “Enter and find peace.”

Jesus is alive and what that means to me this Easter is that we can all throw ourselves at his feet with our burdens of guilt and shame. Easter means that like Jesus, we arise. As he lifts us up, our burdens fall from us and we become holy because he is holy. He is alive and we are okay because he buried our sin and guilt.

Praise the Father of our Lord Jesus and bless Jesus’ name forever. Glory to Father, Son and Spirit! Cause your Spirit to rest upon us, dear Father, refreshing us in your glory and grace. And let us dwell in your presence and abide in your love today and evermore!

Click below to watch a video of David Phelps singing “He’s Alive!”

Love Letter

1 Corinthians 13: 4-5

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered.

How great is my God, how beautiful and loving? I will tell you how amazing and fabulous my Father is.

This morning I called a friend to check on him. Yesterday he received his second vaccination shot and he recently pulled his hamstring and pinched a nerve in his back. I know some folks do not feel great the day after their second shot, so I just called to check on him.

We must recognize that people have been under enormous stress, accumulating stress, over the last 12 months. Sometimes that stress bubbles over. It did today and I was the unfortunate recipient of that pent up worry and stress. No one wants to be in my position but better me than someone else. Why? Because you and I have something within us that is up to the challenge. It is the love of God. Jesus showed up in this conversation and loved the speaker. Love didn’t hang up on him, it was patient and kind. It did not consider its own benefit, or mine for that matter. Love cared about the hurting soul who was lashing out.

I was planning on writing on comfort today, but I realized that what is needed is love. Love is the comfort we need as well as that gracious balm that the whole world needs today. I say my Father is great because He showed up and spoke love even as my heart was hurting. I want to share another thing though. Here is an immediate response by God to love on me too.

I had just finished emailing my good friend, Rene, saying that I better write on love for today’s Word of the Day. I wasn’t sure what verse to use and was rolling a few through my mind. I went to Biblegateway.com to look for a verse. The landing page for Bible Gateway opened with a Verse of the Day. Guess what that verse was. You see it at the beginning of today’s Word of the Day. Look at how the Father provided for me. He knew all this was going to happen and that I was going to need a love verse, so, He provided one. It was a message from heaven, and it met my need as well as communicated the Father’s love and care for me. Take this back one more step. He had to nudge someone at Bible Gateway to select that verse for today’s verse. Thank God that person listened to the Father. They probably do not even know that God was doing something in the selection of that verse. God truly is great.

So, the rest of the story – I have to let God be the master of this situation going forward because when things like this happen there are seeds planted. Are they seeds of offense or forgiveness? Are they seeds of humility or embarrassment? For my part, God says, love “is not provoked,” and “does not keep an account of a wrong suffered.” That means I cannot carry negative seeds forward. During these very challenging times, we are going to have to give people space. We need to be understanding and forgiving. We must let love speak in our place. Is it easy? Not if you do it in your might but if you let Jesus show up and show his love, it’s okay. Jesus understands how stressed people are. He wants to help heal bruised and injured hearts. Bless the Lord for His kind mercies. Bless the Lord.