Motto

Colossians 3: 12 – 14

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

As you may have noticed, I am reading Colossians, the third chapter, and if you look at the digital Bible I am reading from, you will see that almost every verse is highlighted and the only reason it isn’t all highlighted is because I restrained myself. This chapter is a primer for the what the Christian life is to be. Today’s passage really spoke to me and I want to suggest that it is the seminal passage for this time in our history. However, we are so far from this paradigm right now, that I hesitate to speak what alit on my heart as I read it. Then again, many writers of truth have been shouted down throughout history and berated for speaking the truth. Just look at Paul, John and Peter for starters.

In trying times, and these certainly are, the kindness of God and His love are needed above all things. The language of love is what will resonate and it will resound above all else. Love is a hard thing, though, because it does not, under any circumstances, lie. Sometimes the truth is the hardest thing you will ever have to tell someone.

In trying to navigate the stress and to come to grips with a changing world, this advice from Paul resonates loudly. We must approach the changing dynamics from God’s perspective of compassion and love. Life is a challenged right now, I know, and that is why I want to offer this passage. I know some people feel trapped by the rhetoric. The political left has its message but on a different subject we are assailed by the right. Most people in the country can identify with some “ism”. Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and every other identifiable race, excluding whites, has felt the sting of racism. Women have been abused, neglected, marginalized and discriminated against the world over. Even white males get old and are no longer viewed as valuable. It seems most are either the wrong race, gender or age. Then there is the gay and transgendered community. Many people would not think twice about making derogatory comments about this group. Not long ago people were saying that God created AIDS to eliminate them. Wow!

The only real answer for any of this is the love and compassion of God. If we don’t take our stressors to God in prayer and wield the love and patience of God, I fear we will never make any meaningful change. God changes hearts. I want to bring this discussion to a broad market. In response to the corona virus challenge, we all need to apply the love, patience, compassion and gentleness of God. I am not advocating passivity or a lack in your conviction. In fact, I advocate just the opposite. I want people of passion. I just wonder if we are taking our troubles to the Lord or just ranting on Facebook. We are the answer to the problem. If the Christians will adopt today’s passage and marry it with a strong dose, and a continuing practice of prayer, we can effect real change. God can soften hearts and change the course of human history. Whether right or left, the answer is the same – God! Faith only works by love which is why today’s passage is so important.

Paul had to deal with a changing environment too. He lived in very tumultuous times. For goodness sake, the Messiah had just been crucified. Followers of Jesus were facing the same fate. Those are dire circumstances. Yet, he understood that the real power in the community was love, compassion and prayer. Love moves mountains.

There are lots of stressors in our lives right now. Some of you are on furlough and worried about feeding your families. The number of cases of Covid 19 is still rising in some areas. The economy is fragile. People want the economy open; others see that as a risk. We have racial tension, police brutality and in some cases, lawlessness. It is a fine balancing act at this time. And in the wings is a Presidential election with all the turmoil that interjects. We need help.

Please hear me clearly, I am not criticizing anyone’s reactions to the situations or stress in their lives. I am recognizing that people are under enormous stress. The purpose of this writing is to suggest that God is the way and that we need Him like never before. Regardless of our beliefs, there is one constant and one ultimate truth: our God. This, then, is an appeal to adopt this language from Paul as our refrain and further, to passionately and resolutely take our problems to God. As we meditate upon these ideals, what will God speak to our hearts?

There is no one on the planet who has not been affected by the circumstances of 2020. God cares what is going on in your heart. He cares about your pains and worries. He cares that you feel stressed to the point of breaking or that you have been isolated from friends and family for months. He knows of your anxiety and is compassionate. He wants to aid you.

Let’s just look at this one more time – “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Though I have not written, specifically, on them, let us not overlook the words kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and unity.

No matter where we stand politically or on any given issue, we are all those “who have been chosen of God.” We are the people God has in the earth. We have an awesome ability to take everything to Him in compassioned prayer. Let us not miss our calling oh chosen ones of God. Let us recommit ourselves to prayer and remember, that person across the aisle may not think like you, but they are, none the less, a child of God and valued in His sight.

Father

John 16: 25, 27

But (I) will tell you plainly of the Father . . . for the Father Himself loves you.

Have you ever wondered why God, chooses to be called “Father?” I mean, He is Lord High King, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Why does He call Himself Father to a bunch of rag a muffin humans? He could choose any title or name imaginable yet He chose to be a Father. Why does He ask us to love Him rather than just to serve Him?

That is an amazing question, isn’t it and an interesting perspective. I think it highlights that, above all else, God is love. He wanted a family to spend His love on. Love requires someone to share it with. Love demands acts of kindness and goodness. Wouldn’t those be a bit lost on servants? No matter how good God treated a servant, they could never rise above that station. They could never receive His intimacy. A servant doesn’t crawl up in the Father’s lap and take a nap. God wanted children He could dote on and spoil. He chose to have kids instead of slaves.

I think this question tells us more about God than many of the questions we might ask. It explains why He does many of the things He does and even how He feels. Ultimately, His desire is that all people join His family and let Him save and bless them. He is a good God and above all else He loves us. That is truly amazing and wonderful. Fill yourself with that good news today.

Do you have a need we can help with today? Write us at IveyMinistries.org.

Whose Friend are You?

Proverb 18: 24

But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

One of the things this viral attack on our world, cultures and lifestyles has done is to bring people together. Though we are separated by space and don’t get to see one another, you sure do appreciate your friends and find tenderness towards people in general. Maybe you have some friendships that have been forged during this time or strengthened. You find out who provokes tenderness in your heart and whose heart is pining for you. Perhaps you have been surprised by someone who reached out to you or someone you found yourself concerned about.

Since we will be separated a bit longer, you might also ask yourself who you might like to reach out to. There has never been a time in our history where human kindness was more in need. I find we are very independent and have a hard time receiving the kindness of others even if we need it. We feel like we are imposing even to accept what was offered. None the less, it is meaningful and a little kindness goes a long way.

Right now, some people are faring quite well while others are starting to suffer from the confinement. This would be a great time to actually pick up the phone and call someone. Human contact is valuable in this time of isolation. You could even write an old fashion letter. Face time someone you think might be feeling isolated. These are good ways to exercise your Christianity and our faith is something which ought to have outward expression. Do you agree?

Be kind to one another. Make it a point to isolate physically, but reach out to others any way you can. People need people, now more than ever. Take care of yourself but take care of others too. Thomas Paine wrote, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” These are definitely the times which try men’s souls, but now we are being asked not only to stand by our country but by one another and those who exercise human compassion will deserve the love of man and woman for this is a crisis of the heart as well as of the body. This is your opportunity to be a hero, to fight for your fellow human beings by extending yourself. These are the days when heroes are made. Though we may not be as those brave, commendable medical providers, we can do our part by cheering someone who is going a little stir crazy in their home.  Be a hero today from the comfort of your home.

Forward this Word of the Day to a friend to let them know we all care.

His Ways

Psalm 145: 17

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.

I like this Psalm, as many of you do, and I have several passages highlighted. As I read it today, I kept coming back to this verse. I imagine that for most of us there is no revelation in this verse. We expect God to be righteous and at a minimum we want to believe He is kind in all His deeds. Still, I find value in reviewing this verse for two reasons. First, it is good to be reminded of His goodness. Second, when we ponder this verse, it grows in our understanding.

God is good, all His ways are righteous. That means God isn’t out there performing badness. Isn’t that good news? He bring righteousness to everything. That means that everything we invite Him into enjoys that same quality of righteousness. When He comes to our event, He brings with Him everything that is good. The only way He knows how to be is right; doing right, being righteous. All His interactions with each of us are filled with righteousness. God will always do right by you.

Mediation on this verse leads us to examine each word. The word “all” captures my attention. I am especially taken by God’s kindness in “all” His deed. What does that mean if you rephrase it? Every single act of God is kind. Now if you are a person who believes in the Bible, that can have a major impact on your theology. If everything God does, every act, is an act of kindness, then He never does an unkind thing to anyone. That necessarily means that He did not blow out my knee even though some people told me He did. It means He never gave anyone cancer. He never, ever, in all the millennia, did an unkind thing. Everything He has ever done has been kind.

Soak that in. He didn’t allow you to get fired from your job so that you would learn to seek Him. He didn’t break you so He could make you. His way of making you, actually, is to love you into the version of you that He sees when He looks at you. He loves you and only wants the best for you because His kindness extends to the way He thinks of you and the plans He has for you. Every thought He has towards you is kind.

As we expound on the little words in a verse, they expand our understanding and our insight. Thinking our way through these kinds of verses illuminates the very nature of God. Then, as we begin to appreciate His inherent goodness, we grow in our trust in Him. Soon, the entire dynamic of one’s relationship with Him is altered for the good and forever.

Take your time with this little verse and let the Father’s kindness infiltrate your life.

End the Suffering

1 Peter 5: 10         GW

God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while.

This verse is so easy to get wrong. Some translations leave you thinking that God is going to let you suffer for a while and then He is going to come to your aid. Not so. Let’s put this verse on its proper footing today.

Sometimes, though we don’t like it, sometimes you just have to go through. Not all unpleasantness is avoidable. It makes me think of daily workouts. Frankly, they are not all comfortable. Some are downright painful, but we go “through” the workouts in order to achieve the results we want. Some days I am tired before I go and I don’t want to go but I do and afterwards, I feel great and I am proud of myself but there is no way to get to that good feeling without going through. Life is like that. The key, in those times, is to start praying for Dad’s help immediately. Don’t even try to do whatever it is in your own strength. Call on the Father and lean on His great strength.

The key words to today’s verse are “who shows you his kindness.” If we first grasp that God is good, loving and kind, then the entire Bible takes on new meaning. You will find much greater understanding of God’s actions when you begin from the premises that God is love and that His loving kindness is renewed every day. He is always available to make your journey easier. Even when there is something you must go through, He is with you to support, restore, and strengthen you. He will also make the suffering last a short time. You may have to suffer a little while but there should be the sound of good news in there that it is only a short while. Some people live years in perpetual suffering because they don’t know how to invite the Father into all their life’s circumstances.

Face it, somethings are a challenge but when you go through you feel good about yourself. God is with you, showering you with His strength and lovingkindness so that the duration of the challenge is short. He will be your strong right arm throughout if you will allow Him. Learn how to lean on Him and become proficient at reaching out to Him at the inception. Pray about your projects before you begin them. Get God on board in the beginning. He will make your path straight and smooth. He is with you always willing to assist. Don’t strike out alone. Don’t bear any burden on your own. Call on the name of the Lord and end the suffering.

Who is Your God?

Ruth 1: 13, 21         GW

My bitterness is much worse than yours because the Lord has sent me so much trouble. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi when the Lord has tormented me and the Almighty has done evil to me?

This is classic Old Testament confession. The people of those times didn’t have the years of history we now have, nor did they have the written Word. They are the history we read. They didn’t know about Satan. They actually knew very little about the Holy Spirit. Of course, they didn’t know Jesus. How different their experience is than ours. When something happened, either for good or for ill, the only cause had to be God.

It chagrins me more than I can express to tell you the whole truth in this regard for I have found that we are not that far removed from our ancestral roots. Despite the years of experience of the saints, the coming of Jesus, the sending of the Holy Spirit, page upon page of revelatory writing by the prophets, disciples and apostles, we still hold very close to Naomi’s confession.

Recently, I attended a prayer breakfast for the National Day of Prayer. It was a great event. One of my friends, though, said something that bothers me. He told me about a gentleman with cancer then followed up by saying that He thought God used disease to help us grow. After all, he told me, we don’t grow in the mountain top experiences but in times of trouble.

Well, first of all, I don’t believe that is true for me. I find my greatest extensions on the mountain top communing with Jesus. Under intense stress, I withdraw and that is not where I find growth. His statement really hurt my heart and I pointedly did not agree with him. I told him that I believe God is good and that He is good all the time. Moreover, God doesn’t have cancer in heaven to give us. To which he remarked, “Yeah, there are no tears in heaven.” There is a revelation in there. We agreed that regardless of the cause, we know he who is the answer.

I am still bothered by this dynamic though because I hear it more frequently than I hear statements of faith and belief in a loving God. Or are people saying that God loves them so much that He gave them cancer so they would grow? That seems ludicrous to me. After thousands of years, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit, we still sound like Old Testament people who knew no better. We are Old Testament believers when we should be thinkers who have been renewed by the gracious good news gospel of Jesus Christ. Will someone give me an Amen!?

There is death and doubt in our churches and if that doesn’t pain you perhaps we should be asking why. Why are we claiming calamity in the name of God Almighty, the merciful? We are no longer ignorant. Are we? We know there is a devil out there and that his full intent is to rob, kill and destroy (John 10: 10). How is it, then, that when we see destruction, death and robbery we attribute it to God?

Somewhere along the line, each of us needs to decide; do we believe in a good God, one who is merciful and full of lovingkindness or do we believe in a cruel task master? Who is your God? That is the question. Let me introduce you to mine. He is love – all the time. He wants to protect and keep you. He said He has good plans for you, plans for your well-being rather than calamity, a plan for hope and for a future (Jeremiah 29: 10). That verse cannot be reconciled with a God who gives you cancer. So decide. Who is your God?

Unfair

Romans 12: 17 – 18

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

There are some verses in the Bible that, frankly, it would be more comfortable and convenient if God would remove them. And that is the problem with being a Bible person, you must deal with the uncomfortable one’s and you must do so honestly. This verse is one of those unpleasant scriptures.

Face it, there are times in life when someone just does you wrong. It is bewildering. Perhaps you have always been nice to that person. Maybe you are the only one who does treat them well but then they act out to you. You deserve better but this is what you get, a rude, ugly person who seems intent on making your life miserable. Well, join the club and be in good company because we have all had to deal with these unlovely folks.

When you encounter one of these people, just look to Jesus. He certainly had to deal with persecution. All he wanted to do was to love people and help them. He said that he came to earth to give us a good life (see John 10: 10 Amp.). Look how people hated him and how they treated him. Even his own family called him crazy and wanted to have him put away as a lunatic. And yet, in the midst of being hated, in the midst of being ill-treated he gave up his life for those people. When we didn’t love him, when we loved our sin rather than him, he laid down his life for us. Can you hear that truth at a deeper level today? While you hated God and didn’t love Jesus, they gave all they had for you.

So how are we to treat the ugly people in our lives? Now you understand why I don’t like this verse. God has called me to love them in an active (rather than passive) way even when they are being mean and ugly to me. It’s not fair God!!! No, it isn’t fair but it wasn’t fair when He put His son on a cross for us either. We must do our best to love these folks into the kingdom of God.

Look, Christianity isn’t easy, who said it was? And it is not a religion. It is a lifestyle, a way of being but that doesn’t even begin to say it all. It really is like our DNA gets changed when we give our lives over to God. We are aliens in this world. This is not our home. We are different and we are supposed to behave differently than the world. We are called to love those who revile us rather than fight them or have our revenge. We are supposed to perform acts of love to those who maltreat us. Does that make sense? Not if you think as the world thinks but if you will turn your face to God and let Him minister to you and through you, you will find that He will give you the strength to love the unlovely. He will even give you joy in the doing. I don’t know how He does it, but it is true. Once you quit fighting with Him about the fairness of the thing and complaining about how they treated you, then He can begin to show you His way of thinking. And He will reward you for your obedience. I think obedience is its own reward, but that is not His way. He likes to pour out a blessing on you. It is just His nature.

I know that what I am proposing to you today is difficult and I know all of the arguments about why it’s not fair and doesn’t feel right. I have felt all of the emotions, made all the claims, but now I know the truth. The only way these unlovely people are going to change is through the love of God. It is the most powerful force in the universe and you have been given the right to wield this power. So when you feel like calling down fire from heaven on someone remember what Jesus said to James and John in the same circumstance. “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of” (Luke 9: 55). In other words, you are of the spirit of love, so we move by and through love. Jesus could have French fried those soldiers that drove nails through his hands and feet but instead he prayed for them. He asked God to forgive them. So, pray for those people who are mistreating you. Bake them a cake. Go out of your way to love on them. Speak to them in kindness and forgiveness. I know they don’t deserve it but do something nice for them in Jesus’ name. Make it a gift to him for his kindness. Just pour your love for him onto them. You are going to be amazed at the results. Then write me and let me and let me hear your praise report.