Bad News Sold as Good News

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Matthew 6:15 “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”

This is not good news. This is bad news that is intended to make us shake in our boots. It links God’s forgiveness to our own. It’s not grace, it is law. It’s something you must give to get. Why did the Lord preach law? Because some people will never value the gift of grace until the law has been allowed to do its condemning work. Some need to hear the bad news before they will appreciate the good news.

Romans 10:4, says “Now Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who trust in Him”. Maybe you’ve heard that God won’t forgive you if you have unforgiveness in your heart. Under the law that Jesus preached that was true. But the law keeping covenant was FULFILLED at the cross! In Acts 26:1, after the cross, He said forgiveness is a gift to be received! At the cross verbs became nouns! It is finished, you are forgiven. Now that’s the good news!

 

Good Things Come to Those Who GO!

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1 Samuel 16:1 – “Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go…for I have provided...”

You’ve heard the phrase good things come to those who wait. I agree, but sometimes good things come to those who GO! In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel was mourning for Saul who he had anointed to be king. But God had made a change. We have trouble sometimes with change.

The Lord said “How long are you going to mourn?” Perhaps God is asking you the same thing, or maybe, “How long are you going to live in regret?” Or, “How long are you going to try to relive the past?” Before you have a chance to answer, He declares “Fill your horn with oil and go”. There’s your answer. There’s your mandate.

In the same breath, He says, “For I have provided”. Two thirds of GOD is GO. Good things are waiting for you as you go. Have you ever tried to pick up spilled milk? You can’t. Stop trying.

I believe this message is for many people who are stuck in the past, or even stuck in the present. He’s saying to you today…”How long are you going to live in the past when I’ve moved on? I’m sending you. It’s time to make a change. Get going! I have provided!” Take a step forward. It’s your time for new beginnings.

 

The Grace Invitation

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Revelation 3:5 “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Before the foundation of the world, every person’s name was written in the Book of Life. On the cross, Jesus carefully counted the sin of all mankind to Himself, once and for all. Therefore, God is not counting sin against us. Instead, God is extending an invitation to all mankind to receive the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross on their behalf. To receive Him as their Savior and forgiveness for their sin.

What is your name? Did Jesus die on the cross for your sin? Yes. Then your name is written in the Book of Life. What about the names of your relatives? Did Jesus die on the cross for their sin? Yes. Even though they may not be born again yet? Absolutely. Then their names are also written in the Book of Life. If unsaved people got their name written in the Book of Life when they got born again, then Jesus would need to die on the cross all over again for them.

However, Revelation 3:5 speaks of names being blotted out from the Book of Life. What does that mean? Let me explain it this way. God has extended an invitation to all mankind to receive Jesus as their Savior the same as a couple would extend an invitation to someone for their wedding. They prepare a guest list then send out the invitations. With the invitation comes a request for a response, an RSVP. For those that accept the invitation their names remain on the list. For those who decline, their name is removed (blotted out).

God has written the name of every person in the Book of Life. He extends an invitation for salvation. For those that accept, even up to the very second before their death, their names remain written in the Book of Life. Sadly, for those who decline and leave this earth without having accepted Jesus, their names are blotted out. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says that it would please God if “all would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”.

How does a person receive God’s invitation? Through us! We have the privilege of sharing with every person we meet that God has already accepted them, that God sent His only Son to die on the cross for them because of His intense love for them. We get to tell them that God has their name is written in the Book of Life, and an open invitation is waiting for them to accept Jesus as their Savior and spend eternity with Him. We get to extend the “Grace Invitation”.

 

End Time Global Chilling

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Matthew 24:10-12 “Then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and many false prophets shall arise and deceive many…and the love of many shall wax cold”.

The greatest end time threat to our lives and to our society is not global warming, but global chilling. Let me explain. In Luke 17:1 Jesus said “it is impossible that no offenses should come”. What a statement. Every one of us will have the opportunity to be offended, be misunderstood, experience an injustice, and a heartache of some kind. However, it’s our choice how to respond when these things happen, because they will happen. Unfortunately, offense has become the “legal drug” of the church.

When we get offended, we get deceived, and then we begin to view everything through the prism of our pain. Notice the progression, first the offense, then the decision to be offended, then betrayal, hatred, false prophecy, and then finally our heart becomes cold... frigid…and global chilling sets in toward others…brrrrrrrrrrrr!

But, here’s the good news. We can be set free from offense. Psalm 119:165 says that people who love the Word of God have great peace, and nothing offends them. They don’t judge other people’s motives behind their actions. In Exodus 15, the people of Israel came to a body of water and it was bitter. Then God showed Moses a tree, and instructed him to throw it into the waters, and they became sweet. That’s an example of the cross of Calvary when applied to bitterness in our souls. Nothing so bad has happened to you that is greater than what Jesus has done for you at the cross. So when offenses come, and they will come, let all bitterness be turned into sweet waters that will produce healing for others. The change starts with you. Put a stop to global chilling!

 

The 490 Forgiveness Club

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Mathew 18:21-22 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? Till seven times? Jesus said to him, “I say not to thee until seven times, but, until seventy times seven” 

There’s a tremendous amount of liberty that comes with recognizing and releasing Christ in you. When you’re really angry with someone, don’t turn the other cheek and say through gritted teeth, “I love you”.  It’s better to say, “Father, in my flesh, I’d like to punch them in the nose right now.  But in my spirit, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. Please live through me, help me to release supernatural compassion for this person so I can love them!”  

Peter thought he was being generous when he asked, “How many times should I forgive my brother, up to seven times a day?” Jesus answered, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven”…490 times in one day!  In other words, there shouldn’t be a limit on your forgiveness. 

In your flesh you might be able to forgive a person for something once, twice, or maybe seven times in a day, but what Jesus asked goes far beyond your human ability.  The only way you can forgive like that is by saying, “Father, I can’t do it, but You can.  Lord please love them through me.” 

When you humble yourself, and turn away from your own natural ability and look to God and His divine ability, you’ll discover a supernatural strength flowing through you.  You have an unlimited supply of the God-kind-of-love in your spirit. In your spirit, you have an unlimited ability to forgive, endure, believe, and hope. 

If you catch yourself saying, “I can’t stand this anymore, I just can’t take it, I’m at the end of my rope”, this is good news.  What you’re really saying is, “I’ve come to the end of my flesh!”  Now let your spirit take over. Pray, God, I’ve been trying this myself, which is why I’m burned out, frustrated, and angry. Live Your life through me.  I believe you’re Word. In my spirit, I’m a brand new person, in my spirit I know I can do this!”  Join the 490 Forgiveness Club, the membership is free!

 

Wounded Time, Is Wasted Time

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by Natalie Fortunato

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." 

"If you're going through hell, don't stop!".  Heard this line in a country song while I was waiting at the car dealership for my oil change.  Loved it!  Totally got my attention.  Such great advice, right?  

When we really mess up, totally miss God, sometimes the guilt and shame is paralyzing.  It's almost unbearable.  But the worse thing we can do is stay there. All wounded and condemned, kicking ourselves.  What a waste of time.  

The enemy loves to rehearse the incident over and over again in our minds.  How we failed.  But the Holy Spirit is the exact opposite.  When we miss it, He loves to remind us of who we are in Christ.  He reminds us that we are loved, accepted, forgiven and righteous.  He reminds us of our calling and our assignment.  

If you've messed up big time, change your mind and change your direction.  Admit where you got off track, take responsibility for your actions, take dominion and authority over the enemy, and allow the Holy Spirit to get you back on track…and move on!  

 

Grace Goggles

by Natalie Fortunato

"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

The term "Beer Goggles" has been around for quite awhile, but I first heard it several years ago.  It refers to "the supposed influence of alcohol on one's visual perception, whereby one is attracted to people who would not otherwise be appealing".   All I can say is, what a sad substitute for learning good social skills, and a sure way to make some really stupid and hurtful mistakes. 

But in all fairness, heavy beer drinkers are not the only ones who wear "goggles".  We've all had at one time, or still do, see through "goggles" that impair our vision or perception about others.  Some people see others through the goggles of their past, and can't seem to get past their failures.  Some see others through the goggles of what the world deems valuable, and they judge others as invaluable. 

But then there's those who see others through the eyes of grace…like Jesus did. He sees past the outward appearance, the past mistakes, the present mess, and sees a life worth dying for.  When we put on our "grace goggles", we also see others through the lens of the Word.  We see others through the "finished work of the cross".  We see that everyone has capacity and value and a God-given purpose for their lives.  

 

My Pillow

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Mark 4:38 "And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master carest thou not that we perish?" 

Have you heard the pillow commercial on TV and Radio with a catchy jingle that says, "For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, mypillow.com".  Now, I’m not endorsing "My Pillow", but I love the concept. You probably didn’t know that My Pillow is the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation.  Founder, Mike Lindell, tells the purpose behind the pillow, "When I invented My Pillow, my dream was to help as many people get a good night's sleep as possible". 

In Mark 4:38, it says that Jesus was in the back of a ship sleeping on a pillow in the middle of a storm. I think most of us would be busy bailing water out of the ship, or screaming for help!  Not Jesus, He's asleep on a pillow in the middle of the storm.  It was the peace that was already on the inside of Him, that allowed Him to sleep through a storm.  It was that same peace that was spoken out of His mouth, "Peace, be still", that calmed the storm.  Jesus shows us a picture of restful increase.  His sleep was evidence of his trust, faith and rest that "all is well".  

We have that same peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the inside of our born again spirit, that is to be exhibited in our actions and our words. When we rest He works, but when we work He rests.  More happens when we rest, than when we don't rest.  So grab your grace pillow, lay your head down, and rest on the promises of God.  

 

Blank Slate Baby by Natalie Fortunato

Colossians 2:14 (The Message) "Think of it!  All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross".  

In 2014, Taylor Swift wrote a song called Blank Space, poking fun at all her multiple failed romances and the casualties she's left behind.  Though her relationships were at a loss, her song won a Grammy for Song of the Year..crazy! 

I'd like to put a little twist to her song title, to help you remember this very helpful principle when dealing with your close relationships.  Here it is: Blank Slate!  If God has wiped the slate clean with all our sin, how about if we wipe the slate clean at the close of every day with other's sins against us?  

Ephesians 4:26-27 says to “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."  In other words, wipe the slate clean every night and wake up the next day with a clean slate, totally empty, no records of wrongdoing against anyone.  Don't mess up today with your wife, or husband, or best friend, or boss, or neighbor's mess ups (intentional or unintentional) from yesterday.  

Paul said there is one thing that he does…forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things ahead (Phil. 3:13). If you need to confront something, do it in a godly way, then regardless of the outcome, move on!  Forgive!  Let it go!  Start each day with a blank slate baby! 

 

Recipe for a Tender Heart

Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you". 

I recently grilled some thin pieces of beef on skewers, marinated in a teriyaki sauce with sesames, delicious...uh, no.  Even though I only cooked them for five minutes on each side, they became a "burnt offering", really tough, dry and chewy.  Then next time, I definitely decreased the time on both sides and they came out perfect, really tender, and…delicious! 

The word tender means having a soft or yielded texture, to soften. Similarly, the word tenderhearted means easily moved with love and compassion.  And the word tenderize means to make tender or soft by applying a process or substance that breaks down the hardness. 

In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says for our hearts to be tender towards ourselves and other people, to "be kind" one to another. That simply means to be nice or to be easy with one to another.  But he goes on to say that a tender heart comes from one thing and one thing alone - forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you!  In other words, know that you are forgiven of past present and future sins, and forgive one another, as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.  

So, here's a recipe for a tender heart!  "Cook it" the right amount of time in God's presence, listen for His voice and follow His instructions, be nice to each other and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.  Have a kind day.  Voila!

 

Say Goodbye to Guilt

Gal 4:17 (The Message Bible)  "Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God's grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making themselves important." 

The biggest curse in the body of Christ today is the enormous amount of guilt, condemnation, shame, and fear.  These destructive behaviors are totally disarming and paralyzing the people of God. Sadly, statistics have shown that Pentecostals, Charismatic's and full gospel people suffer with guilt and guilt related disorders more than any other religious group in the world. 

The dictionary defines guilt as, the feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, or crime, whether real or imagined.  The reason why is we get hooked on what I call a toxic mixture of old testament law and new testament grace.  Once you mix the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, it will poison every area of your Christian life. 

For the majority of believers in the church today, guilt is their drug of choice.  For many, if they don't feel guilty, they wonder how they be motivated to serve God!  Some actually think guilt is a Christian emotion. IT"S NOT! Paul calls this mixture "another gospel".  Any time a person tries to earn the love, acceptance, forgiveness and favor of God, it is going to result in guilt, condemnation, shame and fear. God's unmerited favor is the answer that will deliver God's people from this addiction.  God loves, accepts, and forgives every one of us unconditionally.  It's time to kick the habit!

 

The Happy God

1 Timothy 1:11 (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible) "…the glad-message of the glory of the happy God…" 

The other day I was laughing and talking with someone about the Lord, and how good He is.  We were having such a fun time.  When I walked away, someone I had never seen before, was listening to our conversation, and glared at me, then quietly cursed at me and said that I had no idea what I was talking about.  If eyes were guns and looks were bullets, I would’ve been target practice! This was not a happy person. 

I love this translation for 1Timothy 1:11 that says "It’s the glad message of THE HAPPY GOD".  This is such great news.  I can assure you today that God's definitely not glaring at you.  In fact, whenever He thinks about you, which is all the time, He's grinning from ear to ear!  To glare means to frown, to scowl, to glower, to make a nasty face (love that one), to look with daggers (like that one too) to give someone a look of disgust. 

Well, there's nothing you can do to make God glare at you.  The gospel of Grace declares that God loves you with a love you cannot measure.  To quote Philip Yancey, "Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less".  Another definition is " the good, glad, merry news that makes you want to jump and leap for joy". 

God is a happy God and has a glad message, so smile!  God's not frowning at you, He's not mad at you, and He's not even in a bad mood.  You put a big smile on His face! 

 

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Ecclesiastes 10:20 "No, don't even make fun of the king, even in your bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said" 

Have you ever heard someone say, "loose lips sink ships".  Did you know that this phrase was coined as a slogan during World War II, as an attempt to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies. This was one of several similar slogans as part of the campaign's basic message - "careless talk costs lives". 

So what does this mean to you and me? It means that unguarded talk may give useful information to the enemy!   In other words, victory in our public life really begins with what we say in our private conversations at work, at home, and with our friends and family.  

We need to make sure that what we pray lines up with what we say.  We can't pray in agreement with God's Word in one area, and then try to be politically correct and speak contrary to the Word as we go about our day, it won't work. Our words need to work for us and not against us or what we're praying for.  

 

Honk Lessons From Geese - Part III

Ecclesiastes 4:10 "For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" 

Geese care for one another!  I still remember where I was and how I felt, when I received very timely and caring messages from two friends.  It was one of the toughest times in my whole life, just after my first wife passed.  After the funeral I spent a week in Florida with my Pastor and his family.  When I arrived home, the message light was flashing on my answering machine.  I pressed the button, I and there were two messages from young pastor friends of mine, who shared their love and concern for me.  I still remember their words, almost twenty years later.  It truly made an impact on me. 

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.  Then they launch out into formation with another flock or catch up with their flock.  If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as the good times!  Here's a great bumper sticker, "Honk if you love Jesus and people".

 

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Ephesians 3:19 - "And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." 

I read a magnificent story from Joseph Prince's book The Power of Right Believing. He tells of a minister from Oregon who was assigned to provide counseling to patients in a state mental illness facility.  When he arrived for duty, he was sent to a padded cell with a large group of deranged, barely clothed people.  The stench of human excrement filled the room.  When he tried to talk with the patients, they responded with groans, moans and demonic-like laughter.  

Then the Holy Spirit prompted him to sit in the middle of the room and sing the familiar children's song, Jesus Loves Me.  For a full hour, he sang, "Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong.  They are weak but He is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  For the Bible tells me so". 

Nothing happened the first day, but he persisted.  For weeks he would sit and sing the same melody, but with greater conviction each time.  "Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me!  For the Bible tells me so!"  Soon the patients began singing with him, one by one.  By the first month, 36 of the severely ill patients were transferred from the high-dependency ward to a self-care ward.  Within a year, all but two were discharged from the facility.   

No matter what challenges, failures and misdeeds you or I might face, the love of Jesus remains constant.  "Jesus loves me, this I know".  My question to you is, do you know that Jesus loves you?  Do you know how much He loves you?  How can we know?  The Bible tells us so.  So simple, yet so powerful. 

I challenge you, as often as you look in the mirror, say to yourself, "Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so".  And enjoy the forgiveness, freedom, healing and restoration that comes from truly knowing the love of Christ that passes all knowledge!    

 

Get the Crimps Out

Proverbs 4: 23 Amplified " Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance for out of it flows the springs of life."  There is nothing like Springtime, it's such a great time of newness of life.  The birds are singing, the leaves on the trees are turning green, flowers are blooming.  I enjoy this time of year so much.  Well, all almost everything about this time of year...

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Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

2 Kings 6: 15 "And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master!  How shall we do?” I heard a story about a young lady who was at the vet with her pet, and in walks a man with a yellow Labrador Retriever...

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Not Guilty - All Charges Dropped

Romans 8: 33 "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]".  A few weeks ago I was driving in an area where the speed limit was 25 miles per hour.  I had just pulled out of a 7-11 and headed down the road, going maybe 35 mph, I really wasn't paying attention.  All of a sudden...

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