Making Things Right

In Matthew 5, Jesus told his followers, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.  First be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (vs. 23-24). 

In Matthew 18 he added,  "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (v. 15).

In the first case, you have sinned against someone.  In the second, someone has sinned against you.  In both, you are to initiate reconciliation.  You are to speak to the person, not about him.

What if he refuses to listen?  Jesus tells us: "If he will not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.  And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Matt. 18:16-17). 

Relationships within the body of Christ are essential.  But it begins by going directly to the person, initiating reconciliation.

Who do you need to go to today and make things right?

Confrontation

One of the hardest things you will ever do is confront someone.

On the other hand, one of the hardest things you will ever do is not confront someone by taking the high road. Some things just aren’t worth it.

Some people will never listen, they are gossips. Others are garbage cans (they listen and take in gossip.)

The Proverb says, “do not give a fool the time of day.” If you are alive, then you know that confrontation is going to happen. Confrontation isn’t easy or enjoyable. If you like confrontation, then you are a sick person!

Matthew, chapter 18 gives us some very clear guidelines in dealing with interpersonal relationships.

There will be people who will reject your confrontation. Nothing is ever “their fault.” They will never take responsibility for anything that happens, they will always blame someone else or throw someone else under the bus. There are some people that just will not respond the right way, even after you have handled things according to Matthew 18.

Thank God there are those people when confronted, who receive the confrontation. They have a teachable spirit. They desire that their horizontal and vertical relationships be right. They repent and you have won over your brother/sister. They understand Proverb 27:2,  “wounds from a friend can be trusted.”

How do you respond when confronted over something? How do you deal with people who need to be confronted? Do you take the high road because it is the right thing to do or because you lack courage?

Do you follow Matthew 18 or do you just go with whatever feels comfortable?

Is there a person you need to go speak to or a situation that needs to be dealt with?

Only 1 Life…Make it Count!

I just had a conversation with my good friend Jason Dupree. We were talking about how fast life is going by. I just had a son turn 30 years old and Jason has a daughter who is a senior in high school.

The thought came and a discussion followed that we have about 30 years left to live if we live the average rate for a man. To think about that is quite sobering. Time really is the most valuable commodity.

When you read the book of Ephesians, especially chapter 5, you can sense the urgency in Paul’s writing. He says in Ephesians 5, verses 15 and 16, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Paul tells us to walk carefully, not as fools. Don’t act irresponsibly or unintelligently. Then he tells us to redeem the time.

Time is too valuable. Life is too short. We must buy up the time. We must take advantage of the God given opportunity that is before us. Paul is telling us that there is a fixed point of time.

There is a crack in the door and we must take advantage. We must take the risk, we must “go for it.” Why? Because the days are evil.

We are called to be salt and light. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The time is now so quit playing games, quit messing around!

Only one life, it will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. Seize the day! Redeem the time!

I desire to make the time I do have left really matter! Watch out next 30 years or so!

Get Back Up!

You’re going to fumble, you’re going to drop a pass, you’re going to jump off sides and fail over and over again. Your name may even get blasted out so everyone will know you blew it!

You can go sit on the bench and never return to the game or pick your head up, learn from your mistakes and watch God make you into the person he has called you to be. You will get knocked down but the key is to get back up.

I love the story of Abraham Lincoln. I have countless books about him on my shelves and a picture of him  hanging on my wall.He always found a way to get back up:

1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818 His mother died.
1831 Failed in business.
1832 Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832 Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year, he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834 Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840 Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843 Ran for Congress – lost.
1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.
1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s National Convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
1860 Elected president of the United States.

The story of Abraham Lincoln is a remarkable one because he never gave up. No matter what came his way, he simply kept pressing on. Despite setbacks and failures, and a trail of adversity, Abraham Lincoln would not quit. He said, “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”

Remember that striving and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary. Get back up!

Vision–Greater than Coke!

I’m sure you have seen the new Coke commercials and the Cokes with people’s name on them. It is absolutely brilliant. Coca Cola has done it again!

We could argue about what tastes better – Coke or Pepsi but we all know which one is the most popular and which one has a vision to reach the world.

A man named Asa Candler bought the company from Dr. John Pemberton in 1889. He took away all of Pembert’s assets in a single horse and wagon. Candler knew he had a great product and he believed the world needed to know about it. Candler instituted a far reaching campaign.

The Coca Cola trademark was provided to soda fountains around the country on signs, serving trays, lamps and every other item that Candler thought of. He gave away thousands of products with the Coca Cola logo on them. Candler even gave restaurant signs that said, “Ice cold Coca Cola sold here.” For many of the stores, it was their first major sign and they gladly displayed it.

By 1919, Coca Cola became one of the most successful products in America’s history. Candler sold Coca Cola in 1919 for 25 million dollars.

Coke has continued its vision to reach the world. The vision is to put a Coke in the hand of everyone on the planet. Today, Coke is worth 68 billion dollars.

I will admit Coke is good. I enjoy a few Diet Cokes every day of my life. But something is certainly wrong with this picture. Coke is more passionate, more committed, more aggressive and more enthusiastic about a soft drink than we are about sharing the news that you can be completely forgiven of all of your sin, be saved, experience abundant life and go to heaven when you die! Coke does a better job evangelistically than we do.

We must have the vision to get the gospel in the heart of everyone on the planet. We must have a greater vision than Coke.

Let me encourage you today to call, text, write, Facebook or tweet someone and tell them your story. Tell them that Jesus saves. Invite them to church this Sunday.We need a vision greater than Coke!

It Matters

This past Wednesday evening, we had a Volunteer Training at New Season.

One of our core values is: “Saved people serve people.” We are a battle ship, not a cruise ship. On a cruise ship, it’s all about you and your needs being met. On a battle ship, it’s about the mission! Last Wednesday, I was surrounded by people who are on mission and committed to serve on the battle ship with me!

Let me say to each one of you who volunteers at New Season…thank you so much, you are awesome! God is using you to touch countless lives. Many people are being changed because of the time and effort that you invest every weekend.

I’m sure at times that you ask yourselves if it really matters if you show up on Sundays to volunteer. Let me answer for you – YES, everything matters and it is making a difference, both now on earth and into eternity. Everything matters – YOU MATTER!

Our volunteers in the parking lot matter to our guests (they are the first representative of New Season as people drive on to our campus) and they are the key to maintaining safety and order for parking; our Greeters matter to our guests as they enter our building and are greeted with a smiling friendly face and a greeting; our Coffee Bar volunteers matter as they share the gift of hospitality; Ushers, Discovery workers, XStatic workers, Uprising workers, Sound/Lights, Office Volunteers, VIP Reception Team, Hospitality Team, etc…you ALL play a part in reaching and ministering to people.

Thank you again for your commitment to Jesus and to New Season Church. It is an honor to serve along beside you.

Remember I Corinthians 15:58, "your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Thanks for being on the battle ship with us!

Trust and Obey

God is more interested in you obeying Him than you understanding Him.

In Luke, chapter five, we have an amazing story of Jesus trying to get Peter to understand this simple truth. God is more interested in you obeying Him than you understanding Him.

Peter who was a professional fisherman was a guy who knew all the “secret spots.” He knew exactly where to catch fish. He had been fishing all night long and caught absolutely nothing.

Jesus jumps in the boat with Peter and tells him to go back out and drop some nets to catch fish. Can you imagine what Peter was thinking at that point? “This doesn’t make sense, we’ve tried this before and it didn’t work. I am a fisherman, you are a carpenter.”

Sometimes, God asks us to do things that really don’t make any sense. They are not logical, not practical and not reasonable. God is interested in you and I obeying Him, not trying to figure Him out.

What has God asked you to do that doesn’t make sense but your going to do it anyway?

Obedience is based on trust. Trust is built on relationship. How well do you know God? How trustworthy is He? Stop trying to figure “it” and Him out and just obey!

The God who loves you would never lead you or tell you to do something that is wrong. Obey Him, trust Him and stop trying to figure out what He is up to.

God is more interested in you obeying Him than you understanding Him.

White Flags and Blank Sheets of Paper

Yesterday we sang a great song in church. It was calked, “My heart is yours”. The lyrics in the song say, “take it all, take it all, my heart is yours”. The song ends with the great hymn, “I surrender all”.

We spoke yesterday about surrendering all to God. Many years ago a lady in my church gave me seven small white flags because I talked about surrendering to God in a sermon.

Manley Beasley, a great preacher who is with the Lord now said that we should sign our names on a blank sheet of paper and then ask God to fill in the rest. The principle was total surrender.

Romans 12: 1 and 2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans, we see doctrine. In chapter twelve, we see duty.

Chapter twelve is about surrender. Paul says “I beg you.” God isn’t going to hit you over the head to get you to surrender. God isn’t going to wrestle you down, twist your arm or force you to surrender. Paul says that we should willingly surrender all to Jesus based on what He has done for us. The Christian who has experienced the mercy, grace and love of God ought to willingly and absolutely surrender all to God.

We are to give our all, to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. This is God’s call to a life of devotion…absolute surrender.

Where are you at on the scale of absolute surrender? What is holding you back to giving yourself totally to God and being sold out, on fire and living for Jesus?

Today, let’s hold up the white flag…let’s sign the blank sheet of paper.

Jesus is Crazy About You

Jesus really is crazy madly in love with you. His love is without limits.

I believe when you begin to understand the love that God has for you that it will be a life changing revelation. It will be liberating and empowering. It will bring joy, peace and hope.

When you can truly grasp the love of God, understand the depth of it and the lack of limitations or conditions tied to it, you will realize that it does not have to be earned. It cannot be lost and it is not reserved for “good” people.

Romans 8: 38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love is one of the most powerful words in the human vocabulary. Websters says, “Love is affection – strong liking – deep emotion.” Love is one of God’s most amazing attributes but love is also God’s very nature.

It is who He is. I John 4:8 says, “God is love.” Ephesians 5:2 (the Message) says, “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.”

God is not impressed by the wealthy, the powerful, the popular, the talented, the religious, the “good,” etc… God’s love is freely given to ALL. He does not love the faithful missionary any more than He loves the drunk who spends every dime he has on beer and never sets foot in a church.

People judge – people choose to “decrease” their love for you if you “mess up” – if you make the worst mistake you have ever made…God’s love is a love that knows your past but chooses to love you anyway. It knows our present yet continues to love, knows our future and still blankets us.

There is no manipulation, nothing expected in return, no fear, no doubts and no abandonment…just unconditional love.

Jesus is crazy about you!

I’m A Part of a Movement!

The church is the bride of Christ. We have been purchased by the blood of Christ. Jesus died for the church and established it.

The church is more than an organization, it is a living organism. The church is not a religious institution but a movement…a movement of people who have been redeemed and set free, people who have received and understand grace. We get caught up in thinking the church is a place we go to, rather than who we are!

We are His church, His bride, His hands, His feet, His heart and mind. We have the promises of God and have been empowered by His Spirit.

The church should be a place where the supernatural takes place instead of just settling for the natural. A place where marriages are restored, addictions are broken and lives are changed.

The church is where the broken and battered can be made well, those in bondage can be set free and those who are struggling can find peace.

The church is not a building, not a creed, not a moral code or a list of rules and regulations.

The church is a place where a bunch of messed up people can fall in love with a holy and mighty God who offers the free gift of salvation.

The church is a movement…not a fad, not a social club, but a movement.I’m a part of a movement!

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