Part of the Family

John 8:31-44 New Living Translation (NLT)

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example.[a] 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

I am TRYING to consider it pure joy as I face yet another trail in parenting. A trial which I have had the displeasure of repeatedly facing. A trial that I repeatedly faced when I was a child.

Lying.

Why do we lie?

The short answer is pride.

The long answer is we desire something or someone more than God. When we are tempted by the lust of the eyes and flesh we make a decision in our soul to flee or forward march in our own strength to obtain what we want. When we begin suffering the consequences that inevitably follow, we hide, just like Adam & Eve. We cover ourselves. We blame others, or the enemy. But when we are born again, we become part of the family of Christ. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who tells us how to escape temptation. Yet even when we fail to obey, the Spirit helps us return to our Father by convicting us of sin so that we will confess, repent and be restored.

familyThe bible says, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but discipline will drive it far away.” (Proverbs 22:15) So when I came emotionally undone again today, and yelled again, at our child who lied- again, the Holy Spirit was my helper. “Lord!” I cried, I am soooo tired of battling this issue. Please help me. What can I do?!?”

“Discipline,” He whispered.

“You MUST discipline.”

Then He revealed what was going on in my own heart; foolishness. Not wanting to be inconvienced in putting forth the time, energy and effort to train, I have failed to discipline consistently. I’m not a failure. But I have failed. And in doing so I have foolishly given power to the devil to entrap our child as a slave of sin. Please understand me, our child has chosen over and over to disobey. I am not to blame, nor is the enemy. Children are foolish! They need parents to train them. Otherwise, they will develop rebellious character which imitates the father of lies.

So today I choose to:

-Shut up, get up and armor up.

-Develop a battle plan.

-Swing my double edged sword!

-Teach our children to obey God by obeying me.

-Train our children in the way that they should go.

Because when I do, God promises, it will go well for them and they will not depart from Him when they are older!

 

The 99

Luke 15:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever read a passage of Scripture over and over again and think, in your arrogance, “yeah, I get it?” Until someone says “many people get confused by it [this parable], but….?” And you are instantly offended?

Just me? Ok.

IMG_2961When I re-read the above passage, the Holy Spirit breathed life onto the page and BOOM, revelation invaded my soul. Humbly, I cried out, “Oh….God…I’m so sorry for leaning on my own understanding….thank you for revealing your truth to me.”

I had always assumed the 99 were already saved, and God abandoned them. I was continually irritated when this message was preached in seeker friendly services (what does that mean, anyway? “Seeker friendly”?!). Pastors would declare, “it’s not about YOU, it’s about the one.” Excuse me? What does THAT mean? Am I not loved by God? Am I to be abandoned in the wilderness when He goes after the one?

No. No. No!

The 99 represented the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. They had no relationship with the Shepherd, even though they belonged to Him. The 99 stayed in the wilderness, instead of following the Shepherd.

Here’s the deal: The Shepherd loves all His sheep. He died for all of them. But, He goes after the one. The one He chose before the foundations of the earth. He leaves the 99 who reject him. He pursues the one. He finds the one. And when the lost sheep humbles himself, the Shepherd picks him up, puts him on His shoulders, and carries him home.

I am the one.

I was part of the 99. I stayed in the wilderness for decades. I was raised in the church. I knew about God. I was involved in religious activity. But I did not know the Shepherd. I was lost. I was a notorious sinner.

Now I am found!

The Lord left the 99 to search for me 19 years ago. ME! He chose ME before the foundations of the earth. He pursued ME. He found ME. And when this stubborn sheep humbled myself before the Great Shepherd, He picked me up, put me on His shoulders and carried me home. There was joy in heaven for ME!

I am the one.

Are you?

(Thank you, @realcoryasbury https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xx0d3R2LoU )

Pray for me

Acts 8:9-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic.

12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

Simon had been astounding the people of Samaria with his sorcery for many years, but when the Good News was preached by Philip, he lost his followers. He, along with many other men and women believed in Jesus and were baptized after hearing Philips message. Amazed by the signs and miracles Philip performed, Simon began following him.

Then Peter and John arrived in the city.

The apostles laid hands on and prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. Apparently, Simon was not among the many who received, but he saw the POWER that manifested amongst the people. He wanted that POWER, so he attempted to purchase it from Peter.

He was quickly and firmly rebuked.

Simon had believed and was baptized, but his heart (soul & spirit) was not right with God. Peter implored him to repent to the Lord and be forgiven from the sin that held him captive: PRIDE. Instead, he audaciously commanded Peter to pray for him so that he wouldn’t be destroyed by his sin.

IMG_4466We may not be practicing magic as Simon, but we certainly practice exercising our PRIDE regularly, don’t we? Like Simon, we may even be drawn to the POWER we see manifesting through the lives of others who preach the Good News. Like Simon, we may be jealous of the many who have been baptized with fire, as was prophesied by John the Baptist. Like Simon, we may even believe in the Son of God and have been baptized in water. But if we haven’t received the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised to his disciples (and future disciples), we cannot be set free from the sin that so easily entangles us.

We cannot purchase freedom from sin.

We cannot deliver ourselves from PRIDE.

We cannot buy the POWER to release the Holy Spirit into our lives- or others.

We cannot command or manipulate others in the body of Christ to get what we want.

We can believe in Jesus, be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit when we humble ourselves and PRAY.

The next time you are tempted to tell another believer, “pray for me” you may wanna stop and ask the Lord to check your heart. If He reveals wickedness, repent quickly of your bitter jealousy (you probably believe God hears & answers their prayers so you’re attempting to manipulate their access to the Lord). Then ask another believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit if they would lay their hands on you and pray for you to receive the POWER of the Holy Spirit!