The Struggle To Forgive

The biggest hurdle we face in life is the hurdle of forgiveness. Many carry around hurts so deep and memories so painful that the idea of letting their offender off the hook is unbearable. The idea of that person being someone loved by God, deserving of salvation is almost offensive.

We all struggle to forgive. I think part of that reason is that we think that forgiveness means letting the one who hurt us off the hook, waiving all responsibility for the pain he caused. Forgiveness does not remove consequences to wrongful action and it does not let your offender off the hook.

At its core forgiveness isn’t even about the person who hurt you, it’s about you. Forgiveness is about letting yourself move past pain, into healing. If we want to fulfill the call of God in our lives we must move past the hurts of yesterday and let Jesus heal those wounds.

Forgiveness is an act of surrender. It’s letting go of your offense and trusting the Lord take your brokenness and make you whole again. Forgiveness is letting go of your right to justice and trusting that God is a just God who is in complete control of everything.

One obstacle that causes many to be hesitant about offering forgiveness is they don’t want to ever again interact with the one who caused them such pain. They can’t imagine reconciling that relationship. We must remember that forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation and reconciliation is not always a requirement for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an inner work within yourself while reconciliation is an outward work between you and your offender. Sometimes God will work in you and lead you to reconciliation, other times not. I would urge you, through prayer, choose to forgive unconcerned with reconciliation. Lower your defenses and allow God work in your heart to heal your wounds.

Mark 11:24-25 (NLT) I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too

The enemy wants this generation to be bound and unable to forgive by deep wounds because this prevents the work of God from being completed in our lives. We must forgive. The call of God is too great upon this generation to remain locked in a cage of bitterness. We must learn that surrendering to God means every part of us, even our hidden wounds. When we turn them over to God. He not only heals them, but He gives them purpose.

When we begin to operate in forgiveness we realize that our past no longer holds power over us. Furthermore, we are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring healing to others. When the world sees someone who should be broken and bitter walking in healing and hope it is a great testimony to the power of God.

Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV) Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We are eager to receive the forgiveness of the Lord, but it is still hard to extend that forgiveness to others. However, as we submit to the Lord, allowing Him to work in our life, it is a true sign of our transformation when we begin offering forgiveness to those who do not deserve it. Maybe they’re not even sorry. I am so grateful that Jesus didn’t wait for me to be sorry before He laid down His life and offered me the forgiveness I so gladly accepted.

Today let us seek to be like Jesus. Let us lay down our defenses in surrender to God. Let us allow His healing hand to work in our lives. It is possible to walk in forgiveness and full healing from your past. When you do, you will be amazed at how God will begin to use you for His glory.

Prove It!

Have you ever heard a story so fantastic that you just couldn’t believe it? I remember as a kid hearing many such stories and there was always someone who shouted out, “Prove it!” Many times on the internet I’ve stumbled across someone saying “pics or it didn’t happen.” We are naturally skeptical and the bigger or more fantastic the story, the less inclined we are to believe it at face value.

I’ve known many children who come home boasting about getting a high grade on an exam or in a class, and a good parent will usually ask to see the test or the report card. In a courtroom, we demand evidence to prove the accused is guilty. When we first get our drivers license we are quick to whip it out and prove our accomplishment. Yes, we expect evidence for almost everything in life, but when it comes to our faith we wouldn’t dare ask someone to prove it!

“You’re a Christian? Prove it!” It sounds weird. It sounds offensive and we probably shouldn’t word it like that. However, over time for someone truly pursuing a deepening relationship with Christ, there will be evidence. As a family who cares about each other, we should be looking for that evidence.

Acts 26:20 (NLT) I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.

The apostle Paul taught new believers to repent from their sins and to turn to God. This is wonderful! When we come to Christ we should stop sinning. There should be a change in our lives! There should be evidence of our conversion. We should exchange sinful deeds for good deeds. As our love for Jesus grows, our love for people grows and it should be evident in our lives.

But Pastor Chris, what about the Bible! It says not to Judge!

Matthew 7:1 (NLT) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged…”

Very good! We shouldn’t judge sinful people for sinning. We shouldn’t treat anyone in a non-loving manner because of their sin. However, many struggling Christians will throw that up as a defense to avoid accountability when we are absolutely called to help our fellow believers in their pursuit of Christ.

Galatians 6:1 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

In fact, later in that same chapter where is says do not judge it says this:

Matthew 7:17-20 (NLT)  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

It is not our place to judge the unbeliever, but we are absolutely called to inspect the fruit of the believer. It is wisdom and beneficial to check in on the spiritual progress of those we are helping to follow Jesus. This is what discipleship looks like.

We know if we are connected to the vine we will produce the fruit of the vine. If we are not producing the fruit of the vine then we are not connected to the vine. Our job is to lovingly come beside those that are struggling and ask why is there not fruit. Maybe there is unforgiveness, maybe they’re harboring hurts, maybe there is a sin that they haven’t let go of.

Investigating the fruit is about removing the hindrances that are stopping spiritual progress so that they might grow and become a healthy spiritual child of God. It is not judgement to encourage another believer to let go of sin, and to be fully committed to Christ. It is not judgement to examine the fruit we are producing in our lives, in fact it is something we all need. I hope my life is producing fruit, and if there is an area where I am lacking spiritual progress I hope even more that someone comes alongside me to help me.

Let us all be open to correction. A life submitted to God and transformed by His power will have a clear and undeniable difference. The evidence will be clearly visible. Let us boldly live out the change so that no one ever has to come up to us and say, “prove it.”

How to Play the Game of Life 

Have you ever tried to play a game, but you did not know the rules? I have a feeling it probably did not work out so well for you. Better yet, have you ever flat out ignored the rules? It was probably a fun experience even though it likely ticked off the person you were playing against and go figure, you still didn’t win the game.

Imagine you were playing a game with the person who created it sitting right behind you, whispering in your ear, telling you exactly which moves you should make. Would you listen? I would hope so. No one understands how to make you successful at the game more than the person who created the game.

In a recent lesson, I brought in a bag of chocolate chips and asked all my students to write down a recipe to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Most of the recipes would’ve been pretty awful. One for sure would’ve made rocks rather than cookies. I asked them which recipe they would prefer making, theirs or the one on the bag? We all agreed the one on the bag would be better because that recipe comes from the people who know how to make chocolate chip cookies.

In the same way, God is the one who gave us life. God is the one who created us spirit, soul and body. He also gave us scripture to instruct us on how we are supposed to live the life He gave us. Think about it, our souls come from the Lord. Is there anyone better to tell us what we need to do in order to have complete, fulfilled and satisfied souls?

I think I would like to take my cues on how to live life, from the one who created life.

2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

God gave us His word to reveal to us what is right and what is true. When we neglect to study His word, or even worse to obey His word, we are in effect telling God, “I know you  created life, but I think I know how to run my life better than you do.” We need to rely on His word to teach us, instruct us and correct us.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) 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.”

Often we think of God’s word as restricting us, but the truth is when we follow His ways we find freedom. When God is asking us to refrain from something we enjoy, it isn’t to rob us of happiness. God knows that we enjoy many things that offer temporary pleasure, but ultimately leave us unfulfilled. However, when we line our lives up with His instruction we find true satisfaction in Him.

From the outside, it might look like restriction, but from the inside, you know that you have more freedom than you’ve ever had.  Listen to the teachings of Jesus, they are truth. Follow His ways and let the one who created life give you true life.

Let’s conclude today by looking at a great portion of Scripture. The Lord sets before His people two choices, life and death. Life is to obey God’s ways, death is to abandon them. It seems like an easy decision, He even gives us the answer at the end. “Choose LIFE!” Yet sadly, many will go on to choose death. I hope that you will join me in choosing life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-19 (ESV) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Learning To Love Learning

Children love learning! Most children anyway. They enjoy when you point to your face and they finally have mastered that the weird shape in the middle is called a nose. Most children look forward to the first day of school with an anxious anticipation. That doesn’t last. Maybe it goes away when they realize they have to go EVERY DAY for the next TWELVE YEARS. Maybe they have negative a social interaction that zaps their joy for education. Maybe they realize it isn’t cool to enjoy school.

I don’t really know what it is that steals our desire for learning, but the older we get the more work it is for our brains to acquire new knowledge. I remember when I finished school, there was a part of me that was like, “I’m done! I never have to learn again.” How foolish I was.

Proverbs 18:15 (NLT) Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

Smart people love learning. That seems obvious, they’re smart so of course, they like learning. It’s easy for them. That isn’t necessarily true though. I believe everyone can enjoy learning, but it requires discipline. Being ready to learn isn’t about your level of enjoyment, but your level of commitment. Determine in your heart, “I’m gonna never stop learning” and seek out knowledge. This is the only requirement for gaining intelligence.

Proverbs 12:1 (ESV) Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Discipline is the key component to gaining knowledge. We must subject ourselves to tasks we might not foremost enjoy, but in doing so we gain knowledge and over time we eventually gain an appetite for it. Along with a willingness to learn means a willingness to be taught, or to receive correction. In fact, the verse above in the NLT says “it is stupid to hate correction.” I get a small pleasure from that because I wasn’t allowed to say stupid as a kid. Sorry, mom, it’s in the Bible.

Let’s be real though, we don’t always like correction, but sometimes we are wrong. We must never be so rigid and set in our ways that reject criticism and correction, especially from those with more wisdom than us. Next time you’re being corrected and that voice of objection rises up inside you, just remember the Bible says it is stupid to hate correction. I don’t wanna be called stupid by anyone, especially the Word of God.

Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Growing up I always heard two quotes, both of which suggest we should never stop learning. “Leaders are learners” and “Leaders are readers”. I was never the BIGGEST fan of reading though. I felt it required too much time.

My thoughts on that have changed. So has my approach to reading. I don’t try to take on a whole book at once. I don’t even try to take on a whole chapter at once. My only goal is five pages a day. Sometimes a page more, if I’m really enjoying it. You could read five pages a day right? When I reach five pages I stop. Even if I’m mid sentence. OK, my OCD wouldn’t let me do that, I usually try to finish the thought. I usually spend no more than 15 minutes a day in a single book and I’m usually reading two different books, totaling 10 pages and half an hour each morning or evening.

That is simple. And in doing that I have read about 15 books in the past nine months. I don’t say this to brag, but to show you that it is possible to change and we must change. We must hunger after the Word of God. We must long to become more like Christ, but if we do not truly LEARN who He is then we will never meet that goal.

Maybe you see yourself as an intelligent person, maybe you don’t. Either way, I want you to know that the most important thing is always being ready to learn. We have the Holy Spirit who is ready and willing to teach us, but we must put ourselves in a mindset where we are willing to listen. I believe God is speaking to us each day, but often we aren’t really listening. When you go to pray and read your Bible today, go with pen and paper in hand ready to listen to whatever the Lord may speak.

Always be ready to learn and over time you will learn to love learning.

Jesus, Our Supply

I wish we could just eliminate bad days. No matter the effort we put in, there are still days when everything seems to go wrong. It’s unavoidable. There are seasons in life where struggle prevails. I am grateful for the seasons of growth and the seasons of harvest, but why must we also have seasons of loss and seasons of drought?

We cannot always control what season of life we are in. The weather changes regardless of our actions, however, our actions are not determined by the weather. In the midst of bitter cold, I can put on my warmest jacket and head out to work. If I don’t then I’ll likely lose my job. In the same way no matter the season of life you find yourself in, you can choose to keep spending time in prayer and in the Word of God.

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Often when faced with adversity and challenge we tire of the drudgery of devotion. It is not uncommon in those seasons to feel as if God is distant. Suddenly prayer seems a chore and our motivation wanes. When we are not seeing the fruit of our prayer efforts, we want to quit praying.

That is a choice we sometimes make, but it is the wrong choice. We must continue sowing the seed of prayer, especially during the difficult seasons. We must water our prayers with tears before the Lord and earnestly pray for His purpose to take root in our hearts. As we remain steadfast in our pursuits, allowing His Word to consume our hearts and minds, even in the drought we are being fed like a tree planted by the stream.  We can be confident that fruit will be produced in its proper time.

We feel each season. We dance during seasons of joy and produce. We weep during seasons of heartache and pain. We endure seasons of frustration and dryness. Yet, the work of the Lord continues within us, so long as we stay rooted in His word the waters of His Spirit are preparing us for a new season of produce.

I wish I could tell you that it was all sunshine and that we would never endure hard times, but the Bible ensures us that hard times will come. However, we are also assured that even through such great challenges our God stands with us. He is on our side. He is fighting our battles. We are not abandoned to survive on our own. He is our strength and our shield, our place of refuge.

Let us never abandon the good fight, but when difficult times come let our resolve become ever stronger, fueled by the very presence of God. We are not among the weak that we may give in and cease our pursuit. No, we are among the strong, the relentless ones who charge forward knowing that God is on our side and no weapon can stop us.

So long as we stay rooted in His word, His presence and His church there is no season we will encounter that He has not supplied the strength to survive. If you are going through a hard time today, I encourage you do not despair. Look to His provision. Open His word and read. Do not tire in praying. Reach out to a fellow believer to join you in the fight. Pray together. Let God be your supply. In all seasons, He is our source of strength. Our source of endurance. Our very source of life. Every victory comes from Him alone.

You are not forgotten, this season will end.

Trust in God.

 

Words Hurt

Words hurt. We all agree with that because more likely than not you’ve experienced a moment in your life where someones words caused you heartache. For some, family members have left them with deep scars from verbal assaults. Others have strong insecurities rooted in words from friends. Recently I’ve encountered a couple of situations that reminded me of the pain our own words can cause, even when it is unintentional.

There are moments when I like to make a quick remark, sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are not. Often my comments are in good fun and most people know me so they don’t take it personally. Every now and then a comment goes too far. When this happens, I usually know it, or at least I hope I do. Not too long ago I made such a comment. It was both truthful and funny, but it also insulting (because of its truthfulness) and didn’t need to be said.

Thankfully, the individual didn’t hear me and no harm was caused. How often do we say things in jest, but it really hurts the other perso? Jokes at the expense of someone else can be funny, but we never really know how the other person will receive it. They might laugh now and  later go home and cry.

Am I suggesting we shouldn’t joke? No! But we should make every effort to choose our words with care, and maybe consider if it needs to be said. Always consider other people. Will the conversation we are having leave them feeling built up or torn down?

Another way words can unintentionally hurt is when we pass along information. We love hearing new information about people. We are genuinely interested in the lives of others and when something monumental happens good or bad we like to talk about it. We know it is harmful when it is bad, but we sometimes do it anyway. However, even passing along good news can be hurtful. Sometimes what you heard isn’t true.

I don’t know how non-truths get passed around. Maybe someone intentionally started the rumor with a lie. Perhaps someone read into a situation and passed on what they thought was happening. Either way I think we have a responsibility to find out if something is true before spreading it around. Or ya know, not spread it around.

There are times we assume that people don’t mind and if that’s the case then it’s ok I guess, as long as you know from the source the correct information and that they are for sure ok with you telling people. And if we have to go through all that before passing on the information, most of the time we would just not bother. Maybe that’s my point.

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

We must remember that words have the power to hurt. Our words are never just words. They have the power to build up and they have the power to destroy. We must never forget to think before we speak.

Proverbs 15:28 (NLT) The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

Our words are not just here one minute and gone the next minute. They can stay with the hearer for a very long time. Beyond that, our words even echo into eternity.

Matthew 12:36 (NLT) And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.

The part that sticks out to me is IDLE WORDS. The things we say when we aren’t really thinking about what we are saying. Sometimes they can be the most devastating. We don’t always have bad intentions, but that doesn’t mean our words are without consequences. Our words matter, always.

Keeping Your Mouth Shut

Arguments, divisions, tension is in the air. Don’t you hate being caught in the middle. Sometimes there is this unspoken expectation that you had better either choose a side or get out of the way cause the conflict is about to hit. The worst place to be is in the middle of the conflict trying to make peace, but sometimes that’s exactly where you need to be. The danger is that we often pick sides too soon.

It’s not always easy to see things from the perspective of others. Many times we are drawn into the conflict of someone close to us. We hear their side of the story and we are fiercely on their side. That’s called being a good friend. Of course, there are always two sides to every story, our friends aren’t always right. Is it really being a good friend to stand by them if they are wrong? I would say no. A good friend wants to stand by them help lead them down a path of righteousness, love and peace.

Proverbs 18:2 (NLT) Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

I’m not calling you a fool, I promise! We have all done this before right? We go into a situation firing off words and opinions. We’ve tried to bring correction to people and told them exactly what we thought of what they had done. It’s not wrong to share your opinion, unless you only know one side of the story.

Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

Proverbs 18:17 (NLT) The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.

I had a situation recently where I very clearly heard one side of the story. I was angry and ready to get in there and solve the problem. Thankfully the Lord gave me a patient heart and a desire to find out more information before confronting the other person. Before even approaching the accused I realized that the situation was not what it seemed and both sides of the coin had a misunderstanding of the other. It’s hard to see eye to eye when you’re facing opposite directions.

Sometimes we need to keep our mouths shut, keeping our opinion to ourselves. We need to remain silent until we have more information about the conflict. We usually hear the side of our friends first and we believe them, but that doesn’t mean they are in the right.

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT) Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.

I hope that I am able to bring wisdom into situations. It turns out that speaking wisdom does not require my opinion. I have many opinions, but I don’t have to voce them. The best thing to do is pray, seek the truth and turn to the Word of God to determine the best counsel.

We should all Search for the truth before running our mouth. A leader makes thoughtful deliberate decisions, not instant, rash choices based on partial information. Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but if you ever find yourself in the middle of a conflict, guess what? You’re a leader in that situation. If you can’t find a way to keep your mouth shut and seek to bring peace, rather than stirring up the conflict, then you need to get out and bring in a peacemaker.

Matthew 5:9 (ESV) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

As Christians aren’t we all sons and daughters of God? We are adopted into His family and we should work hard to make peace with everyone.

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

How We Should Respond

My heart dropped into my stomach. My dad stood in front of me and asked a question that left little doubt. I had been caught and now punishment would most certainly rain upon my head. How do you respond in that moment when you are flat out busted? Usually there are three options to choose from. We can either deny it, pass the blame, or confess and accept what’s coming. In my experience it is almost always better to admit right away that you are wrong than to try and shirk responsibility for your actions.

In the middle of 1 Kings 22 is kind of a weird text. I can’t say I’m 100% sure what to make of it. King Ahab ruled in Israel for 22 years and in that time he led the people into idolatry and he was more wicked than all the kings before him. He and his wife Jezebel were certainly not role models for children and here in 1 Kings 22 he finally meets his end.

King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were deciding if they should attack Aram or not and 400 prophets had said it was a great idea. Now here comes Micaiah to ruin the fun. King Ahab hated Micaiah because he always brought him bad news from the Lord and he didn’t disappoint.

1 Kings 22:19-23 (NLT) Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’

“There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’

22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.

“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’

“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”

What? WHAT?! This is such a weird portion of scripture. I bet some of you reading the past few days have never heard this story, because it’s super weird! It has the sarcastic prophet Micaiah and now God is sitting in heaven like a mob boss, “Who can take care of Ahab for me?” Then he sends a lying spirit to get 400 prophets to lie so Ahab will go to his death. It’s an unusual story and many preachers don’t ever talk about it.

Why would God do this? Let’s think about who God is and what we know about Him. He is full of unending mercy and never failing love. I truly believe he was trying to get Ahab’s attention one last time so that he might repent and turn from his wickedness.

Ahab was evil and yet God still tried multiple times to get his attention. He had Elijah call down fire from heaven to prove he was real (1 Kings 18)! He helped Ahab to win battles so that he might “know that I am the Lord (1 Kings 20:13).”  I believe that God allowed the lying spirit to be released to show Ahab He alone was God. Ahab’s whole life he had been serving other gods, and God in infinite mercy and grace was trying to show Ahab that there was no other true God but Him, just like he had all along.

Ahab was once again caught and punishment was coming. I believe his response is everything. This is not the first time he was caught either. In the previous chapter the Lord sent Elijah to basically tell him, “You’re out of here, your whole family is gone, your wife Jezebel will be eaten by dogs, it’s DONE!”

1 Kings 21:27-29 (NLT) But when Ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted. He even slept in burlap and went about in deep mourning.

28 Then another message from the Lord came to Elijah: 29 Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”

Last time Ahab humbled himself before the Lord and God showed mercy! Ahab had only just stopped short of actually turning from his sins. If he had I have no doubt God would have shown even greater mercy. Perhaps God was hoping this time would be the time that he fully surrenders.

But that’s not what happens.

1 Kings 22:26 (NLT)  “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered.

Ahab responded by threatening the prophet with jail. This is such a contrast to the last time when he responded in humility and brokenness. I believe God was wanting to show him mercy and compassion, but Ahab’s hard heart was finally past receiving God’s mercy and thus the Lord carried out His plans.

Friends, I do not believe God is past the point of demonstrating mercy in your life, in our communities, in our nation and around the world. He is eagerly longing for us to come to Him in humility and in repentance.

As we enter these final days, as the world deteriorates around us and God begins pouring out His judgment upon the earth, I firmly believe God is calling out for those who will respond in such a way that He can demonstrate His continued mercy.

If you’re in a place today where you feel caught and you fear the judgement of God please remember His great love. It is never too late to repent and turn from your sins and receive mercy from our great Savior.

What We Need To Say

The killer is in the cafeteria. You watch in horror as Abigail slowly creeps into the dark room toward certain doom. You scream at the television, “DON’T GO IN THERE.” But your cries are not heard. How many times in real life have we seen someone going down path that wouldn’t lead to any place good? How many times have we watched in silence as someone engaged in sinful activity?

As Christians we have a mandate to speak up. How sad that many are more inclined to yell, “STOP” to a fictional character in a movie than to those heading on a path toward hell. Friend, we must speak up and speak the truth. That is what LOVE looks like. Love sees someone going down a path to destruction and blocks the way.

Micaiah was a prophet headed toward an uncomfortable situation. The kings of Israel and Judah were preparing for a battle against Aram and were wanting to hear from the Lord before preceding. They had already asked 400 other prophets, who had told them victory was a guarantee! Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, felt like something was off so he asked if there was anyone else and the king of Israel, Ahab, begrudgingly declared, “Yea theres one more, but he’s horrible and only brings bad news.”

Now Micaiah was on his way.

1 Kings 22:13-14 (NLT) the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

14 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

This is an awkward situation. It’s like your bosses assistant coming up to you, “Go in and tell the boss what he wants to hear. Everyone else already has, just tell him the merger will be a success!” Many would have been tempted to go along with that plan. After all, had the other 400 prophets been wrong? Surely it would be ok to just agree with them.

But Micaiah made it clear, he would only say what the Lord put in his heart to say. He wouldn’t lie, he wouldn’t go with the crowd. He would only proclaim the truth.

Well, sort of.

1 Kings 22:15-16 (NLT)  When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”

Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lordwill give the king victory!”

16 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”

Micaiah is now known, to my anyway, as the sarcastic prophet. He actually told the King what he wanted to hear, but clearly in a way that the king knew he not being truthful. He must have had a pattern of responding this way. Maybe that’s part of why Ahab hated him? I will say this, I don’t recommend following in Micaiah’s steps with the sarcasm.

After Ahab’s reprimand Micaiah told him what the Lord had said. “The Lord has pronounced your doom.” (1 Kings 22:23) Due to Ahab’s long history of great sin and lack of repentance, God had been plotting Ahab’s death. This couldn’t have been an easy word to deliver, but it was the truth. It took courage for Micaiah to deliver such devastating news to the the king of Israel.

Micaiah was true to his word. He spoke the truth, even though it was obvious the king would not want to hear it. We are in a similar state today. People do not want to hear the truth. Let’s look again at the verse we looked at yesterday and really key in on verse five.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (NLT) For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

We must keep a clear mind, be bold and unafraid of suffering for the Lord. Tell people the Good News and fully carry out the ministry God’s given us. The challenge is that the Good News of the Gospel is only good news if you are wanting to receive it.

Many today know bits and pieces of the truth, yet close their ears to the fullness of God’s word. They want to take the promises of God, without the holiness of God. Others flat out reject the existence of God. Sharing Jesus is as difficult as it has ever been. Standing up for Jesus will bring you opposition. Not everyone will want to hear it. Should we stop telling the truth? No!

If the stand you take for Jesus brings just one person to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ then it was all worth it. Let us not cower down to the pressures to remain silent, but instead boldly speak the truth, in love to all the world.

What We Need To Hear

Be honest. When we know someone is gonna tell us something we don’t wanna hear, we are less inclined to ask their opinion aren’t we? If it’s half an hour till dinner and you are really craving some ice cream, you’re not gonna ask your mom if you can have some ice cream are you? She’ll say, “NO!” Your gonna go ask your sister who will be like, “That’s a great idea, you get ice cream and I’ll have some too with chocolate syrup please!”

There are times when we have a problem, we don’t want to be told what we don’t want to hear. In the same way many times we don’t wanna say things that people don’t wanna hear. I have news, the truth is the truth even when we don’t want hear it. God’s word is God’s word even when we want to dismiss it. Today I want to look at a really great story in 1 Kings 22.

Let’s set the stage. The Kingdom of Israel was divided. Resulting from the sin of David’s descendants. There was the Kingdom of Judah, where the bloodline of David still ruled and the Kingdom of Israel, whose Kings had become more and more evil leading the people further into idol worship. While Judah also had Kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord, it just so happens at this point in history, Jehoshaphat, who like his father Asa, did what was pleasing to the Lord.

Jehoshaphat had made peace with the king of Israel. That man was truly a wicked man named Ahab who had done more evil than all the kings before him. You might know him and his wife Jezebel from a certain confrontation with the prophet Elijah where fire came down from Heaven in a great contest against the prophets of Baal. Ahab was not a good man.

Still he noticed a city that should rightly belong to Israel, but was currently occupied by Aram so he called up Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle”? The response was, “Of course, but let’s first ask the Lord.” So King Ahab called up 400 prophets and asked if they should go to war or refrain, and overwhelmingly they declared, “Go, the Lord will give the king victory!”

This was great news, but Jehoshaphat knew something didn’t quite sit right, so he asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We need to ask him the same question!”

1 Kings 22:8 (NLT)  The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

The king of Judah rightly pointed out, “Ahab! A king should desire to hear the word of the Lord, even if it means trouble for us! We don’t need people telling us what we want to hear, we need the truth!”

Too often we look for people who will tell us what we want rather than what we need to hear. In fact scripture tells us that people will do exactly that.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (NLT)  For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

We must look for Godly men and women who will speak life into us. We need to hear the truth even when it is a hard truth. It is better to have my feelings hurt and my soul saved than to blissfully walk on a path to hell.

The prophet Ahab was avoiding was named Micaiah and when he came he essentially brought the news Ahab feared, that he was gonna meet his end in the coming battle. God is a merciful God and even in Ahab’s wickedness had given him many opportunities to turn from his sin, but time had run its course.

Friends, time is coming to an end for us all. Do you want to use the days you have left to blindly enjoy the spoils of worldly living or do you want to take up your spiritual right as children of God and shine light into the darkness.

The time for selfish living is over and the hour never more urgent. I plead with you to open your heart to the fullness of God’s truth. Walk in His light, pursue holiness and the righteousness of God. We must put away our world pleasing and take up Christ pleasing. Above all else pursue truth! Put away lies and all who would dilute the power of God’s word.

There is much work to do, and nigh little time to do it.