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People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Proverbs 16:2

passion 2.3.2016I remember sitting in the pew listening to the old preacher. I have to confess I did what many of us preachers/speakers do. Rather than listening to the message I critiqued the message, the content and the delivery. I came to a conclusion that, while my friend was a godly man and had a passion for Jesus and others, he wasn’t an effective speaker.

As his presentation drew to a close he did what I considered would be ‘ministerial suicide’. He gave an altar call and asked people who had been spoken to by his message to come forward for prayer. I remember thinking how bad I felt for him as I bowed my head. I’d been there many times before. You preach your heart out and when it comes to decision time, no one responds.

I heard some rustling, which I assumed was the sound of people shifting uneasily waiting for the pain to be over. Someone whispered, ‘excuse me’ and I moved so someone could move quietly past me. As they did I looked to the front. The entire stage area was crowded with people kneeling and praying. Some were weeping!

I remember thinking, rather flippantly I admit, ‘How on earth did this happen? That may have been the poorest presentation I’ve heard.’

Later, I talked with my friend and he asked me how I thought it went. I avoided telling him my critique notes that had been accumulating in my mind and simply said “Well, you certainly made an impact on the people. I was amazed at how many people came forward for prayer.”

My old friend smiled. “You know, I think that may have been one of the worst prestations I’ve ever made, but I agree. God certainly used my efforts for his good. I guess the old adage “passion beats technique every time’ was true in this case.

His words hit home. There are so many times in our lives when we have a passion to influence people. When those passions are built on selfish motives such as gaining popularity, ‘atta boys’ and prestige we have our reward.

When our passions are built on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, great things happen. I’m still learning that time spent at my desk in study is vitally important, but the most important time is the time I spend on my knees. God doesn’t pay as much attention to ‘how we do things’ as he does ‘why we do things’. Passion [for Jesus] beats technique every time.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for the many opportunities we have in life to be examples of your love, grace and mercy. Help us to focus more on our motives than our actions and to rely on your Holy Spirit to guide us in how we can influence others for the Kingdom. Amen.

He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. Psalm 103:9

FearlessAre you afraid of God? I don’t mean a healthy respect for God and his power. I mean a nail-biting, goose-bump raising fear of God.

There are two extreme answers to that question. One is to focus so much on the ‘God is love’ idea that we see God as a kindly old grandfather type. You know the kind of guy that wants nothing more than to hang out at the ice cream shop with you and give you all the ice cream you can possible hope for.

The other extreme is to be so terrified with the concept of an almighty, all knowing, all powerful God that you walk on eggshells your entire life because you ‘know’ that one small slip and you’ll be spending eternity in hell!

God isn’t some cop looking to catch us at doing something wrong, nor is he an ogre hoping to keep us miserable our entire lives. On the other hand, he isn’t an eternal Santa Clause whose only goal in life is to give you nice presents and keep you happy.

God has rules. But his rules aren’t to make you miserable, but to help you be the very best you can be. He wants you to excel, but he also knows that certain lifestyles and certain activities may seem fun at the time but will cause problems in the future.

Zephaniah 3:17 says “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

When you fail (notice I said ‘when’ not ‘if’) don’t forget that God isn’t concerned about pointing out your faults or making you feel guilty. When we fail we remember how we failed last time. God doesn’t keep score. Rather than pointing a finger at us to accuse us, he puts his arm around us to guide us along the way. He delights in you even though you fail. He sings joyful love songs to you. We need never fear coming into God’s presence because we bring a smile to his face every time he sees us.

God’s goodness guides us and never condemns us because of his great love for us.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for your patience with me. I confess that many times my failure is rebellion more than mistakes. Help me to see your goodness in the midst of my struggle and accept your guidance for my life. In Jesus name, Amen.





“He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” Psalm 103:3

FORGIVEN“I used to believe in God when I was little,” the man in the airplane seat next to me said, “but as I grew older and saw the mess this world is in, I changed my mind. IF there is a God, and IF he’s good, then t
here wouldn’t be so much sickness and war.”

Even those of us ‘Christians’ can get sucked into questioning whether God is really good or not. Especially when we watch our homes being destroyed, or get a bad doctor’s report, or lose our jobs, stand beside the grave of a loved one who ‘died too soon’, or are served divorce papers.

Forgiveness is one of those areas in which it’s easy to forget Gods’ goodness. When we play the comparison game and see our own weakness it’s easy to think God won’t forgive me because I’ve let him down too many times. When we look at our own sin, more than God’s grace, we can live in defeat emotionally and physically.

The good news is that God’s goodness isn’t dependent on circumstances or our own behavior. God’s goodness is dependent solely on his character. God is good because God is good, not because of anything we’ve done.

Psalm 103:3 is a great reminder of that. The psalmist writes “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” He doesn’t just forgive some of those sins. He doesn’t wait to see if we really mean it when we confess. He doesn’t have a score card. He forgives because he is good!

Don’t allow the mistakes of your past keep you from experiencing God’s goodness. You can never out-sin God’s grace. His forgiveness is like a healing balm for the pain of your failure.

God is good because he good. His goodness is shown through forgiveness.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you today for your goodness even in light of my failures. Forgive me for the times I doubt your way is best and choose my own way. Empower me with   your Spirit to live in the victory your grace can give. Amen.

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