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Be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Deuteronomy 6:12

Remember the story of the Lion and the mouse? The little mouse was hopelessly trapped in the paws of the mighty lion. He begged for his release and promised to help him someday. The lion laughed so hard he dropped the mouse, allowing it to escape. Later, the lion was hopelessly trapped. The mouse heard the lion’s roar, raced to his rescue, gnawed the trap apart and released the lion. The lion remembered the mouse’s kind deed and the two became unlikely friends.

While the story could have multiple meanings for life, the most important may be to always remember the kind deeds others have done for you. The more pronounced the kindness extended to us, the more important it is for us to remember.

God’s people had spent nearly 600 years under the rule of the Egyptian government. They had no military strength. They had no qualities that would endear them to anyone. They were a bunch of slaves with no hope for anything better.

Then God showed up in the form of Moses and everything changed. They were miraculously delivered from bondage. They were given a chance to make something of themselves. They were given hope. Eventually they would become a mighty nation.

In the same way, each of us was spiritually enslaved. We had no hope. We had no endearing qualities. There was nothing that made us attractive to anyone. Then God showed up in the form of Jesus and everything has changed.

The words of Moses still ring true to us. What the God of the universe has done for each of us should always be at the forefront of our minds. The problem is, it’s far too easy to forget what God has done for us. Just as the Israelites struggled in the wilderness, we struggle as well in our daily pilgrimage. But the struggles we endure today are well worth what we will see in the promised land of eternity. So what is it that keeps us from remembering? What are the main enemies of our ingratitude (intentional or not)?

One is that we often forget how ugly sin looks to God. Shortly after the Israelites were delivered they longed to return to slavery! They forgot the bad and focused only on the good. We were as good as dead before Jesus died for us. There is nothing pretty or useful with ‘dead’.

A second reason we forget is that we grow content with what we have. When things are good we forget about the fact that every good gift comes as a result of his hand. When things go bad we spend our times blaming ourselves, God or others. God’s love and compassion are present regardless of our circumstances.

Thirdly, we can often forget about what God has done for us because our focus turns to what we have done for him or others instead. We begin to feel entitled to God’s blessings because we are so godly (compared to others); We try too hard to do the ‘right thing’ and become frustrated in our weakness; We move from seeing ourselves as being rescued to living as ‘the victim’ (poor little old me).

Take time to follow Moses’ advice. Be careful not to forget what God has done for you. Never forget that you were once nothing but a dead, worthless slave. Then, Jesus came to make you new. Now you are a child of God and destined for eternity in heaven. Never forget.

PRAYER: Father God, never let me forget where I have come from and where I am now because of your grace. Empower me to live a life of gratitude that spills over to those around me. Amen.

From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NCV)

When Jesus walked on earth he didn’t see men or women, he saw his very own creations. He showed everyone his unconditional love. He invited all to be healed, to be filled, to have their wounds anointed with the healing oil of his touch.

When Jesus walked among us he was, no doubt, uncomfortable with our sin. He, and only he, had the unique ability to look at our sin as God does, yet fully understand the frustration of living as God wanted us to live.

When Jesus walked the dusty roads ofPalestinehe was tempted. Tempted just like you and I. Tempted to worry. Tempted to be full of lust. Tempted to be angry or offended. Tempted to have the respect and status he deserved. We may not like the thought of it, but Jesus may even have looked at a young couple in love and wished he could have that. Remember. He was human as well as God.

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to see others as Jesus saw them. One of the hard truths of Scripture! To see others as Jesus did? To look past how they have hurt you? To look beyond how they have desecrated the faith you hold so dear? To turn the other cheek when they offend you. To work towards restoration when you would prefer revenge.

In essence, Jesus calls us to look at people as he did. Jesus sees Jesus sees people who are one breath away from eternity with him or one breath away from eternity separated from him. One breath away from eternal bliss and contentment or one breath away from eternal torment and anguish. One breath from being perfected in Christ or one breath away from being rejected by Christ.

There are really only two kinds of people in the world. Those we need to pray for so they will find Christ, and those we need to pray for that they will continue to grow in their faith.

The world judges according to gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, status, race, beauty, wealth and a whole list of other requirements. Jesus uses two, those that know him and those that don’t. Both groups are one breath away from eternity.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus forgive me for judging others as the world does. Give me your eyes to see others as you do. Give me the urgency to pray for those who need you as lord and savior. Empower me to show them the way.

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Matthew 7:2 (NLT)

One of the men I admire most was my uncle Bernard. Uncle Bernie was a quiet man with a generous heart. In all the years I knew him I never once heard him raise his voice or say a negative word about anyone. He was soft-spoken, gentle at heart and generous. He didn’t have a large house although he had money, his home was modestly comfortable. Uncle Bernie died in the same way he lived, quietly falling asleep as he listened to his favorite baseball team on the radio.

Uncle Bernie has been gone a long time but his testimony lives on in my mind because he was probably the most non-judgmental man I know, next to Jesus. I don’t remember enough about Bernie to know what made him tick; what it was that made him so accepting of other people, but that part doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was a man who knew Jesus and showed Jesus love in how he treated others.

Jesus taught us not to judge others. He showed us acceptance of other lifestyles when he reached out to the woman caught red-handed having sex with another woman’s husband by telling her she wasn’t condemned, even though she deserved death.

He showed how to accept people when he made a point to stop at a well so he could meet up with a woman who’d failed five times at marriage and finally decided to ‘shack up’ with man number six rather than go through the whole marriage/divorce cycle. She was so ashamed she went to the well when she ‘knew’ she’d be alone. But Jesus met her at her most lonely time in the loneliest place because he accepted her even though he couldn’t tolerate her lifestyle.

If Jesus were here today I think he’d visit people you and I avoid like the plague. The person living the gay lifestyle would find a friend in Jesus. The imposter who lives behind a disguise of religion while they battle with drugs, alcohol or pornography would feel his touch. The abusive father or stepmother, the guy with at tendency for road rage, the vindictive gossip. All can find acceptance and healing when they come to Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to accept those different than us, he requires it. Through the power of his Holy Spirit I can find the strength to accept those who make a mockery of my faith. Because of his nail scarred hands I can find acceptance and healing in the midst of my struggle with sin. I want to be like him. I want to show his love like my uncle Bernie did.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I see in scripture how you have reached to others. I ask that you would do a work in my soul. Forgive me and heal me of the struggles I’m enduring. Empower me to live for you and to reach out to those around me. Help me to accept those who mistreat me, drag your name through the mud and mock your name. I pray this in your name, Amen.

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Romans 8:33 (NLT)

A friend of mine, I’ll call him John, tells this story:

John was a pastor of a small church in a quaint village out east. This was the type of town where everyone knew everyone and would give a hand when necessary to help those in need. When my friend arrived in town the small church was in its last stages of life. The congregation was small and largely made up of elderly people. It was considered by some to be ministerial suicide because many a pastor had left defeated and maligned by this demanding congregation. My friend was, in a sense, the last ditch effort to keep the struggling ministry alive.

Although the ministry was hard and progress was slow, things began to change in the small church. Word got out that there was a ‘new guy’ at ‘FirstChurch’ and gave it a try. They stayed on and helped with some of the much needed changes and upkeep in the ministry.

One Sunday morning a new couple came through the doors. The pastor was informed of this and warned. “They are nothing but trouble pastor. He is a drunk and has made quite a spectacle of himself on several occasions. She is suspected of beating the children and their oldest claims to worship Satan! We can’t let them stay. They’ll destroy the reputation of our church!”

John tucked the information away in his mind but did nothing. The couple attended off and on for a time but soon became more regular. The kids rarely came and rumors had it that the kids were threatening evil to the church. There was evidence of an attempted break-in one night, but nothing could be proven. John continued to accept the couple in and often smelled alcohol on their breath as they left Sunday mornings.

One day the husband came to John and asked if he could be the listener for the Bible Club on Wednesday night. His job would simply be to listen to children recite verses. Against the warning of some of the people in his church, John accepted the offer. About six months after this story began both the husband and wife accepted Christ as Savior.

John was at that small church for seven years before moving on. The ministry was growing spiritually and physically when John was called to another ministry in another state. It was a tough decision to leave, but one that John knew was right.

Fifteen years after he left he happened to run into the man who’d taken his place. In the course of conversation he asked about this man and woman. A smile came to the face of the pastor as he told John that even though they had moved out of town, their legacy of faith and caring lived on. Just the week before the couple’s daughter had returned to the small church and asked forgiveness for things she’d done as a youth. She had accepted Jesus as her savior and wanted to be restored to fellowship!

John had tears in his eyes as he told this story. Then he looked at me and said, “What would have happened if I’d listened to those who’d so quickly judged?”

Every day you and I rub shoulders with people who have already been judged because of their economic standing, addictions, sexual orientation or a whole list of standards. As Christ-followers we stand at a crossroad. Will we accept them and risk our reputations in order to offer Christ’s forgiveness or will we stand on ‘principle’ and send them away? John reached out to others in the same way that Jesus did and the results were lives changed for eternity. Many people don’t feel like they measure up because of past or present circumstances. As Christ-followers we are called to reach out to all people with his love.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so hard to accept people who are different than me. Especially those who drag your name in the mud, and mock my faith. I find myself avoiding the very situations and people that your Son sought out. Empower me by your Spirit to reach out to those who need you the most and not judge them. In your name, Amen.

Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all. Proverbs 22:2

Try as we might to avoid it, we put labels on people. We judge them by the way they dress; the work they do; the church they go to; whether they go to church; their sexual orientation; their marital status and a whole list of other things. We don’t even realize it half the time!

I wonder how much anger would be removed from the world if we could just grasp the truth of Proverbs 22:2.

“The Lord is maker of us all.” It’s not our education that makes us. It’s not the government or unions or social status that makes us what we are. It’s the Lord God of heaven that determines the important things about us. I don’t buy into the idea that we are ‘all God’s children’ in the spiritual sense. Spiritually speaking there are plenty of passages in the Bible that tell us that a child of God is one who has accepted Christ as Savior and repented of their sin and called Jesus Lord.

But the Bible also says we are all made in God’s image, male and female, rich and poor, Christian or non-Christian. We don’t always understand the big ‘why’ questions. For example, why are some people rich and some poor? Is it because rich people are smarter? No. Is it because they try harder? Sometimes, but certainly not always. Is it because they were born into a situation that gave them their wealth? Again, sometimes but there are many people who have risen from poverty to wealth.

What is it then that makes us rich? The answer is really two-fold. First of all we need to re-define wealth. Wealth isn’t determined by what you have in your bank account, the size of your pension plan or your social standing. True wealth comes from within. It’s an attitude. So, in one sense we can all be wealthy in the things of the heart.

Secondly, anything we consider of value: money, talents, spiritual gifts, etc. comes directly from God. True wealth is not a government option. True wealth is not a result of unions or political action. God determines, for whatever reason, who is wealthy. Period.

Seek to grow wealthy in the important areas of your life. Seek to show mercy. Sow love. Cultivate compassion. Grow in the riches of Godliness through reading God’s Word, prayer and fellowshipping with others. Stop looking at what other people make or do or have. Focus on what God has given you. He is the true source of all wealth and His wealth lasts for eternity.

PRAYER: Another day Father where your word has cut me to the bone. So much of my anger, frustration and anxiety comes from what I have physically or what I want. I so often forget that anything I have or others have is directly a result of you. Forgive me for judging what others have as though it’s unfair or greedy. Empower me to seek True Wealth through you. In Jesus name, Amen.


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April 2023
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