What Idol’s are you harboring?

In today’s devotional I am reminded about what we must give up to enter the kingdom of God.  This can be and is a tough subject for a lot of people.  I know that at times it is for me.  We cannot enter the kingdom on our own accord, but we have to have the mind of a child.  By having that mind set is the only way that we can enter into eternal life with Christ.  A lot of people have a hard time rapping their mind around that because we are thinking in humanly terms, but it’s a Spiritual thing.  Having the mind of a child is where we have to spiritually turn ourselves over to God and let Him lead us.

Read the following devotion “A Year with Jesus, As A Child!” by Phil Ware.

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

When you read the verses below, I want you to notice My interactions with My disciples regarding a rich public official who turned away from following Me. I challenged My disciples to think through his rejection of My call and focus their attention on those who are worthy of their emulation:

Don’t you realize — the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? You can depend on this: if you don’t receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won’t enter it at all.

Religion gets far off track when the focus becomes a question of who is most important, most religious, and most deserving of the Father’s love.

I came to you as God. The rich public official in the story below missed this truth. He called Me “good” and only God is truly good. So I challenged him to listen to Me as God. I told him that he needed to drop his religious game of trying to earn the Father’s love. He needed to quit trying to outdo all the others around him in his religious practices. He needed to look deep into his own heart and see that there was an idol he held as more important than obeying the voice of the Father. However, he dismissed what I said. He refused to give up his idol — his great wealth — for two reasons:

  1. He didn’t think of Me as God. He dismissed what I said as just more religious teaching. He didn’t accept what I said as the very commands of God.
  2. He was rich and his idol — his real god — was his money. Unfortunately, he thought he could earn the Father’s favor just like he had earned his money.

Sadly, he walked away from Me and from the joy of My kingdom because he couldn’t give up what was false.

Just before the description of this rich public official’s visit with Me, you meet children who are the model for the kind of heart that receives My kingdom. Just after this official, you meet My disciples. In childlike amazement, they wonder how anyone can be saved if someone who has lived a good life, like this rich public official, couldn’t find his way into My kingdom. I reminded them that they were thinking in human terms. And in human terms, it is impossible. But We — Father, Son, and Spirit — make the impossible possible. All that My disciples had to do was look at themselves and what they had given up.

You see, nothing is impossible for the heart totally yielded to Me. You cannot give up more for Me than you will receive many times over in the age to come (Matthew 19:29). However — and this is a huge “however” — you have to be willing to follow Me as a child. So come, dear precious one, and follow Me!

Verses to Live

During My time on earth, children were not an important part of society. They were trained, loved, nurtured, and apprenticed at home. They were not important in adult society. For Me to hold them up as a good example of a disciple was shocking. To elevate children above a rich, devoted-to-the-law public official was shocking. Sometimes, My precious one, shocking is good. Listen with your heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to attach these words to your soul.

I AM the good teacher. I AM God among you. I AM the One teaching the eternal truth. You either renounce all of your idols and follow Me as a child, or you walk away from Me with a sad heart. If you leave, you forfeit your hope of enjoying My kingdom.

Some people brought infants to Jesus, hoping He would touch them to bless them. The disciples rebuked them for doing this. However, Jesus reacted strongly to their rebuke.

Jesus:

Let the little children come to Me. Never hinder them! Don’t you realize — the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? You can depend on this: if you don’t receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won’t enter it at all.

Public Official:

Good Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit the life of the age to come?

Jesus:

Why did you just call Me good? No one is good but God — only God. You know what the Hebrew Scriptures command: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”

Public Official:

I’ve already been doing these things — since I came of age.

Jesus:

One thing you still lack — one thing; sell all your possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me.

The man heard these words and sadness came over his face, for his wealth was considerable.

Jesus:

What a hard thing it is for those with much wealth to enter the kingdom of God! In fact, it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!

Listeners:

Then who can be liberated?

Jesus:

Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God.

Peter:

We have left our homes and followed You.

Jesus:

I’m telling you the truth: there is nobody who leaves his house or wife or siblings or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive more than he has given up — much more — in this age and in the age to come. He will receive eternal life.

(Luke 18:15-30)

Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I thank You for Jesus being among us in His earthly ministry as Immanuel — God with us. I confess that I sometimes try to win Your approval by compiling a list of things I believe You like and then going out and doing those things. I forget the accomplished mission of Jesus on the cross and the empty tomb that have saved me. So I ask the Holy Spirit to settle my heart in this grace and to reveal to me any unsurrendered area of my heart so that You, and You alone, are my God. I need the continuing guidance of the Spirit to help me completely yield myself to You. Dear Father, I want to follow Jesus as a child who holds nothing back from You and rejoices in the grace of Your acceptance of me and Your promises for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

It’s a pretty powerful devotion today and one that has me rethinking and digging deeper into my life.  What about you?  Are you harboring unknown idols in your life?  It’s something to consider and evaluate.  I’m going to be doing that.  Care to join me?

Advertisements

Are you harboring any unforgiveness toward anyone?

Are you harboring any un-forgiveness?  I know that I do and have; today’s devotion talks about having un-forgiveness and how we hold onto that un-forgiveness and how we can have faith as small as a mustard seed to deal with that un-forgiveness.  The hardest thing that we can do to ourselves and others is to hold onto anger, bitterness, fear, and feelings of helplessness.  Holding these things against someone not only hurts them, but hurts us even more.  I know that I have to learn and I am learning to give those thought patterns over to God so that I can heal.  Are you doing that?  If not, maybe the following devotion may help you.

Read it and see what you think; it was written by Phil Ware.

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

What’s the hardest miracle to perform? I know many of you would love to see some great miracle of your selection to help you believe. Yet all around you every day, some of the most amazingly wondrous transformations happen by divine power at work in My followers. As My disciples show in the verses below, one of the hardest of the wondrous transformations is for the power of grace to lead a wounded heart to forgive.

This very important reality is the focus of My teaching about prayer and miraculous results. One of the hardest “miracles” to believe possible is forgiveness. I taught about this repeatedly in My ministry on earth. This teaching is rooted in the two greatest commands — to love the Lord your God with all you are and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). You cannot be wrong with your brother or sister on earth and be right with your Father in heaven. It’s that simple to say and yet very hard for the wounded human heart to love as it should. This teaching is also based on another essential reality: you do not truly appreciate the forgiveness you have received if you do not pass along that same grace of forgiveness to others (Matthew 6:14; Matthew 18:23-35; Ephesians 4:32).

Yes, this is a hard truth. That’s why your forgiveness of others may be one of the hardest “miracles” to perform. Feeding 5,000? Not hard for Me with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Raising the dead? I have done that. Healing the blind, the lame, the paralyzed, the leprous? I have done that repeatedly. However, changing a wounded heart that has been abused and mistreated is so much harder because that change depends on the submission of the person to My will in spite of whatever may have happened to him or her. Grace has to permeate down to a broken and dark place in a person’s soul and capture it with the truth of what I did to redeem it. For you to genuinely forgive those who come in repentance and ask for forgiveness is a hard wonder to perform, but not impossible!

What I want you to realize is that if you can have “faith the size of a single, tiny mustard seed”, then that “little faith can accomplish the seemingly impossible” — including turning your wounded heart into a gracious heart like Mine! Watch what I do as I journey toward Jerusalem to take up the cross. Remember My words of forgiveness. Remember why I did what I did — not because I wanted to face suffering and heartbreak, but because those who sinned and rejected Me, both then and in your day, need My forgiveness and grace.

The same spirit of forgiveness and grace must be true of you as you deal with those who hurt you and sin against you. They need your grace displayed to them to understand the power of My grace. So when you forgive, don’t act like you deserve a medal for doing something hard. Yes, it is hard, very hard, and sometimes it feels impossibly hard. If you call yourself My disciple, that means you have committed to the lifestyle of the cross. Sometimes that will seem as hard for you to face as it was for Me to face the rejection, mockery, agony, and humiliation of My cross. Forgiving others is not only a sign that you have faith to follow My example of forgiveness. It also means that you realize that you are My servant and “unworthy of extra consideration or thanks” since you were just doing your “duty”. I don’t say that to be harsh, but to help you realize how important forgiveness is in My family of grace!

Verses to Live

I want you to know, My dear disciple, that much of My teaching during My journey to Jerusalem and the cross is challenging and sometimes just very hard to accept at a human level. It doesn’t make sense. It seems upside down to the way your world works. So I ask you again to watch Me and what I do on the way to My cross and all that goes with My passion. Redeeming a lost world means living a radical discipleship. I wasn’t crucified because I was a nice sweet man. I was crucified because I was a loving, kind, gentle, truth-telling world-changer Who lived the character and compassion of God before a world opposed to His ways. I call you to follow Me in this world-changing lifestyle!

Jesus (to His disciples):

You can’t stop temptations to do wrong from coming. But how tragic it will be for the person who becomes the source of the temptation! It would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

So each of you needs to be careful. If your brother sins against you, confront him about it, and if he has a change of mind and heart, then forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times in a single day, if he turns back to you each time and says he’s sorry and will change, you must forgive him.

The Lord’s Emissaries:

We don’t have enough faith for this! Help our faith to grow!

Jesus (pointing to a nearby mulberry tree):

It’s not like you need a huge amount of faith. If you just had faith the size of a single, tiny mustard seed, you could say to this huge tree, “Pull up your roots and replant yourself in the sea,” and it would fly through the sky and do what you said. So even a little faith can accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Imagine this scenario. You have a servant — say he’s been out plowing a field or taking care of the sheep — and he comes in hot and sweaty from his work. Are you going to say, “You poor thing! Come in and sit down right away”? Of course not! Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, “First, cook my supper and set the table, and then after I’ve eaten, you can get something to eat and drink for yourself”? And after your servant has done everything you told him to do, are you going to make a big deal about it and thank him? I don’t think so! Now apply this situation to yourselves. When you’ve done everything I’m telling you to do, just say, “We’re servants, unworthy of extra consideration or thanks; we’re just doing our duty.”

(Luke 17:1-10)

Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I confess that there are wounds I carry that weigh me down and burden my soul. I want to believe that I can forgive, but it is hard. And when I will not forgive, I know that I hold myself captive to the offenses committed against me and against those I love. So please, I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to understand all that You teach about forgiveness and what it means. I also trust the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to pour Your love into my heart and to give me the strength to believe that I can forgive. I believe, but please help my unbelief. I want the “miracles” of forgiveness and grace to be an essential part of my life’s character. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

I know that I am going to apply this to my life.  What about you?  Care to join me?  What are your thoughts on this?   I would love to hear them.