Monthly Archives: April 2014

Lessons From Sheep Shearing

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I was watching some video’s on how to shear sheep.  It’s pretty interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a try.  If you want to watch click here. The reason I was watching the video’s is that I had heard that sheep have to be sheared before summer or they could actually die from the heat.  So I started researching this to find out more.

The first time a sheep is sheared it puts up quite a fight and I am sure feels like its in danger.  However once they experience what its like after being sheared they are much more cooperative the next time.  They soon discover that without all that wool it’s much cooler and they don’t get sick as easily.  So the next time they sit quietly while the shearing happens, because they know they are not going to be hurt, but helped.

As I was thinking about that I realized that many of us need to be sheared as well.  We have weaknesses that cause us to fail and struggle and overheat/stress out.  We need to have the layers of sin, bad attitudes, hurts and hang-ups cut away.  But when someone tries to do that we fight and kick and are scared or angry.  You see we can’t shear ourselves, we need the help of other people.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  That is the point of accountability, caring enough about another person to respectfully shear away the layers of life.

If you want to be sheared here are three things that must happen:

  1. Take responsibility and admit your weakness – You are the only one that can decide to change or allow someone to shear you.  It takes humility and self-awareness to take this first step, but without doing this nothing will change.  I believe this is only possible with Gods help, by asking him to reveal the things we need to own and shear, and then asking for the courage to take responsibility.
  2. Raise your expectations for yourself – We talk ourselves into and out of a lot of things.  Over the years we tend to lower our standards and accept things we would not have before.  In 1 Peter 1:13-16 it says this “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy; you be holy.'”  So don’t settle for mediocre, God has a greater purpose and plan for your life.
  3. Find a trusted partner – If you really want to change and be sheared, you will need some trusted friends to help along the way.  Shearing is not a one time thing, it needs to be done over and over again.  It’s the same with us, we need to be held accountable over and over again.  That’s why we all need some people that we can confess too, that we can listen too, that we can talk too.  If you don’t have someone like this in your life start praying and ask God to bring the right people into your life that can be on your shearing team.  Remember after the shearing you will feel so much better, after the confession is great freedom.

The cool thing about this whole process is that when you allow someone else to sharpen you or shear you, you can in turn sharpen and shear them.  That only happens when you you are open and honest.  If you hide your stuff it can’t get sheared.  Happy shearing!

Easter

This time of the year is an exciting time as new life springs up with the warmer weather, at least in Ohio.  Easter is also an exciting time for Christians as we celebrate Jesus Christ.  As we prepare for Easter 2014 I thought I would share some thoughts on the significance of what Jesus did that causes us to be celebrating over 2,000 years later.

  1. Jesus died in our place – This is known as substitution, Jesus subbed in for us.  He took our punishment for us.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He was made sin for me.” and in 1 Peter 2:24 “He bore my sin in his body on the cross.”  What happened on the cross was personal.  Jesus the perfect, sinless Son of God had your sin put on him.  All the garbage, all the junk and ugliness he assumed it all.
  2. Jesus made us right with God – This is known as justification or in legal terms we were acquitted and found not guilty by God the Judge.  Acts 13:39 says “Through him (Jesus) everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
  3. Jesus made peace with God possible – This is known as reconciliation, which means bringing together two people who have suffered a breakdown in their relationship.  Jesus, by his death on the cross, gave us the opportunity to have our relationship with God healed and renewed.  2 Corinthians 5:19 says “God was in Christ, making peace between our world and himself…God did not hold the world guilty of its sins.  And he gave us this message of peace.”  So Jesus created a new bridge between us and God that had been broken.
  4. Jesus made us a part of God’s family – This is known as adoption, meaning God went through a lot in order to bring us into his family.  He considers us as his own children.  In Romans 8:17 it says “And since we are his children, we will share his treasures-for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too.”
  5. Jesus purchased our salvation with his blood – This is known as redemption, which means being set free.  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says this “God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver, as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
  6. Jesus satisfied God’s justice – This is known as propitiation which means that Jesus completely satisfied or fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands.  God demands holiness and perfection and Jesus satisfied that demand.  in 1 John 2:2 it says “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.”
  7. Jesus sent our sins away from us – This means forgiveness.  In Colossians 2:13 it says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”  God put all of our sins on Jesus, even though he was innocent and pure.  When our sins are put on him, we never see the guilt of them again.  God’s forgiveness is final and complete.

So there you have it, that is what Jesus Christ did for us.  That is why we celebrate so big during Easter, because all of this is amazing, unbelievable, undeserved and completely free.  Salvation is not by works but by grace, it’s not initiated by us but by God and its not an afterthought with God, it is his eternal plan.

Healing

wholeness

In 2 Chronicles chapter 7 God appears to Solomon.  Solomon has just finished building this magnificent temple of the Lord.  He has had tremendous success all along the way.  His father David had prepared the way for this to happen and now Solomon has accomplished this huge project for God.  They have been celebrating for 7 days and people are coming form all over the world to see this amazing temple and to worship God.  Solomon and others have been praying and preparing and then Solomon hears from God.

In verse 12 it says “The Lord appeared to him at night and said: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.”  God goes on to say “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people.”  This is interesting because God is saying that hardship has and will come our way.  He says when things go badly, when sickness strikes, when hard times come, I am going to tell you what to do.  This is verse 14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

So no matter what happens to us, if we are in God’s family, whether success, failure, sickness, heart break, tragedy or loss.  If we humble ourselves, pray and seek God and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us and forgive us and heal us.

So how does that translate for today.  Jesus came and was the final sacrifice for our sins, so we don’t need a temple to make sacrifices anymore.  Jesus paid for all our sins and gave us a clear path to heaven.  If we believe in Jesus Christ and follow him, we are now the temple that God can live in.  This verse in 2 Chronicles still applies today though for God’s people.  I believe this is about God being more concerned about our spiritual & emotional health than our happiness or even our physical well being.

So here is the principle:  If our daily focus is to remain humble and not be filled with pride and ego.  Thinking less about ourselves and more about God and others.  If our tendency or habit is to pray and seek God in any and every situation.  If we routinely repent or turn away from our sins, bad attitudes, negative thinking and the things that pollute our minds and hearts.  God promises to forgive us continually and immediately and take our burdens and worries from us.  And this leads to healing and wholeness.

The bottom line is that God wants us to trust him and depend on him for everything.  He wants us to turn away from the things that pull us down and turn to him who lifts us up.  It’s about becoming more like Jesus Christ who trusted God fully and completely and turned to him throughout his life here on earth.

So God is still in the healing business.  He wants us to be healthy and whole in every way and he wants to be the main focus in our lives, he wants us to worship him alone.  No matter what comes our way he is with us, for us and in us and he wants to forgive us and heal us.  God wants to free us from the hurts and damaging emotions that fill us up and tear us down.  He wants to free us from the lies and deception and fears that keep us locked up and in bondage.  He wants to heal our land, which is every part of us, not just our bodies.

The Power of Forgiveness

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One of the most powerful and helpful things we can do to be healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, is to practice forgiveness.  Forgiveness enables a person to release buried anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, grief, regret, hate and other damaging emotions that live inside of us.  Forgiveness releases layers and years of hurt and begins the healing process.  Forgiveness leads to an ability to love well.

It is important to know what forgiveness is and what it is not.

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting – Forgetting is a long-term by-product of forgiveness.  Once you choose to forgive someone, then healing and forgetting the hurt can start to happen.
  • Forgiveness is a choice – Everyone can choose to forgive, but typically we don’t feel like forgiving, because we like to hold onto our anger or resentment in order to protect ourselves.  When we don’t forgive we stay chained to our past.  Nobody can fix your past, but you can be free from it, it is your choice.
  • Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin – We all have had someone hurt us and we can either live in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.  No one gets off God’s hook, we all have to give an account for our actions and there are always consequences for our actions.
  • Forgive from the heart – Just saying the words I forgive you is not enough.  It’s important to bring back up the painful emotions and memories of the person that hurt you so that those emotions can be healed and not buried.
  • Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone’s sin against him or her anymore – This does not mean that you put up with abuse, we all need healthy boundaries and there are consequences for sin.  This means that we won’t bring up old offenses after forgiving someone.  Remember that God freely forgives us and does not hold our sins against us.
  • Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving – Most people will never get there.  Make the hard choice to forgive, even if you don’t feel like it.  Once you choose to forgive, the hold on you is broken and God can start healing your damaged emotions.

We should never base our decision to forgive on a person’s good behavior compensating for previous hurtful behavior.  Forgiveness is something that happens inside of you, it comes from your desire to forgive for the sake of forgiving.  Waiting until a person is worthy of forgiveness will feed your damaged emotions and cause further hurt.

Always remember that it takes only one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile.  You can forgive a person even if they don’t forgive you, but reconciliation always requires the wills of both parties involved.

There is so much more to forgiveness than what is covered here.  Some of the principles I covered come from Neil Anderson and his booklet called Steps to Freedom in Christ.  If your having a hard time making the choice to forgive, ask God to help you.  He can give you the strength to do it.