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HYDRATE — Winning from the inside 30 (Matthew 6:22-23) Light


22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT)

Whoever said…”the eyes are the window to the soul” must have stole it from Jesus. Have you ever looked at somebody and noticed immediately that there was something shady about them? Or, think of it in the opposite….have you ever looked at somebody and noticed immediately that there was something very inspiring about them? I think we can instinctually recognize all kinds of things by looking at the eyes of the people we encounter. I think we can see pain, joy, love, inspiration, hate, and many other traits by just looking into the eyes of the people around us. The next time you are in a group of people, just sit back and do a little people watching….specifically looking at their eyes. Be careful with it…don’t stare too hard or too long! 🙂

Being a lead pastor for as long as I have now, and being privileged to interact with thousands of people, I have learned that you can tell a lot about a person, and what they might be experiencing, by reading their eyes. The phrase, “actions speak louder than words,” rings true and if you watch people’s eyes, you can predict with strong accuracy whether or not they are doing well or not. I have learned that you can actually tell how a person is doing by looking into their spouse’s eyes…this is especially true of wives. I can tell a lot about a husband by watching the eyes of his wife. The next time you are speaking with a married couple, watch the eyes and countenance of the wife. You will be able to guess pretty accurately whether or not the husband is a good husband. Do her eyes tell you she’s alive, encouraged, and full of joy? Do her eyes tell you she’s been verbally beat down and discouraged? Do her eyes show that she is embarrassed to be around him as his eyes wander to the young blonde who just walked by? If you pay attention, its pretty easy to read people. You can tell a lot about how parents really are by looking at thier kids eyes when they are with their parents. Do the kids eyes read fear, joy, courage, security or something else? In fact, anytime somebody is present with the person who is in authority over them, you will be able to tell what kind of boss/authority the person is by reading the eyes of the one who is under that person’s authority. I have personally discovered that when I am with someone who knows I’m a pastor, and they can’t look me in the eyes, time has proven that they probably have some kind of sin in their life they are engaging in. There are a thousand different scenarios here. What I am saying is that if we practice, we can get very good at reading how a person is doing by simply watching their eyes.

The danger in doing a lot of eye reading is that we might get really good at determining how other people are doing but miss the most important person we should be reading…ourselves.

Take a look in the mirror…read your eyes. Tired? Abused? Joyful? Peaceful? Angry? Resentful? Hopful? Prideful, arrogant, etc, etc…? What are your eyes telling you about you?

If you think about the simplicity of this teaching of Jesus’s, then you and I will recognize that we follow our eyes. If our eyes engage in pornography then we will be filled with lust for sex. If our eyes are engaged on all the toys our neighbor owns then our hearts will be filled with jealousy and greed. If our eyes are continually engaged in our work, then our hearts and minds will be absent from our home life. If our eyes are engaged in the Word of God, then our hearts and minds will be filled with the things of God.

The point is that our eyes are continually focused on the things we are committed to. What we are continually focused on with our eyes, is what we are committed to, and is what we become. I am actually excited for you that your eyes are currently reading this post about eyes, because it says that you actually are desiring to learn and be challenged about Holy things of God. You will become what you are committed to. What are you committed to? If you have a hard time determining what you are committed to…take a look at your calendar and your checkbook. It doesn’t lie. Eyes don’t lie either.

The most dangerous eyes to have are the eyes of pride. Do you know what that looks like? I have found that prideful people don’t know what it looks like. I think Jesus refers to prideful eyes when He says in Matthew 6:23, “And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

There is nothing like being around somebody who is obviously wrong about something, but they insist they are right. It could be a little thing like arguing about directions while driving, or it could be a person who is confidently “right” about Jesus being a fake. It could be someone or a group of someone’s who think they are right about moving the company/church forward, but all the while they are wrong and all the signs point to their wrong-ness, but they demand to be right anyway, all the while leading the company/church into destruction.

Most of the time, I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. I am a very opinionated person and I have a lot of conviction when I make statements and decisions. I have made quite a few statements, and made decisions, thinking I was right, but actually I was wrong. When this happens, I personally do not have a problem admitting it. A majority of people can’t stand the person who can’t admit they were wrong, and even worse, they continue to live in their wrong-ness, even when everything around them is proving they are wrong. This kind of person is dangerous. This kind of person is not like Jesus at all. I think this is the kind of person that Jesus is referring to in the passage we are looking at today. This person thinks their darkness is actually light.

I think there are two dramatic situations that are eternally dangerous when it comes to someone thinking they are right, but they are actually wrong. I think of a person who says there is no God with great confidence. The other kind of person I am thinking of, is the so called Christian, who refuses to be fruitful for the Lord Jesus Christ because they only want what they want in what they think is “their” church.

Jesus says, about the person who thinks they are living in the light, but their “light” is actually darkness, that their light is actually a deep darkness. Can you think of a better satanic trick? If the devil can get you to think with pride that you are right and everybody else is wrong…he wins your soul into hell for eternity…all the while you were thinking you were right/holy. That is a deep-deep darkness that you actually thought was light. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light. There is no greater satanic trickery…than to get someone to think they are right, when they are actually hell bound. Ouch. I have encountered people like this in church settings. These people will even use a bible verse…out of context…to “prove” their point. But they are actually wrong. The Bible in several places describes Hell as a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Can you imagine, if you lived your life thinking you were right about there being no God, but when you died and found yourself standing in the presence of Jesus Christ as a non-believer, and you ended up in hell?…there will be WEEPING. Can you imagine being a church goer most of your life, stubbornly demanding that your church be designed for exactly what you want, at the cost of new people giving their lives for Christ, thus producing no fruit, and you end up eternally separated from Jesus because you were fruitless as you pursued your personal preferences in church?….GNASHING of teeth! Gnashing of teeth is someone yelling with deep regret at what happened… “I should not have been selfish.” ….Eternally.

That is a nasty, mean spirited darkness…but they thought it was light…they thought they were right.

You know how to prevent your light from actually being darkness? Humility. I’m going to risk sounding un-humble in what I’m about to write…

If you really don’t know something…then shut-up… and listen to the person who knows.
If you are trying to be something that you simply are not…stop it!
If you are in a position of influence that you have NO business being in…quit now! (But you argue…quitting is for losers! I say, really? You’re not a loser if you quit picking your nose. You’re not a loser if you quit wetting the bed. You’re not a loser if you quit trying to be someone that you are not!)
If you are wrong…quit being stupid in your wrong-ness and admit you are wrong and watch how people will actually be inspired by your new found light.

Jesus is the light! Focus your eyes on Him. Do what He tells you! Only pursue what He wants of you and not your own wants.
Make sure your light is actually light and not darkness.

Speaking of eyes…2 Chronicles 16:9 The EYES of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Speaking of eyes…do you remember the lyrics to this old hymn?

Turn your EYES upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the LIGHT of His glory and grace.


HYDRATE – Winning from the inside 29 (Matthew 6:19-21) Storage

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

I write this blog on September 11, 2012. Eleven years, to the date, of when 19 men flew four massive airplanes into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in D.C and one plane, intended for the White House, that never hit its target because people on the flight dared to stand up against the criminals that hijacked the plane, and thus it crashed in a field before it hit its intended target. 2,977 people were killed that day in this extreme act of cowardice and terror and pursuit of their eternal promises.

Our world calls them suicide bombers. I call them men who are faithful to their extreme belief, in what they believe, the Islam faith teaches them. There is much confusion in how to translate what the Koran teaches, just as there are many confusing things that Christians teach and do based off their understanding of what the Bible teaches. There are extremists in every faith. Christianity has too many stories in its history of men and women taking their Bible passages out of context. The crusades (1096-1155 AD) would be one perfect example of this.

When men and women begin to act out their selfish motives, and justify their actions by using scriptures out of context, people die violently, painfully, nonsensically, and what a tragedy it all is.

I want to compare a couple of teachings. One from the Koran and the other from the Holy Bible. Muhammed says one, Jesus says the other.

I’ll start with the following passage in a Web-based version of Islam’s book, the Koran. “Verily, for the Muttaqun [righteous], there will be a success (paradise); gardens and grapeyards; and young full-breasted maidens of equal age; and a full cup (of wine)” (An-Naba 78:31-34).

After reading that text above, you may wonder if you heard wrong about a promise of 72 virgins in a heaven that Muhammed describes. The mention of 72 virgins is not in the Koran, but is actually in what is called the “Hadith” which is basically a collection of sayings from Muhammed. In the Hadith, Muhammad is recorded as saying… “The least [reward] for the people of Heaven is 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome of pearls, aquamarine and ruby.” — Hadith number 2,562

The other teaching I want to compare with the one from the Koran is the passage this blog is about. Matthew 6:19-21. Matthew records this teaching that Jesus taught. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Here’s the bottom line. Both teachings promise things in the eternal life. Both recognize that mankind is motivated by ownership and receiving…usually material goods. What’s the difference in these two teachings?

One teacher teaches that faithfulness to his teachings will be rewarded with full breasted women and virgins, wine, and servants, among many other things.

The other Teacher teaches that those who are faithful to His ways will be rewarded with eternity in the presence of the Creator and the Savior and the Holy Spirit.

Both faiths reference rewards of jewels, gold, joy, pleasure, etc, in eternity.
Both faiths reference sacrifice.
Both faiths reference living more for the eternal life than this temporal life.

So are they really different?
Yes…they are very different. Just as a bird compared to a human, in which both have many similarities, they are extremely different.

Only one faith, of these two, references laying down your own life so that others may live. Jesus teaches that there is no greater love than someone who lays down his/her life for others. A Muslim extremist believes that if he/she lays down his/her own life and kills others(especially non-Muslims) will be rewarded with the above referenced items of heaven.

The extremists in both faiths seem to understand Heaven as a place of self-reward.

True Christianity, as Jesus taught it, is less about material goods and physical pleasures and more about being allowed in the presence of Almighty God. I like to think of Heaven more as a person that a place. Albeit, it is still a place. But I believe that Jesus taught us to be focused more on the Father of Heaven than on the frills of Heaven.

This Matthew passage is the one time Jesus actually says to store up for yourself. My selfish nature, that tugs at my heart and mind daily, gets excited and manipulates me to start thinking that Heaven is all about me. However, my Spiritual nature kicks in and reminds me that everything is about God the Father and Jesus Christ, His sacrificial Son. In this battle between my selfish nature and my spiritual nature, on a good day, selfishness is forced to tap out.

When Jesus says to store up for myself, and then He gives me a description of what I should be putting into storage for future use, He clearly designates material things as trash, rust, and moth food. What does that leave us to store up for ourselves in Heaven, and how do I actually store them?

I believe that God does the “storing” by recording.

God’s Holy Scriptures give us a few hints about the Lamb’s book of life and also mentions that everything on earth is being recorded from Heaven, and even references that we will have to give an account of even, every idle word we have spoken.

Is it possible that every time we bring a little bit of Heaven onto earth, that act puts a deposit of some kind into storage in Heaven for later use?

Give a cup of cold water to the thirsty and your storage unit gets a contribution. Giving food to the homeless and your storage unit is opened again and something is stored away for future use. Clothing to the naked. Visit the prisoner. Care for the orphan and the widow and anyone who is sick. Giving a bicycle to a less fortunate kid at Christmas. Buying a pair of Toms shoes and giving a pair to a kid without shoes. Writing that check for 1 million dollars and giving it to your local church. Holding the door open for the elderly couple walking in behind you. Praying with someone who is in despair. Giving advice to someone needing a little direction. Listening to someone pour out their story of tragedy and not judging them for it. Teaching that Sunday School class. Committing an hour a week in the nursery of your church. Being a youth volunteer. The list of things you and I can do, in the name of Jesus, that brings a touch of Heaven onto this crazy earth goes on for eternity.

I’m not sure what gets stored away in the heavenly storage unit I’m imagining.

My guess is that it has very little to do with material goods. According to the Bible, the asphalt of Heaven is Gold. I don’t know of anyone storing up asphalt today on earth, but we sure do store up gold. That gold will be beautiful asphalt in eternity. I think our life here on earth confirms that our storage units in Heaven are not full of material goods. We acknowledge here on earth that material goods are simply temporal. Ask an elderly family member, laying on their hospice bed, what treasure is. I have spoken with many people while they are dying on their hospice bed. Never have I heard one say they wished they would have gotten the Sunday NFL ticket on their Dish Network, or had a bigger diamond on their wedding ring, or put more hours in at the office, or furnished their house with nicer things. No. They wish they would have watched more of their family members playing football, cashed in their diamond to feed starving children, spent more hours in the homes of their grandchildren, furnished their house with neighbors, family and friends and demonstrated to just one more about the love of Jesus Christ.

I have met too many who have too many regrets in their life. They regret to acknowledge that Jesus was right in His statement about people’s hearts being connected to people’s treasures.

What is your heart focused on?
Its easy to answer off the top of your head.

The tough thing to do today is really prove where your heart is by verifying what you consider treasure.

The best way to determine where your heart is, is to take a look at your expenditures of time and money. Where do you spend a majority of your time and money?

Now don’t get me wrong. Working to provide for your family is Holy and right.
Spending a large part of your income on a mortgage is Holy and good. Spending time on vacation with your family is pure. Taking time for yourself to recreate and play is healthy and biblical.

My question is…are you storing up anything in Heaven?
Do you give to the Lord’s work 10% or more of the income God has blessed you with? Do you use your God given influence and talent where you live, work, play, and pray to sacrifice for Jesus Christ?

The morning of September 11, twelve years ago today, 2,977 people woke up and went about their day’s plan. They had no idea their lives would be snuffed out that day. We mourn losing them, especially when it was caused by selfish pursuit of eternal rewards the faith extremists are promised in the teachings of Muhammed.

May today and everyday be a time to question our motives, pursue truth, and understand, that above all else, true love and eternity are built around laying down our own selfish desires so that others may live. When we do this, in the name of Jesus Christ, the reward will be eternity in the presence of the ones who created the sun, moon and the stars.

So, go ahead, begin storing up for yourselves….treasures…in Heaven.

This kind of living is the good life now that leads to the Great Life forever.


HYDRATE –Winning from the inside 28 (Matthew 6:16-18) Motives

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

Motives are a tough thing to judge. Motives originate inside the heart and mind and tend to become evident through actions. I think it is easy to get caught up in being quick to judge people’s motives. We all can have moments of confidence where we think we know why a person is wearing a certain outfit, or why a person is hanging out with that other person, or why they drive that kind of car. The reality is, that confidence that makes us think we know why somebody is doing a certain thing, is actually judging. This whole subject gets complicated in the sheer fact that Judging is preceded by motive. You cannot judge someone without first having a motive. Everything that you and I do is founded on motives. Some examples? A friend recently told me a story about a lady on an airline flight that he was also on. My friend, who is a great and dramatic story teller told the story like this. “The plane was about to pull back from the gate, when it was announced that there was a last minute passenger who needed to board the plane, and that there would be a few more minutes of delay. The passengers already on the plane, almost as if on cue, all moaned in unison. About 5 minutes later the late passenger boarded the plane.” My friend, telling the story, described the scene. “The lady came blasting down the isle, and her size made it difficult for her to fit down the isle, so as she passed by, everybody had to make a little extra room for her to get down the isle and to her seat. When she sat down she demanded rather loudly to the already seated flight attendants to get a seatbelt expander. It was obvious that she had been running, she was very sweaty and her hair was disheveled and it was clear that she was frustrated. When she finally sat down and the plane was able to taxi and take off, it only took about 2 minutes before this lady began to push her flight attendant button and ask for some water. The flight attendant got up from her seat and walked back to determine how she might be of assistance. When the lady requested some water, she was told no by the flight attendant because beverage service wouldn’t begin for another 20 minutes for all the passengers who would like to have a refreshment. The lady, who made the whole flight wait, got very upset and began to raise her voice about how she had to run to catch the plane and that if she didn’t get some water now, she might faint. The flight attendant turned around and walked to the back and with a voice that carried far enough for the back half of the plane to hear, said, ‘that overweight, demanding lady who made our whole flight take off late, just for her, is now demanding that she get something to drink before everybody else on the plane.’ The other flight attendant snickered, just loud enough, and said, some people have such nerve. The lady who requested the water heard the remarks and began to cry out loud. The flight attendant approached the lady with a glass of water and said, I hope you are satisfied. Maybe now we can take care of the others on the plane and not just serve your desires, I’m not sure what your problem is, but I think you are very demanding and rude. Why are you being so dramatic and selfish? The lady, who the whole plane was delayed for, replied I’m really sorry for my poor behavior, I just found out that my mother was in a very bad car accident and is in critical condition at the ICU and that I needed to hurry if I wanted to see her, because she might not make it through the day. I am so afraid I will not see her before she passes away.”

Motives Matter. I think this teaching of Jesus about fasting, is not so much about fasting as it is about motives.

If you reread Jesus teaching above, you will notice that He doesn’t say, ‘if you fast.” He says, “when you fast.” Jesus doesn’t really teach about fasting, how to fast, or what to fast from. He simply teaches about motives for fasting. As Jesus didn’t take the time in this passage to teach about fasting, I won’t either. I will simply say that fasting is sacrificially denying yourself anything for the purpose of showing God that whatever you are fasting from is not more important than He is. Fasting is also a way of showing the Lord how serious you are about whatever it is you are praying and fasting about.

It seems to me that Jesus is teaching about why we fast. He is teaching about fasting with false motives. He says in this passage that if we do anything on earth with the motive of seeking an earthly reward, that it would be the only reward we get. He doesn’t say that we will not be rewarded. I think He is saying that if we seek an earthly reward it will be a good one, but at the cost of a greater reward.

My motive determines my reward.

If I live for this world, then I will receive earthly rewards. This is a good thing.
If I live in this world, with motives that seek an eternal reward at the cost of an earthly reward, then I held out for the greater reward.

Which reward do you desire more.
If you want your reward RIGHT NOW…then you can get it.
If you want your reward to come from God and be eternally focused…you can get that too.

I think that those who are only living for this world…well…this world is as close as close to Heaven as they will get.

I think that those who are bringing the elements of Heaven to earth, and living with Heaven in mind…this world is as close to hell as they will ever get.

Is it just me, or is Jesus saying that if we do anything on earth with a motive of getting the reward now, then that is the only reward we will get pertaining to that action? I think so. Again…this is not a bad thing. Its a good thing at the cost of a greater thing.

Delayed gratification is a hard thing. It takes patience and endurance. Jesus says in other teachings of His that we should store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. What does that mean? It seems to mean that there is a reward system in eternity. How we live now determines what kind of rewards we get in Heaven. Heaven’s focus is the only time where we actually hear Jesus say to store up for yourself.

Why you live, why you work, and why you play, matters. Test your motives. It has eternal ramifications.

Why do you wear what your wearing right now?
Why did you get that body augmentation?
Why did you sign up to serve as a volunteer?
Why did you give money to that homeless person?
Why did you purchase the specific vehicle you drive?
Why do own the home you have and decorate it the way you do?
Why do you do what you do spiritually?
Are you doing any action today that if you tested your motives you would have to admit that you are doing it to get attention?

Its not wrong to do things for attention(earthly reward), it will just be done at the cost of receiving an eternal, God given reward for it.

I want to challenge you to do good in a stealth way! Do your acts of kindness secretly. When you do this…you will find great joy and you will receive rewards from the Lord!

I want to challenge you to take Jesus up on his teaching. When you fast, don’t let anybody know. Then your reward will be all the greater.

There is no greater reward than being blessed by the Creator of the sun, moon and stars! His rewards are eternal. His rewards are things that can never be taken away.

Motives matter.
What’s your motive?


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 27 (Mt. 6:14-15) “Forgive”

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Is God forgiveness conditional? According to Jesus, Yes, forgiveness is not something you receive just because Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. This is a tough teaching. Jesus’ death on the cross ended God’s anger towards mankind for sin and satisfied God’s character trait of Justice. (Thank God that He is also Mercy.) Jesus’ death doesn’t automatically grant us forgiveness. We have to go to Jesus, then through Jesus and be made new in Jesus. We have to accept Jesus as Lord of our life. We have to receive His blood. This is where forgiveness is received as the free gift that it is.

But…

What if, I have done all those things…is it still possible to not receive Jesus’ forgiveness? I will ask you to answer that question yourself after you read a few passages of Scripture. Here are some passages to help us answer this question.

Matthew 18:23-35 (NLT)
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone* who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!*
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.* 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.* He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart.”

Question: Did the servant receive forgiveness? The answer is yes. Did the servant have his forgiveness revoked? The answer is yes. Why did the servant, after receiving the status of forgiven, return to the status of unforgiven? The answer is, because the forgiven servant refused to forgive someone else.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
Jesus said, “14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Those two passages give me clear proof that if I refuse to forgive anyone, then God will not forgive me. It’s unimaginable to me that anyone would beg for forgiveness from God and at the same time refuse forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Our forgiveness is tied in directly with our willingness to forgive those who have sinned against us. Anybody I have spoken with about this agrees, until they have personally been hurt. Its easy to tell others that they need to forgive. Its not so easy to do it ourselves. So maybe the next few thoughts will help all of us understand why un-forgiveness is like a nasty disease and the quicker we forgive, the healthier we will be personally.

Un-forgiveness not only hurts ourselves but also the person who hurt us. In most cases when someone sins against us and hurts us deeply, the person who hurt us doesn’t sit around thinking about us. The person who hurt us, more likely than not, is not waking up every morning thinking about us. People who cause deep pain, usually do so because they have a tendency to think selfishly. If this is the case, and the person who hurt us is not thinking about us, but we are frequently thinking about the person who hurt us, then we are actually hurting ourselves. Pain makes us think about who, what, why and when we are hurt. Its very time consuming.

With un-forgiveness in our heart, we are consumed by the one who hurt us. I’ve heard it said that thinking about the person who hurt you is like letting that person live in your heart rent free. Again…they are not thinking about us much at all. We are dwelling on them and how they hurt us. It begins to fester. Its all consuming. We find ourselves lashing out at others. Why? Because of un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness means we don’t heal. Without healing, there is still pain. Pain makes us focus. If we have un-forgiveness towards a person who hurt us then we will focus on the person and the pain. Focus is commitment. We become what we are committed to. If we are committed to feeling the pain and not giving forgiveness then we will become people of pain and un-forgiveness. You will become a person of hurt. Hurt people, hurt other people, or as I like to say, “hurt people, hurt people.

I know we do not want to be hurt people that go about hurting other people. The temptation is to think that the anger we feel inside is good. The temptation is to enjoy the anger feeling we have inside. Sometimes it can make us rage internally and sometimes outwardly. Watch enough Hollywood movies and you will actually begin to believe that the rage and anger you feel is empowering. You will think it feels good and makes you powerful. It makes us think we are strong. It will tempt you to seek revenge and you will begin to believe your revenge is justified. Do you see how dangerous this is? Compare it to man who is taking steroids. He is injecting a chemical inside his body that makes him bulk up and look good. His muscles grow and he becomes an impressive specimen. However, he is poisoning his body. That same steroid that made us all think this person is extremely healthy actually causes him to die. Sterilization, bouts of rage and emotions that are out of control, are all side effects of steroids. But the user thought it was all good. This is what un-forgiveness does to us. Its slowly kills us from the inside or causes us to physically lash out and have sinful reactions.

Mother Theresa said it best, “Un-forgiveness is like you drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.”

So what must we do to rid ourselves of un-forgiveness? We have to give forgiveness. Now, in full transparency, I have never felt like forgiving someone who has hurt me. If we are waiting on the feeling to come around, it won’t. Forgiveness is an act of discipline. Forgiveness is an act of sheer holy will. Forgiveness is a choice to be healthy. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult decisions we can make.

I hope the following thoughts will help us give forgiveness to the one(s) who have hurt us. First of all we are dying a slow death if we don’t forgive. It will rot us. Think about this. Just because we forgive someone doesn’t mean they just get off without any consequences. A murderer who is about to receive a lethal injection for his crime can be forgiven by the family of the loved one he murdered. But he still receives the lethal injection. If a family member wounded me deeply, I can forgive the person, and I will be smarter in my dealings with this person from now on. I will create boundaries. If a woman has been abused by a family member, she can forgive that family member, and from that point forward not spend any more time with her abuser. To forgive someone doesn’t mean that we have to be in each others company in the future. If we have been hurt by someone, forgive them and then create boundaries. Don’t forget that God is a god of Restoration. He deeply desires us to be in healed and holy relationships. God desires for you to forgive and restore, but God also understands that if one of the parties doesn’t honor the new boundaries set, then God doesn’t expect us to stay around abusive and unholy behavior. Especially if the person who is abusive and displaying unholy behavior calls themselves a Christian. Be smart with this. Don’t trust your feelings on this issue. Trust God’s Word and common sense. We may need to seek some trustworthy counsel from holy friends or seek a good Christian counselor to advise us on these life altering issues.

The critical factor in all this is to triple check our motives as to why we are creating boundaries as we give forgiveness and work on whatever this restored relationship is going to look like. If we are creating boundaries to control and hurt the person back, then we truly haven’t given the person forgiveness and we now are having sinful reactions towards the person who hurt us. How? All control, judgement and praise belong to God only. If we ever do anything for the purpose of control, praise or judgement then we are taking the role of God. If we do this, even if we won’t say it, our actions are screaming, “I am God!” As we create boundaries for the person who hurt us, we must carefully guard that we aren’t actually having sinful reactions of control and judgement.

Forgiveness ultimately frees us from the prison we have been trapped in. If we are trapped in a prison of forgiveness then we must recognize that we hold the keys to our freedom in our own hands. The keys that unlock our jail cell of un-forgiveness are in our hands. The key is forgiveness. Forgiveness allows us to let the person who hurt us go. By doing this they can no longer live in our hearts rent free. We unlock ourselves from the prison we have been in. A popular “churchy” phrase is “let go-and let God.” When we forgive we release this person into the hands of God and trust that God will do what is right to and for that person. If we try to control the situation because we believe that God will be too kind to the person, then we actually believe that God will make a mistake and that we can do a better job of making this person face the consequences they deserve. Again, if we do this, we actually act as if we are God. We think we can do a better job than God. How dangerous is that?

If what I have written above still is not helping us grant forgiveness to the people who have hurt us, then here is my last desperate attempt.

I am going to write this as if I am talking directly with you.

Have you ever hurt someone?
Do you agree that what you did to hurt that person was a sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for your sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for the sins of the person who hurt you?
As I personally answer the four questions above…The answer is yes to all.

Forgive.

How.
Write a letter.
Send a text.
Facebook Message.
Skype.
Phone call.
Personal visit.

We cannot control how the person will respond when we tell them we are forgiving them. They may not even know that they hurt you. They may get angry, lash out, try to hurt more. Don’t worry about or try to control how they respond. Remember forgiveness is for us to be free. Give forgiveness. Live free.

Don’t forget 1 John 1:9(NLT) I would recommend that we all memorize it. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Forgive.
Be Forgiven!
Its the good life.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 26 (Mt. 6:9-13) “Lord’s Prayer”

“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:9-13

Do you think Jesus was direct and to the point? I do. In Hydrate 25, Jesus told us to not babble when we pray. Throughout the gospels in the Bible, it is clear that Jesus was direct. There are only a few occasions where Jesus spoke for a long time. Matthew 5 is the longest and we call that passage the sermon on the mount. I wrote a devotional book called Retweeting Jesus where I wrote about 14 phrases that were tweetable. My point is that Jesus was a man of focus. He still is today. I think you would agree with me that we as a people living in this world are losing focus. We need to be refocused. Jesus is the best candidate we should look to when it comes to focus. Today, during this study, I hope that you will use the Lord’s Prayer to help you focus. In fact, I am asking you to find a quiet place and spend 15 minutes or more to pray. I hope you will use this material to help you focus during your time of prayer. To help you focus, I ask that you remove your shoes, and, like I recommended in Hydrate 25, get an empty chair and set it in front of you and imagine God sitting in it as you pray through the Lord’s Prayer to Him sitting in the chair.

Jesus teaches us to pray. He tells us how to get started, what to say in the middle and how to end. This is the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings giving us an example of how to pray. There is no better teacher! So today, pray like Jesus asked you to.

Let’s get started.

Jesus says when you pray…pray like this.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

In your prayer to the Father, simply acknowledge God. When you call me on the phone, or send me an email, you acknowledge my name which tells me that you are directing your message or communication to me. “Hey Trent…how are you.”

Do this for God.
Address God and then spend a few minutes thinking about all the “Hallowed” things of God. Spend the next few minutes simply thinking out loud all the titles, and wonderful traits about God. Give God praise. Do this to the empty chair where God now has taken a seat. It might feels weird, but stretch yourself. I believe God will take a seat in that chair and enjoy your company. When I do this, I always wish He would reveal Himself to me physically. I’ll bet it would rock my world!

When you are satisfied with the number of compliments you have given our Lord, then move on as Jesus says to.

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Spend a few moments in silence thinking about Jesus coming back today. (Your kingdom come.) Let Him know you are excited to meet Him face to face. Then, spend a few moments speaking out loud to God about what you could do for the people you are going to encounter today and tomorrow and what you could do to bring a piece of Heaven on earth for them. How can you serve them, react to them, forgive them? How can you show the people around you that God’s Kingdom and His people are alive and well today and making Heaven come to earth? When finished, move on.

“Give us today, our daily bread.”
Speak your mind with God about what you need today. Now be careful with this one. God knows what you “need.” A good measuring tool to help you determine between what you need and what you want is to imagine a homeless person sitting in your presence as you ask God to give you what you need. Remember this…God is not your genie in a bottle granting you all your hearts wishes and desires. God wants you to communicate with Him. Bring to Him your needs. Try to focus less on physical needs and more on mental, emotional and social needs. See how that changes the way you pray. Then keep moving.

“Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”
Be specific with God in this one. Confess every sin, out loud, to God, that you can think of. I love 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is confession time. Vomit them out to God. He knows what your sins are anyway. He already sent His only Son to die to pay the price for your sins, He just wants you to be done with those sins, get them off your chest and confess them. It will help you conquer them, if you confess them. Remember God’s not angry at you about those sins, He wants you to be free from the guilt and pain of those sins. Confession is the start of that becoming a reality in your life. Notice that Jesus assumes that you have already forgiven your debtors. This is expected. You must forgive the people who have hurt you, or God will not forgive you of your sins. In fact the Bible says that God won’t even hear our prayers if we hold unforgiveness in our hearts towards others. Maybe God is whispering in your ear that you need to write a letter, send an email, make a phone call, send a text and forgive the people you haven’t forgiven yet. Forgiveness is for you. Don’t worry about your offender not facing any consequences. Its not your job to make your offender face consequences, its God’s job. Make sure you forgive, which shows you trust God enough to take care of the revenge and consequences. If you are struggling with forgiveness and need a tool to help you learn about what true forgiveness is and how to grant it then I want to recommend that you go to www.vcli.org and purchase the workbooks called SALT and work through them. The material is dynamic and will help you become mature in Christ. Please make sure you are forgiving of others. Forgiveness is for you to be free. Forgiveness is for you. When you recognize this fact, you will be a person that lives in total freedom and forgiving others will become a common and wonderful practice in your life. Jesus was the best at this. Makes sure you are following His example.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

You need protection. Temptation is waiting for you around every corner. You know what your weak points are. Take them to God right now and speak your weaknesses out loud to the Father. He knows your temptations anyway. To speak them out loud helps you to be more aware and humble. Ask God to strengthen you. Converse with God about what you are going to do if that same temptation pops up again and again today. Verbally plan out what you are going to do, if you are faced with that temptation again. Then when the temptation does sneak up on you, you will be ready to conquer it. In your prayer time, ask God to help you resist the devil and protect you from His destructive and enticing ways.

Close with,
“In Jesus name, Amen.”

Think of how much more prepared and focused you would be if you started everyday off that way.
Pretty powerful. Right?