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Hydrate — Winning from the inside 34 (Matthew 7:3-5) Judging Part 2

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3-5:

In my previous post, Hydrate 33, I wrote about how God has commanded us as the church to judge one another. If that sounds surprising to you, then I encourage you to read that entire post #33. Its long, but hopefully very educational for you, thus worth it.

This post is simply a part two of the last one. Please notice in this passage from Jesus that He does not tell us that we should not judge. He simply says that if we are going to judge others, then we must make sure we aren’t being hypocritical.

The Bible tells us, as Christians that we are to be the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. That means we are to be purifiers. In order to purify we must first be pure. In order to be light we must first rid ourselves of darkness.

That is all Jesus is saying.
Are you in the habit of telling others where their faults are, but you are totally lacking self-awareness of your own faults?
If this is the case for you, you will be fruitless when it comes to influencing other people for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I am listing some Biblically mentioned sins below. Use the list to do a sin check in your life. If you are actively continuing in any of the sins below then please keep your mouth shut to others about how they should live their lives. You’ll only cause more damage to the Cause of Christ than good. First conquer the sins in your life, and then be a purifier for Jesus. Here’s the list.

1 Corinthians 5:11,  “I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer* yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-20, “9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 13 You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.
15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”* 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

If you would like to see what other sins the Bible lists, then the list below is the listing of every Bible verse in the New Testament that lists specific sins that we are to conquer as Christians. (When you see the letters “ff” in the passage reference it simply means, “and following verses.”

2 Corinthians 12:20-21
Romans 1:29ff, 13:9-13
Galatians 5:16-25
1 Peter 4:3
James 3:14
Ephesians 5:3ff
Colossians 3:5ff
2 Peter 2:3-14ff

The BIble is not for the faint of heart! God desires a high standard of living and He asks us as Christians to hold each other accountable and judge one-another in love about how we live our lives. (He never asks us to judge people who are not Christians.)

Make sure you are holy, before you call other people “unholiness” out. And when you are living righteous and you begin to challenge others, please do it with love.

I’ll close this post with 1 Peter 3:15-16, “15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.* Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”

When it comes to helping others conquer their sin, as you conquer your own, use gentleness and respect.
Christianity has lost its sense of judgment. It is killing the Church.
Learn to judge the way Jesus teaches us to.
Its a tough thing to do.
It won’t make your popular, but it will make you like Jesus.


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?


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 23 (Mt. 5:43-48) “Perfect”

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)

DRINK IT IN:
Who do you consider your enemy? When was the last time you prayed for him/her/them? The Bible has a section written by the Apostle Paul, its Romans chapter 12:9-21 (NLT). Please take the time to read the passage and pay special attention to what Paul says we should do with our enemies.

“9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the LORD.

20 Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:9-21 (NLT)

I must confess that it frustrates me that Paul actually wrote and challenges us to, not only pray for our enemies, but pray that God will bless them.”

How hard is that?

PRAY THAT GOD WILL BLESS MY ENEMY? (Paul…are you out of your mind?)

I think you will agree with me that God’s number one concern here is not that my enemy would be blessed. His number one concern, in this occasion, is my heart’s, and your heart’s condition. When our hearts are full of anger, hate, revenge, and darkness, it affects our whole life. When our hearts are filled with hurt and darkness, its very difficult for us to be the kind of people that God created us to be. God wants us to pray for our enemies and pray that they will be blessed so it heals our hearts and helps us be whole. The reality is probably this, you have been thinking about your enemy way more than you would like to. Your enemy is probably not thinking about you much at all. So, when you are continually thinking about your enemy, you are actually allowing your enemy to live rent free inside your head, heart and mind on a continual basis. Its no cost to your enemy that you are thinking about them as often as you do. The more you think about your enemy, the more your heart hardens, your attitude darkens and your life gets out of focus.

Paul, says pray that your enemy will be blessed, because that is how your own heart begins to soften, your attitude brightens up and your life gets back in the focus that you and God want it to be. Everything that I am saying here is actually leading up to the very last verse in the Scripture we are meditating on right now. The verse, I’m referring to is Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Perfect? You’ve got to be kidding me! Perfect? I cannot be perfect, and you cannot be perfect. Ever. Right?

It is very frustrating to me that the Bible translators actually translated the word this way. The word really should be translated “Mature” or maybe even better, “Complete.”

The verse reads very different when you replace the word perfect with complete. “You are to be complete like your Father in Heaven is complete.”

When you and I are complete, we need nothing. When we are complete we are full, lacking nothing, fulfilled, whole. Its the “perfect” kind of life we’d like to live. Jesus was complete. Its what allowed Him to go through the torture He went through in His last 18 hours of life as He was whipped, beaten and crucified, and, at the same time, not sin, cuss, fight back, whine, but only offer forgiveness and prayer for His enemies.

While He was being taken advantage of, publicly, and in a humiliating way, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” He could only do this because He needed nothing in His life, but more of the Father in Heaven. Jesus was full. Jesus was complete. Jesus was lacking nothing. Jesus was perfect. Jesus didn’t define Himself by anything except what the Father in Heaven said and believed about Him.

Do you see how perfect and complete go together in this setting.

If you and I only define ourselves based on what the Father in Heaven believes and says about us, it will change how we live our lives. You and I would be able to look our enemy in the eye and walk away from their dysfunction and hurt instead of stick around and fight for something that won’t fulfill us anyway. If you are full, and thus, take your life’s definition based off of what Jesus believes about you, then it doesn’t matter to you what other people say or do to you. You are full. You are complete. Its perfect!

When you are like this, you are able to live your days helping others understand that they can be full, complete and perfect. This is the way to the fulfilled life.

SWEAT IT OUT:
What is it that you need in your life right now?
Do you really need it? Do this test to determine if you really need it…(stand next to a starving child in Africa and tell this child that you need it?)

What do you need to do to fully understand and believe what God says about you? Do you need to read your Bible more and understand that Jesus was the gift that allowed you to live? Do you recognize that Jesus’ death was God’s way of saying He loves you, and all the people of the world, more than anything else? Do you need to make the decision that Jesus loves you and its His love for you that defines you?

When your life is right with God, you can live needing nothing. You can be content. You can be full. Your life and mine are very short. Think about what you were doing just 10 years ago. Seems like it was just yesterday. My life and yours are but a vapor. Here today and gone tomorrow. There is nothing we can do about that, other than live a “perfect” life.

The things you worry about, the people whom hate you, the problems you face. Yes, they are frustrating, but are they worth all the trouble we allow them to bring in our lives? No. Start doing whatever is necessary to break free from these frustrating things. The first thing, you must start doing to accomplish this, is begin to pray that God will bless your enemy. Pray that God will use the problems you face to make you a better a person. Pray that God will use the circumstances, that cause you to worry, to make you trust Him more, so you won’t worry about them anymore.

God is in control of all things. You either believe that and act like it or you don’t. Do your actions verify that you really do believe that God is in control? Even in the middle of total tragedy, God is in control. Even in the middle of the worst thing that has happened to you, God can turn it for good, if you will work with Him by trying.

Someday you will join Jesus and look Him in eyes and nothing else will matter. Start living that way now. Make the decision to be full.

You can be perfect. Jesus commands you to be perfect. When you get this and live it out, you will be acting like true children of the Father in Heaven. Our world, that is so separated from God, needs to see the lives of the true children of God being lived out before their very eyes. You can be this to the world. This would make you perfect, in the sense that Jesus means perfect. This would make you complete!

Puts a new meaning to, “You complete me!”
Nobody can do that for you, but Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 22 (Mt. 5:42) “Give & Lend”

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Matthew 5:42 (NIV)

DRINK IT IN:
I’m going to write three True or False statements and after you read each one, please answer it according to your opinion.

1. T or F — Our possessions should mean absolutely nothing to us.
2. T or F — I should obey God when I don’t understand why.
3. T or F — Jesus wants me to be and behave just like Him.

I hope you answered the questions above. I did, and I want to share my answers. I answered the first one, False. Our possessions are gifts to us from God and we are to steward them with great responsibility and therefore they have meaning and importance to us. However, I suppose one could answer this with a “True” as well, and I think I would understand where you are coming from, especially spiritually. If you answered number one with True, then I’m sure you and I could have a great discussion about why we answered this question differently. (There is a Hydrate Devotion coming in the near future, about material goods and giving, and I’ll discuss this issue more then.) Back to the questions. I answered number 2 and 3 the same. Both, to me, are true.

This command found in Matthew 5:42, in my opinion, is about Jesus trying to develop us to be more and more like Him. I heard a good friend of mine, named Eric, preach a message about the 10 commandments. Eric said that he believed the 10 commandments were given to the Israelites to help them relearn what it means to be human again. He went into detail, in his message, about how the Israelites, after spending more than 400 years in Egypt as slaves, had forgotten how to be human. He talked about how after 400 years of being forced to do what they were told by Pharaoh, that they had been sort of brainwashed into never having to think for themselves as slaves. They had been trained to behave like machines and Pharaoh was the one pushing their buttons.

So when God, broke them out of Egypt, using Moses to lead the way, He had to give the 10 commandments to help all these “machines” relearn some basic human-like principles, so they would know how to behave, now that Pharaoh was no longer there to tell them. I mean, think with me here. Did you ever think why God needed to write down things like, “obey your parents, do not murder, do not lie, do not steal, take a break every seventh day, etc?” The Israelites had forgotten how to be human. They needed God to give then some direct commands, that they could keep close to their hearts and minds, so that they would be reminded to act like the people He created them to be. Human.

So, what is it about us/people, that Jesus is still giving us commands, like he was thousands of years ago to the Israelites? I’m wondering about how easy it is for us to forget what it means to be human. Let me ask it this way. Why did Jesus command us to “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”? I mean, how much of a “duh” command is that? I want to sarcastically ask Jesus, “What are we, two year olds?” And then when I think about my sarcastic question, if Jesus were in my presence when I asked it, I wouldn’t be able to look Him in the eye, because I would know what the answer is to my sarcasm. Yes, too many times I behave like a 2 year old does and yes, I need to have commands from my Lord to remind me how to behave.

So, I have answered my question, as to why Jesus needs to give us these simple commands. Its so we can be reminded to behave like Jesus created us to behave. To be human. Without commands like these, all too often we fall into the trap of gripping everything in our lives with white-knuckled grips while screaming, “MINE!” If we never had a command like this one that I am writing about today, then we would all naturally keep falling away from being human, which would cause us to behave more and more like animals. People acting like animals does not lead to better societies.

The command that Jesus gives here is very straight forward. There isn’t anything about it that is open for discussion. It is crystal clear. So, when a guy who smells of alcohol and is wearing torn clothes approaches you at your local corner gas station, while you are pumping gas, and asks if you would give him a dollar, what do you do? According to Jesus, what are we supposed to do? Does Jesus tell us, in this command of His, to think about whether or not the man is going to buy more alcohol with it? Does Jesus command us to be careful about giving that dollar because if we give it, we actually will be hurting him and training him to live off a welfare system? Does Jesus command us to question the man as to whether or not he’s going to buy drugs with it? No, Jesus said, “give to the one who asks you.”

Are you thinking to yourself the following thoughts?
“But, Trent…what if my helping the man actually hurts him in the long run, because it doesn’t teach him to work and help himself? But Trent…if I just give him money, I’m not teaching him to be responsible? But Trent…he’s just going to use the money I give him to buy….”

I answer those thoughts with this question. What did Jesus command you? “Give to the one who asks of you.” Immediately…our machine kicks in…our non-human machine of a brain kicks in and starts with the…”but…”

In a previous post I said, “Don’t be a but!” Yes…I spelled that right. Don’t be a but.

Its God’s job to control. Its God’s responsibility to deal with the guy who buys drugs with the money. By the way, that amount of money we give when the guy asks for it, whatever the amount…its not our amount. Its not ours, period! That’s God’s money.

What does Jesus command?
“Give to the one who asks.”
Again…
What does Jesus command?
“Give to the one who asks.”
One more time…
What does Jesus command?
“Give to the one who asks.”

Do you have the authority to change anything about that command? Me either.

Is it possible that Jesus is more concerned about what’s going on inside your heart, when you choose not to give the dollar, than He is about what happens if you give the dollar, and the guy spends it on something he shouldn’t?

SWEAT IT OUT:
Give to the one who asks.
The principle is the same when it comes to the second part of the command.
“Do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

If you have the ability to lend, then why wouldn’t you. If you can lend it, then you can give it. So when you lend, its good to use wisdom and common sense about how it will be paid back. The Bible talks about lending it without interest. We’ll talk about that in another Hydrate post later. For now, if you can lend it, you can give it.

So, lend it. Make a plan for it to be paid back, but if it doesn’t get paid back, are you going to let it ruin your short life? I hope not. If you can lend it, you can give it. Its not our money. Its God’s money.

Give to the one who asks.
Let God sort it out from there.

Giving and Lending is about the condition of your own heart. God is concerned about your heart’s condition. He is also concerned about the heart of the one whom you give the money to. Its His job to change that person and direct that person. Not yours.

God wants you to be human. Humanity is warm. Machines are cold. Humanity is alive. Machines look alive, but they really aren’t. God made you to be like Him. Alive, breathing, giving, loving, growing, stretching, inspiring, vicarious…human…just like He created us to be.

Did God give? Did Jesus give? Yes! When God and Jesus gave…did they control what we did with the gift? No! We are created to be like them.

All the commands that Jesus commands of us are really not complicated or overwhelming. They are simply human. If you are struggling with any of these commands, then what you are really struggling with, is control and robotic or animalistic behavior. You are not an animal or a robot. You are created in the image of God to be like Him. You are created in the image of God to be like Him. You are created in the image of God to be like Him.

You are going to encounter people today who are going to ask from you. Are prepared for it?

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Jesus said it.