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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.


29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Matthew 5:29-30

When you and I chose to sin, it broke our relationship with God. God had to pull back from us. God will not be around sin. He had to distance Himself from us, because we sinned. Oh…please don’t’ misunderstand, it didn’t change how much God loves us. It did not change the fact that nothing can separate us from His love. But, it did change our ability to join Him in Heaven for eternity. When God created us, He simply had Heaven and Earth as the same place. Then we sinned, and Heaven and Earth had to become separate places. That’s why in the prayer Jesus taught the Apostles to pray, “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus taught us to pray to the Father this, “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.” To repeat myself, they used to be the same place. This teaching of Jesus that is recorded in Matthew 5, is what I call a “Salvation Issue.” Jesus is being very direct in this teaching.

When we chose to sin and go against God, we joined the curse that was placed on the world, when Adam and Eve chose to sin. When we chose to join that curse, even unknowingly, we opened the door to Hell for us. It was closed to us prior to this sin thing. The Bible actually says that Hell was created for Satan and the angels that followed him and disobeyed God.(Matthew 25:41) I wish people understood this better. So many people don’t want to believe in God because they say they can’t believe in a God that would send people to Hell. God never intended for people to go to Hell and He doesn’t “send” people there either. I think the following thoughts will explain this fact.

The Bible says, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, thus God separated Himself from us in our sin. You and I have sinned, and if the sin isn’t paid for, we will remain separated from God.

This is why Jesus was sent to earth from Heaven. God the Father, made Jesus leave their “gated community” in Heaven to become one of us. To come and live “on the other side of the tracks” with us, among us, and in us.” When we sinned, God was forced to make a choice. You see, if God is a God of integrity, then He must follow His own rules. God created two rules soon after He created everything. You can find the rules recorded in Genesis 9:4-5 and Leviticus 17:11. The two rules, are 1.) “Life is in the Blood.” 2. “The blood makes atonement by the life.” Hang in here with me as I explain this a little bit. Put on your thinking caps.

God is the one who created the rules/laws that are referenced in the Bible. These rules/laws are meant for us to follow. Have you thought about the following question? “Does God have to follow the rules? I mean, He is God, and He can do anything He wants, right? Here’s the answer. The very nature of God is perfection and Holiness. Perfection and Holiness ARE Integrity. For God, not to follow His own rules/laws, it would make God a Hypocrite, because He would be asking us to do something that He doesn’t do Himself. A hypocrite lacks integrity. If God lacks integrity, then He is not God at all. God must follow His own rules. It’s the only real guarantees we have in life. God is integrity and God is the same yesterday, today and forever!

So God has these two “strange” rules that He created. One, Life is in the blood, and two, the blood makes atonement by the life.

So, when God’s prized possession, which is mankind(that means You), broke His rules… we sinned. When we sinned, we separated ourselves from God, who is pure holiness and perfection. This is where Rule #2 of God’s, comes into play. “Blood makes atonement.” This word, “atonement,” can be best understood when broken up into three words. “At-One-Ment.” When we all chose to sin, God had to remove Himself from us. But God loves us and wants us to be with Him for eternity. This put God in a situation where He had to appeal to His own law. God says that a life must be taken, in order for a sin to be forgiven. God knew at this point that we needed to be made pure in order for Himself to be with us again. So, God has a major dilemma. The Bible explains God as being two parts. God is JUSTICE. And, God is MERCY. God knows that blood must be taken, which means somebody dies, in order for “at-one-ment” to happen. Atonement means forgiveness. For JUSTICE to be served, a life has to be taken. For MERCY to be served, a life must be spared. Do you see the dilemma that God is facing at this point in time?

So, it makes sense that God chose for animals to be the “life-blood” that is taken to pay for the sins of mankind. This is the way of the Old Testament. A man/woman who had sinned and separated themselves from God, would choose a perfect animal and take it to Jerusalem to the priests of the Temple, and the priests would sacrifice the animal, by taking all its blood from its body, and putting some of the blood on the person who sinned, and then took some of the blood and sprinkled it on the altar of the Temple to show God that blood was shed to pay for the sin. Any left over blood would be burnt as an offering to God. When the blood was shed and placed on the person and then offered to God, God forgave that person for their sins. This was done once a year, every year and had to be done in Jerusalem. By doing this, God’s justice was fulfilled because a life was taken to pay for the sin, and God’s mercy was fulfilled because He was able to spare the life of his most beloved of Creation, and instead took the life of an animal. (To you animal lovers out there…God does love all animals, but not as much as people.) In this plan of God’s…. Justice and Mercy are both fulfilled. That’s a good plan.

However, over time, and for reasons I can’t fully explain, the animal sacrifices became insufficient for mankind as an offering. My opinion is that the offering and killing of an animal was supposed to be a way to prevent people from sinning. I think God was wishing that we as mankind would have enough compassion towards animals that we would want to stop sinning to spare the life of the animal. However, I think, it turned out to be a form of a free ride for people. People became apathetic towards the animal sacrifices and began doing the sacrifices for the purpose of fulfilling religious laws instead of doing the sacrifice as a way of sorrowful regret and repentance. To say it more succinctly, people kept on sinning and did even more sin, knowing that a simple killing of an animal would pay for the sin. It became an easy out for people.

God determines that this Old Testament payment for sins was not sufficient anymore. He needed to “up the stakes.” This is a serious dilemma for God. If animal sacrifices weren’t working, then what sacrifice, in all of creation, would work? There isn’t much more to choose from. It basically left US to be the ones who needed to die, to pay for sin, so we could be “at-one-ment” again with God. This dilemma is intense, because if God chooses to kill us, to pay for our own sins, then He kills us…thus loses us and our relationship with him. You can’t have a relationship with dead people. In this scenario, Justice would be served because the sin would be paid for, but mercy would be left unfulfilled, because we would be dead. The opposite idea of this doesn’t work either. The opposite would leave Justice undone. The opposite would be to let you and me off the hook for our sins by simply forgiving us and letting mercy rule the day…but then Justice would be unfulfilled. God is Justice AND Mercy. God is the same Yesterday, today and forever. He can’t just change His very nature. God is who He is. He is the great “I Am.” Anyway, that would mean that God broke His own rules, thus He would not be integrity anymore and thus would not be God. Big dilemma. Right?

So, God comes up with the perfect solution to this grand dilemma. God, the Father, while in Heaven, looks to His right, and there sits Jesus, the only Son of God. Jesus is the one whom God created everything with and through. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the “Us” in the very beginning of the Bible when God said, “Let US create mankind in OUR image, to be like US.” Jesus is the ONLY SON OF GOD and has always existed with God.

Can you imagine how much God must love us in order for Him to look at His only Son and choose Him to be the one who is killed, so the Life-Blood would be shed and our sins forgiven, thus fulfilling His Justice. But, because Jesus is the Only Son of God, God knew that He could raise Him from the dead and also fulfill His Mercy. And…its gets better! Since this is such an incredible Sacrifice. God would only do it once for all time and for all sins. This IS what is called Grace. Grace is nothing more than this but it is everything. The fact that Jesus came to earth and had His life blood shed for us…IS GRACE. Grace is a free gift. You couldn’t make Jesus not give His blood. You couldn’t make Jesus give His blood. He chose to go and give His blood because He wanted to please and honor His Father. This is a free gift! This IS Grace.

How hard must it have been to be the Father in Heaven and for Him to ask His only Son to leave the comforts of Heaven, be born as a vulnerable baby, live a perfect life, be beaten, scourged, humiliated, and crucified?…………….So you and I could have our sins washed clean? So God could have you and me back? What a price!

Don’t tell me, or anyone else, that God doesn’t love you. Don’t tell me, or anyone else that God sends you to Hell. He only honors our choices after paying such a huge price for us.

God did EVERYTHING He could do for you. To do anything else…to make it easier for you…would make God break His own rules and thus not be integrity, thus not be God. Please do not tell me that you actually wished God would have done more for you? What a price. For me. For you.

All that…to pay for our sins. We are loved.

So when Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell,” you and I can understand why, right?

So here is the big question…Jesus didn’t mean this literally did He? Because, if He meant this teaching literally the Apostles would have plucked their eyes out on the spot. The Apostles would have been walking around with no hands. If this were literal, can you imagine what the Church services each weekend, around the world would, look like? We wouldn’t need multi-media presentations because none of us would have eyes to see it. We would have to sing our worship songs a cappella because all our musicians wouldn’t have any hands. None of us would have eyes or hands.

So what was Jesus teaching here if He didn’t mean it literally?

Jesus loved to get our attention. He used some pretty cool and amazing illustrations to make us ponder, as long as possible, about His ways. All Jesus is saying here is this….”Do everything you can in your power and with me helping you, to not sin.” If every time you get on the computer, you sin, then wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the computer than to continue in your sin and eternally be separated from God the Father?

The computer is just one example of a million things that we use when we choose to sin. What Jesus is saying here is simply this, “Stop CHOOSING to sin!”

If there is anything in your life that helps you choose to sin and you keep using it as an excuse as to why you sin….then put it away until you can have the self-discipline and the strength to resist the sin. Throw it away forever, if that is what it takes for you to quit using it as an example to continue to live in sin. Jesus is saying…”Please…after all the crap I went through to show you how much My Father in Heaven loves you…please don’t keep on sinning….Please don’t make My pain and sacrifice a waste of your eternal life….please.”

Is there anything in your life that you are using as an excuse to continue sinning?
What are you continuing as sin?
What does God have to do in His relationship with you if you choose to keep on sinning? (If you don’t know that answer, please go back above and read about what God has to do when we sin.)
What sin or sins do you HAVE to keep on doing? _________________________________________________ (fill in the blank…and seriously think about whether or not you HAVE to keep on committing it.) Remember, when Jesus died, He broke the power of sin and its curse over you. By giving your life to Jesus you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”
Be a conqueror! Not an excuse maker!

This is tough stuff!
You can do it!

Remember these two passages and it will help you conquer all sin in your life.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 John 1:9, 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Live Holy! A huge price was paid so that Justice would be served to pay for your sins and Mercy was served so that God could keep you in a relationship with Him.

Don’t keep Crucifying Jesus because you choose to live in sin. You and I are not perfect and we will make mistakes. But there is a big difference between making mistakes and CHOOSING to sin.

Choose Holiness.
You will be eternally grateful.
The Father in Heaven will be too.


“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Matthew 5:7

Do you believe the phrase, ‘What goes around comes around?” Its obvious that Jesus believes in it. Read His phrase above again. It may as well say, “What goes around comes around.” Jesus also is the one who preached The Golden Rule; “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.”

But here is my fear. Jesus showed Mercy…pretty much…to everybody, and it landed Him on the cross. But before He ended up on the cross, He was rejected, spit upon, beaten, humiliated and ultimately murdered…as an innocent, merciful man. How did all His “mercy” work for Him? Not so well.

So, is Jesus out of His mind when He teaches this stuff? Was this phrase that Jesus taught, in the very first message He preached, just a rookie mistake. The answer is clearly, “No!”

The big question is…if you and I live a life of giving others mercy, who is going to give it back to us? Because the reality is, many people, if you give them mercy, will shove it back in your face in an unmerciful way. So what is Jesus talking about?

If you think about Jesus’ life, He showed mercy to everybody, through the action of dying on the cross, to pay for everybody’s sins. However, prior to Jesus’ merciful action of dying on the cross, Jesus didn’t always show mercy. The people He didn’t show instant mercy to, were the religious-arrogant ones…the bullies. Jesus promoted the progress and purpose of others…unless you were a bully. Jesus publicly humiliated the bully of His day. The Pharisees, the Religious leaders, they were serious power-mongers over others. Jesus had some choice words for these kinds of people. He called them “Sons of Vipers, White-washed tombs, hypocrites.” (The snake/viper was the ultimate derogatory term, it was a cuss word. Adam and Eve were deceived by a “snake.” To be called a “son of a viper”…was to be called a devil.) And He did it publicly. So…hear me out. Jesus tells people that they will be blessed if they show mercy. However, Jesus is NOT telling them that they HAVE TO be merciful. He is simply saying that if you are merciful you will also get some mercy back. He really is saying, “What goes around comes around.” Think about it….Jesus didn’t show mercy to the hypocritical religious leaders…and sure enough…those hypocritical religious leaders were the ones who instigated killing Him. “What goes around, comes around.” He didn’t show public mercy to the religious leaders and they are the ones who put Him on the Cross. “What goes around, comes around.” Another look at this…Jesus did show mercy to Judas, but Judas ultimately didn’t give mercy back to Him. Judas betrayed Jesus in return for all of Jesus’ mercy. I don’t think Jesus was talking about any guarantees of receiving mercy in return for giving mercy, when He said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be given mercy.” So what the heck did Jesus mean by saying this?

I think Jesus’ statement of “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” is talking about God being the one who will eventually show you mercy. I think you will agree with me, that merciful actions today, do not guarantee merciful actions in return. Its a beautiful thing when it does happen, but its also not the end of your world, if it doesn’t. Isn’t it better to go ahead and show mercy anyway? Jesus doesn’t say you HAVE TO show mercy. Jesus didn’t always show mercy Himself. But isn’t it better to show mercy anyway? Isn’t that the high road? It’s, most definitely, not the easy road.
So it’s fair to say that ultimately, by the time the cross had done its lethal Job, Jesus had shown mercy to everybody. His act of giving His life on the Cross in replacement for the death of each of us, is the ultimate act of MERCY. We call it Grace. Grace and Mercy are close relatives. However, its also fair to say, that in Jesus’ 33 year life span, He didn’t always show mercy to those He encountered.

So when Jesus says, “Blessed are the Merciful for they will be shown Mercy,” I think He’s guaranteeing something in our future. By future, I mean Eternal. Heaven! Remember in this first message that Jesus preached that “Blessed” does not mean happy. Blessed means “Accepted.” So we could read the teaching this way, “Accepted are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” He could have simply said, “The merciful will go to Heaven.” Jesus isn’t saying just because you are merciful today, that you will receive immediate mercy now. It sure didn’t work that way for Himself. Think about this…

If you are a person of Mercy in our world today, you are going to be taken advantage of. You have to agree with me that merciful people are nice people. In our world today, “Nice people tend to finish last.” Nice people are also known as naive people. Nice people are known as pushovers. Nice people get gossiped about for being soft and lacking business savvy.

Do you think Jesus cares when you get grouped in with those stereotypes? You Bet He Does! And when He returns, you will receive the advantage. You will be the leader. You will be first. You will be seen as wise. You will be known as the persevering one. You will be the one who will be known as brilliant, and as having incredible “business savvy.”



So what are you living for? Are you “putting all your eggs in the basket of living your best life right now here on earth, without any focus on your eternal life? Your eternal life will be just as real to you as your current life, except it will be eternal. Which one is more important?

Don’t get me wrong. This life is deeply…deeply important. How you live your life today is a choice of how you want to spend your eternity. Remember this…God does not send anyone to Hell. God only honors your choice of how you lived on earth. If you want to live your life on earth with the characteristics and actions of Hell….Greed…un-forgiveness…being a bully…being a jackass…being selfish…power hungry…etc, then God will simply honor your choice and when you die, He will simply extend your life choices into eternity.

However, if you choose to to live your current life and so choose to live as a person who brings the elements of Heaven to earth, like showing mercy…giving forgiveness…peace…patience…kindness…faithfulness…love…etc, then God, when you die, will extend your life choices into eternity and thus you will live in Heaven forever.

When you think of it that way, who cares how you get treated today simply because you choose “good” behavior! Bring it on! Right?

Today, no matter how you get treated, choose to be the one who brings the elements of Heaven to earth.

Be prepared for today. Think right now about who you are getting ready to encounter in the next 8 hours or so. You know most of the people you are going to encounter. So prepare yourself, right now, for the negative encounters. Choose to show mercy, even if its not given to you. Its only the negative encounters you need to prepare for. If you prepare for them now and make a choice to give mercy even when its not given to you, then your day will be one of power and love and serving.

That sounds a lot like the life of Jesus.
I think its going to be a good day.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Maybe He doesn’t mean you’ll get mercy today.
But I guarantee that He means you’ll get mercy in Eternity.

Show Mercy…sooner or later…it will all “pay off!”

What a great day ahead of you.
Be merciful.

Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #11”

My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? –JC
Matthew 27:46 (NLT)

Are you a person of Integrity?
Is God a God of Integrity?

I don’t know the answer to the first question above, and I must say that I have only a very few things that I am absolutely positively for-sure about. The answer to the second question is one. Not only does God have integrity…He IS integrity.

Buckle in for this study. Its a long one. But its the foundation for all of Christianity. Its not one that we can just “cheap” our way through.

Understanding that God is all about integrity is the foundational understanding that is required to begin to comprehend what Jesus is saying when He tweets, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me.”

If God is Integrity…AND God has created some rules or laws for life, then God must follow His own rules or He wouldn’t be integrity…if He isn’t integrity then He isn’t God.

One more “foundational point” we must understand. Be patient with me in this teaching part. (Don’t get frustrated as you read this…keep reading and really put your thinking cap on.) Its important to understand the most essential parts of God are not just Integrity, but also His CHARACTER.

Character is WHO you are.
Integrity is HOW you live.

Character and Integrity are so closely linked. Just like the spelling of WHO & HOW. They are the same, yet different.

The Character of God is best described in these words. PERFECT/PURE. This character trait about God is what makes Him the best law giver/law creator/law follower/law officer/law judge. This is what makes Him the final authority. Because of this Perfection/Purity trait of God, God WILL NOT be in the presence of sin. Its really not that He won’t…its just impossible. It would be like saying you are going to take a little light and mix it with a little darkness. It would be like saying you are going to take intense heat and mix it with extreme cold. Its impossible. You just would end up with something totally different. The Bible is clear. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Its important to understand this Integrity and character of God to fully grasp this Tweet of Jesus’.

If God is perfection/integrity/character/purity…this means then, when God creates a law, He must follow it Himself. So in Leviticus we can read about God creating the very first laws. The Core Law that God creates…which means…every other law stems from it, is Leviticus 17:11 “Life is in the Blood.” You can see how important this is even in reading about it in Genesis 9:4. “Life is in the Blood,” is best demonstrated when God says to Cain…after Cain killed Abel…”Cain, your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” I didn’t know that blood has a voice. Think about that. That paints a clear picture about “Life is in the blood.” The 2nd Core law that God creates is found in those same passages. “It is the blood given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”

I don’t think there can be any disagreement with you and me on this…. God IS Integrity/Character! God is Pure.

So when God uses HIs purity through Character and Integrity to form some basic principles of life…we end up with God laws. God Laws are things that God asks of us so that when we do them we live full lives that are healthy and Character and Integrity and Pure, which allows us to stay in His presence. When we chose to not follow God’s laws then we brought the opposites of Character and Integrity and Purity. God knew this would happen. He knew we would sin. (Sin is a term that simply means to miss the mark. Think archery…aiming at the bulls eye, but missing…Sin.) God is our Bulls Eye. God IS Perfect/Integrity/Purity. And because God is Perfect/Pure He knew if we sinned, He could no longer be in our presence because of His purity. He wants you to be close to HIm all the time. He loves you that much. So in His wisdom He created a way for us to be “Pure” again. God said that if life is taken (“Life is in the Blood”), then we could be made pure again so that God could then be with us again. So in the Old Testament times, God said that if a person sins and thus is separated from God, then we could take an animal, kill it, put its blood on us and then we would be considered pure again. (Its okay to say its a weird system, but it is how God designed it.) So, be careful saying its weird! LOL

Now…to the Tweet of today. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Why? Because God determined that animal sacrifices where not working like He wanted it to work. (We are a stubborn people!) I should only speak for myself…but I’m speaking for you too. 🙂

We all have sinned which separates us from God. Animal blood isn’t doing the job in restoring us back to God. So God has to make a decision. The sin has to be paid for. What does that leave God as an alternative if animal blood isn’t working? The answer, Human blood. (You don’t even have to be a vampire for that statement to get your attention.)

This new reality puts God in a real dilemma. The Bible says that God is a God of Justice & Mercy. Justice requires payment, mercy requires no payment. God loves you so much. God understands that you will be lost to Him forever if He makes you pay your own price for your own sin, which would be Justice. Giving all your blood to pay for your sin…would kill you and God would lose you as you died to pay for your own sins. If God lost you because you “justly” died to pay for your sins, God’s mercy would go unfulfilled. But if God just gives you Mercy, then He can’t have you close to Him because no blood would have been paid for your sin, thus you are still imperfect/impure. God still loses you. So how does He solve this dilemma?

God looks to His right while on His throne in Heaven and sees HIs only Son sitting there with Him. The Father knows that Jesus helped create mankind and everything else. The Father knows that there is a Spiritual side of Jesus that most of us humans don’t fully understand. God sees the answer to the great dilemma. He sees how the price could be paid with blood and at the same time be able to completely fulfill His own Justice nature and His own Mercy nature. He literally could “kill two birds with one stone.”

God decides to command His only Son, Jesus, to leave their “gated community” and become a human, starting as a vulnerable infant, growing into a grown man while remaining perfect and then give all His life blood to pay for the price that Justice demands and yet show His favorite creation, us, mercy at the same time. Jesus pays for the sin(Justice) and we don’t have to pay for our sin.(Mercy) Then Resurrect His only son and everybody wins. Mercy and Justice are fulfilled. (I love it when a plan comes together!)

Jesus says to His Father…”Your Will Be Done.” And God planted His only Son into the womb of a wonderful young woman named Mary. I hope you know the rest of the story. If not, start in the book of Matthew in the Bible and read on!

Fast forward approximately 33 years and we arrive now at this Tweet of Jesus. “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus knows the answer. We do to. God put all our sin on Jesus. Every bad decision I’ve made. Every selfish thing you’ve done. Imperfections. Character-less-ness. Impurities. Integrity-less-ness. ALL ON JESUS. That is a lot of “Nasty” put on the shoulders of Jesus. With all that imperfection now ON Jesus…God, the Father, must retreat His presence from Jesus. Jesus feels it so intensely, He cries out, “Why have you abandoned me?!” I think Jesus was upset. I think He was thinking…’Geez…I came to earth, I lived as a human, I have been beaten, humiliated, spit upon, I did everything you asked me to…Perfectly!…Couldn’t you just stick with me to the very end, Father?” “Why do you abandon me now?”

God so abandoned/retreated from the sin that was on Jesus in this moment, that the Bible records that it goes DARK for three hours. (Not a problem if its evening…but it is NOON!) Can you imagine the News headlines? Total chaos.

In the absence of God is the presence of darkness. (I wonder if in this moment, Satan is laughing?) It seems, at this moment in world history that the devil is winning. But its all a plan that God has knit together. We are so blessed to have the Bible that gives us the end of the story now.

God has Jesus bleed out all of His only Son’s blood to fulfill His own created laws and rules. Now…I have frequently wondered about why God chose this time in all of world history to have Jesus come and die…why did He choose the era He did?. This is the timeframe where the Roman Empire was ruling the world and their death sentences where horrifically cruel…brutal. He could have chose to have Jesus come more in this time frame. Lethal Injection or the Electric chair seem less cruel and unusual as a death sentence. Why did He God choose the era where Crucifixion was the form most used? (A guess?…God knows that we are drawn towards the dastardly, bloody, vicious story. Its why traffic slows down when an accident happens…everybody is trying to get a peak at the bloody scene.) This scene where Jesus is brutalized, will forever be branded in our brains and memory banks. It happened 2000 years ago…here we are still talking about it! So….

How much does God love you? How much does God love you…that He chose to do that to His one and only true son so that He may get you back?

What a huge price. God retreated and abandoned Jesus for a time, so that He may draw you back into a relationship with Him. When God had a choice to kill His only Son or Kill you to pay the price.

He chose you.

Maybe today you could show somebody in your circle of influence that kind of love. When you do…maybe they too will draw close to God.

What a purpose you have as you live today.
Show the love of God to others by being holy and pure.
Show the love of Jesus Christ by sacrificing your own will for God’s.
You’ll never be alone. God says He will never leave you. Jesus says He will be with you always.
Have a great day.

“Hi, my name is Trent Renner, Who are you?”

So…you walk into a gathering of people who do the same thing you do. You are asked over and over, as you meet different people, “Who are you?” Sound familiar? Have you been in this situation before? Of course you have. You’ve been asked a thousand times…”who are you?” My question is, “How have you answered?” If I approached you right now and asked you, “who are you?” I know you would give me a smile and your name. The key question is, what would you answer next? I would answer; “my name is Trent Renner and I am the Lead and founding Pastor of Parkway Christian Church in Surprise Arizona.”
That answer seems like a good answer at first. However the problem is this; Parkway Christian Church no longer exists. I merged Parkway with Christ’s Church of the Valley in April of 2011. Parkway was completely absorbed and acquired by Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria AZ. Parkway Church doesn’t exist anymore. My leadership of her doesn’t exist anymore. So before Parkway was merged with Christ’s Church of the Valley, and somebody asked me who I was, and I answered by giving my name and Title…well…then looking back…was I giving a good description of who I was? If who I am is based on my name and Title only…then what happens to my identity when that titled is no longer truthful as to who I am? If who I am is based on something that no longer exists then I no longer exist. Who are you? Please don’t tell me your existence is founded on what you do as a job.  Check out this great video clip…it makes my point very well. Anger Management…\”Who are you?\”
If tomorrow you woke up and your job title no longer existed, who would you be? If tomorrow, all the people who followed you, no longer actually followed you, who would you be? If tomorrow you found out that 13 or 30 years of your life blood, sweat, sacrifice, time and energy, just evaporated, who would you be?

Where is your identity? By what do define yourself? Who are you?

I have learned the hard way that I must hold onto everything lightly. Nothing is really mine. You are just like me. So, nothing is really yours. You and me…we are not entitled to anything. Please base your identity on what your Creator calls you and by what He did for you. Everything else is temporal. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Who are you?
My name is Trent Renner…forgiven man of God, temporal husband, father, and spiritual leader. A man who loves the Lord and one who ultimately knows that nothing is permanent.

Who are you? How do you define yourself?