Thank You For Not Trying to Change This Tree

Thank you, peeps for not trying to change this little tree,

Because it was created with originality.

Thanks for accepting it the way that God meant it to be –

Because, you see, it has been put together carefully.

 

This tree did not amount to much until somebody hung

Some ornaments to highlight its green branches so far flung.

They’re reaching out in hopes that they might get a little lift

From presents down below, as each supporter gives a gift.

 

We do not need to change this tree, but help each drooping branch

By recognizing what it’s worth. Let’s give this tree a chance,

Through waters of encouragement, with bells to make it sing

And – wrapped around its little trunk – a joyful covering.

 

For, you can’t really change a tree, but you can give it care

And if you nurture it, who know what beauty it will share?

It may not fit your concept of what you think it should be.

Perhaps it will not hold big ornaments reliably.

 

But if it fills the purpose for which God chose it to be,

Then who are we to treat its branches superficially?

Because, like trees, we all fall short and we don’t always see

That God accepts us as we are but wants to set us free

 

Of wrongs we’ve done to damage one another’s destiny.

He wants to change those hurts into a bright reality.

And I believe He wants to do it supernaturally.

So, let’s thank Him for grace instead of trying to fix that tree

 

Because it’s kind of like a peep in that you tend to get

The good you give to it and the example that you set.

So, thank you, peeps, for trying not to change this little tree

Because to help it may involve some creativity.

Once Upon a Rooftop: Four Men and a Mat

The Problem With Using Reverse Psychology on God

Have you ever used “reverse psychology” to try to get God’s attention? I know I have. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had just gotten used to being around people who would say things like, “It’ll never work” in a way that sounded like, “Now, watch God contradict me. He never gives me what I want and loves to prove me wrong. So I’ll ask for what I don’t want. I told it not to work. Now watch it work.” It was almost as if predicting a bad outcome would make them look humble, thus forcing God to be nice to them.

It’s almost like trying to guilt God into doing something good for you. But you know you can’t make Him feel guilty because He never does anything wrong. Some of us act as if He’s out to get us, however.

In Exodus 34:6 God describes Himself as, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. . .”

Why then, do we tend to act as if He’s out to get us, as if He wants to ruin our lives?

Perhaps a better question is, “What god are we serving?” Is it a god who likes to trick us and kick us when we’re down? Do we need to use reverse psychology on him to get his help?

The baal worshipers described in I Kings 18:26-28 seemed to think so. To get their god to hear them, they cut themselves. It was a mess. They beat themselves up to get their god to send down fire, hoping to bring good out of evil they inflicted on themselves.

I know what that is like. One time someone close to me was acting like a bully. So, I hit myself to try to get him to apologize to me. By means of self-abuse, I try to guilt him into caring. It’s like saying, “There, I beat myself up. That should make you happy.”

But all it did was make him angrier, because bullies don’t respond to reverse psychology – at least, not the way we’d like. Nor can we beat ourselves up and expect God to cheer us on.

“But, wait a minute,” some might say. “What about the man who was beating his chest and saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner?”

Well, he wasn’t exactly beating himself up, for one thing. For another, there’s a big difference between humbly asking God to “Have mercy on me, a sinner” and saying, “I’m so horrible, you must be mad at me. I don’t believe I can expect anything good from you.”

Asking God for mercy is a humble act of faith, but speaking doubt over a situation to try to make God do the opposite is manipulative. It’s like trying to guilt God into giving you your own way.

God can’t be guilted into doing anything, but Jesus paid the price to cover our guilt and sin. His blood shed on the cross enables us to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We don’t need to use reverse psychology in order to find mercy and grace from Him to help in our time of need.

 

 

Through the Roof: Taking the Limits off Your Faith

Four men ripped apart someone’s roof one time and in so doing helped to take the limits off his faith (see the story in Matthew chapter 9). The paralyzed man’s malady had placed many limits upon him. He could not elbow away the people who crowded him out. The only way his friends could help him was by lowering him through the roof to see Jesus.

That’s because the house had limits as to how many it could hold. The crowd also had limits as to how much room it could make for the man and his friends.

Imagine seeing a body everywhere you turn,  blocking your view of the only one you really wish to see. But as Jesus once explained, all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain – or, in this case, a crowd. And what happened did move them – not to tears but to cheers.

A mustard seed of brilliant inspiration enabled the paralyzed man to get his miracle. Such wisdom comes from looking up because it descends from God, the source of all true faith. But, like any other seed, it doesn’t do you any good unless you plant it. To plant that seed, these four friends really had to STRETCH their faith – all the way up to the roof and back.

What a ruckus they must have made as they tore off the tiles! The owner must have frowned as they tore his roof apart. But the paralyzed man’s friends were willing to go the distance to stretch their seed of faith into a tree – the sort that pushes past all barriers in order to bear much fruit.

Sometimes that’s what we have to do too. We may not have to tear apart a literal roof, but we may need to dismantle old mindsets (strong man-made opinions). Otherwise they may prevent God’s Word from sinking into our heads and producing faith inside our hearts.

For “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17).

The shoots that spring from one faith seed require air to breathe. That air equates to a spiritual atmosphere, for the air of heaven is what causes faith to flourish. Earthly ways of thinking tend to bog faith down, however. That’s because faith springs from truth (for if  we know something is God’s will then we know we will receive it – I John 5:14-15). But carnal thinking rests on lies: lies we believe about God, ourselves, and others.

We must strip away those lies like tiles on a roof, that faith might be extended through us from the top on down. Lies such as, “God can only help me so much,” and “I’ll only get so far with God,” evaporate like mist when we lay the paralyzed man at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus told the man to be of good cheer because his sins were forgiven. In so doing, He pinpointed the root of the man’s problem: the feeling that he must be worthy in order to be healed.

Apparently this guy had been feeling condemned, which naturally would make it very hard for him to receive healing. But as Romans 8:1 states, There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. If Jesus (through His forgiveness) sets you free from sin, then you are free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus freely forgave the man and told him to rise up and walk. It was clearly a gift of God’s grace because the man did not deserve it. But he received it through faith – in this case, other people’s faith. That’s because they took the limits off their own faith and in so doing took the limits off of his.

The Hardest Part of Ask, Seek, Knock

 I. Ask, Seek, Knock – First Ask

“Do you want to make your mountain move? Then before you start commanding, ask for understanding to lay aside all doubt. That’s what asking is about.” – original quote

“Ask, seek, knock. That’s what the Bible says. “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened.”

Who has never heard this verse before? Perhaps a better question is, what is the hardest part about asking, seeking and knocking?

Let’s discuss the first part, asking.

To some of us, asking can be a hard thing, especially when those close to us reject our requests for information. Despite the saying “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” people tend to treat questions like dirt. They make the other person feel as if he or she has asked a stupid question. That’s what makes asking hard.

Nevertheless, Jesus instructs us to ask. For if we ask, then we’ll receive an answer. Of course, the best person to ask is God Himself, because He is all powerful. He knows what you need before you even ask Him. Sometimes people don’t ask God anything until they’e desperate. That’s okay, because a question is a question. A request is a request. And if you don’t know what to ask God for, a simple “Help!” will do.

If you’ve ever asked God for something and received an answer, then you know the power of asking.

If not, then maybe you need to seek it.

II. Ask, Seek, Knock – Second, Seek

A. Seek Wisdom

“If you don’t seek, you’re up a creek because you need direction” – original quote

Do you know it’s possible to receive an answer but not recognize it when it comes? Perhaps it’s because you forgot you asked the question. Or maybe you didn’t completely like His answer or got distracted by something else you wanted more. If so, then maybe you’ve been asking the wrong question. Is it possible that God wants something better for you – something you’re not smart enough to think of asking?

If you think God is a know-it-all, you’re right. That’s why you should ask Him for wisdom, because He is more than happy to supply it.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

In other words, God will never fault you if you ask Him for wisdom.

B. Seek Faith

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. for he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)

Whoa, what’s this? It seems that asking for wisdom isn’t enough. We need to have faith too. How do we get that?

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

There’s something about hearing God’s word that gives us faith to receive what we ask from Him.

“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desired of Him.”

That said, the best way to know God’s will is to know His word. That involves seeking.

After all, how can you know the wisdom contained in God’s word  – the wisdom that shows you His perfect will – unless you seek it?

“My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commands within you; so that you incline your ear unto wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; then you shall understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)

 

III. Ask, Seek, Knock – Third, Knock (The hardest part)

“You search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they (the scriptures)…testify of me. And you will not come to me that you might have life.” (John 5:39)

Jesus spoke these words to people who were really into reading the Old Testament but who found fault with Him, the Messiah to whom those scriptures pointed so many years before.

They might have had the asking and seeking down pat, but they didn’t seem to know much about knocking.

To knock involves taking a step of faith toward God, reaching out your hand and tapping on His door.

“I am the door,” Jesus said. “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

To “enter in’ involves more than merely asking and seeking. It involves friendship and a willingness to share life together. This is the kind of relationship Jesus spoke of in Revelation 3:20, to quote His words, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.”

It is this relationship, this close knowledge of God, that allows you to come boldly before His throne of grace, in order to find grace and mercy to help you in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Knocking on God’s door involves submitting to his will, which is perhaps the hardest part of asking, seeking, and knocking. After all, don’t we all like to get our own way? To “ask, seek, knock,” you must surrender all.

Speed of Sight Book Release