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Kingdom Gifts

HeadShot Dave 100x100Everything in the Kingdom of God is upside down and backwards compared to how we as humans (or at least as I) would do it. The best Kingdom gifts, the ones that give us the most pleasure and the most joy, are the ones we give away.

In Matthew 7:2, Jesus says, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” That means we need to give away what we want to get. For example:

To save your life, you lose it. (Luke 9:24) To get the place of honor, give it away. (Luke 14:7-11)

Do you want to be rich? Then give money away. (Malachi 3:10) Do you want mercy from God? Then show others mercy. (Matthew 18:23-25)

See the principle here?

Do you want people to overlooking and ignoring your mistakes? Then overlook and ignore their mistakes. Do you want people to listen to you? Then listen to them. Do you want people to think you’re important? Be humble and treat them like they are important.

Even Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself and became nothing, taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7), for the sake of the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2).

So in the Kingdom, we write our own Christmas list. We receive what we give away.

Today’s Action Step: I will be careful in my interactions with people. Especially when they are being mean and cranky, I will try to make their day. Then Jesus will make mine.

I’ve seen the demeanor of cranky grocery store clerks change when I just said something nice to them that built them up, instead of tearing them down (2 Corinthians 10:8). How about you? What are you giving away this holiday season that you want to receive back? Have you seen this principle work? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share on Facebook (or your fav social media channel) if you think this would bless someone else.

A Season of Hope

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I recently met with a young couple who was experiencing a loss. They professed no spiritual beliefs. As our meeting came to a close, I asked them if I could pray for them. I was humbled when the young man took his hat off, put it over his heart, and bowed his head. He did not profess to know Jesus but his demeanor showed reverence and respect. He knew somehow that when coming to God in prayer he was standing on holy ground. I did not know how to comfort this couple but I do know that we have a Comforter to minister to those who mourn. I prayed that in this season of advent that they would have hope.

Yes. Advent. A season of waiting. Waiting for the promise of Jesus. The Lord gives us a message of hope. Future hope.

In this advent season may we show the love of Jesus to those around us that do not know this hope. Our world is starved for love. Real love. I see this hunger in the eyes of so many around us. They are starved to know that there is a God who loves them. And they need hope.

May you and yours be blessed this advent season. And may we in turn be a blessing to the hurting and dying (spiritually) around us.

Share with us in the comments what Advent means to you. And if you think this would bless someone else, please it on Facebook or your favorite social media channel with the buttons below.

Finishing Forgiveness

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Forgiveness is a process a lot like grieving. Sometimes, like when the sin against us is horrific or ongoing (or both), we really are grieving a death. Maybe a death of our innocence, or something that was stolen from us. Perhaps the death of something that now will never be. Perhaps the death of a relationship. Maybe we’re mourning the pain and the wreckage caused by sinful actions that were just senseless and didn’t have to be.

So in forgiveness, we often go back ‘n’ forth through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining,  depression, and finally acceptance. All that’s healthy as long as we don’t get stuck anywhere.

Often it’s like peeling an onion. We think we’ve worked through forgiveness, and something pops up and we realize there’s another layer deeper that we didn’t know was there, and we have to work through it again. Can you relate?

So how do we know when we’re finally done? We know we’re done when we can pray blessing over the other person without that initial twang of “but they don’t deserve it” in our hearts. We’re not minimizing the evil they did to us. We’re not failing to hold them accountable. We can still set up healthy boundaries, especially with someone who’s unrepentant or when there’s been no restitution. But we’re acknowledging that they are not the evil they did to us.

A good friend taught us this prayer. It’s not magic words – you can’t pray any prayer by rote and expect to accomplish anything. Just use it as a guide an make it your own. Here it is:

“I speak words of blessings, love, and forgiveness on ____ in Jesus name. Heal me of the hurt, heal me of the memory of the hurt, and give me the working of the gift of miracles to walk as if it never happened.”

Wow. Isn’t that good? That will rock your world if you have the guts to pray it regularly. Sometimes you have to fight through with this simple prayer dozens of times a day. But it’s transformational.

Will you take up the challenge and risk praying this prayer?

Today’s Action Step: When I forgive someone, I will keep working through it with the Lord, and maybe with those in my life I trust, until I can pray blessing over the other person without any reservation.

Kudos also to John Sandford, founder of Elijah House Ministries, for this concept of finishing forgiveness by praying blessing.

So how about you? Does this resonate? Have you been there? Are you there now? Tell us your story and/or struggle in the comments or shoot us an email. And if you think this would benefit others, please share it with the social media buttons below.

Forgiveness & Restitution

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Ok, so say my neighbor Jon borrows my car, and when he brings it back, he says, “Thanks for letting me borrow your car. I got into a little fender-bender, but I got it repaired and re-painted.” He shows where the dent was, and you can’t tell. The body-shop did a great job. He’s repented, and I forgive him.

But am I going to let him borrow my car again? Probably not. Yeah, he fixed it, but now my car’s been in an accident. Cars never drive quite the same afterward. The trade-in value’s decreased. Even though he fixed it, I’m feeling like I didn’t get the better end of the deal here. Interactions with other people have a scale, and in this situation, the scale’s tilted away from me.

I’ve forgiven Jon, I don’t hold it against him, but the relationship has a boundary it didn’t have before. It’s not the same relationship.

So how does Jon repair the relationship to the place it was before? That takes more than repentance and forgiveness.

So rewind. Suppose when Jon brings my car back, he says this instead: “Thanks for letting me borrow your car. I got into a little fender-bender, but I got it repaired and re-painted. While it was in the shop, I had them take out your AM/FM radio and put in a 6-disc CD changer, with a 10-speaker, surround-sound, premium sound system.”

Now can Jon borrow my car again? Absolutely! And I hope he gets in an accident! Maybe I’ll get spinners next time.

My neighbor repaired the relationship by tipping the scale back in my favor. I got the better end of the deal. That’s restitution.

That’s what it takes to repair broken relationships. A sacrifice on our part, over-and-above repentance, blessing the other person, tipping the scale in their favor, so they come away feeling like they got the better end of the deal.

When we do this, we have to look at it from their point-of-view. It has to be something that blesses them, not just something that would bless us. So ask the Holy Spirit, “Lord, what can I do to truly bless the person I’ve hurt?” Then go with your first thought – God will always answer that prayer.

And you know what? If we will make that sacrifice when we hurt others, God will pay us back and tip the scale in our favor. I’ll take that.

Kudos to John Sandford, founder of Elijah House Ministries, for this great illustration.

Today’s Action Step: When I realize I’ve hurt someone, after repenting and changing my behavior, I’ll ask the Holy Spirit what I can do to bless them, to tip the scale in their favor so they feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.

Can you relate? Have you or someone else repaired relationship by tipping the scale with restitution? Tell us in the comments or an email. And please, if you think this would help someone else, share it on social media with the buttons below.