The Greatest Message Never Spoken

You’ve heard it said before “Actions speak louder than words.” You probably have names and faces popping into your head right now of people who say one thing but do something entirely different. Jesus said that they will know that you are my disciples by the way you love each other (See John 13:35). In other words, what Jesus is saying is that your posture speaks louder than your proclamation.

I truly believe one of the greatest messages that Jesus ever made was when He said nothing at all. We see this recorded by John in the eighth chapter of his gospel. To set up the scene for you. Some of the religious people of the day caught a woman in the act of adultery, grabbed her, and threw her at the feet of Jesus. They told Jesus, that according to the Law of Moses, this woman should be stoned to death for what she had done and asked Him what was his position on this situation. What Jesus does next is shocking. This act has been highly scrutinized, talked about, preached on, debated, and dissected. Jesus doesn’t say a word, but he stoops down and starts to write something in the sand. Now I believe we have missed the point here. We are all concerned with and focused on what was Jesus writing. I don’t think it is about what did Jesus write in the sand but rather with the posture that Jesus took. While everyone else was standing in condemnation, Jesus stooped down in compassion. Instead of expecting the woman to fix herself so she can rise to His level; Jesus bent down, cleaned up the woman’s mess, lifted her up, and they both rose to their feet together.

So what about you? Do your actions line up with your words? Are you standing in condemnation or are you stooping down in compassion? Are you taking the posture of Jesus?

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Collision with Christ

In baseball, when the ball comes in contact with the bat that moment is referred to as “the moment of truth” or “contact point.” When the contact point takes place the trajectory of the ball is changed. Before the ball is traveling in one direction, but afterwards the ball is traveling in an entirely new direction.

We see that when people came in contact with Jesus their entire trajectory was changed. From the woman at the well recorded by John to Zacchaeus found in the book of Luke, whenever someone met Jesus their life took a turn for the best. People went from being blind to being able to see. They went from being cripple to being able to walk. People literally went from death to life. There wasn’t a question whether or not people were going to change when they met Jesus. When Jesus showed up someone was going to get up. When Jesus showed up there was going to be life change. When Jesus showed up there was going to be a resurrection. No question about it. You can take it to the bank. When people came in contact with Jesus, they were never going to be the same.

Paul tells us that we are Jesus’ ambassadors (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). He goes on to say that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is also inside of us (see Romans 8:11). An ambassador is someone who goes to another country on behalf of the country they came from. In other words, what Paul is conveying to us, is that we represent Jesus. Let me phrase it like this: when people come in contact with us they come in contact with Jesus. If what I said is true, then when people meet you their trajectory should change. Their life should take a 180 degree turn for the best. Their life should never be the same.

So let me ask you. Do people’s trajectories change when they come in contact with you? When they meet you, do they leave changed or do they remain the same? When you show up do people get up or are they still left lying in the same mess they were in?

History Maker

There is an interesting occurrence that, if we are not careful, we will pass right by it without ever taking time to notice it. It’s found in 2 Kings 13 and it’s only one verse, so it is easy to glance right over. This is what it says:

Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet. (2 Kings 13:21 NIV)

Now it’s one thing to do some amazing things while you’re alive, like Elisha did, but it’s a whole new ballgame to do something amazing while you’re dead. The anointing on Elisha’s life was so powerful that, even though he was dead, he still had an impact on the lives that came after him.

It’s one thing to make a difference while you’re alive, but it’s something else when you make a lasting impact that goes on even though you’re dead. Don’t get me wrong making a difference is good, but I don’t want to just make a difference. I want to make history. I don’t want the impact of my life to die with me. I want it to go on to touch the generations that come behind me. I want the next generation to be raised to life when it comes in contact with me. I want to leave a lasting legacy.

There is a quote from the movie The Sandlot that you have probably said many times if you’ve ever seen the movie. Babe Ruth shows up in a dream to Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and tells him: “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”

So let me ask you. What is it that you want to be remembered by? Do you want to just make a difference or do you want to make history? Do you want your impact to just die with you or do you want it to live on to touch the generations to come? Do you want to leave a lasting legacy? Do you want to be a history maker?

Throw In The Towel

In boxing, when the boxer is getting beat up pretty bad and his corner believes that the fight needs to be stopped before someone gets seriously hurt, they can do what is referred to as “throwing in the towel.” You probably know this. Maybe because you’ve seen it happen at a boxing event or maybe in Rocky 4. Anyway you slice it, this is a symbol of giving up. This is a sign that you quit. This is an act of defeat.

The interesting thing about this is that “throwing in the towel” signifies that the corner has given up on the boxer. The boxer might have something still left in the tank, he might have some fight left in him, he thinks that he can keep on going; but the guys that are supposed to have got his back have quit on him.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt like everyone has given up on you? I have. I have been there when it seemed like no one believed in me. No one thought that I could do it. It hurts. Even more so when its close friends and family. The people who you thought would never “throw in the towel” on you. The people who you thought would never turn their backs on you. The people who you thought were your “ride or die.” Your “bad boys for life.”

Job found himself in this same place. Everything in his life had fallen apart. He lost his servants, livestock, possessions, and even his children. He is at the end of his rope and the people who are the closest to him turn their back on him. They “throw in the towel.” This is what they say to Job:

Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die. (Job 2:9 ESV)

Pretty harsh words. I think they had given up on Job. They had quit on him. So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation?

Even though Job had lost everything and those closest to him lost all hope, I believe what kept Job going in this time was that he knew that God had not given up on him. Job might have lost everything, but he still had his faith in God. Everyone else may have lost hope, but Job still had his hope in God. Job never gave up on the God who had never given up on him.

So if you find yourself in this same place or when you find yourself in this situation remember to not give up on God because He hasn’t given up on you. Everyone else may have thrown in the towel but Jesus has not quit on you. Even when you don’t believe in yourself, Jesus still believes in you.

Better or Worse

You know these people who walk in the room and immediately the atmosphere improves, in fact their name is probably popping into your head right now. On the flip side there is other people who walk in the room and the atmosphere becomes worse. We call these people either “The life of the party” or “A Debbie downer.” We all want to be around the person who makes the room better when they walk in, but we don’t want anything to do with the person who makes the room worse when they are present.

There are two examples of this. One is found in the book of Jonah. Here is a little context. God tells Jonah to go do something. Jonah doesn’t want to do it. So he tries to run away from God in the total opposite direction from where God told him to go. As soon as Jonah gets on to the boat, the situation takes a turn for the worst. Here is what happens:

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. (Jonah 1:3-16 NIV)

Jonah was definitely a “Debbie downer.” As soon as he got onto the boat, everything seemed to fall apart. But at the end, when Jonah was thrown off the boat, everything drastically improved.

The second instance is recorded by Mark. This is what he writes:

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:47-52 NIV) 

We see here that everything was in complete chaos before Jesus got into the boat. But as soon as Jesus climbed into the boat, everything took a turn for the best. This is only one of many examples we find throughout scripture. Wherever Jesus showed up things got dramatically better. Blind people received their sight. The lame began to walk. The sick became well. The dead were raised to life.

When Jonah got onto the boat, things got worse; but when Jesus entered the boat, things got better. So let me ask you. Do things get better or worse when you enter the room? When you started going to that school, did things get better or worse? When the company hired you, did things get better or worse? Would people be excited to see you walk in or would they anticipate seeing you leave? Are you a Jonah or are you a Jesus?

 

Grab Your Shovel

This really hit home with me, not sure if it will with you, but I feel like I should share it anyway.

This past Sunday Steven Furtick spoke a message at NewSpring Church called “Digging Ditches.” His main point was “Only God can make it rain, but He wants you to dig.” In other words before God does what only He can do, He wants you to do what you can do. When Pastor Steven said this I felt like something inside of me was telling me that I was trying to make it rain.

You know how back in the day when the Indians wanted to make it rain they would do what is referred to today as a “Rain Dance.” I felt like God was specifically saying that is what you are doing and I needed to dig. In other words, I needed to stop dancing and start digging.

You may have found yourself in this situation as well. You may have found yourself quick to dance but slow to dig. You may have started to praise when you needed to perspire. You may have begun to shout when you should have grabbed a shovel.

We find this point throughout the Bible. Noah had to first build the ark before God spared him and his family. The children of Israel had to construct the tabernacle before the presence of God showed up. They also had to walk around Jericho before they could shout and the walls come down. David had to tend the sheep in the pasture before he reigned in the palace. In this specific example pointed out by Pastor Steven found in 2 Kings 3:9-20, the people had to dig ditches before God brought the rain. Even Jesus had to go to the cross before He received His crown.

So where in your life are you dancing where you need to start digging? In what area are you trying to make it rain? Do you need to stop shouting and grab your shovel? Remember before God does what only He can do, He wants you to do what you can do. Only God can make it rain, but He wants you to dig.

Karma vs. Grace

I was reminded about this recently so I felt like I needed to share it because I believe someone out there needs to hear this.

– Karma says what goes around comes around. Grace says what was supposed to come around to me already came around to Jesus.

– Karma says you get what you deserve. Grace says because of Jesus you get more than you deserve.

– Karma is based on what you do. Grace is based on what Jesus has done.

– Karma is about paying people back. Grace is about the price that Jesus has already paid.

– Karma is how the world operates. Grace is how God operates.

– Karma is agonizing. Grace is amazing.

– Karma will have you living in fear. Grace will have you living in faith.

Thank God that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to worry about karma but we can walk in grace.

 

Call It

In baseball there is an umpire who stands behind the catcher whose job is to call balls and strikes. When the pitcher throws the ball to the catcher, it’s under the umpire’s discretion whether or not the pitch is determined a ball or strike.

With the advancements in technology, they have computer programs, one of the most popular being called K-Zone, that can determine whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. For the majority of the time, K-Zone agrees with the umpires call on the field. But in certain instances what the umpire calls and what K-Zone says differentiate from each other.

Now I’ve played, coached, and watched the game of baseball for over 25 years and I haven’t one time seen an instance where the umpire’s call, ball or strike, was overturned. Many players, coaches, and fans have argued with the umpire, K-Zone has even disagreed with the umpire’s call, but whatever the umpire says stands. In fact the quickest way to get yourself ejected from the game is to argue balls and strikes with the umpire. So no matter what anyone else says or no matter what other opinions are out there, the only call or opinion that matters is what the umpire determines.

Paul tells us God gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (See Romans 4:17). In other words, whatever God calls something that is what it is. Whatever God says goes. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. Just like the only call that matters in baseball, when it comes to balls and strikes, is the umpire’s call. The only call that matters in life is God’s call.

The world may call you weak, but God calls you strong. They may call you sick, but God calls you healed. The world may call you overcome, but God calls you an overcomer. They may call your marriage hopeless, but God calls it redeemed. The world may call your children a burden, but God calls them a blessing. They may call you a sinner, but God calls you forgiven.

Instead of calling it a burden, call it a blessing. Instead of calling it hopeless, call it redeemed. Instead of calling it sick, call it healed. Instead of calling it a failure, call it a breakthrough. Instead of calling it a challenge, call it an opportunity. Stop calling it as the world sees it and start calling it as God sees it. Because in the end, God’s decision determines your destiny. Don’t call it as you see it, but call it as He sees it.

Small Beginnings

In a meeting recently it was said by Perry Noble of NewSpring Church “Don’t despise small beginnings.”

This hit me hard recently. Because two years ago I started this blog not really thinking anything of it. Didn’t really have any real plan for it. Wasn’t really expecting much to come out of it. And actually, if I’m honest with you, didn’t think it would amount to anything at all. But two years later, something that didn’t seem like much, has led to me writing for the NewSpring Church writing team, writing daily devotionals and articles, and writing a book.

This statement is seen throughout scripture. What if David told his father that he wasn’t an errand boy and refused to deliver lunch to his brothers? He would have never been in place to have the opportunity to fight Goliath. We would never be talking about today how David is a giant killer. He probably would have never became king. What if Elisha never humbled himself to wash the hands of Elijah? He would have never become a great prophet. He would have never received a double portion of the anointing that Elijah had. And we wouldn’t be talking about all the miracles that Elisha performed. What if Peter never abandoned his nets to follow Jesus? He would have never walked on water. He would have never had the opportunity to see 3,000 people saved in one day. We wouldn’t be debating today if Peter was the one of the greatest if not the greatest apostle. What if? What if? What if?

Jesus talks about how if you’re not faithful with small things, you won’t be faithful with greater things. He goes on to say how can you be entrusted with your own things if you are not faithful with someone else’s things. God will never give you what’s next if you are not faithful with what is now. In other words, if you are faithful in small things God will entrust you with all things.

So what does this look like for you? Maybe its starting at the bottom of an organization in a job that you are over-qualified for. Maybe it’s making a phone call to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Maybe it’s running an errand. Maybe it’s serving someone else. Maybe it’s abandoning your career for what Jesus is calling you to. No matter how small don’t overlook it. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t despise it.

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