Forgiveness – Let It Go

Have you ever struggled to forgive someone? If so, I know how you feel. A few years back, I was treated unfairly by a college professor. For the longest time, I just couldn’t shake what happened to me or the resentment I had toward him. Even though I knew I should let it go, I couldn’t. And, even when I moved closer toward forgiveness, I remember thinking, “I’ll forgive him, but I’ll never forget what happened.”

As I thought about how difficult it is to forgive others, it made Jesus’ action in Luke 23:34 even more impressive. I had no idea what it meant to be treated unfairly until I read the events leading up to this verse. Before this statement, people had spit on Him, lied on Him, and even beat Him. To make matters worse, He hadn’t done anything to deserve such harsh treatment. But, in spite of the way He had been treated, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for the don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NLT).

Can you imagine how wonderful this world would be if we all had an attitude like Jesus? Awesome, right? So, let’s try. Forgive, often, and sincerely. And, the good news is, the more we forgive, the more we’re forgiven (see Matthew 6:12).

Compassion – Care for Others

This weekend, my friends and I had a great conversation about caring, or showing concern for others. As a result, I searched for some caring quotes. This is what I found: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” (Leo Buscaglin). This quote summarizes the heart of our conversation. We often miss precious opportunities when we don’t show others how much we care.

Yet again, Jesus emerges from the crowd as our example of compassion; He truly cared for others. If you read the verses included above, you’ll notice that His disciples were content to let the people meet their own needs. But, not Jesus. He was so compassionate that He wanted to meet their spiritual and physical needs. And, what an impact this miracle had! John reports, “When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (John 6:14, NLT).

Many people have needs. You don’t have to look far; some of them are right in front of you. So, be like Jesus. Have compassion on others. You never know who might acknowledge Christ through your act of kindness.

Submission – Yield to His Will

Not long ago, I had an accident, during which, my vehicle was totaled. The most bothersome part of this experience wasn’t the damage to my vehicle; rather, it was troubling because I couldn’t control the outcome. No matter how hard I pressed the brakes, no matter how hard I gripped the steering wheel, I couldn’t avoid the collision. Life also has a way of introducing some collisions we cannot avoid – adversity, disappointment, discouragement, and even uncertainty. While we’d rather take an alternate route, sometimes, we have to endure difficult situations.

Even Jesus faced a situation that he wanted to avoid. This experience was so gruesome that He prayed for a detour, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me” (Matthew 26:39, NLT). Personally, I don’t blame Him, for the cross wasn’t an enjoyable experience. Although a direct flight was the easiest way back to heaven, He willingly accepted the long road through the cross. He submitted to His Father’s will, knowing, as an old song suggests, “The safest place in the whole wide world is in the will of God.”

Maybe God has you in a tough place. I know it’s easier to escape, but stay there. Jesus went through the toughest experience known to mankind, and now He has the most prestigious name. When we submit to His will, even though it’s tough, we’re assured that we’ll also reign with Him.

Serenity – Comfort in Chaos

How do you respond when the levies of life break, allowing the current of chaos to ease into your mind? What do you do when your experiences don’t align with your expectations? If you’re like me, then you’re not always steadfast, unmovable, and determined to outlast the crisis. This weekend, I felt like I was about to implode. Even though I’ve encouraged others not to panic before they needed to panic, I found it difficult to accept my own advice.

That’s why I love Jesus, for He remains calm, even in adverse situations. We often analyze the text included with this email from the disciples’ perspective and marvel at Jesus’ power to “save the day.” But as I read the story again, I noticed that Jesus’ power was evident before He demonstrated it. News flash: Jesus was in the same storm the disciples experienced! Instead of panicking, He was asleep, demonstrating His power over the mind. Jesus remained serene because He knew they would make it to the other side, in spite of the storm.

I’m thankful that Jesus isn’t stingy with His peace. I’m a witness – He shares it willingly. I called on Him, and He gave me the same advice I’ve given others. Don’t worry before you need to worry: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT). He’ll give us peace in the midst of the storm!

Humility – Get Over Yourself

Our current series, “Magnificent Mindset,” has highlighted biblical characters with attitudes we should emulate. Thus far, we have celebrated the woman with the issue of blood for her optimism, resiliency, and initiative. We have commended David for his courage, gratitude, and transparency. Although noteworthy, their attitudes pale in comparison to the main character in the Bible. His attitude was so impressive that Paul encouraged the Philippians to have the same attitude (Philippians 2:5). The biblical character whose attitude is most worth imitating is Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

One of Jesus’ staple attitudes was humility, or modesty. His life was never about Himself; He always lived for others. The passage included with this email is a great example of how humble He was. Instead of relishing in His status as God’s Son, He served the men that should have served Him. I think He summarized His actions best when He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NLT).

Life is not about being on stage and broadcasting how great we are. Life is about raising the curtain to broadcast the greatness in others. As Paul encouraged the Philippians, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NLT). Be humble; it’s the road to eternal honor!

Transparency – Open Up

Have you ever felt like sharing something with someone else? I’m not talking about the traditional things we share – good news, our hometown and occupation, or other things that make us happy. The real question is – have you ever wanted to share something personal, painful … something that might make others raise their eyebrows? Isn’t this an uncomfortable place to be? Deep inside, you really want to get something off your chest, but you don’t want the other person to judge or change his or her opinion about you.

We often refrain from “opening up” because we’re more comfortable hiding behind who we think others want us to be. We even fail to open up when we talk to God, praying around the problem as if He’s not omniscient. In the text included with this email, however, David reminds us that it’s OK to be transparent with God. David shares his thoughts about one of the darkest moments in his life (after his sin with Bathsheba), and he didn’t hide any details. He didn’t worry about how God would interpret His words; He just opened up and told God all about it.

And, the good news is God keeps secrets! Are you facing a difficult situation? Do you need someone to share it with? Try God! Your secrets are safe with Him. Better, He can do something about your situation.

Gratitude – Appreciate Everything

Last week, four of the top five NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams lost. And what ecstatic celebrations followed! Fans from the opposing teams rushed the court, celebrating like their team had just won the national championship. Their excitement was rooted in gratitude: they were thankful their favorite team won.

It’s natural, and appropriate, to celebrate after great victories. But, imagine how shocking it would have been if fans from the losing team had rushed the court. No one celebrates defeat, misfortune, and pain, right? Not exactly. In the verse included with this email, the psalmist (believed to be David) does. What an uncommon expression of gratitude! The psalmist literally praised God for the rough times in his life. Why? Because he learned more about God.

I guess the saying is true: there is a silver lining in every cloud. Whatever God allows in our lives, we should be grateful, for He never gives us more than we can handle. So, if you’re facing tough times with a frown, then turn it upside down, knowing God is teaching you more about Himself.

Courage – Face Your Giant

One woman secured a place in the annals of history by putting her life on the line. For years, she had followed the established protocol: move to the back of the bus. One day, however, she had had enough. With no regard for her life or the consequences she might incur, she remained in her seat when asked to move for a white passenger. This woman was Rosa Parks, and her courageous act sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

David could probably win a campaign for the Bible’s posterchild of courage. While everyone else feared Goliath, David welcomed the challenge. He was so courageous that he told Goliath, “Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head” (1 Samuel 17:46, NLT). Keep in mind: all David had was a few stones and a sling in his hand as he talked so forcefully to Goliath. David was inspired to fight a giant because he knew God was on his side.

With God, all things are possible; therefore, we can approach every obstacle courageously. Don’t let life’s challenges intimidate. Instead, face your giants, knowing that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT).

Confidence – Believe You Can

My all-time favorite athlete is Michael Jordan. My admiration is not limited to his undergraduate institution, economic impact, brand recognition, or exceptional basketball skills. My favorite moment from his athletic career is this quote, featured in Come Fly with Me, his first home video: “If I get the ball, you’re at my mercy … There’s nothing you can say or do about it.” Long story short, Michael Jordan was confident in his basketball skills.

If you’ve read the Bible, then I’m sure you’ve noticed David’s confidence. When the Israelites were afraid to fight Goliath the giant, David confidently volunteered. David’s confidence was not rooted in his ability; rather, he trusted in God. He believed that God, who delivered him from a lion and bear, could help him defeat the giant.

We must always remember: “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Since we have Him on our side, confidence is authorized. So when life’s issues confront you, don’t make mountains out of mole hills. Instead, tell your problems, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT).

Resiliency – Bounce Back

How do you respond to failure? If you’re like Abraham Lincoln, then your response is atypical. Throughout his early years, his first business venture failed, he lost a campaign for legislature, his second business failed, and he suffered a nervous breakdown. In a span of 20 years, he lost campaigns for Speaker of the House, Elector, Congress, Senate, and Vice President. Despite all of these failures, Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln was resilient; he knew how to bounce back after failing. Likewise, the woman with the issue of blood was resilient. Although she failed for twelve years, she refused to accept defeat. Instead, she kept bouncing back, resuming her search for healing. And, like Abraham Lincoln, her resiliency was not futile. She found what she needed in Jesus!

Failure is not the end of the world; it’s often the launching pad for greatness. Don’t let failure discourage your pursuit of greatness. Instead, be resilient. One of my favorite Bible verses says, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16, NLT). Let the same thing be said about you … BOUNCE BACK!