Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? Its not a good feeling. In fact, we hear stories fairly frequently of people wrongly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Can there be a worse injustice? When things don’t go our way, when we are late, when we don’t get our work done, etc, our natural response is to look for an excuse and point the finger at someone other than ourselves. We like to blame others for our own faults. Just listen to a group of kids at recess an you will get an earful of squabbles and tattle tales assigning blame. Adults are not much different. You can also listen to any of the presidential candidate debates and you will hear a lot of blame shifting and name calling from almost everyone. Why are we so quick to make excuses and pass judgement on anyone other than us?
He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60
I regularly go into people’s homes for work and I often hear parents excusing the messy house because of the children. This is often true. Just leave 2 young kids alone in a room for 10 minutes and it will change dramatically! Why are we so self-conscious about our appearances? What will they think of me if my kids are not well dressed, my yard does not get mowed this weekend, if there is rust on my car, or my life is not perfect? What will God/others think of me if I back out of this project, or I choose to be selfish instead of doing what I know I should? Self- awareness of our sins and failures is the first step toward any type of change. What excuses do you give for your shortcomings before God or others?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
Self- condemnation for things beyond our control is equally as damaging and is another form of blame shifting upon ourselves. Christian guilt is not always the best motive for action. It is also easy to blame God for the Christian and non-Christian alike. If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he do this. If God really loved me, why doesn’t he give me what I want? You get the idea. In reality, God did take our blame when he didn’t have to. When Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, it was an expression of his love for us. He allowed the finger to be pointed at himself when he was innocent.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
While we do not have to accept the blame for everyone else’s mistakes, let us stand for truth and justice when we have opportunities each day. Let us also take responsibility for our own actions and not believe the lies that we tell ourselves to shift the blame. Trying to show love to others in a society that attempts to justify every evil action is not an easy task, but it is one action that God calls us to take!
Strength and Courage in Christ,
Like when I first got married, I knew I was supposed to “leave my parents and cleve to my wife” but I had a really good dad. What is my relationship with him supposed to look like? I knew I shouldn’t talk about marriage problems or struggles I had with Johna, but what can I talk about? Money has a lot to do with marriage, can I talk with him about that? I did not know how to relate with my dad.
Have you ever felt that way with Jesus? Like you know Jesus loves you, died for you, and wants to know you, but you don’t know how to engage with Him. One way that has really helped me along the way is to know how Jesus wants to relate to me. Jesus called himself a shepherd and said I am like his sheep.
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
So here are 3 things a shepherd does:
A good shepherd does not expect the sheep to defend itself. Now a sheep should stay where the shepherd has designated, and sheep do tend to wander away. If a lion or a bear come for a sheep, a good shepherd defends the flock. Even when a sheep wanders, the parable of the lost sheep says, the good shepherd leaves the 99 to get the one that went their own way. So where are you looking to defend yourself instead of letting Jesus defend you? Where are you straying from Jesus and need to call out to have Him rescue you?
2. Lead the sheep
Psalm 23 says he leads us to green pasture and still water. He is our source. Money, sex, success, GPAs, food, and relationships are all good things, but the make terrible sources for our lives. They make terrible gods. The Good Shepherd wants to lead you to live giving places, but might lead you through a desert, wilderness, thorn bush to get there. He alone knows what lies on the smoother path. A good sheep learns to trust the the good Shepherd has the best plan. Where are you trying to make your own way? What are you trusting in to be your source? Where do you need to be a good sheep and trust where the shepherd is leading you?
3. Care for sheep
A good shepherd cares for their sheep. They are not concern with only what they get from them, but has great intensions for them. A good shepherd cleans wounds, carries when exhausted, watches late into the night, lays down his life for his sheep. That is what Jesus wants to do in you. What wounds do you need him to clean? Where do you need Him to carry you?
For Jesus to be your shepherd you have to choose to be His sheep! Let Him protect, lead, and care for you.
Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus
In my last ministry position I had leadership of a post-high ministry haphazardly tacked onto my job description. We had around six young adults that met regularly in my basement for a time of conversation, food, and Bible study. They ate the food provided, ate food out of my kitchen that WAS NOT provided, and even broke my couch. That summer we even did a post-high trip, renting a houseboat and traveling up the Mississippi. It was a fun trip everyone enjoyed, but I was not really sure anything deeply spiritual happened. To make matter worse, when we returned the boat we had broken the prop and had to pay $600 for it. After a year of ministry I really felt all we had accomplished was breaking a couch and a boat! Talk about discouragement!
If you serve God for any amount of time you are going to encounter discouragement. You work hard on a lesson, only to hear complaints. You get up the courage to share the gospel, only to get rejected. You spend your few free hours painting, only to be told that “so and so” does a better job. Serving God can certainly be an incredibly discouraging undertaking.
There is a great illustration of this in Nehemiah chapter four. Nehemiah has traveled over 1,000 miles to help rebuild Jerusalem, only to encounter all sorts of discouragement. Enemy armies want to attack the workers, the workers complain of being overworked, and the local citizens complain about the whole thing ten times in a row. For most of us all that discouragement would have been enough to toss in the towel, but not so for Nehemiah. Instead, he takes these four steps to defeat discouragement.
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
In the early stages in Peter’s life we see two men in conflict within one body. Simon was the earlier man, the one who was putting his foot in his mouth most of the time. He was making action without thinking.
Then we also see the other side of him who is Peter. This was the disciple Jesus called out in him. Whenever Jesus called him Peter, rather than Simon, it would bring him to an about face in his mind.
As men, we can have an inner battle as well. It can be one that calls out to our insecurities or to our boyish nature. Reacting rather than responding to most situations is one, and wanting to play the boy rather than the man is another.
Jesus saw something inside of Peter that Peter could not see himself. If you read further in Luke 5, you see that Peter obeyed Jesus and caught a great deal of fish that day. They caught so many fish that the boat begins to sink. It was a awesome catch!
I like what is says in verse 8, ‘Peter falls to his knees before the Lord and asks him to please leave me, I am too much of a sinner to be around you.’ That is the truth. Every man on the planet is a sinner, but because of the love of Christ, he extends us grace.
Peter later became the ‘Rock’ in which Christ said that he would extend his church. True men of God see their sins. They fall on their knees asking for forgiveness and stand being real men who love Jesus. Are you ready to be a leader for Christ?
Strength and Courage