Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Three Levels of Forgiveness

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Here is a teaching that will literally revolutionize your life.

It’s called The Three Levels of Forgiveness.

The first level is Rookie Forgiveness.  Rookie forgiveness is when you get hurt, you suffer for a while, and then you forgive. 

The question is, how long do you wait between the offense and the forgiveness?  How long do you suffer in anger, hatred and bitterness?  A week?  A month?  A year?  Half your life?

What if you do like the movies and just blast your offender and take your revenge.  Would that solve the problem?  No, and here’s why.  The offender will die, but the offense lives on!  It will live on inside of you until…

Until you forgive.

So how long do you wait to forgive?  Why wait at all?  And that brings us to the second level of forgiveness.

After Rookie Forgiveness, the second level is:  Instant Forgiveness.

This is where you forgive your offenders instantly.  As soon as you see the offense coming, you forgive before it even hits you.  You don’t take the hit because you forgive them instantly. 

You hear someone talking behind your back.  Forgive them.  Instantly.

“Well Doug, that means I’m letting them get away with it!”

Ah, and that’s the problem with all of this forgiveness, isn’t it?  We feel like we are letting the offender get away with it.

But you know, you can forgive...AND hold accountable.  The accountability just won’t be in anger, hatred, revenge and bitterness.

For example, when a toddler screams, “Mommy, I hate you!”

The mom doesn’t take offense.  She instantly forgives and goes straight to loving correction. 

So someone steals from you?  Instantly forgive, and hold them accountable...in love, though, not hatred.

So you don’t want to practice instant forgiveness?  Keep in mind the other option is rookie forgiveness, where you go ahead and take the hit, suffer for a while, and then eventually you are going to have to forgive them anyway. 

So that is level two:  Instant Forgiveness.  We should be tossing out forgivenesses like candy at a parade.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  See an offense coming?  Forgive.

Like I said, it will revolutionize your life!  And your marriage and your family and your church and your workplace.

And then comes the third level:  Preemptive Forgiveness.

You know offenses are coming.  Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come...”  They are coming, so forgive them now, ahead of time!

“But Doug, that’s impossible.”

Think of it like an emergency bank account.  You know something is going to break, so you put money in the account ahead of time.

So go ahead and put some forgiveness in the account ahead of time, knowing the offenses will come.  You don’t know who.  You don’t know when.  You don’t know why.  Maybe it’s next Christmas when Aunt Mable will make a horrible crack about you.  Maybe it’s five years from now when your brother will swindle you out of your dad’s inheritance.  We’re not asking for trouble ahead of time.  We just know that someone is going to do something that hurts us, small or large or even criminal. 

So send out a preemptive strike of forgiveness!  I forgive you now, whoever you are.

And then, when the time comes, and the devil rears his ugly head and goes on the attack...too late. I already forgave that five years ago.

And that sets you free to go on the attack yourself!  Not the attack of anger or hatred or vengeance.  It’s the attack of love, loving everyone, including enemies, through the power of God in me, the Holy Spirit who empowers me to love and to love and to love and to love.

And it all starts with forgiveness.

So think about it.  What level do you want?

There’s Rookie Forgiveness, where you take the hit, suffer for a while, and then finally forgive.

There’s Instant Forgiveness, where you avoid the hit by forgiving instantly, as soon as you see the offense coming.

And there’s Preemptive Forgiveness, where you go ahead and forgive the offender now, before the offense even happens.

Set yourself free from offense and hatred and anger and bitterness and revenge!

Revolutionize your life with the power of forgiveness.

May God bless you, today.

With Apples of Gold...I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, November 06, 2017

How to Overcome the Flesh

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

“Yeah, but how can I overcome the flesh?

That’s what someone asked me, and it’s a good question.

Different sins can get hold of different people – Christian people – and sometimes they even battle those sins, and lose.

So what’s the answer?  How can you overcome the flesh, and the sin and temptation that go with it?

My advice is don’t try to tackle it head on, but turn your attention elsewhere.

Dealing with the flesh can be like dealing with a toddler.  You can fight all day with a toddler about that thing they are fixated on, but sometimes it’s just better to say, “Hey, how about a popsicle?”  Then they squeal with delight, run to the kitchen, and forget all about that other thing.

In the same way you can battle your flesh all day long.  “Drop that sin.  Drop that sin.  Drop that sin.”  But the flesh wants to hold onto it.

So what do you replace it with?

Instead of fighting the flesh head on, you present yourself to the Lord, and keep presenting yourself to the Lord.  “Lord, here I am.  I’m all Yours.”

Romans 6:13 tells us to present ourselves to God.

Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.

I like the words of the new song “Broken Things” by Matthew West.  It says, “But if it’s true You use broken things, then here I am, Lord, I’m all Yours.”

I recommend doing it everyday.  Lift your hands in surrender to heaven and present yourself as a living sacrifice to God.  “Lord, here I am.  I’m all Yours.  I want to do want You want me to do, say what You want me to say, be what You want me to be.  I want to bear good eternal fruit and I can only do that in You.”

So how do we overcome the flesh?  We keep presenting ourselves to the Lord each and every day, and when our hearts and minds are fixated on Him, it just doesn’t leave any room for the flesh.

May God bless you, today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spiritual Growth: Outwardly Inward and Inwardly Outward

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I asked a young man how his spiritual growth was going.

He said, “I’m reading the Bible a lot, and several devotionals.”

I said, “And how is that impacting you?”

He said, “I’m always looking for personal applications – how I can apply what I learn.”

And that, my friend, is one half of spiritual growth, what I call outwardly inward.

You read the Bible, you hear a sermon, you read your daily devotion, you listen to a teacher, you talk to Christian friends and hold one another accountable.  That is outwardly inward.  It starts outside of you, you receive it, and you allow it inside of you to change your heart and mind.

And then there is inwardly outward.  What is that?

That is when the Holy Spirit inside of you is teaching you and leading you, convicting you and encouraging you and cheering you on...from the inside of you.

In John 7, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be inside of us, and would be like rivers of living water, flowing from the inside out.

Hebrews 10:16 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.”

This is what the Holy Spirit does.  He brings us spiritual growth from the inside out.  It begins inwardly and works outward.

So when you are looking at your spiritual growth, look for two things.

Are you reading and listening and learning from the Bible and teachers and preachers, and applying what you’ve heard?

AND...is the Holy Spirit speaking inside of you, leading and guiding and teaching you, and raising up the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit inside of you?

Because that is how spiritual growth takes place:  outwardly inward and inwardly outward.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Am One of the Triumphs of His Grace

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Maybe you’ve sung it a thousand times.

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

The triumphs of His grace.

When I sing that line, my heart cries out with joy:  I am one!

I am one of the triumphs of His grace.

He set me free!  He delivered me from the net of the fowler.

Have you ever heard that illustration?

Psalm 91:3 says, “Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler...”

A fowler catches birds, so imagine the tricks.

Maybe he throws down bird seed and all the birds come out and eat.  Then he drops the net and they are caught!

That’s what the world does, and our sin and our flesh and our selfishness and our pride.  Out goes the tempting seed, and in we rush, right into the stupid place, where the fowler is waiting.

Have you ever been caught in that trap?  A lot of birds die in that trap, and yet here I am, a trophy of His grace.

How many times has the fowler wanted to spring the trap on me...but God.

But God, my Redeemer, saved me from the snares of the fowler.

The fowler sprung the trap, dropped the net, and many birds were caught.  I can see the net coming down.  I can see it starting to snare my feet, and just in time God snatches me out.

He spared my feet from the net of the fowler.

And that’s why I sing the triumphs of His grace, because I am one!

I am one of the triumphs of His grace...all glory and praise and thanks be to God.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Jesus Fire

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Do you have The Jesus Fire?

That’s a question I’ve been asking people lately.

“Do you have The Jesus Fire?”

Unfortunately most people are telling me, “No,” or “I don’t know,” or “Not like I used to.”

One man told me, “I guess I just don’t have the fire like you do.”

I told him, “As a believer, you have the same fire as me or any other believer.  It’s the same fire of the Holy Spirit inside all Christians.”

The question is, are you fanning the flame?  Or are you quenching the Spirit?

What do I mean by The Jesus Fire?

I get that from the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11, where John said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit...and fire.

So I call it The Jesus Fire, and when I say, “Do you have The Jesus Fire?” I’m basically asking, “Is the Spirit of God rising up in you as a roaring fire?”

If the answer is yes, then hallelujah!  Thank God!

If the answer is no, now what?

Now you need a healthy dose of James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, you need to go into your room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in the secret place.

You need to say, “Lord, I love You, and I desire to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness!”

You need a healthy dose of Psalm 25:4, “Show my Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths.”

Yes, you can be filled with the roaring Jesus Fire if you want it! 

It just means humbling ourselves before God, coming to Him in surrender and saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

So fan the flame, and let The Jesus Fire rise up in you today!

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reporting for Duty, Sir

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

In the morning my alarm goes off.  I roll out of bed, get down on a knee, point a finger to heaven and say, “Reporting for duty, Sir.”

I want to hit the ground running for Jesus.  I want to be the guy in 2 Timothy 2:3, “...a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Being a soldier in a huge army simplifies some things.

A soldier doesn’t have to make up things to do each day.  He is TOLD what to do.  He has orders, and his agenda is to obey those orders.

You don’t do whatever you feel like.  You don’t do what everyone else is doing.  You don’t go with the flow or look out for number one.  You do what you are TOLD to do by your commanding officer.

So being a good soldier of Jesus Christ simplifies your schedule.

It also simplifies your education.  So many people today are trying to figure out what they want to do to and what education they need.

But a soldier submits himself to the commander, and the commander orders the training that prepares the soldier for the mission.

And being a soldier means being provided for.  A soldier doesn’t worry about his provisions.  That’s the army’s job.  Food.  Clothing.  Shelter.  Weapons.  All provided for the soldier.

Now I know that being a good soldier of Jesus Christ is not the same as being a soldier in an army.

And yet that is how I approach each day.  I say to Jesus my Commander, “Show me Thy ways, O Lord.  Teach me Thy paths.  What do You want me to do?  How do You want me to do it?  When do You want me to do it?  Lord, I want to do YOUR will every day.  I want to follow You as my Good Shepherd, as my Provider and Leader and Commander.”

So my alarm goes off.  I roll out of bed, get down on a knee, bow my head, point a finger to heaven and say, “Reporting for duty, Sir.”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My Eyes Are Ever Toward the Lord

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord.

That’s my own personal mix of Psalm 25:15 and Psalm 27:4.

Add to that the message of Psalm 101:3, I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

What a contrast! 

We can ever turn our eyes toward the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord, or we can set before our eyes vile things.

And when we set before our eyes vile things, it BLINDS us to the beauty of the Lord.

You say, “Man, I’m TRYING to see the beauty of the Lord, but I’m not seeing it.”

Maybe it’s because you are setting before your eyes vile things, and it’s blinding you to the beauty of the Lord.

You say, “What is the beauty of the Lord, anyway?  It’s not like we can look into heaven and see it.”

You can look into your HEART and see it...if Jesus is there.

If God is in your heart, you can easily see His beauty in the work He is doing sovereignly in your life.

You can see His beauty in His creation.  You can see His beauty in His concepts like love and peace and joy, righteousness and justice and holiness.

Imagine going to a theater and watching a vile movie.  It’s vile, but it’s exciting and bold and loud.  You’re on the edge of your seat, captivated.

Then you walk out of the theater, and there’s a little flower springing up through the cracks of the sidewalk.  It’s beautiful and amazing.  Miraculous!  Uncreatable by any mere mortal. 

But we are blinded to it by the vile, bold and brassy.  We wonder where the beauty of the Lord is while we walk right over it.

Make a vow today.  I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

Instead, my eyes are ever toward the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.