Thursday, May 29, 2008
3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
I take so much more from this reading than what is at face value. Don’t we all know lawless men? Don’t we come in contact everyday with people that want to deceive us? If you look at it, you see that it is no different than what is written in this reading. People will lie to you, deceive you, lead you down the wrong path. It happens daily, and the passage is right on, if you don’t believe, if you do not have faith, you will believe the lies, you will be sucked in to these false truths.
Giving up your soul and beliefs for the comfort of what I call “the easy truth”. We should stand strong in our faith. We should be alert for the lawless man, perhaps even expect him, and prepare for him. It will be his interactions with us that will test our faith, the meetings provide us with a time to stand in faith, and follow God’s word, not the popular word. We truly have defining moments in our life, either we define the moment or it defines us. My hope is that we will always live to define the moment; that when the lawless man stands before us, we can recognize him for what he is and call him out on his unjustness. Here again, it is just as important that we do not become the lawless man.
In our lives we daily have the opportunity to distort the truth, to stack things to our advantage, to misrepresent the situation for our personal gain. I have to admit that it is tempting for me on some days. A lie can silence any situation faster than the truth. A lie is what people want to hear a lot of times, while the truth always seems to take some explaining. The truth is lot of times is difficult, maybe even hurtful, while the lie will give a false sense of comfort. Don’t live for the easy truth, live for the Lord and the one real truth.
SO gentlemen, may we go this day forward with our eyes open, awake in the truth of the Lord. Not only looking, and preparing for the lawless man, but ensuring that we do not become the man that we are looking for.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Have you ever made a plan? I mean a good plan, you put in the foresight, you do all the planning, then it comes time for the plan to take off, and nothing happens; at least not like you have planned. I know I have. This is when it becomes clear to me that I have to quit trying to be wise in my own eyes.
The Lord is at work in our lives daily. We have to trust in him, not in what we think we understand. The Lord will make the crooked paths straight for you, but you have to give him time to work. That is the key, as it says in Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. His time frame is not yours. There might be things that you are not aware of that need to happen before that plan can become a reality. You might have to wait, but it will be worth it. Nothing happens before the Lord is ready for it. No matter how much you might want it.
You never know, the great plan that you might be waiting for might actually be the path to your ruin, Christ will not forsake you, and he will not let that happen. Maybe you have to wait, and when it finally does happen things have moved in your favor, and now you will be even more sucsessful because of the wait. No one knows God’s plan, and sometimes we can get so focused on making something happen that we forget that we really are not the ones in control.
When we turn our attention from trying to force something to happen, to waiting in God’s rest to see how it will play out, we will always be rewarded. As I have said many times before, you have to focus on God, let him focus on the problem. It is like when you walk up to a store and you want to go in. You pull and pull on the door but it will not open. You look at the sign, and can see there are people in the store, you can see them shopping. You pull on that door some more! Why can’t you get in? If you will take just a moment to stop focusing on getting in to the store, you will see that you need to push the door not pull it!
This is what we do everyday with the Lord. We don’t want to wait; we want it now. We cannot see past right now, God can. He has always delivered his people in their time of need. We are where we are supposed to be right now. Quit trying to force it. Slow down, take a deep breath, look for the path that has been provided, not the one you want to go down! Let Christ work on your behalf. The Lord will show you the way, but you have to wait for the Lord. Stand strong in Faith and wait for the Lord.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Paul does a good job here of point out the difference between the old, and new covenants.
It teaches that the old covenant was flawed “7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” As for what fault it had, I believe that is shown in what God says will be right about the new one. “12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[b] I will remember no more."[c]13 In that He says, "A new covenant, " He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” This is the turning point, It shows that the new covenant will be full of mercy, and forgiveness; Not wrath, and vengeance. I really think this passage does a great job of illustrating the outline of the new covenant. Yet today in so many churches we hear the good news of Christ, yet the wrath of the old covenant. Not only confusing, but what a mixed message!
In the old covenant people obeyed the word of the Lord or suffered the Wrath of God, they followed out of fear. The new covenant changed all of that. The new covenant offers eternal salvation. That is the goal. Instead of worrying about saving our souls from hell, we strive for eternal salvation. This is a HUGE difference, and one that so many people miss. Salvation is the reward; not going to hell is a byproduct. I tell people that it is the difference between the law of man, and the law of the Lord. If you follow the law of man every day, your life will not improve one bit. Nothing positive comes out of it, you just stay out of jail. Following the law of the Lord, gives you salvation. Not only will your life here on earth improve, for I have seen that first hand, (as well as read it as a reoccurring message throughout the Bible, as well as the writings of Barnabas, Clement, and Irenaeus); but you will go on to live an eternal spiritual life with the Lord. It is not coincidence that if you happen to follow the Law of the Lord, you will find that you will be well above the expectations of the law of man. That is what you call a win – win. You live a good life, you are prosperous, you stay out of jail, AND you get eternal salvation……..So why would anyone not want to profess the word of the Lord?
Friday, May 23, 2008
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
"It hated me first"……. We often get so wrapped up in our own little circle that we forget that there is a world out there that does not subscribe to our point of view. As a matter of fact, not only do they not have the same view as ours, they will do whatever they can to tear down your belief. At the end of the day, they do not want you to follow Christ.
Think of all the times in the Bible that people came up to Jesus, and pled with him to stop teaching, or came to his disciples and tried to reason with them, to get them to quiet Christ. Do we not face the same trials today? We all have people in our life that work very hard to get us to waver. There are Churches out there teaching a “middle road” to salvation. Many today want to bend the teachings of Christ to match the world we live in instead of trying to bend the world to the teachings of Christ.
There is little doubt that viewing God’s word as a flexible text is much easier than living the life he mapped out for us. It is always easier to conform to society than to stand up for your beliefs and hold firm to your values. If you are willing to bend, people will not be so hard on you. If you will pick and choose scripture that makes life easy, and disregard the parts that call for determination, then you can blend in to the “norm”.
Could you imagine if Christ had acted in such a way? We would have no salvation; the prophecies would not have been fulfilled……. He would not have been the Son of God. Oh his life here would have been easier for sure. I would be willing to bet that he would have lived to be an old man. However his life would not have had any meaning.
Are our lives any different today? I think not. We cannot bow at every turn when we meet hardship, or resistance. We cannot change the word to fit the life we want to live. We have to shape our lives around his word. We have to be willing to take the persecution for our beliefs, and the persecution will come. It might not be to the extent that it was in the days of Christ, but you will have to withstand persecution for your beliefs, and stand we all must. You do not have to look far today to see the distain for things Christian, and as long as Christians continue to give up a little ground that distain will continue to grow.
So stand strong in the Lord. He lived and died for us and for our salvation. He withstood the persecution of the world. HE did not complain, he did not shrink from his destiny. We owe a debt that must be paid with the same dedication. Not doing so might make our lives easier, but what meaning will they have?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
I wanted to bring this up because I feel that we are often quick to dismiss those that do not agree with our beliefs. I have heard people say that we as Christians should not associate with non-believers, or “sinners”. I can see where people would read the passage above and think just that, but I would like to bring a different perspective.
Yes, we must separate ourselves from non-believers, or “sinners”. The wicked has no place with the righteous. That at face value seems very easy, but when you look at it, there is far more to it than just separation. Yes, we should not allow ourselves to be grouped in and labeled with the wicked, yet we must not be afraid to speak boldly, and minister to them. We must be prepared to work with them. Jesus himself frequently dined with sinners. He did this not to be one of them, but to show them how to live. He wanted to offer them salvation, and a chance at a new life. He was not labeled a sinner (though some tried), but his life work was to try and save them. (Matthew 9:12 12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”) We must realize that there is a difference between ministering to, and joining the non-believer. There should not be acceptance, but there should be on our part a willingness to associate. We are children of God, it is our place to help, not judge. We should try to direct, yet not hold ourselves as better than others. We should show the way, but not condemn. This is what makes the Christian lifestyle complicated. We must show love and compassion to all, just as Christ did. So yes, we should work very hard to keep ourselves from being grouped in with the wicked of the world, yet we should have our hand out, offering to grab the wicked, and take him into the fold.
As I talked about yesterday, we all were commissioned by Christ to go out and spread the word. Ministering to each other is the easy part. You do not have to explain yourself to a fellow Christian, nor do they as the “hard questions”. It is only when we get out of our comfort zone and go speak with people that do not hold our same view that we can spread the word. This means that you are going to have to get a little dirty. Just as Christ, you will be talking to people that are not “pillars” of the community. The idea is to offer them hope, but do not join in their group.
I have found that people are looking for answers. They are very reluctant to step into a church, but they want to talk to someone, they want to know. They want to believe, but they do not “trust”. This is what we are here for. Not to sit around and pat each other on the back, and build a wall around our Church community, but to reach out and invite, to answer without contempt as individuals. We are examples of Christ. If he did not hold himself above anyone, I do not see how we can either.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Why are you a Christian? Can you answer that question? It seems that when I ask that question to people many do not have an answer, or the answer is I belong to a great Church, or we have a great Pastor, even better they have so much interaction for the kids. Those are great reasons to go to a Church, no doubt, and I do not want to be misunderstood. Those three answers show that a church must have a great community, a Pastor who has a gift from the Holy Spirit, and the church must realize the importance of getting and keeping the children involved. It does not however qualify as a good answer as to why one would be a Christian.
My point is as the scripture shows the idea was for each of us to be able to preach the Word. Each one of us should have a very good idea of what it means to be a Christian for us. That answer might be a little different from person to person, just as no two Gospels read exactly the same. Nevertheless each of us should have our own story of what makes our relationship with Christ one that is worth sharing with the world. It takes personal reflection, prayer, and yes, you need to pick up the Bible and read it. You do not have to be able to quote scripture off the top of your head, but it would be a good idea to be able to give a Cliff notes version of it. Why would someone want to follow Christ if the first time they were introduced to it the person telling them did not have a clear picture of what it meant to them, beyond that is what my family has always done? It is up to each of us as an individual, then as a church community to reach out to those around us that are searching.
Christ gave us all the Great Commission. He has told each of us that he has chosen us to go and bear fruit that will last. It is each and every one of our duties to be able to speak boldly about Christ, and the salvation that he offers. He did not just give the keys to your Pastor. He put them in your hands as well. The question is will you jump in the front and drive, or will you stay in the back seat?
Monday, May 19, 2008
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
This touches on one of the big issues I believe that we should strive to change within the Church community. We all know people who talk too much, especially in the Church. They are the people who love to gossip about all of the latest happenings in the congregation. They keep up with who wears what, who is saying what, going as far sometimes as to add in a few details, and then they will hold all accountable to their deeds, and words…..except of course for themselves. The problem as I see it has come down to people today categorizing idle talk as not “that big of a deal”. Now we are warned several times throughout the bible about idle talk and gossip, (Psalms 39:1, James 3:9-10, Prov. 11:9 ) to name a few. Jesus himself warned against it Matthew (12:36-37) when he said, “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” As I have said before there is no difference to the Lord when it comes to sin. (Matthew 5:19). Paul reminds us of howgossip is viewed in Romans chapter 1 where he tells us that they (the gossip) not only continue to repeat the same sin, they approve of others that do the same, as a result they deserve death! I think that makes for a pretty clear case of the need to keep a bridled tongue.
We have to take a role in helping our fellow Christians identify this and stop it from spreading in the Church. It is commonly pointed out as a problem by those who are thinking about Christianity, and accepting Christ. Could you imagine? Someone who has heard the word of the Lord preached to them, yet they are apprehensive, not because of the religion, but because of the hipocrocy of the followers! They want to have Christ as their savior, but they do not want to deal with the backbiting within the Church community.
I know that this some Churches are better at controlling this than others, and I have seen some that you would think it is encouraged. It comes down to each one of us as Christians, we have to hold ourselves accountable (and that can be quite a task sometimes) but we have to hold our breatheran accountable as well.
First and foremost we have to lead by example, but then we have to help our brothers and sisters see the error of their ways. It is a hard task, but one that needs to be taken on.
When we fall, and we all will stumble on this, remember: He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Friday, May 16, 2008
Hebrews 12: 15-17 5See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
Are we like Esau? For those that do not know, (Genesis 25) To quickly sum it up, Esau was the eldest son of Isaac. Esau had a younger brother named Jacob. One day Esau had been out hunting and came home hungry, his brother Jacob was cooking and Esau bartered his birthright as first-born for a plate of food from Jacob. He gave everything promised for his future away for a plate of food.
In today’s fast paced world of instant gratification it is hard sometimes not to lose sight of the finish line. When anything you want is no further than the click of a mouse it becomes very easy to give up our birthright for right now.
Worse yet, we sit by and watch as people we know do the same thing. I have been as guilty as anyone about this. Paul specifically calls us all out in verse 15 "see that no one misses the grace of God, and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Today this world moves so fast that even if we are minding our birthright, we are far too busy to stop, look over and check on our neighbor. We have created a society with a mentality of "as long as it does not hurt me" it's ok. As a result the weeds of bitterroot are growing between you and the house of your neighbor. It is time to do some weeding! We have to slow our lives down, does that mean that we might not get the brightest shiniest thing right when we want it? You can almost bet that you wont, but we have to remind each other that is not the reason we are here. The one who dies with the most toys does not win the game!
We have to pay more attention to what is going on around us, and just exactly what we are giving up in our quest for earthly satisfaction. Our birthright, is not worth a plate of food, Christ did not die for us, just to have us turn our backs on him for quick fill to quiet a hunger pain. Along with that we have to remember to go and check on that neighbor, are they OK? What can we do to help them? Keep the "garden weeded" The bitter roots run deep, and once they take hold they are hard to pull out. We should do everything we can to pull them while they are small. Don't throw your future away for something "right now"
Thursday, May 15, 2008
6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
I have talked before about not going this journey alone, it is a long road, with many twists. You need someone there beside you. For me that would be my wife. My wife and I were just talking last night about how in today's world so many couples give up. How they seem so ready to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble.
I used the passage above because I think many people today forget that marriage is more than just getting together with friends and family and "giving it a whirl". As the passage states they are no longer two, but one. They have pledged their lives to each other, their time, their understanding, and their love. They have (in most cases) made a commitment before God that they will take each other as is, come what may.
In 1Corinthinas 7:3 Paul's tells us that the husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. We have to be there for each other for the duration of the journey. I know for me my wife is far more than a companion. She is my compass when I feel lost, she is my therapist when I feel like I am going crazy, and at times she is my conscience. We do not do much without each other, we truly are one unit. That is not to say that everyday is a walk in the park, we have our challenges like everyone. The way to make it work is by working with each other instead of against.
We all know 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This has to be one of the most used passages in weddings today. This passage is far more than just some words that sound good about marriage. It is a great blueprint of how to treat our spouses. When it is put that way it is easy to see why marriages do crumble today. Not proud, not self-seeking, keeps no record of wrongs......All too often spouses treat each other the exact opposite of these examples, worse yet, they will hold their spouse to a level of expectation higher than anyone else they know. They will demand near perfection from their spouse, never seeing just how short of the mark they are themselves. This is the cycle that need to be broken. We gave our word, now we need to follow through.
We would all do well to remember our spouses for what they are. They are the other half of us. We should lift them up as the best in ourselves, the half that we searched for and found. I know that there are circumstances that demand separation from a marriage, but with a divorce rate of over 50% it is less abuse, and more laziness.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This passage highlights several different aspects of prayer, but it revels so much about our relationship with Christ.
To start off, how often do we see just that? People who put on a great show, but do not follow through with their actions. They work so hard to make sure that everyone notices how "great” of a Christian they are. Yet there is no substance behind them. God does not care how big of a production you put on. It does not make any difference to him if you are a great speaker. There is no need to ramble on filling the air, he knows your needs needs. In Isaiah chapter 65 he tells us that before we call he will answer, while we are still speaking he will hear.
What it all comes down to is your relationship with Christ. You have to start on the inside. So many are quick to jump right in head long, wanting to help others, wanting to get active in the Church, but they do not take the time do the most basic thing we should all do; which is fit the Lord into our daily life first. How many Christians take the time to pray daily? How often is the Bible read in the home? These are the things that cultivate the relationship. Without them it is easy to get caught up in the production that so many want to put on. They get so caught up they forget what the whole point was. What you end up with is people putting on a good show, but not really knowing why.
You have to have the basics; you have to know what the Lord means to you before you can share it with someone else. Everyone wants to do the good works, and that is a great thing, but recognition from peers in the church or your community is no reason to do it, if you cannot see the reasoning behind the acts then they are meaningless. So take the time to pray, read the Bible, don't depend on the book report on Sunday, read it for yourself, think of how the scriptures apply to your life today. Spend time reflecting on how the Lord moves in your life, he is there every day with you. Then you can easily see him at work in others. It starts on the inside and works its way out.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
4Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
So many read this passage and think that they can relate to it so well. Why will they not believe me, why won't they trust me, why will they not listen to me? We too feel like we have no honor in our hometown, or among our family members.
My question is this, how do we view other people. Think of people that you know, do you give them the credit that they deserve, or do you tend to look at them, not for what they are, but what they can do for you? I think it is safe to say that we withhold honor form those around us daily, we might not mean to, but we do nonetheless.
I think it was the same for Christ. Those that new him as Jesus the son of Joseph, they could not believe that he could be the messiah. He grew up around them, they knew him, or at least thought they did. As a result, they did not listen. Notice how it says that he could do very little because there was so little faith among them.
Are we guilty of treating others in our life the same way? If we fail to put our faith in others they will never succeed, we have to make sure that we look to see people for what they are, not drag them down with our preconceived notions of what we think they are. Are we robbing people of their honor because we see them through such a small window? We should strive to be lifters. (Mrs. Brooks 4th grade) If we follow the teachings of Christ we should be looking for ways to build others up, to preach the good news, and support our fellow brother. When we spend our time tearing others down, we are not following Christ. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So I urge everyone, give of your faith freely, just as Christ is faithful in us, we should be in others. I would rather give freely of my faith, while building up those around me and be disappointed in a few failures, than to horde my faith, and never see all of the success that my fellow man is capable of.
Monday, May 12, 2008
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"
2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A Staff", he replied.
A staff, nothing special, just a stick. Yet Moses used it time and time again as a tool to channel God's power through. I mentioned several men from various parts of the bible on Friday's post. The point for Friday was that God took these men and made their lives spectacular.
Today I would like to use the same men as an example of how the Lord does not care what you think you can do; he knows what you can do! What is in your hand? It might not look like much, but the Lord can do amazing things with very little.
Moses went before the Pharaoh.....he could not speak well to say the least. Noah was a good man, but he had his faults, certainly not a "pillar" of the community. The apostles were common men, fishermen, tent makers, tax collectors that were walking with Christ, and still would bicker among themselves. Paul I think is the best example. He went from hunting down the Christians and persecuting them, to being on of the most devout servants of the Lord.
Once the Lord goes to work in your life there is no limit to what you can achieve. It does not matter where you start out. All it takes on your end it the faith to see it through; the belief that Christ is working in your life, on your behalf. HE will open doors, and create opportunity where none has been before. He will raise up the weak, to heights above kings.
What is in your hand? When the Lord calls on us, or shows us a path that might look pretty tough, remember he knows what your capable of, even if you do not. You might not be the strongest, but the Lord can make you stronger than any one. God has a great track record of taking everyday people and making them extraordinary.
In I Corinthians 1 Paul tells us "He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are".
So the next time you think you can't, remember that Lord does not need much to work with. Just a little faith on your part and he will take you to new heights. Doors will open that have not opened before. What is in your hand? It might not look like much to you, but to the Lord it is all he needs.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The Lord wants us to be happy, make no mistake about that. HE wants you to be prosperous; he wants you to be sucsessful. Throughout the bible there are many accounts of men who served the Lord, and lived a blessed, full life. Let me just pause here and say, no if you believe in the Lord, and do good works for him he will not make you rich. That is not what I am saying by a long shot. What I am saying is that he will make you prosperous. That comes in many different flavors. What is being said is that he will improve the areas of your life. He will give you peace of mind, he will work to repair relationships that you thought were lost; he will strengthen your marriage. You will be prosperous.
I know that sounds a little different than what you hear from a lot of people. Most will talk all about what you have to give up, how you have to sacrifice for the Lord. That is way off the point. Once you choose to follow God's plan for you, he will never let you fall, he certainly will not take everything from you. Or ask you to take a heavy burden, as a matter of fact he told us in Matthew chapter 11 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Think about it, the Lord does not want you to be run down, and un-sucsessful. Who would listen to you? Why would the Lord want an unsuccessful person out there preaching his word? Wouldn’t that make him look unsuccessful by association?
We were created in the image of God; we are sanctified by the grace of Christ, and moved by the Holy Sprit. I am pretty sure that you have head of these three guys; they are kind of a big deal. If we are going to work for them, would they not want us to be prosperous? Of course they would.
Think of some of the figures on the bible, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, the Apostles, and Paul to name a few. God had a plan for these men, and he made them prosperous. He took them to heights in their lives that they never dreamed of. We might not all reach the same heights, but we will be prosperous. We can't all be Moses, or Paul, but I will tell you this, I have yet to see anyone that has started to follow Christ not have their life improve.
In Deuteronomy 28 we are told that if we follow Lord he will set us high above nations, and blessings will find and follow us. For each step you take towards the Lord he will take five. HE is the good Shepard, who rejoices at finding the lost sheep. The Lord will raise you up, He has made the offer…….all you have to do is accept it.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things
Have you ever hear the saying the Lord will not give me more than I can handle……I just wish he did not trust me so much?
I know we all feel like that from time to time, for some it might feel like all the time. Know that the Lord has a plan for you. The above passage is from the parable of the talents. The point behind it is when the Lord see that you can take on a few things he will give you more to take care of. The Lord will not put anything in your path that you cannot overcome.
Have you read the book of Job? It is a testament to the ability of one man to take on unimaginable personal hardships and persevere. The Devil thought for sure that he could get Job to break, but the Lord knew Job would make it through. If the Lord had doubts he never would have let it happen.
Our lives are no different; God knows what we can take on and what we cannot. There is little doubt that there will be things the come up in our lives that seem impossible, but just as fire is used to harden steel, we too become stronger in faith with each passing obstacle. I know what your thinking, that I have no idea just how hard things can get. I will tell you the truth, if you will put your faith in God, and believe that he will sustain you, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish. Psalm 41:3 and 55:22 tell us that the Lord will not let the righteous fall.
If God did not think we could do it, he would not of put the fate of our world in our hands. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but if you think about it, that is what he has done. He has told us to go out and spread the word, so all might come to know him ……I guess we must have done something right, because that sure sounds like a lot of trust! If the Lord is willing to trust us with that much, how can we doubt his trust in us, or his plan?
When things in our life seem impossible, we should take a moment and remember if he brought us to it, he will bring us through it. Focus on God; let him take care of the problem.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
We cannot just follow the Lord when it is easy. It is when we are at the lowest we should lean on him the most, yet so often that is when we turn back to the old comfortable things that we know. We have to have faith in the Lord. We should allow him to work in our lives not just when things are coasting along, but when the road gets bumpy. The Lord is strongest when we are at our weakest point. (Psalm 34:19.
Once we decide to follow Christ we should make every effort to continue in a forward motion. That is what Christ meant by not looking back. When hard times fall on us instead of focusing on those problems, and falling back in to the old habits, we should focus on our God. We can’t get caught up in the way it used to be, or it was so much easier when. God has told us that if we have faith in him, weapons built against us will not prosper. If we were to have the faith of a mustard seed, we could command a mountain to throw itself into the sea and it would.
Knowing this, how could we consider looking back? The Lord will not forsake you, he will stand by your side. There is no doubt that people will try to convince you differently. People love to drag you down to their level. They will tell you all the reasons under the sun why you should not believe. Why you should turn your back on God. Sadly enough, people feel better when they get someone down with them. Don't let them steal your faith! Don't let them cause you to look back. Keep your head high and hang on to your faith.
The Lord will sustain you; he will guide you through your toughest times. Put your faith in him, and he will fill your cup to the point it overflows. Trust in him, and don't look back.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
41"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
I hate to say it but I know many people, including myself that are guilty of doing the same thing. From time to time. We find it so easy to criticize other people, yet we hate to look at ourselves. We might be quick to point out when others are wrong, but we do not like to hear that we in fact are the ones that are wrong. It is one of the things most non-Christians cite as reason to not agree, or care for Christianity.
It is our responsibility as Christians to help each other follow the word of God, but we must keep a constant check on our own "backyard". No one will listen to someone who professes one thing but does the opposite. This is why it is so important to be an example through actions first then words second. What I mean by that is anyone can preach the word, anyone can memorize scripture then spout it out on demand. The key is in their actions. It is far harder to try and live like a Christian, than it is to talk like one.
We would all do well to start looking at ourselves and the lives we lead, before being so quick to "help" others with their shortcomings. When we focus on setting a living example, it becomes clear to believers and non-believers that being Christian is far more encompassing than knowing a few bible versus. This is what will keep us from being hypocrites, living the example, not just talking about it.
We cannot reach out, until we reach in. We will never be perfect. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The thing to remember is that we cannot hold ourselves over anyone as better than they are. That would truly be hypocritical. We have all been lost, we have all stumbled, and none of us will reach perfection. So when we criticize, we should do it gently with true concern for their soul. Remember that you might be on the receiving end next time. As the Lord reminds us, the second most important rule is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27)
Do not let yourself fall in to the trap. If we spent more time pulling “planks” from our own eyes, our vision would be clear, and it is no surprise that if we spent more time on ourselves, and our relationship with Christ, we would understand others better and see them for what they are.....just another sinner no different than we all are. If there is hope for us through Christ, then there has to be hope for them as well.
Monday, May 5, 2008
6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them."
Do we have the strength to be like Joshua, and Caleb? When we walk our daily path with the Lord do we look at problems and troubles thinking that there is no way we can overcome them? Out of all those that went to spy on the land only two saw the truth. Was there adversity ahead? Yes. Was it going to be hard? Maybe. Would they have to fight for what they wanted? Without a doubt.
However knowing all of that Caleb and Joshua knew that the LOrd had told them that this was to be their land, so if it was the Lord's will, the Lord would lead them into that land, and they would be victorious. This is a great example of how we give glory to the Lord. We believe in him. We boldly march toward the obstacles in our path, knowing that God has put them there, and we will overcome them together with Christ. I tell you the truth, if we live our life like this, and show those around us that nothing is too big for the Lord, then those around us will get to see what true faith is. Those types of actions speak more than a month of Sunday sermons. Can it be intimidating? Of course. Can it look like the obstacle is too big? I can almost promise you it will! Just as Joshua, and Caleb did, we must turn our focus to our faith. We must believe in the Lord, and have faith in his plan. There is noting too big for the Lord, even death could not hold him!
Friday, May 2, 2008
10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Paul wrote the letter to the Church of Corinth because he had heard from several sources that the Church was in trouble. There was division among its members along with many reports of followers straying form the true teachings of Christ. It is believed that the writing was from somewhere between 55 - 57 AD. It is no wonder why the Church community is in the state it is now almost 2000 years later.
Today we see division throughout the Christian faith. Where the people of Corinth wanted to say that they held different beliefs according to who baptized them, people today want to say that they are Catholic, or Protestant, or Baptist, or...well you get the idea. We have become Faiths within the Faith. As I have posted before, we have let the traditions of man divide us, instead of letting the teachings of Christ bring us together. I am not going to go in to all of the differences between various Christian Faiths. Instead, I want to delve a little deeper in to the division of the Church at the individual Church level.
I believe that we should be united as a Faith, but at the very least we should be united at the church level. However at most of the Churches I have attended that is not the case. Each Church has what I think of as layers of members. You have the core group, you have the loosely affiliated, and then you have the major holiday attendees. This is where I see the most division. What I mean by that is these groups remind me much of high school. Within each group you have the "cool" kids that run the group, then you have the guys that just want to make sure they are in the "right" group. As a result the Core group tends to make it hard for the loosely affiliated to get in to their group, and let's be honest the holiday attendees don't figure in to the equation at all.
We should recognize this for what it is and do whatever we can to break the cycle. There is no "group” there are people doing the best they can to be the best Christian that they can be. We all do not start from the same line in our belief. Paul asks the Corinthians to recall this as well (1Corinthinans 1: 26-30) “26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” So when a person who shows interest is met with a laundry list of requirements to be part of a group they are typically left with a feeling of "why bother". The more your faith grows the more your acceptance of others shortcoming should grow as well. Remember where you starting point was. When Christ walked this earth he did not deny anyone who came to him with faith, why should we be any different?
When people make an effort in the church community, it should be met with excitement, and thankfulness, not with expectation, and pretensions. We have to make an effort to break down the barriers that divide us within the Church. When the barriers that man put up start to fall, is when you can see the open hand reach out in compassion, and love. Just as Christ patiently waited on us to come in to the fold, then rejoiced when we accepted him. We must do the same for our fellow brethren. There is but one group we should want to belong to, and that is the group of Christ. Any other "click" especially within the Church, does not matter.
I am sure you saw this coming but we should work to extend this same outlook in our daily lives towards people who are not part of our Church. Sunday is not for "saving souls" or “converting” anyone. Sunday is a recharge day, a day for us to come together as one group and reaffirm and offer encouragement for each other. That puts Monday thru Saturday on the list of days to reach out to others. We cannot effectively do that if we have built walls around our lives. We have to be able to reach out to those on the fringe, and offer them hope, and compassion. You can't do that if you are worried about being one of the "cool kids". Christ was not an elitist; Psalm 118:22 says: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” he came from humble beginnings and led a humble life. He accepted all that came to him for salvation, knowing that all were not perfect, but through his sacrifice all would become equal.
So in the Church community and in our everyday lives we should remember we are equals no better or worse. We will preach the good news to those who will listen, and accept them flaws and all, just as Christ accepts us.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
The passage above shows that there is power in prayer, even more so when we gather together. In Acts 12:5 it says that the Church was earnestly praying for Peter, and as a result an angel freed Peter form prison.
All throughout out the Bible you notice the Lord never sends people out by themselves. He always encouraged people to gather in groups of at least two. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, he sent them out in pairs. When Paul traveled, he more often than not had a traveling companion. Jesus himself was seldom found alone.
We are no different today; we need a traveling companion on our journey. Not because there is safety in numbers, but because we need someone with us so we can encourage each other, and so we have someone to pray with. Could you imagine Paul traveling the countryside alone? Remember that during his time, many did not want to hear what he preached. There were people that would try to convince him that he was wrong, that he should turn away from teaching the good news of Christ. Thanks goodness he had someone with him. Someone that he could reaffirm himself with, someone to listen, and remind him of the hope of the world to come.
In Ecclesiastes 4 we are told "two is better than one, if one falls down the other can help him up". It is easy to let yourself be defeated. There is a constant stream of negativity crashing around us everyday. It is easy to get caught up in the mentality of "it will never work out”, to listen to everyone around you who will tell you to take the easy road. It is my hope for everyone that they find a traveling companion for this road. Someone to offer a shoulder when needed, someone to help them up when they fall. Someone to bend a knee and pray with. The Lord has never expected anyone to make the journey alone.