Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not evil, just lost

3John 1:11

11Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

Notice here how John (I understand that is a bone of contention with some) does not call the one who does evil evil, nor does he condemn them. He makes no attack against them at all other than they are referred to as not seeing God yet.

I feel this is an important thing to point out because it shows that there is hope for everyone. All of us who are in Christ should live with the hope that all will see God (become saved) before their life is over. That is why I so often will say that we must be careful to not judge others harshly.

Today we are far from that ideology. Today we curse those that do not agree with us, hold them in contempt, or condemn them. Their ways might be evil, but there is hope for every person. They just have not seen God yet. We as a community need to start building that belief again. We should do more reaching out, and less building ourselves up!

Could you imagine if Christians judged Paul before his trip to Damascus? I am sure they would have felt pretty silly after Paul saw the Lord! Here was a man who had not seen God, but once he did, he became one of the most well knows Christians of his time! We do not know God’s plan for us, let alone his plan for anyone else! You never know…the person who is doing evil today, just might be a great Christian next year; they just have not seen God yet!

Rev. T

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Life is short

Matthew 6: 26-27
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

All your worries will not add a single moment to your life. That is a hard concept to understand today. It seems that we spend most of our time worrying about things that will never happen. We take years off our life with stress, we lose countless hours that we will never get back. Think about all of the time that has ticked off the clock. Worrying about things that will never happen, or things that we have no control over.

We tend to get worried because we try to trust ourselves more than we trust God. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7). We have to turn it over to a higher power. There is a reason why most sucsessful 12 step programs start with turning your life over to a higher power. We…..all of us, have to realize that we are not in as much control as we would like to think we are. We need to stop focusing on our problems, and start magnifying our God. If we will put half as much faith in the Lord, as we try to put in our selves we would find our success rate will soar, and our blood pressure will return to normal.

I am not saying that we should not worry at all…… we should be respectful of our duties, we should be concerned that all is accomplished. The Lord will work great miracles in your life, but he will not do everything for you. We know the path that is before us everyday, and there are right and wrong paths we can take. The point is that If we spend our time focusing on the Lord, and searching out his path for our lives, the rest he will take care of. There is no need to worry! So take a deep breath today, and let it go. Let God drive for a while, he does not get lost along the way!

Rev. T

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today is the day

Paslm 118:24

24This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This one passage says so much! This day has been given to us, this day is the day to make the change, and this day is the day to rejoice! Today is only here for a short time, yet we use up so many today’s. We throw them away without thinking twice about it. I thought about this today as I was walking from a store back to my car. I thought to myself, you know each person I meet between here and the car, I am going to smile, and say hello, or maybe a how are you doing, something short and non-threatening, yet something to say hey I am here, and you are here…life is good!

Guess what….not one hello, even better no one would hardly glance my way! What does that say about us as a society? I know, you are thinking what does that have to do with the Lord? Well everything! The majority of the people in this country claim to be Christian, by default, that means that at the very least the majority of people acknowledge the Christ was the Son of God, and we should be living our lives as an example of his. Christ was a pretty personable guy. He talked to a lot of people. Matter of fact he talked to most anyone that would listen. Yet we cannot even muster a hi to each other on the street? Folks, that’s not rejoicing, that is surviving.

We have fell into a habit as a society of insulating ourselves form those around us. That is not rejoicing, that is not “spreading the love”. We are here for a very short time, and we do not know when our time will run out. We should be rejoicing, not hiding. You don’t have to hate your job, rejoice that you are employed; you don’t have to hate all of the housework, or the stress and demands of kids, and spouses. REJOICE that you have a house, and that you have people that love you! You do not have to feel alone. No! Rejoice, that the Lord has put people all around you, at your job, on the bus, walking down the street. You only have to look around with open eyes to see what the Lord has blessed you with!

We all have much to rejoice about in our lives, the Lord has blessed each of us. The thing to remember is that we should be rejoicing about it TODAY! Do not put it off until tomorrow; don’t sit around waiting for your ship to come in. Rejoice today, give thanks for everything you have, and share that joy with those around you. Live for today, it is the only one that you will get, rejoice, and be glad in it!

Rev. T

Monday, June 23, 2008

who was, is, and is to come

Revelations 4: 7-11

7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

So we have 4 creatures worshiping the Lord day and night. We have to pay attention to what kind of creatures they are. The lion, the ox, the human, and eagle are the creatures of note. The most regal, the strongest, the wisest, and the fastest creatures in the world all spend their days giving praises to the Lord. Furthermore the 24 kings are the twelve tribes of Israel, and the 12 apostles. They throw their crowns at his feet showing that all honor and glory are for the Lord alone.

This is a great passage that shows no matter what our status in this life. All glory and honor belong to Christ. All things in our life are accomplished through, and with him. It is for his glorification not ours. In today’s fast paced world it is easy to forget what the goal is. All life is represented in this passage, furthermore, they have eyes throughout, so they can see everything around them clearly, the people who held high positions on earth throw their crowns. I think the point is hard to miss, someone is in charge, and it is not us. It always has been and always will be for the Lord.

Rev. T

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dead or Alive

Revelations 3: 1-6
1"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches

It is interesting to note that the problem that Sardis had to overcome was one of being a dead church. Notice that Christ says that they have the reputation of being alive, but they are dead. Sardis was a very well known, and prosperous city. The Church had a good reputation; they were doing works that Christ points out as not complete. Great at the start, but no follow through.

The problem that had to be overcome is that they were Christians in name only. They were going through the motions, but not working with the Holy Spirit, they were not letting Christ lead the church. As we look around today, do we not see the same things happening? We see dead churches, led by dead pastors, full of dead church members. A church quits living when it starts paying more attention to the world around them, than to their salvation. A pastor, or leader of a church becomes dead when he forgets that the Holy Spirit is the one that directs him and leads the service; he starts to believe that people are showing up because of him, not the Lord. Or when he becomes more concerned with how much money is in the plate, and not the condition of his congregation’s souls.

The worst death in my opinion is the death of the members. When the church becomes a place for the latest fashion show, or the gathering place for the gossip workshop, that is when the members start to experience spiritual death. It is up to each and every member to look after the health of the church. We have to remember that each one of us makes up the church, so the best place to start for a healthy church is within each of us. As this scripture shows a church can be healed, but the members and leaders must wake up! People live life on “auto pilot” every day. However our spiritual journey has no auto pilot switch. We are in control of how high we will fly, or the level we will descend. There is nothing in life that we cannot overcome with Christ; we all can wear robes of white. We just have to make sure we stay awake, and spiritually alive.

Rev. T

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life goes on

Revelations 2: 2-5

2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

You have forsaken your first love..... That is something that none of us want to be accused of. The problem with the Ephesians church, was that it was starting to get lax in it’s practices. While at one time they were very skeptical of self proclaimed apostles, and would be skeptical of the “apostle” until the apostle was vetted, they now were more willing to accept new “prophets” with new teachings, without all of the vetting they would do in the past. Their deeds in the beginning were great, as time went on they grew to be less. This easily leads in to the second question….sound familiar?

I do believe that this is one of the largest traps we all are prone to fall in to. Everyone remembers when Christ found them, the excitement, the feeling of peace, the strong sense of purpose; these are all common emotions that people feel in the beginning of the journey. The Ephesians fell in to the same trap, that lays in wait for each of us; complacency. Your relationship with Christ is a lot like other relationships in your life………..just more important! When the relationship is new, it is all you can think about, it consumes you, you want to shout from the roof tops! The relationship is the topic of conversation no matter who you meet.

As the road to Christ stretches out in front of us, life continues on around us, the world does not change just because we do. As life grinds away we are bombarded with so many distractions that it becomes very easy to lose focus on Christ, it becomes easier to let things slide that you know are wrong, many people will start to rationalize their actions, instead of correct them. Suddenly some find themselves looking for “loophole” to go do what they want to do. Oh they still believe in Christ, they still are “good Christians”, but it has not become work, the some of the choices that were easy to make in the beginning now are a little harder, maybe some just do not feel like putting the work in. John Cougar said it well, “oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”

It is human nature, and something that we all are susceptible to. This passage serves as a wake up call to each of us. We would all do well to keep Christ first in our lives, and then worry about what is next later. By staying adamant in the teachings of Christ, keeping him first in our life, and by staying on guard for the false prophets, and the wicked man, we will all find that when we stand before Christ in Judgment we will be able to hold our heads high, knowing that we, like Christ, carried our cross in life fully, not by half-measures. Christ gave every ounce of his life for us, he did not waver, he did not get lazy, we should do the same. Hold true to our beliefs, and never forget our first love.

Rev. T

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remember to show mercy

Jude 1: 22-23

22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Christ was a source for immeasurable mercy. HE did not beat people over the head with his teachings, and demand they listen. HE came to earth to save everyone that he could, but to the ones who would deny him, he gave mercy. Doubt is a very common problem / emotion, and doubt is not to be confused with non-belief. Even Thomas doubted. We all have doubt from time to time. One of the best ways I have found to strengthen my faith, is to question it. The Lord always provides an answer. SO often people act as if there is something wrong with challenging the concept of Faith. Personally I believe you should hang a question mark on everything that you think of as fact from time to time. It provides a way for you to critically think about what you do believe in and why. As I have said before, you should know why you believe what you do. “because that is how I was raised” is not a good answer. We are all free thinking people, we should each accept Christ, not because our parents did, but because we have seen the truth for ourselves.

I think the key is in the last part of the passage, show mercy with fear. Here again it is important to remember that with the exception of the money changers in the temple, Christ always showed those around him respect. Christ was well aware of what was to come, but he did not force anyone to follow. He did not slight others for their belief. He only put his way out to them as a viable option, and informed them of what was to come. It was up to them to believe or not. HE offered them his mercy, he offered his grace, he did not offer his wrath. As it says in Romans 12:19 Leave room for God’s wrath.

I always come back to this because I think this is part of our problem today within the Christian faith. We, like Christ, want everyone to be saved. AS a result, many feel compelled to preach the word and condemn all who will not “fall in line”. Christ was an example of peace, his teachings were peaceful, full of mercy, and grace. I think that when we only do half of the work (preaching the word of Christ) and do not have mercy, and respect for others, we demean the work of Christ. It is quite unintentional, but it does more harm than good. So remember to show mercy, even when it is hard….no especially when it is hard.

Rev. T

Monday, June 16, 2008

The armor of God

Ephesians 6: 14-17

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This is easily one of my favorite passages form the scripture. Every day is a battle. Each and everyday we make choices that will effect the rest of our lives. It is only by using all of the tools the God provides that we can stand firm. For moving forward with half measures guarantees that you will come up short when the time of need arises. God has promised to protect his children, however how close you get to “falling off the edge” might well depend on how well prepared you are.

I know that I can think of times in my life that I have been very close to heading off down the wrong path. We all struggle daily with demons in our life. The opportunities that pop up that are so tempting. The times when we think no one is looking. I do not pretend to think that Christ will make my life easy, or the devil will give up on me if I have enough faith. Actually it seems the stronger my faith, the harder the ole’ devil tries to beat me down. The more opportunities arise that would lead me to stray. I know we can all think of times that we have walked right up to the edge and for some reason we stop, and are pulled back. We are saved, by no action of our own; unexplainably we are pulled back safely from the edge. That my friends is when the Lord is working his hardest to save us. It is only when we get suited up fully, that we can withstand the barrage that each day brings us.

Notice how it is the belt of truth, it will hold you and keep you together, the breastplate of righteousness, for your righteousness is your heart and your heart will be protected. Fit your feet with the gospel of peace, at the last second it will be your feet that will move you away from danger. Lastly The shield of faith will protect you, the Helmet of salvation, will help you keep your head when the world around you is crumbling, and the sword of the Spirit will strike its target straight and true.

We should all be striving to fully know the Lord. As I always will say, we are all sinners, we all make mistakes, and we all fall short of the mark. When we put on the full suit of armor that God provides, we can stand strong in faith and know that while we might stumble, the Lord will not let us fall.

Rev. T

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let It Go

Romans 12:17-19

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

Live at peace with everyone, that sounds like a great ide, and it is one that is attainable, however it take quite a bit of discipline on our part. For us to be at peace with others we first have to be at peace with ourselves. That means that we have to learn to let things go. We cannot hold tight to the wrongs that have been done to us. We have to forgive. You don’t have to forget, you don’t have to hand out a free pass, and let people walk all over you, but you do have to forgive them, and move on. As the passages reads: Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.

This same theme is throughout the teachings of Christ. Do unto others, as you would have done to you. (Luke 6:1) Or, But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15). The only way we can truly forgive is to let go. We cannot go around holding all of the baggage, it will be too heavy for the trip ahead of us. Throughout our life we will be wronged, and persecuted, we will have people go out of their way to attack us. It happens all the time to everyone. We must remember not to burn our precious time and energy on plotting revenge, or looking for opportunities to “settle the score”. Just leave room for God’s wrath, and be done with it.

When we let go of all of the hate, and hurt that we carry around we open up more room in our hearts for Christ to come in and work. If we think about it, when we let those emotions harbor and fester inside of us, not only do we close ourselves off to the Lord, we are letting that person who already hurt us once, continue to hurt us on a daily basis. When we give up all of those wasted emotions we regain control over our world. We must remember that we are the children of God, no hurt done to us here in this world can match the hurt that Christ suffered for us. Oh I know what you are thinking, that I just do not know how badly you have been hurt, or all of the things that you have gone through. I tell you the truth, turn that pain over to the Lord. Let him sort it out, and avenge you.

I do want to be clear here, you should remove yourself from the person that is hurting you, you have to protect yourself, but what’s done is done. Being a Christian does not mean that you are a floor mat, but once the situation is over it is over, you cannot change it; you can only change how you let it effect you.

I think of it this way. Christ died for each and everyone of us, yet we are all sinners, we all stumble and fall. The Lord does not hold a grudge; he lives in the hope and anticipation of us realizing our mistake, and coming back to him. HE is always looking for the lost sheep, he is happier when the seep return that he is about the ones that stayed and never left. If Christ will do that for us, how can we hold a grudge against our brother?

Rev. T

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Christ is the example

Philippians 2:1-5
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Do nothing selfish, or in vain conceit.... AS I read this it saddens me to realize that this is the world that so many are building. Humility is not something that is taught anymore, now it is all about how special each of us are. How our needs are the ones that count. We strive for personal gain, and personal recognition, so many today will pass right by a brother in need, and in the next second admonish someone under their breath for “making them wait”, or for getting in the way.

Have we forgotten Matthew 25:40? “"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
I have found that when I spend less time focusing on my life, and more time looking to help others, my life improves greatly. However, when I catch myself caught up in the race of life, trying to force a square peg into a round hole, trying to reach that next brass ring….that is when I feel lost, full of turmoil, and frustration.

As I stated yesterday, Christ walked in our shoes. Now it is our turn to try to walk in his. Oh they are big shoes indeed, without a doubt we will stumble, and the shoes will not fit us as well, but it is our turn to walk in them. We should be shaping our lives in the mold of Christ, not in the mold of the CEO in the spotlight!

We are the examples that can change the way life is lived. Our lives can show others how it can be done. Most will tell you that one man cannot make a difference. I am not one man; I am one man standing with Christ, just as you are. That makes us unstoppable!
Rev. T

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He Walked in Our Shoes

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus can sympathize with us, because he “walked in our shoes” I do not think enough people talk about that aspect of the Lord. Think about all of the different passages in the bible that show just how human Jesus was. He was hungry, he was tired, he wept, he knew fear, he was tempted. There are so many instances that show Christ was just like us. He was sent from God to become man. That is why the passage says we should come boldly to the throne of grace. We are being judged by Christ; who knows all to well what it feels like to be human. Imagine if you had everything you could possibly need, then gave all of that up to shoulder the blame for someone else. That is what Christ did for us. When we stand before Christ it is not like a slave standing before his master. The slave knowing all of the struggles and strife that comes with being a slave, and the master knowing only how great of a life it is to be the master. No! We stand before Christ as a friend, judged by someone who has walked more than a mile in our shoes.

So often people talk about Christ as some untouchable. As if he sits high upon his throne, and simply watches for his amusement. That might be putting it a bit harshly, but when I talk to people of little faith or none at all, that is the image that they have. We call the Lord King of Kings, but he comes from a common background. Jesus was one of us, sent here to absolve our sin, to take the weight of the world squarely on his shoulders, and say, for you, I will carry this cross. HE walked the same roads, and had the same troubles. The difference is, he did it without sin.

He knows temptation, and he understands the struggle. We should celebrate the Lord and his time here on earth. It is because of the time he spent here on earth as man, that we are offered eternal salvation. Not because of his benevolence, but because of his compassion. Yes the Lord is King of Kings, but it is because he walked this earth, that he understands his flock. The Shepard knows the greenest pastures because he walks with his flock. He knows the dangers, and protects his flock, because he has been there before. The Lord is our Shepard, and we will not want.

Rev. T

Monday, June 9, 2008

We are the church

Ephesians 2: 19-22

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

When we think of the Church, we think of Sunday, and the service, the building that we go to, the sermon, and the music. However today, we all seem to lose sight on just hat the church is. It is not a building, it is in us. Each and every one of us. You are the church, and it does not matter what your location is. Wherever you are, there is part of the church. Verse 22 reads, “in him you too are being built to become a dwelling in which God lives. Jesus Christ is the corner stone, but you are the building.

Yes, when we all come together as a group of believers, at one location, we are at “church”, but as individuals we are each a holy temple to the Lord! I wrote last week about having faith in yourself, this just continues the same concept. As Christ tells us in John chapter 15:5"I am the vine; you are the branches……" The point being that we each are vital to God. A vine without branches cannot bear fruit. Each of us has to work to bear the fruit of the Lord. While we might have strength in numbers on Sunday, each one of us is the Church when we are away form the “church building” Monday thru Saturday.

Luke 9:6 reads “So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” There was not a church building at every town they stopped at. Even more to the point, sometimes there were not even buildings of any type in the area. The Church was in them, and they were the church. Wherever they went they had the church with them.

I am not trying to trivialize going to church on Sunday. As my Mother used to tell me, “God comes to our house 6 days a week, all he asks is that we go to his one”. What I do want to drive home is the fact that we each have an individual responsibility to be the church. We are the Temple that God resides in. The Lord does not need a building to complete the concept of him. He is larger than the walls of any building. He shines like a beacon of Hope, and salvation, not through the stained glass windows of a church, but from the hearts, and souls of each person that accepts him as their savior.

Rev. T

Friday, June 6, 2008

Grace and Faith

II Corinthians 12:9
My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.

I talk often about having Faith in God. Having the unshakeable belief that God is there for you, he will take care of you, and he will straighten the path before you.
Reflecting on that message I see that I forget to mention that there is another type of faith that is needed, and that is faith in yourself.

I have had people tell me that they did not think they were worthy of God’s love, or that they did not believe that God could care for them as an individual. What we all have to remember is what Jesus told us in John 15 “You did not choose me, but I chose you” God chose each of us, he loves us! So much in fact that he sent his only son as a one time sin erasing sacrifice for every man woman and child. How could anyone think that they are not worthy of God’s love?

We all have people in our life that tell us we are no good, that our best is not good enough, that hard as we try we will never make the mark. That garbage could not be further from the truth. We are children of the most high God, and he does not make trash. HE does not do half measures, and most of all God knew your capacity before you were born, and he offered his son for your sins, he would not do that if he did not think that we are all worthy of his grace. As the scripture reads “My grace is sufficient” it is all we need, and it is the reason why no one here on earth can tell us that we are not good enough.

So take some time and think on that, yes we all must have faith in God, and that faith will bring us through our darkest hours, but we have to have faith in ourselves as well. We have to know with the same unshakable faith that we are children of God. HE has given us his grace, and that is enough. No matter what this world might think of us it does not matter. The Lord chose us, and he has found us all worthy. SO do not sell yourself short. If God finds you worthy, what does the rest of the world’s opinion matter?

Rev. T

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Opportunity Knocks

Acts 9: 4-6

4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

We all talk about how Christ works in our lives, and make no doubt he is working in each of our lives daily, but sometimes I think we might not be seeing the full picture. While God does answer our prayers more often than not, it will not be a direct “event”. What I mean by that is prayer takes faith, and faith takes action. For us to realize God’s plan, we must choose to seize the opportunity. When Jesus spoke to Saul, Saul chose to seize the opportunity and go in to town and seek out the house Jesus sent him to. HE could have just as easily packed up and gone home. When Balaam’s donkey spoke to him, Balaam could have decided to get off the donkey, and continue on foot. All of the prominent people in the bible chose to seize the opportunity that was presented to them, even though it did not seem to fit in to their plans.

My point is that God will deliver on his promises, but we have to recognize the opportunity when it comes to us. Often, just like Saul, that opportunity might not seem like the direction that we would want to go. Moses did not want to go to Egypt; he certainly did not want to go speak before the Pharaoh. When Life is throwing us challenges, and it might feel like we are far out of our comfort zone, which is when we should be looking for that opportunity. It is there, more than likely we just have not taken the time to look for it. As a result, we are sailing by the very opportunities that we are praying for.

I bring this up, because I often hear people say that they are praying for something to happen in their lives, but it has not come about. The first thing I always ask is: “are you actively looking for it?” Are you doing anything in your life to make that happen? Have you taken a step back and looked at your life and where it is going? It might very well be that your prayers are waiting to be answered; you just have to see the opportunity that is right in front of you. So slow down, look where you are going. Remember it takes faith to pray, and faith requires action. God will put the opportunity in front of you. The question is, when opportunity knocks will you be listening to answer the door?

Rev. T

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Got Prayer?

1 John 5:14-15

14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

If we ask…… but do we? We all say it, I pray…..or I’ll keep you in my prayers…..or I have been praying for it to happen…….While those are all phrases often used, how often do we stop and actually pray? How often do you take time out of your day to pray? Is it how you start your day, or maybe you like to bring the day to a close with prayer. I will tell you that if you are not praying, you are not communicating with God.

Far to many people overlook the importance of prayer in their lives today. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools that we have. It has freed men from prison, shut the mouth of lions, caused the sky to close up for years on end; there is no limit to what God will do for his people. The thing to remember is that you have to stop and ask.

Pray is a time for reflection, a time to make our hearts and our intentions known to God. It is the opportunity for us to ask for the Lord to take an interest in our lives, as well as a time for us to invite God in to our hearts. It is a chance to let Christ soften our hearts, and open our eyes to the need that is all around us. There is no limit to the power of prayer.

I have talked to people who say that they do not know how to pray. I will tell you it is one of the easiest things to do. In Matthew 6: Jesus tells us, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” HE knows what we need before we ask! How much easier can he make it for us? All that is being asked is to take time out of our day and talk with the Lord. While we must remember that God works on his timetable not ours, he will always answer our prayers.

So I challenge everyone to set aside time in their day to talk with the Lord. You will see an improvement in your life like you have not experienced before. The Lord will make your life spectacular……all you have to do is ask!

Rev. T

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Good Name

Proverbs 22:1
1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

I talk often about the importance of our individual relationship with Christ. I believe that is the cornerstone of our religious faith. Our relationship has to be a one on one experience. There is only one entity that has control over our lives and that is the highest God. As a result that relationship will define who we are.
Another man should not dictate our lives to us; you cannot find truth, by listening, you have to find it. The best place to start is the bible (that means you reading the bible, not waiting on the book report on Sunday!). It is your relationship with Christ that should define you.

I bring this up because as the verse tells us, a good name is more desirable than great riches. Our name comes from our actions. Our actions should come from how we follow the teachings of Christ. What often happens is that we know what we should do, but it is easier to go with the flow, but when we do that are we not turning our backs on God? Are we not going the way of the false prophets? I know that might sound a little over the top, but if we know the truth, and hold it back, or distort it to make it more palatable, have we not distorted the teachings in the same breath? It is something we would all be aware of. I know that I am guilty of it myself. We walk a fine line between being peaceful, and keeping the peace. We have to stay alert and not fall victim to the traps for the devil. I am sure that he must love the Christian that goes back on the word.

We are specifically warned against this in 2 Peter 2: 2121For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. False prophets are everywhere today, and they are not just confined to the T.V. they are in churches throughout the country twist the word of the Lord so they might profit from it. They have made a living off the Faith, yet have become enslaved by the very evil that they preach against. This is why I will say so often, read your bible. If you can watch 2 hours of T.V. you can read for 30 min. The bible has more information in it to help you shape your life, than any reality show can hope to give.

If a good name is more important than wealth, how can we not follow Christ’s example? The better question might be how can we follow Christ’s example, if so many of us will not pick up the book and study it?

Rev. T

Monday, June 2, 2008

The whole truth

1John 1: 5-10

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is
light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from allssin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives

Here again we are reminded of the duplicity of man. Many people love to say they are a good Christians, that they know the word, and walk in Jesus’ path, yet their actions show a total different picture. We hear through out the New Testament that, “9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness”, I think this is mentioned so often because it is so hard for us that many stumble. I feel the most important thing is how this passage begins: “9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus is there for us whenever we need him, and nothing is too much to ask, however we must be willing to admit our shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. We have to be honest with ourselves, and with the Lord. True forgivness comes form true honest confession, to ourselves, and to God

It reminds me of something that happened to my daughter. My youngest daughter had saved up her money, and we all went to the Mall. My wonderful daughter made two purchases, a video game for her Nintendo DS, and a cookie with icing on it (pretty good use of funds….especially the cookie!) so while we are shopping my youngest realizes that she has set her cookie bag down at one of the stores we had just left. So we send her off with her older sister to go back and find it. Well as you can imagine, they came back empty handed. It was obvious that she was upset, more than warranted for a cookie. So she comes clean, she did lose her cookie….along with her new video game, it seems that while she did tell the truth, she did in fact set her cookie bag down, it happened to be in the video game bag. As you can imagine, that set off a 3 alarm, and we all jumped in and found the game (and cookie) very quickly!

I think we tend to treat our relationship with Jesus the same way. Sometimes, we don’t mind admitting to the minor infractions, the negligible things in our life that we do, however when it comes to the big stuff, the things that we KNOW are big, we do not want to admit to. We try to rationalize the action, or leave off half the story. Just like my daughter, telling me that she lost her cookie. That is the exact time that we should be asking God for help. If we really think about it, what is the point behind trying to hide it from God? He knows about it before, you even think to lie about it.

Just as I love my daughter, Jesus loves each of us, more than we can fathom. So choose the light, and ask the Lord for forgiveness, he is there for each of us, all we have to do is ask!

Rev. T